Canada And The States Recollections 1851 To 1886 By Sir E. W. Watkin



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"If the Maritime Provinces [of Britain] would join us, spontaneously, to-day - sterile as they may be in the soil under a sky of steel - still with their hardy population, their harbours, fisheries, and seamen, they would greatly strengthen and improve our position, and aid us in our struggle for equality upon the ocean. If we would succeed upon the deep, we must either maintain our fisheries or ABSORB THE PROVINCES."

E. H. DERBY, Esq, Report to the Revenue Commissioners of the United States, 1866.

In the absence of any formal Dedication, I feel that to no one could the following pages be more appropriately inscribed than to Lady Watkin.

On her have fallen the anxieties of our home life during my many long absences away on the American Continent - which Continent she once, in 1862, visited with me. My business, in relation to Canada, has, from time to time, been undertaken with her knowledge, and under her good advice; and no one has been animated with a stronger hope for Canada, as a great integral part of the Empire of the Queen, than herself.



The following pages have been written at the request of many old friends, some of them co-workers in the cause of permanent British rule over the larger part of the Great Northern Continent of America.

In 1851 I visited Canada and the United States as a mere tourist, in search of health. In 1861 I went there on an anxious mission of business; and for some years afterwards I frequently crossed the Atlantic, not only during the great Civil War between the North and South, but, also, subsequent to its close. In 1875 I had to undertake another mission of responsibility to the United States. And, last year, I traversed the Dominion of Canada from Belle Isle to the Pacific. I returned home by San Francisco and the Union Pacific Railways to Chicago; and by Montreal to New York. Thence to Liverpool, in that unsurpassed steamer, the "Etruria," of the grand old Cunard line. I ended my visits to America, as I began them, as a tourist. This passage was my thirtieth crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the period from 1851 to 1886, history on the North American Continent has been a wonderful romance. Never in the older stories of the world's growth, have momentous changes been effected, and, apparently, consolidated, in so short a time, or in such rapid succession.

Regarding the United States, the slavery of four millions of the negro race is abolished for ever, and the black men vote for Presidents. A great struggle for empire - fought on gigantic measure - has been won for liberty and union. Turning to Canada, the British half of the Continent has been moulded into one great unity, and faggotted together, without the shedding of one drop of brothers' blood - and in so tame and quiet a way, that the great silent forces of Nature have to be cited, to find a parallel.

In this period, the American Continent has been spanned by three main routes of iron-road, uniting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: and one of these main routes passes exclusively through British territory - the Dominion of Canada. The problem of a "North-west Passage" has been solved in a new and better way. It is no longer a question of threading dark and dismal seas within the limits of Arctic ice and snow, doubtful to find, and impossible, if found, to navigate. Now, the two oceans are reached by land, and a fortnight suffices for the conveyance of our people from London or Liverpool to or from the great Pacific, on the way to the great East.

Anyone who reads what follows will learn that I am an Imperialist - that I hate little-Englandism. That, so far as my puny forces would go, I struggled for the union of the Canadian Provinces, in order that they might be retained under the sway of the best form of government - a limited monarchy, and under the best government of that form - the beneficent rule of our Queen Victoria. I like to say our Queen: for no sovereign ever identified herself in heart and feeling, in anxiety and personal sacrifice, with a free and grateful people more thoroughly than she has done, all along.

In this period of thirty-six years the British American Provinces have been, more than once, on the slide. The abolition of the old Colonial policy of trade was a great wrench. The cold, neglectful, contemptuous treatment of Colonies in general, and of Canada in particular, by the doctrinaire Whigs and Benthamite-Radicals, and by Tories of the Adderley school, had, up to recent periods, become a painful strain. Denuding Canada of the Imperial red-coat disgusted very many. And the constant whispering, at the door of Canada, by United States influences, combined with the expenditure of United States money on Nova Scotian and other Canadian elections, must be looked to, and stopped, to prevent a slide in the direction of Washington.

On the other hand, the statesmanlike action of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Colonial Minister in 1859, in erecting British Columbia into a Crown Colony, was a break-water against the fell waves of annexation. The decided language of Her Majesty's speech in proroguing Parliament at the end of 1859 was a manifesto of decided encouragement to all loyal people on the American Continent: and, followed as it was by the visit - I might say the triumphal progress - of the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Colonial Minister, the great Duke of Newcastle, through Canada, in 1860, the loyal idea began to germinate once more. Loyal subjects began to think that no spot of earth over which the British flag had once floated would ever, again, be given up - without a fight for it.

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