Author Information

Deitrich Wahl


Discussion surrounding Canadian Confederation often centers around whether the Dominion of Canada was built on an act or a pact. There are valid points to be made for each argument, but it just may be that both are incomplete. The act or pact debate often fails to fully consider the unique experience of French Canadians in the years leading up to Confederation in 1867, which means that a third argument has largely been overlooked. For French Canadians, the years leading up to the passage of the British North America Act of 1867 saw a renewal of the Conquest and revival of national myth. Throughout the early 1860s, the American Civil War reminded them of their past struggles against the British. They remembered how their farms and villages burned as the British captured Quebec in 1759, and as they watched their French Louisianan brethren succumb to the Union Army and Americanization, they remembered how they had been abandoned by France a century earlier. By 1867 French Canadians felt they were alone on a continent full of anglophones and Protestants who were committed to assimilating them and extinguishing the last light of true Catholicism in North America. Rather than share the fate of Louisiana’s French, they sought a ceasefire. They desired a means to prolong their struggle for cultural survival, and Confederation offered this. By building on established historiography and examining contemporary newspaper sources, this article reveals that for French Canadians, Confederation represented an armistice more than an act or pact.

Note on the Author

Deitrich Wahl holds a bachelor’s degree in history and is a member of Bridgewater State University’s class of 2021.

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