International Organizations, Legitimacy, and the Irish Free State

It all started with a Canadian fisheries treaty with the United States in 1923.  Normally, when Canada concluded fisheries agreements, they were signed on Canada’s behalf by the British Ambassador to the United States.  But in this case, for the first time the signature of a Canadian minister, Ernest Lapointe, was attached to the treaty.  And this precedent opened the door for the nascent Irish Free State to operate a foreign policy independent of the United Kingdom.

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W.T. Cosgrave – photo credit: wikimedia commons

As pro-Treaty forces gained control of the Irish government following the Civil War, the policy of the ruling party, Cumann na nGaedheal, and the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, W.T. Cosgrave, was to critically engage with the Commonwealth.  Cumann na nGaedheal essentially controlled a one-party state because the party receiving the second most votes in the initial elections, Sinn Féin, refused to take its seats. Cumann na nGaedheal worked to develop precedents, international relationships, and participation in transnational organizations which would allow Ireland to assert itself as a legitimate, independent nation on equal standing with the other nations of the world. Continue reading

The Ulster Unionist Tour of Canada, 1886

1000px-flag_of_canada_28pantone29-svgCanada’s 150th birthday is coming up in a few days! As part of my doctoral work at the University of Edinburgh, I looked at visits across the Atlantic by Ulster unionists who aimed to publicize their cause and to counter Irish nationalism during the Home Rule era. One of the more interesting stories involving Canadian history that I came across involved two of these Ulster unionists, who toured North America in 1886.

1200px-flag_of_ulster-svgReverend Dr. Richard Rutledge Kane and barrister George Hill Smith were commissioned by the Ulster Loyalist Anti-Repeal Union shortly after the defeat of the first Home Rule Bill to present the unionist cause to the North American public which they believed were blinded by a pro-nationalist press.

Kane was a fairly notorious figure within Belfast society as the rector of Christ Church, the Grand Master of Belfast’s Orange Order, and a prominent unionist speaker; he was accused of inciting the Belfast riots in 1886.  Smith was a barrister from Armagh who spoke throughout England and Scotland on behalf of the Ulster Loyalist Anti-Repeal Union and other Irish unionist organizations.

Kane and Smith’s tour first took them to Canada and then to the United States.  Speaking at gatherings of Irish immigrants and their descendants, and to Orangemen, they promoted the cause of Irish unionism and attempted to discredit Irish nationalists. But there was one particularly remarkable incident that stood out both to me and to Smith, who considered it one of the most extraordinary things to happen in his long speaking career. Continue reading

Postcard from Port Dover, Ontario

Postcard from Port Dover, Ontario
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Beach at Port Dover — Photo by P. Dumas

Port Dover is a small town in southern Ontario, Canada, on the coast of Lake Erie. Now famous for its Friday the 13th gatherings of motorcyclists from across Canada and the USA, the town was settled by Loyalists in the 1790s and saw action during the War of 1812. Continue reading

Viewing Canada Live & Online, Pt. 5 – British Columbia

Viewing Canada Live & Online, Pt. 5 – British Columbia

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, we have been making our way across Canada on the blog via webcams! You can revisit our look at the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairies, and travel northwest with us as we wrap up our survey of some of the great online views of Canada.

I’ve learned a lot as I’ve virtually travelled across the country seeking out webcams aimed at great views and historic places. Continue reading

Viewing Canada Live & Online, Pt. 3 — Ontario

Viewing Canada Live & Online, Pt. 3 — Ontario

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

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There has been a webcam aimed at Parliament Hill since 1995 (Find out more in this article from the CBC)! This webcam, mounted on the Birks Building on Sparks Street in Ottawa, shows views of Centre Block, the impressive Peace Tower, and the Centennial Flame (at the centre bottom of the screen) in the grounds of the Parliament Buildings. The flame has been burning since Centennial Year (1967).

The webcam requires refreshing of the page, but it’s a great view of the beautiful building that was rebuilt in 1917 following a massive fire. Continue reading

Canada’s 2016 Census: the Long-Form’s Return

Canada’s 2016 Census: the Long-Form’s Return

On May 10, 2016, the most recent Canadian census took place. Of course, Canadians had from the 2nd to complete their forms, but the information given was meant to reflect a ‘snapshot’ of life in the country on the 10th of May.

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Censuses have been conducted in one or more regions of what is now Canada since the mid-17th century. All of the Canadian territories have been surveyed via a census every 10 years since 1851 and every 5 years since 1901. Continue reading

Heritage Minutes and Canadian History

Heritage Minutes and Canadian History

Canadians of my generation learned their key moments in Canadian history via short television commercial segments produced by what is now Historica Canada. Known as Heritage Minutes, these short films were sent to schools, made available on tape, DVD, and online, and played during commercial breaks. They taught students and television viewers of all ages what was important in the history of our nation. The segments produced memorable catch phrases (such as the classic, ‘Doctor, I smell burnt toast!’) and have sparked numerous parodies over the years (the Rick Mercer Report‘s are always a favourite). Continue reading

The Origins of a Canadian Culture

The Origins of a Canadian Culture

Canada is turning 150 this year!!! We’ll be celebrating with a number of posts devoted to Canadian history and culture as well as sharing information on some of the planned programmes and activities that will be taking place across the country in honour of the country’s sesquicentennial.

Canada is a young nation. In secondary school-level Canadian history classes, students are taught that Canada began to assert itself as an independent nation at the dawn of the Second World War. Continue reading

Do you qualify for the letters U.E.?

Many Canadians have ancestors who remained loyal to the British Crown in the American revolution and, having found themselves on the losing side of the war, were forced to rebuild their lives in Britain’s Canadian colonies.

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Today, Canadian descendants of Loyalists can still apply to the UELAC (United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada) to include the initials UE (for Unity of Empire) after their names because the title is hereditary. This is a unique quality amongst Canadian honours. It doesn’t come with any special status or rewards anymore, but at one time it was worth 200 acres of land.

The post-nominal letters and this designation come from Lord Dorcester’s 1789 Proclamation, in which he notes:

Those Loyalists who have adhered to the unity of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783, and all their children and their descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following capitals, affixed to their names: U.E. alluding to their great principle the unity of the Empire.

Continue reading

Using the Records Loyalists Left Behind: The Search for Henry Anguish

Using the Records Loyalists Left Behind: The Search for Henry Anguish

Over the past month I’ve been looking at Loyalist history and the records that have been preserved and digitised for historians and family historians alike to use to find out more about the early European and Loyalist American settlers in Upper Canada (now Ontario). Several of my ancestors were Loyalists who settled near the shores of Lake Erie in Upper Canada and many of their descendants are still living in the region.

Today I wanted to demonstrate what can be found within these records. I did this briefly with my look at Jacob Anguish’s request for aid that is found in the Haldimand Papers. Today I want to show what can be found across a range of sources for one person, namely Henry Anguish, Jacob’s son.

Henry is my 5x great-grandfather. Over the course of his life he moved from Canadian to American-held territories and back again. This demonstrates the fluidity of movement across borders during peacetime between the Canadian and American territories. He was one of the first Europeans settlers in the area of Tonawanda, New York. By opening the first tavern in the area in 1811 and creating the first building in what would become the village and then town, he is sometimes referred to as the town’s founder. However, he ultimately settled in Rainham Township in Haldimand County, Upper Canada. Continue reading