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490 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 and then the orderly rows have been toppled over and strewn about by an exuberant political scandal or a reversal of party fortunes. The most important section of the book, for example, reconsiders the standard interpretation of the negotiations for the first transcontinental railway. Everyone knew that the Americans were behind the scheme and that the trains would run south of Lake Superior, den Otter argues; the issue was political corruption not nationalism. Two elections later, howevec that would change and an all-Canadian route would be dogma. Why this was so is not entirely clear. Why people believed it to be true despite evidence to the contrary is a mystery. The Philosophy ofRailways is a conventional guide to the major policy debates over ra.ilways, and to a certain extent commercial development, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Take this train for a nostalgic journey to the heartland of Canadian political history. (H.v. NELLES) Christopher Moore. 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal McClelland and Stewart. xvi, 280. $29.99 Christopher Moore is a vigorous young historian who can write, do research, and make a mark with both. At age thirty-two he won the Governor-General's gold medal (1982) for Louisburg Portraits. He began his career working for Parks Canada in the Historic Sites Service; historians there do research papers on a variety of persons and places; upon these the Historic Sites and Monuments Board rely for its decisions whether to commemorate and in what form. Moore's experience in defb.i.e55 and versatility shows in his sprightly and informed prose, ripe with suggestive comparisons to modem issues. This book is really the first on Confederation since W.L. Morton's The Critical Years and Donald Creighton's Road to Confederation of 1964; but there is also a recent and important ancillary work, Ged Martin's Britain and the Origins ofCanadian Confederation 183J-1867 (1995). Moore's 1867 is vivacious and readable, wearing its research with a certain gaiete; he is not afraid to cross a hundred years (or two) in making illustrative juxtapositions . In its strengths, in its contemporaneity, lie also its weaknesses. The reader is given a kaleidoscope of the 186os, rather than its Zeitgeist. Perhaps evoking the spirit of the timesJ the 186os, is asking much in a book of 279 pages. But for example, the American Civil War, which occupied so much of the visible world then for British North Americans, receives only passing mention. Thomas D'ArcyMcGee's point Moore quotes br)efly;butitcould, perhaps should, have been made more of. If you need reasons for Confederation , said McGee in 1864, circumspice. 'Look around you to the valley of HUMANITIES 491 Virginia ... to the mountains of Georgia/ and you wilJ find reasons as thick as blackberries.' McGee emphasized it in the first debates ·m the new Confederation Parliament, November 186T 'Not only at the time of the Trent affair [1861], but at every subsequent period of the four years' civil war, American events deeply impressed themselves on every Canadian capable of observation or reflection ... we were taught that the days of the colonial comedy of Government were over and gone, and that politics had become stern, and almost tragic for the New World.' It was tragic enough for poor McGee. He was shot dead by a Fenian just five months later. These events created the hydraulic pressure under which old colonial loyalties were angled and bent, forcing those who were hesitant about Confederation (and there were many in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland) to revise their thinking, to accept, if grudgingly , Confederation as a measure for the common defence and welfare of Britisl) North America. The same American events also justified the heavy hand of the British in enacting the British North America Act ot 1867. There are some comparisons that jar the academic mind; Edward Whelan is teamed in Literary tandem w.ith Edmund Burke. One has the impression that Burke is brought in mainly because the author likes him and his ideas. Burke (1729--97) is some distance from 1864. Walter Bagehot (1826-77) is also brought...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 490-491
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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