In explaining why the British North American provinces united in 1867, historians have tended to see Confederation as a logical response to the internal and external challenges of the 1860s. With some ambiguity, they have also attributed a major role to the British imperial factor in forcing the Maritime provinces to accept their predestined place in the Canadian nation.
In Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation, 1837-1867, Ged Martin offers a sceptical review of claims that Confederation answered all the problems facing the provinces, and examines in detail British perceptions of Canada and ideas about its future. The major British contribution to the coming of Confederation is to be found not in the aftermath of the Quebec conference, where the imperial role was mainly one of bluff and exhortation, but prior to 1864, in a vague consensus among opinion-formers that the provinces would one day unite. Faced with an inescapable need to secure legislation at Westminster for a new political structure, British North American politicians found they could work within the context of a metropolitan preference for intercolonial union.
Ged Martin has been Director of the Centre of Canadian Studies at the University of Edinburgh since 1983. He was previously Statutory Lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Lecturer in Modern History at University College Cork, and Research Fellow in History at the Australian National University, Canberra.
Preface Map 1 British North America on the Eve of Confederation 2 Canadian Confederation and Historical Explanation 3 The Origins of British Support for Canadian Confederation 4 The British and their Perceptions 5 Motives and Expectations of the British 6 The Role of the British in the Launching of Confederation 7 The Role of the British in the Achievement of Confederation 1864-1867 Conclusion Note on Sources Abbreviations Notes and References Index