Canadian Identity and the Tory Legacy

2944965_origBy Jonathan M. Paquette

Canadian national identity consists of assertions that the nation’s culture comprises both British and French heritages in complex contradistinction to American republicanism. From Samuel De Champlain’s explorations to the Nova Scotia landing of the ship Hector, Canadian settlement became marked by these two legacies.
With the 1763 defeat of Montcalm and Quebec’s resultant incorporation into a British Canada, both Upper and Lower Canada’s governments owed their loyalty to the British Monarch. In this allegiance, they were joined by the Eastern Seaboard’s Thirteen Colonies. However, the 1763 Stamp Act Crisis began a series of events that resulted in Boston’s Battle of Bunker Hill and the 1776 American Declaration of Independence.

At this point, the developing political thought of the Canadian provinces and the American rebelling colonies began to widely separate. Always sparsely populated, the British Crown proved able to defend their Northern holdings and repel Benedict Arnold’s attack on Montreal. With the 1781 defeat of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown and the subsequent 1783 Treaty of Paris, the American-Canadian border solidified along with distinct political dichotomies separating the two nations. The War for American Independence produced thousands of exiles loyal to the British Crown who fled the emergent American republic for the West Indies and Canada. Within Upper Canada and Nova Scotia, these exiles became known as the United Empire Loyalists and brought with them both political monarchism and a defensive Anglicanism. Thus the intellectual and cultural origins of Canadian nationalism engendered continued loyalty to the British Empire partly due to inherent opposition to the United States.

Read the whole essay.

Published on the personal website of the author.