Doing history in my opinion is telling the stories of the past. What I learned from this class is how to look at all sides of the story and use those perspectives to determine what I believe the true story is. In the beginning of the semester we were asked the question “what is history” and this is my answer.
My model of what “doing history” looks like
In this reading log I look at the different perspectives of the same story. I explain that “doing history” is in fact looking at the different perspectives and interpreting what you think the story truly is.
Reading log #9 Megan Mckinlay
History is the past, it is the stories of what have happened. Doing history is when you take the evidence of these events and tell the story. When looking at the story of confederation of Canada each colony tells a different story because each one experienced it with a different view. Upper Canada and a lot of colonies saw the union as a way of securing British connections. The French were conflicted about giving up their power and securing their culture. Atlantic colonies were worried about how far away Canada was and how their infrastructure plans would not benefit the island colonies. After looking at all the sides of this story one could put the parts together and tell a version of their interpretation of what happened, that is “doing” history.
In the Canadas and mainland colonies the idea of union was seen as positive for the British because it secured them with the British empire. One author from Nova Scotia said, “when I look at the objectors; I see only opponents of all that is selfish, unprincipled, vindictive, and disloyal” (1). Union for the majority of the colonies was a huge positive. The railroad would allow better trade opportunities, sharing the debts and expenses would allow colonies to grow and become more profitable without the debts holding them back, and having a larger military force would help colonies defend against American invasion. These were all huge positives for the British colonies and most British colonists believed that it was the best way to secure British interests.
The French were represented by the opposing opinions of Antoine-Aime Donion and George-Etienne Carrier. Donion felt that the union of colonies would leave French Canadiens greatly outnumbered. The British colonies would leave the French as a tiny minority in government; they would lose their power to make choices for themselves. Donion also thought the Canadian union would increase tension with the united states. Cartier fought to make sure the union would help secure cultural rights for the French. The French would be able to control local affairs themselves and keep their language.
In the Atlantic colonies they did not share that view because the biggest plus for union was the railway and other infrastructure. They believed that joining the union would strip away their freedom of control. If they joined the union each individual colony would be outnumbered, and they did not want to leave the fate of themselves to a government so far away. Newfoundlanders did not want to be taxed by the Canadians because they would not receive any benefit from the Canadian plans because they was so far away. Being outnumber in government was a common fear throughout the Atlantic colonies. Many believed that this would cause them to lose their identity.
These views are all a part of the story that makes up the history of Canadian confederation. All are very important and necessary to tell the story. “Doing history” is looking at the information and telling the story you believe happened.
- “The first of July,” Pictou Colonial Standard (Nova Scotia), July 2, 1867, p. 2.