Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sobel Wiki: The slum of the nation

This week's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is Quebec, the trouble spot of the Confederation of North America.

In our own history, the American victory in the Revolution led to tens of thousands of Loyalists moving (and in some cases fleeing) to the British colonies of Nova Scotia and Quebec. The British government accommodated the new arrivals by spitting off the new colonies of New Brunswick from Nova Scotia and Ontario from Quebec (or Upper Canada, as it was known at the time). The new settlers created English-speaking majorities in the former French colonies, and led to the bilingual Canada that exists today.

In the Sobel Timeline, most of these American Loyalists remained in the thirteen colonies after the British put down the North American Rebellion, and Quebec remained a majority-Francophone confederation -- the only one in the C.N.A. As a result, there was always a strong separatist movement in Quebec, often using violence and terrorism in its efforts to gain independence. The confederation's English-speaking minority responded in the 1850s by creating their own terrorist group, the Anti-Papists, and the de facto civil war between the two groups led to a sharp drop in Quebec's population as over a million people fled the violence between 1855 and 1870. The violence also retarded Quebec's economic development, leading a twentieth-century historian to refer to it as "the slum of the nation."

Governor-General Ezra Gallivan was able to bring an end to the violence in 1889 by holding a plebiscite that would allow Quebec to choose either the status quo, autonomy, or outright independence. A majority of the vote was for autonomy, and Sobel ceased to record events in Quebec after the plebiscite.

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