Thursday, January 05, 2017

The birthplace of confederation... in Fredericton?

The terrific and prolific New Brunswick journalist and author Jacques Poitras is intrigued by the campaign of the New Brunswick government to have us all come to New Brunswick this Canada150 year to "celebrate where it all began."

Confederation began in New Brunswick? Poitras looks into it a bit, and hey: it's Donald Creighton who authorised the claim.
The very first line of historian Donald Creighton's seminal 1964 book The Road to Confederation says: "It was the enthusiasm of Gordon of New Brunswick that gave the movement its real start."

That's a reference to Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, who became lieutenant governor of New Brunswick in 1861.

"I suspect someone in the New Brunswick government must have come upon that line in the book and said, 'Hey, there's a slogan for us,'" says historian Christopher Moore, author of 1867: How the Fathers Made A Deal.
 Poitras remains a bit sceptical:
Everyone knows that Charlottetown was the birthplace of Confederation. It said so on Prince Edward Island's licence plates and on signs leading into the city. Sir John A. Macdonald is even depicted on one of the city's craft beers.
New Brunswick might respond that it was a founding province, when Prince Edward Island wouldn't even join.

I kinda like how an anniversary can spark a bit of historical controversy on idle questions like these. And for the record I'd be happy to spend a bit of the summer in either province. But if New Brunswick doesn't blow its own horn, no one else is likely to do it for them.

And I do like the notion of someone in the New Brunswick promotional office sitting in the library reading The Road to Confederation. Or possibly they were even reading me in their classes at Mount A or wherever, since I noted Creighton's first line in my own book.
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