Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ajzenstat's Browne's Documents on Confederation

I missed the publication dates last fall, but McGill-Queen's Press has released a new edition of Documents on the Confederation of British North America, which is the ur-text on the subject and really ought to be consulted by pundits before they pronounce on whether confederation was a democratic process or what the Senate was intended to be or suchlike.

The work has a pedigree. It was compiled in the 1960s by historian G.P. Browne, who built on an early publication by Joseph Pope, who built on John A. Macdonald's personal collection of manuscript materials on the subject. The new edition was the inspiration of Janet Ajzenstat, who took pity on everyone who has been struggling with the nasty little Carleton Library edition of Browne's work that has been steadily crumbling in readers' hands since 1969. Ajzenstat wrote a new introduction, and it also comes with a blurb from, ah, me.

The Documents covers mostly the official documents which record the process by which the BNA Act of 1867 was negotiated, endorsed and finally legislated into effect. It takes its place beside Ajzenstat, ed, Canada's Founding Debates, which focuses on the debates in all the British North American legislatures from Newfoundland to British Columbia as to whether they should endorse the deal. Then you can read all the 'sixties historians of confederation or, blush, this book.
Follow @CmedMoore