Wednesday, May 25, 2011

History of happiness in America

In 1783 Justus Sherwood was surveying the north shore of the St. Lawrence River westward from Montreal to the future site of Kingston and on to the Quinte peninsula, today's Prince Edward County.  He was surveying ground for the thousands of refugee American loyalists who were going to start settling there the following spring.

He liked what he saw.  Indeed, Justus Sherwood may be the first great prophet of Upper Canadian nationalism and the rise of imperial Ontario.  He would have made a great Torontonian. After surveying the ground, he reported back to the authorities "The climate here is mild and good, and I think the loyalists may be the happiest people in America by settling this country."

I once had a little talk prepared, considering how refugees to Canada in 1784 would have defined happiness and whether this country delivered for them, and it used to go over well. Happiness studies: still an underdeveloped historical field.

Now Justus Sherwood's prediction has come true, it seems.  The new OECD quality of life survey finds Canadians (okay, not just Ontarians) the second happiest people in the world -- and our only rivals are on the other side of the world.   There's the Globe's summary, a bit sceptical, and the National Post's, a bit political
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