Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nobody loves you when you are 203

For a couple of years before 2015, the John A. Macdonald birthday parties on January 11 were lively events. (Unless he was actually born January 10, which remains a possibility.) They were history nerdfests more than Macdonald hagiographies, with a certain amount of political contestation encouraged.
By the 199th in 2014, it was getting a little too "official" and worshipful for my taste, and we passed on the 200th.

Now any kind of Macdonald commemoration would be intensely controversial. Indeed the bicentenary attention may have helped provoked the reassessment -- another sign of the consequences of anniversaries on historical memory. Even the pub located in Macdonald's old office building in Kingston has changed its name.  The 203rd does not seem to be prominent in the Canadian calendar today

This year the commemoration has apparently shifted from Canada to Highclere Castle in Britain, where they seem to be promoting the legend that the Canadian constitution was written there!
Highclere Castle was at the very centre of the discussions surrounding the British North American Bill and its drafting.
They must have an odd notion of what went on at aristocratic country house parties in the mid 19th centuries.
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