Thursday, May 11, 2023

History of Canada and the American Civil War

Filmmaker and writer Julian Sher, who had a lively piece in the April-May 2023 Canada's History on a Canadian corner of the American Civil War, has also had a series of articles in the Globe and Mail on a similar topic.  He's a little more confrontational in the newspaper pieces, which expose Canadian complicity in the Confederacy's pro-slavery secessionist campaign.

He does makes a strong case for the pro-slavery views and support for the Confederacy of more than a few prominent Canadians. But I thought the series a little one-sided (as an editor titled it: "The American Civil War was Canada's Fight Too. And We Were on the Wrong Side."   It did seem to skimp on coverage of serious reasons why British North America had concerns about a heavily-armed United States with strong and enduring annexationist views regarding the provinces to the north. (He does acknowledge there were abundant Canadian supporters of the Northern cause, if briefly.)

So I was pleased to see a couple of letters to the editor making precisely this point, one signed by Alan McCullough of Ottawa, a friend of this blog. 

Sher's most vivid story of a Canadian Confederate ally concerns prominent Torontonian George Denison, who spared no effort to support the south and the cause of slavery.  Good to see the DBC Denison entry has this covered well, and notes that Denison's southern loyalties ruined his chances for military preferment in Canada. (There's still a Denison Avenue in downtown Toronto.)

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