Essay about Confederation: Canada and Colonies

Submitted By chatrat2
Words: 835
Pages: 4

By the early 1860s, Great Britain was gradually losing interest in its North American colonies, which were seen to be an economic, military and political burden. Confederation is a great example of how multiple issues resulted in a historical event taking place. Trade barriers, divides between races and the rich and the poor were just a few of the suggested divisions within the new country.

During confederation leaders quickly realized that trade between colonies would be beneficial to the country’s economic future with the end of free trade with Britain and trade barriers between colonies. However costs for building the railway would be staggering and would have not been a viable option for one colony to struggle with the debt. With confederation colonies would be able to invest in the railway as one unit. Construction of the railway would open up markets for New Brunswick, bring economic opportunities to offset problems with the dying timber, fishing and agriculture industries in Newfoundland and join Canada West with the East. Even with the economic benefits Newfoundland would receive with the construction of the railway Newfoundlanders, Prince Edward Islanders and Nova Scotian’s saw stronger ties to Britain far more valuable than ties to the other colonies. For Prince Edward Island it would mean higher taxes to support the railway and higher tariffs to create colonial trade. Confederation had numerous economic benefits, though some colonies may have reaped the benefits more than others.

The history of relations between Native population and the British and Canadian governments is one of division and unequal power. During Confederation, London and the various colonial governments imposed their view of establishing order with a series of treaties and laws intended to regulate the lives of Aboriginal people. The process that led to Confederation did not consider Aboriginal people, yet they lived on the land and were directly affected by every decision even though they only made up for one percent of the population. The fact of the matter was after 1812 the Aboriginals were no longer any use to the new Dominion of Canada. The governments no longer required their furs or their military services. Many first Nations were forced to live on reserves far away and were not allowed to vote. If they wanted to vote they would have had to leave their reserves and begin living like the colonists did. With their population on a steady decline due to disease and poverty, it was believed that by the twentieth century there would be no more Aboriginals left in Canada so the governments essentially turned a blind eye to them. Confederation not only completely alienated the First Nations from the general public it also left a lifelong divide up to this day between First Nations and Canadian population.

The divide between the rich and the poor was no different during confederation than it is today. Today, in Canada you can complete your education up to grade 12 and fund your own endeavors to pursue a postsecondary education. The education system during confederation was definitely not as sophisticated as it is today unless you were from the upper class. If that was the case you were able to afford the fee’s to attend