Naturalizing Canada as a “Modern” Nation: Concepts of Political Association in Late-Nineteenth Century English Canada
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The meaning and future of the new political jurisdiction created in 1867 called Canada were far from obvious or certain for those who witnessed Confederation and its first decades of development. This study looks at some of the ways in which the creation of a new Canadian state in 1867 influenced ways of thinking about the nature of political association and civic identity. Based on a thorough analysis of English-Canadian magazines published between 1867 and 1900, as well as major books and pamphlets written about the constitution in Canada, many by the same authors, it focuses on the English-Canadian intellectuals and public writers who tended to write most systemically about such issues. This study assesses changing ideas of political association in these sources through an analysis of the key political concepts of constitution, nationality, citizenship, and loyalty, each of which form the basis of separate chapters. It argues that ideas of “modern” political association developed by these concepts often led to concerted efforts to describe the Canadian state as a legitimate and natural container of civic affiliation. While many described these concepts as increasingly defined by the relationship between the individual and the territorial, constitutional state, they continued to be guided by assumptions about racial identity and lines of exclusion. This complexity is detailed in the final chapter, a case study of changes to naturalization law between 1867 and 1914 that saw many of the ideas examined in this dissertation take more concrete legal form.