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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A clash of visions : the ethnic question in lower Canada, 1848-1850 Dzanic, Dzavid


Although much historiographical attention has been paid to the way in which Lower-Canadian political groups responded to the Union, Responsible Government, the April 1849 burning of the Parliament in Montreal, and the annexation movement, the key principle underlying the political discourses of les Rouges, the conservative English Canadians, and the ministerial press in the late 1840s remains somewhat elusive. Much of the existing scholarship, moreover, is divided along linguistic and regional lines, which often produces interpretations that do not take into account the wider political discussion between French and English Canadians. By analysing the debates between L ‘Avenir, the Montreal Gazette, La Minerve, and The Pilot, and considering the manner in which those newspapers used the 1848 European Revolutions to add strength to their visions of Lower Canada’s future, this thesis argues that interethnic harmony and disharmony represented the ultimate stakes for all Lower-Canadian political groups between 1848 and 1850. Les Rouges (L ‘Avenir) and the conservative English Canadians (the Montreal Gazette) believed that French and English Canadians could not live together in harmony, and, as a result, they demanded reforms that would strengthen the political role of the ethnic group to which they respectively belonged. In contrast, the ministerial press (La Minerve and The Pilot) believed in the possibility of interethnic harmony and wanted to preserve Responsible Government, which, in their opinion, had the potential to prevent future interethnic conflicts.

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