Blog category: Canadian History
January 26, 2018
What would Niagara Falls be like without all of its tourist trappings? To get an idea, we can look at the accounts of people who visited Niagara Falls before tourism became the area’s main industry. If Napoleon had made the journey to Niagara Falls in the early 19th century – as he does fictionally in Napoleon in America – this is what he would have found.
June 30, 2017
Fifty years before Confederation, the land we now call “Canada” consisted of the colonies of British North America: Upper Canada, Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. British North America also included Rupert’s Land, which was nominally owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company and encompassed a large chunk of the north and the west. Through the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company, the British also had a permanent presence in what is now British Columbia. In practice, vast tracts of Canada were populated solely or mainly by aboriginal peoples.
September 16, 2016
Ever wonder about that bit of the Louisiana Purchase that extends into Canada? Here’s how parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan once came under Napoleon’s rule.
July 1, 2016
“With the first dawn of this gladsome midsummer morn, we hail the birthday of a new nationality. A united British America, with its four millions of people, takes its place this day among the nations of the world. Stamped with a familiar name which in the past has borne a record sufficiently honourable to entitle it to be perpetuated with a more comprehensive import, the DOMINION OF CANADA on this First day of July, in the year of grace, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, enters a new career of national existence.” Thus began an editorial by journalist and politician George Brown in the Toronto Globe on Monday, July 1, 1867.
January 15, 2016
Did you know that a tomb originally intended for Napoleon’s son is sitting in a Canadian cemetery? Napoleon’s son, otherwise known as Napoleon II, the King of Rome or Duke of Reichstadt, died of tuberculosis in Vienna on July 22, 1832, at the age of 21. Since his mother, Marie Louise, was the Duchess of Parma, a burial monument for the young man was constructed in Italy. When the Duke of Reichstadt was interred in the Habsburg family crypt at the Capuchin Church in Vienna, the Italian monument was left unused.
June 12, 2015
If you’re ever visiting the Duke of Wellington’s tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, take a moment to look for the bust of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. Nearby you will find a plaque sacred to the memory of Captain Alexander Macnab, a Canadian who died in the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Macnab, one of thousands killed in the battle, did nothing special to distinguish himself. How did he wind up being commemorated in such a place of honour? Macnab was not the only Canadian at the Battle of Waterloo.
April 17, 2015
George Schumph, who meets with Napoleon in Charleston in Napoleon in America, is one of those shadowy historical figures about whom little is known. A native of Quebec, he is remembered in the historical record because of his association with the New Orleans-based pirates, Pierre and Jean Laffite. Thanks in part to Schumph’s testimony, we have the details of Pierre Laffite’s death.
January 9, 2015
I have been blogging about the historical characters in Napoleon in America in order of their appearance in the novel. We now reach the point in the tale where Jean-Baptise Norau, from Saint-Constant, Quebec, arrives at Pierre-François Réal’s home in Cape Vincent wanting to see Napoleon. As I already wrote about Jean-Baptiste when discussing the history behind my short story “A Petition for the Emperor,” I will instead take a broader look at how Napoleon was viewed by French Canadians in the early 19th century. This topic has already been masterfully covered by Serge Joyal in Le Mythe de Napoléon au Canada Français (Del Busso, 2013). If you read French, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t understand French, you will enjoy the stunning illustrations.
We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.