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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 86794A
ASTOR, LENOX AMS
PRINTED IN ENGLAND
BY FREDERICK HALL
ANY historical work which attempts to traverse the whole period of a nation's life, even if it be that of a young nation like Canada, must be either an outline of events or a study of development. In this work I have essayed the latter of these, endeavouring to present to my readers neither a description. nor an analysis of the political institutions of Canada, but rather an evolutionary account of the various movements and stages which have issued into the organized political life of the Canada of to-day. Canada as a political unity has a distinctive, to some it may seem an anomalous, character. It is well worth studying, both as a recent example of the process. of nation-making and as a most significant illustration of that real and yet not absolute sovereignty which defies the older theories of government and thereby leads us to a truer conception of the state. I have sought to unite these two aspects in this work. To understand the former it is necessary to keep the social background always in view, to show how, under the special conditions of a new land, the conjuncture of groups detached from older countries, particularly England and France, the insistent near influence of a great neighbouring country already ahead in economic development, and the later influx of more heterogeneous elements from many lands, with all the meeting and clash of traditions which this implied, have worked in the end to a certain unity and a sure nationhood. To understand the latter it is necessary to observe how the evolution of Canadian government has constituted a decisive challenge to the absolute Austinian doctrine of sovereignty.
This doctrine the very fact of the British Empire, as it has grown into a unity of self-governing peoples, by itself may be said to refute, but nowhere is that refutation so convincing as in the case of the country which names itself a Dominion and yet never hesitates in its allegiance to the mother country and to the Imperial system of which it constitutes a part. Without doubt Canada is a nation, and beyond question Canada owns a sovereignty. The situation creates both new problems and new visions. It is part of the whole world situation which the War emphasized. Absolute sovereignty in the last resort proves to be an illusory but most perilous claim in face of the facts of interdependence. While the civilized world is groping for the solution of the problem thus created, the British Empire is at least adumbrating the form which that solution must take. Canada has a special significance in this development. I have sought to bring out something of that significance in this work, and, particularly in the concluding chapter, have suggested the bearing of the Canadian situation on the whole issue of the interpretation of sovereign power. At any rate the history of Canadian constitutional development must be regarded as one of great moment, being full of achievement which once seemed to lie completely outside the possibilities admitted by timehonoured political theory.
Without attempting to record on every occasion my obligations to historians whose work has passed into the common heritage of history, I have however made every effort both in the foot-notes and in the lists of authorities to acknowledge my sources. The former are more particularly meant for students who may wish to follow the history more closely. The latter are deliberately placed at the end of each chapter, and I have, with special purpose, repeated the full titles of books. Of course, an exhaustive bibliography was out of the question,