I noticed a headline that referenced “North of the 49th Parallel” as a descriptor for Canadians. Here, where I’m 20 miles south of the 49th Parallel, that’s correct – basically the Canadians I know are north of 49. Still, they’re unusual Canadians. Toronto is further south than Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 72% of Canadians live below the 49th Parallel.
This website shows that half of Canada’s population lives below “the redline”, a line drawn at 45 degrees 42 minutes. From a westerner’s perspective, this map makes Canadian politics a lot easier to understand. Half of them live further south than Billings. And, as you can see from the map, they’re crowded together – unlike our own northern neighbors.
There’s a Durham report going around now, as Durham reports on the shenanigans around the Trump-Russia investigations. It’s about 180 years ago that Canada had its own Durham report, after a bit of civil unrest. Back then, Canada was divided into upper Canada and lower Canada.
Upper Canada was the area just north of the great lakes – largely settled by Loyalists (Tories) after the American revolution. The head of each family received 100 acres for settling there, with 50 acres more for each additional family member. Soldiers who had fought for the crown received significantly more. Family histories go way back – and at the turn of the 19th century, this area was home to some downright anti-US Canadians. The Canadian Encyclopedia provides us this description:
“The term Family Compact is an epithet, or insulting nickname; it is used to describe the network of men who dominated the legislative, bureaucratic, business, religious and judicial centres of power in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) from the early- to mid-1800s. Members of the Family Compact held largely conservative and loyalist views. They were against democratic reform and responsible government. By the mid-19th century, immigration, the union of Upper and Lower Canada, and the work of various democratic reformers had diminished the group’s power. The equivalent to the Family Compact in Lower Canada was the Château Clique.”
If we think about those early settlers of “Upper Canada” – the area that today is shown below the “red line”, they weren’t folks who wanted the representative democracy that was established in the new American republic. They were monarchists, and Canada bloody well had a king. Sure, it’s a couple centuries back, but the Tories (Loyalists) had soldiered for the crown, and the government they wanted was not a representative democracy.
In 1837 and 1838 there were rebellions in both Upper and Lower Canada. Basically, the French Canadians didn’t particularly like the English speaking Canadians, and that was reason enough for small uprisings in Lower Canada, and the newer settlers of Upper Canada didn’t particularly like being governed by the old guard Loyalists. Lord Durham looked the situation over, and recommended uniting the provinces into a single Canada – remember, the Brits had a lot of experience ruling conflicted peoples in Ireland . . . there it was Protestant and Catholic, but it could work. So he moved things to a spot where the English speakers wound up with a readily identifiable political opposition – while Durham’s report is regarded as paving the way for Canadian independence and responsible government, the roots of that government were planted by moneyed Loyalists who lost the American Revolution, and largely made their identities in opposition to the US form of government.
As we watch the truckers protest, it may be a good idea to remember that there is a lot of historical difference between the Canadians of Eastern British Columbia and Alberta whom we know and the heirs of the Family Compact and the Chateau Clique. Somehow, it seems appropriate that Durham reports are a historical commonality.