A Decade of Turbulence

The End of an Era

The troop transport vessel Orentes leaving Quebec City on 11 November 1871

Caption: The troop transport vessel Orentes leaving Quebec City on 11 November 1871

View Multimedia - Changing Boundaries

Caption: View Multimedia - Changing Boundaries

Thus ended what could be called the era of invasion. From 1755 to 1871 the country, governed in turn by the French, the British and the Canadians, was under almost constant threat of real or apprehended invasion. But when all the battles, troop deployments and ship movements, and all the construction and military exploration, were over, Canada was considerably larger, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Indeed British Columbia had become a Canadian province on July 20, 1871, which marked a Canadian version of Manifest Destiny. It may have been less turbulent than the Manifest Destiny of its neighbours to the south, but it was not necessarily any less successful.

After all these wars and fears of invasion, all Canadians, no matter where their ancestors may have come from, were tired of armed conflict. Since it had become clear that there would be no war with the United States, the Canadian government no longer showed an interest in military problems. It slashed the army's budget and left its management to a few Anglophile officers. In any event, the new regular Canadian army consisted of a small battalion in Manitoba and two artillery units posted to Kingston and Quebec City. There were many volunteer militias, but well below the national potential and thus they cost much less than they could have. This situation was undeniably pleasing to the government, which was already attempting to raise the funds needed to complete the railway link to the Maritime provinces and to achieve its great dream of extending the railway all the way to the Pacific, thus opening the West to colonization. All Canadians, whether of old stock or immigrants just off the boat, were clearly more concerned with building an immense country and carving out a better life for themselves in a nation that appeared to be sheltered, in future, from the horrors of war.