British Journal of Canadian Studies

Use of Non-Traditional Evidence: A Case Study Using Heraldry to Examine Competing Theories for Canada's Confederation

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2010), 23, (1), 87–117.

Abstract

Heraldry emerged out of a need to identify public authority and, thus, lends itself to the examination of nationhood. This article uses the symbols granted to Canada and its provinces surrounding Confederation to shed new light on an old debate: whether a compact of provinces, a partnership between peoples or nation-building was the intent of the Fathers of Confederation. It finds evidence that a compact of provinces was the dominant notion among the Fathers and the British, but finds no evidence of a partnership between the French and English. A dispute over provincial Great Seals that emerged following union suggests that while there was no belief that a united kingdom was being created through union, this latent notion had begun to emerge in Ottawa immediately following Confederation. These findings suggest that social scientists should expand their arsenal beyond the written word whenever possible.

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Author details

Hicks, Bruce