Were all newcomers to Canada trying to control and dominate other people, or did they have other motives?

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It would, of course, be a mistake to believe that the newcomers to any country had, in migrating there, the sole purpose of controlling or dominating others. Like all countries, Canada has a complex history. The dynamic in which Canadians of different backgrounds have interacted with each other is similar...

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It would, of course, be a mistake to believe that the newcomers to any country had, in migrating there, the sole purpose of controlling or dominating others. Like all countries, Canada has a complex history. The dynamic in which Canadians of different backgrounds have interacted with each other is similar to that of the US and other countries in the New World, but Canada has had special features which are crucial to this question. "Special features" of some kind, nevertheless, are involved in the different ways in which all countries are formed and in the internal relations among their peoples.

Canada changed hands in one stroke in 1763, going from French to British rule as a result of the British victory in the Seven Years' War. Its European-descended population at this time was almost entirely French, but now these people suddenly found themselves the subjects of a foreign power, Great Britain. The French settlers had come to North America for a variety of reasons; as with the English and Spanish settlers to the south, their motives may have been partly to "dominate" the indigenous people. But above all, the Europeans wanted things for themselves, regardless of what their relationship to the American Indians would become. They wanted land, goods, and an escape from the poverty and the endless conflicts and religious divisions of the Old World. The native peoples stood in the way of these goals and were largely swept aside. It was the tragic result of the European settlement, even if this was not the specific or primary motive for the conquest of the New World.

But specifically in Canada, two secondary conflicts had the effect of complicating the situation. As stated, the French settlers became essentially the defeated people in 1763, placed in a subordinate position to that of the British victors. But the Toleration Act of 1774 guaranteed that the British would not attempt to prohibit the free practice of the Roman Catholic religion of the French settlers.

On the eve of the American Revolution, the British wished to insure that the Canadians did not join with the rebels from the thirteen colonies in defiance of the Crown, and the measure worked. The initial attempt by the patriot side to "liberate" Canada went nowhere. But the outcome of the War of Independence was that a large segment of the Loyalist population of the colonies migrated to Canada, not wishing to live under the new United States government. This became the original basis of the English-speaking population of Canada, which is now, of course, the majority, apart from the single province of Quebec. These people saw themselves not as intending to dominate or control other people but rather to avoid being dominated or controlled themselves by the people who had just successfully severed themselves from British rule.

That this large-scale migration took place is evidence of how divided the population of the colonies had been from the start of the Revolution, which really was a de facto civil war. It also shows how complicated the situation is in any country where we are looking at issues of domination and control. Unfortunately, as in the US, in Canada, ultimately the indigenous peoples ended up the losers, regardless of the specific intentions of the European-descent peoples, both French and English, who took over the North American continent. And later, in Canada just as in the US, many more immigrants arrived from European and other countries who were seeking a better life and, as with the earlier settlers, were fleeing poverty, injustice, and the endless conflicts and persecutions of the Old World.

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