31.  Priests Lead the Rabble: Hidalgo and Morelos                                    C

32.  Iturbide—Revolution to Keep Things the Same                                   B

33.  Santa Anna, Jack-in-the-box President                                               B

34.  Good Guys on Both Sides--Maximilian and Juarez                              B

35.  Porfirio Diaz—Modernizer or Monster?                                               B

36.  The Real Mexican Revolution--Madero and Carranza                         B

37.  Bandido Patriots: Zapata and Pancho Villa                                           C

38.  Cardenas: The Promise Fulfilled                                                         A

39.  Canada, the Quiet Neighbor

          a.  The Acadians                                                                                B

          b.  Maski-pitoon                                                                                A

          c.  Sir John A. Macdonald                                                                   B

          d.  The Riel Rebellions                                                                      B

          e.  Sir Wilfred Laurier                                                                        B

          f.  The Doukhobors                                                                           A

          g.  Grey Owl                                                                                      A

          h.  W. L. Mackenzie King                                                                   B

          i.  Pierre Elliot Trudeau                                                                     D



A  Additional information very hard to find

B  A moderate amount of additional information should be available

C  Plenty of stuff available--an easy job

D  Too much information available--this will require a lot of sorting





            In Mexico, as in Peru, Indians led the first struggles for independence from Spain.  In the early 1700s, a thirteen- ­or fourteen-year-old girl known as Maria de la Candelaria (Maria of the candlelight ceremony) inspired the Mayas to throw out the Catholic priests and take over their official duties.  They turned the hated Spanish racial laws upside-down; captured Spanish women became the wives or servants of Indian men.  Spain quickly crushed the rebellion.  Maria, her father, and her young husband escaped to the hills, where they live on in legend.  Fifty years later, a small brawl between drunken soldiers and drunken Indians happened.  The Mayas then crowned an educated baker as King Jacinto Canek.  Soldiers soon captured, tortured, and executed him.  Then another fifty years passed.


            In North America and in South America, rich young white men led the independence movements.  But in Mexico, the wealthy whites muddled in confusion.  Some enjoyed their positions of privilege.  The others could not agree on what they did want.  No one seemed to have any leadership ability.  So the leadership passed on to the Indians, those of mixed race, black people, the poor.  The independence movement became much more than a struggle between Spain and Mexico; it became a war between rich and poor.


            Father Miguel Hidalgo (me-GEL ee-THAL-go) served as the elderly priest of the dusty little Indian village of Dolores.  In 1810, the government decided to arrest him and others who were plotting for revolution, The mayor's wife, Josefa Dominguez, sent him a warning.  He rang the church bells to gather his congregation, and gave the cry for revolution.  He did not talk to these poor farmers about kings and European politics but about poverty and the injustices they suffered every day.  A mob formed and swarmed through the countryside, with Father Hidalgo waving his pistols in the lead.  More and more poor people joined--a hundred thousand of them.  They killed rich landowners, smashed up their property, and stole their wealth.  Some of the revolutionary leaders felt horrified at this violence, but Father Hidalgo believed it was necessary.  The rich reacted violently.  Both sides tried to outdo each other in the cruel ways they tortured and killed their prisoners.


            The mob captured one city after another.  Father Hidalgo could barely control the group any more.  He did get them to pause before attacking Mexico City.  This was a mistake, for it gave the government time to organize.  The small government army scattered Hidalgo's poorly-armed rabble.  The rebel leaders fled into hiding, and began betraying each other.  Father Hidalgo was captured.  The Catholic church stripped him of his position as priest, so that the government could shoot him.  His head was displayed in an iron cage with those of three other revolutionary leaders.  Mexicans today consider him the father of their country.


            Father Jose Maria Morelos (mo-RAY-loce) had once studied under Father Hidalgo.  He was a mixture of white, red, and black races.  But he suffered poor health, and always wore a bandana because of headaches.  He took over the revolutionary leadership after Father Hidalgo died.  Morelos was a much better organizer.  He developed a small but disciplined army.  And he set a committee at work drafting a constitution which would give the land back to the poor, and set up a democratic government.  He controlled much of Mexico and brought order to those war-torn areas,


            General Morelos believed in democracy.  He insisted that he only served the wishes of the revolutionary congress.  So when the war hit hard times and the congress asked him to resign, he did.  The squabbling congressmen could not lead, and their army soon lost.  They shamefacedly asked Father Morelos to lead them to safety.  He did so, and then led the Spanish army off in another direction.  They caught him, the Catholic church removed him from the priesthood, and he was shot.


            The revolution lived on.  Father Hidalgo had made it a powerful idea; Father Morelos made it a powerful possibility.




            Throughout North and South America, the independence movements were led by men who wanted changes.  But in Mexico the opposite happened, For ten years, poor people had fought for change.  But the army of the rich, led by General Agustin de Iturbide (ah-loos-TEEN day ee-toor-BE-thay) had just about put down the revolution.  Red-haired Iturbide mixed with the rich white people, and tried to hide the fact that he was part Indian.  But he lost his army position for running a protection racket on the silver mines entrusted to his guard.  Young Iturbide retired to a monastery to plot and wait for his next chance.


            The Mexican establishment felt secure; their world was not going to change after all.  Then trouble happened in Spain: liberals forced the king to guarantee the rights of poor people, and cut back on the power of the church and the rich.  These changes were supposed to apply to the Spanish colonies as well.  The church and the rich in Mexico decided to revolt rather than make the changes.  Priests persuaded the Spanish governor to let Iturbide take charge of the army again.  He was sent to put down the last of the poor people's rebellion.  But when he could not beat the peasants, he invited them to join him in a big rebellion.


            Iturbide promised something for everyone: for the rich, he promised a king of Mexico; for the Catholic church, he promised that there would be no freedom for other religions; and for the poor, he promised equality before the law.  All groups joined him.  He won the army over by promising promotions for the officers.  Since everyone joined the revolution, there was no one to fight.  The Spanish governor left peacefully, and Mexico became independent.


            The new Mexican congress invited the Spanish king to flee from changing Spain and come rule old-fashioned Mexico.  But the king had gotten control in Spain once more, and warned the Mexicans to get beck into the Spanish empire.  As usual, the rich white members of congress did not know what to do.  Iturbide solved the problem by staging an army demonstration which demanded that Iturbide be made emperor.  He pretended that he did not want the position unless it came from congress.  He hurried congress into session, and they fearfully voted while the army howled outside.  The results are interesting: 67 were bullied into voting for him, 15 dared to vote against him, and 74 refused to vote.  Iturbide was crowned Emperor Agustin I.  He persuaded all the nations of Central America, Texas. and California to join him--so he really did rule an empire.


            Iturbide was good at plotting revolution, but poor at planning a government.  Relations with congress broke down, so he sent them home and ran the country by himself.  His biggest problems were financial.  He paid the army all the money he had, and then printed worthless paper money to give them.  When even these payments got too far behind, General Santa Anna revolted.  With problems too big for him, Iturbide resigned after just eight months as emperor.  Besides, he pointed out, the government had gotten way behind on paying his salary.


            He sailed to Italy, and wrote a book.  The Mexican government paid him a high pension to stay out of their country forever, but the next year he landed in Mexico  with more paper money and promotions for army officers.  He did not know he had been outlawed.  Some local law enforcement agents grabbed him and shot him as soon as he landed.  It was an unspectacular end for the man who gave Mexico its independence.




            One man stole the spotlight during the first forty years of the Mexican nation--Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  He was a soldier with no particular ability, but shifty enough to usually end up on the winning side.  He was brazenly dishonest, power-hungry, a parading fool.  But the Mexican people loved him for his cat-like ability to always land on his feet during a crisis.


            Santa Anna fought against the first Mexican revolutionaries.  He later joined Iturbide who promised him promotions.  But he felt that his promotions did not come fast enough, so he led the revolution which drove Iturbide out of power.  Mexico became a republic.  Five years later, a conservative won the election for president--even though hardly anyone had voted for him.  Santa Anna led a revolution which overturned the election and put the rightful liberal candidate in office.  Then the conservatives revolted two years later and seemed to be winning.  Santa Anna joined them against the liberal he had placed in office.  Two years after that, he led a liberal revolt against the conservative president he had helped put into office.


            As a popular hero, he then ran for the presidency and won.  In his amazing career, Santa Anna took office as president nine times.  This is partly because he would resign when an unpopular decision had to be made.  Then when his puppet blundered, he would lead a small revolt, claiming he was still the rightful president.  Actually, his terms in office fall into four groups: 1832-36, 1839-44, 1847, 1853-55.


            During his first stretch as president, Texas declared its independence.  Santa Anna led his army to victory at the Alamo, against Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and other adventurers.  But in another battle, Santa Anna, himself, was captured.  He persuaded the Texans to free him by promising to undermine the Mexican government in favor of Texan independence.  When they finally freed him, he ignored his promise because his term of office had run out.


            After losing Texas, Santa Anna lived in disgrace.  But just two years later, France invaded Mexico to collect a lot of unpaid government debts. (Mexicans called it the Pastry War because the most ridiculous debt on the list was for damages to some French pastries in a shop during one of the revolutions.)  Without asking permission from anyone, Santa Anna took over control of the army and led an unauthorized charge.  A cannonball shot his leg off.  But he had become a public hero once more.  He pretty much controlled the government during the next few years.


            Mexico lost the Pastry War, and the Mexican people lost faith in their government.  So Santa Anna led a revolt, and had congress make him dictator for a second stretch.  He buried his leg in a magnificent marble shrine.  He put on parades and extravaganzas to keep the people happy.  To pay for all of this, he taxed everything he could think of--including windows.  When he ran out of money to pay the army, they revolted.  The mob threw his leg in the sewer, and he was banished to Cuba for ten years.


            But just a year later, the land-hungry United States declared war on Mexico.  The Mexican government and army had such poor leaders that even old General Zachary Taylor could beat them.  The conservatives decided that the only way to restore order was to invite a European prince to become king of Mexico.  To stop that plan, the liberals in 1847 offered the leadership to Santa Anna.  He persuaded the United States to let him pass into Mexico by promising to undermine the Mexican government.  He brought Taylor's army to a standstill, and became a popular hero again.  Then came another American army led by General Scott, which wiped out Santa Annals army.  He borrowed money from the American invaders (telling them he needed it to undermine the government) and raised a new army.  Scott beat this army too, and marched into Mexico city.  Santa Anna resigned so he would not have to sign the embarrassing surrender of half of Mexico’s land.  For the first time, no one wanted to be president.  Someone remembered that according to the long-ignored constitution, the supreme court justice was supposed to take over if the president resigned.  The judge warned that Santa Anna would be brought to trial for losing the war, so the slippery ex-president persuaded the United States officials to let him escape to Jamaica.


            For the next six years, the liberals tried to rule, but only had disasters.  The conservatives seized control and invited Santa Anna back to rule for one year only, while they hunted for a European prince to become king.  Santa Anna made himself dictator for a fourth stretch.  When it came time for him to give way for a king, he changed his title to Most Serene Highness, and stayed on.  He sold more land--the Gadsden Purchase--to the United States so he could pay the army.  When he ran out of money the liberals and army revolted.  He fled to Venezuela, planning to return soon,


            But Mexico went through terrific changes after that.  In the new Mexico, people had no patience for a colorful clown like Santa Anna.  He tried to come back many times, but was always stopped at the border.  Twenty years later, the government allowed him to come home--blind and poor-­to die in Mexico City.




            In one of Mexico's many revolutions, the president saved his skin by joining the revolutionaries.  He turned over the government to the revolutionary leader.  Then the unexpected happened: the chief justice of the supreme court, an Indian named Benito Juarez (bay-NEE-toe WAH-race), claimed that he was now president according to the constitution.  People laughed, because everyone knew that the president was whoever had the biggest army behind him.  Juarez had nothing but the constitution, which no one had paid any attention to in years.  But he was a stickler for the law.  He was also a grim little man who never gave up.  He gathered an army and fought a three-year civil war to become president.  Afterward, he won election to a second term.


            Juarez represented a new generation of tough-minded lawyers.  Through study and hard work, he had pushed his way up in the white man's world.  He felt suspicious of those above him who blocked his progress, and he had little respect for the Indians still back on the farms who had not climbed upward.  But a mixed-race middle class was growing in Mexico, and Juarez represented their rising ambitions.


            Juarez believed that Mexico's worst enemy was the corrupt and powerful church.  So he took the church's lands and sold them.  He did the same to the Indians' lands.  To organize Mexico’s awful finances, he announced that he would postpone paying the huge national debt owed to foreign countries.  France, Spain, and England sent soldiers to Mexico to collect the money owed to them.  Juarez hid in the hills.


            But France had secret ambitions to make Mexico part of the French empire.  Napoleon III thought this was the ideal time to do it, because the United States was busy with its own civil war.  The Mexican conservatives still wanted a king to rule them.  So Napoleon suggested the young blue-eyed blond-boarded crown prince of Austria, Maximilian.  Mexican leaders staged a fake election, and presented Maximilian with six-and-a-half million signatures asking him to come be their emperor.  Only after he had ruled in Mexico for a while, did Maximilian realize there wore not six-and-a-half million people in all the land who could write their names.


            Maximilian soon disappointed those who had brought him.  He fell in love with Mexico, and wanted what seemed best for its real people--the Indians.  He agreed with Juarez that the church was corrupt, and would not give it back its power.  He did not trust the French army, and promoted Indians to the head of the Mexican army.  He built parks; he brought beauty and culture to grubby Mexico City.  Maximilian was a Romantic idealist who wanted to be a gracious ruler, rather than getting down to the gritty business of fighting a war against Juarez.  He respected Juarez' honesty, and hoped the two of them could work together.


            When the United States finished its civil war, France decided it was time to get out--leaving Maximilian with no help and more debts.  The emperor's wife cracked under the strain, and went insane while in Europe trying to raise help for Mexico.  When Maximilian learned that most Mexicans had never wanted him to come, he thought about resigning and going home.  But that seemed cowardly; he decided to stay and die like a king if necessary.


             Meanwhile, Juarez' term as president had expired, but he refused to give up the title.  It was an interesting situation: a liberal led the conservatives, and a conservative led the liberals.  Maximilian was the wrong man for all the right reasons; Juarez was the right man for many of the wrong reasons.  The Mexican people chose Juarez--for he was one of them,


            Juarez captured Maximilian.  People all over the world asked that he be spared.  Juarez refused.  Maximilian died with dignity and grace before a firing squad, shouting "Long live Mexico."  Juarez won election to a third term.  He started building public schools to replace the church schools, so that others could rise through education as he had done.  No one really won the next election, so Juarez stayed on for a fourth term.  He died a year later of a heart attack.


            A little chapel now stands on the hill where Maximilian died, But sayings of Juarez cover the walls, and a huge black statue of Juarez stands above it.  Mexican schoolchildren learn that Maximilian was the bad guy and Juarez was the good guy.  History was never that simple.




            Porfirio Diaz (por-FEER-yo DEE-as) ruled Mexico for thirty-four years from 1876 to 1910.  Some people say he was the greatest leader Mexico ever had.  Others say he was the worst dictator Mexico ever had.  He may have been both.


            As a young man, Diaz had studied law under Juarez.  Both times when Juarez fought civil wars to become president, Diaz fought for him.  But Diaz did not fight under Juarez.  He would go off to another part of Mexico and win more battles than Juarez did.  But after Juarez finally became president, Diaz challenged his leadership.  He twice ran against Juarez for the presidency, and lost.  After Juarez died and Diaz lost a third election, he led a revolt and became president anyway.  Four years later, he let his puppet become president.  But in the next election, Diaz won; he did not let go of his power again.


            Diaz was always careful to obey the constitution.  He went through the motions of an election every few years, but he made sure his people counted the ballots.  He put his people in every important office.  He solved the crime problem by having all small criminals shot as soon as caught; he gave bigger criminals the choice of becoming policemen.  He got rid of any dangerous generals in the army by making them ambassadors.  He would not allow newspapers to criticize.  Diaz made sure that no clever young politician rose high enough to challenge him.  The result was many years of peace after the long history of chaos.


            With stable government, the economy began to straighten  out.  Diaz invited foreign industries in to develop Mexico’s mineral and oil deposits.  Progress boomed--railroads, telegraph, electricity, sewers.  The rest of the world quit laughing at Mexico and treated it with respect.  Under Diaz, Mexico grew into a scientific and modern nation.


            Unfortunately, all of this development brought prosperity to the cities, while the people in the countryside became poorer than ever.  Diaz took the last of the Indian lands, and treated the Indians miserably--even though he was part Indian himself.  He felt that these people blocked industrial progress.  Farms became the huge property of a few people.  A farm might grow so big that it included several cities and villages inside it.  Most people owned no land at all.  Eighty-five percent of all farmland belonged to foreign investors.  Another eleven percent belonged to a handful of wealthy Mexicans.  The other four percent was all that the common people owned.


            Diaz ruled on.  He had started as a liberal, but grew more and more conservative.  When he was nearly eighty, he announced that Mexico was ready for real democracy, and that he would not run for president again.  The white-haired old man presided in glory over Mexico’s centennial.  But when election time came, he decided to run after all.  He announced the results--only 196 votes against him in all of Mexico.  This was such an obvious lie that people grew outraged, They gathered around the palace calling for his resignation.  After having many of them shot, he gave in.  He left Mexico, convinced that he had saved his country from disaster.




            When a Mexican speaks of the Mexican Revolution, he refers not to the revolution of 1810, but to the much larger revolution of 1910.  It had been exactly one hundred years since Father Hidalgo had started the first revolution with the cry of equal rights for the poor people.  During the next century colorful and exciting Mexican leaders rode across the pages of history, but the poor people became even poorer.  Nothing had really changed.  By 1910, people felt ready for a real revolution.


            Yet the revolution surprised everyone--especially the man who found himself leading it.  He was a squeaky-voiced little politician named Francisco I. Madero (ma-THAY-ro).  He simply ran for election against the long-time dictator, Diaz.  Politicians expected that Diaz would win as usual.  But this time people listened.  Diaz became worried and locked Madero in jail until the election was over.  Diaz probably won the election, but he lied so badly about the number of votes, that people all over Mexico decided they had had enough.  Several revolts broke out.  To their surprise, the revolutionaries won.  Madero suddenly became president.


            Madero was a rich young do-gooder who did not understand the needs of the poor people who had put him into office.  He had no real plan.  But the little president had courage.  He spoke out boldly against foreign businessmen who had been exploiting Mexico.  So the United States ambassador helped General Huerta (WARE-ta) organize a quick rebellion.  The drunken general had Madero whisked away and shot.  Once he was dead, the Mexican people decided that Madero had been a genuine hero.  The next president lasted 46 minutes.


            Now the second stage of the revolution began--a bloody civil war against General Huerta and the army.  One of the governors, Venustiano Carranza (kah-RAHN-sah), led the demand for constitutional government.  He was a white-bearded man who wore blue-tinted spectacles.  Actually, there were three revolutionary armies: Pancho Villa's in the north, Zapata’s in the South, and Carranza's in central Mexico.  After a long and violent fight, they won.  Then the three leaders began fighting against each other.  Carranza won that struggle.


            Now began the third and most important stage of the Mexican revolution.  Carranza called a constitutional convention.  The delegates drafted reforms far beyond what Carranza had expected.  They not only reformed politics, they also made arrangements to give the land back to the common people.  And they drafted labor laws which moved far ahead of any others in the world in 1917.  The political revolution had become a revolution of the whole society.  The drafters of the constitution realized that many of these changes would have to come gradually, but they put them in writing as a promise to the future.

            Both Germany and the United States tried to drag Mexico into World War I, but Carranza steered clear.  Politics inside the country remained confused.  After five years, some army officers revolted.  Carranza grabbed all of the money he could carry, and tried to flee.  Soldiers ambushed him.


            Both Madero and Carranza had fought for democracy, The tremendous social reform went beyond anything they had imagined.  They each led the way as far as they could.  Then the revolution passed them by.  Mexicans today honor these two heroes for the necessary parts they played in the greater struggle.




            At first, the Mexican Revolution of 1910 looked like all the other Mexican revolutions: a power struggle between politicians.  But it quickly grew into a struggle of the poor people for their rights.  Two bands of outlaws caused that change.  Their leaders were Emiliano Zapata (sa-PA-ta) and a man who called himself Pancho Villa (VEE-ya).


            The Indian farmers of the southern mountains started the whole movement, with Zapata as their leader.  When they could stand their ill-treatment no longer, they began capturing plantations and dividing the land among the poor.  Zapata trusted no politician--for politicians had been giving empty promises for a hundred years.  He fought against the dictator Diaz, and against every one of the men who tried to replace him.  The army could not find his band, for they quietly farmed by day, and slipped away on raids at night. Of all the leaders in the Mexican Revolution, people feared Zapata the most.  He stood for real change, and was a different type of leader than they were used to--quiet, shy, incorruptible.  Of all the leaders in the revolution, he was really the only one who did not sell out on part of his ideals.


            Up near the Texas border, Pancho Villa led a gang of rustlers long before he decided politics was a better racket.  After the revolution had gone on quite a while, he announced that he favored President Carranza.  Anyway, it made a good excuse to steal and rape and burn and kill.  Villa's flambouyant methods attracted worldwide attention.  He took over the railroads, and used them to whisk his raiders all over northern Mexico.  He held press conferences for newspapermen from the United States.  He represented both the last of the cowboys and the first of modern warriors.


            Three armies closed in on the government--Zapata’s, Villa’s, and Carranza’s.  Zapata and Villa both reached Mexico City at about the same time.  The city folks feared what these lower-class outlaws from the country might do.  Zapata’s Indians, dressed in their white farm clothes and huge sombreros, went from door to door quietly asking for food.  Villa's cowboys stole what they needed, shot up the liquor stores, and amused themselves in drunken parties.


            But Zapata and Villa remained only local heroes--not nationwide leaders.  Only President Carranza could pull the whole country behind him, so they had to step aside.  When Carranza called a constitutional convention, the delegates from Zapata’s group had the largest impact on what that document should include.  For they were the only group with a real plan other than grabbing power.  They wrote sweeping land reforms, and changed the structure of the whole society.  No longer could Mexico be the land of the few rich white people and the many poor Indians.  From now on, it would be the land of la Raza, the strong mixture of free and proud people.


            Two years later, an army leader decided to make a name for himself by leading Zapata Into an ambush of six hundred rifles, which killed him instantly.  Meanwhile, Villa raided an American town because he felt angry that the United States had recognized Carranza as president rather than himself.  The American army wanted to invade Mexico, but Carranza limited their activities.  The Mexican government bought Villa off with a large ranch and a house full of servants.  He died three years later, when someone riddled his car with bullets.




            The Mexican constitution of 1917 promised land and better living conditions for the peasants.  Through the 1920s, military dictators granted those rights ever so slowly.  But one thing the revolution had accomplished: no dictator dared to remain in office beyond the six years of his term as president.  So when the dictator in 1934 had to retire, he saw to it that the next president was a man he thought he could manage--Lazaro Cardenas (KAR-thay-nas).


            Cardenas campaigned among the Indians, the farmers, the workers.  And with their support, he made the former dictator and his cronies leave the country.  Then he started putting the long-delayed promises into effect.


            Cardenas dreamed of making Mexico a nation of small independent farmers.  He distributed millions of acres to the poor.  But the change came much too late.  The population had swelled so much that there was no longer enough land to go around.  And other nations were discovering that the days of the small farmer had ended.  Modern farming required giant machines, scientific control, and vast fields.  Cardenas tried to adapt to the modern market by setting the peasants up on large collective farms.  The experiment failed.  Production fell.  And this happened in the middle of the World Depression when food and money were scarce.


            Mexico would have sunk into trouble, except that Cardenas was also busy turning it into an industrial nation.  When unions struck for higher wages, he gave them legal support.  He made the railroads a government enterprise.  When the unions complained that they could run the railroads better, he let them try.  They soon gave up, and the nation took control once more.


            The most dramatic decision came on oil.  Companies from the United States and England had long been exploiting their Mexican workers.  Cardenas backed the workers’ demand for fair wages.  So did the supreme court.  The foreign industrialists refused to obey the Mexican law, and insulted Cardenas by doubting his word.  The people of Mexico united in anger as they never had united before.  With great popular support, Cardenas nationalized the oil companies--that is, he bought them out and made them Mexican.  Over the next several years, small countries all over the world followed this example--but Mexico led the way.  To pay off the original owners, the Mexican people took up a collection.  The rich gave money and jewels; the poor contributed in chickens and pigs; even the church gave up some of its gold ornaments.  Most of the money, though, came from profits--after losing money during the first awkward years of learning.  The foreign oil executives accused Cardenas of being a Communist, but he was not.


            Mexico today is a united and prospering nation--moreso than any other in Latin America.  Leaders since Cardenas have followed his example.  The political revolutions have ended.  Mexico has begun to enjoy the harvest of the social revolution whose seeds were planted by so many Mexican heroes so long ago.




            Compared to Mexico, the history of Canada has been orderly--sometimes almost dull.  But colorful incidents and colorful personalities have popped up.  Here are some examples:





            Canada belonged to France.  By 1755, France and England were preparing for war to decide which European nation would control all North America.  England had already captured Acadia (today known as Newfoundland, the peninsula which outs south into the Atlantic next to Maine).  The English commander feared that in the coming war, the Acadian people would remain loyal to France.  So he destroyed the colony, rounded up all of the settlers he could find, and shipped them off to be scattered through the English colonies to the south.  Families, friends, and lovers became separated.  Some eventually found their way back to Canada.  Others drifted south to the French colony at New Orleans, where they are still known by the shortened name of Cajuns.


            The American poet, Longfellow, wrote Evangeline, a long poem about separated Acadian lovers.  For generations, most American schoolchildren studied it.





            In the 1860s, just before Canada became a nation, an Indian chief far to the west set an example of peaceful accomplishment.  The Crees had chosen Maski-pitoon for their chief, because of his bravery in battle.  But listening to the advice of his old father, the young chief decided to end the centuries of war with their neighbors.  Unarmed and alone, he walked out to face a war party.  And many times he walked into enemy camps to discuss ways of finding peace.  He even forgave the man who murdered his father.  When missionaries arrived, he used the teachings of the Bible to further support his appeal for peace.  Maski-pitoon's bravery became so respected that a young man decided to make a name for himself by assassinating the famous chief at a peace conference.





            There were two Canadas.  Upper Canada (upriver to the south) became English-speaking and Protestant.  Lower Canada (downriver to the north) remained French-speaking and Catholic.  Other colonies grew to the east and west.  An Irish newspaperman named Thomas D'Arcy McGee moved to Canada and persuaded most of these colonies to join into one strong nation in 1867.  Irishmen from the United States assassinated McGee, because they had hoped the United States would rule all North America.


            Sir John A. Macdonald was a hard-drinking politician from Scotland.  He formed the first Canadian government, and welded the nation together, He stretched the Canadian nation all the way across to the Pacific Ocean, and had a railroad built to tie all of the regions together.  He governed Canada almost all of the time from its beginning in 1867 to his death in the 1890s.





            People of mixed French and Indian ancestry settled the Canadian midwest.  They elected Louis Riel (LOO-ee ree-EL) as their leader.  When Canada decided to expand westward, the local people were not asked whether they wanted to join the new nation, So when the new governor arrived in 1869, Riel and the local people chased him into the United States.  Canada sent an army, and the people gave up without firing a shot.  Riel fled to the United States, where he spent much of his time in an insane asylum.


            Then the railroad came, and began seizing the Indian and French-Indian lands.  Once again the people rose in rebellion, and sent for Riel to lead them.  In 1885, serious war broke out.  In the end, the Indians and French-Indians lost, and Riel was hanged.





            For over two centuries, Canada has had a French minority problem.  But one French Catholic rose above all prejudices of race and religion to become prime minister.  Sir Wilfred Laurier (LOR-ee-ay) guided Canada for fifteen years from 1896 to 1911.  His quiet and polite manners won the hearts of all people, and set the tone of orderly Canadian government which has followed ever since.  His administration brought Canada its great boom of industrial growth.





            The Doukhobors had been peace-loving farmers in Russia.  When the Czar's government tried to draft them into the army, they burned their weapons and moved to western Canada in 1899.  Three groups soon developed: those who prospered on huge communal farms, those who prospered on their own private farms, and the Sons of Freedom who feared that prosperity was leading people away from a simple spiritual life.  Within four years, the Sons of Freedom began burning their houses, burning their clothes, and marching nude--men, women and children--to demonstrate their spiritual ideals.  These demonstrations continued over the next sixty years.  Canadian authorities insisted that the Doukhobors could not educate their own children.  Fires and bombings of government schools turned violent, as a few Doukhobors forgot their peaceful tradition.  But all united to demonstrate against having any part in World War II.  Today, the Doukhobors are merging into Canadian society.





            Canada has produced several outstanding conservationists.  Perhaps the most famous was Grey Owl who, in the 1930s. toured England in his Indian clothes, and even lectured the king.  Grey Owl and his fourth wife lived with beavers.  The beavers trusted him so much they even built a lodge inside his cabin.  Grey Owl wrote popular books about the personalities and antics of each of his beaver friends.  He invited cameramen to come make films of his trusting beavers at work.


            The day after Grey Owl died, the truth suddenly became known: he was not an Indian at all.  He had been an English schoolboy who always dreamed of going off to America to live with the Indians.  But Grey Owl was one of those rare individuals who carried out his dreams.  He lived with the Indians and learned their love for nature; they adopted him into their tribe and gave him his name.  Was he a fraud?  Or was he one of the most genuine human beings of the twentieth century?





            William Lyon Mackenzie King governed Canada through most of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.  (He should not be confused with his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie, a rebel leader a hundred years before.)  King concentrated on business and economics.  He steered Canada through the Great Depression and World War II.  And he negotiated Canada into gradual independence from England.  The last nearby British colonies then joined the nation.  His opponents knew him as a scrappy little man.





            In 1980, the citizens of Quebec voted not to separate from Canada and form their own French-speaking nation.  Canada had come that close to splitting in two.  The man who saved the union was Pierre Elliott Trudeau (true-DOE), who governed Canada most of the time from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.  As soon as he came into office, he had made Canada bilingual.

That forced most government officials to learn to speak both English and French.  People on both sides of the language barrier grumbled and said they would rather separate.  Yet they had come to love Trudeau, as they watched the dashing prime minister marry an outspoken young woman, begin a family, and then see his marriage collapse.  He eventually convinced voters that his bilingual approach was more reasonable than separation.



Return to History Contents.


Return to the Paul LeValley school page.