If you mention the Welland Canal today many people will think of the massive shipping channel cutting across the Niagara Penisula, an artificial river you see from the Garden City Skyway that carries the QEW over the top the channel. Part of an elaborate and technologically advanced highway and major trade corridor from the Atlantic Ocean to the northernmost Great Lakes. The Canal has humble beginnings. Since the earliest days of human settlement in the Niagara Regions, the major transit between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie has been the Niagara River. Even the first peoples realised they required a long portage as the great falls,Read More →

When it comes past projects related to history which I have written, the foundations of the events which I planned to explore are relatively modern happening some three to two hundred years in the past. A small drop in the bucket of the history of our planet. But when it comes to the Welland Canal, the foundations of that canal take place in the dark distances of prehistory. The need for a canal across the Niagara Peninsula is related to a massive limestone cliff that cuts across the modern province of Ontario known today as the Niagara Escarpment. Today the cliff runs from the NiagaraRead More →

Earlier this year I completed the second major historical photographic project on the Confederation of Canada and the events and places that lead up to the joining of four British Provinces in British North America into the Dominion of Canada in 1867. Over the course of that project, I came across many events and locations that inspired me to try and tell the deeper story. Of course, I couldn’t tell every story so instead, I selected two that I felt I couldn’t tell the whole story due to the timeline for the project ending in 1867. One of these is the railroad through Ontario theRead More →

Here we are, there is always a certain bittersweetness about completing a project. And for me, this one was an eye-opener. It challenged not only my world view but my view of my own country and our history. But that is what history is supposed to do, challenge us to learn from the past and see how we can change the future. And here is the trouble with history, we can only see it through the eyes of those who wrote it and our personal bias. And trust me, it is hard to overcome your own bias. But the biggest problem with history that isRead More →

One of the first History courses I took in High School was Canada in the 20th Century. Most Canadian history texts that are used in schools start at this point. And there’s no surprise. As a nation, Canada came into its own in the 20th Century. Many point the crucible of World War One as the focal point. Others state the post World War Two era leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Confederation. But everything that happened in the 20th Century built on what happened before and the sins of the past were going to come back to haunt. As Canada emerged from theRead More →

The term Dominion within the British Empire was not new. England first used the term to describe its relationship with Wales, much to the chagrin of the Welsh. But in the new Canadian context, Dominion would be a new concept. Canada was not a Province of the greater Empire, nor was she fully independent. A Dominion was a grey area, autonomous in all domestic concerns, but in the greater world, she remained sub-servant to England. In a nutshell, this meant that the Governor-General represented not only the interests of the Crown and the British Parliament, and Canada could neither send or receive ambassadors from foreignRead More →

If you’re wondering what everything has been leading up to this is it, we’re in the end game now. The road to Canadian Confederation is a long and rough one, with many false starts, failures to push through and roadblocks along the way. From the cause for political reform in the 1820s the rebellions of the 1830s. In through the victory of reform in the 1840s and the rocky roads in the 1850s. The threats to Canadian territory through invasion or annexation, it all leads to this, confederation. Despite the momentum in the aftermath of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences in 1864, the passage ofRead More →

In the grander scheme, the Battle of Ridgeway gets all the glory when it comes to the limited history of the Fenian Raids of 1866. And yet a second skirmish took place almost instantly after the one at Ridgeway. The sad fact is that both battles could have been avoided and maybe the whole matter could have been better remembered. But to understand where the Battle of Fort Erie came from, we must first go back to Port Colborne, where we split off last week on the 1st of June 1866. Lieutenant-Colonel John Stoughton Dennis felt left out, a blow to his fragile ego. DespiteRead More →

The year was 1865, the American Civil War had ended, and four British Provinces in British North America decided to unite under what is called Canadian Confederation. And a large group of Irish Americans were wondering what their next step would be, and John O’Mahoney found himself at a crossroads. The Fenian Brotherhood hit its stride during the Civil War and now had money and manpower to spare. Plus all their members who served in both armies during the war had either kept or purchased their own equipment, the Fenians had an army that could easily stand up to the American Army of the day.Read More →

The history of Ireland is a long, complicated, and bloody one. And it is worthy of a project of its own, and I’m sure if I lived in Ireland, I would probably be already have completed such a project. But this is a Canadian History project, yet during the mid 19th Century in a strange twist the history of Irish independence intersected with that of pre-confederation Canada. Ireland had, since the Norman invasion of 1169 been a nation under occupation. And while the ancient history of Ireland stretches out before that date, it seems like the right point to start. Further degradation of the IrishRead More →