Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

An Abridged History of Canada
By William Henry Withrow


In the earlier portion of this history the author has studied compression so far as was consistent with sufficient clearness, in order to be able to give in fuller detail an account of the more recent and important events leading to and following the confederation of the British North American provinces. The growth of the principles of civil liberty and the development of the Canadian Constitution, will, it is hoped, be found impartially traced in these pages. The social, commercial and military, as well as the political aspects of Canadian history, have been treated as fully as the necessary limits of space would permit.

While the narrative interest has centred chiefly in the Provinces now known as Ontario and Quebec, the contemporary history of the sister Maritime Provinces, and of the newer provinces of the North-west and the Pacific coasts has been given as fully, yet succinctly, as possible. The contemporary history of the empire and of foreign countries, where it was intimately connected with that of Canada, has been interwoven with the text.

The writer has made copious use of the best existing sources of information, embracing original documents in French and English, parliamentary reports, newspaper tiles representing the views of all political parties, and many printed volumes. He has endeavoured to observe strict impartiality, and trusts that he has been able to do so, even in treading upon the delicate ground of recent political events.

The running dates at the top and margin of the page, and the full synoptical headings of the chapters, will clearly indicate the chronological and other relations of the events described, and will greatly facilitate private study, and class examinations and reviews. A copious pronouncing vocabulary of proper names has been considered essential to the completeness of the work.

The following quotation from Milton expresses the spirit in which the author desires that this little book should be read: "Consider what nation it is whereof ye are  a nation not slow and dull; but of a quick, ingenious and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point that human capacity can soar to."

Trusting that this contribution to Canadian history will help to cultivate in its younger readers an intelligent patriotism, and better prepare them for the duties of citizenship, the author commits it to the sympathy of an indulgent public.

The admirable Outline History of Canadian Literature by that accomplished writer, Mr. G. Mercer Adam, will meet a long felt want, and add greatly to the value of this volume.

W. H. W.
Toronto, August, 1887.


Chapter I.—Discovery of America—To 1497.
Ancient Traditions—The Norsemen—Columbus—Vespucci—De Gama

Chapter II.—Early Exploration—To 1549.
The Cabots—Cartier—The Robervals

Chapter III.—The Indian Tribes.
The Mound-Builders—Modern Tribes — Arts — Wars — Superstitions-Alliances - Tribal Divisions — Present Conditions

Chapter IV.—Champlain Administration—To 1635.
Pearly Colonization—Frobisher—Magellan—Drake—Gilbert— Raleigh —Des Monts—Port Royal—Champlain Founds Quebec—Its Restoration—Death of Champlain

Chapter V.—The Hundred Associates—To 1663.
Early Colonization — Jamestown — Plymouth — Montmagny — Ville Marie—Huron Missions and Martyrs—Laval—Des Ormeaux

Chapter VI.—Royal Government—To 1670.
Supreme Council—De Mesy—Do Tracy—Talon—De Courcelles—Indian Wars—Seigniorial Tenure—Fur Trade

Chapter VII.—Discovery of the Great West—To 1687.
Frontenac—Jesuit Explorers- Marquette—La Salle

Chapter VIII.-"The Agony of Canada"—To 1689.
De la Barre—Indian Wars—Denonville—Massacre of Lachine

Chapter IX.—Frontenac's Second Administration - To 1698.
French Invasion of New England—Sir William Phipps is Repulsed at Quebec—D'Iberville Treaty of Ryswick—Death of Frontenac

Chapter X.—"Queen Anne's War"—To 1743.
Treaty with Iroquois-Vaudrexiil—Capture of Port Royal-Failure of Attack on Quebec—Peace of Utrecht Charlevoix

Chapter XI. Louisburg—Du Quesne—To 1754.
Pepperel's Conquest of Louisburg—Halifax Founded — Collision in Ohio Valley

Chapter XII.—The Campaign of 1755.
Sir William Johnson—Braddock's Defeat—Dieskau's Defeat at Fort George—Expulsion of the Acadians

Chapter XIII.—Campaigns of 1756 and 1757.
Seven Years' War Begun—Capture of Forts Oswego and William Henry—Exhaustion of Canada—Famine—Extortion of Bigot

Chapter XIV.—Campaigns of 1758 and 1759.
Fall of Louisburg—Abercrombie's Defeat—Capture of Fort du Quesne —Niagara and Ticonderoga Taken

Chapter XV.—The Conquest of Canada, 1759 and 1760.
Wolfe Before Quebec—Engagement at Montmorency—Battle of the Plains of Abraham—Death of Wolfe and Montcalm—Battle of Ste. Foye— Capitulation of Canada

Chapter XVI.—British Rule—To 1774.
Effects of the Conquest -The Peace of Paris—Conspiracy of Pontiac— The Quebec Act

Chapter XVII.—The Revolutionary War—To 1784.
Causes of the War—Invasion of Canada - Burgoyne's and Cornwallis' Surrender—The Peace of Versailles-The U. E. Loyalists

Chapter XVIII.—The Founding of Upper Canada—To 1809.
The Constitutional Act—Early Legislation—York Founded Growth of Parties—Judge Thorpe—Social Organization

Chapter XIX.—Outbreak of the War of 1812-15.
The New Constitution—Sir J. Craig's Administration—Constitutional Crisis -Causes of the War—Hull's Surrender-Battle of Queenston Heights, and Death of Brock—Dearborn's Invasion

Chapter XX.—Campaign of 1813.
Capture of New York and Niagara—Victories at Stony Creek and Beaver Dams - Defeats at Sackett's Harbour, Lake Erie, and Moravian Town—Victories of Chrysler's Farm and Chateauguay—Burning of Niagara-Sea Fights

Chapter XXI.—Campaign of 1814.
Victories of Lacolle and Oswego—Battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and Fort Erie—Provost's Retreat from Plattsburg-Capture of Washington -Treaty of Ghent—Battle of New Orleans

Chapter XXII.-After the War—Lower Canada-To 1828.
Effects of the War—Internal Development-Civil Strife-The Union Scheme—Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Chapter XXIII. - After the War - Upper Canada to 1836.
Francis Gore, Esq., Lieut.-Governor—1815. The Clergy Reserve grievance —The "Family Compact" —Its status and influence — Robert Gourlay agitates against Crown Land administration - Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieut.-Governor-1818. The Rev. Dr. Strachan, a member of the Legislative Council—William Lyon Mackenzie —His printing office wrecked—1826. Sir John Colborne, Lieutenant-Governor—1829. Robert Baldwin becomes a Reform leader— Toronto Incorporated —1834. Mackenzie first Mayor- Sir Francis Bond Head, Lieutenant-Governor—1836.

Chapter XXIV. -The Rebellion—Lower Canada—To 1838.
Political Disaffection —The Gosfore Commission—Collision at Montreal -Rebels Routed by Wothorall and Sir John Colborno—Lord Durham.

Chapter XXV.—The Rebellion—Upper Canada—1830 ash 1837.
Struggles for Responsible Government—Mackenzie's Rebellious Projects—The Rendezvous at Gallows Hill—Death of Col. Moodio—Attack on Toronto—Rout of tho Itobels—Col. McNab.

Chapter XXVI—The "Patriot" War-1837 and 1838.
Mackenzie at Navy Island—Colonel McNab on the Frontier—"Patriot" Raids-Battle of Windmill Point—Rebellion Suppressed.

Chapter XXVII—The Union op the Canadas—To 1841.
Constitutional Struggles in Marimo Provinces—Boundary Disputes -Lord Durham's Report—The Union Bill—Clergy Reserves.

Chapter XXVIII.-Responsible Government—To 1846.
The New Constitution—"Double Majority"—Municipal System—Sir Charles Metcalfe—Upper Canada Rebellion Losses Bill-Public School System.

Chapter XXIX.—Rebellion Losses Agitation—To 1849.
Lord Elgin—Lower Canada Rebellion Losses Bill—Mob Violence at Montreal—Burning of Parliament Buildings.

Chapter XXX.—The Railway Era—To 1852.
Political and Commercial Emancipation — Internal Development-Clergy Reserve Question—Francis Hincka—Railway Construction—Municipal Loan Fund.

Chapter XXXI.—Important Legislation-1853 and 1854.
Reciprocity Treaty—Secularization of Clergy Reserves—Abolition of Seigniorial Tenure.

Chapter XXXII.—The Coalition Ministry—To 1858.
Sir Edmund Walker Head—Militia Organization—Mr. John A. Macdonald—" ouble Magority" Abandoned — "Representation by Population" Demanded—Mr. George Brown.

Chapter XXXIII.—"Representation by Population"—To 1861.
Ottawa Selected as Capital—The Two Days' Ministry—The "Double Shuffle"—"Joint Authority" Resolutions—The Prince of Wales in Canada.

Chapter XXXIV.—Political Crisis—To 1863.
Lord Monck—The ''Trent" Affair— Defeat of Cartier-Macdonald Ministry on Militia Bill — Commercial Prosperity — Alabama Piracies.

Chapter XXXV.—The Confederation Movement—To 1865.
Political Dead-Lock—Coalition Ministry -Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences—Canadian Parliament Adopts Quebec Scheme.

Chapter XXXVI.—The Fenian Invasion -1866.
Abrogation of Reciproclty Treaty—The Fenian Brotherhood—Invasion of Canada—Fight at Ridgeway—Prcscott and Cornwall Menaced -Eastern Frontier Crossed—The Raids Suppressed—Last Parliament of Old Canada.

Chapter XXXVII.—Confederation Accomplished To 1868.
British North America Act- Inauguration of New Constitution—Anti-Confederation Agitation — "Bettor Terms" Granted Nova Scotia.

Chapter XXXVIII—Rival Fur Companies—Red River Settlement
Hudson's Bay Company—French Fur Company—North-west Company—Fort Williaui — Red River Settlement Planted—Fierce rivalries and Conflicts-Assiniboia.

Chapter XXXIX.—The Red River Rebellion—To 1870.
Rupert's Land Act -Riel's Revolt-Provisional Government—Exocution of Thomas Scott—Red River Expedition—Collapse of the Rebellion—British Columbia enters the Dominion.

Chapter XL.—Fall of the Macdonald Ministry—To 1873.
The Washington Treaty—Lord Dufferin, Governor-General—Geneva Arbitration—Canada Pacific Railway Scandal—Prince Edward Island Enters Dominion—Resignation of Ministry.

Chapter XLI.—The Mackenzie Administration—To 1876.
New Government—New Pacific Railway Act—Qu'Appelle Treaty-Organization of North-west Council—Inter-Colonial Railway.

Chapter XLII.—Vice-Royalty of the Marquis of Lorne.
New Conservative Government—Arrival of Marquis of Lorne—The National Policy - Pacific Railway Syndicate.

Chapter XLIII.—Vice-Royalty of the Marquis of Landsdowne.
Red River Rebellion- Completion of Canadian Pacific Railway—The Queen s Jubilee.

Pronunciation of Proper Names

History of Canadian Literature

- Introductary
-  French Regime
Later French-Canadian Literature
- British Regime
     The Fur Traders and the Literature of the North-West

      Early Colonial Writers
      Writers on the Constitution, The E.U. Loyalists, and The War of 1812
      Works Descriptive, Industrial and Social
      Contemporary Authors

Canada and its Provinces
In 22 volumes and Index

It is now my intention to bring you each week one of these volumes to read.  This publication is a massive story of the history of Canada and its Provinces. It is thus a rich store of knowledge that you can scan, dip into or read in detail. 


SELDOM in the history of a nation has there been such rapid economic development as Canada has enjoyed during the last two decades. Within that time the Dominion has felt the throb of a new industrial life from ocean to ocean. Railroads have opened up to the settler vast stretches of fertile soil. Immigration has proceeded vigorously, and the country has received a large influx of population from both Europe and the Ur ted States. Wide tracts of prairie land, which twenty years ago were uninhabited and which appalled the traveller by their unbroken solitude, are now dotted with the buildings of the settler. Cities and towns have sprung up, as in a night, equipped with the conveniences of modem civilization. The increase in the production of gold and silver has been no less phenomenal—the fame of the Yukon and of the Cobalt region has gone all over the world. From Sydney on the Atlantic to Prince Rupert on the Pacific the signs of rapid advancement are everywhere visible. Vacant lands are being settled, mineral resources exploited, great rivers bridged and mountains scaled or tunnelled. The shifting of population from the older and historic settlements to the new sections and from rural districts to urban centres is also a feature of the present situation. While European nations have been devoting much of their energy to navies and armies, Canada has been concentrating all her forces on the conquest of nature for the use of man

But, in the enthusiasm of commercial and industrial activity, of increasing wealth and population, it is not to be forgotten that the national character is not moulded exclusively by economic causes. Flung over an enormous geographic range, the Canadian communities are not yet bound together by continuity of settlement. There remain differences of environment, of local interest, of language and race. Under such conditions the danger of sectionalism, In spite of material success, is greatly to be feared, unless this destructive tendency is met by the positive and constructive idea of the Nation.

To the end that a broad national spirit should prevail in all parts of the Dominion, it is desirable that a sound knowledge of Canada as a whole, of its history, traditions and standards of life, should be diffused among its citizens, and especially among the immigrants who are peopling the new lands. Commercial and industrial ambition, so strong a motive in every new country, will naturally lead men to inform themselves concerning its business advantages, but mere wealth-making is not the chief essential of citizenship. Good citizenship grows out of a patriotic interest in the institutions of one's country and a sympathy with the people who dwell there. Such interest and sympathy are possible in large measure only to those who are familiar with their country’s past. Now, Canada’s past, though brief compared with that of the Motherland or other European countries, is full of interest, instruction, and even romance. The story of the early centuries is fascinating and dramatic. It has its conspicuous examples of high endeavour and brave accomplishment—such as the heart of youth always delights in—in defence, in business enterprise, in education, in religion and in statecraft. Without exaggerating its favourable features or minimizing or ignoring those that are less attractive, the record of the stages through which Canada’s Various provinces have passed, from the state of nature in, which they were found by the first European explorers and settlers to the. present condition of civilization, may be so presented as to awaken not only the interest but the patriotic pride of every intelligent citizen. With this story every Canadian should be acquainted, both for his own enlightenment and for the good of the state.

The work which is here presented to the public has been planned and undertaken on a comprehensive scale, both in the sense that it covers the entire history of Canada and its provinces, and in the sense that those who write represent all parts of the Dominion and their more or less diverse points of view. The range of facts is so wide and the topics so various and complex that no one author could possibly compass them. The work, therefore, has been apportioned among many writers, each of whom has some special sympathy and aptitude for the topic with which he deals. In adopting this co-operative plan the Editors have followed not merely the logic of their theme, but the practice of modern historians in other and older countries.

The co-operative method, while involving the Editors in some difficulties, has obvious advantages to the reader. Although two or more writers may deal with the same event or personality, they do so from different angles, and what sometimes appears to be duplication serves to clarify a complex situation by presenting; from more than one point of view. A financial measure, for instance, having as a direct object the raising of revenue, is dealt with in that aspect by the writer on public finance. But the same measure in its course through parliament may have proved the occasion of a political crisis; in that phase it is treated by one of the writers dealing with political history. The measure may also have affected domestic trade or foreign trade relations, raising questions for the consideration of a ti >rd writer whose subject is economic history. From each of the three standpoints new light is given, and a comprehensive view of the whole matter is thus afforded.

The plan of the work embraces twelve main divisions or sections as follows:

I. New France, 1534-1760
II. British Dominion,1760-1840
III. United Canada, 1840-1867
IV. The Dominion: Political Evolution
V. The Dominion : Industrial Expansion
VI. The Dominion : Missions, Arts and Letters
VII. The Atlantic Provinces
VIII. The Province of Quebec
IX. The Province of Ontario
X. The Prairie Provinces
XI. The Pacific Provinces
XII. Documentary Notes
General Index

It will be observed that these titles indicate two distinct classes of history—one general or national, and the other local or provincial. A recital here of all the considerations which led the Editors to adopt this system would be of little service to the reader. It is enough to say that the Editors arrived at its method after much study and experiment, and that in their judgment it appears to be the only way in which a complete historical survey can be made of the Canadian people and their institutions. Broadly, the first six sections cover New France, the two Canadas, United Canada, and the Dominion. The topics treated in the five provincial sections may be generalized as (1) Pioneer Settlement, (2) Provincial Political History since Confederation, (3) Provincial and Municipal Government, (4) Education, and (5) Resources. In general it may be said that all matters of Canadian history not covered by one of these heads are to be looked for in the first six sections, although there are necessarily deviations from this rule. The pre-Confederation history of the Atlantic Provinces, for instance, has little connection with that of the Canadas, and it is therefore given in the provincial section. The same is true of British Columbia.

Although the normal historical order is followed as closely as possible, the work is arranged on topical rather than on chronological lines. This makes it possible and convenient to institute comparisons, if desired, between one province and another in the same matter. Thus it will be seen that the work may serve the reader in a variety of ways: (1) as a general history of Canada, (2) as a special history of any one of the provinces, (3) as a comparative history of similar institutions in the different provinces, or (4) as an independent study of any leading historical topic relating to Canada. For specific events or facts the General Index will supply a full and ready guide. The Documentary Notes in the final volume will traverse the text of the narratives and cite authorities.

The average citizen cannot be expected to know the story of his country in every detail, but he should know its outstanding events, personalities and tendencies, while those who are creating and guiding public; opinion should have at their command at all times the fullest possible information for use as each new occasion may demand. With knowledge, the prejudice and narrowness of sectionalism give way to an enlightened patriotism which vibrates to the sentiment of nationality and holds high above all else the welfare of the whole commonwealth. For these and other reasons the preparation of a comprehensive history of Canada at the present time may be regarded as a contribution to the development of the Dominion.

Note: These volumes will be added one a week until complete.

New France (1534 to 1760)
Volume 1 - Section I
Volume 2 - Section I

British Dominion (1760 to 1840)
Volume 3 - Section II
Volume 4 - Section II

United Canada (1840 to 1867)
Volume 5 - Section III

The Dominion: Political Evolution
Volume 6 - Section IV
Volume 7 - Section IV
Volume 8 - Section IV

The Dominion: Industrial Expansion
Volume 9 - Section V
Volume 10 - Section V

The Dominion: Missions, Arts and Letters
Volume 11 - Section VI
Volume 12 - Section VI

The Atlantic Provinces
Volume 13 - Section VII
Volume 14 - Section VII

The Province of Quebec
Volume 15 - Section VIII
Volume 16 - Section VIII

The Province of Ontario
Volume 17 - Section IX
Volume 18 - Section IX

The Prairie Provinces
Volume 19 - Section X
Volume 20 - Section X

The Pacific Province
Volume 21 - Section XI
Volume 22 - Section XI

Documentary Notes and General Index
Volume 23 - Section XII

Chronicles of Canada
These little books were designed to cover Canadian history in a scholarly and readable fashion. These are available for download and also in audio format at LibraVox.

The Great North-West
And the Great Lake Region of North America by Paul Fountain (1904) (pdf)

Canadian History Videos
This is a series of 17 x 1 hour and 40 minute videos about the history of Canada produced by the CBC and available on YouTube and other sites. We have a link to the first in the series.

The Comprehensive History of the Dominion of Canada
With Art Engravings by Charles R. Tuttle in two volumes
Volume 1  |  Volume 2

Return to our History Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.