'A growing necessity for Canada': W.L. Morton's Centenary Series and the forms of national history, 1955-80

Authors
Citation
L. Dick, 'A growing necessity for Canada': W.L. Morton's Centenary Series and the forms of national history, 1955-80, CAN HIST R, 82(2), 2001, pp. 223-252
Citations number
56
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
History
Journal title
CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
ISSN journal
0008-3755 → ACNP
Volume
82
Issue
2
Year of publication
2001
Pages
223 - 252
Database
ISI
SICI code
0008-3755(200106)82:2<223:'GNFCW>2.0.ZU;2-F
Abstract
The Canadian Centenary Series was the largest collaborative effort in the t wentieth century to write the history of Canada. The article focuses on the early evolution, form, and content of this collection, with particular emp hasis on executive editor W.L. Morton's own volume The Critical Years: The Union of British North America, 1857-1873, published in 1964. Envisioning t he series as a national epic that wold culminate in Canada's centennial yea r of 1967. Morton sought to emphasize the European and northern character o f Canada as counterpoint to the perceived Americanization of Canadian cultu re and historical studies in the 1950s. The difficulty of achieving the des ired synthesis emerged early in the correspondence between the editor and h is writers, especially Marcel Trudel, who insisted that Quebec's history sh ould not be subsumed under the narrative of the Canadian nation-state. The differences evident in these exchanges were echoed by Morton's own evolving views. Where previously he had advanced regional perspectives as an altern ative to the centralizing imperative, by the mid-1950s he opted for a pan-C anadian nationalism as essential to maintaining the integrity of the nation -state and its history. With the appearance of further challenges posed by Quebec separatism in the early 1960s, he responded by imposing a heightened unity on ihs own topic of Canada in the Confederation era. By situating Mo rton's narrative strategies for The Critical Years and the Centenary Series within their specific contexts of time and place, this article displays th e process by which one version of 'national history' has been constructed.