The Struggle for Imperial Unity: Recollections & Experiences by George T. Denison

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The Struggle for Imperial Unity: Recollections & Experiences by George T. Denison

Some fifteen years ago the late Dr. James Bain, Librarian of the Toronto Public Library, urged me to write my reminiscences. He knew that, as one of the founders of the Canada First party, as Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Imperial Federation League in Canada, then President of it, and after its reorganisation, under the name of the British Empire League in Canada, still President, I had much private information, in connection with the struggle for Imperial Unity, that would be of interest to the public. He was therefore continually urging me to put down my recollections in order that they should be preserved.

I put the matter off until the year 1899, when I was retired from the command of my regiment on reaching the age limit. I then wrote my military recollections under the title Soldiering in Canada. This was so well received by the Press and by the public that, being still urged to prepare my political reminiscences, I began some years ago to write them, and soon had them finished. In the early part of 1908 Dr. Bain read the manuscript, and then asked me not to delay, as I had intended, but to publish at once. Shortly before his death last spring, he again expressed this wish. I have consulted several of my friends, and in view of their advice now publish this book.

I have not attempted to write a history of the Imperial Unity movement, but only my personal recollections of the work which I have been doing in connection with it for so many years. I still feel, as I did when I was writing my military recollections, that I should follow the view laid down by the critic who said that reminiscences should be written just in the style in which a man would relate them to an old friend while smoking a pipe in front of a fire. I have tried to write the following pages in that spirit, and if the personal pronoun appears too often, it will be because, being recollections of work done, it can hardly be avoided.

Introductory chapter — Condition of affairs in Canada before confederation — Canada First party and Hudson’s Bay Territory — The Red River Rebellion — The Red River Expedition — National sentiment — Abortive political movement — The Independence flurry — The O’Brien episode — The Imperial Federation League — Commercial Union — Imperial Federation League in Canada — Commercial Union a treasonable conspiracy — The years 1888 and 1889, work of the Imperial Federation League — The year 1890 — Visit to England, 1890 — The great election of 1891 — Contest with Goldwin Smith — Dissolution of the Imperial Federation League in England — Organisation of the British Empire League — Mission to England, 1897 — The West Indian preference — 1899: establishment of Empire Day — The South African War — 1900: British Empire League banquet in London — Work in Canada in 1901 — Mission to England in 1902 — Correspondence with Mr. Chamberlain — Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, 1906 — Appendix A: Speech in reply to Sir C. Dilke — Appendix B: Lecture on “national spirit”.


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