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The Destiny of Canada: Macdonald, Laurier, and the Election of 1891

(The History of Canada Series)

The Destiny of Canada: Macdonald, Laurier, and the Election of 1891    
Format Hardcover
Catalogue No. 978-0-670-06621-6
Pages 336
Language English only
Price $34.00
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Written by Christopher Pennington.
Published by Penguin Group (Canada), 2011.


It was Sir John A. Macdonald's last campaign. His Conservatives had dominated Canadian politics since Confederation. Their National Policy, which protected Canadian manufacturers from foreign competition, was well established and affection for the "Old Man" was deep and widespread. The Liberal leader, Wilfrid Laurier, was new in the job and uncertain that a Roman Catholic from Quebec had any chance of winning votes outside his home province. But Macdonald's decision to hang Louis Riel had split the country, the economy was in the doldrums, and a movement in support of free trade with the United States gave the Liberals hope.

In The Destiny of Canada, author Christopher Pennington vividly brings to life the 1891 election, one of the most bitterly fought in Canadian history. Two factors made the contest especially significant. First, a powerful faction was seeking to eliminate the French language from public life. And second, a handful of notable Canadians was conspiring with American politicians to bring about the annexation of Canada. The leaders of both parties had to struggle to keep the country together even as they waged a vigorous campaign against each other — a campaign marked by more than its share of dirty tricks.

In this richly textured narrative, Pennington spins a colourful tale of a country poised to make a momentous choice and of nineteenth century politics both at its most principled and at its most corrupt.

Christopher Pennington holds a doctorate in history from the University of Toronto and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

Also from The History of Canada Series:
The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada

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This page last modified: June 8, 2011

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