I know, from recent controversy, that history is as much about forgetting as remembering. Canada Day is a melancholy one for Nova Scotia. What was lost and what was gained remains, nearly 150 years later, largely uncounted and unaccounted for. Maybe it should be a day of sadness.
Here's an accounting of Confederation and "Canada" from newspapers around Nova Scotia on the first "Canada Day", then known as Dominion Day...
The following article is from:
Eastern Chronicle and Pictou County Advocate (Nova Scotia) July 3, 1867
The First of July has come and gone, and, doubtless, the men who have sold Nova Scotia think all is well. If they knew the smothered foeling of strong indignation, which on Monday swelled up in the breasts of thousands of Nova Scotians, and which alone respect for the Queen and the constituted authorities prevented from bursting forth in all its majesty, their rejoicings would have been mingled with fear. Nova Scotians, you are now said to be Canadians, by Act of Parliament, against your wishes. Do you accept the will of the despots who have forced this measure upon you, or do you reject the imputation as an insult upon your intelligence, and a trampling upon your right to be heard in deciding your own destiny? The coming Election will decide whether Nova Scotia is to be ruled according to the well-understood wishes of the people of this Province, or according to the commands -- the impudent demands -- of the rebels and corruptionists of Canada.
So far as we can learn, the events of the natal day of the new dominion were not as remarkable as the Canadian Party wished them to be. On the whole, as a day of rejoicing, it was a failure; it was more worthy of being formed a day of humiliation. Doubtless in the latter sense it was regarded by many. In Pictou and New Glasgow, the display of flags by Confederates was meagre; and as an offset might be seen quite a number of flags upside down and half-mast, with several black permants, and a black flag. Only one or two stores were closed, and people appeared to attend to their business as usual. No church-bells were rung. no salutes were fired, no congratulations were offered on the birth of the "infant-monster Confederation;" those who rejoiced did so privately, not desiring to insult the body of their countrymen, who looked upon the day as a dark one for Nova Scotia.
In Halifax, we find the celebration -- as compared with the efforts put forth to make it succesful -- was a failure. We learn by the Morning Chronicle of yesterday that only about 600 persons marched in the grand procession, many of whom were non-electors.
In reference to the display of flags, &c., the Chornicle says;-
"There were other features about the day's celebration which must have astonished the Union men. There was not one flag displayed to every fifty houses, there were empty flagstaffs, to be seen in all directions; and to show the general disgust of the day and the occasion of its observance, we may instance that in one of the most populous parts of the city - Water street from West's wharf to Dewolfs-a distance of nearly half mile-but two flags were displayed. Many of the stores in the city were closed. Anti-Unionists, as well as their opponents, took advantage of the holiday,as the day fell in a comparatively dull season, and promises of wonderful exhibitions had been made. Many however (we supose nearly one-half) of the stores were doing business; showing unmistakably that it required something more than a proclamation to compel men to rejoice, or even to put on the semblance of doing so, over the destruction of the liberties of their country."
In the account given of the proceedings of the day by the same paper, we find that --
"In the morning the Volunteer Artillery, by command of the Lieutenant-Governor, fired a salute on the Grand Parade, and the Naval Brigade fired a few guns from the Battery at Dartmouth. The bells of all the churches did not, as was expected, end their aid at the celebration, those of St. Mary's Cathedral being the only ones to carry out this part of the programme. Nor were the Churches all open for early services as the Unionists modestly requested. Services were held, we believe in Trinity Church and the Garrison Chapel. About 10 o'clock the Rev. Dr. Richey took the stand on the Parade, and delivered the "oration" of the day. The-rev gentleman is a good speaker and was listened to with attention by a large number of persons. His address was, of course, decidedly Confederate, and he expects greater benefits to follow confederation than the great body of Nova Scotians anticipate -- even greater advantages than Messes. Tupper & Co. claim for the scheme. At the close of Dr. Richey's address. he was cheered be the audience. Some one proposed "three cheers for the Hon Joseph Howe," which were most rapturously given"
There was a review on the Common in the forenoon, but the local forces were not present. This is somewhat suggestive. Nothing else worthy of note is recorded. No disturbance of any kind took place,as was anticipated by the Confederates, who, in order to more thoroughly insult the citizens of Halifax, had a number of special constables sworn in.
In Truro, which Mr. Archibald looks upon as his stronghold, the rejoicing was not at all general. Two black flags were displayed in prominent positions. On Sabbath evening previous, the High Sheriff of Colchester County was piously engaged in canvassing the elders of Dr. McCulloch's congregation for liberty to ring the bell on Monday morning. He met with rather a warm repulse, but at length succeeded in getting the consent of two out of thirteen, and procured a mute to ring the bell for fifteen minutes. This was done without consulting Dr. McCulloch, who was absent, attending Synod in New Glasgow; and we believe the Rev. gentleman feels much aggrieved, both at the Sabbath desecration and the prostitution of the Church bell to the unholy work of ringing out joyful peals to commemmorate Nova Scotia's humiliation. But we find that all this is on a par with the conduct of Confederates elsewere. In Halifax, on the last Lord's Day, the South part of the City was disturbed by a number of workmen in the vicinity of Mr. Brookfield's premises, who, the whole day through, while constructing platforms for the Union demonstration, made the neighbourhood resound with the noise of their labors. Thus were the laws of God and of man openly violated in order to prepare for celebrating the birth of the new dominion. But, perhaps, we should not complain, as this is only following up what happened when Quebec scheme was signed on Sunday. We know that falsehood, corruption, and deeds that blush to bear the light of day have all been employed to consummate this outrage upon civil liberty. It was upon this scheme -- naught else than the work of the arch fiend himself -- that ministers and people were asked to supplicate the blessing of Him who dwells in purity and holiness. What s solemn mockery! What consistent advocates of right, and what firm opponents of wrong the Presbyterian Witness and Halifax Wesleyan are! Recommending that Divine service should be held in all the Churches in order to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the Union -- upon corruption. upon Sabbath desecration, upon Tupper's oft-repeated falsehoods, upon breachess of Divine and human law, upon despotic interference with the acknowledged rights of the people! Is it any wonder that the people are disgusted with Confederation and its noisy promoters; and that they are resolved to give no sanction to a political revolution promoted by such unworthy means, and sought to be fastened upon the county in opposition to their wishes?
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.