THE DALHOUSIE JOURNALS, VOLUME 3
Volume 11 Number 2.
This volume completes the editing of the Dalhousie Journals by Marjory Whitelaw. In it, the final years, 1825-1828, of the Earl's tenure of office as Governor-in-chief of Lower and Upper Canada are covered. The editing has resulted in a very readable account of Dalhousie's activities and thoughts during this period.
The journals say something about Dalhousie the man. He appears as possessing a number of admirable qualities. He was honest, straightforward, concerned, even compassionate on occasion. He was also completely incapable of seeing the point of view of those politically opposed to him. In the context of his time, he could be described as mainline Tory with a keen sense of duty. This picture emerges from his writing that really gives us the flavour of the man.
He was also observant, and this quality provides us with a very interesting and credible picture of the Canada of his time. Several important features come to the fore. In the first place, there is the sense of being surrounded on all sides by the forest, a habitat populated by the indigenous people and animals and of struggling unaided against the ravages of fire and man. A second point is the importance of water transport, not only transatlantic but more significant within Canada. There is further the sense of a relatively empty land, one in which the immigrant population were in numbers small enough for the Governor-in-chief to be interested in many of them at a personal level. This emptiness, as conveyed in Dalhousie's writing, is not the emptiness of a colonial backwater but that of a land of promise.
One quality that sets journals and diaries apart from histories is the more direct link between the writer and the reader. Dalhousie's journals have this quality in full measure. They speak to us in a most evocative manner that makes his descriptions of events and places seem authentic. Dalhousie may have been blind to the revolutionary forces seething under the surface in his time, but he was a very astute observer of the minutiae of the everyday things that surrounded him. This book may be of more value to the social rather than the political historian and should be available in the library of schools and other institutions where Canadian history is studied.
John D. Crawford, Frank Hobbs J.H.S., Victoria, BC.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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