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Title: Ontario's empire : liberalism and 'Britannic' nationalism in Laurier's Canada, 1887-1919
Author: Thompson, Graeme
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the nexus of politics, ideology, and identity among Anglo-Canadian liberal intellectuals during Wilfrid Laurier's leadership of the Canadian Liberal party from 1887 to 1919. This 'Laurier era' was characterised by explosive demographic and economic expansion, the consolidation of Canada's political and constitutional order, and its rising international stature within British Empire. But it also witnessed divisive disputes over the nature and development of the new Confederation. These debates over 'Dominion nation-building' were central to Canadian political and intellectual life, shaping the evolution of liberal ideology and the growth of national and imperial sentiment. In particular, the thesis focuses on a group of liberal intellectuals and politicians who resided in or originated from the province of Ontario and associated with Laurier during his reign as Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition. It reinterprets their debates in global and local contexts, specifically through the lens of a 'Greater Ontario' - a virtual province of Canada and the British world comprised of 'Old' Ontario, with its metropolis at Toronto, and the 'neo-Ontarian' settler empire of the Prairie West. Its argument is threefold. First, it argues these liberals envisaged Canada, with 'Greater Ontario' at its heart, as a 'British nation' rooted in North America. Their growing sense of Canadian nationalism was distinctly 'Britannic' - indeed, 'British-American' - and drew upon civic as well as racial ideas of 'Britishness.' Second, it maintains that the political, ideological, and regional fault lines within Ontario's liberal tradition consequently shaped their competing visions of the Dominion, the British Empire, and the wider Anglo-world. And third, it contends that these debates illuminate the rise and subsequent disintegration of Wilfrid Laurier's Liberal party in 'Greater Ontario.' The thesis thus contributes a new perspective to the political and intellectual history of Canada and the British world.
Supervisor: Belich, James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: British Empire ; Liberalism ; Ontario ; Imperialism ; Wilfrid Laurier ; Nationalism ; Canada