Monday, January 23, 2012

MYTH AND NL HISTORY

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"One of my principal reasons for wishing to see 
Newfoundland united to the Dominion is that in
Canadian Ministers we should deal with men of 
a higher class, of wider minds, and of more
statemanlike vision than the men who have
misgoverned and ruined Newfoundland"

Secretary for the Colonies
Lord Ripon
1894
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Keeping up with my Christmas reading has been tough.  Reading during basketball tournaments is next to impossible, and every time I start a book, something else pops-up.  This weekend I got distracted by the Summer Autumn 2011 Acadiensis,which featured two articles by prominent MUN professors James Hillier and James Feehan.

Both articles tackle some of the false truisms that are propagated by uninformed Newfoundland nationalists.

The Feehan article deals with the myth of the proposed Churchill Falls power corridor. The article provides some inconvenient realities about the perception in this province that the federal government refused to intervene and ensure that Churchill Falls was transmitted through Quebec via a power corridor.

The Hillier article examines the failed 1895 Newfoundland-Canada Confederation negotiations.  The desperate situation of the colony certainly contradicts the nationalist view of a prosperous, independent and responsible colony.

Many of the themes of corruption, economic malaise and the commission of government were very much in play when official delegations from Canada and the colony met to formally discuss Newfoundland's entry into Confederation.

The article is for the brave of heart.The picture painted of Newfoundland's ability to look after its own affairs is brutal, honest and ugly.

How poorly did the Crown feel about Newfoundland's ability to look after its own affairs?  As Hillier points out,  in March 1895 a retired British Customs Officer, Sir Hebert Murray, arrived in St. John's to administer a relief  fund for the benefit of fishermen and others in severe need; it was, significantly, not entrusted to the colonial government.

Speaking of myth busting.  Dr. Jerry Bannister will be offering a lecture at The Rooms on Wednesday, February 22 entitled the The Limits of Myth Busting: Popular and Professional Histories of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As Bannister has said in the past "Studying the province’s history is absolutely critical to understanding our current challenges, but we must keep in mind that the past is as messy and complex as the present."





3 comments:

Brad Cabana said...

hmmmm

Anonymous said...

Wonder if Drama Sue's Blog will be on the agenda?

Cyril Rogers said...

Peter, it is hard to see ourselves, warts and all, but we must be open to the the bad as well as the good, if we are going to learn from the past.

Right now, at this critical juncture in our history, I fear we have learned nothing from past mistakes and are about to set off a financial tsnumai with this MF project. Furthermore, the government of today is acting entirely out of self-interest, just like the old Commission of Government did, back in the day. The difference is that we elected these clowns! How sad and ironic that we can be so educated but so gullible still!