For most people April 1st is April Fool's Day.
Here in Newfoundland and Labrador it marks the anniversary of this former colonies entry into the Canadian Federation. 64 years ago today Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province.
The merits of Confederation aside, there has been some interesting literature over the past few months that looks at the Confederation Debates, old conspiracy plots and the role of Joseph Smallwood.
If you have not read Greg Malone’s fantasy expose in which he channels the late Jim Halley’s conspiracies about vote rigging and the like, you might want to save your money. Don’t Tell the Newfoundlanders: The True Story of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada is more of a story than a history, as much fiction as truth.
A little bit of truth mixed with conspiracy is a potent cocktail. It makes for good fiction but does not add up to much more than a delusional, twisted, regurgitation of distorted facts. In the end, nothing new – just paranoia between the covers of a poorly researched book.
Historian Jeff Webb offers a really good review tearing Malone/Halley’s tale apart in the latest LiteraryReview of Canada. Unfortunately, the review is not available on-line. Confederation as Conspiracy is available through an on-line purchase. It is worth the $6.50 cost.
The paranoia of Malone/Halley is balanced quite nicely by historian and journalist Jack Fitzgerald’s latest book, 1949: The Twilight Before the Dawn. The author tells the tale of the knock-down, drag 'em out battle led by Joey Smallwood to convince Newfoundlanders that Confederation with Canada was the best route forward. In the end, rhetoric and campaigning secured a ballot box win for Confederation. A majority of men and women decided the question of Confederation through a democratic process.
I suppose there will always be conspiracy theories.
However, none of them have ever been backed up by the historical record or a shred of evidence.
Has union with Canada served us well? That is a question of some debate. Did we join willingly, for sure!
Happy April Fool’s Day.