Canada was of course founded as a French colony in the 16th century. The original French colony was centered on the fur trade, but in the 18th century, the French and English struggled over control of North America. The French loss of Quebec in the French and Indian War (7 Years War) sealed the future of Canada and in fact North America as an English-speaking cultural area. At the time of Confederation (1867) , there were 3.25 million people settled in the provinces that comprised Canada. Over the next three decades hundreds of thousands more arrived. Few of these immigrants came from France or learned French as their new language. Most settled in Anglo-Canada. This imigration over time significantly diluted the French propotion of Canada's population. The Catholic share of the population, however, was not diluted because of the large number of Irish immigrants. The leadership in Canada, however, continued to be dominated by English, Protestant Canadians. The French in Canada were thus relegated a second-class role and until after World War II were generally descriminated against, in large measure explaining current Quebec demands for independence. The French in Quebec maintained their cultural and linguistic identity. We are just beginning to explore the impact of these cultural differences in cultural trends.
Canada was of course founded as a French colony in the 16th century. The original French colony was centered on the fur trade, but in the 18th century, the French and English struggled over control of North America. The French loss of Quebec in the French and Indian War (7 Years War) sealed the future of Canada and in fact North America as an English-speaking cultural area. After the English victory, French Canadians appear to have lost contact with France. The English Government presumably persued this as a matter of policy, but here we have few details. I believe that after the Englisg victory, significant French migration to Canada ceased. Some French Canadians migrated to America, the origins of Louisiana Cajuns and French culture in New Orleans. Of course in an era without modern communications and with the Royal Navy's control of the seas, isolating French Canadians was more feasible than in our modern world.
Canadians during the American Revolution remained loyal to the British. I am not sure precisely why this was. The American colonists attempted to entice the Canadians to join the Revolution and there were two failed American invasions of Canada. The most serious was led by Bendeict Arnold. Canada at the time had only recently been added to the British Empire and their had not been time for a established local government to develop. I do not believe that the French Canadian population played a significant role here.
At the time of Confederation (1867) , there were 3.25 million people settled in the provinces that comprised Canada. Over the next three decades hundreds of thousands more arrived. Few of these immigrants came from France or learned French as their new language. Most settled in Anglo-Canada. This imigration over time significantly diluted the French propotion of Canada's population.
The Catholic share of the population, however, was not diluted as significantly as the French population because of the large number of Irish immigrants. This meant that there is a portion of the population that was not Protestant and not favorably disposed toward the English. Despite the Irish resentment toward England, the Irish were strongly indluenced by English culture in many ways. The Irish largely, for example, adopted English fashion trends.
The leadership in Canada, however, continued to be dominated by English, Protestant Canadians. The French in Canada were thus relegated a second-class role and until after World War II were generally descriminated against, in large measure explaining current Quebec demands for independence. The French in Quebec maintained their cultural and linguistic identity, but the mid-20th century there were realtively limited contacts with France. Here General DeGualle's endorsement of a "free Quebec" was an example of growing ties with France.
At roughly the same time that Canada became an English colony, Scoltand joined with England in the Act of Union (1707). Scotts who had fought the English now formed brigades which in many cases became the shock troops of empire. Scotts played an important role in the defeat of th French at Monteral and in the administration of Quebec after the war. Scotts also played a major role in the Maritimes, especially Niva Scotia. The influence of he Scotts can be seen in Canadian kilts. The Scottish were especially while political power was in the hands of the English. It would take a century for both French Canadians and the Scottish to acquire political power.
Much of the population of Québec was rural. Gradually the population of Québec became increasingly urban in the 20th century following trends in the rest of Canada and the United States. The rural population was very Catholic and socially very conservative. This changed significantly in the 1960s. A Canadian reader writes, "I beginning in my childhood had many experiences in rural Québec. I lived in Montreal, but weoften traveled into thecountryside to visit family and friends. My wife who lived in Beauce south of Québec grew up on a farm. After 1960, there was something like "a quiet revolution" in rural Québec which significantly changed social attitudes. Good or not? For some, living in the 1940s and 50s was a kind of dark age. After 40 years, I think what I refer to as the Americanization of Québec leads to the [?adverse prediction]. Instead of being Canadians, people became more oriented toward independance like a lot of other countries in the world. It is a big debate in Canada still now. Those who made the quiet revolution in the 1960s are not so anxious to blame Church Institutions. I think Québec became a success story without bloody wars and guerilla like in South America, But many think that we sold our soul to devil when we became part of the wider North American consumer society."
We are just beginning to explore the impact of these cultural differences on clothing trends. One would think that the French Canadians would have been more influenced by France than English-Canadians. We note, however, relatively little reflection of French clothing styles among the admittedly limited number of French Canadian images archived by HBC. We have noted some clearly English influences in the clothes worn Canadian boys. Here there seems to a class factor. The more affluent the family, the more prominent the English influence. HBC has noted a very significant American influence in Canada. Here climate and mass market retailers like Sears and Montgomery Ward may have been influential, especially in western Canada and even rural areas of eastern Canada. We note quite a number of late 19th and early 19th century images in which the boys, both French and English Canadians, seemed to be wearing American rather than English styled fashions. The French Canadians boys photographed about 1910 are a good example of this. A Candain reader writes, "I would agree with what you are saying. British influence was more with the wealthier Canadians. American fashions have been dominant simply because of the close proximity of the United States. I noted an increasing influence of American here fashions after the 1950s."
HBC has discussed this issue with a small number of Canadians. We note that English Canadians in general have no knowledge of differeing dress tends among French Canadians or seem to think thaere are no differences, rather like French Cadians do not exist. French Canadians, on the other hand, have mentioned some differences.
Language politics are quite involved in Canada. We notice that th Federal Government inits official publications, prints them in English and French. I'm not sure when that began, probably in the 1960s. Povincial Governments can adopt thir own language policies. These policies are important as they affect matters such as the language of instruction in schools. Québec has established French as the offivcial language. Most other provinces have established English as the official language. New Bruswick is officially bilingual. Precisely what the official language means and actual regulations concerning implementation of that policy vary widely from province to province. HBC does not fully understand the issues involved, but Canadian readers have provided some insights.
A French Canadian has discussed this issue with HBC. He writes, "I don't know if I will be able to answer you about cultural difference between English and French speaking kids. Only older English speaking could talk for themselves but I feel that the difference were more a religious one than a cultural one. In fact, both were largely intricated as I will try to explain. And talking about religious practices is not so a simple task because during 100 years, from 1870 to 1970, the Roman Catholic Church was really dominant in french Québec and Church authorities tended to be very conservative, even prudish about clothes. An history of clothing cannot omit this important cultural fact. How it works for a century is a fascinating story. I think HBC is the very first to talk about the difference between English ans French Canadian fashions, especially as it concerns children. Facts don't speak for themselves, so I will try to give you my point of view.
Try to picture Québec as a kind of theocraty until 1960. It is not for
nothing that we call the end of Duplessis'traditional regime as the end of
some dark ages and the advent of Liberal party in June 1960 brought about a cultural revolution. In 6 years, the importance of religion declined significantly and there was an openness to new ideas in education, social welfare, feminism and [?laicity]. until 1960, Québec was perceived as a backward society and even today many people from Ontario think Québec a racist and papist society which the only aim is to be independant .
As you know maybe there is a large Jewish community in Montreal. Among them,
there are many Hassidims. Until the 80s, I remember having seen boys and girls with long stockings even in torrid and humid summers in Montreal. Today, jewish boys wear long pants but girls still wear tights all the year round. Like the Amish in United States. We French were dressed like them and like them we were educated to go to religious office every morning and to go to confession on saturday afternoon and the grand'mass on Sunday morning and to the Vespers on sunday night.
Girls were forbidden to have skirts above their knees. I remember that some rebellious girls until 1960 wore long stockings pulled down on their ankles and when going to church, they pulled on them as high as possible. By the same time, boys began around the 1950s to emancipate in being dressed like English-speaking: short pants andkneesocks. After 1960, American fashions made increasing headway. Wearing jeans for boys and miniskirts for girl was "in"
and "cool". In the 70s, unisex was a first attempt to express equality
between boys and girls wich seems to be completed now.
What seems to me very strange is the fact that French speaking boys and
girls until the 60s were dressed like their English counterparts in the
1910s and 20s. You have to remember that any colonized people tend to adopt
the same customs as the high class. And when this assimilation has been
done, high class will be different in clothing. A good example is the fact
that Canadian English boys wore suspenders and long stockings during the 1920s and 30's. You have just to study the history of hockey clothing to see how even older boys in the 20s wore short pants and long stockings over their longjohns.
Even today exists short pants, long stockings and suspender belt for boys
playing hockey. A history of hockey uniform needs to be done; you will find
how boys were dressed in Canada as baseball uniform is also a kind of
history of American dress.
Westley, Margaret W. Remembrance of Grandeur: Montreal's Anglo-protestant
Elite. l900-l950. Translated into French by Dominique Clift & Louis Royer with the title:
Grandeur and déclin: l'élite anglo-protestante de Montréal, 1900-1950 (Montréal: Editions Libre Expression. 1990).
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