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CHAPTER VIII

FENIAN AND OTHER RAIDS

 

THE Rebellion of 1837-38 being a thing of the past, except for the bitter feelings it had engendered, the people of Canada once more began to lose interest in their militia. The militia had done their work, and the sooner they exchanged rifles for spades the better for the country. With the Union of Upper and Lower Canada, however, the question of defence again came to the front. Hitherto the expense of defensive measures had been to a very large extent borne by the Home Government. It was now felt by many in the mother-country that as Canada had been conceded the right to govern herself, she should assume with the dignities some of the responsibilities of her new estate. The same idea was demanding attention in Canada, but the average Canadian received it with rather mixed feelings. On the one hand his growing feeling of responsibility and self-respect urged him to take from the shoulders of the mother-country the burden of his defence; on the other, he had been so long accustomed to the protection of Britain's army, Britain's fleet, Britain's prestige, Britain's long purse,—that he took it all rather as a matter of course. Also he was still struggling, and must for many years continue to struggle, with the gigantic problems involved in civilizing the wilderness, cutting down the forests and cultivating the soil, building homes and school-houses, roads and railways. These problems of peace absorbed not only a great deal of his energy, but also most of his income. It was difficult to see where he was to find money for a Canadian army, and the innumerable expenses involved in the question of national defence. With his pride urging him one way and his purse another, mere stress of circumstance forced

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