Saturday, February 26, 2011

Retlaw, Alberta, The C.P.R., and the Naming of Prairie Towns

A: Location of Retlaw Alberta

Due to the Canadian Pacific Railroad's massive influence on Canada's prairie West, there is no surprise that the company's station names can still be found on maps long after branch-lines have fallen into disuse and communities withered.

Retlaw, Alberta, is a prime example.  Until 1913, the area was referred to as "Barney", and that name graced the local post-office.  It was in that year that the iron road came to the area.  Apparently, "Barney" was just not dignified enough for railway executives.  The renaming of this town can be linked to a certain Walter R. Baker.  Walter was an official of the CPR, and had served as the private secretary to Canada's governor general.  Apparently Walter was an important enough personage to have his name granted to one of the CPR's railway station.  To further obscure the origins of this name, however, the powers that be flipped things on their head and named the station "Retlaw", which to the meanest intellect at the slightest reflection, is indeed Walter, spelled backwards.



To further prove the arbitrary nature of the names of a number of prairie towns, we only need to observe those headed north-west from Retlaw: Enchant, Travers, Lomond and Armada.  The first letters in these small grain hubs all lead us back(wards) to WALTER.  The last station, never built, was to be named Waldeck.
Retlaw NWMP 1916. Glenbow Archives
Retlaw had a fairly brief existence.  After the Great War, population numbers peaked at 250, which included the surrounding farmers.  In 1925 crops were especially poor, and the exodus from the area began.  Visitors to the town now will observe only a couple permanent residents.  What was once a bustling town with a bank, several cafes, grain elevators, hotel and North-West Mounted Police detachment, has now been all but eroded by the elements.

Retlaw Hotel 1914. Glenbow Archives.

A Local Historian has preserved  Retlaw's History
Retlaw is included in my online Ghost Towns of Alberta guidebook from Geotourism Canada.


“ALTAPOP: Alberta’s Annual Official Population List Publication (1960 to present).” Alberta Population. http://www.altapop.ca/opl.htm.
Aubrey, Merrily K. Concise Place Names of Alberta. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2006.  
Fryer, Harold. Ghost Towns of Alberta. Langley: Stagecoach Publishing Co. Ltd., 1976.
“Walter spelled backwards | Forgotten Alberta.” http://forgottenalberta.com/2010/08/09/walter-spelled-backwards/.
 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Buffalo Skull Tombstone

Buffalo Bones at Saskatoon Saskatchewan.  1890.  University of Alberta Archives.
The sheer quantity of buffalo skulls evokes a hollow revulsion to the slaughter of the buffalo on the Great Plains.  The above picture hails from a new website from the University of Alberta Archives featuring the manuscripts, letters and photographs of William Pearce.  The site, called "A Pioneer's Perspective: The Historical Narrative of William Pearce and the Making of the Canadian West", describes the photo:


"It depicts a boy posing next to an imposing stack of buffalo skulls. The disturbing number of collected skulls stacked carefully in a line symbolizes the scale of change in the environment and local economies. Their careful organization also represents the calibrated tools of modernity which would have introduced the hunting rifle to clear the land and the surveyor's tool -- still another perspective -- to measure and allot it. The line of skulls is so long they narrow towards the horizon in another, a spatial, perspective. Symbolically, they narrow towards what appears to be a Hudson’s Bay Company fort; the buffalo giving way to colonial settlement. The photograph is striking for its strangely affected juxtaposition of death and renewal. The unidentified boy strikes a satisfied, rakish pose: he leans his tall stick towards the pile of bones, indicating the carnage, left arm akimbo. He seems proud of his work, a  wall of skulls. It is a prairie-gothic tableau predating Grant Wood’s famous painting but equally striking."
Buffalo bones at Qu'appelle, Saskatchewan. 1890.  University of Alberta Archives.


The following is an 1877 account of this wasteful destruction by David Laird, signatory to southern Alberta's Treaty No. 7.  It appears his premonition of the decline of the buffalo was all too true.
"On the third day out we first sighted buffalo, and every day subsequently that we travelled, except the last, we saw herds of the animals. Most of the herds, however, were small, and we remarked with regret that very few calves of this season were to be seen. We observed portions of many buffalo carcasses on our route, from not a few of which the peltries had not been removed. From this circumstance, as well as from the fact that many of the skins are made into parchments and coverings for lodges and are used for other purposes, I concluded that the export of buffalo robes from the Territories does not indicate one half the number of those valuable animals slaughtered annually in our country."
Kansas Pacific Railroad - Shooting Buffalo from the Train. Library of Congress.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Limitations of the "Canadian" Ram Tank


BC Regiment and Ram Tank, July 1944, England. Libary and ArchivesCanada.
The story of Canada's Second World War "Ram" tank emphasizes the connection between the American and Canadian automobile industries.  While the direction of C.D. Howe's Department of Munitions and Supply is not to be understated, Canadian industry was not without its weaknesses.  Canada's official historian of the Second World War, C.P. Stacey noted that those industries which were established before the war were strongly turning out materiel for the war effort by 1941.  Stacey's tally includes, "over 383 million rounds of small arm ammunition, some 17,800 Bren guns, more than 1300 field guns and, above all - for Canada had a well-developed peacetime automotive industry - over 189,000 mechanical transport vehicles."  (Stacey, 48-49)  All of the above figures were increased in the following year and artillery munitions, naval and anti-aircraft guns, small arms, airplanes and ships were added to the growing production numbers.
A Ram II tank of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps during a training exercise, England, 22 December 1942. Library and Archives Canada Online.


With this herculean effort in mind, when it comes to the Ram tank's production, the dependence of Canadian industry upon American parts betrays a key weakness.  No engines for tanks or aircraft were built in Canada.  The Ram was also reliant on American cast steel hull tops, cast steel turrets, engines, transmissions and Browning machine-guns.  The Ram's design, (purportedly influenced by the British Tank Mission to the United States), may have had great influence on the American Sherman.  It was the Sherman which Canadians would use on active operations.

Kangaroo at the Tank Museum, Bovington, England.
The Ram was distributed, for a brief period, to the troopers of the 1 and 2 Canadian Armoured Brigades.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Ram was not admired by the front of line troops.  Some troopers claimed it was necessary to stand behind the tank with a fire extinguisher when starting the engine up.  The ultimate fate of a number of Ram chassis was conversion to a type of armoured personnel carrier, called the Kangaroo. While the Ram is THE ultimate Canadian tank, historical investigation shows that it had its limitiations.


C.P. Stacey, Arms, Men, and Governments (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1970).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

C.P. Stacey Award Past Winners

It has just been announced that a new release by Kevin Spooner called Canada, The Congo Crisis and U.N. Peacekeeping is the recipient of the 2009 C.P. Stacey Award.  The award is granted by the Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War and the Canadian Commission for Military History and was adjudicated by Serge Bernier, Paul Dickson, Doug Delaney and Norman Hillmer.


For those interested in what works have won the award in the past, (required reading for any Canadian Military historian), here is a partial list:
2009 Kevin Spooner, Canada, The Congo Crisis and U.N. Peacekeeping
2008 Paul Douglas Dickson, A Thoroughly Canadian General: A Biography of General H.D.G. Crerar (University of Toronto Press)
2008 Stephen Brumwell, Paths of Glory: The Life and Death of General James Wolfe (McGill-Queen's Press)
2006 Douglas Delaney Bert Hoffmeister: The Soldier's General
         Honourable Mentions
         Jeffrey A. Keshen, Saints, Sinners, and Soldiers Canada’s Second World War
         David Mackenzie (Editor), Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown, published by University of Toronto Press.
2004 Marc Milner, Battle of the Atlantic (Vanwell Publishing Ltd) 
        Béatrice Richard, La mémoire de Dieppe. Radioscopie d'un mythe (VLB éditeur)
2002 Brian Tennyson and Roger Sarty, Guardian of the Gulf: Sydney, Cape Breton and the Atlantic Wars (University of Toronto Press)
2000 Tim Cook, No Place to Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the First World War (UBC Press)
1998 Jonathan Vance, Death so Noble
1996 George Blackburn, Gun's of Victory
1994 Desmond Morton, When Your Number's Up
1992 Bill McAndrew, Terry Copp, Battle Exhaustion
1990 Robert Vogel, Terry Copp Maple Leaf Route
1988 Norman Hillmer, W.A.B. Douglas The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Volume II: The Creation of a National Air Force (Toronto: University of Toronto Press)

The official Call for Papers notes:

C.P. Stacey. Photo DND
              The C.P. StaceyPrize is an award in honour of author and long-serving Official Historian at the Department of National Defence, Charles P. Stacey. He was one of Canada's foremost military historians and as an Official Historian established a level of excellence for official histories that continues to influence practitioners and their approach to Canada's military past. He trained several generations of military historians, and his influence is still felt in the field of military history. His work on the official histories of the Canadian army during the Second World War is considered a model for similar histories. This award honours his commitment to furthering the field of military history. The aim of the award is to highlight the best book written in a one-year period on the Canadian military experience. The award considers studies of all three services, including operational histories, biographies, unit histories and works of synthesis (if they include original insights and/or new material). It can also include high quality edited collections and annotated memoirs.

Sources
http://www.cs.mun.ca/~lawards/litawards/index.php?award=986 
http://christophermoorehistory.blogspot.com/2009/12/wolfe-versus-crerar-who-would-win.html
With help from Drs. Delaney and Dickson

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ethics of Military Memorobilia

Victoria Cross on Ebay
A recent visit to a collectibles shop in Inglewood, Calgary had me amazed at the breadth of memorabilia, antiques and artifacts for sale.  Great War hat badges, Second World War patches, bayonets, and even a full North-West Mounted Police buffalo-fur-coat were all available for purchase.  Ebay is swarming with such artifacts as well, but one has to hesitate before laying down the cash for such items.  The question is one of provenance.  Where did all this militaria surface from?  The idea of some self-serving, cash-strapped, descendant, selling off their grand-parents memorabilia is sad in its own right, but sometimes these items are obtained through much more nefarious means.


Statue of King Tut Recently Looted
A local slew of thefts from the Military Museums in Calgary is a case in point.  While the irony of a military museum having slack security is perhaps worth a chuckle, the loss of hundreds of articles of memorabilia, many of which were personalized awards and insignia, is no laughing matter.  Police have returned a number of articles, but some are inevitably gone to collectors for good.  One has to wonder at the logic of collectors of stolen artifacts.  Recent thefts of Egyptian antiquities are a further disturbing event, on arguably a greater scale.  Who wants to have a statue in their home which has essentially been stolen from the entire population of Egypt?  That there is a market for these kind of goods at all speaks to the depravity of a wealthy section of the population.

Military medals and memorabilia are certainly easier to sell than ancient artifacts, but the question remains the same.  Who wants a Victoria Cross which has been removed from its place as a symbol of sacrifice and remembrance?  Why cloister such artifacts in private collections and deny their rightful role and shared public meaning?
Military Museums, Calgary

Friday, February 4, 2011

Review Essay- Alan Gordon - The Hero and the Historians: Historiography and the Uses of Jacques Cartier

The Role of the Quebec Historian: A Review of Alan Gordon's The Hero and the Historians, Ronald 


Rudin's Making History in Twentieth-century Quebec, and Jocelyn Létourneau's, A History for the 


Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec.


By Will Pratt, for UofCalgary's HTST 623, Dr. Nancy Janovicek, 25 Jan. 2011.



Alan Gordon's The Hero and the Historians: Historiography and the Uses of Jacques Cartier (2010), traces the construction of the public memory of the famous Breton explorer in Quebec from "amateur" beginnings, to the rise of "Cartiermania" in the late nineteenth-century, and finally to contemporary dispersal. In tracing the sacred and secular motives in commemoration of Cartier's role as either founder of the Catholic French-Canadian "race" in New France, or the originator of the Canadian national project, Gordon explores Cartier as a "contact point" between French and English nationalisms.1 Examining the historical craft of Cartier historians, the work revises the historiography of Ronald Rudin, questioning the boundaries between "amateur" and "professional" history and the periodization of Quebec historiography. Gordon hopes to draw attention to the role that historians play (and the limits of the historical discipline) in the construction of common sense knowledge. Here he claims to take a step beyond the "invented tradition", which Eric Hobswan associated as a bourgeois manufactured method of control, and in the spirit of both Antonio Gramsci and Jocelyn Létourneau, concerns himself with the populace's acceptance and use of history in forming an identity.2
        The tension between the secular and the sacred is a familiar theme in Quebec historiography and it is also central to the construction of the meaning of Jacques Cartier's voyage. As "Cartiermania" reached its height in the late nineteenth-century, it was an increasingly Catholic hero that was portrayed in historical monographs.3 This association of the explorer with the conservative Catholic society was represented also in the public domain. Floats in Montreal's annual St. Jean Baptiste Day celebrations payed tribute to Cartier as an important figure in the "national family of heroes."4 In 1889 the erection of a monument on the site of Cartier's fort shared a space with Father Jean de Brebeuf's Jesuit mission, further linking Catholicism and the hero-explorer.5 The use of this public space, like the earlier proliferation of Cartier's portrait, is central to Gordon's argument that "historical heroes do not assume their importance via the strength of rational discourse but are held in place by the power of emotion and symbolism."6 This focus on the ways historical symbols are used to form identity and give meaning to the world is a benchmark of cultural history. Gordon notes, however, that cultural history production is not limited to the historical profession. Gordon emphasizes the role of public space, pageants and monuments in forming the common sense view of the past which molds collective identity.
        Gordon shows a decline in Cartiermania among French Canadians when anglophone federalists attempt to co-opt his symbolic value. Gordon notes with a latent sadness that Jacques Cartier's role as heroic founding father of the French religious "race" in Quebec diminished in the twentieth-century under the pressure of Canadian nationalism and modernity. The newly founded Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC), established in the interwar years marked the beginning of official commemoration of Cartier's voyage which separated itself from the religious interpretations of the past.7 The interpretation that graced the plaque of Cartier's second fort emphasized colonization and cultivation, portraying Cartier as the first of Canada's governors, and suggesting he was the true founder of Canada. Despite the efforts of the Commission des Monuments historiques de la Province de Québec (CMHQ) to perpetuate the symbol of a Catholic Cartier, the HSMBC continued to secularize the explorer's memory.8 Gordon notes that the new understanding of Catholicism that emerged from the Quiet Revolution rejected the old Catholic heroes and further obscured Cartier's meaning.9 Recent depictions of Cartier have seemed to reduce the once heroic explorer to a meaningless prelude to Canadian history.10 In this decline of Cartier's heroic image, Gordon observes that the common sense idea of history "evolved to mirror new aspects of modernity."11 One can detect a tone of lament for his subject's old glory when Gordon notes that these old national heroes have been replaced by the "icons of commercial consumerism" found in sports, film and the entertainment industry.
Ronald Rudin also works on Acadian memory
        Gordon's study of the construction of Jacques Cartier's image is an important contribution to a contested Quebec historiography surrounding professionalization of the discipline. Ronald Rudin's Making History in Twentieth-century Quebec (1997) offers the claim that the clergy's influence in nineteenth-century Quebec universities delayed the scientific aspirations of the historical profession, in defence of religious mores.12 For Rudin, the professionalization of the Quebec historical profession began in the interwar period with the transition of its central figure, Abbé Lionel Groulx. Rudin's rehabilitation of Groulx, shows his conversion from a historical project, which interpreted French-Canadian history as survival against its oppressors (both historical in the form of colonial France and England and the modern liberalism of the day), to a more scientific approach. The ultimate professionalization of Quebec history in the 1940s, is seen as a culmination of the journals, associations, and conferences organized primarily by Abbé Groulx. In Rudin's interpretation, Groulx's abandonment of a Christian Quebec nationalist historical project was accompanied by his early contribution to the professionalization of history.
        Gordon's Hero and the Historian's questions the dichotomy between amateur and professional historians, and shows that those nineteenth-century Cartier scholars that Rudin's periodization would classify as amateur historians had a "fixation" with the archives, specialized, and championed documentary evidence as the objective empirical basis of their work.13 Rudin's interpretation unnecessarily combines Catholicism with amateur history. An overarching religious project may cause us to question nineteenth-century Quebec historian's criteria of selection, but as Gordon proves, it does not diminish the rigour of their scholarly work. For Gordon the divide between the amateur and the professional is not as important as for Rudin. In his focus on the end product of a a collective common sense of history, he notes that the university-bound historian's articles and monographs do not solely affect the past and collective identity. A peripheral criticism can be found in Gordon's examination of the origins of the Quiet Revolution. Gordon seems to misread Rudin's periodization, neglecting the modern trends that the later author prescribes to Groulx in the interwar years. When Gordon notes that the changing of Cartier's reputation in the interwar years suggests a rejection of an "old clerical nationalism", he is in fact agreeing with Rudin that the modern roots of the Quiet Revolution can be found in this period.14
        In calling for historians to pay attention to their role in crafting common sense, Gordon's work echoes that of another Quebec intellectual. Jocelyn Létourneau's 2000 treatise, A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec, emphasizes the high moral stakes involved in the creation of French-Canadian public memory and notes that little work has been done on this sensitive subject.15 In Quebec's motto "Je me souviens", Létourneau finds both inspiration and constraint. Létourneau identifies a strain in the identity of the Quebecois that draws on a nationalist victim narrative. He describes this victim narrative by noting, "in order to exist now and in the future, Quebecers have a duty to remember their sorrows, to bear in their turn the suffering of their ancestors, an immemorial suffering branded with the stigmata of so many tragic events."16 Létourneau's project is to recreate this national historic memory on a more positive, yet ambivalent, foundation. He has noted that the historical pendulum has swung since the Quiet Revolution, with new historians revising the old story of the survival of a backwards society against a host of oppressors. New works have dismissed the narrative of a economically and socially stunted Quebec, found cultural revitalization in nineteenth-century religion, and even reinterpreted the "La Grande Noirceur" of the Duplessis period as containing modern elements.17 Létourneau's positive recreation of Quebec's history does not condone, however, this search for modernity in the past. Instead the historian wishes to acknowledge both the "wounds" and "possibilities" in the power struggles across the "structural realities[of] linguistic-cultural dualism, regionalism and provincialism."18 Létourneau does not deny the tragedies of French-Canadian history central to both its early historiography and public memory, yet instead of a history of blame and victimization, a complex narrative of both these "withdrawals", as well as the "victories and advances" is substituted. For Létourneau, a complicated and ambiguous middle ground is found, as "the quest for affirmation by Quebecers of French-Canadian heritage, has involved a search for an optimal, satisfied, peaceful intermediate position between the spectre of assimilation and that of marginalization much more than a desire to become completely independent or to withdraw into self-effacement."19
        In calling for historians to address their role in constructing common sense knowledge, Gordon shares Létourneau's concern for the role of historians in providing the building blocks of collective identity. In his studies on the historical memory of young Quebecois, Létourneau suggests that "mythistories" are formed from sources outside the classroom.20 While Létourneau points to television, radio and family conversations as central to the forming of the historical trope of victimization,Gordon notes that public monuments, pageantry and portraits also have their effect. A 2008 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation special on Létourneau's ideas, however, exposes a problem for those historians who seek to describe common sense and collective identity. A discussion with a group of Quebec youth exposed no adherence to the victim trope which Létourneau claims is so prevalent.21 The fragility of theses regarding collective memory may expose a limitation of Gordon's examination of common sense. While the rigour of his scholarship regarding the construction of meaning surrounding the Breton hero-explorer cannot be denied, the extent of acceptance of these meanings are less certain. Gordon notes that floats depicting the Catholic Cartier in the St. Jean Baptiste parade were prevalent insertions of loaded historical symbols in the public space, but what is to say that the ambivalence found in Letourneau's neighbourhood youth was not equally present in the observers of nineteenth-century parades, or for that matter twentieth-century statues. While such criticisms may be averted by the suggestion that Gordon's The Hero and the Historian`s was primarily concerned with the construction-workers who laboured on the explorer's image, the question as to how the historian can access the tropes, common sense knowledge and collective memory that statues, pageants, and history books effect is a difficult and fascinating enquiry for historians in the growing field of historical memory.

Bibliography
Gordon, Alan. The Hero and the Historians: Historiography and the Uses of Jacques Cartier. 

 Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010.

Létourneau, Jocelyn.

A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec. Translated by Phyllis Aronoff and 

Howard Scott. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000, 2004.


“Remembering Our Past: An Examination of the Historical Memory of Young Quebecois” ed. Ruth Sandwell 


in To the Past: History Education, Public Memory, & Citizenship in Canada. U of Toronto Press: 

Toronto, 2006. p. 70-87.

Rudin, Ronald. Making History in Twentieth-Century Quebec. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1997.



Wolch, Sarah and Jocelyn Létourneau. "Passages to the Future: Part 3" ed. Paul Kennedy Ideas. CBC: 


Toronto, 30 March 2008. Radio.
1Alan Gordon, "The Hero and the Historians: Historiography and the Uses of Jacques Cartier" (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010), 187.
2Gordon, 26-28.
3Writing in 1866, Monsignor L.F.R. Lafleche's associated Cartier's arrival in New France with Abraham's arrival in Caanan. George-Etienne Cartier claimed that Jacques Cartier, like John the Baptist, "prophesied" Catholicism's spread to the New World. Gordon, 85-86.
4Gordon, 89.
5Gordon, 96.
6Gordon, 96.
7Gordon, 132.
8A concession was made in including the religious message when the 6 September 1535 landing on Ile aux Coudres was commemorated, but even this story was noted as the first "Christian service on Canadian soil", with no mention of Catholicism. Gordon, 138.
9Grodon, 163.
10 Historica's "Heritage Minute" commercial depicts the explorer as confused when explained the term "Kanata", while the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Canada: A People's History" shows Cartier as unimportant in what Gordon describes as a "snapshot of myths and misconceptions." Even Ramsay Cook's recent edition of Cartier's Relations (still the best source for Cartier's voyages) largely features the Huron natives and relegates Cartier to a supporting role. Gordon, 186.
11Gordon, 188.
12Gordon, 82. Ronald Rudin, Making History in Twentieth-Century Quebec (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1997), 14.
13Gordon, 80-81.
14Gordon, 163.
15Jocelyn Létourneau, A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000, 2004), 5-6.
16Létourneau, 6.
17Létourneau, 30.
18Létourneau, 84.
19Létourneau, 108.
20Jocelyn Létourneau “Remembering Our Past: An Examination of the Historical Memory of Young Quebecois” ed. Ruth Sandwell in To the Past: History Education, Public Memory, & Citizenship in Canada (U of Toronto Press: Toronto, 2006), 71.
21Sarah Wolch and Jocelyn Létourneau, "Passages to the Future: Part 3" ed. Paul Kennedy Ideas. (CBC: Toronto, 30 March 2008). Radio.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review - Sean Mills - The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal

Sean Mills' The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal (McGill: Montreal, 2010), traces the discourse of decolonization throughout the rise of diverse Montreal protest groups in the 1960s. The work shows that activism during the period was dynamic and complex, and moves far beyond a simplified popular version of the era centred on the FLQ's radicalism. Revising a historiography which shows the period as a reaction to the social conditions of 1950s Quebec, Mills contextualizes the intellectual ferment in Montreal with that of international dissident political movements and thinkers. Despite the diversity of groups struggling for empowerment across racial, linguistic, economic, and gender divides, Mills observes that "hovering over all of the conversation of leftists throughout the city was Montreal's relationship to empire." (51)



Sir George Williams Riot, 1969

Intellectuals such as Jacques Bergue, Albert Memmi and Frantz Fanon developed a conceptual framework which saw colonialism divide human groups. The colonizer systematically suppressing the culture, language and history of the colonized. Such a process leads to the internalization of racist structures by both sides of the power relations, which can still persist in neo-colonial forms. The Quebec protest movement would infuse these ideas with the specificity of anti-colonial Marxism, which Robert Young claims "emphasizes [...] the untranslatability of revolutionary practices, the need for attention to local forms, and the translation of the universal into the idiom of the local." (34) Mill sees the Partis Pris as having the largest impact on the "language of dissent" in Quebec. This publishing house cum political party saw the Catholic Church as a primary mechanism of colonial power and adopted a program of secularization, independence and socialism. With these ideas and the demographic transition fuelled by increased immigration, the post-war baby boom, and urbanization, Montreal became a hot-bed of criticism against what was increasingly characterized as a unjust colonial system.

         Mills traces the rise of social protest groups which differentiated themselves due to race, gender, language and class, emphasizing their shared international influences in the realm of post-colonial thought. The emphasis is on the writers of the manifestos and the intellectual leadership, and it is noted that the postcolonial message is diluted when analysis strays from these "elites" to the rhetoric of the street protest. As militant protest rose after 1968, a blend of socialist decolonization, Marxism and the old "tropes of traditional nationalism" were prevalent in popular protest. (158) While an underlying nostalgia seems impossible to avoid in dealing with the sixties era, Mills does not romanticize his subjects. The macho and masculine discourse of black-power is shown to exclude women, the FLQ's accusations against Trudeau are denounced as homophobic, and women's groups are seen splintered along the lines of whether to include men in their struggle. It seems that the non-hierarchical and democratic nature of many protest groups made for unification against a common enemy at first, but then led to dissipation and internal conflict. Ultimately, leftist protest and their post-colonial framework was usurped by the class-based analysis of the labour movement.
Student Protest Montreal, October 1968
        Mills' work approaches a stand-alone history of the Quiet Revolution, yet its focus is clearly on the left, leaving the provincial and Catholic Church's reactions to the protest movement to other monographs. Also remaining unexplored is the intertwined conceptual framework of Marxist structures with post-colonial thought, which is perhaps germane to a history of leftist protest. The extent to which the post-colonial thought of the manifesto writers was on the public's mind is left ambiguous by Mills' brief comments on the rhetoric of street-protest, but an analysis of the broader public discourse during the era is perhaps another book awaiting its author. The clean sweep of historical awards granted The Empire Within shows that historical establishment is favourable to Mills' work. For moving beyond an exceptional Quebec in this transnational approach, rising above a historiography focused on the radicals behind the October Crisis, and providing an excellent readable history of a fascinating period of Quebec, Mills' work is a necessary addition to the literature of the period.

Sean Mills, The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal (McGill: Montreal, 2010).
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