Between 1867 and 1914, it was said that "to be Canadian is to be British." That was both a strength and a weakness for Canada. It affected how the people in that country felt about themselves. It also affected how the rest of the world thought about Canadians. One of the reasons people believed that Canadians were British was imperialism. Canada wanted to be a successful nation. Many people who lived there thought the only way to do that was through being tied to British imperialism.
Other people disagreed, and said that Canada had to break away and be on its own.
Those people did not think Canada's ideals and beliefs were compatible with the British way of doing things. For more than 30 years, the two groups would argue back and forth about how Canada should be ruled.
Then the First World War broke out, and things changed. Through research into Canadian intellectual history, many ideas about Canadian history can be formed. Whether Canada should be under British rule or on its own was a conflicted and divisive period in history, and one that will not soon be forgotten.
One of the reasons that this issue is so important is because Canada does not have the same sense of nationalism as other places.
It cannot rely on a national language or origin as a way of bringing everyone who lives there together.
While "being Canadian" is really impossible to define, evidence still shows a sense of nationalism among Canadians.
That can be confusing for people who study Canadian history. If there is no specific reason for nationalism, it seems odd that nationalism can be found. Throughout Canada and its history, the people have pulled together to create unity.
One of the most obvious ways to see nationalism is to look at politicians.
Even though they have not always provided the best choices, they have been focused on making Canada a cohesive nation. With proper nationalism, Canada does not need British rule or influence. This is part of what many politicians were trying to show when they made choices they believed were right for Canada. Not everyone agreed, because that is the nature of politics. Still, politicians showed time and time again that nationalism was what mattered to them.
It seemed like they just took a group of people who all lived in the same place, and made them into a real nation. There was resistance, though, because of all the British influence that was still seen before 1914. Many Canadians wanted to remain British, while others wanted to cut ties and be completely independent.
It is difficult to form a completely new nation, even with the best of intentions. Canadian politicians had to struggle to convince Canadian residents that being separate would be the best choice for everyone involved.
As Canada evolved, it had to make more and more choices about self-protection and self-preservation.
When it did that, it naturally pulled further away from the British rule and influence. Some people fought that, but most started to accept it as being a natural progression of things. As more people begin to adopt a national attitude, they understood that they had to take control of their own country.
They needed to protect it, and treat it as their own. When they started to do that, they let go of much of what was British.
That helped Canada adopt a more national attitude, even if they were not originally planning to do that. It was a slow process, but very important.
In 1885, there was a large rebellion.
People who really did not want change took up weapons and planned to stop that change from taking place. For the Metis, it was much like what happened to the Native Americans. New people came in and took what was theirs. They started making changes and laws and rules. The Metis were expected to follow those rules and do what the government said.
That changed their entire way of life. They did not want that life changed, so they decided to fight back against what was happening to them.