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Cartoons and Caricatures
Annexation versus Confederation
Canada has always had close and complex ties with its neighbour, the United States of America. In the decades immediately before and after Confederation, the possible annexation of British North American territories to the United States preoccupied citizens on both sides of the border. Cartoonists took advantage of the political and cultural symbolism of the annexation movement to produce insightful illustrated commentaries.
Colonel Gugy, MP, was a prominent member of the Opposition under the Baldwin-Lafontaine Ministry, but announced his withdrawal from that position during the heated scenes that followed the Rebellion Losses riots. He is regarded as having been the progenitor of the Liberal-Conservative Party of the present time. The cartoon conveys the insinuation that Colonel Gugy sympathized with the Annexation movement, which was the sensation of the day.
"The Annexation Engine"
This was another attack upon the Annexation sentiment that prevailed in Lower Canada. Punch's idea was that if Annexation were ever realized its first effect would be to rob the French-Canadians of the special privileges they enjoyed under British rule. The artist's conception of Brother Jonathan ('Jonathan' was the term used by the British to refer to the United States) is somewhat unusual.
Mr. Benjamin Holmes was one of the Members for Montreal in the first Parliament after the Union, and was amongst the most active public men of the time. In 1849 he was an advocate of Annexation, and subsequently voted for the reception of an address in favour of Canadian independence. His Annexation proclivities are satirized in the cartoon, which represents him as pawning the British flag to Brother Jonathan.
"The Eagle and the Fawn"
A piece of excusable self-glorification on the part of Mr. Punch, who was 'truly loyal' from first to last. Here he dashes forth upon his charger to rescue the Canadian fawn from the talons of the designing American eagle.
Charles Tupper was a warm advocate of Confederation, and did more than any other public man to induce his native province, Nova Scotia (Acadia), to enter the union in 1867. Joseph Howe, a much greater statesman than Tupper, and a man of vast influence, was amongst the opponents of the measure in question, and was suspected of a preference for Annexation to the United States. In the cartoon the Province is represented as halting between the two opinions, and the loyal artist takes pains to point out that the advantages are all in the way that leads 'to Ottawa.'
This cartoon faithfully reflected the sentiments of the Canadian people on the subject of Annexation. While it is true that there is no general feeling in favour of the change indicated, there is an appreciable absence of the unfriendly feeling toward the United States that was generally cherished at this time.
The anti-Annexation sentiment that has always prevailed in Canada is presented with considerable 'force' in this picture.
"From Halifax to Vancouver"
The project of an all-rail route from the Atlantic to the Pacific on Canadian territory had begun to be put forth. The incredulity attributed to Uncle Sam in the cartoon was fully shared by many more immediately interested parties. The year 1886, however, saw the feat accomplished.
"Waiting for the Cat to Jump"
This cartoon gives an intimation that the views of Mr. Luther H. Holton on the subject of Canada's future destiny were not perfectly clear and fixed. In this Mr. Holton was by no means singular among our public men. The insinuation that he was a blind follower of public opinion does him less than justice.
Source: Bengough, J. W. -- A Caricature History of Canadian Politics, Volumes 1 and 2. Toronto : The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
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