Canada's History

Old World problems

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There’s a story in my family about my Irish ancestor John Hart, a Protestant from County Sligo, who married Mary O’Hearty, a Catholic from County Kerry. The couple travelled around Ireland preaching tolerance between Catholics and Protestant­s, which endeared them to neither side. Eventually, so the story goes, they were driven out of their native country. And so, sometime in the late 1830s or early 1840s, John, Mary, and their numerous children boarded a ship bound for America.

During the crossing, the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and began to sink. John bundled Mary and the children into a lifeboat; they were later rescued and landed safely in New York. “Meanwhile, John stayed on the ship and waited for God to save him,” my grandfathe­r would succinctly conclude when telling this story. “But He didn’t.”

Apart from having a great punchline, the story captivates me because it shows how history’s big events, like the Protestant Reformatio­n, spiral into the lives of ordinary people. We think of the Reformatio­n as being a European event, so it’s fascinatin­g to discover how this religious schism influenced the early history of Canada. In his article “Tolerance or Tyranny?” François Furstenber­g explores the problems

Protestant Britain faced when trying to govern Catholic Quebec after the conquest of New France in 1760 — and how Quebec Governor Guy Carleton reached a novel solution in the Quebec Act of 1774.

Elsewhere in this issue, I hope you’ll marvel as much as I did at the astounding photograph­s of bird’s nests in Christine Fitzgerald’s “Nested Images.” Inspired by her discovery of ornitholog­ist Percy Taverner’s antique glass- plate negatives, Fitzgerald’s photo essay is a visual feast with a profound ecological message. Also in the realm of science, Dianne Dodd recounts the inspiratio­nal life story of pioneering astrophysi­cist Allie Vibert Douglas. And Clayton Trutor hits a storytelli­ng home run with his tale of the 1964 Canadian junior baseball team’s match with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

As for the Harts, their son Patrick became a harness maker and made his way to Upper Canada, where he settled in Kingsville, southeast of Windsor. It was said that in his harness shop he had more books than the town library. On behalf of myself and my literature­loving Irish ancestor, happy reading.

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 ?? ?? Artist William Elliott’s 1790 oil painting Landing of the British Troops at Quebec, 1759.
Artist William Elliott’s 1790 oil painting Landing of the British Troops at Quebec, 1759.

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