A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


A number of Canadian institutions have been inherited or influenced by English models. The parliamentary system of government, under which the Cabinet rules the country and is responsible to Parliament, is an extension of the British Cabinet system. It was set up in the colonial government as outlined in the British North America Act of 1867. In the realm of law, the civil law in Canadian provinces (with the exception of Quebec where French civil code is maintained) is based largely on English common law. And the justice system of Canadian courts also closely follows the English example.(12)

The Anglican Church, formerly the Church of England in Canada, is one of the most predominant and distinctively English institutions in Canada. It was transplanted almost unchanged from the homeland. About half of Canadians of English descent adhere to the Anglican faith. The remainder belong to the United Church, as well as a few smaller Protestant sects. Community enhancing institutions such as the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides were also brought from England.(13)

Canada's political parties have also been deeply influenced by England. In particular, the New Democratic Party (previously the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) follows the tradition of democratic socialism founded by the British Independent Labour Party (later the Labour Party). The party was founded and built in Canada by English, Welsh and Scots and has always operated more like an Anglo-Scottish party than an American one. Its structure of constituency branches combined with labour unions also reflects the Labour Party in Britain.(14)

Along with their traditions of social democracy, English workers brought their own fierce traditions of trade unions. As a result, trade unionists from Britain made up the labour elite in Canada. T. Phillips Thompson is but one example. His father's failure had made young Thompson forever suspicious of capitalism and of class privilege. After studying law Thompson abandoned the practice, forfeiting a career of wealth and privilege, attracted by the glamour of journalism. But Thompson soon dedicated his words to the service of the workingclass and the downtrodden. He promoted radical challenges to the emerging industrial capitalist society and became a spokesman for the Canadian branch of the Knights of Labour, the major labour reform organization of the late 19th century. Thompson was the author of the Knights' Labor Reform Songster, was a regular speaker at public events and wrote a column in the Knight's newspaper, The Palladium of Labor. In 1887, he produced what has been described as the labour movement's most articulate critique, The Politics of Labor.

The Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

The Canadians, by George Woodcock
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Don Mills, 1989).

A source Book of Canadian History, ed. J.H. Stewart Read
(Longmans Canada Limited, Toronto, 1964).

The Future Government of Canada, by T. Phillips Thompson, 1864

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