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Macdonald's National Dream
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LESSON 28: Macdonald's National Dream

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This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 10 Taking the West

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During the 1870s, Canada and Europe suffered a serious depression. During the 1878 election campaign, John A. Macdonald, then a member of the Opposition, launched his successful National Policy which promoted tariffs to protect Canadian markets from foreign competition, thereby stimulating Canadian industry and creating jobs.

Macdonald resumed leadership on the basis of this economic strategy. He immediately re-launched the transcontinental railroad project. He felt the railroad was essential to the continuation and growth of the Dominion of Canada. The United States had already completed a transcontinental railroad and settlement pressures from the south were being felt in the Canadian west. A railroad would connect the east with the west and ensure the sovereignty of Canada across the continent.

Macdonald's government granted enormous subsidies to the Canadian Pacific Railway, which had been under new management since the Pacific Scandal of 1873. He also gave the company immense expanses of land, as well as the monopoly for operating the future railroad. News of this great venture stimulated land speculation in the west. New cities such as Winnipeg, the entry point to the west, emerged overnight, and settlers, enticed by advertising extolling the climate, fertility and beauty of the Prairies, homesteaded along the projected site, which passed through northern Saskatchewan to Edmonton. But the CPR decided to build the route through the southern Prairies where its land was located, creating discontent and hardship among settlers to the north. Despite this, the west grew and prospered. And so did the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Métis and Native populations of the west were suffering from the near extinction of the buffalo herds, the relocation to reserves, and the broken promises of food and assistance. Their lives would be permanently transformed by the influx of the newcomers.

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    Lesson Plans
    Episode 1
    When the World Began...
    Lesson 1 Canada's First Peoples
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 2 Stories of Creation
    Lesson 3 Cartier and Donnacona

    Episode 2
    Adventures and Mystics
    Lesson 4 The Beginning of the Fur Trade
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 5 The Jesuits and the Huron
    Lesson 6 Immigration to New France

    Episode 3
    Claiming the Wilderness
    Lesson 7 Expansion to the Gulf of Mexico
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 8 The Expulsion of the Acadians

    Episode 4
    Battle for a Continent
    Lesson 9 Before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 10 The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 11 The Quebec Act
    (includes activity)

    Episode 5
    A Question of Loyalties
    Lesson 12 Conflict in Quebec, 1775
    Lesson 13 United Empire Loyalists
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 14 Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh

    Episode 6
    The Pathfinders
    Lesson 15 The Fur Trade in Canada
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 16 The Selkirk Settlers
    Lesson 17 The Gold Rush

    Episode 7
    Rebellion and Reform
    Lesson 18 The Rebellions of 1837
    Lesson 19 Union of the Canadas
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 20 A Land of Hope

    Episode 8
    The Great Enterprise
    Lesson 21 Newcomers to Canada
    Lesson 22 The Making of Confederation
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 23 Confederation in the Maritimes

    Episode 9
    From Sea to Sea
    Lesson 24 The Red River Resistance
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 25 The Pacific Scandal

    Episode 10
    Taking the West
    Lesson 26 The North-West Rebellion
    Lesson 27 The Trial of Louis Riel
    Lesson 28 Macdonald's National Dream

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