Michael S. Cross
The quest for responsible government took place in turbulent times. The "very strange" personality driving this quest, Robert Baldwin, comprises the stuff of narrative so compelling it seems at times less history than novel. Baldwin's intervention in Canadian history was momentous, and in this
account history is intertwined with Baldwin's enigmatic private life.
Decades of research by historian Michael Cross has unearthed new insight into this highly complex, troubled, and exceptional man. In Cross's exploration, Baldwin inhabits an intricate emotional world, entangled with
reflections on past and future. Cross' narrative flows with elegant non-linearity, reflecting Baldwin's own fluid psychological chronology; the memory of his wife Eliza, who died comparatively young, haunted Baldwin's often distressed mental landscape. In fact, the first chapter may contain one of
the biggest surprises in any recent historical biography - taking place a month after Baldwin's death.
Even so, the book is full of comedy and charm. Cross is a delightfully polished writer, with a remarkable knack for character. Lord Sydenham is a "coxcomb" and a "rake" in the original
sense of the words; Lord Elgin is an "unprepossessing little man" but with "steely determination," "a countenance stern in its frame of iron-grey muttonchops"; Louis LaFontaine is "handsome and charming but irritatingly pretentious." Interactions with the deep thinking and duty-bound Baldwin are at
times chaotic collisions of markedly different personalities.
The book covers events such as the War of 1812, the 1841 Union of the Canadas, and mass migration of Irish famine refugees; it also contains a detailed chronology, portraits, maps, and paintings. Here is not just a vision of an
unsettled Canada that will take many readers aback, but also an encounter with a fascinating, "very strange" personality whose profound influence changed Canadian history forever.
List of Illustrations
1. The Blessed Hour, January 1859
2. Living in Memory
3. I Am Not So Certain of My Future as Others Seem To Be
4. A Better Irishman
5. This Struggle between Good Government and Evil Government
6. The Apple of
7. Home - My Own Dear Home
8. A New Definition of Loyalty
9. An Enthusiast - Almost a Fanatic
10. Leave Those Confounded Politics Alone
11. Turning Everything into Responsible Government
12. There Must Be No Question of Races
13. An Enlarged View Must Be
14. The Phrase or the Content
15. Anglo-Saxons to the Struggle
16. Un Jeu d'Enfants
17. Infidels, Socialists, and Others
18. A Reckless Disregard of First Principles
19. Hanging by a Most Precarious Thread
A Note on Sources
There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.
Michael S. Cross is adjunct professor at Dalhousie University. He has published on Canadian social, labour, and political history.
A Little History of Canada
- H. V. NellesA History of Canadian Culture
- Jonathan F. VanceA History of the Canadian Peoples
- J. M. BumstedInterpreting Canada's Past
- J.M. Bumsted, Len Kuffert and Michel DucharmeThe Incredible Canadian
- The late Bruce Hutchison
Introduction by Vaughn PalmerThe Road to Confederation
- The late Donald Creighton and Donald Wright