the whole, the Civil War was beneficial to Canada. Though the
United States abrogated the Reciprocity Treaty in 1866 primarily
to punish Britain for its benevolent neutrality towards the Confederacy,
and the Fenian raids gave Canadians a fright, the war promoted
British North American unity. The possibility of invasion and
the loss of reciprocal trade paved the road to Confederation.
In a way, the war helped craft the British North America Act of
1867 and furnished a welcomed respite from American expansionism.
Even Canada’s official name was affected by the conflict. Indeed,
the Fathers of Canadian Confederation chose not to further irritate
the United States by giving their new nation the rather ambitious
name of "Kingdom" of Canada and chose the more humble
"Dominion" instead. The Civil War also brought a brief
but intense period of economic prosperity to Canada.1
further consequence of the Civil War, strongly lamented in French
Canada, was that military service became the gateway to assimilation
for many Franco-Americans. As would be the case in all of America’s
wars, the armed services proved to be a powerful agent of Americanization.
Like Major Mallet, many Franco-Americans were assimilated in the
the next fifty years or so, French Canadian and Franco-American
veterans of the conflict held reunions periodically. In the year
he founded L’Union continentale (1893), Jean-Baptiste Rouillard
made a rousing call in favor of Canada’s annexation to the United
States at a Civil War meeting held in Montreal. Thereafter, the
reunion became increasingly emotional as Rémi Tremblay
recited his poem, Le drapeau du 14e, dedicated
to his former regiment, which, ironically, he had deserted from
on more than one occasion.2
the two world wars, the Civil War is the third largest conflict
in which French Canadians have fought and died since the fall
of New France in 1760. This is despite relentless clerical and
political censure back home and the fact that the conflict did
not concern French Canada in any direct way. For generations of
Franco-Americans, the Civil War took on a special importance.
Veterans were revered as a living testament to Franco-American
courage and patriotism. In later years, the Franco-American contribution
to the Union cause was frequently cited as proof that French Catholics
could become loyal Americans and that Franco-American blood had
also watered the Liberty Tree.