A Great Design Fulfilled
[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]
The stroke of midnight last night saw the final stone in the structure of Confederation put into place. Newfoundland today is a part of Canada . So there has come to pass at last the union of the Old Colony with the Dominion in which a natural place has been as it were reserved from the first. The day has been long in coming, but the conception of Macdonald, Cartier, Tilley, Tupper and Carter of a federation of the separate peoples of British North America to stretch "from sea to sea" has now been realized.
It was largely the caprice of circumstance that kept Newfoundland back from being one of the first provinces to enter Confederation. Her statesmen of the day saw the sound reasons that have always existed for closer ties among people from the same root stocks, speaking the same language, attached to the same institutions derived from a common source. They helped to shape Confederation's framework, but popular sentiment was soon to be adversely aroused to keep the colony out of the union.
In the fact that the misgivings about throwing in their lot with ours have been allayed at last in the minds of most Newfoundlanders, Canadian will feel a deep satisfaction. From the new association, good will emerge on both sides.
The change will bring Newfoundland into the full current of life. Independence for her spelled also, in a considerable measure, isolation. Now bound into the broadening activities of Canada, her concerns are ours as ours are hers, she and we will gain together.
Some misgivings are natural in such a step as that which the people of Newfoundland have taken. Their lot has not been easy, but they are deeply attached to their island, proud of its long history, firmly fixed in individualistic and independent ways. To join Canada seemed to some to be giving up their identity, to be loosening the ties with Britain .
The step will not be so great as to be feared. Newfoundland will be no less Newfoundland for being part of Canada . Her people will net feel themselves to be among strangers in the other parts of their new and now larger country. Many have indeed already made themselves at home on the mainland, meeting no difficulties in doing so. Nor need they feel themselves any farther from Britain for the boundary of Canada lying to the east rather than to the west of them.
They are not so much breaking with their past as adding it to that of Canada, in which they will find more, not fewer, opportunities of making satisfying places for themselves.
The last touch put to a painting is no less important than the first. Today, with the tenth province come into Confederation, is an occasion as full of meaning as when the first struck hands. This in all likelihood marks the final accession to the Dominion. It is to be regretted, then, that circumstances precluded the holding of ceremonies that would befit the occasion.
It is to be hoped that a suitable occasion will arise in the near future, on which the rest of Canada can more adequately show the warmth of its welcome to the tenth province.
Source : "A Great Design Fulfilled", editorial, Montreal Star, April 1, 1949, p. 12.
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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College