Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union


255 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-468-X
DDC 971.04'2






Reviewed by Trevor S. Raymond

Trevor S. Raymond is a teacher and librarian with the Peel Board of Education and editor of Canadian Holmes.


It is discouraging to see an error in a book’s prologue. St. Albans,
Vermont, was not “sacked and burned” in 1864, as we are told here.
Moreover, in the chapters dealing with what became known as the St.
Albans Raid, the author of this popular account of Canadian–American
relations during the U.S. Civil War contradicts his prologue: “little
damage was done.” Another discrepancy: in the source notes, the author
tells of using the papers of Guillaume Lamoth, the chief of police in
Montreal who “helped the St. Albans raiders escape to Nova Scotia.”
But in his account of the raid’s aftermath, he makes no such claim
about Lamoth (whose many appearances in the book do not warrant an entry
in the index) and makes it clear that the raiders were trying to get to
New Brunswick. Such confusion (compounded slightly by an error in the
numbering of about half the footnotes) is unfortunate, for Mayers has
written a well-researched narrative that weaves the familiar tale of the
road to Confederation with the less-explored story of Canada’s
attitudes toward the United and the Confederate States. He explains why
Canada provided a welcoming haven for the many Confederate agents who
kept a small fortune on deposit in the Bank of Ontario and who plotted
schemes such as the creation of a Confederate navy to bombard U.S.
cities on the Great Lakes.

The most infamous incident took place during the Quebec Conference,
when a group of Confederates went from Canada to the Vermont town of St.
Albans, 40 miles from Montreal, robbed some banks, and fled with their
loot back across the border. It is a bit of a stretch to call this
“the northernmost battle of the civil war,” but it had a huge impact
all along our frontier. Further, the lenient treatment and eventual
release from Canadian custody of the soldiers (or robbers: the
distinction was crucial, as the U.S. tried to extradite them) brought
the U.S. close to war with Britain, and Mayers justly praises Viscount
Monck, who became our first governor general, for skilful diplomacy that
averted an international disaster.


Mayers, Adam., “Dixie and the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17959.