The English Fact in Quebec
Contains Bibliography, Index
Peter Henderson teaches history at Douglas College in New Westminster,
Before examining the position of Anglophones in Quebec at the present time, this masterly appreciation of the French-English antagonisms in Canada gives an abbreviated but excellently balanced history of relations between the two groups since the Conquest of 1759.
It next shows the emergence of language as the dominant issue (after the decline of religion as a rallying point for the French in 1960, followed by the rise of Quebec bureaucracy), and it shows how this forced the English community to defend their institutions openly on the same basis as the French institutions, when these were no longer administered by the Church.
The book illustrates vividly the former immense power of the Anglo-Montreal business elite, revealing how the decline of their power, starting with the growth of Toronto in the 1930s, has removed the ability of Anglo-Quebecers to exist as a community within Quebec in almost complete isolation from the French majority.
The authors’ conclusions are that notwithstanding the emergence of a new political leadership among the Anglophones, which is much more in touch with the French society than hitherto, the remaining overall reluctance of Anglophones to accept the French context in which they must live is just as damaging to them as the restrictive legislation enacted by the French majority.
I cannot recommend this book too highly to anyone, English or French, who wants to try to understand the position of the inhabitants of Quebec within Canada.
It is not in the least surprising that this book won the Governor-General’s Award for non-fiction.