The Dalhousie Journals, Volume 3


219 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88750-426-4





Reviewed by George A. Rawlyk

G.A. Rawlyk is a history professor at Queen’s University and the
author of Champions of the Truth: Fundamentalism, Modernism, and the
Maritime Baptists.


George Ramsay, the ninth Earl of Dalhousie, was the Governor General of the Canadas during the 1820 to 1828 period following four years (1816-1820) as Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. After leaving Canada he served as Commander-Chief of British forces in India. He died in 1838, at the age of 68.

While he was in what is now Canada, Dalhousie authored a fascinating journal. The first two volumes of this journal, edited by Marjory Whitelaw and covering the years 1816 to 1824, have already been published. This third and final volume, concerned with the 1825-1828 period, is, in my view, the best edited volume of the three and the most intrinsically significant.

During his second tour of office in Quebec, Dalhousie revealed that he was incapable of understanding the political, social and economic aspirations of the French-Canadian majority. Nor was he willing to consider seriously the possibility of constitutional change within the evolving British Empire. Dalhousie was anti-Reform in Lower Canada largely because he was an ardent Francophobe. To him Papineau and his followers were “Detestable dissemblers ... truly in character Frenchmen.” If any person wishes to understand the racial underpinnings of the Patriote Rebellion of 1837 and 1838, this book should be required reading. This volume also throws much penetrating light on some of the significant nineteenth century roots of twentieth century Quebec separatism.

Not only is Dalhousie interested in the growing reform movement in Lower Canada. He is also an enthusiastic traveller who is eager to put down on paper his impressions of people and topography. There is, for example, a marvellous brief description of the Arctic explorer John Franklin:

In person Captain Franklin is a square strong man of 5’6”, dark complexion and hair, his head very round, bald, with thick curled short hair from the temples round the lower part of the head, fine countenance with a nervous tremble in the eyes which seem to turn back on an axis and lose their sight. (p. 111)

There are other gems in this well-edited volume, which also possesses a fine index.


Whitelaw, Marjory, “The Dalhousie Journals, Volume 3,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 4, 2023,