We received a well-written letter (see letter below) this week which expressed its author’s disapproval of the monument which was recently erected at the Lost Villages Museum to Canadians (then citizens of British North America) who fought in the United States Civil War. The author asked a few questions which we have endeavoured to find answers to, including those she asked MP Guy Lauzon. She described her concern about honouring people who fought for the Confederate Army in the Civil War, disagrees with the significance of that war to Canada and asked if tax dollars helped fund the monument.
Chief of Staff Adrian Bugelli of Lauzon’s office replied in an email, “…no government funds were used for the construction of the monument, nor was there any direct mention of the Confederacy.” He added, “MP Lauzon was there to honour the over 40,000 who fought and the more than 7,000 that perished in the conflict.”
Bugelli also told our editor in a telephone interview that what struck MP Lauzon was not just the large numbers of Canadian men and boys who fought (40,000), but the number of those who died in that terrible conflict. (In 1867 the total population of Canada was under 3.5-million.)
We noted the monument was raised to soldiers who fought on either side, and the majority of British North Americans who took part fought for the Union side, the North.
Regarding the significance of the Civil War to Canada, it was that nearby war, including the impressment of unwilling soldiers on our side of the river, that gave urgency to the political movement which resulted in British North America becoming the Confederation of Canada. Politicians of the time were concerned about ending up as part of the United States. In fact, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was advised to invade Canada in 1861, but replied he would not fight more than one war at a time.
So while it had a different type of significance than the World Wars, it can be argued that Canadian involvement in the Civil War was one of the most significant events to have an impact on Canadian society.
We might not have had Canadian society if that war had not happened.
We thank the reader for her letter, and for starting an interesting discussion.
Letters to the editor can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.