Confederate Toronto

Here's an interesting story in The Torontoist about the little story of Canadians who supported the Confederate cause.


"...As Eric Jarvis details in his contribution to Celebrating One Thousand Years of Ontario’s History (Ontario Historical Society, 2000), “the American Civil War became something of a spectator sport for many Torontonians. There was a vicarious interest in the events of the war and the fascination associated with a dramatic and violent spectacle.” Despite the efforts of George Brown’s Globe newspaper to keep the public focused on slavery as the cause of the American conflict, the majority of Canadian newspaper readers held anti-Northern sentiment. At one point in 1861, a uniformed Union soldier visiting Toronto was loudly jeered by passersby and was greeted, upon entering a saloon, by the musical accompaniment of “Dixie.”

Although most British North American citizens did not favour slavery, they feared that the North was only interested in conquest and that, if the South were vanquished, annexation of British North America would be next. Denison—who would later serve as the city’s police magistrate—was among those who raised the spectre of imminent annexation in a polemic he published, calling for British North American defenses to be raised.

Moreover, Southerners who frequently vacationed in the Niagara region before the war had forged close ties with the local elite in Canada West. While visitors from the Northern states were perceived as unscrupulous businessmen and crass nouveau riche, the wealthy and refined tourists from the South convinced many in Southern Ontario “of the righteousness of their cause”—as Winks put it."

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