'Union is Strength': W.L. Mackenzie, The Children of Peace and the Emergence of Joint Stock Democracy in Upper Canada

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9780802099273: 'Union is Strength': W.L. Mackenzie, The Children of Peace and the Emergence of Joint Stock Democracy in Upper Canada
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Nineteenth-century Canada experienced two other revolutions apart from those of W.L. Mackenzie and Louis Riel: the transition to capitalism, and to responsible government. Union Is Strength argues that these major socio-political changes happened in Ontario without a revolutionary moment because of the intertwined relationship of reformers with capitalists. Examining a small, utopian socialist group named the Children of Peace, Albert Schrauwers traces the emergence of a vibrant democratic culture in the province from the decade before the Rebellions of 1837.


Schrauwers shows how the overlapping boards of unincorporated joint stock companies managed by both Toronto reformers and the Children of Peace produced a culture of deliberative democracy in competition with the "gentlemanly capitalism" of chartered corporations. Noting the ways in which Ontario's capitalist and democratic revolutions were linked through cooperative joint stock operations, he also situates these revolutions in an international context and links them to the development of Owenite socialism and Chartism in the United Kingdom. Union Is Strength is an insightful study of both nineteenth century Canada and the ways in which regional political cultures arise.

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About the Author:

Albert Schrauwers is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University.

Review:

Union Is Strength is an effective study of the connection between the emergence of responsible government in Upper Canada and the growth of a capitalist order. By focusing on joint stock companies and their role in the process of political reform, Albert Schrauwers makes a convincing case for the importance of economics and economic thought in the history of the region. (Todd Webb, Department of History, Laurentian University)

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