In 1867 a great colonial reform was carried out, the Confederation of the North American Provinces of the British Empire. By this Act the names of Upper and Lower Canada were changed respectively to Ontario and Quebec. The first Dominion Parliament met in the autumn of the same year, and lost no time in passing an Act to construct an Inter-Colonial Railway affording proper means of communication between the maritime and central provinces.
In 1869 the Hudson Bay territory was acquired from the Company which held it, and after the Red River Insurrection, headed by a half-breed, Louis Riel, had been successfully crushed by the Wolseley Expedition, the territory was made part of the Federation. In 1871 British Columbia became part of the Dominion, on condition that a railway was constructed within the following ten years which should extend from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains and connect with the existing railway system.
The great Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, opening out the West to all-comers.
The rise and growth of the Imperialistic spirit has been greatly influenced by the literature on the subject, which dated its commencement from Professor Seeley’s Expansion of England in 1883. This was followed by an immense number of works by various writers, the chief of whom, Rudyard Kipling, has popularized the conception of Imperialism and extended its meaning:
Never was isle so little,
never was sea so lone,
But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.
The Empire was not, however, to be consolidated without war and bloodshed, for relations with the two Boer Republics, the Transvaal and the Orange River, became more and more strained as years went on. The last years of the Queen’s life were destined to be saddened by the outbreak of war in South Africa.
The facts which led to the outbreak were briefly these, though it is but fair to state that there are, even now, various theories current as to the causes. The discovery and opening up of the gold mines of the Transvaal had brought a stream of adventurous emigrants into the country, and it was these ‘Outlanders’ of whom the Dutch were suspicious. The Transvaal Government refused to admit them to equal political rights with the Dutch inhabitants. It was certain, however, that the Outlanders would never submit to be dependent on the policy of President Kruger, although the Dutch declared that they had only accepted the suzerainty of Great Britain under compulsion.
Negotiations between the two Governments led to nothing, as neither side would give way, and at last, in 1899, following upon an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of British troops from the borders of the Republic, war broke out. It had undoubtedly been hastened by the ill-fated and ill-advised raid in 1896 of Dr Jameson, the administrator of Rhodesia.
It is scarcely necessary to review the details of this war at any length. It proved conclusively that the Government of this country had vastly underrated the resisting powers of the Boers. For three years the British army was forced to wage a guerilla warfare, and adapt itself to entirely new methods of campaigning.