It has been said that History cannot be written until at least 50 years passes, and 300 years is better, to avoid the prejudices and opinions of the writer. This is strikingly illustrated in one of my favourite history books, “The March of Folly”, where Barbara Tuchman, professor at a California University, shows how great historical events are generally rooted in gross incompetence on the part of somebody. Example, while the Americans make a great fuss about their patriarchs (and so they should), she argues that the American Revolution was mostly about the gross incompetence of King George. Her argument seems well supported as she discusses such events through the years, until she comes to the chapter on the Viet Nam war. For that she offers a half-baked politically correct explanation, as seen through her baby boomer eyes, a solid demonstration of the author’s prejudices distorting the historical account.
Canada’s history has been completely rewritten these past 50 years to accord with our ‘modern’ oh-so-politically correct worldview; really just that of California students of the 60’s, and I despair of our getting it anywhere near accurate within the next 50 years. In 300 years, when our history is properly written, it will certainly look different from the silliness being stuffed into our kid’s heads now.
What brings this sour point of view to mind is an article in ‘Canada’s History’ magazine which points out that one of the towering figures in Canada’s history is Prince Rupert, even though he is forgotten in today’s politically correct narrative.
Described as ‘dashing and daring’, Rupert was a military hero. A cousin of King Charles of England, he put together a consortium of investors and formed a corporation, one of the first investor-owned corporations ever, and persuade the King of England to grant it absolute dominion over a vast territory which was fittingly named ‘Rupertsland’. That corporation became the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Rupertsland was the area claimed by Henry Hudson for Britain, being all lands which drain into Hudson’s Bay. This is huge, two thirds of the land mass of present-day Canada along with parts of the present-day United States. In the custom of the day, if a territory was claimed for a European crowned head and that was accepted by the rest of Europe and acquiesced to by the inhabitants, it became a possession of that crowned head. So Prince Rupert became the monarch of most of what is now Canada.
Northern Ontario is right in the heart of Rupertsland, so perhaps when we form our own province we ought to name it ‘Rupertsland’. Or maybe not. Just another contrarian idea.