QUEBEC AND ITS HISTORIANS 1840 TO 1920
Volume 11 Number 4.
This is a useful addition to the study of historiography. The author selects the work of four historians, two of whom were laymen (F-X Garneau and Benjamin Suite) and two clerics (Abbe J.B.A. Ferland and Abbe Lionel Groulx), and in each case clearly shows how the historian's view of politics and society has influenced his interpretation of French-Canadian history. The works of the four historians make for some interesting comparisons. Garneau, appealing to the liberal middle class of the 1840s and 1850s, argues for the subordination of church to state and downplays the importance of missionary zeal as a factor in the development of New France. Ferland's work, a clerically instigated rebuttal of Garneau, was "a collective memory destined to serve as a fulcrum" for the Church's ascendancy over all aspects of French-Canadian society. Suite's anti-clerical views were matched by an intense nationalism: "The history of Canada has been written by three kinds of men: Frenchmen who could see only French interest; clerics who went into raptures over missions; and laymen who were frightened by threats of ecclesiastical censure. We who are neither French from France, nor priest, and who do not fear ecclesiastical censure, we write the truth." Finally, Groulx portrays an idealistic picture of rural French-Canada, a view which probably reflects clerical fears of urbanization and industrialization. For him, the Church has preserved the French race, and the French-Canadian nation is the ward of the Church. The Church, of course, lost no opportunity to answer its critics, and the steps taken to discredit the views of Garneau and Suite provide some interesting insights into clerical machinations. This book should be available in the libraries of senior high schools and colleges.
Keith Wilson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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