The Irish in Ontario: A Study in Rural History

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1999 - History - 404 pages
For most of the nineteenth century, the Irish formed the largest non-French ethnic group in central Canada and their presence was particularly significant in Ontario. This study presents a general discussion of the Irish in Ontario during the nineteenth century and a close analysis of the process of settlement and adaptation by the Irish in Leeds and Lansdowne township.
Akenson argues that, despite the popular conception of the Irish as a city people, those who settled in Ontario were primarily rural and small-town dwellers. Though it is often claimed that the experience of the Irish in their homeland precluded their successful settlement on the frontier in North America, Akenson's research proves that the Irish migrants to Ontario not only chose to live chiefly in the hinterlands, but that they did so with marked success. Akenson also suggests that by using Ontario as an "historical laboratory" it is possible to make valid assessments of the real differences between Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, characteristics which he contends are much more precisely measurable in the neutral environment of central Canada than in the turbulent Irish homeland.
While Akenson is careful not to over-generalise his findings, he contends that the case of Ontario seriously calls into question conventional beliefs about the cultural limitations of the Irish Catholics not only in Canada but throughout North America.
Donald Harman Akenson is professor of history at Queen's University and the author of numerous books on Irish history, includingIf the Irish Ran the Worldand the acclaimedConor: A Biography of Conor Cruise O'Brien. His most recent book is the groundbreakingSurpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds.
 

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Contents

The Irish in Ontario
7
Leeds and Lansdowne Township in
48
Neither by Works nor
116
The Local Irish Revolution
179
The Irish and the New Rural Order
255
Yet Another
283
Summary of Gananoque industrial
295
Crosstabulation of religion
314
Occupation of employed by ethnicity
328
And What is the Significance?
332
farm progress
341
Appendix A
355
Appendix C
383
Index
399
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Donald Harman Akenson is Douglas Professor of Canadian and Colonial History, Queen's University, the world's leading scholar on the Irish diaspora, and the author of several major works on the history of Judaism and Christianity.

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