What if? Alternative history for part of North America

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neverfail
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What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by neverfail » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:50 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Treaty

In 1846 the US and Great Britain signed the Oregon Treaty that settled the rival claims of the two over a considerable chunk of ground that included the present day US Pacific northwest along with British Columbia. It likely coincided with the US victory in their war with Mexico the same year - which might have prompted the British Foreign office into hasty negotiations in deference for the evidence of newly acquired American military might.

With hindsight, the US got the better end of the bargain. The US part of the territory was subsequently subdivided into the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, which together currently support a combined population of over 13 million. By comparison, Canada's British Columbia province sustains only 4.6 million inhabitants.

Now let us imagine that the British negotiators had dug their heels in and successful persuaded the US negotiators to cede the whole region permanently to British sovereignty. (Had the invasion of Mexico turned into a US military fiasco, that might have even happened.) The Brits would have undoubtedly eventually added the region to the Dominion of Canada (which, unlike the US republic came into being with UK sponsorship and backing). Imagine what the addition of such a lush region might have done to Canada?

1. 13 million plus extras added to Canada's present population of 36 million plus would bump Canada's total population to nearly 50 million. In addition, the added GDP would boost Canada into a global economic power of approximately the same magnitude as Britain, France or even Germany.

2. Canada would have a much longer Pacific coastline than now. Having only the one port of Vancouver to give it access to Asia-Pacific seaborne commerce and trade hobbles its attempts to become a regional player. Imagine if the much larger port of Seattle had been added (along with Tacoma and several lesser seaports)?

3. Whilst Canada would have a longer Pacific shoreline the USA would have a shorter one, comprising only of California. It would still mean that the USA would be a Pacific power; but perhaps a lesser power than now.

4. Boeing and Microsoft would both be Canada's.

:D

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SteveFoerster
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by SteveFoerster » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:49 am

You may appreciate an alternate history novel called The Two Georges, by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss, set in a North America where the colonies reconciled with the government of George III rather seeking independence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Georges
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neverfail
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by neverfail » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:33 am

SteveFoerster wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:49 am
You may appreciate an alternate history novel called The Two Georges, by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss, set in a North America where the colonies reconciled with the government of George III rather seeking independence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Georges
Thanks for the tip off Steve. H. Turtledove is one of my favourite fiction writers. I have not read this one though.

But the purpose of this discussion thread is to write our own alternative history. You are well placed as where you are living now would be part of Canada had it really happened.

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armchair_pundit
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by armchair_pundit » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:57 am

neverfail wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:33 am
SteveFoerster wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:49 am
You may appreciate an alternate history novel called The Two Georges, by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss, set in a North America where the colonies reconciled with the government of George III rather seeking independence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Georges
Thanks for the tip off Steve. H. Turtledove is one of my favourite fiction writers. I have not read this one though.

But the purpose of this discussion thread is to write our own alternative history. You are well placed as where you are living now would be part of Canada had it really happened.
I have read a few of Turtledove's alt histories, usually interesting plot lines he concocts, but his writing style is just too repetitive in how he repeats ad nauseum details and recaps of his characters as he jumps around. His books could be edited to about 25% of their page count...

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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by SteveFoerster » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:19 pm

neverfail wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:33 am
SteveFoerster wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:49 am
You may appreciate an alternate history novel called The Two Georges, by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss, set in a North America where the colonies reconciled with the government of George III rather seeking independence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Georges
Thanks for the tip off Steve. H. Turtledove is one of my favourite fiction writers. I have not read this one though.

But the purpose of this discussion thread is to write our own alternative history. You are well placed as where you are living now would be part of Canada had it really happened.
Fair enough, let's imagine if the Columbia territory were entirely Canadian.

Would the increase in population of the Confederation as a whole affect relations between French- and English-speaking Canadians? Would Quebec have wielded less power in a Canada with (presumably) so many more English speakers? Would it have been more likely to culturally Anglicise, secede, or what?

What would the impact on Canadian culture be of so much more of the population having a Western provinces outlook? Would it have retained more of a U.S.-style individulaist streak?
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by SteveFoerster » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:20 pm

armchair_pundit wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:57 am
I have read a few of Turtledove's alt histories, usually interesting plot lines he concocts, but his writing style is just too repetitive in how he repeats ad nauseum details and recaps of his characters as he jumps around. His books could be edited to about 25% of their page count...
I agree, and I tend to skip his series(es) and enjoy his standalone novels. Same thing with one of my favorite alternative history novelists, S.M. Stiring. He's best known known for his lengthy series, but the works of his I liked the were his Nantucket series (a mere trilogy), The Peshawar Lancers, Conquistador, and The Sky People/In the Courts of the Crimson Kings (a pair, both short).
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by neverfail » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:05 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:19 pm
neverfail wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:33 am



But the purpose of this discussion thread is to write our own alternative history. You are well placed as where you are living now would be part of Canada had it really happened.
Fair enough, let's imagine if the Columbia territory were entirely Canadian.

Would the increase in population of the Confederation as a whole affect relations between French- and English-speaking Canadians? Would Quebec have wielded less power in a Canada with (presumably) so many more English speakers? Would it have been more likely to culturally Anglicise, secede, or what?

What would the impact on Canadian culture be of so much more of the population having a Western provinces outlook? Would it have retained more of a U.S.-style individulaist streak?
Thanks Steve.

As this thread is speculative any answers to the above would have to be likewise.

1. Even an enlarged Canada would not be able to engage entanglement with a (slightly smaller but still dynamic and dominant) USA. Sheer weight of national self-interest would draw it to its southern neighbour. The main difference is that with a much longer Pacific coastline Ottawa would more likely pay greater attention to the Asia-Pacific region and correspondingly less to the Atlantic side.

2. Yes, Quebec's power and influence would be diminished so the ability of this province to play something of a "spoiler role" would be correspondingly curbed also. No choice for Quebec other than to wear it.

3. No succession bid from Canada by Quebec could possibly succeed without US approval and support. Conversely, with US support it could not fail. So far the USA has withheld that support and I cannot see that changing with an enlarged Canada. While Quebec is within Canada it remains Ottawa's headache: if sovereign and independent it would become Washington's North American loose cannon.

4. Relations with the US would remain top of Ottawa's foreign policy agenda just as now. The difference is that with additional "padding" in terms of territorial size, population and enhanced GDP Canada's bargaining power with the USA would likely be stronger than it is now. Furthermore, compared to now relations with the rest of the world would likely become more important and relations with the USA less obsessive.

5. Ironically, with one or two additional western provinces included "loading" Canada more in a westerly direction , threat of succession by Quebec would be less likely than the possibility of a bloc of disgruntled but confident western provinces getting together and doing the same. Whether the succession bid would succeed or not of course would depend upon the policy position of the US.

Yep, with Canada so much depends on the US and always has. Were I myself Canadian I would probably share in their complex "love-hate" attitude towards their southern neighbour.

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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by SteveFoerster » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:15 am

That's interesting -- I realise the U.S. has a lot of economic power, and an interest in stability in the neighbourhood, but even so I don't see why the U.S. would have any say over whether Quebec secedes, nor whether the Western provinces do so, whether in this timeline or the other. As for Quebec being a "loose cannon", it's not like it's going to be a threat, it would merely be a poorer trading partner.
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Re: What if? Alternative history for part of North America

Post by neverfail » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:22 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:15 am
That's interesting -- I realise the U.S. has a lot of economic power, and an interest in stability in the neighbourhood, but even so I don't see why the U.S. would have any say over whether Quebec secedes, nor whether the Western provinces do so, whether in this timeline or the other. As for Quebec being a "loose cannon", it's not like it's going to be a threat, it would merely be a poorer trading partner.
Your stated respect for Canada's national sovereignty and the right of Canadians to conduct their business in their own way without undue US interference is praiseworthy Steve. I am sure that it is a view shared by most of your countrymen. Bear in mind however that Canada, predominantly english speaking, friendly and interested in a lot of the same things as Americans, is an easy neighbour for the US to live alongside. Not all of America's near neighbours are like that.

An old Franco-Canadian friend of mine (who has been living out here for so long she may as well just consider herself an Aussie) has made abundantly clear to me that the difference between the Franco and Anglo Canadians is not a one-dimensional difference in native language but a broad, multi-dimensional one of civilisation. As in Belgium, Canada is the land where two mutually alien civilisations interface, In both cases a provincial outpost of French civilisation has proven to be surprising tenacious, enduring. One might say that the language is merely the tip of the iceberg.

No! I agree that an independent Quebec would be no threat to the USA in its own right based upon its manpower and material resources. But with national sovereignty comes the right to conduct an independent foreign policy. Who knows who and what an independent Quebec might invite in as an ally; especially if times got tough. An abrupt withdrawal from the Anglo-North American commercial web by a nationalistic Quebecois government out of hurt pride would condemn it.

I draw your attention to the case of Fidel Castro's Cuba. The USA has a long history of interference in the politically unstable Central America-Caribbean region against regimes that displease it. I suspect that certain powers-that-be in Washington loathe and retest Fidel Castro because he is the one ruler in the region whose regime has survived every attempt by US policy (both overt and covert) to bring it down, More so than the contrived, phony outrage about Castro's human rights abuses. Cuba is the sort of place that (to quote the words of a former CIA high official) that history was meant to forget. A global backwater! Castro, with his affronted Latino sense of machismo, made sure that history would not forget Cuba.

Imagine if an independent Quebec undergoing political stress were to do something similarly outrageous.
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Canada has protected itself throughout the 19th century by being part of Britain's imperial sovereignty. In the 20th century it was America's ally during two World Wars and throughout the Cold War. The fact that Canadians are similarly affronted by overseas Fascist militarism and totalitarian power as are America is only part of the reason. Entering into the minds of policymakers in Ottawa I am sure is an acute understanding of Canada's vulnerability to the US and America's lack of the same to Canada. Better to keep the big bastard on your side than to have it ranged against you.

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