Canada's Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests

By Peter H. Russell

© 2017

150 years after Confederation, Canada is known around the world for its social diversity and its commitment to principles of multiculturalism. But the road to contemporary Canada is a winding one, a story of division and conflict as well as union and accommodation.

In Canada’s Odyssey, renowned scholar Peter H. Russell provides an expansive, accessible account of Canadian history from the pre-Confederation period to the present day. By focusing on what he calls the "three pillars" of English Canada, French Canada, and Aboriginal Canada, Russell advances an important view of our country as one founded on and informed by "incomplete conquests". It is the very incompleteness of these conquests that have made Canada what it is today, not just a multicultural society but a multinational one.

Featuring the scope and vivid characterizations of an epic novel, Canada’s Odyssey is a magisterial work by an astute observer of Canadian politics and history, a perfect book to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.6in x 1.5in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004745

  • PUBLISHED APR 2017

    From: $25.97

    Regular Price: $39.95

    ISBN 9781487502041
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2017

    From: $25.97

    Regular Price: $39.95

Quick Overview

In Canada’s Odyssey, renowned scholar Peter H. Russell provides an expansive, accessible account of Canadian history from the pre-Confederation period to the present day.

Canada's Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests

By Peter H. Russell

© 2017

150 years after Confederation, Canada is known around the world for its social diversity and its commitment to principles of multiculturalism. But the road to contemporary Canada is a winding one, a story of division and conflict as well as union and accommodation.

In Canada’s Odyssey, renowned scholar Peter H. Russell provides an expansive, accessible account of Canadian history from the pre-Confederation period to the present day. By focusing on what he calls the "three pillars" of English Canada, French Canada, and Aboriginal Canada, Russell advances an important view of our country as one founded on and informed by "incomplete conquests". It is the very incompleteness of these conquests that have made Canada what it is today, not just a multicultural society but a multinational one.

Featuring the scope and vivid characterizations of an epic novel, Canada’s Odyssey is a magisterial work by an astute observer of Canadian politics and history, a perfect book to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.6in x 1.5in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "The value of Canada’s Odyssey is that it requires very little of the reader in advance. It offers an open and accessible path and, although it may appear somewhat daunting (given its length of 500 pages), it is a very enjoyable and engaging read. In its writing style, the book manages to walk a line somewhere between academic and popular history, which is a challenging line for any author. The informality of its tone combined with the sheer scope and detail of the project serves to reach and hold the attention of a diverse set of readers. … [A]nyone looking for some way to mark Canada’s sesquicentennial would do well to read this book."


    Joshua Nichols
    Literary Review of Canada, July/August 2017

    "Peter Russell has been teaching Canadian constitutional politics since the 1950s at the University of Toronto and he has given us the benefit of a lifetime’s scholarship and engagement in this brilliant book. It is thoughtful, incisively written and as accessible an account as one will ever find about our country’s political and legal history. Many books are called ‘indispensable;’ this one certainly rates that description."


    Bob Rae, Canada’s History, February-March, 2018

    "Lucid and lively, Canada’s Odyssey is both a joy to read and also a provocative story about a country that has been and continues to be an unfinished project. The tone is friendly, the prose is free of jargon — but Professor Russell’s hand is firm on the tiller. This is Big History: the distillation of fifty years of scholarship written for a contemporary popular audience. The author gives the three founding peoples their due, while recognizing some of the uglier chapters in the past and also the rapidly shifting demographics of today. He explains how nothing was inevitable as Canada took shape; successive governments relied on incremental change and accommodation to absorb the complexity and diversity of this country. This has allowed Canadians to develop the institutions and compromises required to become not a homogenous nation but a mutually respectful people who, for the most part, peacefully share the grandeur of our extraordinary land"


    Charlotte Gray, C.M., adjunct professor at Carleton University and author of 'The Promise of Canada: 150 Years' — 'People And Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country'

    "Canada’s Odyssey is a remarkable achievement. Peter H. Russell weaves together his robust knowledge of Canadian history and government in an accessible and inviting read. Canada’s Odyssey is ideal for those scholars, students, and general readers who long to be better informed about our country."


    Kent McNeil, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

    "Russell's book provides a seminal and deep insight into Canada's political identity. His magisterial political analysis of how and why ‘compromise’ usurped 'conquest' makes this must read book a new and compelling take on the evolution of our nation"


    The Hon. Hugh Segal, OC, O.Ont, Master, Massey College
  • Author Information

    Peter H. Russell is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He has written extensively on issues related to the Canadian Constitution and Canadian politics in general.

  • Table of contents

    1. Introduction
    Part 1: The Founding Pillars
    2. The Incomplete Conquest of New France
    3. The Original Partnership With Indigenous Peoples
    4. English-Speaking People Become the Majority
    Part 2: Trying to Complete the Conquests
    5. Three Wars and Betrayal of Our Indian Allies
    6. Rebellions and the Plan to Assimilate French Canada
    Part 3: Confederation
    7. English Canada Gets a Dominion French Canada Gets a Province and Indigenous Peoples Get Left Out
    Part 4: Confederation to World War II
    8. The Colonization of Indigenous Canada
    9. The Provincialization of French Canada
    10. The Nationalization of English Canada
    Part 5: Transformation of the Pillars
    11.Quebec Becomes Constitutionally Radical
    12.Aboriginal Peoples Get a Hearing
    13.English-Canada Becomes Multicultural
    Part 6: Seeking a Constitutional Fix
    14. Patriation – Quebec’s Loss, Aboriginal Gains
    15. The End of Mega Constitutional Politics?
    16. The Three Pillars Continue Their Odyssey