'Our Lady of the Snows': the Canadian context and reactions to Kipling's poem of 1897

In April 1897, Rudyard Kipling published 'Our Lady of the Snows', a poem of six verses, written over a weekend in response to the announcement by the Canadian government of a reduction in tariffs on imports from Britain.[1] Although dating from almost the same time as his most enduring poems, 'If' and 'Recessional', 'Our Lady of the Snows' did not secure the same enduring place in popular esteem, not least because Canadians disliked the clichéd association of their country with winter. However, Kipling was a great phrase-maker, and this poem became memorable if only for his influential summary of Canada's relationship with Britain: "Daughter am I in my mother's house / But mistress in my own."

This essay has been written in parallel with the authoritative study of the poem itself, "Revisiting 'Our Lady of the Snows'", by David Alan Richards. An authority on Kipling, Mr Richards takes the poem as his primary focus. My interest is rather to explore its Canadian context, and the reactions that it inspired – or provoked. I freely admit that the journey has led me both further and more widely than I had expected. 

Canada's tariff policies: the Conservatives Tariffs had been a central issue in Canadian politics for half a century. Arguments about the level and the purpose of customs duties were frequently heated but, at their core, they contained a large element of unreality. The plain truth, although one often avoided in angry debates between protectionists and free traders, was that Canada needed to impose customs duties to raise the money that funded government expenditure. In the absence of alternatives such as income tax, first imposed as a small-scale wartime move in 1917, taxation of imports offered the cheapest and most effective source of revenue. In 1897, for instance, customs duties ($19.4 million) generated around half Ottawa's income ($37.8 million): any adjustment of charges had to have a concern as much for the public revenue as for trade policy and economic development.[2] Gradually, Canada's Conservative party had come to espouse outright protectionism, culminating in the National Policy of 1879, which interwove the fostering of Canadian industry with the construction of the transcontinental railway and the settlement of the West. It is open to debate how far these elements interlocked, and indeed the relationship between high tariffs and successful industrialisation has also been challenged.[3] However, politically, it enabled the Conservatives to mobilise a cross-class electoral alliance, harnessing both the financial support of industrialists and the votes of urban workers who were persuaded that, without the tariff, their jobs were at risk from American competition.

One embarrassing complication of Canadian protectionism was the Dominion imposed its uniform tariff rates upon goods from Britain, the country to which Conservatives especially were vocally loyal, and whose citizens paid for most of Canada's defence. In 1893, the Orangeman James L. Hughes published verses protesting fidelity to Britain and its values. The satirical magazine Grip interpolated its own cynical comments:

Oh! Mistress of the mighty sea!

(We owe her more than we can pay.)

Oh! Motherland so great and free!

(Step-motherland, some people say)

Canadian hearts shall ever be,

(On boodle set, in virtue lax;)

United in their love for thee,

(And British goods we'll roundly tax.)[4]

As far back as 1859, the manufacturers of Sheffield (dismissed by the colonial reply as "a provincial town in England") asked the British government to intervene against a protective tariff imposed by the province of Canada, which eight years later – as Ontario and Quebec – became the core of Canadian Confederation. The Colonial Secretary, the Duke of Newcastle, thought there was "much force" in the Sheffield argument that "this heavy duty operates differentially in favour of the United States, in consequence of the facility for smuggling which so long a line of frontier affords". Canada's finance minister, A.T. Galt, dealt curtly with the manufacturers' case before concluding with a harshly worded statement of reality. Whatever their "feelings of deference" towards Britain, the colony's government and the legislature "cannot ... in any way waive or diminish the right of the people of Canada to decide for themselves both as to the mode and extent to which taxation shall be imposed."[5] Four decades before Kipling lifted his pen, Canada had asserted the principle voiced by Our Lady of the Snows: "The gates are mine to open / As the gates are mine to close."

In rebutting the complaints from Sheffield, Galt argued that the Canadian government used the revenue raised from customs duties to improve the provincial canal network and to drive forward the construction of railways. Improved communications, he patronisingly claimed, actually made British goods cheaper at the point of sale. There was an element of mockery in this, an explanation to his Yorkshire victims that the tariff barrier existed for their own good. However, implicit in Galt's argument was an assumption that almost certainly underlay Canada's generous gesture in 1897: while tariffs formed one element that determined the price ultimately paid by the consumer, transportation costs could be at least as important. Most American industry was located close to the northern border. Servicing customers in Canada simply involved distribution costs comparable to those required within the domestic market. Indeed, given that the bulk of the Dominion's population resided in nearby Ontario and Quebec, it was probably cheaper to send produce to Canada than to sell in the South and the West. By contrast, British manufactures had to bear transatlantic freight charges before they could begin to take account of the cost of getting from quayside to shop counter.

Ironically, in 1891, and by now an elder statesman, Galt urged Canada's prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, to consider precisely the unilateral concession of tariff preference on British imports that Laurier's government would unveil six years later. A 25 percent cut, Galt argued, "will not affect our Manufacturing interest – whose competition is mainly with the U.S.".[6] Macdonald himself had pushed a more sophisticated version of Galt's 1859 argument: Canada's transcontinental railway, partly sustained by import duties levied on British goods, was an imperial project. The Canadian Pacific Railway, he claimed, ran not from Montreal to Vancouver, but between Liverpool and Hong Kong.

Canada's tariff policies: the Liberals If the protectionist tariff caused the Conservatives some mild embarrassment – which they easily shrugged off – in its unfriendly treatment of Great Britain, its very existence constituted an insuperable problem for the Liberals. Theoretically attached to the principle of free trade  (if with varying degrees of enthusiasm within the party), their core belief that taxation of trade was morally wrong sat uneasily alongside the obvious point that the Canadian government could not be financed without a revenue tariff. The Liberals were also unlucky that their single term in office before the Laurier era, under Alexander Mackenzie from 1873 to 1878, coincided with tough economic times. There was a comic-opera episode in 1876, when it was widely signalled that finance minister Richard Cartwright's budget would increase the general tariff rate from 17.5 to twenty percent. The Conservative finance critic, the bruiser Charles Tupper, came to the House duly primed with a speech denouncing the government for adding to the burdens of the poorest in the community. However, at the last minute, pressure from free-trading MPs in the Maritime provinces forced a volte-face, leaving Cartwright to offer the pious explanation that the government preferred to leave the tariff unchanged, for precisely the reason that Tupper was ready to unleash, that any increase in the cost of living would have a disproportionate effect on families with the least cash. Ever resourceful, Tupper rose and excoriated Cartwright for failing to support hard-pressed Canadian manufacturers.[7]

The 1876 budget debate marked a symbolic division between the two parties, their explicit conversion to the principle of protection giving the Conservatives unbounded opportunities to promise special treatment to vocal interest groups. "We cannot have in a young and comparatively poor country like this, direct taxation," Macdonald argued. "We must trust to our customs, therefore, as the principal source of our future revenue." Given the necessity of a tariff for revenue, it was "reasonable" to set the actual rates to "enable us to meet our engagements, and to develop our resources, the duties falling upon the articles we ourselves are capable of producing." But Mackenzie responded with a vivid statement of pure free-trade dogma. Protection, he said, reminded him of "the man standing in a tub and trying to lift himself by the two handles." If everybody was to be cocooned by import duties, "then we are the worse for the protection by the cost of protection itself. If, on the other hand, only certain classes are to be protected, I want to know what the classes are. To whom is the protection to apply?"[8]

The more specific challenge to the Liberals' doctrinal embrace of free trade lay in the dedication of the United States to the protection of its own industries. As Goldwin Smith put it in 1891, "the market of her own continent is the natural market of Canada."[9] Yet in the three decades following Confederation, Dominion trade with its southern neighbour fell back, in relative terms at least. In 1870, Canada had exported goods and produce to the value of $27.3 million to the United States, compared with $22.5 million to Britain. By the mid-eighteen-seventies, the two markets were roughly balanced. Canada's western wheat boom of course increased the importance of the British outlet, although free traders pointed out that there was no inherent reason why the crops of Manitoba should not be sold in Chicago as well as at Liverpool. In 1887, Britain took Canadian produce to the value of $38.7 million; the United States $32.3 million. Four years later, the figures were $43.2 million against $34.9 million.[10] Factor in demographics, and the sluggishness of Canadian sales south of the border becomes even more apparent. Between 1870 and 1890, the United States grew from 38.6 million people to 63 million, but Canada hardly benefited from these additional customers next door: the American population grew by two thirds, Canada's exports by value by one third. It was hardly surprising that one element in American demographic growth was the influx of young, ambitious and desperate Canadians: the 1900 census counted over one million of them living under the Stars and Stripes. Already daunting customs barriers were further increased by the McKinley Tariff of 1891, while Laurier's incoming ministry found itself greeted by the still tougher 1897 Dingley Tariff.

Evidently, the chief priority for free trade purists had to be the securing of favourable access to American markets. For this, the watchword through the last third of the nineteenth century was Reciprocity, always spelt with a capital letter. Renamed sectoral free trade in the later twentieth century, Reciprocity involved tariff-free exchange of goods in specific areas of the economy. The model was the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, in which the United States and the colonies of eastern British North America agreed to free trade in natural products, an agreement that did not cover manufactures. Allegedly angered by their neighbours' sympathy for the Confederacy, Congress gave notice to abrogate the Treaty in 1865, and it came to an end a year later. In Canadian hindsight, the Reciprocity Treaty came to seen as a golden age, an agreement whose benefits had been "simply incalculable".[11] Like medieval monarchs pledging themselves to go on crusade, successive Canadian governments claimed to be seeking the holy grail of a trade treaty with the United States. Even the protectionist National Policy was accompanied by such an offer, Reciprocity through Retaliation in the contemptuous words of Goldwin Smith. Only once did the ambition come close to realisation. In 1874-5, the Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie negotiated an impressive agreement, which would have not only revived the 1854 terms of free trade in natural products but extended the scope to include machinery. The Americans successfully insisted that the Dominion maintain an external tariff upon imports of machinery from Britain, overcoming the purist free trade principles of the Canadians, who wished to extend most-favoured-nation tariff levels to their other major trading partner. The achievement of a draft agreement, any draft agreement, was something of a triumph for the Liberals, although concern was quickly raised in Canada that the Americans aimed not to welcome Canadian manufactures but rather to strangle Canadian manufacturing. However, the doubters had no reason to worry. In Washington, the Senate referred the agreement to a committee, where it vanished without trace.[12]

The nostalgic aura of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854-66 that infested the minds of Canadian politicians was both misleading and unhelpful. First, it is difficult to assess the precise impact of the agreement itself on North American trade. The treaty came into operation at a time of general prosperity associated the Crimean War. Yet barely had trade begun to adjust to new channels when the global economic crisis of 1857 threw the continent into a depression, whose effects lasted for several years. Then, in 1861, the outbreak of the American Civil War created boom conditions, as colonial producers eagerly responded to the voracious needs of the Northern armies. Reciprocity was generally regarded as having been economically beneficial, but in reality its actual effects are impossible to quantify.[13] Second, the circumstances of 1854 were never going to be replicated. In the confrontational ante-bellum decade, Southern Senators were prepared to confer trade privileges that would remove any danger that the British provinces might seek to annex themselves to the Union, thereby adding to the power of the North. Post-Civil War, no substantial section of American opinion was willing to give Canada the benefits of access to United States markets without annexation, an alternative that few Canadians were prepared to contemplate. The Civil War also caused, or coincided with, increasing industrialisation on both sides of the border, encouraged by America's tariff of 1857, and mirrored in Canada two years later. Between 1854 and 1875, three additional farming states, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska, were admitted to the Union, strengthening the agricultural lobby in the Senate. More generally, the case for sharply restricted sectoral free trade was undermined: why should Canadian farmers be allowed to sell their produce to American factory workers, when United States industry was refused privileged market access in return? Both the culture and the structure of United States politics had become unsympathetic to any kind of trade deal with the county's northern neighbour. It was not until 1911 that circumstances changed, when demands for reduction in the cost of living from America's hard-pressed middle class finally impelled Washington negotiate a Reciprocity agreement. It was rejected by Canadian voters at the general election of that year.

American intransigence forced the Liberals into savage modification of their free-trade principles. In something like desperation, they toyed in the late eighteen-eighties with two closely related policies which shared a single aim, in effect the integration of the Canadian market with that of the United States. Version number one, Unrestricted Reciprocity, envisaged the complete removal of tariffs upon all trade in goods and produce between the two countries. Its weak point – apart from the more basic problem that nobody checked whether the Americans might be interested – was that it assumed that Canada and the United States could maintain independent commercial policies towards third countries. "Economics was not Laurier's strong point," J.M. Beck mildly observed, and he does not seem to have spotted the complication.[14] In practice, since Canadian duties on British goods were lower than those imposed by Washington, this would mean that Lancashire textiles could be unloaded at Montreal and promptly sold in New York or New England at prices that might undercut American production. To remove the loophole, Unrestricted Reciprocity ('U.R.') was quickly transformed into a tougher sibling, Commercial Union. 'C.U.' planned to go the whole hog in bringing Canada within the American orbit, not only adopting the external tariff imposed by the United States but – of necessity – conceding to Washington the sole right of any future amendment.

The Conservatives were no doubt hypocritical in objecting that Commercial Union would discriminate against British trade. However, they were probably on firmer ground than posterity likes to acknowledge in predicting that absorption into the United States economic sphere would sooner or later break Canada's link with the British empire. If the United States declared war upon Britain, Canada would have become too deeply entangled within a continental trading system to resist any Washington demand to take sides. "A British subject I was born," Macdonald proclaimed during the 1891 election campaign, "a British subject I shall die." U.R. and C.U. touched and troubled deep chords – "veiled treason" was Macdonald's expressive description – and Laurier was defeated at the polls.

A century and more later, the loyalty cry may seem both quaint and overblown. But, in the late nineteenth century, the United States too often behaved towards Canada like a rogue state. True, Washington no longer turned a blind eye to the unofficial armed invasions from south of the border that had threatened Canada in 1837-8 and again in 1866, although there was a minor incursion in the West as late as 1870. But American diplomacy was, at least, "smart" to the point of dishonesty. To help settle British-American disagreements arising out of the Civil War, the 1871 Treaty of Washington had given United States fishing fleets broad access to Canadian waters. As a small return, Canada was granted free access to the American market for canned lobster. Washington promptly decreed that the lobsters could be sold without paying tariffs, but the cans that contained them were manufactured goods, and hence subject to duty.[15] "There is no fair dealing to be expected from them," Macdonald concluded in 1887, as Canada sought to resolve further issues surrounding the fisheries. His lieutenant, John Thompson, who undertook the actual negotiations, concluded that his American counterparts were "dishonest tricksters…. These Yankee politicians are the lowest race of thieves in existence."[16] Worse still, the thieves were also bullies. The British politician, Joseph Chamberlain, who was the Imperial representative on the negotiating team, was outraged when the Americans attempted to dictate terms of a severity that "would be exacted from a country defeated after a great war."[17] Eventually, a settlement was reached, but it was easy enough to point out that Laurier and his Commercial Unionists outriders were placing considerable and naïve trust in American goodwill.

Ere the world's war-trumpet blows: relations with the United States In 1895-6, British-American relations moved from endemic mistrust to the verge of war. The Cleveland administration unexpectedly sought to intervene in a boundary dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana, invoking the Monroe Doctrine in such a way as to assert that the United States was the paramount power in the western hemisphere. Washington's assertion that the 4,000-mile distance between Britain and its sole Latin American colony made "any permanent political union … unnatural and inexpedient" was not only gratuitously offensive but carried clear implications for the integrity of Canada's membership of the Empire. Although regarding the American initiative as of one of the unavoidable discourtesies that scarred any election year, the British prime minister, Lord Salisbury, concluded that war with the United States – "not this year but in the not distant future" – was a definite possibility. Indeed, he even speculated that if the conflict was inevitable, "have we any interest in delaying it?" This was the confrontation that Kipling described in 'Our Lady of the Snows' as "the din of a troubled year": indeed, at one point British-American relations had seemed so toxic that he feared he would be forced to flee his then-home in Vermont and seek refuge in Canada.[18]  Laurier's government found its own attempt to resolve outstanding issues with the United States between 1897 a bruising experience. American strong-arm tactics over the Alaska boundary in 1903 further outraged Canadian sensibilities.[19]

It is unlikely that the Liberal party could have won the 1896 election campaigning for economic integration with the United States while that country's administration was breathing threats of war over so marginal an issue as Venezuela. Even had they gained office, a hypothetical Canadian Liberal government seeking to negotiate Commercial Union would have been all too likely to have encountered some last-minute unannounced demand from Washington, or to have experienced an unexpected refusal to consider some issue regarded as implicitly already settled. In any case, there was little reason to believe that the 63 million Americans of 1890 would have opened their commercial gates to a Canada that had yet to break the five million mark. Nor were there reassuring answers to the basic problem that it was largely income from the tariff that paid Ottawa's bills. The proposed Reciprocity agreement of 1875 would have eliminated $3 million in customs duties, one eighth of the Dominion's revenue of $24.6 million. By 1891, the likely cost of Commercial Union was $7 million, almost one fifth of total government income that had increased to $38.6 million. It took a considerable leap of faith to assume that Canada would generate sufficient additional prosperity to make good the deficiency, the more so as even the Commercial Unionists accepted that there would be local casualties within continent-wide competition. Moreover, the forms of taxation required to tap this hoped-for wealth – whether on incomes, inheritance or property – were generally unpalatable, and would have required considerable expansion of the Canadian State: tariffs, even if onerous, were easy to collect and essentially invisible to their victims.[20]

Fortunately, the Liberals had found a way of escaping from the self-imposed trap of immersion in a continental economy. In 1893, the party held a convention – the first such gathering in post-Confederation Canada. Resolutions were passed, orations declaimed, corruption denounced, all combining to generate sufficient froth to disguise the significance of two key moves. One was the declaration that "a fair and liberal reciprocity treaty would develop the great resources of Canada", an unexceptional statement that left open a wide range of future options. The other was the explicit recognition of the necessity of a tariff for revenue purposes, which – given Ottawa's dependence upon the existing tariff for its income – was tantamount to acceptance of protection. (The resolution optimistically argued that "honest, economical and efficient government" would reduce the amounts required.) Mixed with pious protestations of devotion to the principles of free trade, the convention left any future Liberal government with wide latitude in practical action.[21] The result was that the party threw off the taint of disloyalty to the mother country, and "the tariff played no meaningful part in the election of 1896".[22]

Canada's 1896 election However, this is not to say that Laurier's victory in 1896 was either foreordained or overwhelming, and the circumstances which brought the Liberals to office form an important part of the context of the Fielding tariff. The Conservatives were unseated by the intrusion of an unpredictable issue, the right to public funding of Catholic (and hence mainly French-speaking) schools in Manitoba, which had been removed by the provincial government – itself, ironically, a Liberal ministry. Canada's highest court of appeal was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, British judges sitting in London. In 1895, they decreed that the mistreated Manitoba minority was entitled to appeal for redress to the Dominion government. This involved the invocation of a dormant provision in Canada's constitution, Section 93 of the British North America Act, to impose a solution upon the province. Here, Canadian public debate might have benefited had Kipling coined his aphorism a year earlier: daughter am I in my mother's house, but mistress in my own. With parliament nearing the end of its five-year term, Sir John A. Macdonald, a noted procrastinator, would perhaps have issued a ringing declaration of fidelity to the Empire's highest court, but deferred unspecified action until after the upcoming general election. Such a strategy might have trapped Laurier into demanding immediate action, a stance that could have been portrayed across Protestant English Canada as evidence of his subservience to the Catholic bishops. But "Old Tomorrow" had died in 1891, and the decision fell to the masterful Charles Tupper, Macdonald's fourth successor as prime minister in a phase of unstable Conservative leadership. There followed the curious spectacle of a party of Orangemen trying to ram through legislation to impose Catholic schools in a province that had decided to defund them. With no closure machinery in the Canadian parliament, and Laurier arguing for Quebec's other great shibboleth, provincial rights, Tupper's remedial legislation fell victim to a filibuster. The Conservatives went into the general election having tried to do too much for the tastes of Ontario, while achieving nothing at all for the western co-religionists of the majority of the people of Quebec. The fluently bilingual Laurier suddenly proved unequal to discussing detailed policies in English, confining his proposals to the enigmatic claim that his "sunny ways" would somehow solve the Manitoba schools problem.

The Liberal victory, 118 seats against 88 for the Conservatives, was less clear-cut than it might appear.   In fact, the Conservatives ran slightly ahead in the popular vote – 418,838 to 405,185 – although when three unopposed returns ("acclamations" – two of them Liberal) were taken in to account, the parties had roughly dead-heated in the Dominion-wide vote. In addition, 79,023 Canadians had supported Independents and protest movements, five times the number who had rejected the two-party choice five years earlier. It is likely that the majority of these votes had defected from the Conservative column. Thus Laurier had certainly not been swept into office on a tide of mass support. In addition, the two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, had almost certainly backed the Liberals for different reasons. In opposition, slogans could function as useful sticking plasters. In office, tough decisions would be required.

Adjusting the tariff Although the outcome was not obvious at the time of Fielding's April 1897 budget, Laurier would have the luck to walk away unscathed from the Manitoba schools dispute. Even more unexpected was the fact that the "sunny ways" needed to smooth the problem out of sight were contributed by an Apostolic Delegate sent from Rome.  Unfortunately, the tariff issue was much harder to conjure away. Manoeuvres began in the summer of 1896 with an episode that does not appear to have been included in the narrative of Canadian political history. If Joseph Chamberlain's political negotiations with the United States government in 1888 had been less than pleasant, on the personal front he had achieved the remarkable feat for a middle-aged widower of marrying the 24-year-old daughter of one of America's leading politicians. Now Britain's Colonial Secretary, Chamberlain was inspired by a grandiose plan to convert the Empire into an enclosed trading unit, or Zollverein. In the summer of 1896 the couple made a family visit to Massachusetts. There, in September, Chamberlain was visited by Richard Cartwright, the Liberal party grandee who had served as finance minister in the Mackenzie Liberal cabinet of 1873-8. Still hankering after the lost Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, Cartwright tested Chamberlain's reaction to the possibility of a Canadian-American trade treaty – an agreement that would necessarily discriminate against imports from Britain. The Colonial Secretary's response was both unequivocal and brutal: any such agreement would be deeply resented, and would tend towards formal separation between Canada and the Empire.[23] It is likely that in permitting Cartwright's informal embassy, Laurier was asserting his authority by using the party's doctrinaire free-traders to establish that closer trade relations with the United States were impossible. At the same time, another prominent foe of protectionism, John Charlton, was sent to Washington to sound out the chances for Reciprocity. He returned in December, empty-handed.[24] Cartwright's wings had already been clipped by Laurier's decision not to allow him to return to Finance, but to place him in the lesser portfolio of Trade and industry instead.[25] Instead, Finance went to William Stevens Fielding, parachuted into Ottawa politics from the premiership of Nova Scotia. Fielding had steered the Liberals away from Commercial Union at the 1893 party convention, and his appointment reassured Canadian industrialists.[26] Equally important, it left open Laurier's options for a tariff policy.

Those options, mostly illusory in any case, dramatically narrowed after November 1896, when the Republicans captured the White House and dominated Congress. The new President, William McKinley, had been the author of the United States protectionist tariff of 1891, whose effects, said one Canadian newspaper, had been "well nigh disastrous". But by March 1897, the incoming House of Representatives had voted for an "aggravated" version, the proposed Dingley Tariff. American lumbermen with interests in Canadian forest reserves had tried unsuccessfully to mitigate its effect on timber duties: if they could not prevent the imposition of the new and higher rates, it was unlikely that anything could be done by Canada or Canadians. Worse still, the Dingley bill had still to pass the Senate where, in a combination of log-rolling and back-scratching, the already onerous rates would be pushed to punitive levels in order to mollycoddle local interests in the various States. The problem, said the Victoria [British Columbia] Daily Colonist on 14 April 1897, was that "the tariff is in the hands of a ring of manufacturers' agents and demagogues, who will not listen to reason, and who care for nothing so long as their own private ends are served." The analysis was unexceptional. What is striking is the paper's confident prediction, a week before Fielding delivered his budget, that Canada would "encourage and develop an interchange of commodities with the United Kingdom. … If we extend through a sympathetic tariff an invitation to British trade and British capital we may rest assured that the invitation will be readily accepted."[27]

Thus Fielding's reduction of the tariff on British imports in his late-night budget speech in 22 April was in some sense foreordained. There was no prospect of reaching an agreement with the Americans. The fact that the reduction was unilateral – Britain did not do preferential deals – was a gesture to free-trade purists. As a political stroke, it undercut Conservative claim to exclusive loyalty to the Empire – a point further discussed below in relation to its convenient timing, on the eve of an Imperial gathering in London. Above all, although there were the predictable howls of protest from manufacturing interests – also helpful in reassuring Liberal fundamentalists – it is likely that most informed politicians and businessmen did not regard British competition as a major threat to Canada's burgeoning industries. Even if competition from across the Atlantic did cause problems, there was a backup solution available.

Governments had two weapons to assist their own producers. One was the tariff, a barrier that was obvious to, and resented by, British exporters. The other took the form of bounties – we should now talk of subsidies or State aid – payments proportional to output, transferred by Ottawa direct to the farm or factory, and hence invisible to external competitors. Throughout their opposition years, the laisser-faire Liberals had denounced bounties as legalised robbery by selfish interest groups. Now, once again, there was a change of front: what the government took away from tariff protection with one hand, it could restore with the other. R. Craig Brown and Ramsay Cook, whose volume in the Canadian Centenary Series remains the best overall political account of the Laurier years, state that "where the tariff was lowered, the reductions were almost invariably offset by a substantially broadened schedule of bounties. Consequently one form of protection was replaced by another." It is possible that Brown and Cook exaggerated the sleight of hand: in his budget speech, Fielding specified that bounties would be increased for the iron and steel industry – which happened to be a considerable employer in his own province of Nova Scotia – an emphasis that suggests that any wider changes were made inconspicuously. Perhaps surprisingly, late nineteenth-century Canada was not a major mineral producer. Fielding's bounty operated on a sliding scale: the more Canadian ore used, the bigger the bounty. To preserve what was left of Liberal free-trade principles, he also disavowed any intention of allowing Canadian ironmasters to dump subsidised products on world markets. Bounties would be confined to iron and steel made for domestic consumption, backed by the threat of an export duty to ensure Canada's contribution to a level global playing field.[28] The extent to which bounties were used to mitigate, or even nullify, the tariff reduction on British goods is perhaps open to discussion, but it is clear that Canadian producers were not being automatically consigned naked to the cold winds of global competition.

As already noted, the godfather of the Canadian tariff, A.T. Galt, had argued six years earlier that a 25 percent cut on duties imposed on British imports would cause no problems to Canadian manufacturers. Headline trade figures for the next three years tend to confirm this confidence, and it is likely that Fielding shared Galt's assumptions when he reduced the tariff on British goods. Canada's fiscal year straddled the calendar year, so that – for instance – returns for 1898 actually referred to the period from July 1897 to June 1898. Imports from Britain were valued at $32.8 million in 1896, slipping back to $29.4 million at the time of Fielding's 1897 budget. In 1898, as the new duties took effect, British imports recovered to $32 million, still slightly less than their value two years earlier. True, by 1900 they had jumped to $44.2 million, but this may have been as much a function of Canada's rocketing prosperity as of the new competitiveness of goods from the mother country. When Canadians had cash in their pockets, they were inclined to buy from their neighbours south of the border. They had purchased American goods to the value of $55.5 million in 1896. By 1900, this had almost doubled to $102 million. American goods had outsold British products in Canada by one third in 1896; by 1900, the proportion had soared to 2.3 times. The British share of the Canadian market fell from 31.2 percent in 1896 to 25.7 percent four years later.[29]

At this point, it is worth asking how it was that British products found markets in Canada at all.  For example, imports of textiles generated a substantial part of the Dominion's revenue,[30] these goods coming in the main from Britain and Ireland. Yet the National Policy encouraged the establishment of a local industry, mass producing cotton and woollen clothing. Textiles seemed to fall into the category identified by Macdonald of "articles we ourselves are capable of producing". No fewer than six new factories were established in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (one already operated in Saint John), provinces with a combined population of just three-quarters of a million. "Output far exceeded domestic demand, glutting the market." In 1886, Canadian companies tried a voluntary agreement to limit production, and from 1890 a Montreal-based cartel began to establish monopoly control.[31] Yet this crisis of local overproduction did not drive British textiles from Canadian shops. Some examples from Ottawa's detailed trade statistics for 1898 will make the point. In two major categories of woollen and worsted goods, fabrics and ready-made clothing, Canadian production was worth $4.36 million, but an additional $3.04 million of imports came from Britain. Canadian factories produced printed and coloured cotton fabrics and handkerchiefs valued at $3.25 million, but the local market could still absorb $2.39 million of British imports. The most likely explanation is that British goods attracted customers either because they were fashionable or, perhaps, because operating on a global scale, British manufacturers could produce more specialised products. Drapers often used newspaper advertisements to highlight their imported stock. Two specific items may further illustrate the point. Canada manufactured lace to the value of $0.62 million, but imported a further $0.46 million from the United Kingdom. Here the explanation for the continuing British share of the market may lie in a combination of quality (or, at least, chic) and a light-weight product which was relatively unhampered by freight rates. But in two major categories of carpet manufacture, Canadian output, valued at $0.88 million, barely exceeded the value of floor coverings imported from Britain, even though their freight costs must have been an appreciable item.[32] The conclusion must be that British goods were not particularly price-sensitive, but found customers in Canada primarily on grounds of quality. Hence a reduction in import duties did not noticeably affect levels of consumption one way or the other. 

Thus there is good reason to interpret Fielding's tariff cut less as a commercial policy and rather more as an imperial gesture. Its success may tend to obscure the extent to which Canada's recently elected Liberal government needed to assert its loyalty to the Empire. Plans were well advanced to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in the summer of 1897, and Chamberlain had ensured that this Diamond Jubilee would become a festival of Empire. Her fiftieth anniversary in 1887 had been the occasion of the first-ever Colonial Conference, and 1897 obviously presented a renewed opportunity to bring together the premiers of the self-governing colonies, which Chamberlain hoped would  advance his schemes for closer imperial unity. In fact, the interview with Cartwright had briefly made him doubt the idea of a formal conference, and it was evident that the new Canadian government was an unknown quantity. Its previous embrace of Commercial Union suggested unsavoury continentalist tendencies, to which Cartwright still seemed wedded. Laurier himself carried potentially damaging political baggage. On the domestic scene, he had carefully positioned himself as a Liberal in the British tradition, a strategy that won him goodwill in English Canada while signalling reassurance to the Quebec bishops that he disavowed the anticlericalism of republican France. Yet outside the country he was little known: in relation to Canada's imperial connection, would he prove to be a Cartier or a Papineau? In 1885, French-speaking Métis had risen in rebellion in western Canada. To the fury of most Francophone Quebecers, the Métis leader Louis Riel had been hanged for treason. Five days after the execution, at the height of public anger, Laurier had condemned Riel's death as judicial murder, declaring to a frenzied crowd in Montreal that if he had lived on the banks of the Saskatchewan, he too would have taken up arms against the government.[33] The outburst was uncharacteristic, but in the eighteen-nineties – the era of the rabid New Journalism in Britain – he could easily have been portrayed in the popular press as an irresponsible and alien agitator. The Fielding tariff waved a magic wand that instantly dispelled any doubts about the new leader of the Dominion.  The Times hailed the "special significance and grace which the act acquires from the circumstance that it has been accomplished under the inspiration and guidance of the first French Canadian Premier of the Dominion."[34] The London correspondent of the Toronto Globe cabled that "everywhere Canada and the Canadians are spoken of in enthusiastic terms." It was "safe to say" that her representatives "will be lionized at the jubilee festivities."[35] Laurier would indeed be given a hero's welcome. He would respond to Chamberlain's pressure for closer union with lofty and urbane statements recognising the importance of the issues involved, dodging all pressure for commitment without denting the enormous political capital conferred upon him by the unilateral tariff reduction.

Kipling: impact, influences and problems For the Liberals, Kipling's "fine poem"[36] came as an unexpected bonus – so much so that one cynical journalist hinted that the government must have paid him to produce the verse.[37] 'Our Lady of the Snows' was published in the Toronto Globe on 28 April, and read into Hansard later that day by Robert Lorne Richardson, a journalist-turned-politician, and backbencher from Manitoba.[38] Richardson hailed Kipling as "probably the future poet laureate of the British empire". The Conservatives sat silent as he recited all six verses, cheered by his party colleagues who shouted "cold over there?" to the ranks of the opposition.[39] However, within twenty-four hours, it was clear that there was a backlash against the poem, which soon became widespread. The catalyst, but not the origin, of the criticism of Kipling's imagery was the intervention by the Irishman Nicholas Flood Davin, a Conservative MP from the prairies, on 30 April.[40] His message was that Canadians appreciated Kipling's tribute to the warmth of their loyalty, but resented his assumption of the frigidity of their climate.

This is an appropriate point to look, albeit briefly, at the poem itself, and to discuss influences that may have helped to shape its language, noting also some of the potential flashpoints in Kipling's formulation. We may begin by noting two elements that make modern readers uncomfortable, but which were largely uncontroversial in 1897. (They are further reviewed in the concluding section of this essay.) Little need to be said about the invocation in the second verse of "White Man's law", and the characterisation of Canadians as "white men": both cause unease today, but in 1897 they seem to have provoked only one passing allusion.  Given the fate of First Nations in recent decades, Kipling's imagining in the fourth verse of Canada reporting that "I called my chiefs to council" may be regarded as insensitive, although the Toronto Star's irritated allusion to "tomahawks" (which the poem did not mention) suggests some degree of resentment at a perceived cliché. Beyond his general protestation of the white man's political virtue, Kipling can hardly be blamed for the unpleasant irony that the Ottawa parliament would deprive Aboriginal people of their right to vote one year later. 

The opening verse of 'Our Lady of the Snows' summarised Kipling's message, and contained the poem's most memorable phrases:

A Nation spoke to a Nation,

A Queen sent word to a Throne:

"Daughter am I in my mother's house,

But mistress in my own.

The gates are mine to open,

As the gates are mine to close,

And I set my house in order,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.[41]

The daughter / mother image, although superbly expressed, was conventional and hardly controversial. The metaphor of family relations had been widely used in the mid-nineteenth century as a framework for portraying eventual colonial independence as an evolutionary process, something natural and positive, rather than revolutionary and disruptive. Kipling may well have had in mind Anthony Trollope's evocation of the image in 1862.  "There is, I think, no more beautiful sight than that of a mother, still in all the glory of womanhood, preparing the wedding trousseau for her daughter. The child has been hitherto obedient and submissive. She has been one of a household in which she has held no command. … But the day of her power and glory, and also of her cares and solicitude is at hand. She is to go forth, and do as best she may in the world under that teaching which her old home has given her. … So it is that England should send forth her daughters."[42] Around 1870, the new printing technique of lithography encouraged the development of illustrated magazines, and political caricature began to flourish in the Dominion. Cartoonists adopted the young female symbol for the country, but in default of any obvious husband, she appeared as Miss Canada. Occasionally, she was chaperoned by her mother, Mrs Britannia, who guarded her against the improper advances of Cousin Jonathan. (The family imagery was thus elaborated to place Uncle Sam and his brood at a slight distance.) In the work of Canada's most prolific caricaturist, J.W. Bengough of Grip, there was no doubt that Miss Canada was in charge of her own destiny, frequently upbraiding Ottawa politicians if they proved to be incompetent servants. In England, the humorous magazine Punch similarly celebrated the Fielding tariff by showing a grateful John Bull (a symbol of England but not specifically a father figure) receiving a favour from Miss Canada. Linley Sambourn, the popular and accomplished Punch artist, portrayed the daughter nation as elegant and attractive, but garbed her in the blankets associated with Native culture, complete with a feathered head-dress. The image was probably created at about the same time as Kipling wrote his poem, although it actually appeared a week after its publication.[43]

It is likely that few prominent literary figures had ever conjured poetry out of a tariff. The Toronto Star called it a "leaden theme", which even Kipling could hardly convert into gold: 'Our Lady of the Snows' was at best "high grade silver".[44] "The next thing we will have will be the customs schedule in verse," sniffed the Victoria Daily Colonist.[45] In a poem on the unlikely theme of the trade policy of a self-governing colony, it may not be surprising that the words "mistress" and "gates" should have been used, and both appear with notable force in the opening verse. Curiously enough, they may be an echo of a very dry and gloomy analysis of the Canadian identity published six years earlier by Goldwin Smith. A humourless Oxford intellectual, Smith had somehow managed to settle in a country whose future he viewed – and not unwillingly – with deep pessimism. His Canada and the Canadian Question had closed with a plea for Commercial Union, in which two statements perhaps stand out. Smith insisted that, even within an American-dominated trading bloc, "Canada would be as much as ever mistress of her own political destinies". He also mocked Conservative pretensions of imperial loyalty, alleging that Canada's protectionists "would not be sorry to shut the gate, if they could, against British importation altogether."[46] Kipling may not have consciously  purloined the terms, but it is possible that they had lodged in his memory, spurring him to build both "mistress" and "gates" into the impactful opening verse of his celebration of Empire.

While Canadian criticism of 'Our Lady of the Snows' concentrated on the alleged climatic slur in the second half of the phrase, it is arguable that he was fortunate not to have caused offence by his insensitive borrowing of its opening words, a phrase that carried a particular and reverent meaning for Catholics. Nor was the phrase original, and Kipling's appropriation – if it was a conscious act of annexation – did violence to its Catholic inspiration. When Davin complained about Kipling's "unjust, although well-meant" emphasis upon the Canadian winter, Fielding reminded him that the phrase that he regarded as "libellous", actually "originated with a very distinguished member of the Conservative party". Michael Flynn, a Conservative MP from Quebec, confirmed the identification. The poet was D'Arcy McGee, the orator of Canadian Confederation. McGee had been one of the organisers (to use the term loosely) of the Young Ireland insurrection of 1848. He had fled its failure to take refuge in the United States, but had rapidly found that its majoritarian and republican culture embodied a Protestant intolerance to his own profoundly held faith. In 1856, on a visit to Montreal, where he settled two years later, he was inspired by Canada's Catholic heritage and wrote a 22-stanza poem, 'Our Ladye of the Snow'. In effect, McGee transferred his hopes for an independent and united Ireland to a vision of a transcontinental British North America. This won him the status of a Father of Confederation, but earned him the enmity of Irish terrorists, who murdered him in 1868.[47] "Our Ladye of the Snow" was no mere figurative expression: McGee told the story of a lost traveller who was guided to safety in midwinter by a vision of the Virgin Mary. Like Kipling, McGee repeated his first stanza as the final verse,[48] in both using the title as the concluding line:

If, Pilgrim, chance thy steps should lead

Where, emblem of our holy creed,

Canadian crosses glow —

There you may hear what here you read,

And seek, in witness of the deed,

Our Ladye of the Snow! (see Appendix)

The parallels between the two poems seem too striking to be entirely coincidental. Kipling, it will be remembered, had recently penned a notable verse that began with the challenging word, 'If', and perhaps this had brought McGee's earlier offering to his notice.

Yet Kipling's appropriation of 'Our Lady of the Snows' went beyond either unconscious plagiarism or tacit tribute to McGee. It was the name of a Montreal church, Notre Dame des Neiges, and also the name of a cemetery, one of the city's largest open spaces. Kipling's brief visit to Montreal in 1892 had not been a happy experience: he had haughtily refused all contact with civic leaders and the local literary community[49] – but he was perhaps aware of the dedication, and ought to have been alerted to its potential religious significance.[50] It referred to a legend associated with an unseasonal August snowfall in late Imperial Rome and, although hardly a dogma central to Catholicism – the Church dropped the story in 1969 – it had obvious resonance in Canada, where snow could create terrifying dangers. Perhaps fortunately, the Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Toronto, chose not to resent Kipling's use of a phrase "familiar to every Catholic … recalling one of the most poetic and beautiful narratives of simple faith to be found in religious literature." Rather, it chose to engage in one-up-man-ship. "There can be no doubt that Mr Kipling went to Rome for the title and chord of his song," adding waspishly, "but we do not say he is a plagiarist, because we are delighted to know that a familiar Catholic phrase can inspire one of his best efforts." The comment was read into the Hansard record by Sir Adolphe Caron, a veteran Quebec Conservative, himself a lover of poetry and the only prominent French Canadian known to have commented, even obliquely, on Kipling's poem.[51]

In 1904, Kipling's friend, the medical specialist Sir William Gowers, revealed that "the phrase had been floating in his mind for some time before an occasion inspired these verses"[52] – long enough, it might be assumed, to weigh any potential complication or offence that it might cause.  It is curious that Kipling did not perceive the risk of offending Catholic opinion. His Indian experience seems to have left him with a relatively relaxed attitude towards religion. His own beliefs were those of a conventional Anglican, with some doubts – common enough among thoughtful Victorians – about more abstruse doctrines such as the Trinity. His ayah (nursemaid) had been a "Portuguese Roman Catholic" (presumably from Goa) "who would pray – I beside her – at a wayside Cross." Kipling seems at one time to have been attracted to the mystic elements of Catholicism, the "whole skittledom" as he informally described it in 1889.[53] In 1897, he was living at Torquay in Devon, which – with some exaggeration – he called "a very Roman Catholic part of the world". The town's Catholic church was a large Victorian Gothic building with a prominent spire. Its dedication to Our Lady, Help of Mankind might have reminded him that the phrase carried a special meaning to the faithful – especially since he drank with the parish priest at a local pub.[54]  In background notes to 'Our Lady of the Snows' on the Kipling Society website, Mary Hamer suggested that the title was chosen "possibly in acknowledgement of the religion of French Canadians". The distinguished Kipling scholar James L. Mitchell went further, suggesting that "he may have tried to accommodate the Catholic French Canadians with his repeated references to 'Our Lady'."[55] It is only necessary to imagine the effect upon Moslem opinion of any attempt to use Islamic imagery for a secular purpose to appreciate the insensitivity of any such gesture. Fortunately, most French Canadians were unilingual and were unlikely to have been interested in English poetry. La Minerve, a Montreal Conservative and Catholic newspaper, briefly reported the exchange in parliament under the headline, "Notre-Dame des Neiges", but without comment of any kind.[56] Kipling would probably have faced a bleaker response in Ireland, where the Catholic Church was much more authoritarian than it dared to be in the minority context of English-speaking Canada. Nationalist newspapers seem to have ignored the poem. However, the Kerry Evening Post seemed puzzled by the nature of Canadian criticism. "It is not, as might have been supposed, that the Roman Catholics of Canada descried an irreverent appropriation to their country of a possible title of the B.V.M." Rather, the objection was that the British public might be misled into believing "that the Canadian climate is more arctic in its character than is really the case."[57] Outsiders found this curious, but the protests ran both wide and deep.

Winter wasteland and cultural desert? The backlash also exploded very quickly. Within forty-eight hours, Arthur Weir had published a scornful pastiche of 'Our Lady of the Snows'. It was this poem that Nicholas Flood Davin read into Hansard as a protest against "a description of Canada that has now acquired world-wide fame" (an outcome that was certainly likely, given the imperial cable network, but which Davin could not possibly know for certain).  Before identifying Weir and Davin – both marginal figures in Canadian literature – it may be useful to confront what is perhaps an unstated but misleading assumption surrounding Kipling's poem.   Reactions, on both sides of the Atlantic, to 'Our Lady of the Snows' might suggest that Canada was a frontier and materialist society which had never before been conjured in literary expression. The earlier allusion to the poetry of D'Arcy McGee would indeed indicate that an attempt had been made to versify the country, but this might have been an isolated and imported exercise which had died with its martyred author. In fact, Canada had experienced a considerable amount of poetic effort, even if the overall result generated little impact. Especially active from the eighteen-eighties was a Toronto-based group known as the Confederation poets: Bliss Carman, Archibald Lampman and Charles G.D. Roberts were prominent members. They sought both to write about Canada and to project a Canadian voice in the wider world, which was not always very keen to listen. Lampman, for instance, dreamed of writing "a strictly Canadian poem, local in its incident and spirit, but cosmopolitan in form and manner". Their efforts peaked with a burst of publication between 1888 and 1893, some of which scored international (i.e. American and British) recognition. In addition to collections by individual writers, there were two important anthologies, Songs of the Great Dominion, published in England in 1889, and Later Canadian Poems of 1893, intended for use in Ontario schools. Canada's poets were predominantly masculine: women writers were relegated to an appendix in the school text. There was no room for Wildean aestheticism as they hymned of the virility of a young country: in the case of Roberts, it was even said that his puzzling middle initials derived from his favourite expression, "God Damn". Unfortunately, the testosterone exploded in 1895, in a round of mutual denigration, in which the charge of writing "derivative" verse was prominent. There was here something of a literary Catch-22: English-Canadian poets had the advantage of writing in a global language. However, they formed only a very small corner of the linguistic community and could not but hear the strident voices of more established cultures as they wrote. Representing Britain's outpost in North America, they related their writing not just to Wordsworth and Tennyson, but to Emerson and Whitman as well. And it is well to remember that their lonely attempts to create a national literature followed one of the greatest eras of English poetry: Lampman admitted that it took him ten years of scribbling to shake off the spell of Keats. The "War among the Poets" undoubtedly knocked back the cause of Canadian literature. Creativity was channelled into literary mockery and harsh satire: Roberts, a native of New Brunswick, was accused of writing "tantramarian nonsense". In February 1897, he moved to New York, where Carman, his cousin, had already settled.[58] In July, Saturday Night – one of Canada's few influential magazines – published a humorous effusion, "The Plaint of Poets Unemployed", which pictured the Confederation group pleading to the gods for "ruth and pity".[59] All unknowingly, Kipling could hardly have picked a worse moment to announce himself as the Englishman who could give literary shape to the loyal Dominion. 

Arthur Weir operated on the margins of this world. Based in Montreal, he was not an adherent of the Toronto-based Confederation poets, but three of his offerings were included in Songs of the Great Dominion.[60] A graduate of McGill University in practical chemistry, and editor of the Stockbrokers' and Investors' Annual, he was very far from W.S. Gilbert's Bunthorne. According to the Montreal Star (hardly an unbiased source since it had employed him), Weir as a poet "preferred to be sensible and simple, rather than to be odd, intense and enigmatic." Nonetheless, in the temporarily devastated landscape of Canadian creativity, he did have some claim to be the upholder of the country's literary integrity. In 1895, he had been commissioned to write a dedicatory ode for the unveiling of the national monument to Sir John A. Macdonald, a statue on Ottawa's Parliament Hill. Like Kipling, he used mother / daughter imagery. Under Macdonald's leadership (if not exclusively because of Macdonald's leadership), between 1864 and 1873, seven disparate British territories were stitched together into an ocean-to-ocean federal union. Weir placed this achievement not against the winter landscape but in the northern sky:

He found the seven sisters of the North,

The Sea-Queen's daughters, in primeval woods,

By lonely streams, lamenting, and them forth

He led from desert lands and solitudes.

The Pleiades of nations, they have shone

Upon Britannia's throne;

With every passing year, their golden light

Waxing in lustre, until every land

In wonder looks upon the glorious band

That breaks the Northern night.

Commenting that "What were to others barriers, were to him / But gates", Weir also ventured into the field of tariff policy, invoking Macdonald's memory against the unnamed menace of Commercial Union:

And shall we, in whose midst so long he dwelt,

Who had commune so long with his great mind,

Forsake his teachings, and, like Israel, melt

Our gold to rear false gods![61]

It is not difficult to understand Weir's reaction to 'Our Lady of the Snows'. He did not like the alien invasion of his turf, the more so as Kipling's use of imagery – the dutiful daughter, the refusal to bow the knee to Baal – echoed his own. In particular, although he was well aware of the Canadian winter – it would have been act of denial to live in Montreal and pretend that the temperature did not fall below freezing[62] – he objected to the implication that his turf was piled high with year-round snowdrifts. His reply was an impressive tour-de-force, a parody that imitated Kipling in metre and structure, produced almost certainly even more rapidly than the original, and sardonically authoritative in its tone:

A poet sung of a nation

In words that were kindly meant,

And his song on ethereal pulses,

Throughout the Empire went.

It breathed the Imperial spirit

At which the bosom glows,

But he slurred the land which he fain had praised,

As 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

It was true that Canada had "lands unknown to summer" but they were "remote from the marts and home". Kipling, it was clear, failed to appreciate the sheer size of the country: in Canada, there were "woods of pine and maple, where England might be lost". Nor was the winter an entirely negative experience: Weir's reference to "the ringing blows of the axe" would have been understood by Canadians, who knew that loggers depended upon snow roads to haul tree trunks to frozen rivers in order subsequently to float them downstream in the spring thaw. Kipling had distorted the balance of Canada's climate: "while the sturdy Briton still shivers in east winds", Canadians were heading into summers that grew luscious peaches and luxurious vineyards – the latter an image picked, however implausibly, even in Moose Jaw. Weir signed off with a contemptuous dismissal:

Not by a heedless phrasing

Of catchword, verse or prose

Can the truth be told of the vast domain of

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

As already noted, Weir's parody was read into Hansard by Nicholas Flood Davin the House of Commons on 30 April, almost certainly the day the verse was published. An Irishman, journalist and politician, Davin was the sole Conservative MP to have survived the Liberal electoral tide on the prairies. A thick-skinned self-promoter ("blatherskite" was one of the kinder labels applied by his parliamentary victims), Davin would speak over one thousand times during the 1897 session. The defence of Canadian culture was one of his self-imposed mandates. Kate Simpson Hayes, the mother of his children, was one of the first women writers to tackle western Canadian themes and issues. Davin himself had published a volume of poetry, which he excused in the striking statement that "I think the cultivation of taste and imagination as important as the raising of grain." He admitted his inability to "write poetry which should be at once original and of high workmanship", but offered his own effusions as stepping stones to be trodden underfoot in the ascent to a national literature. (In fact, his lines evoking the biting, stimulating cold of winter in The Canadian Year were among his best writing.[63]) He seems to have cherished a strong dislike for Richardson, and particularly objected to his rival's decision to read 'Our Lady of the Snows' into Hansard.

Claiming to speak "at the request of prominent Canadians", Davin lavished exaggerated praise upon the poem's author. Kipling, he insisted, was "a great poet, one with the finest ear for English music of any poet of the century". This was almost certainly a sarcastic device for conveying contempt toward "a great genius, one of the most marvellous literary men that England has produced, one of the most variously gifted literary men in the Empire". It was, he said, "absolutely necessary that we should protest against Canada being described to England and the world as Our Lady of the Snows". "This country has suffered in the past from the idea prevalent in England that Canada is a land of snow, where one has to go around the whole time clad in furs to avoid being frozen". In reality, it was "a country endowed with the finest climate in the world", all the year round. "Much as I enjoy her summers, I can safely say that her winters are no less enjoyable."

As already noted, discussion briefly veered off to note D'Arcy McGee's use of the phrase. Two MPs mildly dissented from Davin's central complaint, one suggesting that Canadians were "perhaps, a little too sensitive with regard to these remarks as to the snows of Canada". To place his intervention within parliamentary rules, Davin had proposed a technical motion, for the adjournment of the House, and this required a member of the government to rise and offer formal opposition. Laurier himself spoke briefly. He accepted that Kipling's title was not "the most apt he could have selected", but – in an obvious riposte to Davin – "we are all accustomed to poetical exaggeration". Criticising the irrelevant motion for the adjournment, Laurier closed with an expression of hope that "we shall have less poetry and more business."[64] Newspapers around the world gleefully reported a legislature that indulged in literary criticism, prompting a London newspaper to publish yet another parody of Kipling's poem:

A Parliament spoke to a Poet

A Nation sent word to a Bard:

Greatest of poems though yours may be,

Your last was a trifle hard… (see Appendix)

Confirmation that Davin was voicing a widespread reaction came from the Toronto Globe the following morning: indeed, its presses were almost certainly running as he spoke. Since it was the Globe that had proudly published 'Our Lady of the Snows' three days earlier, its decision to run a parody suggests that it had sensed the unpopularity of Kipling's imagery. J.W. Bengough was best known for his caricatures in the satirical magazine, Grip. After the publication folded in 1894, he contributed political cartoons to the Globe. He too occasionally ventured into verse, which the historian Ramsay Cook has mildly characterised as "largely unmemorable".[65] Apparently alone among contemporary commentators, Bengough did briefly mention Kipling's allusion to Canada's "whiteness", but only to insist that the ethnic label in no way excused the title. Although it was a protest that barely rose above cantering doggerel, its publication was in itself significant, and it may be conveniently sampled through a few extracts:[66]

Hail to thee, poet Kipling,

My love to you over the sea,

With thanks for the gallant verse

You've lately inscribed to me....

The title is pretty, I grant you,

And I know that you meant to be kind,

But I wish you could hit on another,

Less risky, if you don't mind...

No: I've just enough of winter

To give a glow to my cheek;

Call me "Queen of the Northern Maples",

If it's a fancy title you seek. (see Appendix)

Bengough's effort does not seem to have been reprinted elsewhere.[67] A few days later, the Globe printed an even less memorable verse, 'Canada's Reply to Kipling', by H.J. Pettypiece, a small-town newspaper proprietor from south-western Ontario:

We know that Kipling means us well,

And we appreciate his meed,

But something more to a business end

In Canada we need….

Our Queen reigns over a sixth of the earth,

And half that sixth is here,

Owning the sign of the Maple Leaf

And holding the old flag most dear.[68]

Patronisingly dismissing Kipling as a "very self-sufficient young man", the Toronto Star pronounced his poem" of good vintage … but yet not from the best bin. His verse advertises the erroneous idea that Canada is a land of snow and ice, toboggans, tomahawks and polar bears. Canada is not Our Lady of the Snows."[69] "We do not like the term," was the terse verdict of the Victoria Daily Colonist.[70] Very few of the Dominion's many newspapers are readily accessible now, but those that survive indicate that disapproval of 'Our Lady of the Snows' was widespread. The Moose Jaw Herald Times felt that Canadians were "grateful" to Kipling for "the sentiments of his beautiful little poem", and the daughter / mother analogy was "nicely put". "But we are not in the least grateful for the title … and we are not surprised that on all sides it has created a very pronounced feeling of displeasure." True, it acknowledged that "Our Lady of the Yellow Wheat Fields" would have been "a trifle less poetic". "It is hard to quarrel with Mr Kipling, who meant so well, but Canada is no more a land of snows than Britain is."[71] "If Kipling had ever dreamt that his 'Lady of the Snows' [sic] would call out as many barrels of rhyming protest," the Victoria Daily Colonist histrionically announced, "he would have died before he would have done it."[72]

However, if the parodies indicated how deeply Canadians disliked the title, they also proved that the poem had penetrated deeply into their psyche. In June 1897, Calgary was engulfed by massive rainstorms – although, as the city was barely fourteen years old, it is hard to see why its inhabitants regarded the flooding as unprecedented. The Calgary Herald sought to cheer its readers with Kiplingesque verse which variously hailed the city as Our Lady of the Rains, the Damps and the Muds:[73]

A nation spoke to a nation,

A queen sent word to a throne,

"It's pretty damp in mamma's house,

But it's damper in my own;

I'd no idea that springtime

Was a time for aches and pains,

But this weather's really beastly,"

Said 'Our Lady of the Rains'.

"I called my Chiefs to council,

(And they all arrived soaked through)

But when it's a matter of weather,

Well -- what can my chiefs do? …

I was much too rough on Rudyard,

For when the wet wind blows.

I'd like once more to figure,

As 'A Lady of the Snows'."   (see Appendix)

It is worth remembering, too, that for every Canadian who jeeringly resented Kipling's allusion to their climate, there were almost certainly many others who relished its general sentiments, and all the more so because they came from so internationally famous an author.  In a Methodist parsonage a few miles from Toronto, the Reverend Edwin Pearson clipped the poem from a newspaper for inclusion in his scrapbook. Presumably, he also had other matters on his mind, for his wife had given birth to their second child on the day Canada learned of Fielding's tariff. They called their son Lester. The boy would grow up to become the External Affairs minister who broke with Britain over Suez, and in the nineteen-sixties would head the government that began to strip British symbols from the landscape of Canadian governance.[74]

Newspapers overseas regarded Canadian sensitivity as newsworthy. "It is true that the thermometer often falls very low, and remains low for a long time," the Belfast Newsletter explained to its readers; "but the air is usually dry and light, and on the whole the winters are healthier than in countries with a warmer climate."[75] A Welsh newspaper was more censorious of the author's insensitivity. "Mr. Kipling is nothing if not modern. He ought to have viewed his subject from the standpoint of the emigration agent as well as from the summit of Parnassus, and to have considered that the offshoots of the Imperial flock in fresh woods and pastures new may be more sensitive to reflections upon their climatic surroundings than are the weather-beaten inhabitants of the Old Country."[76] Kipling himself ruefully admitted that he was "supposed to be scaring away immigrants by misrepresenting the climate of the Dominion."[77]  "Poets must be careful," the Melbourne Age observed: "… Canada does not wish the world to understand that this lady cannot, in due season, become our lady of the sun bonnet."[78] The unearthing of a lighthearted limerick about "a small boy of Quebec / Who was buried in snow to the neck" did little to improve Kipling's standing in the Dominion.[79] (see Appendix)

There were occasional suggestions that the outcry was exaggerated. The Ottawa correspondent of the Victoria Daily Colonist was tongue-in-cheek when he reported in April 1899 the persistence of winter in the Dominion capital. There was a four-foot snowdrift in his back garden, and a young woman had been killed in the city centre by an avalanche of melting snow sliding off a roof, but Kipling had been "ignorant and impertinent" to write of 'Our Lady of the Snows'. "What liars these poets are! … it is only because they never can see things as they really are, that men call them poets."[80] Fielding still tried to milk Kipling's "spirited lines" for political capital, but even he acknowledged that "some have thought, they convey inaccurate impressions as to the coldness of our climate".[81] Overall, official Canada was at pains to counter the image. Lady Aberdeen, the assertive wife of the governor-general, published a children's tale called Where Dwells 'Our Lady of the Sunshine'.[82]  A Kipling scrapbook, published in New York in 1899, noted Canadian dislike ("to put it mildly") of their association with snow.[83] The Canadian Pacific Railway had promoted its western domains with imaginative poster art. It was reported to have banned all images containing snow, a decision which must have restricted its ability to depict the Rocky Mountains.[84] At the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902, the Dominion government secured permission to erect a massive Canada Arch across Whitehall, decorated with slogans "Free homes for millions" and "Britain's granary".  Blessings were invoked upon the royal family in smaller letters. The arch was covered with examples of Canadian fertility and fruitfulness, much to the fascination of tourists and the delight of London sparrows (who devoured much of the twenty tons of prairie grain imported for the display). This "rich display … will come as a surprise to those people who think of Canada only as 'Our Lady of the Snows'", for which unfortunate expression Kipling had "received more imprecations than blessings from Canadians."[85] It seems likely that the Coronation Arch was a conscious attempt to counteract the image that Canada was a land of perpetual winter.[86] It was not only Canadians who resented Kipling's label. Speaking at a Dominion Day banquet in London on July the first 1904, the Duke of Marlborough, parliamentary under-secretary at the Colonial Office, was openly contemptuous. "Kipling's Lady of the Snows was a libel on the country. He should have referred to the summer, when every Canadian sat beneath the pleasant shade of the beautiful maple leaf."[87] Kipling's defender, William Gowers, on the other hand, condemned "the Canadian objection to the title as an instance alike of ingratitude and perverted over sensitiveness". Kipling's awkward allusions to the subject during his 1907 visit to Canada suggest that he agreed.[88]

Kipling and Canada: the later years News that Kipling was planning to visit Canada was headlined by the Toronto Globe "Before the Snows?" An irritable sub-heading made clear that resentment rankled. "It is to be hoped he will not put it off till winter and get some more impressions like those which inspired 'Our Lady of the Snows'." A more welcoming cartoon repeated the tactics of the Coronation Arch: Kipling was captioned 'Our Lady of the Snows', but his portrait was surrounded by fruit and crops.[89] Kipling attempted to make a joke of the controversial title of his poem, but an undertone of bitterness in his comments probably explains why they made little impact. In Winnipeg, he pretended to believe that "all the lumber in this country was shifted on pneumatic tyres in July. … snow was unheard of, and that what they mistook for it was French chalk." The jest contained a jarringly bitter tone, and reporters seem to have ignored it.[90] Passing through Ottawa on his return journey, his irony was more explicit. "I apologize for writing 'Our Lady of the Snows'," he told journalists, adding, "and I promise you it shall not occur again until the snow falls. But I do not see why Canadians should take exception to the name. You are proud of the winters you have here, and rightly. … I can scarcely see that I have done any injustice to Canada in that respect."[91] This too was barely reported.  The truth was that Kipling did not much like Canada, which he described as a "constipating country", a comment that seems to have been intellectual and spiritual, not digestive. With supreme irony, the hotels of Our Lady of the Snows were overheated. Nor did he think much of its people, although William Van Horne of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who bestowed a private railway car upon the Kiplings, was an exception who reminded him of Cecil Rhodes.[92]  His sole point of relationship with Canadians lay in their "crude material faith in the Empire, of which they naturally conceive themselves to be the belly-button." But his tour was notable for a little-noticed change in the way he referred to  Canada. In newspaper articles primarily addressed to British readers the following year, he refrained from his daughter / mother imagery of 1897, instead describing the Dominion as "our Eldest Sister". The phrase was barely used, and its implications were not explored (did he mean "second eldest" after Britain?), but the shift was surely noteworthy. As explored below, for over sixty years Canadian politicians would intermittently struggle to adapt the striking couplet of 1897 to changing times. Kipling, its creator, was half a century ahead of them in abandoning it altogether.[93]

In the event, Kipling's transcontinental tour passed off without embarrassment. In Winnipeg, where one newspaper noted "a strong dash of hero-worship" in his reception, Kipling spoke in inspirational terms, hailing "the spirit of an assured nationhood, the spirit of a people not contented to be merely imitators of another people, but contented to themselves. … you stand on the threshold of an unbelievable future. No man can foresee or set the limits of your destiny." In Victoria, where he delivered an explicitly racist denunciation of Asiatic immigration, the audience spontaneously rose and sang "For he's a jolly good fellow!"[94] As the Victoria Daily Colonist put it, if Kipling returned to Britain keen to "encourage immigration from the United Kingdom … we will all try and forgive him for 'Our Lady of the Snows'."[95] Sensing that its readers wished to know more about this suddenly popular visitor, the Globe changed tack and published a feature, "Some Snatches of Kipling".  The article roamed around the poet's output, writing appreciatively of 'The White Man's Burden' and noting with approval such insights into the human condition as "A woman is only a woman, but / A good cigar's a smoke." It was a broad review of Kipling's work, but it tactfully omitted to mention that he had ever penned lines about Canada. He was now "Kipling the imperialist – the poet with clear vision of the Empire's destiny".[96]

Four years later, Kipling hazarded his popularity with an ill-considered intervention in Canada's domestic affairs. Faced by an American middle-class revolt against the cost of living, the Republicans modified their high-tariff policies and negotiated a wide-ranging Reciprocity agreement with Canada, which became the central issue at the 1911 Dominion general election.  A recent authoritative study says the deal "was not complete free trade but it was the closest thing to it in Canadian-American trade relations in over forty years." The key element was the reduction of sky-high United States import duties. In return, Canadians gave up "relatively little … Canadian industry had seemingly little to fear from this agreement."[97] Kipling unwisely agreed to contribute a statement to the Montreal Star – the paper that had led the way in lampooning him fourteen years earlier – and its content suggests a carelessly constructed message dispatched with little reflection. Dressed up as a warning against the loss of a nation's soul, Kipling's key argument was a reiteration of the case against Commercial Union from twenty years earlier: once sucked into a continental trade structure, "Canada must inevitably conform to the commercial, legal, financial, social and ethical standards which will be imposed upon her by the sheer admitted weight of the United States." This was a standard argument advanced by Laurier's Conservative opponents, which in itself hardly needed to be articulated by a poet sitting at a desk in the English county of Sussex. In giving an example of the dangers of integration, he sank from the ethereal and principled to the plainly silly: Canadians "might … be compelled later on to admit reciprocity in the murder rate", which was notoriously much higher south of the border. Foolish though it was, Kipling's intervention may have helped mobilise the anti-government vote. There had been an upsurge in British immigration in recent years, and the imperial loyalties of the newcomers were certainly targeted during the campaign. Not only did Conservative newspapers quote Kipling's warning, but full-page advertisements were taken simply to highlight his words, leaving readers to convey them to the ballot box. Liberals angrily pointed out that neither Kipling's identity nor his integrity had been subverted by the massive sums in royalties he had earned from his American readership. In its fury, the Toronto Globe demonstrated that Kipling possessed no monopoly of ethnic insensitivity. "Perhaps he thinks if we buy ivory from the Africans we will import the habit of wearing lip and nose rings. ... he never did know anything about commerce."[98] 

The Conservatives won the 1911 general election, but they were unable to establish their hegemony in Canadian politics. A quarter of a century later, Liberal leader Mackenzie King was beginning his third term as Canada's prime minister when he received news of Kipling's death. Should the Dominion government issue a statement, King mused in his diary. The 1911 election had cost King both his cabinet post and his parliamentary seat. Kipling was "a tory imperialist" who had "never shown any particular friendship towards myself". In short, "it does not seem to me except for 'Our Lady of the Snows' – Canada has any particular tribute to pay."[99] So far as Ottawa was concerned, Canadian sympathy at the death of Kipling was a sign ye would not see, and a word ye would not hear.

Daughter / mother imagery  While Kipling's climatic heresy undoubtedly provoked Canadian hostility, his talent for phrase-making had superbly captured the late nineteenth-century Canada-Britain relationship: Daughter am I in my mother's house / But mistress in my own. In particular, these eminently quotable words  were a godsend for Canada's first Francophone prime minister as he navigated the minefields of Queen Victoria's Jubilee: there was even a joke that Kipling should be appointed Poet Laurier.[100] The Canadian premier assured an obviously uncritical interviewer from the London Daily Chronicle that "it may seem strange" but the Dominion's motive for lowering its tariffs on British goods was "pure gratitude. England has given us that greatest of all boons – the right to govern ourselves." Cue here the appeal to Kipling on the daughter / mistress theme. "You know the lines. They are your own Rudyard Kipling's, and there you have the secret of the whole thing."[101] At a Dominion Day banquet in London, Laurier lavished exaggerated praise upon his native land, leading on his cheering and laughing audience to the issue of climate. "We love her for her majestic rivers, we love her for her lakes … we love her for her boundless prairies, for her virgin forests, for her lofty mountains, for her fertile plains; we love her for her beautiful climate.... We love her even for her snows. Rudyard Kipling has called Canada a land of snows…. Some one objected to it; I do not. The snows of Canada are one of the charms of Canada which England cannot boast of". Of course, he went on to defend Canada's summer, "when her skies are as blue as the skies of Italy" but, fundamentally, he had too much invested in Kipling to quarrel about the title of his poem.[102]

In February 1900, torn between demands to support Britain's war in South Africa and pressure to remain neutral, Laurier boldly appropriated Kipling's key lines to assert a much broader definition of Canadian independence than the poet could have had in mind. "I claim for Canada this, that, in future, Canada shall be at liberty to act or not act, to interfere or not interfere, to do just as she pleases, and that she shall reserve to herself the right to judge whether or not there is cause for her to act." Canada, in short, was "absolutely independent", under no obligation to set foot in her mother's house, and had firmly closed her own gates.[103] Welcoming Kipling to Ottawa in 1907, Laurier reiterated that he had "splendidly summed up the Imperial idea" in his mother-daughter image.[104] In 1933, W. Stewart Wallace, one of Canada's first academic historians, concluded that Laurier had "dotted the 'i's' and crossed the 't's' of Rudyard Kipling's famous lines",[105] but there can be little doubt that Canada's prime minister had pushed the metaphor well beyond the boundaries of partnership envisaged in the original verse. 

From 1909 to 1913, Canadian politics was dominated by the Naval issue: the Liberals sought to establish an independent Canadian Navy; the Conservatives argued that the Dominion should make a contribution to the British fleet. In fact, Liberal policy could be argued to be in line with Kipling's dictum, since in a crisis Canadian warships could be placed under the command of the British Admiralty. Laurier duly quoted Kipling, daughter, mother and the right to open and close gates.[106] A Conservative MP from Vancouver, G.H. Cowan, tersely dismissed the prime minister's appeal to Kipling's verse: "every school boy knows that the gates to which the poet refers are the customs gates", making the simple point that "each country has absolute control of its own tariff."[107] Another British Columbia MP, A.E, Goodeve of Kootenay, offered a much longer and more heart-rending denunciation of "the daughter nursed at the mother's breast" who "shut the gates in her mother's face."[108] Yet, once in office, the Conservatives were prepared to invoke, and subvert, Kipling's daughter / mother couplet in support of their own demand for enhanced status within the Empire that they so vocally championed. In a speech in London in 1912, J.D. Hazen, Minister of Naval Affairs, quoted the key lines and then varied the imagery, arguing that Canada "had grown to man's estate" and "should have a voice and representation" in the imperial government.[109] The autonomous daughter was threatening to stick her foot in her mother's gate and insist upon a role in the family homestead.

It is likely that that Kipling's daughter / mother imagery had a limited lifespan, gaining a particular resonance from the last decade of Queen Victoria's long reign. On lines inspired by London's Indian and Colonial Exhibition of 1886, Tennyson had presented the familial imagery in terms of masculinity and unity: "Sons, be welded each and all / Into one imperial whole, / One with Britain, heart and soul! / One life, one flag, one fleet, one throne!"[110] Kipling's preference for a metaphor of femininity and devolution may reflect the emergence of the Queen as a particularly imperial symbol of the Jubilee celebrations of 1887 and 1897. The image carried forward: in "Land of Hope and Glory", A.C. Benson marked the Coronation of 1902 by styling Britain "Mother of the Free". But the irruption of a trade issue into British politics the following year, for the first time in half a century, may have tended to undercut the sentimentality of imperial family imagery. Joseph Chamberlain's Tariff Reform campaign aimed at the creation of an imperial trading bloc, which tended to emphasise the materialist aspects of the British-Canadian relationship. A shift in imagery could be seen in the Peace Arch, erected on the 49th parallel at Vancouver between 1914 and 1921. Kipling's influence may be detected in the south-facing inscription, "Children of a common mother", but on the Canadian side the counterpart slogan is "Brethren dwelling together in unity."

The First World War further shifted the balance in the British-Canadian relationship.[111] Kipling's phrase was increasingly used – when it was quoted at all – in support of greater Canadian independence. A Quebec MP, Georges Parent, dismissed "Imperialists" who sought to follow Britain automatically. "I stand for Canadian autonomy – 'Daughter am I in mother's house, but mistress in my own'."[112] Another Liberal MP, William Duff, even invoked the statement to argue that Canada had the right to refuse a gift from Britain. The Royal Navy was prepared to pass on five warships, but Duff, a shipowner, warned that Britain's original gift to help establish the Canadian Navy had consisted of two floating rust buckets, and the latest "generous gift of the Mother Country" might prove to be equally useless. Quoting Kipling, he insisted that "it is our duty primarily as citizens of Canada to say whether or not we shall accept that gift."[113]

A local issue that dominated Canada's Pacific coast produced a further elaboration of the mother / daughter theme in a debate in the House of Commons in 1922. George Black, Conservative MP for the Yukon, objected to the argument that Canada was prevented from banning immigration from Japan by an Imperial treaty with that country. "Can Kipling's words, 'Daughter am I in my mother's house, but mistress in my own' be more applicable than in referring to Canada's ability to deal with this question herself?"[114] His point was elaborated by A.W. Neill, a Progressive MP from Vancouver Island, who was an especially implacable opponent of the Japanese. "Are we mistress in our home or are we not? Kipling said we were daughter in our mother's home; he did not say 'illegitimate product' or 'hired girl'; he said 'daughter'. … Will the fond mother – and Britain has ever shown herself to be a fond, lavish mother to her children – refuse to her well-beloved eldest child the privileges that she has granted to her other children…?"[115] During the debates on the Naval issue a decade earlier, British Columbia MPs had waxed eloquent on the responsibilities incumbent upon a dutiful colonial daughter. Now their emphasis had changed.

In the decades that followed, Canadian politicians sometimes quoted the aphorisms of Kipling – he was, after all, eminently quotable – but his daughter / mother imagery was much less conspicuous, and sometimes of doubtful relevance. A Progressive MP from Manitoba, J.L. Brown, suggested in 1923 that "Daughter am I in my mother's house, mistress in my own" expressed his view of Canada's status, but he accepted that "there is no such thing as a perfect analogy".[116] Others adopted a looser usage. A Conservative MP from British Columbia urged the Liberal government to call an Imperial trade conference in 1929, noting  that King George V was recovering from surgery, and "rays of sunshine and gladness would enter his soul" if Canada acted as Kipling's model daughter. Even the poet himself seemed to have doubts about the continuing validity of his image. On a brief private visit to Canada in 1930, Kipling remarked of the Dominion's constitutional development, "when you have grown-up children, you have to give them a latch-key."[117] Not all invocations of 'Our Lady of the Snows' seem to have strictly relevant. In 1933 Charles Bourgeois, a Quebec Conservative, quoted the first verse in a speech opposing bilingual banknotes that could be politely described as wide-ranging but reads suspiciously like a filibuster.[118]

Overall, it is striking how rarely the Canadian parliament heard those lines that had so appealed to Laurier. In 1922, Canada for the first time refused to support Britain in a foreign policy issue, a threatened confrontation with Turkey. In the decade from the Imperial Conference of 1926, with its declaration of equality of status between Britain and the dominions, Canada's constitutional identity came under the political microscope through the 1931 Statute of Westminster and the Abdication of Edward VIII in 1936. Canada's legislators had plenty to say about these developments, but it seems they managed to say it without appealing to Kipling.

He was equally absent from the 1927 celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation: Canada's half century had fallen during wartime, and in a year when its two founding peoples were at each other's throats over Conscription. When Kipling had penned 'Our Lady of the Snows', the Dominion was on the eve of its thirtieth birthday, an appropriate age to be portrayed as a grown-up daughter. At sixty, and with echoes of Queen Victoria in the title, the imagery would have made little sense. If the country had to be imagined as a feminine figure, the governor-general's solution was probably as good as any. Invoking environmental parthenogenesis, Lord Willingdon hailed "our Canada, daughter of the woods and mother of the fields".[119]

Among the distinguished overseas visitors for the 1927 celebrations was Stanley Baldwin, who took the opportunity to become the first serving British prime minister to tour Canada. Since he delivered 26 speeches en route, the temptation to avoid repetition by retreating into cliché must have been considerable. Yet Baldwin – who was Kipling's cousin – appears to have resisted the temptation to quote 'Our Lady of the Snows'. He was well informed about Canadian history and politics, even speaking appreciatively in Toronto about Canada's generosity in the Fielding tariff of 1897: "She gave, and she did not wait to claim reciprocity." There is some suggestion that Kipling drafted some of the prime minister's felicitous orations – he did, after all, supply Baldwin with his shocking "power without responsibility" gibe that likened Britain's press barons to harlots – and perhaps Cousin Rudyard warned against citing the notorious poem.[120]  Fundamentally, the daughter mother image had been overtaken by the declaration of the 1926 Imperial Conference that Britain and the Dominions were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs". Winston Churchill, who travelled coast to coast in 1929, was a very different personality – out of office, not always sensitive to his audiences, and easily seduced by the music of the English language. Yet he too seems to have avoided Kipling, and to have stressed the new principle of equality in status. "It is your Crown, your Empire, as much as it is ours," he told a Winnipeg audience. "We are all members of the same family," he stated at Regina, "and anything that affects one part of that family reacts upon the other members."[121] Privately, he explained the political aim of his tour as "bringing about an even closer association between us".[122] In 1952, he recalled: "At one time I could have passed an examination in Kipling's writings."[123] Churchill might easily have appealed to Kipling's daughter / mother analogy: it is noteworthy that he did not.[124]

Yet maybe Kipling still had something to say about "Words of the wharf and the market-place / And the ware the merchant brings". In 1932, the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett hosted a conference at Ottawa, not to bestow rays of sunshine and gladness upon George V, but to preside over the negotiation of a series of intra-imperial trade agreements. Bennett succeeded in bulldozing the British in a direction where Laurier and Fielding could not even attempt to move them, the concession of tariff privileges in their home market. Kipling celebrated by sending Bennett a stanza from 'Our Lady of the Snows' as a hand-written tribute:

"The gates are mine to open,

As the gates are mine to close,

And I set my house in order,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.[125]

In reality, the tense atmosphere of 1932 was no revival of the allegedly generous spirit of 1897. "Hard bargaining was the rule at Ottawa, and imperial spirit was at a premium."[126] The British delegation in particular found Bennett hard to deal with: he would offer to open Canada's gates one day only to slam them closed the next. "Full of high imperial sentiments he has done little to put them into practice," was the verdict of Neville Chamberlain, who described Canada's prime minister as "threatening and bullying in his manner, shifty and cunning in his methods."[127] It was all a long way from Fielding's unilateral gesture 35 years earlier. Even so, when the Ottawa Agreements were debated in the Canadian parliament, a continentalist Liberal, J.K. Blair, quoted Kipling's lines in order to ask: "Why should this government surrender control of our own doors, and why should we seek control of our neighbours' doors?"[128]

There were still occasional hints that Canadians still resented Kipling's inconvenient emphasis upon their winter climate. Although he had avoided the danger area, Stanley Baldwin had ruffled some feathers by referring to fogs along the Newfoundland coast. A school inspector delivering a public lecture in British Columbia commented that the resulting awkwardness was "somewhat akin to Rudyard Kipling in 'Our Lady of the Snows'." "What an impression Rudyard Kipling left in credulous minds when he called Canada Our Lady of the Snows!", exclaimed the literary page of the Toronto Globe. The poet himself briefly stopped over in Montreal in the summer of 1930, bringing his wife, Carrie, from  Bermuda where she had undergone an operation for appendicitis. It was a private visit, but the Globe could not resist probing the grievance. "If Mr Rudyard Kipling does not withdraw his 'Lady of the Snows' after sweltering in Canadian heat he should at least write an antidote." As the couple sailed for Britain, Kipling laughingly agreed: "I think that if I had remained in Montreal much longer I should have been obliged to retract my 'Lady of the Snows'."[129] Yet there were signs that even this wound might be healing. "Not so long ago the humorists poked fun at Canada because of Kipling's description of her as 'Our Lady of the Snows,' but even that has become a term of endearment and praise," the Globe noted in 1931, as it celebrated the growth of winter sports in Canada.[130] Returning to Canada after three decades, Churchill had noted not only the country's material progress, but the disappearance of the "mood of despondency" he had encountered in 1900, the fear that the fragile structure would disintegrate.[131] As Canadians became more confident, so they could afford to be less sensitive to perceived denigration. They still did not care for Kipling's wintry image, but increasingly they could afford to ignore it.

Yet it should be stressed that the tacit avoidance of 'Our Lady of the Snows' was not caused by any decline in Kipling's overall popularity in Canada. Perhaps his two most notable poems, 'If' and 'Recessional', had been both instant and enduring successes. As a teenager in Winnipeg in the early nineteen-twenties, Tommy Douglas – later Canada's first socialist provincial premier – earned money by giving recitations of 'If'.[132]  Half a century later, an admirer of prime minister Pierre Trudeau quoted the two opening lines in the House of Commons during the October 1970 confrontation with Quebec terrorists: "If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...".[133] Even more remarkably, the entire poem had been quoted seven years earlier, in French translation, by a Quebec MP as a contribution to a debate on youth policy.[134] When 'Recessional' appeared in 1897, Lord Strathcona (Donald A. Smith of the Canadian Pacific Railway) was so captivated that he said it "should be in the hymnals of all the Churches".[135] In the years after the First World War, it acquired almost a secular equivalent status as the ringing statement of the emptiness of grief, made all the more forceful by the knowledge that Kipling himself had lost a beloved son in the trenches. Typical was the Toronto Globe's 1928 Empire Day editorial, which closed with the sombre quotation:

The tumult and the shouting dies;

The Captains and the Kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget![136]

Yet even the grim dignity of Kipling's masterpiece fell foul of changing values and the march of time. In 1966, the Canadian parliament debated a proposal to outlaw hate crime. A Conservative Senator pointed out that they risked criminalising 'Recessional', with its embarrassing allusion to "lesser breeds without the Law". Would Kipling be liable to "be charged with inciting hatred or contempt"?[137]

Kipling himself contributed inscriptions to Canadian war memorials in 1924 and 1928. Each was four lines in length – poignant and ironic given his 1907 complaint that Canadians could not "carry anything more than three and a half lines long in their busy heads". For Sault Ste Marie, he offered:

From little towns, in a far land, we came,

To save our honour and a world aflame;

By little towns, in a far land, we sleep,

And trust those things we won to you to keep.

While recognising that the lines conferred "an honor which probably no other city enjoys", the Toronto Globe actually ventured a hint of disapproval: the awkward final line "seems as susceptible to criticism from an artistic standpoint as that recent painting of the King in silk trunks."[138] However, Canadian newspapers seem to have been generally respectful of Kipling's contribution. Had there been the same sensitivity as in 1897, they might perhaps have picked on the phrase "little towns". Kipling had used it to describe pioneer life in a speech in Toronto in 1907, and it could perhaps have been dismissed as the characteristic impression of an outsider who had chiefly seen the country from the windows of a train.[139] Kipling's other contribution, to a branch of the ex-service organisation, the Royal Canadian Legion, at Sudbury in Ontario, was brief and bleak:

We giving all gained all.

Neither lament us nor praise.

Only in all things recall,

It is Fear, not Death that slays.  (see Appendix)

Of course, there was more to Canada than its "little towns", but it is curious that Kipling should have responded to calls from two remote industrial cities, neither of them places high regarded in sophisticated metropolitan centres.

The Second World War shifted the Canada-Britain relationship further in the direction of equality. If "daughter in my mother's house" was quoted at all, it was as part of a review of the continuous path to complete independence. Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the 1945 San Francisco Conference which set the foundations for the United Nations, Ontario Liberal Arthur Roebuck noted that "[t]he old-time view of Canada's position within the empire expressed by Kipling has long passed. … Kipling would not write those words to-day did he know the changes that have taken place. Canada is daughter in no man's house though still mistress in her own." Given that Kipling had quietly discarded the metaphor as far back as 1908, Roebuck was probably correct.[140]

When Winston Churchill visited Ottawa in January 1952, shortly after returning to office as Britain's prime minister, the United Kingdom's High Commissioner feared that he might "talk down" to Canadian politicians. Churchill did half-humorously grumble that the Royal Canadian Navy had abandoned Rule Britannia, and – with greater insensitivity – he suborned their governor-general to return home and join his cabinet, a piece of political poaching that  ensured that Lord Alexander of Tunis would be the last British appointee to Rideau Hall. But in discussions with Louis St Laurent's government, Churchill adopted a "candid and cordial approach as between equals". Two years later, speaking in the unusual format of a press conference during his last visit to Canada, he emphasised "the mood of friendship" that united "friends and brothers". Like so many British visitors, he looked to Canada's glorious future, but with a certain bathos urged his hosts: "do not forget that little Island lost among the Northern mists which played so great a part in your early days  and now regards you with so much admiration and pride."  Kipling's snows and Baldwin's fogs had somehow come full circle: the imagery was implicitly parental, but the context was no longer overtly imperial.[141]

The Suez crisis of 1956 drove the final wedge between mother and daughter. As in 1922, Canada saw no reason to back an imperial adventure in the eastern Mediterranean. The Liberal government not only refused to endorse Britain and France in their invasion of Egypt, but actively supported moves in the United Nations to end the crisis. A British Columbia MP, George McLeod, attempted to make sense of the upheaval. McLeod was a member of the Social Credit Party, which had begun in the next-door province of Alberta during the nineteen-thirties as a movement demanding radical monetary reform. However, its British Columbia offshoot was predominantly a right-wing umbrella group with little explicit ideology and, as a party that mainly functioned on the provincial stage, it had no particular need to develop a coherent view of Canada's place in the world. McLeod was speaking in the debate on the Address – the one set-piece oratorical episode in the annual parliamentary calendar, where MPs delivered wide-ranging addresses that contrasted with the generally businesslike and even conversational style of the rest of the session: J.L. Brown's 1923 comment on the assessment of the appropriateness of Kipling had been delivered during an earlier such debate. Hence McLeod's exploration of the daughter / mother theme is of interest since the comments of a sixty-year-old garage–owner from the interior town of Okanagan probably reflect the adjustments made by other English-speaking Canadians as they faced a changing world.

"We were, within the memory of many in this chamber, a colony of Great Britain, although we were not a colony that had to do the bidding of Great Britain," McLeod declared. MPs would remember that "one of the greatest Canadians, I believe, used a few well chosen words to express our position in that empire." Kipling, it seems, had been co-opted into a Canadian national pantheon. McLeod duly quoted the daughter / mother couplet, adding that while "[t]hose words were true while we were a part of that great British Empire", they did not apply to membership of the Commonwealth. "We are no longer a daughter in our mother's house". Rather, the hackneyed words needed to be revised to "Sister am I in my sister's house, but mistress in my own."[142] Kipling had got there half a century earlier. Unfortunately, in the context of Suez, it is hard not to hear an echo of Irving Berlin's popular song of 1954 about sibling rivalry, "never such devoted sisters".

Of course, there remained pockets of the former British Canada. Grant Campbell was a Conservative MP from a Loyalist enclave in eastern Ontario. In 1961, he told the Canadian parliament of his pride "that members of my family have defended the independence of Canada under the union jack on three separate occasions." He regarded Kipling's famous couplet as summarising Canada's status, but even he regarded it as inadequate now "we have grown to maturity. … We must now build something of our own and we must stand or fall on the basis of what we have built."[143] When in 1963 a prominent Conservative, Hugh John Flemming, offered an outline of Canadian history as Parliament debated plans to celebrate the upcoming centennial of Confederation, he seemed to think that Laurier had crafted the famous lines.[144]

The Pearson Liberal ministry that had recently taken office was a minority government, but it ushered in a massive overhaul of traditional Canadian institutions, a process which the historian C.P. Champion has disapprovingly called "the strange demise of British Canada".[145] Some of the transformation was simply rebranding: things that had previously been regarded as British now became Canadian (at least to Anglophones).[146] But some unambiguously British symbols were discarded outright, notably the Union Jack and the Canadian Red Ensign that was derived from it.[147] Arguing for the symbolism of a distinctive Canadian flag, Pearson stated: "Our ties to the mother country do not now include any trace of political subordination. They are ties of affection, of tradition, of respect."[148] Although Kipling was also a target, 'Daughter in my mother's house / But mistress in my own' was essentially collateral damage. The slogan of the new and assertive Quebec nationalism was "maîtres chez nous" – masters in our own house. Faced with the challenge of the Quiet Revolution, English Canada simply could not afford to cling to the hackneyed rag of a dual residence mantra. "We have all heard ad nauseam Kipling's old line," said Senator David Croll in 1964. "Kipling meant to flatter Canada when he wrote that poem, but … it set back Canadian-British relations by fifty years. I think that we have not yet managed to escape from that mother-daughter complex. … is it not high time … that we stopped thinking about mothers and daughters and stood on our own two feet?"[149] As the country's first Jewish Senator, Croll had battled anti-Semitism throughout his political career. By contrast, John W. Holmes was an Ottawa mandarin and a respected academic heavyweight.  In 1966, he argued that it was "the very idea of Britain as the mother country and Canada as the eldest daughter which prevents a proper understanding of the relationship between two mature middle powers," Atlantic neighbours, NATO allies and Commonwealth partners. Holmes did not quote Kipling – he did not need to – nor, like Pearson, did he entirely reject the family imagery of 'Our Lady of the Snows'.  Holmes insisted that Ottawa "never considered its Suez policy anti-British; its aim was to rescue the old lady from an unfortunate and uncharacteristic aberration". Resentful, the British now saw Canada as "a vulgar, nouveau-riche second cousin". After seventy years, Kipling's imagery had run its course. Perhaps the sole encouraging feature of the Holmes analysis was that the British now cherished "their vision of Canada as a vast field of waving grain."[150] The fertile imagery of the 1902 Coronation Arch had finally triumphed over the innocent meteorological slander of the enthusiastic poem of 1897.

Thematic Review and Conclusion 'Our Lady of the Snows' needs to be reviewed under four headings, which may help to distinguish between the likely reactions of modern readers and the changing responses of Canadians to the poem penned in their honour. First, we should briefly confront the elements that make us uneasy today. This preliminary once out of the way, it should be possible to review three aspects of the poem: its unlikely relationship to Canadian politics and tariff policy; its pervasive use of daughter / mother imagery in describing the relationship between Britain and Canada; and the unexpectedly strong Canadian resentment against its allusion to their country's winter climate.

Two aspects of Kipling's language which will cause concern today were barely noticed during the seventy years in which 'Our Lady of the Snows' recurred in Canadian public discourse. With the guilty wisdom of a hindsight that has belatedly accepted the enormity of the injustice suffered by Aboriginal people, Kipling's conjuring of the Ottawa parliament as a "council" of "chiefs" may seem embarrassing. It was not so regarded at the time, and we should probably best take refuge in Laurier's tolerant reflection that poets were inclined to exaggeration. More troubling is Kipling's allusion to "the White Man's law", a racist theme that appears frequently in his verse. It may be worth noting that, in the early twenty-first century, it is customary and entirely acceptable to categorise some countries as "English-speaking". The phrase represents not merely a classification of language preference, but tacitly conveys the idea of a shared respect for law and constitutional government, of attachment to personal freedom and probity in public office. It may be that this linguistic coded allusion to values makes the same point that the Victorians, in their time, sought to convey through classification by pigmentation. Indeed, in 1897 Kipling defined his use of the term "white men" as referring to "races speaking the English tongue ... living quietly under Laws which are neither bought nor sold." Maybe, as this century progresses and terminology becomes ever more politically charged, "English-speaking" will also come to be condemned as a privileged label whose factual content cannot be separated from its exclusive overtones. Kipling's use of ethnic vocabulary has been much debated: perhaps the key point in relation to 'Our Lady of the Snows' is that the allusion was barely commented upon at the time.[151] J.W. Bengough, who did pick up on "whiteness", was more inclined to associate it with snow than skin colour. The third potentially controversial aspect of the poem may be noted in the title itself.  Here Kipling was surely insensitive, even by the values of his own era, in purloining a phrase of great spiritual meaning in the Church of Rome and he was surely fortunate to escape censure. It is likely that Kipling, like most Protestants, knew very few Catholics and certainly did not engage in deep discussion about their beliefs. In Britain and across English Canada, Catholics were a minority community who probably swallowed clumsy insults to their beliefs. Where their faith was dominant and confident, there was probably little interest in Kipling's writings anyway, in Quebec thanks to the barrier of language, in Ireland because of a lack of enthusiasm for imperialism.

To say the least, it was unusual for a major writer to produce a poem about customs duties. Impressed by what he saw as an imperial gesture by the Laurier ministry, Kipling does not seem to have had much grasp of the political context of the Fielding tariff. As the only Australian colony to have adopted free trade, New South Wales would also benefit from the new Canadian tariff, even though trade between the two territories was relatively small. The Sydney Daily Telegraph shrewdly concluded that the Liberal government's policy had "less of the patriotic than of the commercial instinct behind it. It is prompted, not so much by the sentimental desire Mr. Rudyard Kipling took for granted … as by a practical necessity…. the net fact is that the Canadians are courting close trade relations with England, because there is a hard necessity that they should do so."[152] In calling the tariff reduction "a sign ye would not see, / And a word ye would not hear", Kipling even appears to have believed that Canada intended to hide its gesture under a very large bushel of modesty. This was certainly not the case. His alliance with Canada's Liberal party was accidental, shallow and essentially transient. Of course Laurier and his followers embraced the unexpected bonus of support from the author whom they could hail as the poet laureate of the British Empire. But the subsequent sneer of the Toronto Globe that "he never did know anything about commerce" when Kipling condemned Reciprocity in 1911 suggests that their respect for his wisdom was hardly profound. That undoubtedly clumsy intervention still rankled with a later Liberal prime minister, Mackenzie King, who dismissed Kipling as a "tory imperialist" and refused to express Canada's grief at his death in 1936. Kipling was not alone in regarding the 1932 Ottawa agreements as a belated step towards imperial unity, but he was certainly poorly informed if he believed that Bennett's grudging tariff concessions were made in anything like the spirit of the Fielding budget 35 years earlier.

The evolution of Kipling's striking daughter / mother image has been traced through the preceding text. Here, two more general reflections are offered. The first is that the image of two distinct houses in 'Our Lady of the Snows' possibly reflects an assumption by the poet that the Canada-Britain relationship founded upon a much firmer division between spheres of responsibility than was in fact the case. The second is that it drew upon a metaphor of familial relationships that probably had little resonance for the Canadians of 1897, and declined in relevance even more during the decades that followed.

The document long regarded as the classic blueprint for colonial self-government, the 1839 Durham Report, had attempted to identify four areas as "the only points on which the mother country requires a control" over Canadian affairs. Two of these, constitution and external relations, became grey zones: British North American politicians essentially designed Confederation for themselves in the eighteen-sixties while, from 1871, intermittent negotiations with the United States were carried on by joint Canadian-British delegations. A third Durham reservation, "disposal of public lands", proved to be a non-starter. The final reserved area covered "trade with the mother country, the other British colonies, and foreign nations", all of them abandoned to Canadian control long before 1897, as Kipling recognised in his image of the gates. Durham was certain that the advantages which Canada derived from its membership of the Empire – especially through British protection, military, naval and fiscal – would ensure its "perfect subordination" to the imperial will.  In reality, once effective control, through the power of the purse, was conceded to local legislatures, any such limitations proved to be – as Baldwin put it, discussing Durham in 1928 – "unreal".[153] It is not necessary here to survey the gradual expansion of colonial self-government through Dominion status to the peaceable realisation that Canada had become a fully independent country – although nobody knew precisely when or exactly how. The point is that Kipling's implicit assumption of defined imperial and colonial spheres made possible Laurier's subversive use of the daughter / mother image to extend the Dominion's practical independence.

It may be doubted whether there was ever much room in nineteenth-century Canadian family relationships for paterfamilias (or materfamilias) roles, and their relative absence would have cast a certain unreality over the whole poem. There is a rare example of a family row, father-son in this case, that alienated Sir John A. Macdonald from his 25-year-old son Hugh in 1876. Unusually in Macdonald's well-documented life story, evidence appears to have been destroyed. His hero-worshipping biographer, Donald Creighton, acknowledged that the father condemned his son's choice of bride, but failed to draw the highly likely conclusion that the Conservative leader objected to the fact that she was a Catholic. A decent if hardly a strong personality, Hugh withdrew from his father's Toronto law firm and went into practice for himself, first in Ontario but later in Winnipeg. With considerable dignity, he assured his furious father "that wherever I may pitch my tent I will always be both ready and willing to do your bidding and will always hold myself in readiness to advance your interests in any way in my power".[154] Twenty years later, with a transcontinental railway fostering long-distance mobility inside the country and a massive and debilitating outflow of young Canadians to the United States, even that degree of parental authoritarianism would hardly have been feasible. No doubt there were still awkward parent-child relationships that continued into adult life: the experience acquired by Mackenzie King in navigating his way around his ruthlessly manipulative mother provided the foundation for the Machiavellian conciliation skills that underpinned his success in national politics. Yet it is likely that – except in immigrant communities which were immune to imperial sentiment anyway – the extended family ceased to be a central feature of Canadian life. The absence of the idealised template that lay behind Kipling's daughter / mother image probably helps to explain both the declining frequency and increasing convolution of attempts by Canadian parliamentarians to adapt the celebrated couplet to changing times.

In any case, there is a sense in which Kipling's entire daughter / mother imagery lacked foundation. Both in Britain and Canada, domestic authority, like political power, was essentially patriarchal in nature. As suggested earlier, it was probably only during the final years of Queen Victoria's reign that it would have been possible to conjure a believable image that was both global and maternal. Certainly few Canadian women left the parental home to establish themselves as single women in secure independence. The 1901 census reported that of two million Canadian females aged ten and over, 100,000 worked in domestic service, a sector which accounted for about two-fifths of all women in employment.[155] Not all were live-in servants, but many who did live under an employer's roof would have exchanged the affection of parents for the drudgery of strangers. Women attracted to vocations, such as nuns and nurses, were politely regimented. During the late-Victorian and Edwardian years, many communities proudly added nurses' homes to their civic hospitals, appropriate support for "self-supporting girls necessarily exiled from the parental roof".[156] With fund-raising in mind, publicists stressed the "home-like freedom and rest" which such facilities would provide,[157] but it is not difficult to guess that restrictions were imposed on the inmates both by round-the-clock hospital schedules and the personalities of matrons and superintendents,. Opportunities for women in retail and office work broadened after 1900, with the pace increasing after 1911,[158] but employment was poorly paid. When the aspiring writer Maud Montgomery left her Prince Edward Island home to become the only woman journalist in a Halifax newsroom in 1901, her salary was so small that she lived, successively, in a YWCA dormitory and two boarding houses: the second was "much nicer", although her accommodation was " a little third-floor room looking out on a few acres of back yards".[159] In Edmonton in 1912, there was such a shortage of rooming houses for "wage-earning girls … of fine feelings and womanly instincts". They were "crowded by twos, threes, or fours into down-town rooms", and forced to scramble for meals in "hot and crowded eating houses". The "most earnest, competent young woman … finds it practically impossible … to secure anything approaching proper living conditions".[160] There was equally little prospect of getting on to what we now call the property ladder through elementary school teaching, a profession which by the eighteen-seventies had become dominated by women.[161] One reason for this was that women came cheaper, which again limited the range of their access to accommodation. In country districts, schoolteachers boarded with farmers, enduring for lack of choice the very basic facilities of rural life. J.K. Galbraith, a pupil at a one-room school in south-western Ontario around 1920, recalled teachers as young women who boarded with local farming families, and perforce accepted the limited hygiene facilities available. Chauvinist though he was, Galbraith was probably perceptive when he characterised most of them as "half-educated young females diligently but incompetently filling in the few years between puberty and the best-available marriage."[162] The key point was that most women who left their parental home were destined, whether immediately or ultimately, for marriage. No doubt most Canadian housewives were in practical command of their domestic domain, but neither legal institutions nor social values accorded them the status of mistress in their own homes. Of course, in relation to Kipling, it is possible to make too much of all this. Even though very few single women could afford their own gates, let alone determine whether to slam them against their kinfolk, Kipling's imagery still strikingly captured the relationship between Canada and Britain at the close of the nineteenth century. But its distance from reality could only undermine both its durability and its adaptability as Canada's national status evolved.

And so we return to snow, and the outraged Canadian reaction to Kipling's climatic label. Why was there so much objection to an image of the country that surely had fundamental validity? Kipling himself sardonically pointed to the huge element of denial in the criticisms he had received: were fallen tree trunks really dragged from Canadian forests on pneumatic tyres across a bed of French chalk? Some sought to defend the Dominion's winter covering. It was "not the wet blanket as we know it in England," wrote the visiting journalist Ernest Evans, but rather "the mainspring of business and pleasure; the lumberman in the north depends on it for the transport of his logs; the young lady eagerly anticipates the first big fall for its promise of sleighing."[163] Forty years earlier, the immigrant artist Cornelius Krieghoff had celebrated this version of the Canadian winter in a series of sentimental paintings. Yet for many, the novelty of those first snowfalls soon wore off. As a Canadian magazine admitted in 1884, the frigid white landscape was apt "to pall upon the most imaginative after four months".[164] Unfortunately, the ordeal was not over so quickly. In 1901, the apostolic delegate Diomede Falconio bemoaned his fate in "these regions where for approximately six months of the year we are covered in ice and snow".[165] Worse still, if winter came in magical snowflakes, it departed grimly and all too slowly: as the historian Peter Waite remarked, "March is the time of year designed to remind most Canadians of the price of being Canadian."[166] March could drag on into April, as recorded by the Ottawa journalist who grumbled in 1899 about frigid streams running down the streets, and melting snow sliding dangerously off the roofs.[167] Embarrassingly, in 1897, winter kicked back still later as if retaliating against the anti-Kipling outcry. "Our Lady of the Snows seems to be trying hard to live up to her reputation," the Toronto Globe ruefully noted as temperatures plunged in late May. "The weather seems to be in league with Kipling." Imperial Rome had viewed an unseasonal snowfall as a miracle. On the first day of summer, relentlessly Protestant Toronto could only ask: "Has Kipling hoodooed this country? Come, gentle spring."[168]

No doubt Canadians were reacting to a jest that had become tiresome, Voltaire's "quelques arpents de neige vers le Canada" (a few acres of snow in the direction of Canada).[169] In December 1864, Lord Palmerston signalled the importance of the mission to Britain to discuss Confederation by Canadian politician George Brown by inviting him to stay at Broadlands, the prime minister's Hampshire mansion. Palmerston genially invited his guest to take a stroll in the wintry park, jovially adding "You don't mind snow, do you?"[170] A hereditary Whig and an Irish landlord, the Marquess of Lansdowne found himself alienated from the Liberal party by its embrace of agrarian reform. As a way out, he accepted appointment in 1883 as governor-general of Canada. Punch published a cartoon of him wearing furs and snowshoes, "his new Canadian costume, specially adapted to remaining for some time out in the cold".[171] Cumulatively, as Bengough's Canada plaintively complained, the British took delight in clinging to "a prevalent notion / Which does me a grievous wrong / That my climate is almost Arctic / And my winters ten months long."

Yet snow had formed an element in the way some Canadians had attempted to conceptualise their country. English Canadian nationalists – admittedly a small coterie – had tended to base their assessment of national character upon the fact that Canadians were a hardy people – as R.G. Haliburton had put it in a landmark lecture delivered in 1869, their Dominion was "a Northern country inhabited by the descendants of Northern races". This environmental theory handily united the country's two major language communities. It was further buttressed by genealogical studies that traced the origins of the inhabitants of Quebec back to Normandy, which a thousand years earlier had been settled from Scandinavia to produce the Normans who had conquered England. Thus Canada possessed the same ethnic building blocks as England, the ingredients of a similar national identity, but one that would be fused together not by the white heat of battle but through the freezing influence of winter. Inspired by Haliburton, Canadian nationalists "stopped apologizing for their climate and extolled the influence of snow and cold upon their character." By focusing upon the manly qualities of the Canadian winter, "they often buttressed the very mistaken impression concerning that season which their ancestors had sought to dispel."[172]

Hence it becomes all the harder to understand why there should have been such an outcry against Kipling for using an image that the country's intellectuals had themselves projected. One obvious reason was that Canadian nationalists were a relatively rare breed: Canada First, the group that formed around Haliburton, is generally credited with having recruited around a dozen members before it disintegrated in the mid-eighteen-seventies. Much of the Canadian complaint was directed simply against the imbalance of the slur: there were frequent hurt references to the Italian skies of summer.[173] For some, this represented more than a mere question of fair play and meteorological balance. Archibald Lampman, for instance, thought that a distinctive "Canadian race" might emerge from the country's combination of "the pitiless severity of the climate of Sweden with the sunshine and sky of the north of Italy", fusing Scandinavian doggedness with the cheerful spirit of the Mediterranean.[174] However, it is unlikely that many Canadians shared, or were even conscious of, Lampman's speculations, any more than they shaped their collective self-image from the arguments of Haliburton. It is more likely that Bengough voiced widely felt resentment at Kipling's decision to ignore half of the climate that shaped their way of life. "Come over and see, good Rudyard, / My spring, my summer, my fall, / And you'll own that for perfect weather / My specimen 'downs 'em all'."

More to the point was the fact that the snow label came from an Englishman: George Brown's biographer wearily described Palmerston's witticism as "the pleasantry untold numbers of Englishmen have addressed to countless Canadians."[175] The Canadian response formed part of a gradual process of disengagement that asserted a national identity that was distinct to that of the imperial motherland – and in no way inferior. Looking back in 1907 on his childhood in the eighteen-fifties, the Canadian nationalist John S. Ewart recalled that "we always spoke of the British Isles as 'home'. Now we never do."[176] Any failure by the metropolitan British to recognise and respect that identity, however inadvertent it might be, was liable to probe what was still a sense of colonial insecurity. Canada was work in progress. The Dominion needed people and it needed investment. However irksome and inconvenient the demographic and economic dependence might be, it had to look primarily to Britain both for migrants and for cash. The deeper Kipling's rhymester antagonists dived into doggerel, the more obvious was the dancing dollar sign. In what may be hoped to have been his sole contribution to Canadian literature, H.J. Pettypiece dismissed Kipling's vague goodwill to insist that "something more to a business end / In Canada we need. / We want the folks at home to know / That this is a land of wealth; / Not a land of eternal snow, / But a land of beauty and health." The Dominion government would go to considerable lengths to press home that message, notably creating a bonanza for the sparrow population of London's Whitehall by replenishing displays on Canada's 1902 Coronation arch with tons of luxuriant ears of grain.

Just how far Canadians came to forgive Kipling and to love snow would entail a massive enquiry beyond the scope of this study. The Toronto Globe's theory of 1931 that attitudes had been changed by the popularity of winter sports probably only refers to a minority among the prosperous, most of whom faced other challenges that year. It is more likely that a steadily increasing sense of national self-worth reduced sticks-and-stones sensitivity to the title of a poem that was already receding into a past age. Yet fundamental and definitional attitudes seem to have shifted much less than might have been expected. As consumerism and mass media increased the veneer of Americanism, so an increased emphasis might have been expected upon the country's northern identity. This barely occurred. Just as the last decades of the nineteenth century had seen a proliferation of English Canadian poetry, so the first third of the twentieth broke new ground in Canadian painting. Landscapes were the preferred medium of artists like Tom Thomson, who drowned in 1917, and his followers, who loosely linked themselves as the Group of Seven in 1920. In their search for a raw and fundamental Canada, they discovered what they called the "north country" or "north land". But their preferred areas of rugged terrain around Georgian Bay were on the same latitude as Quebec City – on a line some way south of Paris – and barely more than half way from the Equator, which did not form part of Canada, and the Pole, which did. Mostly, they visited from Toronto at the only time of year when their northland was accessible, the summer. In any case, they were interested in movement, colour and texture – trees distended by gales, kaleidoscopic Fall foliage, rocky, rushing rivers. It is striking how rarely Canadian artists depicted snow, even in winter when they were back in the cities. By the late nineteen-twenties, one member of the Group of Seven, Lawren S. Harris, was painting mountains and the occasional iceberg, giant angular cupcakes sprinkled with icing sugar – definitely not a welcoming world.[177]

To say that Canadian governments were slow to embrace the North would be a massive understatement. During the Second World War – and after – the region was of much greater geopolitical significance to Washington than to Ottawa. In wartime, it was the Americans who built the Alaska Highway through British Columbia, and even signed a contract to build an oil pipeline in the Yukon two weeks before the Canadian government indicated its approval. The Visiting Forces Act of 1947 recognised that the United States Army would exercise primary control over its own personnel, although they belatedly became liable to face Canadian courts if they violated local law.[178] There was, perhaps, a brief moment when Canadians might have rebooted themselves as a northern people. Conservative minority prime minister John Diefenbaker fought the 1958 general election with a promise to develop the North and so replicate what Macdonald had achieved by nation-building in the West. Calling it his "Vision", he proclaimed: "I see a new Canada – a Canada of the North". Audiences wept as they were engulfed by what has been called his "charismatic rampage". Key to opening the Arctic regions was Diefenbaker's proposed infrastructure programme, the construction of "roads to resources". His opponent, Pearson, derided it as a project to link "igloo to igloo".[179] Diefenbaker won by a landslide, but little was achieved, either in Northern development or in redefining the Canadian, and especially the English-Canadian, self-image. In his 1971 volume in the Canadian Centennial series, Morris Zaslow effectively created a concept of northern Canadian history. But the first sentence of his book bleakly stated that "Canadians fail to recognize, or often forget, that they are a northern people."[180] During the Trudeau years, it was sometimes objected that the second line of 'O Canada', "our home and native land", slighted the contribution made by immigrants to the creation of modern Canada. Unfortunately, the suggested and highly logical substitution of "northern land" was never made. As a result, Canadians of the twenty-first century carry the embarrassment of a national anthem that seems insensitive to Aboriginal title. 'O Canada' does describe the country as "The True North, strong and free", but perhaps modern English Canadians feel no easier about identifying themselves with snow than they did in 1897.

It has been a different story in Quebec, where, as Kipling's raucous limerick had pointed out, it was impossible to ignore the centrality of the plunging thermometer. Quebec artists, of both language groups, seem to have always been more willing to paint winter scenes, if only because they saw a lot of them. Strikingly, Jean Paul Lemieux linked bleak external snowscapes to concepts of inner solitude and grief: his 'Evening Visitor' of 1956 appears at first to be semi-abstract and triangular, but can be discerned as a heavily wrapped priest in traditional garb. It is a picture that carries with it deeply Catholic images of the last rites and the evening of life, for the priest can only be outdoors at that hour and in that weather if called upon to exercise one of the most sacred rituals of his Church.[181] Lemieux's haunting image is a very long way from Kipling's casual appropriation of Marian imagery. 

Eight years later, Gilles Vigneault transposed Lemieux's Catholic imagery into a song that would prove to be a powerful evocation of Quebec nationalism. "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver... Mon chemin, ce n’est pas un chemin, c’est la neige." My country is not a country, it is winter. My road is not a road, it is snow. Vigneault drew on ambiguities of meaning that do not easily translate, although they can be paralleled in English. Thus "chemin", like the English word "way", can refer to a highway or more figuratively to a path through life. Crucially, "pays", like "country" and even "nation" in English, may or may not imply the possession of sovereignty. Vigneault very definitely implied that only sovereignty, the independence of Quebec, could instill meaning into the void expressed in his words, to escape from a restricted world where his country was "ni pays ni patrie", neither nation-state nor homeland.[182]  On the face of it, Vigneault's song, which made an enormous impact upon the young generation of Quebec separatists, placed winter in apposition to sovereignty, treating it as an alien metaphor.  Yet Quebec separatists soon came to embrace the ideal of a northern country that Haliburton had once prescribed for the whole of Canada. In 1975, the Laval University geographer Louis-Edmond Hamelin published his Nordicité canadienne, a study of the perceptions and the potentials of Canada's North. Hamelin made clear that he had not written a standard regional geography textbook, but rather a thematic evocation of a Canadian North in totality. Hamelin's North stretched from Labrador to the Yukon, including large swathes of Quebec and Ontario, and most of Manitoba—indeed, when including the related concept of the Near North, the entire province. Visually and cartographically, Hamelin shifted the focus of Canada from southern strip to northern vastness. Yet he suggested that "one of the major problems of the North is the South". Could the North succeed in a long-term challenge to "surrender to its southern fringe enough of its identifying elements to create a true Canadianity?" Hamelin's text was translated – four years later – into English, and his neologism acquired an English form, nordicity.[183] Yet the word never struck deep roots in English Canada.

By contrast, Quebec nationalism absorbed winter into its self-definition. It was obvious that an independent Quebec would depend upon its North for mineral wealth and hydro-electric power. Exploitation of resources raised the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples, and their role within a breakaway nation-state. Donald Wright has recently shown how the sovereignist project appealed to climate to postulate a shared and searing experience that would unite First Nations and Inuit with the Francophone South. "We know the winter in our souls," announced the preamble to Bill 1 of 1995, the blueprint for the independence referendum of that year. "We know what it is to be bitten by the winter cold."[184] While the Quiet Revolution of the nineteen-sixties had converted the province into a secular society, habits of thought from its  Catholic heritage may still be discerned, notably a defensively corporatist attitude to society as a whole. It would not be entirely fanciful for a twenty-first century poet to picture modern Quebec in terms of womanhood and winter. However, it was the English-Canadian writer Morley Callaghan who revived Rudyard Kipling's controversial title in 1985. His Our Lady of the Snows dealt with prostitution in Toronto.

Kipling's poem was based on a misunderstanding of the political and economic significance of Fielding's 1897 tariff, incomprehension which rendered his literary alliance with Canada's Liberal party shallow and ephemeral. In 1897, and for the first third of the twentieth century, Canadians resented his association of their country with snow. For most of them, its redeeming feature was it daughter / mother image, which brilliantly captured an awkward – and arguably transient – stage of the Canada-Britain relationship. Unfortunately, the metaphor proved difficult to adjust as the country continued to evolve towards full independence, perhaps in part because it struck steadily fewer chords in a society dominated by the nuclear family. In the middle third of the twentieth century, it was appealed to with less frequency and steadily greater convolution. Over the past half century, 'Our Lady of the Snows' has dropped into the background of the Canadian collective consciousness. Nonetheless, while central heating and underground malls enable them to live in denial of their northern heritage and its chilled climate, perhaps Canadians have yet to resolve the fundamental ambiguity of their relationship with snow.

APPENDIX

Kipling, 'Our Lady of the Snows'

A Nation spoke to a Nation,

A Queen sent word to a Throne:

"Daughter am I in my mother's house,

But mistress in my own.

The gates are mine to open,

As the gates are mine to close,

And I set my house in order,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

 

"Neither with laughter nor weeping,

Fear or the child's amaze—

Soberly under the White Man's law

 My white men go their ways.

Not for the Gentiles' clamour—

 Insult or threat of blows—

Bow we the knee to Baal,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

 

"My speech is clean and single,

I talk of common things—

Words of the wharf and the market-place

And the ware the merchant brings:

Favour to those I favour,

But a stumbling-block to my foes.

Many there be that hate us,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

 

"I called my chiefs to council

 In the din of a troubled year;

For the sake of a sign ye would not see,

And a word ye would not hear.

This is our message and answer;

This is the path we chose:

For we be also a people,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

 

"Carry the word to my sisters –

To the Queens of the East and the South.

I have proven faith in the Heritage

By more than the word of the mouth.

They that are wise may follow

Ere the world's war-trumpet blows,

But I – I am first in the battle,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

 

A Nation spoke to a Nation

A Throne sent word to a Throne:

"Daughter am I in my mother's house

But mistress in my own.

The gates are mine to open,

As the gates are mine to close,

And I abide by my Mother's House,"

Said our Lady of the Snows.

Arthur Weir, Montreal Star, read into Hansard by N.F. Davin, 30 April 1897, 1546-7:

https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/780?r=0&s=1

A poet sung of a nation

In words that were kindly meant,

And his song on ethereal pulses,

Throughout the Empire went.

It breathed the Imperial spirit

At which the bosom glows,

But he slurred the land which he fain had praised,

As 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

She has lands unknown to summer,

But she keeps them for a park

For such as find little Europe

Too small for ambition's mark.

She keeps them to pleasure Nansen,

For Franklin to repose,

But they lie remote from the marts and home

Of 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

True, she has somewhere, sometime

Winters when keen winds bite,

And in the frosty heavens

When in the drifted forest,

She counts the ringing blows

Of the axe that reaps a harvest

For 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

But while the sturdy Briton

Still shivers in east winds,

The winter flees, and the rivers

No more the ice king binds,

And blossom calls unto blossom

And each its fair form shows

In the land that is called by Kipling

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

She has woods of pine and maple,

Where England might be lost;

She has ports that are ever open

To ships that are tempest tossed;

She has fields of wheat unbounded,

Where the whole horizon glows,

And the hot sun laughs to hear her styled

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

She has vineyards hanging heavy

With clustering purple and white,

And the velvet peach in its swaying nest

Fills the gardener with delight.

She can pluck, if she will, at Yuletide

In the balmy air, the rose.

And her people smile when they hear her called

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

The wire that brought the message

On lightning under the sea

Has been too short to bear it

To her furthest boundary.

Not by a heedless phrasing

Of catchword, verse or prose

Can the truth be told of the vast domain of

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

J.W. Bengough, 'Canada to Kipling', Globe, 1 May 1897

Hail to thee, poet Kipling,

My love to you over the sea,

With thanks for the gallant verse

You've lately inscribed to me.

As your praise is in fervent English

The flame to my cheeks arose,

And my bosom heaved – tho' you call me

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

The title is pretty, I grant you,

And I know that you meant to be kind,

But I wish you could hit on another,

Less risky, if you don't mind.

Of course, as implying my "whiteness",

I modestly whisper, "It goes",

But I fear few will give that meaning

To 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

You see, there's a prevalent notion –

Which does me a grievous wrong –

That my climate is almost Arctic,

And my winters ten months long.

Perhaps that is your idea,

For it's widespread, goodness knows?

And this phrase will make it more so –

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

Now the fact, dear Mr Kipling,

As I'm sure you'll be glad to hear,

Is that my climate is peerless

Throughout the circling years.

I've snow, of course, in season,

And a blizzard sometimes blows,

But you might as well call England

'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

Come over and see, good Rudyard,

My spring, my summer, my fall,

And you'll own that for perfect weather

My specimen "downs 'em all".

I will treat you to air that's nectar,

And a sky that no other land shows:

Then, after seven months of sunshine,

Call me "Lady of the Snows".

 

No: I've just enough of winter

To give a glow to my cheek;

Call me "Queen of the Northern Maples",

If it's a fancy title you seek.

But give me a name less chilly,

For one in whose bosom glows

A warm, deep love for the empire,

Than 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

H.J.P [H.J. Pettypiece], "Canada's Reply to Kipling", Globe, 5 May 1897

We know that Kipling means us well,

And we appreciate his meed,

But something more to a business end

In Canada we need.

We want the folks at home to know

That this is a land of wealth;

Not a land of eternal snow,

But a land of beauty and health.

 

Our Queen reigns over a sixth of the earth,

And half that sixth is here,

Owning the sign of the Maple Leaf

And holding the old flag most dear.

With room for a mightier Britain

Than the Britain we know to-day,

With ample plenty to keep them all

In the most luxurious way.

 

A thousand leagues from east to west,

Nearly as many from lakes to pole,

The sunny as well as the frigid zone

'Round which three oceans roll.

Of course we have abundance of snow,

But we have something beside;

A climate that breeds the sort of men

That build up nations strong and wide.

 

Mountains and streams on a grander scale

Than those of the Mother Land;

Rugged and stern as those that guard

The homes of Scotia's strand,

Millions of acres as rich as those

That 'round the homes of England smile,

A million meadows greener far

Than those of the Emerald Isle.

 

Forests grand, unmeasured as yet,

Because of their broad expanse,

Where flowers bloom as bright and fair

As in the vales of France,

And everywhere in this wide domain

Are mines of wealth untold,

The miner is sure of a rich reward,

In iron and silver and gold.

 

When Kipling writes of us again

We ask for a summer song,

Glowing with all the lovely tints

That to our land belong.

Letting the people abroad all know

That this a land of wealth,

Not a land of eternal snow,

But a land o' beauty and health.

Westminster Budget, quoted Melbourne Age, 12 June 1897:

A Parliament spoke to a Poet

A Nation sent word to a Bard:

Greatest of poems though yours may be,

Your last was a trifle hard,

It was all very complimentary,

But goodness only knows,

How we just hate being referred to

As 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

We are proud of the flag above us,

Of the Union Jack unfurled,

But we're prouder still of our climate,

The finest in all the world.

We have vineyards, forests, cornfields,

Mines, rivers. So it shows

A want of perspective to

Say 'Our Lady of the Snows'.

 

A Premier spoke in Parliament,

A Laurier spoke to a House,

"Less poetry, more business" is

Our motto, if we've nous

Debates are mine to open,

As debates are mine to close,

So we'll talk no longer, if you please,

Of 'Our Lady of the Snows'      AND THEY DIDN'T

[Anon.] 'Our Lady of the Rains', Calgary Weekly Herald, 24 June 1897

A nation spoke to a nation,

A queen sent word to a throne,

"It's pretty damp in mamma's house,

But it's damper in my own;

My climate's getting awful,

And if Mr Kipling deigns,

He in future will adress [sic] me

As "Our Lady of the Rains".

 

"The skies have been weep, weep, weeping,

Weeping for many days;

Gloomily through the deepening mud

My white men go their ways;

Not to Gentile's clamor,

But to chilblains, coughs and cramps

Do my people knuckle under,"

Said "Our Lady of the Damps".

 

"My speech is clear and single,

I talk of common things,

Words of the dripping eavetroughs,

And the colds the downpour brings,

I feel a bit dishevelled,

For I wear my oldest duds,

And I'm mocked of my own people,"

Said "Our Lady of the Muds."

 

"I called my Chiefs to council,

(And they all arrived soaked through)

But when it's a matter of weather,

Well – what can my chiefs do?

The path we tread is a damp one,

And we tread it with regrets,

In a week we'll be web footed,"

Said "Our Lady of the Wets",

 

"Carry the word to my sisters,

To the queen of the East and the South,

Tell them I'd like to trade them

Some of my rains for their drouth [sic].

I was much too rough on Rudyard,

For when the wet wind blows.

I'd like once more to figure,

As "A Lady of the Snows".

 

A nation spoke to a nation,

A queen sent word to a throne,

"It's pretty damp in mamma's house,

But it's damper in my own;

I'd no idea that springtime

Was a time for aches and pains,

But this weather's really beastly,"

Said "Our Lady of the Rains."

Nicholas Flood Davin, 'The Canadian Year' (extract) from N.F. Davin, Eos : an epic of the dawn and other poems (Regina, 1889), 71-2.

Through wintery weeks, the sun above

Oceaned in blue, the frost below;

Through blustry hours, when fiercely drove

Winds razor-armed the drifting snow,

And peeled the face and pinched the ear.

And hurled the avalanche of fear

From roof-tops on the mufflered crowd;

The air one blinding cloud;

Through many a brisk and bracing day,

The sky wide summer as in June,

The joyous sleighbells ringing tune

More blithe than aught musicians play;

The pure snow gleaming white;

Men's eyes fulfilled of finer light,

Of finer tints the women’s hair;

Their cheeks aglow, and full and pink;

The skaters sweeping through the rink,

Like swallows through the air....

Kipling's limerick, Hobart Mercury, 8 December 1897, implausibly included in B. Carman, ed., The World's Best Poetry, Vol. i (New York, 1903), 201.:

There was once a small boy of Quebec,

Who was buried in snow to the neck,

When asked, "Are you friz?"

He replied, "Yes, I is,

But we don't call this cold in Quebec."

Lines by Kipling on the cenotaph at Sault Ste Marie, Victoria Daily Colonist, 25 June 1924:

From little towns, in a far land, we came,

To save our honour and a world aflame;

By little towns, in a far land, we sleep,

And trust those things we won to you to keep.

Lines by Kipling for Royal Canadian Legion War Memorial at Sudbury, Ontario, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems:

We giving all gained all.

Neither lament us nor praise.

Only in all things recall,

It is Fear, not Death that slays.

ENDNOTES Websites were consulted during October 2020

[1] This essay has evolved in parallel and should be read in conjunction with David Alan Richards, "Revisiting 'Our Lady of the Snows'", which it is hoped will be published during 2021.  A distinguished alumnus of Yale and of Selwyn College Cambridge, Mr Richards is an authority on Kipling, and compiler of Rudyard Kipling: a Bibliography (New Castle, Delaware and London, 2010). Between 1999 and 2017, he presented the important David Alan Richards Collection of Rudyard Kipling to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. I am glad to acknowledge his help and encouragement in a friendship that began at Cambridge 52 years ago.

[2] The Canada Year Book 1905 (Ottawa, 1906), 192, 194.

[3] The inconsistencies of the case for the National Policy were deliciously dissected in J.H. Dales, The Protective Tariff in Canada's Development (Toronto, 1966), 143-54.

[4] C. Cumming, Sketches from a Young Country... (Toronto, 1997), 179-80.

[5] H.E. Egerton and W.L. Grant, eds., Canadian Constitutional Development … (London, 1907), 348-51.

[6] Galt to Macdonald, 22 May 1891, in P.B. Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny (Toronto, 1971), 238-9. Galt was writing on board ship, off the coast of County Cork. His letter arrived after Macdonald's death two weeks later.

[7] Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny, 78-9 ("Everyone has heard the story..")

[8] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 7 March 1876, 491, 498-9: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0303_03/539?r=0&s=1.

[9] G. Smith, Canada and the Canadian Question (ed. C. Berger, Toronto, 1971, cf. 1st ed. 1891), 223.

[10] The Canada Year Book 1905, 156.

[11] R. Cartwright, Reminiscences (Toronto, 1912), 281. The Canadian nationalist John S. Ewart asked in 1905: "is there any Canadian who would not gladly welcome a renewal of our reciprocity treaty which existed with the United States between the years 1855 and 1866?" As it happened, when such a treaty was negotiated in 1911, it transpired that powerful interests in Canada were hostile. J.S. Ewart, The Kingdom of Canada... (Toronto, 1908), 144.

[12] Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny, 22-4.

[13] D.C. Masters, The Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Toronto, 1963 ed., cf. 1st ed. London, 1937), 104-6.

[14] J.M. Beck, Pendulum of Power... (Scarborough, Ont., 1968), 60.

[15] Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny, 22.

[16] D.G. Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain (Toronto, 1955), 490, 497.

[17] P.B. Waite, The Man from Halifax... (Toronto, 1985), 214.

[18] A. Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan (London, 2000 ed., cf. 1st ed., 1999), 615-17, 632; A. Lycett, Rudyard Kipling (London, 2000 ed.), 381.

[19] R.C. Brown and R. Cook, Canada 1896-1921: a Nation Transformed (Toronto, 1974), 33-8.

[20] For the likely loss of revenue under the proposed 1875 Treaty, D.C. Thomson, Alexander Mackenzie: Clear Grit (Toronto, 1960), 206. In 1891, Goldwin Smith estimated the loss of customs revenue from continental free trade at $7 million annually, which he suggested might be partly covered "by economy in subsidies to the Provinces", overlooking the inconvenient fact that these were guaranteed by the country's constitution, the British North America Act.  Looking back in 1912, Cartwright had insisted that Canadian consumers would have gained between $20 and $30 million annually, and so could easily have afforded to pay alternative taxes. This would have implied that taxation would have taken between one third and one quarter of the additional prosperity, which would have pointed to excise rates that would surely have been unpopular, and would have borne heavily upon influential Canadian interests, e.g. brewers and distillers. For the administrative difficulties of resorting to income tax, see https://www.gedmartin.net/martinalia-mainmenu-3/311-income-tax-in-canada-before-1917.  Smith, Canada and the Canadian Question, 235; Cartwright, Reminiscences, 280-1. 

[21] J.  Schull, Laurier... (Toronto, 1966), 269; Waite, Canada 1874-1896, 240.

[22] Beck, Pendulum of Power, 72.

[23] P.T. Marsh, Joseph Chamberlain: Entrepreneur in Politics (New Haven and London, 1994), 422-23. For Chamberlain's 1896 visit to the United States, see Victoria Daily Colonist, 6 September 1896. When Cartwright's approach became public knowledge, he stated that their discussions had been "pleasant" but refused to give details. Victoria Daily Colonist, 29 September 1896.

[24] T.H. Ferns and R. C. Brown, "Charlton, John," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/charlton_john_13E.html.

[25] C. Morgan and R.C. Brown, "Cartwright, Sir Richard John," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/cartwright_richard_john_14E.html.

[26] C. Miller, "Fielding, William Stevens," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/fielding_william_stevens_15E.html.

[27] Victoria [British Columbia] Daily Colonist, 14 April 1897.

[28] Brown and Cook, Canada 1896-1921, 20-1; Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 22 April 1897, 1129-30: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/572?r=0&s=1. I have been unable to consult the authority cited by Brown and Cook, O.J. McDiarmid, Commercial Policy in the Canadian Economy (Cambridge, Mass, 1946).

[29] The Canada Year Book 1905 (Ottawa, 1906), 157.

[30] In 1882, duties on textiles accounted for one quarter of customs receipts: https://www.gedmartin.net/martinalia-mainmenu-3/312-indian-affairs-1882-budget.

[31] E.R. Forbes and D.A. Muise, eds, The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation (Toronto, 1993), 127-9 (essay by L. McCann); T.W. Acheson, "The National Policy and the Industrialization of the Maritimes, 1880-1910", Acadiensis, I (1972).

[32] Canadian Sessional Papers, 8th Parliament, 5th Session, vol. 6 (1900), 6- 506, 6-508-12, 6-82-4, 6-142: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_08052_34_5/761?r=0&s=1.  As a random example of advertising, see the Fredericton Evening Capital, 3 January 1884, which featured John McDonald's British House, and T.G. O'Connor, importer of British and Foreign Woollen Manufactures, listing Scotch and Cheviot Tweeds and West of England "Cassimeres" (presumably Cashmeres) and Doeskins. 

[33] R. Bélanger, "Laurier, Sir Wilfrid (baptized Henry-Charles-Wilfrid)," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14:  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/laurier_wilfrid_14E.html.

[34] The Times, 26 April 1897.

[35] Globe (Toronto), 28 April 1897. British officialdom did not share the public welcome for the Canadian gesture. Britain had trade treaties with Belgium and Germany which not only contained 'most favoured nation' clauses, but required British colonies to extend tariff privileges to the signatories. In the sharp controversy that followed, Ottawa reasserted its right to sole control over trade policy, explicitly citing the Duke of Newcastle's retreat in 1859. In the event, the United Kingdom withdrew from both treaties in July 1897. Given Britain's isolation in the aftermath of the 1896 Jameson Raid, this move was inconveniently timed. Had the Colonial Office operated in poetry, it might have queried who was mistress in whose house. R.A. Shields, "Imperial Reaction to the Fielding Tariff of 1897", Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, xxxi (1965), 524-37; A.H. Oakes and R.B. Mowat, eds, The Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 1918) 8-9. I am grateful to Dr Barbara J. Messamore for this reference.

[36] Globe, 28 April 1897.

[37] Toronto Star, 29 April 1897. According to Gowers, who was then on holiday in Torquay, Kipling originally "did not intend to publish [Our Lady of the Snows] for a week or two, but friends urged the immediate publication and he sent them over to The Times." Kipling recited the lines to Gowers while they were sitting in a garden looking out over the English Channel on the morning of Monday 26 April 1897.  Gowers urged him to publish them, to which Kipling replied, "I will come to your rooms, then, and write them out." This explains why the version identified by Mitchell as Text A (in Dalhousie University Library, Halifax) bears the address 7 Beacon Terrace, Torquay. (Kipling Journal, lxxii (1998), 12-22) Beacon Terrace, a row of handsome Regency houses dating from 1833, stands near the town centre, about a mile from Kipling's temporary home. In 2019, a manuscript copy of 'Our Lady of the Snows' was offered for auction. It was reported to have been a gift from Kipling to William Saul, a friend recalled in his family as a schoolteacher. Saul has not been positively identified. He may have been one of the "friends" whose encouragement Gowers mentioned.  It is likely that Kipling did not need much persuading to release his verse.  Gowers is probably also the source of the tradition that the poem was recited at "a meeting of, I think, the Imperial League". On 28 April, the British Empire League held its annual meeting in Ottawa. A motion welcoming Fielding's tariff concession was proposed by Senator Charles Boulton, a maverick Conservative with links to a farmers' protest movement called, confusingly, the Patrons of Industry. Boulton came from an elite background, formerly known in Ontario as the Family Compact. He may well have recited Kipling's verse, but the reports in both the Globe and the Montreal Gazette (29 April 1897) simply note that he was persuaded to withdraw his motion to avoid party dissention. There was no reason for the poem to be telegraphed across the Atlantic especially for this meeting, since it had appeared in the Globe that day. Gowers may have confused the reception of 'Our Lady of the Snows' in 1897 with a subsequent poem, 'The Song of the White Man', which was written for a dinner in Canada in 1900. Notes and Queries, 16 April 1904, 311, briefly reported in Montreal Gazette, 16 April 1904; G.F. Monkshood, The Less Familiar Kipling And Kiplingana [sic] (New York, 1917), 82.

[38] T.G. Boreskie, "Richardson, Robert Lorne," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/richardson_robert_lorne_15E.html. Richardson would prove to be a maverick politician.  He later published two novels about Canadian pioneer life, neither of which mentioned Kipling. In 1919, he briefly quoted Kipling's lines in parliament, recalling with some sense of nostalgia the impact they had made 22 years earlier. It seems clear that the world had moved on. Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 18 June 1919, 3654: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1302_04/465?r=0&s=1.

[39] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 28 April 1897, 1428: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/721?r=0&s=1; Globe, 29 April 1897.

[40] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 30 April 1897, 1546-50: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/780?r=0&s=1; J.H. Thompson, "Davin, Nicholas Flood," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/davin_nicholas_flood_13E.html.

[41] For the definitive version of the poem, based on various versions mainly in Kipling's own handwriting, see James L. Mitchell, "A Critical Edition of Kipling's 'Our Lady of the Snows'," Kipling Journal, lxxii (1998), 12-22. See also the Kipling Society website: http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_ladysnows.htm and Appendix.

[42] A. Trollope, North America (New York, 1862), 84-5. For a discussion of family imagery in relation to colonial relations, see R. Hyam and G. Martin, Reappraisals in British Imperial History (London, 1975), 101-6.

[43] J.W. Bengough, A Caricature History of Canadian Politics (Toronto, 1974, ed. D. Fetherling, cf. 1st ed. , Toronto, 1886), 27, 239; Cumming, Sketches from a Young Country, 71, 187; Punch, 8 May 1897, 219. Sambourn's cartoon carried a caption from The Times of 26 April.

[44] Toronto Star, 29 April 1897.

[45] Victoria Daily Colonist. 5 May 1897.

[46] Smith, Canada and the Canadian Question, 232-3.

[47] J. Sadlier, ed., The Poems of Thomas D'Arcy McGee (New York, 1869), 393-8; D.A. Wilson, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, ii: The Extreme Moderate 1857-1868 (Montreal and Kingston, 2011), 27. Several Canadian newspapers reprinted McGee's poem, alongside Kipling's alleged borrowing, e.g. Victoria Daily Colonist, 13 May 1897.

[48] There was in fact a small change between the first and last verses.

[49] Lord Birkenhead, Rudyard Kipling (New York, 1978), 149.

[50] In his autobiography, Something of Myself (London, 1937), ch. 5, Kipling pointed out that the 1892 journey, a honeymoon trip, was to "Canada deep in snow":https://archive.org/details/SomethingOfMyself/page/n35/mode/2up?q=canada.

[51]  The Catholic Register was quoted by Caron in Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 30 April 1897, 1550:    https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/782?r=0&s=1; S. Bernier and P. Dumont-Bayliss, "Caron, Sir Adolphe-Philippe," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/caron_adolphe_philippe_13E.html.

[52] Notes and Queries, 16 April 1904, 311, widely reported in the Canadian press, e.g. Montreal Gazette, 16 April 1904.

[53] Birkenhead, Rudyard Kipling, 112; Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 270; Kipling, Something of Myself, ch. 1.

[54] Pinney, ed., The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ii: 1890-1899, 258 (1 October 1896). Kipling did not find Torquay inspirational. "The town is smugly British – so that I want to dance naked through it with pink feathers in my stern." Pinney, ed., The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ii: 1890-1899, 263 (8 October 1896). The statement by Gowers, that the poem was composed during a Sunday morning cycle ride, might also prompt the speculation that he had seen the Catholic church on his spin. Kipling's involvement with cycling was short-lived. He and his wife rode the lanes of Devon on a tandem, the "devil's toast rack", each believing that the other enjoyed the experience. A crash helped them confront "our common loathing of wheels". Kipling, Something of Myself, ch. 5: https://archive.org/details/SomethingOfMyself/page/n43/mode/2up?q=torquay.

[55] http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_ladysnows1.htm; J. L. Mitchell, Kipling Journal, lxxii (1998), 14.

[56] La Minerve, 1 May 1897.

[57] Kerry Evening Post, 19 May 1897.

[58] Canada's literary figures were not necessarily anti-American. In his 1897 Jubilee ode that pledged devoted fealty to Queen Victoria, the poet Wilfred Campbell insisted: "Not that we hate our brothers to the south, / They are our fellows in the speech of mouth". Quoted, R.G. Moyles and D.Owram, Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities... (Toronto, 1988), 16.

[59] D.M.R. Bentley, "Post-Confederation Poetry" in C.A. Howells and E-M. Kroller, eds., The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature (Cambridge, 2009), 127-43. Roberts was inspired by New Brunswick's Tantramar Marshes, which were also celebrated by a later Canadian poet, Douglas Lochhead, in High Marsh Road (1980). Mr Richards informs me that Kipling congratulated Charles G.D. Roberts on the conferral of his knighthood in 1935. 

[60] H.J Morgan, The Canadian men and women of the time: a handbook of Canadian biography (Toronto, 1898),  1068;  https://allpoetry.com/Arthur-Weir; Victoria Daily Colonist, 2 December 1902. Weir is not discussed either in C.F. Klinck / W.H.New, Literary History of Canada, or in The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature.

[61] A. Weir, The Snowflake and Other Poems (Montreal, 1897), 34-5. Weir's formulation presumably echoed Tennyson's welcome to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863 as "Sea-king's daughter from over the sea". In 'Our Lady of the Snows', Kipling praised Canadians for refusing to bow the knee to Baal. Both poems used the word "heritage". Given the publication history of Weir's dedicatory ode, these parallels were probably accidental, although they probably did not increase the Montreal poet's goodwill towards the interloper.

[62] In his 'Snowshoeing Song', Weir depicted a party of men uttering a strange cry while making an unexplained but urgent descent upon a country tavern at nighttime:

Hilloo, hilloo, hilloo, hilloo!

Gather, gather ye men in white;

The winds blow keenly, the moon is bright,

The sparkling snow lies firm and white :

Tie on the shoes, no time to lose,

We must be over the hill to-night.

W.D. Lighthall, ed., Songs of the Great Dominion (London, 1889), 195-6.

[63]  J. H. Thompson, "Davin, Nicholas Flood," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13; N.F. Davin, Eos: an epic of the dawn and other poems (Regina, 1889),v-vi, 71-3, and see extract in Appendix. While accepting that Davin's poetry was "neither original nor profound", Davin's biographer defends his writing: C.B. Koester, Mr Davin M.P.... (Saskatoon, 1980), 177. For Kate Simpson Hayes, see the Canada's Early Women Writers website: https://cwrc.ca/islandora/object/ceww%3A1215dc0b-979a-491e-93f7-8a27d5d6e5f1.  She published Prairie Pot-Pourri in 1895, under the name Mary Markwell. Snow did not form a large element in her verse, but see: "The snow comes like some fairy / ... 'Tis winter on the prairie." (59)

[64] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 30 April 1897, 1546-50: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0802_01/780?r=0&s=1.

[65] R. Cook, "Bengough, John Wilson," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bengough_john_wilson_15E.html.

[66] Globe, 1 May 1897.

[67] In more recent times, Bengough's reply has been noted by Elizabeth A. Galway,From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood: Children's Literature and the Construction of Canadian Identity (New York, 2008), 148-9 and by H. Snell, "Five Children's Texts and a Critique of Canadian Identity", Jeunesse: Young People Texts Cultures, ii (2010), 154-170.

[68] Globe, 5 May 1897. The author, "H.J.P.", from the small Ontario town of Forest, was presumably H.J. Pettypiece, who (no doubt fortunately) had a day job there as a printer and newspaper publisher. He was later an Ontario Liberal MLA.

[69] Toronto Star, 29 April 1897. The Star's verdict was echoed in 1941 by T.S. Eliot, who selected 'Our Lady of the Snows' for his Kipling anthology, but classed it among a group of poems that were "excellent of their kind, though not very memorable individually." T.S. Eliot, A Choice Of Kipling’s Verse (London, 1963 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1941), 16.

[70] Victoria Daily Colonist, 5 May 1897.

[71] Moose Jaw Herald Times, 14 May 1897.

[72] Victoria Daily Colonist, 12 May 1897. But it reprinted Our Lady of the Snows" without comment on 6 March 1898.

[73] Calgary Herald, 24 June 1897.

[74] J. English, Shadow of Heaven: The Life of Lester Pearson, i: 1897-1948 (London, 1990, cf. first ed. 1989), 1-2.

[75] Belfast Newsletter, 26 May, and see also Manchester Guardian, 17 May 1897.

[76] Cardigan Observer, 22 May 1897.

[77] Pinney, ed., The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ii: 1890-1899, 309 (15 August 1897), quoted, http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_ladysnows1.htm. The comment was made in a letter to a correspondent, George F. Bearns, who described himself as  a Newfoundlander and criticised the omission of any allusion to his colony in another poem, "The Song of the Cities". Kipling mildly pointed to the constraints of word limits, pleading that when he made a specific comment, he became open to attack. The exchange later became public. Red Deer News [Alberta], 25 September 1907.

[78] Melbourne Age, 12 June 1897.

[79] The story was copied by Australian newspapers, e.g. Hobart Mercury, 8 December 1897. The limerick was a favourite of Princess Patricia, daughter of the Duke of Connaught (governor-general, 1911-16). G. Aston, His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn ... (London, 1929), 283. A Canadian regiment raised in 1914 was named in her honour. I am unable to trace the origin of the tradition that Kipling wrote the lines while teaching English at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec for a short period in 1896, as stated in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudyard_Kipling, consulted 11 November 2020. 

[80] Victoria Daily Colonist, 26 April 1899.

[81] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 5 April 1898, 3161: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0803_01/1588?r=0&s=1.

[82] The 16-page story was published by George Morang, Toronto in 1898. Lady Aberdeen later edited the proceedings of an international women's conference that toured Canada in 1909: Our Lady of the Sunshine and her International Visitors (Toronto, 1910). The volume contained no mention of Kipling.

[83] M.F. Mansfield and A. Wessels, Kiplingiana … (New York, [1899]), 124-5.

[84] This was reported by a E.E. Williams, Welsh journalist travelling across Canada: Coolgardie  Miner (Western Australia), 15 February 1898.

[85] Irish Times, 12 July 1902. The arch was described in the Globe, 12 July, 4 August 1902.

[86] Globe, 22 August 1902.

[87] Globe, 4 July 1904.

[88] The ebullient Earl Grey, governor-general of Canada from 1904 to 1911, evidently liked the phrase. He made it a theme of his January 1908 address to the Women's Canadian Club of Montreal, whom he advised to be "most grateful to the Lady of the Snows ... because she invests your people with the strenuous qualities of a royal race, and diminishes the effeminacy whose one idea of existence is luxurious indolence." Presumably this confused appeal to gender meant that the Canadian winter is bracing. He also gently criticised Montrealers for cancelling  their winter carnivals "for fear that some people on the other side of the Atlantic may be prevented from coming here, because they do not wish to  make the acquaintance of the Lady of the Snows." He also used the phrase in private correspondence. Attending a conference of geologists, he became aware of a standard Canadian joke, that the country's first (involuntary) gift to the United States had been its soil, bulldozed south during the Ice Ages: "her land and her iron ore and her diamonds have all been transported on the stately chariot of a glacial drift from out of the lap of our beloved Lady of the Snows to the States of New England and the valley of the Mississippi". It will be noted that Grey emended Kipling's phrase to reduce its Catholic overtones.  Addresses to His Excellency Earl Grey ... Governor General of Canada and His Speeches in Reply ... (Toronto, 1908), 176; Return Passage: the Autobiography of Violet Markham... (Oxford, 1953), 79.

[89] Globe, 21 September, 3 October 1907.  I have removed capital letters from the headline.

[90] Kipling's Winnipeg joke does not seem to have been reported. He published it in R. Kipling, A Book of Words (London, 1928), reproduced on the Kipling Society website: http://www.telelib.com/words/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/BookOfWords/growthresponsibility.html. A group of journalists spent an hour with Kipling during his visit to Winnipeg, and "found the interesting little man a most delightful companion". He explained why he could not set a story in Canada: "The man who writes a story of Canada must be a part of the country and know it well; bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh. ... you must grow your own men to do it." Both Kipling and his wife were impressed with the growth of Winnipeg since their previous visit fifteen years earlier. "Why, we might be staying in Paris now," she remarked. Edmonton Bulletin, 7 October 1907. Kipling's assumption, common at the time, that only "men" could write stories was undercut by his own memory of the influence upon his childhood of the writings of Juliana Horatia Ewing, who had lived for a time in Fredericton, New Brunswick: D. Pacey with additions by J. St. John, "Gatty, Juliana Horatia," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gatty_juliana_horatia_11E.html.

[91] Edmonton Bulletin, 21 October 1907.

[92]  Van Horne, who had similarly arranged special transport for the Kiplings during their 1892 visit, recorded that his visitor had "improved very much since we met before". He had become "more human & sociable. He is really interesting & knows a lot about everything." V. Knowles, From Telegrapher to Titan: the Life of William C. Van Horne (Toronto, 2004), 315-16. Kipling likened the private railway car to a "magic carpet". R. Kipling, Letters of Travel (London, 1920), 138.

[93] Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 511-14; Kipling, Letters of Travel, 121 (newspaper article of 1908). Kipling was perhaps thinking of a postage stamp, issued for Christmas 1898, which placed Canada at the centre of a global map of the empire, with Australia to the west, Britain, Africa and India to the east. Mercator's projection exaggerated the size of the Dominion, while the legend, "We hold a vaster empire than has been", implicitly asserted Canadian ownership. See B. Davies, "'We Hold A Vaster Empire Than Has Been'": Canadian Literature and the Canadian Empire", Studies in Canadian Literature, xiv, 1989. D. Gilmour, The Long Recessional: the Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling (3rd ed., London, 2019), 183, points out that Kipling adopted confusing imagery in 'The Young Queen', which saluted the federation of the Australian colonies in 1900. Indeed, in just two lines, Australia managed to appear as sister, daughter and grandchild: "Daughter no more but Sister, and doubly Daughter so / ... and child of the child I bore". (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_youngqueen.htm)

[94] Globe, 3, 10 October; Victoria Daily Colonist, 4 October 1907. For a recent discussion of Kipling's 1907 visit, J.I. Little, "Our Lady of the Snows: Rudyard Kipling's Imperialist Vision of Canada", Fashioning the Canadian Landscape: Essays on Travel Writing, Tourism, and National Identity in the Pre-Automobile Era (Toronto, 2018), 261-88. Kipling looked back on the visit in 1933 in a speech to a delegation of visiting Canadians. "Through three amazing weeks it was given to me to be shown things and listen to prophecies which, within the next ten years, fell short of the facts." Victoria Daily Colonist, 13 July 1933.

[95] Victoria Daily Colonist, 18 October 1907. For a lively account of Kipling's association with British Columbia, see: http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_kipling.htm.

[96] Globe, 17, 19 October 1907.

[97] P. Dutil and D. MacKenzie, Canada 1911  ... (Toronto, 2011), 88-9.

[98] Dutil and MacKenzie, Canada 1911, 211-12; Globe, 15 September 1911. For an example of a full-page advertisement featuring Kipling's message, see Victoria Daily Colonist, 20 September 1911. Reflecting the angry mood of the time, a Montreal newspaper claimed that Kipling's attack of pneumonia in 1899 had been triggered by a cold caught waiting for customs inspection in New York, and this had affected his judgement on United States tariff issues. Since Kipling's daughter Josephine had died of the illness, this was singularly unfeeling. L.E. Ellis, Reciprocity 1911... (New Haven, Conn., 1939), 182.

[99] Library and Archives Canada, Mackenzie King diary, 17 January 1936: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/politics-government/prime-ministers/william-lyon-mackenzie-king/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=16813&. The Toronto Globe had recently (2 January 1936) published an affectionate leading article marking Kipling's 70th birthday, but with no reference to the controversial poem.

[100] Quoted by a New Zealand newspaper, the Wairarapa Daily Times, 16 June 1897.

[101] The London Daily Chronicle interview was published in the Warragul Guardian (Victoria, Australia), 30 July 1897. Australian and New Zealand newspapers often republished material from Britain, the originals of which may not be now easily retrieved: https://www.gedmartin.net/martinalia-mainmenu-3/316-australian-new-zealand-and-canadian-newspapers-as-resources-for-research-in-modern-british-history.

[102] I have not traced the speech in the British press, but it was reported extensively in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, 11 August 1897. The banquet was held at London's Hotel Cecil. Dominion Day, 1 July, was renamed Canada Day in 1982.

[103] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 5 February 1900, 72: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0805_01/47?r=0&s=1.

[104] Globe, 22 October 1907. Kipling had no illusions about Canada's prime minister. "Laurier is charming but he is not British in anything and cares nothing for British interests outside the Dominion," he wrote in 1907. C. Carrington, Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Work (London, 1955), 397. 

[105] J.H. Rose et al., The Cambridge History of the British Empire, vi: Canada and Newfoundland (Cambridge, 1930),     515.

[106]  Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 3 February 1910, 2954: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1102_02/499?r=0&s=1.  M. Thornton, Churchill, Borden and Anglo-Canadian Naval Relations, 1911–14 (Basingstoke, 2013), 1-2 refers to the use of Kipling's daughter / mother image, by both Laurier and the Conservative leader Robert Borden.

[107] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 21 February 1910, 3970: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1102_02/1007?r=0&s=1.

[108] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 15 February 1910, 3660: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1102_02/852?r=0&s=2.

[109] Victoria Daily Colonist, 27 July 1912, reporting a speech by Hazen in London the previous day.

[110]  Tennyson, 'Opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition by the Queen, 1886': http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/tennyson/exhibition.html.

[111] S. Marti, "Daughter in My Mother’s House, but Mistress in My Own: Questioning Canada’s Imperial Relationship through Patriotic Work, 1914–18" in S. Marti and W.J. Pratt, eds, Fighting with the Empire : Canada, Britain, and Global Conflict, 1867-1947 (Vancouver, 2019), 35-51 focuses on the war work of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

[112]  Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 11 September 1919, 231: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1303_01/243?r=0&s=1.

[113]  Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 26 June 1920, 4292: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1304_05/276?r=0&s=1.

[114]  Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 8 May 1922, 1522: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1401_02/508?r=0&s=1.    

[115]  Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 8 May 1922, 1546: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1401_02/532?r=0&s=1.

[116] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 2 February 1923, 50: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1402_01/64?r=0&s=1.

[117] The MP was D'Arcy Plunkett. Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 12 March 1929, 907: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1603_01/909?r=0&s=1. Kipling briefly visited Canada in the summer of 1930. He refused public engagements. Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 500. 

[118] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 27 February 1933, 2533: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1704_03/181?r=0&s=1.

[119] Globe, 2 July 1927.

[120] No allusion to Kipling by Baldwin can be traced either through keyword searches of online newspaper files, or in the speeches included in S. Baldwin, Our Inheritance (London, 1938 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1928), and see 88 for the Fielding tariff. P. Williamson, Stanley Baldwin (Cambridge, 1999), 112 (for the "harlot" speech) and 163 for Kipling's draft speeches for Canada. In 1933, Kipling addressed a delegation from the Canadian Authors' Association on a visit to Britain. He praised Canadian writers for having "dealt directly or by implication with every detail of their country's life and background." The Canadian Press report does not mention any allusion to his own attempt to capture the spirit of the Dominion, Victoria Daily Colonist, 13 July 1933.

[121] D. Dilks, The Great Dominion: Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954 (Toronto, 2005), 83, 90.

[122] M. Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill , v: 1922-1939 (London, 1976), 344.

[123] Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: the Struggle for Survival 1940-1965 (London, 1966), 369.

[124] It is unlikely that he was advised to avoid 'Our Lady of the Snows' by the poet himself. "I do not ... much trust that gentleman," Kipling wrote of Churchill in 1926. Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 725.

[125] So Bennett claimed in 1936: the original does not seem to have survived. P.B. Waite, In Search of R.B. Bennett (Montreal and Kingston, 2012, 147, 313.

[126] T. Rooth, British Protectionism and the International Economy ... (Cambridge, 1993), 95, and see 80-100 for the 1932 Ottawa Conference.

[127] Waite, In Search of R.B. Bennett, 143.

[128] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 25  October 1932, 563: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1704_01/565?r=0&s=1.

[129] Victoria Daily Colonist, 3 March; Globe, 23 March 1929; 9 June 1930; Victoria Daily Colonist, 8 June 1930. For other examples of Canadian sensitivity, see Globe, 5 August 1942, 4 October 1948. Baldwin had referred to fog on the Newfoundland coast in a speech delivered in London in November 1927: Baldwin, Our Inheritance, 131.

[130] Globe, 3 February 1931.

[131] Dilks, The Great Dominion: Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954, 95.

[132] L.H. Thomas, The Making of a Socialist: the Recollections of Tommy Douglas (Edmonton, 1984 ed., cf 1st ed. 1982), 34.

[133] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 17 October 1970, 281: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2803_01/283?r=0&s=1.

[134] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 8 February 1963, 1099: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2901_01/1101?r=0&s=1.

[135] B. Willson, The Life of Lord Strathcona & Mount Royal… (London, 1915), 487.

[136] Globe, 24 May 1928.

[137] Debates of the Canadian Senate, 29 November 1966, 1211: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_SOC2701_02/203?r=0&s=1.

[138] Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 513; Toronto Star, 27 May, Toronto Globe, 29, 31 May; Victoria Daily Colonist, 25 June 1924. I have not identified the controversial portrait.

[139] Kipling, A Book of Words (London, 1928), reproduced on the Kipling Society website: http://www.telelib.com/words/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/BookOfWords/growthresponsibility.html.

[140] E.g. Globe, 19 February 1944; Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 22 March 1945, 113: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1906_20/125?r=0&s=1. Roebuck had made the same point the previous year, 4 August 1944, 5950: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC1905_06/515?r=0&s=1.

See also 9 May 1947, 2937: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2003_03/947?r=0&s=1.

[141] Dilks, The Great Dominion: Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954, 403, 425, 427.

[142] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 28 November 1956, 121: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2204_20/139?r=0&s=1.

[143] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 23 January 1961, 1341: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2404_02/289?r=0&s=1.

[144] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 20 November 1963, 4965: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC2601_05/897?r=0&s=1.

[145] C.P. Champion, The Strange Demise of British Canada ... (Montreal and Kingston, 2010).

[146] One casualty was the term 'Dominion', which the Liberals had in fact been phasing out for some years. Adopted in 1867 as an alternative to 'Kingdom', it was originally intended to indicate that central government was the boss. However, its disappearance had unintended consequences. Some alternative label was required for Ottawa, and the authority that had formerly stood above the provinces now became the "federal" government, which implied some degree of equality of status: Dominion-Provincial Conferences eventually became gatherings of First Ministers. Kipling bore his share of responsibility for the term's association with colonial status: in 'Recessional' he had attributed to Britain 'Dominion over palm and pine'.

[147] G.A. Johnson, "The Last Gasp of Empire: the 1964 Flag Debate Revisited" in P.A. Buckner, ed., Canada and the End of Empire (Vancouver, 2005), 232-50.

[148] L.B. Pearson, Words and Occasions (Toronto, 1970), 229. Pearson was addressing the convention of the Royal Canadian Legion at Winnipeg, 17 May 1964. The veterans tried to shout him down.

[149] Debates of the Canadian Senate, 16 December 1964, 1200: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_SOC2602_01/1217?r=0&s=1.

[150] J.W. Holmes, "The Anglo-Canadian Neurosis...", Round Table, lvi (1956), 251-60.

[151]  Pinney, ed., The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ii: 1890-1899, 309 (15 August 1897). The omitted words ("with a high birth rate and low murder-rate") suggest that Kipling was not being altogether serious. Jan Montefiore argues that Kipling's "unthinking racism" was largely a by-product of an "ideal of tough masculinity" which required "class and racial subjection". She accepts that, while Kipling often gave voice to his ideas of the views of the Empire's non-white subjects, "it would be naïve to claim him ... to be an anti-racist." J. Montefiore, Rudyard Kipling (Oxford, 2007), 75, 6. For a discussion of Kipling's views on race that is both frank and subtle, see C. Raine, "Kipling: Controversial Questions", Kipling Journal, September 2002, 10-29. Kipling's admirers hail him as a genius who possessed a particular insight into the human condition. It is thus to be regretted that he so often slipped into apparently unquestioning acceptance of prevailing (but not universally held) pejorative racial stereotypes. However, the key point for this study is that his allusion to Canadians as "white men" aroused no reaction in Canada, then or later.     

[152] Sydney (New South Wales) Daily Telegraph, 21 August 1897.

[153] G. Martin, The Durham Report and British Policy (Cambridge, 1972), 54-5; Baldwin, Our Inheritance, 87.

[154] Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 200-1.

[155] M.C. Urquhart and K.A.H. Buckley, eds. Historical Statistics of Canada (Cambridge, 1965), 16, 59. C.L Bacchi, Liberation Deferred?...  (Toronto, 1983), 155, notes that in 1911, 38.1 percent of all women in employment worked as servants.

[156] Edmonton Bulletin, 8 August 1912.

[157] Brandon Mail, 6 September 1894.

[158] Bacchi, Liberation Deferred?, 14.

[159] M. Rubio and E. Waterston, eds, The Selected Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, i: 1889-1910 (Toronto, 1985), 264-82. Maud retreated to her Prince Edward Island after seven months.

[160] Edmonton Bulletin, 8 August 1912.

[161] A. Prentice, "The Feminization of Teaching in British North America and Canada 1845-1875" , Histoire Sociale - Social History, viii (1975), 5-20.

[162] J.K. Galbraith, The Scotch (Toronto, 1964), 84-5, 90.

[163]  Coolgardie Miner (Western Australia), 15 February 1898.

[164] Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny, 2.

[165] R. Perin, Rome in Canada… (Toronto, 1990), 127.

[166] Waite, Canada 1874-1896: Arduous Destiny, 2.

[167] Victoria Daily Colonist, 26 April 1899.

[168] Globe, 27 May, 1 June 1897.

[169] Voltaire made the jibe famous in Candide (1759). Wikipedia states that he had used a stronger condemnation in his Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations of 1753, describing Canada as "a country covered with snow[s] and ice[s] eight months of the year, inhabited by barbarians, bears and beavers."

[170] J.M.S. Careless, Brown of the Globe, ii: the Statesman of Confederation 1860-1880 (Toronto, 1963), 180.

[171] Punch, 2 June 1883, 262.

[172] C. Berger, The Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism 1867-1914 (Toronto, 1970), 53, 128-33.

[173] E.g Toronto Star, 29 April 1897, and Laurier's Dominion Day speech in London that year.

[174] Bentley, "Post-Confederation Poetry", 130.

[175] Careless, Brown of the Globe, ii: the Statesman of Confederation 1860-1880, 180.

[176] Ewart, The Kingdom of Canada, 350.

[177] See his Mount Lefroy, painted in 1930, close to the time of the Globe editorial on winter sports that seemed to forgive Kipling: https://www.wikiart.org/en/lawren-harris/mount-lefroy-1930.

[178] D. Creighton, The Forked Road: Canada 1939-1957 (Toronto, 1976), 73-4, 142-3.

[179] D. Smith, Rogue Tory…  (Toronto, 1995), 279-82.

[180] M. Zaslow, The Opening of the Canadian North 1870-1914 (Toronto, 1971), xi.

[181] https://www.aci-iac.ca/art-books/jean-paul-lemieux/key-works/the-evening-visitor.

[182] https://lyricstranslate.com/en/mon-pays-my-country.html-1.

[183] L.E. Hamelin (trans. W. Barr), Canadian Nordicity ... (Montreal, 1979), xii.

[184] D. Wright in M. Dawson et al., eds, Symbols of Canada (Toronto, 2018), 42-51. Shortly after the completion of this essay, I received a copy of Donald Wright's insightful Canada: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2020), and noted that his discussion of "The North as an idea" (106-11) touched upon the same examples that I had used. Can it be that Canadians still find themselves more at ease with winter as a concept than with snow as a substance?

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