Welcome to Martinalia. An academic career generates material which for one reason or another does not get into print. There are public lectures and keynote addresses. Some are never intended for publication. Others are commissioned for projects which never get off the ground. There is material prepared for teaching, which may be useful to colleagues and students involved in similar courses. Some projects seem worth sharing with interested readers even though they remain unfinished, lacking the final polish needed for conventional academic publication. Since 2014 I have used Martinalia to publish essays and research reports. 

The term “Martinalia” was coined by my friend Jim Sturgis.  

A joke about Mr Gladstone

It was customary in Victorian times for the local landowner to inspect the village school – after all, he was probably paying for it – and to quiz the children, so that he might assure himself that all was going well.

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Australian, New Zealand and Canadian newspapers as resources for research in modern British and Irish history

This note draws attention to Australian, New Zealand and Canadian online newspaper archives as resources that can support research in modern British and Irish history. The note concentrates on websites available free in February 2020.

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Treaties and textbooks: how forgotten agreements with First Nations crept back into Canadian history

Between 1871 and 1877, the Dominion of Canada negotiated seven Treaties with Aboriginal people to secure the transfer of their rights to over one million square kilometres of land stretching from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains. However, until the late nineteen-sixties, general textbooks about Canada's history barely mentioned these agreements.

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The Department of Indian Affairs in the Dominion of Canada budget, 1882

This examination of how Ottawa taxed and spent in 1882 is intended to place expenditure by the Department of Indian Affairs in the overall context of government priorities.

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John A. Macdonald, Alcohol and Gallstones

Throughout the twentieth century, Canadians were well aware that their first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, had problems with alcohol. In 2006, I published an article examining the episodes of inebriation and reviewing how Macdonald returned to sobriety in the late eighteen-seventies. This 2019 reconsideration of the material suggests that his alcohol problem should be considered in the wider context of his health, drawing attention especially to evidence of bouts of illness caused by gallstones. It is suggested that the life-threatening illness which felled him in 1870 may have been pancreatitis. Gallbladder surgery in that era was a new and dangerous procedure, and the condition could best be managed through control of diet. Reduction in alcohol consumption would have formed part of this.

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The fourth Earl of Carnarvon (1831-1890): towards a reconsideration

This essay argues the case for a scholarly study of Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, fourth Earl of Carnarvon (1831-1890), and suggests some themes and interpretations that a biographer might wish to examine.

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M.C. Cameron's indictment of Canada's Department of Indian Affairs, 1885-1891: the pitfalls of contemporary evidence

This discussion is a reconnaissance into a controversy between 1885 and 1891 over criticisms by a Liberal MP, Malcolm Colin Cameron, of the Canadian government's treatment of Aboriginal people. It argues that the exchanges merit study today, but warns that Cameron's use of evidence makes him an unreliable source.

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How much did Canada 'pay' First Nations for the prairies?

In a series of seven treaties between 1871 and 1877, the Dominion of Canada persuaded Aboriginal people to cede their rights over the land of Manitoba and the North-West. First Nations communities were promised various forms of annual payments, but no actual purchase price changed hands. Is it possible to calculate an assumed, if notional, capital value on the basis of these continuing outlays, the price that Canada would have paid had the treaties constituted a normal property transaction?

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Income tax in Canada before 1917

The Dominion of Canada adopted income tax as a wartime measure in 1917, 75 years after Britain. It was widely argued that few Canadians were sufficiently wealthy to justify the complex and intrusive administrative machine needed to enforce the measure. However, income tax was charged by at least one province, British Columbia, from 1876, and by several cities across the country.

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Two invocations of the Canadian Identity: Arthur Lower, Northrop Frye and the invisible French

English Canada has been home to few recognised intellectuals. Two of the most influential in the mid-twentieth century were the historian Arthur Lower, who disguised his theorising by projecting a persona based on robust common-sense, and Northrop Frye, who operated at the other extreme of oracular omniscience. Both engaged in fantastical invocations of the national psyche, Lower distorting the French Canadian identity, Frye ignoring it altogether. This essay briefly documents how the two academics attempted, separately, to theorise Canada without taking account of the identity and orientation of its French populations. It also notes that their definitions of Canada contained undeveloped hints of geographical determinism: the country was defined in some way by its landscape, but how this had impacted upon and shaped Canadians was not explored.

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