A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71

In "Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History" (St. Onge, Podruchny and MacDougall, Eds., 2012) Peterson notes (p. 44) that historian A.S. Morton, in addition to Marcel Giraud and George F.G. Stanley, is a Social Darwinist. That is, his work is influenced by a belief in racialized or ethnic hierarchies, in which European settler society is treated as the apex of human intellectual development as well as technological and social organizational potential. These "classification systems...placed 'races' on a continuum of humanity, stretching from savage to civilized. These systems confused and conflated biology with social and cultural behavior, and by the second half of the nineteenth century they were given legitimacy in the racist ideology of social Darwinism. This emerging ideology strongly influenced the development of U.S. and Canadian Indian policies and the attitudes of both governments toward the classification and treatment of “racial minorities,” be they Indians, “halfbreeds,” Africans, or Asians in North America" (p. 29). the obsession of British and American societies on page 29 Giraud’s Métis in the Canadian West is the foundational source on the history of the Métis, the place where scholarly study of the Métis begins. However, Giraud was a product of his age and a Social Darwinist. The Métis in the Canadian West , like the work of A. S. Morton and George F. G. Stanley, is flawed by a racialism that assumed the instability and inferiority of “primitive races” and the superiority of European civilization. For a more positive view, see Sprague and Frye, Genealogy of the First Métis Nation ; Ens , Homeland to Hinterland ; and Payment , Free People . For an analysis of the relationship between and differences among the English Half-breeds and Métis in Rupert’s Land, see Jennifer S. H. Brown , Strangers in Blood ; Spry, “Métis and Mixed-Bloods of Rupert’s Land”; Panekoek, Snug Little Flock ; and Ens , Homeland to Hinterland."

Author
Morton, Arthur S.
Primary Resource
Primary
Publication Date
1939
Publication Information

Morton, Arthur S. A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71; Being a History of Ruperts' Land (The Hudson's Bay Company's Territory) and of the North-West Territory (including the Pacific Slope). S.l.: Nelson, 1939.