Political Cartoon


My cartoon shows the events in the creation of Canada, and my opinion of the three main sides, Canada, the French/Metis, and the Aboriginals. The cartoon shows a three headed obese donkey with very unstable, skinny legs. One donkey has braids, a head dress, a muzzle, and a bottle of whisky in it’s mouth. The muzzle reads “The Whisky Trade” and “Mounty Police”. The donkey is shown to be drunk and tipsy, this donkey represents the Aboriginals. The second donkey beside it is a bit older looking with curly hair. The donkey is chewing on money and railroad tracks. This donkey represents John A. McDonald, or Canada as a whole. The last one on the far right, has slick black hair and is deceased. It has a noose around its mouth like a muzzle. This donkey is Louis Ariel who represents both the Metis and the French. If you look at the body of the donkey, in one of the fat layers, there is a slip of paper that reads “National Policy”. This obviously represents the National Policy.

On the Aboriginal donkey, I drew a bottle of whisky in its mouth to represent the struggle the Aboriginals had with alcoholism. The alcoholism lead to lack of work, poverty, disease and even in some cases death. Because of this, the government formed the North West Mounted Police in 1837 to protect the Aboriginals from the whisky traders and the overall halt of using alcohol as a trading currency. The headdress represents that even the respected, powerful Aboriginals like Chiefs struggled with alcoholism.

The Canadian donkey or John A. McDonald is shown to be eating money and railroad tracks. This represents the Pacific Scandal. During the election, McDonald needed funds for his campaign and luckily he stumbled upon a man by the name of Hugh Allen. Allen gave him a large amount of money for his campaign in exchange for permission to build a railway. McDonald used the money to bribe people into voting for him, and when he was caught it became very big news. The Pacific Scandal made McDonald resign from office. All in all we can conclude that Hugh Allen ‘fed’ money to McDonald and he quickly tried to ‘eat the evidence’ but because we can clearly see it in his mouth, he didn’t do much of a good job of hiding it.

Lastly on the far right we see Louis Riel who is dead with a noose around his mouth. This represents the trial of Louis Riel and it’s tragic ending. Riel was charged with high treason due to his acts during the North West Rebellion. He was the leader of the resistance by the Metis against the Canadians. In 1883, the CPR was completed and it made it much easier for Canadian to transport troops which lead to the capture and surrender of Louis Riel. Louis Riel’s trial may be Canada’s most famous trial and it only lasted five days. During his trial Louis Riel didn’t have much of a say because his lawyers didn’t listen to his ideas. That’s why I wrapped the noose around his mouth. Riel was pleaded guilty but was given another trial for insanity, but in the end it didn’t matter. He was executed through hanging on September 18th, 1885.

In one of the layers of the body, you can see the National Policy sticking out. The National Policy was created by John A. McDonald after being nearly ruined by the Pacific Scandal. It stated the following, tariffs would be raised for goods brought from the U.S. to help out the manufacturing industry, the increase of immigration into Western Canada, as well as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In the policy John A. McDonald stated that he would give the syndicate $25 million in cash and 25 million acres of land. The syndicate was constructed of George Stephen, president of the Bank of Montreal, Donald Smith, a worker from HBC, and James J.Hill, a businessman in the field of coal. Together with many workers, they constructed the railroad in not 10 years like they were told to, but a mere 4 years! The total profit from it was $17 million. The contract that was given to them granted 25 million acres which is already a huge advantage to the agricultural aspect of Canada. The huge amount of land created a perfect advertisement towards potential immigrants. This policy was kept for a great amount of time all the way to until the Second World War. Though the National Policy was very successful in Central Canada, it was rather unpopular in the West. This led to a more unstable country, which leads me to the symbol behind the skinny legs of the donkey. Canada was still yet to be perfect, and so it wasn’t the sturdiest country. The fat body being supported by the skinny legs represents how one wrong move could make Canada’s creation a bit more difficult. There were many occasions in which it became a bumpy ride, but all of those challenges led to what it is today.

The symbol behind why I drew the three sides as donkeys is because none were the real hero in the creation of Canada and they all had a part in corrupting the road to the creation, so you can say that they were “making asses of themselves”. This is also my overall message of my political cartoon. For example the North West Company worked much differently than the Hudson Bay Company, which explains their bitter rivalry for a long time before their merge. Hudson’s Bay’s method was that the First Nation’s would bring the furs to their trading posts where they would give them the tools and supplies up for trade, and the furs would be shipped to England. Their saying “Stay By the Bay.” was created to advertise their policy that their trading posts are all very closely built to the Hudson’s Bay. North West Company had a different approach to fur trading, where they would create forts more inland and have extremely long trade routes. By the end their routes went from the main Montreal, all the way to where the Rocky Mountains are, and all the way to where the North West Territories are today. These long routes made it very difficult to travel easily by canoe, it took several weeks but a great advantage to this method is that they could receive the furs from their source, the Aboriginals. This was the beginning of the decline of HBC who instead wanted the furs to be brought to their forts by the Aboriginals. Through NWC’s way, they could create stronger bonds with them, this was deeply encouraged among the men. During the cold winters where it was very hard to get back, the travelers would stay in the Aboriginal’s settlements. Sometimes the fur traders even married the Aboriginal women, which was the beginning of the Metis.

The Metis were an interracial group of people who were a mix of European and Aboriginal, most commonly Scottish and the French. The origin of the Metis were that the fur traders who stayed over winter in the First Nation band would marry an Aboriginal women in hopes of creating a stronger between the two. The women would most likely be high status such as the chiefs daughter. The children of the couple were the beginning of the Metis. The child would learn both the European father’s customs and beliefs, as well as the Aboriginal mother’s indigenous skills and knowledge. Because of their appreciation for both European and First Nations culture, they helped bring the two more together. The Hudson’s Bay Company was a bit unappreciative of these ties and discouraged these kinds of acts, but on the flip side the North West Company completely all for to the idea of interracial marriage. Though the two companies had polar opposite opinions on this idea, they both saw the advantages of having Metis as employees because of their vast knowledge of the land making them great guides, interpreters, hunters, and trappers.

But behind the friendly competition, there is always going to be a vicious battle for supremacy. Both HBC and NWC wanted to control the fur trade, this often resulted in the NWC building forts beside the HBC forts and both trying to bribe the fur bearing Aboriginals as well as destroying each others property, stealing, and sometimes even murder. But the highest peak of their fighting was the Battle of the Seven Oaks in 1816. In the Battle of Seven Oaks, Cuthbert Grant and 60 Metis ran provisions for the canoes of the NWC past the Red River Colony, then came across Seven Oaks. A nearby HBC Fort saw Grant, so the governor of the colony Robert Semple and 25 of his men went to check on Grant. A fight broke out which led to Semple and 20 of the soldiers’ deaths. Only one of Grant’s men were killed. The result in the Battle of Seven Oaks was the merge of the Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company in 1821. They saw that they were both no longer doing this as a friendly battle of competition and was only done for the better of each others businesses, they realized how unhealthy and wasteful the continuing battles and fights between them were and so agreed to a merge.

As the value of fur trade declined, so did the power of the HBC, this resulted in the sale of Rupert’s Land. Rupert’s Land was a large portion of land roughly 8 million square kilometers controlled by Britain, but because the declining trend of the fur trade they decided to put it up for sale. America was looking into buying new land as they just bought Alaska from Russia, while Canada saw it as an opportunity to extend their land which consisted of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. Though the HBC wanted to sell Rupert’s Land to America, the British government was very clear that they wanted to sell it to Canada and so HBC obliged and gave it to Canada who paid $1.5 million for it. On the other hand, Red River Colony was changing quite rapidly with many settlers coming into the land. The surveyors that arrived to the Red River made tensions even bigger because they didn’t acknowledge the Seigneurial system with their strip like farm lots. This rose the suspicion of if the Canadians were trying to take their land away from them. The Metis were also angry because they weren’t being consulted about the sale of Rupert’s Land. This was the time that Louis Riel would return to the rescue again. He gathered groups of Metis to go and confront the surveyors. This was the beginning of the Red River Rebellion. Riel set up a provisional government that had legal control over the land that is the North West Territories. He also created it so he could make an agreement with governor McDougall to make the Red River settlement part of Manitoba, but before McDougall there was Donald Smith. They both made an agreement that negotiators would be sent to Ottawa, this consisted of both the Metis and Canadian party. John A. McDonald did deny provincial control over public land, but he did give them 200,000 hectares of land. The amount of land was greatly anticipated but in reality it was a bit useless because the scrips of land that were given were separated from their homes and families.

The Metis and Aboriginals were quite helpful to the fur traders, showing them the way of the lands, but good things must come to an end, and in this case the idea of assimilating the Aboriginals was becoming stronger. The Indian Act that was first passed in 1876 and stated how the Canadians would interact with the First Nations. The majority of power over First Nations’ land and how they lived was given to the colonies even though before in 1867 with the Constitutional Act it stated that “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians”. This was only the beginning of the Canadians plan for assimilation. The most sinister one that scarred the nation to this day is the Residential Schools. The Canadian Indian residential schools were boarding schools specifically for Aboriginals, Inuit and Metis that took the children away from their native culture and taught them more European customs and cultures. Though this sounds harmless, what occurred inside these schools was much more darker. It was described as “killing the Indian in the child.” the children in the schools were physically, mentally, and sexually abused on a daily basis. Students were punished for practicing their beliefs or speaking their native tongue. The health conditions were horrid, many children were malnourished from the lack of food, but a majority of them died from disease such as tuberculosis. A lack of heat, sanitation, and space were also very common.

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