(Originally published on my old LiveJournal.)
(This is Alternate Canada #2. #1 is here.)
“Canada should have enjoyed the culture of the French, the government of the English, and the know-how of the USA. Instead, it ended up with the government of the French, the know-how of the English, and the culture of the USA.”
—John Robert Colombo, Canada’s keeper of random historical trivia and weird-ass Fortean stuff
This is probably going to be the longest of these alternates, since it doesn’t employ any fun history-benders like zombies, time travel, or nanotech—just that old chestnut of alternate history, the South winning the American Civil War. Which is not to say that what follows is at all plausible. Or desirable. Just a fever dream brought on by the heat, and by the fact that the-South-wins alternates rarely have much to say about how such a change might affect the rest of the world. In this alternate, Canada gets Colombo’s formula “right,” with a little help from the Confederacy. The moral is, be careful what you wish for Colombo, ya dodgy old kook.
“He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”
—Psalm 72:8, the source of Canada’s official name (“The Dominion of Canada”) and national motto (“From Sea to Sea”)
When Robert E. Lee outfoxes the Union Army at Sharpsburg, he opens the way for the capture of Baltimore, and British recognition of the Confederacy. By winter, the Royal Navy is openly aiding the Southern cause. Thus provoked, radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress declare war on Britain and its possessions in the spring of 1863. British regulars join the Confederates at New Orleans and pour into the Canadian colonies to shore up the second front. Detroit falls to the red coats in 1865; Washington to the gray coats the same year. The United States are forced to grant the South its independence; Britain reclaims the Oregon Territory for its pains. But the peace is uneasy and British troops remain on the continent. When the Dominion of Canada is created on July 1, 1867, it is no bureaucratic marriage of convenience, but a formidable military union.
Licking their wounds, the Union’s remaining states close their doors to immigration; over the next fifty years millions of immigrants will pour out of Europe and into Canada instead. Blocked from trading with Britain or the states of the Confederacy, the economy of the shattered Union sputters and slows. Boosted by British capital, the mills and mines of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick take up the slack. Hamilton becomes Upper Canada’s industrial center and eventually its capital—a black fortress of iron and smoke, like Manchester-meets-Mordor on Lake Ontario. Anti-British sentiment in the defeated Union also drives men like Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison—both arrivals from Britain by way of the Canadian colonies—back to the Dominion, where their ingenuity stokes the furnace of Canadian industry.
The Great War erupts in 1914 and a tangle of treaties pull the beleaguered Union into war against the Canadian-Confederate Alliance. The trenches stretch from Quebec to the Pacific; the carnage is indescribable. Union President Teddy Roosevelt’s outnumbered doughboys hold the line in the East but the red brigades of the Dominion smash through on the great plains. When Canadian and Confederate troops shake hands on the shores of the Platte River, it is the final end of the United States west of the 100th meridian, and the birth of a cruel, new Canada, baptized in blood.
But the Dominion’s jingoistic victory parades are interrupted by violent labor uprisings in Hamilton and Halifax. In October 1919, Major General Sam Hughes, the ambitious and aggressive Minister of the Militia, seizes control of Parliament and extends the martial powers of the War Measures Act in perpetuity. By the 1930s, the Dominion is a fascist monstrosity. Jack-booted Mounties crush internal dissent while the weak old men in London increasingly depend on the iron-willed Canadians to maintain Britain’s fractious empire in India and the Far East.
The Second World War ends with a rain of atomic Avro-bombs on Dresden and Berlin, a show of might that makes official what has been whispered for years: the Empire no longer belongs to England but to its former colony. On July 1st, 1947, Canada’s Prime-Minister-For-Life Maurice Duplessis effectively dissolves the English Parliament in London. “A Flannel Curtain has descended across the continent,” Winston Churchill thunders; he dies in a Yukon gulag for daring to challenge “Duplessisme.” King Edward VII is re-installed as Canada’s puppet monarch; he lives out his days playing shuffleboard in Victoria’s Empress Hotel. Duplessis expires in 1967; the bench-clearing brawl for his succession is won by the blustering Field Marshall Donald Cherry.
So there you have it. The culture of the French (the insular, hidebound culture of Duplessis’ Quebec, to be precise), the know-how of the USA (particularly its death dealing military-industrial complex); and the government of the English (quite literally). From sea to shining sea, the Polite but, Who Are We Kidding, Evil Empire stands unchallenged. The bloody Red Ensign—no namby pamby 1960s maple leaf for this fascist super-state—has cruel dominion unto the ends of the earth.