At the turn of the century Robert Sellar, editor of the Huntingdon Gleaner in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, was the most-quoted rural newspaperman in Canada. His controversial opinions on Confederation, national policy, and especially French-Canadian nationalism sparked debate across Canada and around the world. Widely regarded as the authentic voice of the English-speaking minority, Sellar attempted to alert the rest of Canada to the threat of ultramontane clericalism and French-Canadian nationalism emanating from Quebec.In his newspaper and his book, The Tragedy of Quebec, Sellar lamented the exodus of Quebec’s English-speaking farmers from the Eastern Townships, attributing it to the frenchification of the region. His provocative views were shared by grass-roots supporters in Ontario and the Prairies but were largely dismissed as Anglo-Protestant francophobia and bigotry. Drawing on Sellar’s diary, the Gleaner, and a wealth of other original materials, Robert Hill recounts Sellar’s one-man crusade for English rights in Quebec, a crusade for which he endured obloquy, legal harassment, physical violence, arson, clerical condemnation, loss of family, and the indifferent support of the people he was championing.Exploring the earliest origins of “English exodus” and the English-speaking minority rights battle in Quebec, Voice of the Vanishing Minority makes for timely reading in light of recent developments in Quebec.
What We Choose to Remember features a cast of more than 30 characters, whose families arrived in successive waves of immigration. The oldest families arrived during the period of ‘two solitudes’ when Montreal’s population was more than 50% English. They share firsthand accounts decades of political upheaval. The most recent immigrants arrived believing linguistic conflicts were ancient history.
Our story takes place on the Indigenous lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Tiotià:ke (known as Montréal) has existed as a meeting place of many First Nation peoples, including but not limited to the Abenaki , Anishinaabeg (Algonquin), and the Huron-Wendat. We extend our deepest respect to the elders of these nations and to all Indigenous peoples who carry the history of this island’s land and waters. We also call upon all levels of government to adopt and implement the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation commission.