Histoire des Canadiens-français 1608-1880

Histoire des Canadiens-français 1608-1880 by Benjamin Sulte (8 volumes, 1882-84), proclaims in its own subtitle its significance as a comprehensive study of the French Canadian people (complete with statistics): it examines their "origins; history; religion; wars; discoveries; colonization; customs; domestic, social and political life; development and future." An eccentric "liberal" history, it met with the church's approval - despite its denunciation of the JESUIT RELATIONS - because of its outspoken critique of colonialism and MERCANTILISM and its nationalist concept of the French Canadians as a race.

 Unlike François-Xavier GARNEAU'S HISTOIRE DU CANADA, which was out of favour in the ULTRAMONTANE climate of the 1880s, Sulte's history defends the habitant as the forgotten hero of his tale and views the old SEIGNEURIAL SYSTEM with nostalgia. Sulte greeted Confederation with qualified approval, stressing the need for provincial autonomy within a structure that ensures a voice for French Canadians. Sulte's Histoire, very popular in his day, has not been translated or reprinted.