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Western Canadian populism : reflections on the Turner thesis and Canada

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Title: Western Canadian populism : reflections on the Turner thesis and Canada
Author: Kachmar, Philip J.
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Political Science
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-08-31
Abstract: Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential Frontier Thesis has been widely applied in the United States to explain the development of America’s democratic and individualistic political culture. Despite Canada’s North American location, colonial heritage, and sprawling geography, the Frontier Thesis failed to take root in the collective imagination of early Canadians. However, as the economic influence of the Canadian west has shifted, so too has the relevance of Turner’s thesis for Canada. This paper asserts that political developments in 19th, 20th, and 21st century western Canada can be explained, at least in part, through an application of the Frontier Thesis. I begin by comparing Turner’s argument to the works of Harold Innis and J.M.S. Careless to illustrate why the frontier had a greater effect on 19th century America than 19th century Canada. The results of this comparison illustrate the need for a reconsideration of the frontier’s relevance in the Canadian west. I argue that, although Canada’s early western political culture was dominated by European influences, historical and geographical factors ultimately facilitated the emergence of western Canadian populism.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43142
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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