APART FROM THE addition of Newfoundland, the map of Canada hasn’t changed much during this century.
It has been a mirror of reassurance for a nation never quite certain of its own shape or identity. In moments of intense self-doubt we could always pull out the old atlas, trace the familiar boundaries and say, “Yes, Canada does exist and we look like this.”
Boundaries, however, are merely imaginary lines man has drawn on the surface of the globe, as ephemeral as men themselves. Wars of conquest, shifting loyalties and cultural antipathy have ensured that modern cartographers are seldom unemployed.
Their next big revision may be with Canada. The chances are we’ll emerge from our protracted constitutional crisis with an image that is far from familiar. The atlas of 1999 could reflect a country that has had plastic surgery performed on its political face.
Maclean’s isn’t advocating such wholesale revision. In fact, we’re rather fond of the comforting map shown above. But there are other people in Canada who aren’t so nostalgic and who would like to see our boundaries altered to conform with what they see as today’s realities. Foremost among them are Quebec’s separatists — and we all know how they would like the map of Canada to look.
But even if Quebec and the centre hold — thus avoiding a Pakistan-type situation — there are other fundamental realignments being urged in the wings. Certain geopolitical divisions that may have made administrative sense 50 or 100 years ago are no longer so clearly valid. Planners in the Maritimes, more out of desperation than desire, are seriously considering political union. Pressure groups on the prairies are advocating a Western Bloc and the idea has more than just pique behind it. The Yukon has long been demanding full provincial status, while BC’s W. A. C. Bennett wants to swallow the territory whole. The argument that such massive conurbation areas as Montreal and Toronto should be administered as separate provinces (see Senator Keith Davey in the August Maclean’s) is difficult to refute. And beyond that, there remains an articulate minority who believe our border with the U.S., already eroded by economic encroachment, should vanish altogether.
The maps on the next two pages incorporate many of the proposals currently being aired. Will Canada resemble one of these by the end of the century?
Or will we, despite the pressures, preserve the status quo? On page 78 is a form that will enable you to express your view.
Here’s how Canada would look consolidated into eight subdivisions — including the “city provinces” of York and Montreal. This map makes the most sense today in terms of population grouping and economic efficiency. New capitals would be needed for Alsaskman (Regina?), Ontario (Sudbury?) and Atlantica (Fredericton?). Another variation would distribute the potentially rich Arctic territories more equally.
If Quebec does become a separate nation, communications between east and west might be preserved by a “Polish-corridor” type of customs-free highway running through the Eastern Townships and across the tip of Maine. As a quid pro quo for granting this access route, the United States might demand a similar highway linking the State of Washington with the southern tip of Alaska.
This is the map that dedicated United Empire Loyalists have nightmares about. The United States has been enlarged to incorporate four new Canadian states — although Washington might prefer to administer the divisions shown in Map 2. Either way, an independent Quebec becomes a French-speaking enclave surrounded by a continent-sized American melting pot.
WHICH IS YOUR CANADA? Our parliamentary form of government purposely eschews plebiscites. We vote for or against party programs, only rarely and indirectly on particular issues. Thus individuals seldom have an opportunity to speak out on the matters that concern them most. So here is a chance to say how you think Canada should look by the end of the century. Fill out this form and return it to “Canamaps,’’Maclean’s, 481 University Avenue, Toronto 101, Ontario. I PREFER CANADA TO RESEMBLE MAP No. _ My reasons are:-Further comments: Mr. Mrs. _____ Address:__ Miss Age if under 21:_ PLUS A GRAND PRIZE of $500 for the best short essay, limited to 500 words, on the general subject of Canada’s political future. The winning entry plus the results of the Canamaps survey will be published in Maclean's. □
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