Colonialism (New Zealand) #3

Or, hey, you could call this an Age of Discovery topic, to be honest. This is before New Zealand became a colony.

So you’ve heard of the Bay of Murderers, yeah? Okay, so if you’re not a New Zealander, you probably haven’t. It’s called the Golden Bay now, and it’s actually a rather lovely spot in New Zealand.

But what caused it to deserve such a name?

Well, cool thing is, this story is the first recorded instance of European contact with the Maori, the native people of New Zealand. Specifically, the Dutch, who discovered Australia (if you don’t count, well, all the people who were already living there) and sailed on a little farther to find New Zealand.

This guy called Abel Tasman (for whom Tasmania was named) was in charge of exploring. When they stopped in the bay with a couple of ships, Maori showed up in their canoes.

It seemed like a peaceful enough meeting, and the sailors tried to communicate that they wanted to trade. No trading that day, however, only seeing each other and not understanding a single word. Abel was pretty confident about their meeting, as he wrote in his log; the Dutch believed they had made a good impression.

However, we can only guess that they did not, because not too long after, several men in a row boat going between the ships were attacked by Maori in much faster canoes. As you can probably guess, a couple of them died.

The Dutch were utterly horrified, and the place was named Murderers’ Bay.

A more in detail account can be found in the book Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All.

Colonialism (Australia) #2

For a group of colonies with a huge convict population, Australia was really not that rebellious.

It’s sort of like when a kid is punished a lot and therefore never acts out; life as a convict in Australia was hard. In many places, the convicts were worked to death. Living conditions were horrible, though there was hope to be released and assigned to work for wages.

So, you’re probably wondering why convicts were even being sent to Australia. It was on the other side of the world, considered empty space by the colonial powers of the time (despite a number of people already living there). Sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment to be exiled to the other end of the world, with deadly creatures and no hope of ‘civilization’ like back home, doesn’t it?

However, while being cruel was pretty much normal for the British penal system, that wasn’t the main reason that they decided to start shipping people off to Australia.

Zip back to around the end of the 1700s; Britain is in its Industrial Revolution. People have come in from the countryside in hopes of a better life in the city, working in factories. The problem is, there are a lot of them, far more than there are jobs.

This means, since there’s no wage control of any kind, that the wages plummet to whatever the most desperate people are willing to be paid. And the most desperate people tend to be the Irish immigrants, shipped over from poverty in Ireland.

With a huge population and not enough ways for them to support themselves, crime becomes rampant, especially thieving. You might remember Fagin, the Artful Dodger, and the rest of the boys in Oliver Twist? Thieves are everywhere.

Soon enough, Britain’s prisons are overflowing (and btw, they are horrible, horrible places to be). What to do with all these people?

Tons of undesirables, and a vast, empty set of colonies. Britain’s ruler’s had a light bulb moment (or rather, an oil lamp moment).

Just so you understand, the upper class’s attitude towards the poor at this time was outright callous. They thought they were dirty, bad, and just overall to blame for their own problems. They were seen as human, but lesser – far lesser.

So bing bang boom, repeat offenders start getting shipped off to Australia.

Not only that, but the Irish are getting shipped out in large numbers. Why? Because they’re rebellious.

This leads to the first major rebellion in Australia.

1798, there’s a big rebellion in Ireland. It’s squashed, and the rebels are sent to Australia (except the ones who are executed).

Naturally, the Irish are not happy to be there (no one really is). So, about five years later, several of the rebels from Ireland have planned a rebellion.

In New South Wales, near Castle Hill, the Castle Hill Rebellion begins. There are plans for well over a thousand convicts to be involved; about 200-300 end up kicking it off. They escape from the farm they’re stuck on, and get a bunch of arms and supplies for their rebellion. They swell out over the colony, collecting more convicts (whether or not the other convicts want to be part of it) and getting a huge chunk of the weapons in the colony.

The goal? Get ships and get back to Ireland.

It doesn’t go so well. While it causes quite the scare (a lot of hated officials flee the colony on boat), there are several problems: they are short on numbers, less than a third of the planned number, and they lose their element of surprise.

Colonial troops had caught up with them, and the leaders are tricked into parley and then captured. It’s only a short battle between the troops and the convicts, most of whom run for their lives, not exactly trained to deal with professional soldiers. 15 convicts are shot dead.

Most of the convicts involved are given amnesty, but it is the first major hiccup in the colonization of Australia. And another one is on its heels.

Colonialism (Canada) #1

So, surprise, Canada was not always a united country (or even a united colony). You know how America was, at first, thirteen colonies? Well, Canada was similar.

About 1837, and some time earlier, Canada was made up of Upper Canada and Lower Canada (which, by the way, did not cover most of modern day Canada). These were two separate colonies; interestingly, Upper Canada was south of Lower Canada; leave it to British people to confuse future young Canadians learning the history of their country.

Now, speaking of 1837, let’s jump back to a few years before.

In both Upper Canada and Lower Canada, tensions are brewing. The government isn’t very representative of the population; the economy isn’t that great. Interestingly, some of the reasons the Canadians aren’t happy are some of the same reasons the Americans weren’t happy decades before.

So what do the Canadians do?

They write a letter: 92 Resolutions, which they then send to the British government.

The 92 Resolutions end up being ignored for about three years. After that, the British government was basically like ‘Lol, no.’

And rebellion broke out in both colonies. It was crushed by the British, but the British had learned something from the Revolutionary War; they sent a guy called John Lambton (Lord Durham) to check out what had caused the problem.

While he did make good points on a few things, one of his big conclusions was that Lower Canada was too French. Therefore, it was decided that the colonies would become a union so that the Frenchness would be diluted.

Some fun names they considered for Canada:

  • Borealia (meaning North, opposite of Australia, meaning South)
  • New Albion (Albion being the old Latin name for England)
  • Albionoria (see above)
  • Efisga (an acronym from English, French, Irish, Scottish, German, Aboriginal)
  • Victorialand (for the then current queen Victoria)
  • Tuponia ( based on The United Provinces of North America)

And there were others, but you get the idea. The names were mostly bad, and they ended up just going with Canada.

So that’s the story of Canada’s big rebellion and unification. It’s definitely one of the more interesting parts of an otherwise kind of boring history.