. . . In Canada, we are proudly
claiming for ourselves
the title of 'Canadian plus,' that is to say, with the
fullest possible freedom of government, we have the added
advantage of membership in the British Empire, the most
powerful and beneficent international federation of all the
centuries. . . .
—Emily Murphy (1927)
The British Empire was the most powerful empire of the
late 19th and early 20th centuries, and included the young
Dominion of Canada. The fight to establish and maintain a
British presence in Canada followed Britain's 1759
"Conquest" of New France, but not until 20 years after "The
Conquest" was there a flood of British immigration into the colony. The British presence was largely limited
to merchants and officials who had social and political
power until the success of the 13 colonies' American
Revolution caused waves of 40,000 to 50,000 Loyalists to
flee to Canada. The Loyalists exerted a strong and lasting
effect on Canadian society, as they were instrumental in
establishing religious, educational, social, and
The Famous 5 were members of Canada's largely Anglo-Saxon
cultural elite—its leaders, teachers and intellectuals. In
the eyes of many members of the elite, the power
of the British Empire was evidence of British superiority,
and they believed that Canada's future greatness was
dependent upon maintaining its Anglo-Saxon heritage and
culture, as well as close ties to the British Empire. In
1927, on Canada's 60th birthday, Emily Murphy
expressed the feelings of many Anglo-Canadians when she
wrote of Canada's position in the British Commonwealth in an
article entitled, "Confederation and the Destiny of Canada."
"It was only the other day that His Excellency Viscount
Willingdon, the Viceroy of Canada, forespoke the place this
nation is destined to hold in Imperial leadership—Canada,
the heritor of whatever is best in Anglo-Saxon civilization.
They are few and inconsequential who will contest his
This strong devotion to the British Empire surfaced in
the efforts of Anglo-Canadian cultural leaders to "Canadianize"
immigrants. Immigrants who
were easily assimilated were more welcome than others
who were less easily assimilated.