I've been remiss in failing to wish a happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers and to Canadaphiles around the world. Those of you from the states looking to learn a thing or two about our neighbor to the north should know that Canada Day celebrates not Canadian independence, but the passage of the British North America Act of 1867, which established the Canadian Confederation by uniting four separate British colonies -- the Province of Canada, the Province of New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia -- into a single consolidated political entity. At the same time, the Province of Canada was re-divided into its constituent element of Ontario and Québec.

One motive for consolidation was that British and Canadian officials were concerned about a potential American invasion of Canada. We tried to pull this off during the Revolution and the War of 1812 and it continued to be a popular idea for a while. The feeling was that now that the US had put the Civil War (which heightened US-British tensions) behind it and the country had the experience of building a large and powerful military establishment, that our thoughts might turn to expansion. Consolidating Britain's North American holdings was thought to help make them more defensible.