Buy | Submit | TRMGS1 | TRMGS2 | TRMGS3 | TRMGS4 |TRMGS Main | Heliograph Main


The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars is now available!

The original publication of Canal Priests Of Mars cut slightly over a third of author Marcus L. Rowland's manuscript to fit GDW's adventure format. The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars restores the cut material, features all new artwork by Paul Daly, and adds many useful player handouts. Enjoy the "author's cut" of a classic Space 1889 adventure, or experience it for the first time!

See our Buy It! page for more information!

Old news is still available on the News Page.

The Maple Leaf Forever

Canada and Canadians in Space: 1889

by John Gannon


On July 1st 1867, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia banded together in a Confederation of territories to form a new nation - The Dominion of Canada. In the years that followed, Canada rose to become one of the three major nations of the Empire, along with Australia and India. Over the next 22 years, this patchwork nation would grow and prosper, melding its diverse peoples into a single population with a common identity. It is a brief examination of this land and these people that the remainder of this article is devoted to.

While the information contained in this article is written for the Space: 1889 game system, it is generic enough in nature, but complete enough in information, to allows its use in other game systems with only minor modification to the actual mechanics involved.

Canada - A brief Overview

In 1889, a text book entitled "The History of Canada" would have been a short one indeed. The dominion had only been a truly independent nation for 22 years. On the other hand, a text book entitled "The History and Culture of the People of Canada" would have been a large and informative volume, covering several centuries and detailing a truly unique, though not always harmonious, blending of cultures and ethnic groups to form one of the major nations within the British Empire. With its history and cultural traditions originating from England, Canada was in many ways exactly what it appeared to be - an offshoot of Great Britain. However, Canada's location next to the United States, the other great English speaking democracy of the time, made it inevitable that some of the temperament and attitudes of the Americans would influence their Canadian cousins. The result of this cultural intertwining is that Canada represents that middle ground between England and America. Canada is familiar enough to make each of the other countries comfortable in dealing with her, yet distinctive enough in her own identity.

As a parliamentary democracy, the government of Canada is structured along the Westminster Model, with a House of Commons, a Senate, and a Governor General, representing her Majesty the Queen. The government is formed from the political party with the majority of seats in the House of Commons, with the leader of that party assuming the title and duties of Prime Minister of Canada. In 1889, The Governor-General of Canada is Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley of Preston, and 16th Earl of Derby. As the Queen's Representative, It is Lord Stanley who gives Royal Assent to Government legislation and acts as the Commander-In-Chief of the Canadian Militia. The Government of the day rests in the hands of the Conservative Party of Canada, under the leadership of The Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, one of the "Fathers of Confederation". Sir John is serving his second term as Prime Minister of Canada.

Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley Sir John Macdonald The Red Ensign
Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley Sir John Macdonald The Red Ensign, Canada's Flag in 1889

Click here to see a map of Canada in 1889 (56kb)

In the 22 years since Confederation, Canada has added three more provinces (Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island) and five districts to its landmass. The Red Ensign, the flag of Canada, flies from coast to coast and throughout the northern territories. When the Seven Million people of Canada raise their voices in song, it is "The Maple Leaf Forever" that they sing, and every year brings more and more immigrants from across Europe and around the world to join them in their song.

The Economy of Canada

In 1889, Canada is taking the first steps to transform itself from a large, rural, and agrarian nation into a more industrial-based economy, and the future is bright and positive. Since 1858, the currency of Canada has been the Dollar. In 1889 Four Canadian Dollars will get you One British Pound. At the same time, 80 cents Canadian will get you One US Dollar, though by 1892 that exchange rate will have reversed itself.

While it possesses the industrial might of neither England or the United States, Canada has performed remarkably well in the last 10 years, moving away from cottage industry and creating a respectable industrial base. Additionally, the magnitude of the country's vast natural resources are only now being fully comprehended and brought to bear. Gold, Coal, Iron Ore, Nickel, Silver, Forestry Products, Fish, and many other resources are being harvested and shipped for use in British, American, and European Markets.

Canadian Society

Like its southern neighbour, The United States, Canada is a patchwork nation of various ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds, who have joined together to form a new land for themselves and their progeny. Unlike the US however, Canada still bears its allegiance to the British Crown, and thus, draws many of its social and cultural standards from the Mother Country. Thus, Canada is a hybrid, a blending of the tradition and stability of England with the innovative and adventurous spirit of America.

Like England, Canadian Society is segregated into distinct social classes, although in Canada, these classes were neither as rigid as the English classes, nor were they as numerous. For example, there are no Royalty in Canada, the claims of several Quebecois, native citizens, and one or two Eastern European Immigrants notwithstanding. That does not mean that Canadians were without an Aristocracy.

There were members of the Aristocracy in Canada, and though some of these people were only temporary residents from England, others were Canadian-born, and the overall majority of both groups considered themselves to be "Canadian". This Aristocracy consisted of one or two Dukes or Earls, temporary residents from England fulfilling such positions as Governor General, Lieutenant Governor of one of the provinces, or some similar position. Somewhat more common was the occasional Viscount or Marquis. Many of these titles extended from past service to the Crown, or were the birthright of a younger son or daughter who had taken up residence in Canada. Canadian born holders of such honours were just beginning to appear at this time.

The Wealthy Gentry of Canada were equally down-scale in most cases. The majority were the industrialists and landowners, already transforming the nation. Included in their ranks were the press barons, the wealthy businessmen, and the investors who held sway on the social ladders of Canadian society. The Gentry also included high-ranking government officials; persons granted Knighthoods or Baronies in recognition of their service to the Empire, and members of the "professional callings" such as Academicians, Doctors, Lawyers, Military Officers, and higher level members of the Clergy.

The Middle Class in Canada was mostly indistinguishable from its British counterpart, with its primary concerns being focused on more personal issues rather than national ones. That is not to say the middle classes were not politically active - the majority of sitting parliamentarians in both the national government as well as the various provincial legislatures were drawn from the middle class. However, the primary focus of the middle class was self-improvement and advancement within their chosen trade, craft, or profession.

The Working Classes, on the other hand, were far less politically active or aware, voting when elections were called to be sure, but beyond that, willing to leave government in the hands of "their betters". These people were more concerned with providing for their families, developing useful, marketable skills in an increasingly industrializing nation and world, and obtaining higher education for their children. For those in the factories and manufacturing plants, the union movement was the calling of choice for those with political ambitions or interests.

At the bottom of the social ladder were the rural labourers, who comprised almost a third of the population overall, and over 80 percent of the population of British Columbia, the western districts, and the Atlantic provinces. Homesteading farmers in the west, fishermen and sailors in the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia, the labourers of the time are the bedrock upon which the rest of the Canadian nation is building itself. In marked contrast to their European counterparts, most rural Canadians of the time see themselves as living in a land and time of opportunity, owning their own lands and reaping the profits of their work for themselves and their families. Many of the farmers of this class are immigrants, newly come to Canada from across Europe for just such opportunities, while many of the Atlantic fishermen are the descendants of the early settlers, following family traditions and a way of life that pre-dates Canada by a couple of centuries. While the labourer of the Atlantic provinces is more content with a day-to-day, live and let live existence, his British Columbia counterpart, or the homesteading farmer, is more aware of and involved in the democracy of the day.

In addition to social class, Canada was also divided along religious and linguistic lines. While the majority of Canadians are English-speaking and Protestant; the Quebecois are French-speaking Catholics. Thus, there have been times when the religious differences have added fuel to the constant rivalry between the scorned "Frenchies" of Quebec and the resented Anglais of English-speaking Canada. While most of the time these resentments and differences have been trivial in nature and usually overlooked, on three occasions they have flared to the point of open warfare. In 1837 the Papineau Rebellion took place within the province of Quebec, and in 1870, the Red River Rebellion had broken out in what is now the province of Manitoba. The last great confrontation occurred in 1885 with the Riel Rebellion. The short-lived Papineau Rebellion had been a true French versus English conflict, while the Red River and Riel Rebellions had more to do with the rights of Native and Metis (pronounced May-Tee) citizens in the Western Districts. However, the fact that the leader of both these rebellions was a Quebec-born French Catholic named Louis Riel made a number of Quebecois openly sympathetic of these risings. The execution of Riel by the mostly English Federal Government in November of 1885 caused a tremendous rift between the two groups that has only barely healed by 1889.

The People of the Land

The typical English Canadian of the times is either a Canadian-born descendant of the early settlers or they are a first generation immigrant from England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Fifty years after the Great Irish Famine, the Irish population of Canada has swelled to levels rivalling the Scottish or Welsh communities, though the overwhelming majority of residents are of English ancestry. Stable, loyal citizens of the Empire, with just a touch of emerging nationalism, the English Canadian population is a comfortable and secure majority. For game purposes, all social levels and all career types are available to them.

The Quebecois had been French citizens up to 1759, and many still felt some loyalty to France, an attitude that caused headaches for more than one English-speaking political leader. Despite this, most Quebecois are Canadian patriots and had been throughout the 200 years they have lived there. Loyal to the land, if not to the Crown that rules it, they are "Canadiens" first and "Quebecois" second. The native language for a Quebecois is French. For game purposes, all Quebecois will receive Linguistics 1 in English. Quebecois are restricted to SOC 4 or less. For careers, they may serve two careers in the Army as NCOs, but may only become Army Officers for one career. This is to reflect the limited opportunities open to French officers in the Canadian Militia. Also, Quebecois may not take Naval Careers of any rank.

Other ethnic groups that figure prominently in the Canadian makeup are Poles, Ukrainians and Germans. The Poles and Ukrainians have come forward in recent years as homesteaders, filling the Western Districts with citizens and farms, the onion-domed tops of their orthodox churches dotting the western landscape. The majority of Germans, many skilled craftsmen and artisans, have settled themselves into small communities throughout Ontario and Manitoba. The centre of German-Canadian culture is the small town of Berlin, Ontario. For game purposes, the native language of these immigrants is their own and immigrant characters receive Linguistics 1 in English as a foreign language. Additional levels may be purchased according to the basic game rules. Polish and Ukrainian characters are limited to SOC 3 or less. German characters are limited to SOC 5. There are no other career restrictions for immigrants

The last two major ethnic groups in Canada are the Native Indians and the Metis. The Metis people of Canada were born, beginning in the mid-1600s, from the marriages of Cree, Ojibwa and Salteaux women to French and Scottish fur traders. Over the years, as Western Canada was explored, Scandinavian, Irish and English stock were added to the mix. The word Metis comes from the Latin miscere, meaning "to mix", and was used originally to describe the children of native women and French men only, but has since come to represent the off-spring of all these mixed marriages. Metis culture is a fusion of French, English and Native influences. The Metis have developed a unique language called Michif. All Metis characters have their choice of French or English as their native language, and automatically receive Linguistics of 2 (1 level for either French or English as a second language, and 1 level for Michif). Additional levels may be purchased as per the basic game rules. Metis are limited to SOC 3 or less and are prohibited from government careers, except the Army. Metis may enter any other career for which the qualify.

The native peoples of Canada are members of over 500 different bands representing the native peoples of the plains, the woodlands, the plateau, the coastal areas, and the northern regions. The native citizen is uniformly poor, under-educated and socially and culturally restricted by the prevalent attitudes of the period. Like their American counterparts, the native people of Canada are little involved in the social and cultural development of the nation. The vast majority of native citizens are either unemployed or minimally employed as base labourers. Within their own culture and society, natives have skilled Artisans, and revered and honoured leaders, thinkers, and Shaman. However, in the vast society of the nation, these distinctions count for little. Native citizens are limited to SOC 2 and lower. They are prohibited from all government careers, except the army, though they may enter any other career for which they qualify.

Being Canadian In Space: 1889

Unfortunately, the image of Canada is set by Hollywood, rather than history. In actuality, the Canadians of 1889 would be hard to distinguish from their British brothers or their American cousins. The third and fourth generation Canadian-born citizens speak their English with little or no trace of the Old Country accents so easily identifiable with England. Only the first and second generation immigrants still retain their Old World accents. In manner and deportment, the Canadian of 1889 truly is a hybrid between America and England. More casual and relaxed in manner and habit than his English brother, the Canadian of the day is still not as outgoing, cocky and self-sure as his American cousin. With no history of rebellion against the Crown to embolden him, the Canadian is at peace in an orderly, regulated society. The Canadian West is far less wild than the American version, with a focus more on settlement and agriculture as opposed to taming a wilderness.

With the vast distances between some of the Canadian regions, and the uniqueness of several of the inhabitants, there is no true single description of the "typical" Canadian. From the Habitant of Quebec, the Irish-Scots settlers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Expatriate Americans come to settle Ontario alongside the stoic German and English immigrants, to the Eastern European farmers settling the vast prairies of the Western Districts, each possessed distinctive traits, although the commonly accepted stereotype "Canuck" (a nickname coined in 1849) was a happy and contented transplanted Englishmen. Naturally, this was not accurate, as the following short examples illustrates.

"Maritimers", the residents of the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) were viewed in two ways by their fellow countrymen. The were seen as either dour, insular, under-educated fishermen, or they were simple but friendly outgoing folk, good-natured with a ready wit and an ability to make light of any serious situation. More accurately than either description, the average Maritimer was likely to be an honest, hard-working, spiritual person, with a strong sense of family and tradition, good moral character, and love for the simple joys and rewards of the life they had chosen. A Maritimer took fishing or shipbuilding seriously, and they felt more connected to the sea than the rest of their countrymen. The somewhat Spartan lifestyle their economic situation imposed upon them did not keep them from taking their fun where they could, and the love of song and dance was strong throughout the Atlantic Provinces. Loyal and steady, the Maritimer was a true "Salt of the Earth" and a loyal citizen to both Crown and Country.

The "Quebecois", or "Habitant" as they were sometimes known, was also viewed with two extreme faces. On the one hand the Quebecois was a happy-go-lucky woodsman or trapper, at ease in the wilds of the land and on good terms with the native peoples. A ready wit, a readier laugh, and a love of wine and song make the Quebecois a pleasant sidekick to the overly serious Anglais. Otherwise, the popular view of the Quebecois was as a brooding, unhappy, malcontent, resentful of the Anglophone and the English Queen that ruled them. Once again, the truth was more that the Quebecois, conscious of his differences from the other citizens, and with a lurking memory of defeat at the hands of the English, was a philosophical, industrious person who worked hard to reconcile the preferences of their hearts with the reality of their lives. Creative, expressive, and passionate in all things, the Quebecois was loyal to his family, his church, and to the land. That the ruler of the land was an English Queen was only a slight annoyance, except to the most culturally devout and politically ambitious.

"Ontarians" are representative of the great majority of Canadians of the time. Viewed with a mixture of respect and envy by the other citizens, these were the people who, in their own minds at least, represented the "true" Canada. English, Scottish immigrants, or the children thereof, it was also common to find a number of Ontario Canadians who drew their heritage from the United Empire Loyalists who had fled north following the American Revolution a century before. With a heritage in the lands nearly as long as that of the Quebecois, the Ontarian knew where they had come from and where they were going. They knew they were building a nation, and those that were not prepared to work with them were best advised to get out of the way.

The "Westerners" were composed of those citizens and settlers who had come to stake a place for themselves upon the great plains of the Western Districts. Farmers, Ranchers, Traders,  they were opening a frontier and building a nation like their American cousins. Their Eastern Canadian brothers may have viewed them as rustic, crude, and even half-savage, but the Westerner was a random character of any possible background and any possible heritage. English, French, Metis, Scots, European Immigrant, Asian labourer, or simple wanderer, Westerners could be anything and many things.

Perhaps a common characteristic for all Canadians, except for the most religiously devout or socially conscious,  was that they were far more comfortable and informal than the population of Victorian England. They enjoyed having fun, holding parties, and substance mattered more than style to them. Perhaps the best way to describe Canadians of the time is to mention a few.

Abraham Gesner was born in Nova Scotia in 1797 and buried there in 1864. He invented Kerosene oil and introduced it around the world. He is considered one of the founders of the modern petroleum industry.

Sir William Osler is an Ontario-born Doctor, who is possibly the best-known physician in the English-speaking world at this time. Famed and respected as both a practitioner of medicine as well as a Professor of the same. In 1889 Sir William has the distinction of being the first Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Sir Sanford Fleming is a Scottish immigrant who came to Canada in 1845. Trained as a Railroad surveyor and construction engineer, by 1889 Fleming has surveyed Canada from it's capital of Ottawa to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This was an epic and dangerous voyage that cost 20 men their lives. As Canada's foremost railway engineer, he supervised the building of thousands of miles of track and in 1878 he created the worldwide system of 24 Standard Time Zones, in part to ensure that the many trains crisscrossing the country could schedule track use to avoid head-on collisions. By 1884, Flemings Standard Time Zones are being used worldwide.

Less famous than the others, but truly unique is the life of the late Jerry Cronan. One of 40,000 Canadians who had fought in the American Civil War, Confederate Private Jerry Cronan died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Spotsylvania. He is the only Canadian Confederate who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Shortly after he was buried, Arlington became a cemetery for Union soldiers. Thus, Private Cronan has a dual claim to fame, as a Canadian and as a Confederate buried among the victorious enemy.

Another Canadian-born American Civil War veteran is Sarah Emma Edmonds. Dressed as a man, Sarah Emma Edmonds of New Brunswick enlisted in the Union army under a man's name in 1861. Masquerading as a "he," she served as a nurse, spy and general's aide for two years. She fought in the cavalry at Antietam and went on to fight with the western armies until she became sick. She then lived in St. Louis, a city full of Confederate spies, whom she in turn spied upon for the North. She married and settled in the United States where her comrades-in-arms found out her true identity at a regimental reunion in 1884.

These are the kind of people who make up Canada...

Generating Canadian Characters

For those who wish to create Canadian characters for the Space: 1889 system will generate attributes and skills in the same manner as British characters are created. However, there are some differences in careers available to reflect the differences in Canadian society.

Part One - Government Careers

Army Careers: Skills are the same as for the British Army, with the following exceptions:

In the Canadian Militia the equivalent of fashionable regiments are the Governor General's Body Guard (Dragoons), 1st (Hussar) Cavalry Regiment, 2nd (Dragoon) Cavalry Regiment, Governor General's Foot Guards and the "City Regiments" (1st [Prince of Wales] Regiment, 2nd [Queen's Own Rifles of Canada] Regiment, 9th [Voltigeurs de Quebec] Regiment, and the 10th [Royal Grenadier] Regiment.

There are no native regiments in the Canadian Militia.

Canadian Cavalry receive 1 level each of riding and Marksmanship (pistol) skill.

Navy Careers: Canadian Naval Characters are generated as in the basic game rules. Note that Canadians will be found serving on British warships and airships. There are no wholly-Canadian ships of the line or airships currently in service.

As Canada has no colonies of its own, and is a member of the British Empire, the careers of Foreign Office Diplomat, Foreign Office Agent, and Colonial Officer are not open to Canadian characters.

Unlike England, Australia, or India however, Canada did have a National Police organization. The Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) is a Federal police organization, and already well-known throughout Canada and the United States. The following two government careers are available to Canadian characters:

Mounted Police Constable: Str 3+, Soc 2+

Close Combat 1, Fieldcraft 1, Marksmanship(Rifle) 1, Tracking 1, Wilderness Travel(Foraging) 1, Riding (Horse) 1, Observation 1

Mounted Police Officer: Soc 3+, Int 3+

Fieldcraft 1, Marksmanship(Pistol) 1, Wilderness Travel(Foraging) 1, Riding (Horse) 1, Observation 2, Leadership 1

Part Two - Exotic Careers

As there is little big game left in North America, the Big Game Hunter career is not available for Canadian characters. In its place, a new exotic career is available. The Courier du Bois (Runner of the Woods) is a trapper, explorer, woodsman and wanderer of the wilderness.

Courier du Bois: Soc 2-, End 3+

Riding 1 (horse), Fieldcraft 1, Wilderness Travel 2 (foraging), Tracking 1, Marksmanship 1 (Rifle), Trapping 1.

All remaining careers are identical to the Service, Mercantile, Professional and Criminal Careers listed in the Space: 1889 Game book.

New Skill - Trapping

Trapping is a non-cascade Endurance skill, and represents the characters ability to construct, set and effectively use various forms of traps and snares to capture their quarry. It also rates the characters ability prepare and dress hides and carcasses. Trapping can also be used to prepare traps capable of capturing human quarry, if desired.


Bumsted, J.M. A History of the Canadian Peoples Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-1954-1200-1
McNaught, Kenneth. The Penguin History of Canada Penguin Books of Canada Limited, 1991. ISBN 0-1401-4998-8
Nader, Ralph. Canada Firsts McClelland & Stewart, 1992. ISBN 0-7710-6713-5
Silver, A.I. The French-Canadian Idea of Confederation 1864-1900 University of Toronto Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8020-7928-8
Stanley, George F & Flanagan, Thomas. The Birth of Western Canada: A History of the Riel Rebellions University of Toronto Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8020-6931-2
Last Updated Monday, 04-May-2009 19:53:48 EDT

Return to Main Page

Comments to

The material on this page is Copyright 2000 under the author or artist's name unless noted otherwise, and cannot be used without permission. This presentation Copyright 2000 by Heliograph, Inc. Space:1889 is a registered trademark of Frank Chadwick, all rights reserved, and is used with his permission. Deadlands, Weird West, The Great Rail Wars, the Deadlands Weird West logo, and the Weird West sub logo are Trademarks of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. Copyright 1996-2000 Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Castle Falkenstein is a trademark of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Copyright 1994. All rights reserved. Risus is a trademark of S. John Ross. Feng Shui is a trademark of Robin D. Laws. All rights reserved. Most other game, movie, or book names may be trademarks of their respective holders, and use of a trademark at this site should not be construed as implying the sponsorship of the trademark holder, nor, conversely, should use of the name of any product without mention of trademark status be construed as a challenge to such status. Heck no! We love those guys.