Background: In a world I am building, France becomes a much larger power in the New world, actually maintaining control of French Louisiana and even gaining control of Canada during an alternate version of the War of 1812. Canada and French Louisiana eventually merge to form the French Republic of Colonial Canada (or the FRCC), when the FRCC attempts to become an independent nation of its own in the late 1870's, France refuses and the Canadian War of Independence occurs.

The people of The United Dominion of Canada realize that while they are strong, the French Homeland is stronger, they need an ally. England is the best bet, but they are less than willing unless Canada decides to join the Commonwealth. Long story short, Canada take the deal and wins the war.

The problem is that my lack of knowledge on the commonwealth and on England as a whole, means that I am making too many assumptions; That England would make such a deal, that such a deal is possible and that a nation would even consider this deal.

While I'm having a great time imagining this Commonwealth Franco-Canada, I do not think it is even legally plausible to do so. All I need (or want) is a plausible explanation if the above is doable and if so, how I can make it so.

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    $\begingroup$ Why would England want Canada in the Commonwealth? England gains no power through this deal. Having Canada join the British Empire or get specific trade deals with Canada would be far more advantageous. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Sep 18 '16 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon that could work, I suggest turning that comment into an answer to earn rep. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 18 '16 at 7:52
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    $\begingroup$ At present this question refers to England. Of course in an alternate timeline the histories of all the countries of the British Isles might be different, but if the point of divergence is around 1815, then the name of the state of which England was a part would have been "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" since 1801. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Sep 18 '16 at 8:19

The Commonwealth of Nations, aka the British Commonwealth, did not exist in the 1870s; it was formally founded in 1949, after various stages of evolution (as is normal for British political institutions).

Before the Commonwealth, several parts of the British Empire were semi-independent as Dominions. In our history, the first Dominion was formed when several British colonies were joined together to form the Dominion of Canada. That happened in 1867, so the timing isn't too far off. But making it plausible isn't going to be easy.

Presumably this version of Canada is French-speaking? That's going to be a problem for the British. And presumably its political institutions are French-flavoured? If they aren't willing to take on the British Monarch as Head of State, and adopt a Westminster-style government structure, this isn't going to work.

The larger politics are also a problem. Since this could well lead to an expensive war with France, and (without a history of colonisation in Canada) the Empire will be more orientated towards India and Australia, the British aren't going to take this on unless there's something very profitable that comes with it. There's also a definite possibility of war with the USA, which will be less powerful, since it is missing lots of its traditional territory, but is still not negligible and right on the spot, rather than across an ocean.

So you need a really good motive for the British to take this on. That needs to be natural resources, somewhere that needs that needs British capital to develop it, but will be really profitable once the relevant railroads and mines are built. Gold, diamonds, really good iron ore, that kind of thing. It's a bit early for petroleum to be a big draw.

You also need the French-speaking Canadians to do something unusual for French-speakers: have a fashion for English-speaking culture, to make coming under British rule less offensive. Making this part of a rebellion against the French colonial masters might work.

  • $\begingroup$ Goods points, so the end is that if these events happen earlier, when the commonwealth is invented later, Canada is likely to join it $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 18 '16 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ If Canada remained bi-lingual with English a minority but widely spoken and legallly accepted language, and if they volunteered to accept Her Majesty as a (nominal but apolitical) head of state, the barriers to joining the Empire as a dominion are lowered. Eh? $\endgroup$ – Brian Drummond Sep 18 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Why would Canada be bilingual in this timeline? The French seem to have held onto it, and thus there wouldn't be many English-speaking colonists. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Sep 18 '16 at 20:04

The Commonwealth wasn't formed till the mid 1900s so this deal wouldn't exist. Even if the Commonwealth was around I find it unlikely.

I don't know much about 1870s England but working from modern day Commonwealth rules it is possible for a former French territory to join (or at least apply for commonwealth status) and many African countries have done so. England (or actually Britain) would be stupid to accept this deal. The Commonwealth is not powerful. All the deal would really give Britain is a possible ally on Commonwealth talks which don't really have that much impact on Britain. In my opinion having Canada join the British Empire or get specific trade deals with Canada would be far more advantageous for Britain.

  • $\begingroup$ A minor correction, according to the Wikipedia entry on Commonwealth membership criteria only two African countries which were formerly colonised by other European powers than Britain, Mozambique and Rwanda, have joined the Commonwealth, though others have expressed an interest. Of course this refers to (a) our timeline and (b) 2016, not the 1870s. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Sep 18 '16 at 8:12

The British Empire might be inclined to support the North American nation against France as part of its larger strategic aims, but the Colonials are not going to become an independent nation this way. The worst case scenario is the British Empire takes over governance and the French Colonials become a colony of the British Empire.

Given the realities like distance and lack of numbers, the French colony might be attached or subordinated to the existing English colonies in North America, so the French colonial government is subordinate to the British Governor in New York City, for example. The British might also consider some sort of "divide and conquer" scheme where groups within the French colony are given leading roles to rule and govern the colony to the benefit of Britain. This would follow how the British ruled the Indian sub continent, given the vast disparity of numbers and differences in culture between the British and the Indians. The French colonies might be easy to suborn, given the almost feudal nature of the French society in "New France", allow existing aristocrats to maintain their privileges at the pleasure of the British Crown.

In the late 1800's, the colonies might be considered large and self sufficient enough to become Dominions (much like Canada) with greater amounts of self governance. Instead of being ruled by an Imperial Viceroy, the colonies might have a Governor General appointed to represent the Crown, while the local Parliament conducts the day to day affairs.

The British Commonwealth is a post imperial organization which maintains loose political and economic ties between the UK and former colonies and Dominions, so this evolution would not happen in your world until after Britain "decolonializes", which occurred after the Second World War. What events in your universe would cause this is up to you, but with the huge changes in your timeline starting in the 1700's, it seems clear the Revolution, Napoleonic Wars and WWI and WWII would either never occur or be so drastically changed there would not be a correspondence to events in this universe.

  • $\begingroup$ Correct all those wars are different, if only slightly, now all I gotta do is find out a way for Britain to decolonialize sooner $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 18 '16 at 11:30

In our world, Rwanda and Mozambique joined the Commonwealth despite not being former British colonies. This seems to indicate that another arbitrarily non-"British" country could join.


protected by Separatrix Sep 19 '16 at 10:00

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