Canada's Odyssey

A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests

Table of contents

1. Introduction
Part 1: The Founding Pillars
2. The Incomplete Conquest of New France
3. The Original Partnership With Indigenous Peoples
4. English-Speaking People Become the Majority
Part 2: Trying to Complete the Conquests
5. Three Wars and Betrayal of Our Indian Allies
6. Rebellions and the Plan to Assimilate French Canada
Part 3: Confederation
7. English Canada Gets a Dominion French Canada Gets a Province and Indigenous Peoples Get Left Out
Part 4: Confederation to World War II
8. The Colonization of Indigenous Canada
9. The Provincialization of French Canada
10. The Nationalization of English Canada
Part 5: Transformation of the Pillars
11. Quebec Becomes Constitutionally Radical
12. Aboriginal Peoples Get a Hearing
13. English-Canada Becomes Multicultural
Part 6: Seeking a Constitutional Fix
14. Patriation – Quebec’s Loss, Aboriginal Gains
15. The End of Mega Constitutional Politics?
16. The Three Pillars Continue Their Odyssey


In Canada’s Odyssey, renowned scholar Peter H. Russell provides an expansive, accessible account of Canadian history from the pre-Confederation period to the present day.


"The political scientist Peter Russell…is known for his sensitive and searching work on Canada’s indigenous communities… "

- Andrew Stark

"In Canada’s Odyssey, Peter Russell shows a different configuration of conquest, cession, and constitutions…Historians should heed its message…"

- Elizabeth Mancke

"The value of Canada’s Odyssey is that it requires very little of the reader in advance. It offers an open and accessible path and, although it may appear somewhat daunting (given its length of 500 pages), it is a very enjoyable and engaging read. In its writing style, the book manages to walk a line somewhere between academic and popular history, which is a challenging line for any author. The informality of its tone combined with the sheer scope and detail of the project serves to reach and hold the attention of a diverse set of readers. … [A]nyone looking for some way to mark Canada’s sesquicentennial would do well to read this book. "

- Joshua Nichols

"Peter Russell has been teaching Canadian constitutional politics since the 1950s at the University of Toronto and he has given us the benefit of a lifetime’s scholarship and engagement in this brilliant book. It is thoughtful, incisively written and as accessible an account as one will ever find about our country’s political and legal history. Many books are called ‘indispensable;’ this one certainly rates that description. "

- Bob Rae, Canada’s History, February-March, 2018

"This is a monumental achievement – one that will undoubtedly influence the debate over the nature of Canada itself. "

- Nicole C. O'Byrne

"Canada’s Odyssey is worth reading. .. "

- Garth Stevenson

"Hopefully Russell’s work can serve as a reminder of how far historiography of politics and society in pre-Confederation Canada has come, but also, of how far it has to go. "

- Donald Fyson