THE DOMINION IN 1983 (1883) – Written by “Ralph Centennius,” the presumed pseudonym of an unknown author.
Oh, Canada! Our neighbors to the north hopped on the speculative science fiction bandwagon with this short story. The premise is that the author is looking back at the 100 years of Canadian “history” from 1883 to 1983.
In futuristic 1983 the population of Canada is 93 million, there are 15 provinces and the country is a model for the world in terms of peace, learning, arts and sciences. We readers are told that there was a period around 1885 when many Canadians supported the idea of Canada becoming part of the United States, but this movement faded after losing at the ballot box.
Canadian technology leads the world, with rocketships that can fly at a mile per second and electric automobiles for ground transport. Electricity is the predominant energy source, and Electropolis, the first all-electric city, was recently completed.
The aforementioned rocketships are made from an alloy of aluminum and calcium. (Calcium?) This alloy is supposedly stronger than steel but weighs 75% less. The vessels are cylindrical and are forty feet long and twenty feet wide.
These rocketships are fueled by solid oxygen and carbonic acid. They are launched from greased tunnels, fly along specially designated air lanes with tightly regulated altitudes, then land at their destination by descending into greased tunnels similar to the ones the vessels took off from.
Toronto and Montreal stand out as THE cities even in this country full of magnificent metropolises. French-Canadians are the society’s official safe targets and are looked down upon and sneeringly dismissed. We are told there was often fear that the French-Canadians would throw in with the Americans if the U.S. invaded Canada as seemed probable in this fictional history.
Jingoistic Fenians cheered on the possibility of a U.S. vs Canada war, but assorted misfortunes caused America to focus on internal politics and not go through with the invasion.
In 1935 the Canadians abolished their army and navy, disbanded all provincial parliaments and reduced the national parliament to a mere 15 members, one for each province.
This hilariously naïve work tells us that there were no ill effects from abolishing the armed forces and that the Canadian government saved so much money from that move that 1945 saw the end of all taxes. When emergencies arise the civic-minded citizenry and their political leaders cheerfully kick in money to cover them.
We get what amounts to an O Henry-style twist for this story in one aspect: Social programs are not run by the government but by the private sector. (?) The Society of Public Benefactors is the main organization tending to these programs.
Canada in 1983 belongs to the United Empire of English Speakers and there is much optimism that the United States will soon join the organization. Great Britain is already a member and is flourishing because they stayed out of destructive continental wars.
Centennius takes a few shots at the Progressive and Conservative political parties of the 1880s but nothing too scathing. On the international scene in 1983 Slavs are depicted as the major threat to world peace. Yes, Slavs.
But at any rate things in Canada in far-off 1983 are so sedate there has not been a single murder in decades. Uh. Yeah.
As always, works like this are a joy to read since they always contain imaginative and innovative touches alongside comically inaccurate predictions for the heights technology would reach in the future. At just thirty-odd pages what have you got to lose by reading it? +++
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