Remains of the British Empire

The British Empire flourished more or less between 1850 and 1950. The remains of empire are found in Canada and other countries in numerous ways, some illustrated below.

1. India won the Cricket World Cup in April 2011 beating Sri Lanka in the finals. Other participating countries included Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Canada, West Indies, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. All but the Netherlands are or were at some time part of the British Empire. (When England needed a Protestant ruler, it imported one from the Netherlands, William III from 1689 to 1702, who ruled England with his wife Mary.) The Empire spread the game of cricket throughout parts of the world where it remains popular today. In the summer, matches are played on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

2. The Queen, represented by the Governor General, is head of state in Canada, as well as in other Commonwealth countries. On April 29, 2011 Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, Prince William will be married in London. He is second in line to the British throne. The Canadian Governor General and Canadian Prime Minister are among those invited to the ceremony where the Governor General will be seated ahead of the Prime Minister (if he attends).

3. A Canadian twenty dollar bill is printed with the Queen’s head on it. Canada celebrates Victoria Day each year (May 24th, 2011) as a public holiday in honour of Queen Victoria.

4. The flags of British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario have the Union Jack as part of their designs, as did the Canadian flag until the adoption of the maple leaf in 1965.

5. Place names in Canada include Victoria, Prince Albert, Richmond, New Westminster, Regina, London, Kingston, Perth, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and St. Andrews. Names of many streets in Canadian cities and towns have a British connection, such as Wellington St and Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

6. The government and judicial system of Canada are based on British institutions and practices. Many other institutions, customs and practices are linked to the British Empire, even if these came in some way from the United States which was itself part of the Empire until it declared independence in 1776. United Empire Loyalists were those who migrated north to Canada at this time.

A website at provides a description of what remains of the British Empire in 2011 in terms of geographical scope with places (countries and others) listed as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Crown Dependencies, the Commonwealth Realm (includes Canada), and British Overseas Territories. Contrast this with my wallmap of the Empire in 1905 where large areas of the world are coloured red, including Canada Australasia, the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa. In 1905, these places were governed from London; today they may have some association through the Commonwealth.


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