The story of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is the story of early Canada.
The story of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (1767-1820) is also a story of early Canada. An active participant in the very genesis of the country, including discussions that would eventually lead to Confederation, the Prince lived in Quebec City, undertook historic tours of Upper Canada and the United States (both firsts for a member of the Royal Family) before he was stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as commander-in-chief of British North America. Canada’s maps are dotted with his name (Prince Edward Island the most obvious example), making him one of the most honoured among our forgotten historical figures.
Exiled from the court of his father, and accompanied by his long-time mistress Julie de St. Laurent, the 24-year-old Prince Edward Augustus arrived in Quebec City in 1791. His life became woven into the fabric of a highly-charged society and left an indelible mark on the role of the monarchy in Canada. Seventy years later the country would be united under the crown of his daughter, Victoria, Sir John A. Macdonald’s "Queen of Canada."
About the authors
Nathan Tidridge teaches Canadian history and government and was awarded the Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence (Teacher of the Year) in 2008. In 2011, he received the Charles Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching from Queen’s University. Nathan was one of six Ontarians in 2012 presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.Nathan lives in Carlisle, Ontario, with his wife Christine and daughters.
Residing in Canada during the formative period following the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Duke of Kent participated in a society struggling to define itself. Prince Edward represented the vibrant role of the Crown in this country, and was the first to conceptually unite the English and French speaking peoples of British North America under the term “Canadian.” When he travelled to the newly constituted province of Upper Canada in 1792, Prince Edward visited the Loyalist settlements emphasizing British sovereignty in an area threatened by a growing American republic, a situation that would come to a head with the War of 1812. In Lower Canada, the duke embodied the role of the crown as an encourager and protector of French culture on the continent. Appointed commander-in-chief of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and later for all of British North America, the Duke of Kent has a dramatic impact on the Maritimes. For Halifax, in particular, the duke’s time in residence is still considered a “Golden Age” by Haligonians.Nathan Tildridge appropriately calls the Duke of Kent the “most honoured of Canada’s forgotten historical figures,” and this phrase rings true when I look out across my province. In Nova Scotia, and indeed in much of the rest of Canada, most notably Prince Edward Island, his name is still very much alive, a testimony to a man who lived with us longer than most of his notable contemporaries, and who now enjoys pride of place in our history books.Interestingly, Tildridge refers to the Duke of Kent as the “Father of the Canadian Crown.” Indeed, it was the Duke of Kent that began the process of meaningful travel throughout Canada, a hallmark of Canada’s royal family today. The duke’s presence in the country embodied the complex constitutions developing in British North America, as well as the Crown’s relationship with First Nations, French Canada, Loyalist settlements, and even the United States. Finally, it is the duke’s only daughter, Queen Victoria, who presided over Confederation and the creation of the Dominion of Canada.As Her Majesty’s representative in the province of Nova Scotia, I am pleased that this work highlights the place of Prince Edward in our national story.
Tidridge’s clear, concise writing style and stellar research skills reveal an individual who was actively engaged in Confederation rather than a silent participant.
Literary Review of Canada
Tidridge manages to portray Prince Edward as an inexhaustible defender of the British Crown who meritoriously achieved the honour of having an island adorned with his name.
Queen Victoria’s father deserved greater role in Canadian history.
Previous biographies of the Duke of Kent focus on his real and imagined personal life including his often strained relationship with his parents and siblings, alleged obsession with military discipline and rumoured affairs that reputedly left Canada populated with half-siblings of Queen Victoria. Tidridge analyses this reputation critically, creating a more nuanced and accurate portrait of the Duke. His focus on the Duke of Kent’s relationship with Canada is a fresh approach that reveals the Princes’ full significance as a historical figure in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Nathan Tidridge’s lively and insightful biography, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown, restores the Duke to his rightful place in Canadian history.
This well- researched, well written book is an insightful account of a man who deserves to be remembered for his own contribution to history.
The Eurohistory Journal
Other titles by Nathan Tidridge
The Queen at the Council Fire
The Treaty of Niagara, Reconciliation, and the Dignified Crown in Canada
Quest Biographies Bundle — Books 31–35
Harriet Tubman / Laura Secord / Joey Smallwood / Prince Edward, Duke of Kent / John A. Macdonald
Canada's Constitutional Monarchy
An Introduction to Our Form of Government