Miss Confederation


History without the stiffness and polish time creates.

Canada’s journey to Confederation kicked off with a bang — or rather, a circus, a civil war (the American one), a small fortune’s worth of champagne, and a lot of making love — in the old-fashioned sense. Miss Confederation offers a rare look back, through a woman’s eyes, at the men and events at the centre of this pivotal time in Canada’s history.

Mercy Anne Coles, the daughter of PEI delegate George Coles, kept a diary of the social happenings and political manoeuvrings as they affected her and her desires. A unique historical document, her diary is now being published for the first time, offering a window into the events that led to Canada’s creation, from a point of view that has long been neglected.


McDonald’s finely crafted and nuanced history book rises above the crescendo of flag-waving nationalism. It adds a completely new dimension to our nation-making experience — a unique woman’s perspective which will stand the test of time.

The Chronicle Herald

Anne McDonald's Miss Confederation, which includes Mercy Coles' diary, an intimate and timely account of her view of the Fathers of Confederation on their road to uniting the provinces, provides colour to what has previously been a dry subject. It is a lively history and well worth reading.

Sharon Johnston, author of the bestselling Matrons and Madams

Mercy Coles’ diary of the social side of Canada’s Confederation conferences, as analyzed by Anne McDonald, reveals a story of beaus and belles, of champagne and dancing, of politicians lobbying each other through the medium of their unmarried daughters — all as seen from the young lady’s side of the quadrille. An enlightening, entertaining read.

Fred Stenson, author of the historical novels, The Trade, Lightning and The Great Karoo

Anne McDonald’s enthusiasm for her subject is infectious. The pleasure of reading Miss Confederation is not just in the rich historical detail it captures, but also in following McDonald’s delight in discovering Mercy Coles’ diary. McDonald is not just a transcriber, she acts as an attentive and affectionate listener, recognizing the value of a young woman’s lively perspective on an unfolding history.

Frances Greenslade, author of Shelter

Unlike the more stagnant, textbook version of events, Miss Confederation is a refreshing and honest view of these meetings and the Canada of that time.

Atlantic Books Today

McDonald and Coles take readers along on the “Confederation ride” — a fascinating and revealing tour of eastern Canada in 1864.

Canada’s History

About the Authors

Anne McDonald

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 25, 2016
Anne McDonald photo

Anne McDonald

Anne McDonald is an award-winning author. Her novel To the Edge of the Sea won the Saskatchewan First Book Award. Her play Lullabies and Cautions was recently showcased at the 2016 Spring Festival of New Plays. Her work has appeared in literary journals, Canada’s History, and on CBC Radio. Anne teaches theatre and creative writing. She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.