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The story of confederation, with postscript on Quebec situation Gosnell, R. E. (R. Edward), 1860-1931 1918

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R. E. GOSNELL Copyright 1918, by the Author.
THIS being the fiftieth year of Confederation it is fitting
and most timely that, in addition to the ceremonies incident to the celebration of the fiftieth birthday on the last
First of July, there should be a book published in which are
summarized and explained the conditions on account of which'
Union was evolved; in which events and personalities are
clearly indicated, and not only general principles and vital
issues are dealt with but in which local and provincial considerations and relations have due prominence, and the very
widest possible aspects of British federation in North America are set forth. It is not even untimely at this critical stage
of our history that we should speculate somewhat on the
Two books, which I might term by-products of Confederation sentiment, were published this year, one didactic in its
treatment and the other biographical, both excellent books,
but neither making claims to being at all comprehensive in its
scope. The first referred to is a symposium of four lectures
delivered at the Toronto University. The other is entitled
"Confederation and its Leaders," and is written by Mr. M. O.
Hammond of Toronto. Sir Joseph Pope, some years secretary to my late father, Sir John Macdonald, has given to us
what is known as "Confederation Documents," to the archives
of which he had free access. This volume, as its name implies,
is not intended for popular consumption, and its contents are
confined to basic facts. There were no regular minutes of
the Charlottetown, Quebec and London conferences kept,
and Sir Joseph's book, highly valuable for its purpose, is
largely made up of notes made by my father and the texts of FOREWORD
resolutions relating to the general principles upon which
Union was based. Col. the Hon. J. Hamilton Gray, one of
the Fathers and a former Premier of New Brunswick, -may
be regarded as the official historian of Confederation, but it is
ever to be regretted that only his first volume was published
and the manuscript of the second was lost. The published
volume is extremely valuable as a record and for certain
observations by one of the makers of Confederation, but it
covers only the organic stage of Union—from the Charlottetown conferences to the actual culmination in 1867, and Con-
' federation is still in the making. It has had treatment in the
magazines and in several small volumes not purporting to be
more than readable reviews of the bringing about of the
B.N.A. Act, the Magna Charta of Canada as a dominion, but
none of the publications to which I have referred covers the
wide field which Mr. Gosnell has surveyed in his book to
which this is a foreword. There have, of course, been several
useful and able commentaries upon Confederation from the
constitutional point of view, largely based upon judicial interpretation and particularly upon decisions of the Privy Council.
With fifty years of perspective, we should now be in a position to judge more or less accurately of the merits of the work
of the architects of the federal structure, and to view successfully federal relations under a variety of trying strains and
over a wide extent of territory. It is true that as a result of
conditions arising out of this war Confederation has yet to
stand its severest test, but there is every hope that sectional
and racial considerations, which are the lions in the pathway,
will not be permitted to prevail.
Mr. Gosnell modestly claims to have written only a
journalistic review of Confederation. This may be true, but
it is the kind of review which appeals to the ordinary reader
who wishes to arrive at a serviceable knowledge of the subject, and in that, I think, consists its merits. Mr. Gosnell,
though I judge him to have political leanings, has endeavored,
and I think with success, to be impartial in his judgments and
estimates of men and in his conclusions in respect of their
I should be less than human if I were not pleased that
Mr. Gosnell gives to my father, Sir John Macdonald, a prominent place among those who accomplished the federation of
the British North American Provinces, and acknowledges
that he had very definite aims and high ideals in respect of
Union in Canada and beyond Canada as it affected the Empire.
His dominating idea was the co-operation of Canada in maintaining inviolate an Empire in which the well-tried principles
and traditions of British institutions should always prevail and
that whatever form ultimate British federation, of which he
thought Canada would be a happy partner, might take, British sovereignty of the people as represented in the King should
be the cardinal feature. Hence he believed in calling it the
"Kingdom of Canada," instead of the "Dominion of Canada,"
the King being the connecting constitutional link between all
parts of the Empire, and allegiance to the Empire being the
vital principle of all his politics. War has in a wonderful way
cemented Empire sentiment which has hitherto been more or
less nebulous. It is for this reason that we regret the attitude of Quebec which is the only doubtful factor in the wider
solution we have to face after the war, because not much
longer can we dally with the problems which persistently
force themselves on us for final consideration. We must
either be an Empire united in some form with constitutional
'bulwarks or a series of independent nations whose interests
will become more and more diverse and unrelated. There is
the much talked of kinship which counts for a good deal
while it is young but grows cold and indifferent with age.
It is now Teutonic ambitions for world supremacy as against
British traditions in favor of a free world working out its own
destiny untrammelled by dynastic complications. The key
to the future liberty of nations is in the consolidation of the
British Empire, with sympathetic alliances strong enough to FOREWORD
ensure peace and prevent tyrannous domination by one country over another.
There is another feature of the story of Confederation
which I did not fully realize until I read the manuscript. It
is the extent to which railways and transportation generally
have entered into and influenced that great national movement and undertaking.
We find at the very outset in the Maritime Provinces a
strong desire for the facilities of, transportation afforded b>y
railways and that only a few years after the first line in Great
Britain had been laid down and its usefulness demonstrated.
Isolated as the Maritime Provinces were people naturally
wished to have communication with the outside world. They
wanted connection by rail with the adjoining states of the
Union and they wanted to get into commercial touch with the
Canada of that day.
So far as either the people of the United States or the
people of Canada were concerned there was no sentiment in
the Atlantic Provinces at all. They knew the people of
Canada scarcely as well as we know the people of Australia
today and for practical purposes were farther away from them.
The Maritime Provinces did not know Canada at all and their
only interest in it—I speak of the people as a whole—was the
possibility of an extension of trade and a wider outlook upon
the world, an interest somewhat similar to what we feel in
Newfoundland and the West Indies. Of course, we have the
wider interest now in rounding out our Confederation on its
'broadest possible basis, the appeal to what I am pleased to
feel is our strong national pride. But essentially sentiment in
national affairs builds itself up and feeds upon material interests and material expansion. There was no Canadian sentiment, as such, and no Canadian national pride—quite the
opposite—in 1864, as we know and feel it today. Our limits
of vision were narrow and provincial. The glory of the
United States is in the extent and resource of its great
domain.    That of the British is in the Empire upon which FOREWORD
the sun never sets. Germany has developed a pride in and
love for Fatherland as the result of consolidation of a number
of Teutonic states in which one hundred years ago such sentiments were unknown.
But at the bottom of it all has been the extension of the
facilities of inter-communication—at first, for centuries, ships,
and then railways, and now a combination in system of both
ships and railways. So in Canada the desire for railway communication and connection evolved the Intercolonial, which
was the sine qua non of Confederation so far as the Maritime
Provinces were concerned.
We have an interesting analogue, though an illustration
of the principle on a much bigger scale, of the Canadian Pacific railway, the sine qua non of British Columbia's entry into
Union—the joining of the east and west—and perhaps in a
more important sense the development of the entire' West,
whose marvellous expansion in three decades is wholly due,
as a first cause, to that great national enterprise-
As an example of the weight of considerations of political
and material interest versus sentiment in national affairs—
although sentiment in the last analysis must be the binding
cement—we have the original proposal of the Hon. X^eorge
Brown. The genesis of Confederation, so far as he was concerned, was a railway into the Middle West to develop that
country and create a population which in voting power would
offset and overcome "French-Canadian domination," against
which he waged relentless warfare. It was not a political
possibility in its original form, but it secured his assent to the
Union of all the Provinces which would break the deadlock
between Upper and Lower Canada and possibly achieve his
object in another way.
And just here permit me to interject this observation,
Railways were the original problem of Confederation. They
have remained the great problem of Canada since Confederation, not only in the Dominion as a whole, but in the
Provinces, and if Newfoundland were added tomorrow to the 8
sisterhood we should have an extension of the problem there.
Governments have been made by their railway policies and
more have been wrecked by them. In this way our railway
problems are among the fruits of Confederation, and these
problems are not less now than before, although our financial
ability to cope with them is greater than ever. There have
been big mistakes made in our railway policies from the very
beginning and for the reason that in one sense and in many
localities their prospective benefits were greatly magnified,
and in another sense their importance as factors of local
development have not been sufficiently appreciated. As a
consequence we have too many railways for one purpose and
not enough for another. A railway is an uncertain quantity
from start to finish. It may, as in the case of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, exceed in its success all anticipations, or it
may, as in the case of some others, be very disappointing in
results; but as the Monetary Times, I think, suggested, we
have this hope, even as to what we regard as mistakes for the
present, they may in the years to come by new conditions
and new developments be galvanized into successes. I feel,
however, and have always left since I have begun to make a
study of the railway problem that, as a corollary of Confederation, based as it was largely on railway considerations, the
policies of the Dominion and of the Provinces should have
been made to co-ordinate as to general and local requirements,
so as to have avoided overlapping activities and jurisdictions.
Thus we would have had a logical and comprehensive system,
not as at present, one disjointed and duplicated in many parts.
Returning to the main thought which I had in view, our
transcontinental system of communication assisted materially
in achieving another object of Confederation, and that is of
extending our outlook beyond continental shores. We have
had afforded us through our own territory outlets to the
Orient and to Dominions of the Southern Seas by lines of
steamships whose importance has been agumented by the
logic of a Pacific cable.    We have thus by these complements FOREWORD
to Atlantic services virtually established the All Red Route,
a material and substantial binder of Empire, for which sentiment and large political considerations may some day find
suitable constitutional habiliments.
I have been induced to attach this Foreword to Mr. Gos-
nell's Story of Confederation because of the important and
peculiar relation which transportation bears to the whole
subject in regard to 'both the narrower and wider aspects of
Union. One of the features of interest to me in the story of
the author is the manner in which, not obtrusively, however,
and perhaps not intentionally, this relation has been traced
from an obscure commencement to a splendid and logical conclusion. Mr. Gosnell, as he says in his Introduction, has not
indulged in attempted rhetorical flights or served up literary
garnishings to his readers—although the subject is full of
temptations in that respect—'but, in my opinion, he has succeeded in representing a plain and interesting narrative of
events and exposition of conditions which have led up to our
present proud position as a Dominion, now almost conspicuous in world affairs. His book is also suggestive of much
greater things yet to come. As Mr. Gosnell suggests, Confederation is still in the making and the resources of statesmanship have not yet been exhausted, or indeed have they yet
come up to the mark of determining the possibilities of the
future. These shall be requisitioned to the full in "The Work
of Big Men After the War."  THE AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION
THE first of July of the present year having been the
Fiftieth Anniversary of Canadian Federation, I was
induced to write a series of articles for the Victoria
Daily Colonist, entitled "The Story of Confederation." These
met with a good deal of favour from readers, and as a result
of requests from numerous sources, I have undertaken their
publication in book form.
I have dealt with the subject from the time of the first
suggestions in the direction of the consolidation of the various
parts of British North America up to the present time, and
in some measure prospectively as well. Confederation is
yet in the making, and I have endeavoured to deal with it
not only in the general and wider aspects as relates to the
/consummation of union in 1867, but to the subsequent incorporation of Provinces from time to time, with some reference
to the conditions which governed the entry of each, and to
sundry modification of terms and readjustment of financial
I have dealt with British Columbia at greater length than
with any of the other Provinces, for several reasons, one-
being the natural inclination to be more liberal in attention
to one's own Province; another being that in its federal relations it has a history peculiarly its own; and still another
being that that history is least known and least understood
in Canada. I have had occasion, and perhaps more favourable opportunities than most persons, to study federation
from the British Columbia point of view, and I trust that
my treatment of the subject will in that respect be somewhat
illuminating. 12
The endeavour has been throughout to give a plain, journalistic statement of events and conditions associated with
the evolution of Canada's nationhood. The subject lends
itself to fine writing and the temptation to grandiose rhetoric
and literary garnishings is very great, a temptation I would
have resisted, even if I had possessed these accomplishments.
Had it not been for a natural indolence and lack of time
I might have rewritten the articles to harmonize the style
with the greater dignity of the book. With a few alterations and slight editorial revision, however, the Story
of Confederation is here printed as it originally appeared, and
its merits must be judged from a journalistic rather than
from the bibliographic point of view.
Speaking prospectively, the future of Canada is, in the
opinion of many of our leading publicists, still a serious
problem, rendered not the less perplexing on account of the
War, which has given to our federation and all the federations of the Empire a new significance and a newer outlook.
Personally, although I may fall within the category of those
who venture where angels fear to tread, I have no doubts
about the final solution and have no fears of the lions in
the pathway.
In the concluding remarks of the volume I have, at least,
indicated possibilities, possibilities made brighter and more
certain on account of the success achieved by the lesser federation whose steady development and splendid prosperity exemplify in a remarkable way the truth of the old saw, "great
oaks from little acorns grow."
FIFTY years ago, on the first of July of this year, which
has ever since been known as Dominion Day, the principle of Confederation had concrete expression in the
British North America Act, then brought into effect. The
old colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia
were brought together under the terms of a written constitution, but one in which was contained and continued intact the
best of free, expanding and traditional institutions of British
government. The B. N. A. Act, as it is more commonly
termed, made provision for the inclusion of the other colonies
of British North America whenever they chose to come in,
and for the organization of the other Provinces in the Middle
West as the territory developed and became sufficiently populated. Newfoundland is now the only colony of British
North America which is not represented in the sisterhood of
J. S. Ewart, the well known constitutional lawyer and the author of "Kingdom
Papers," has taken serious exception to the use of the term "Corrfederation" as applying
to the Dominion. As a matter of exact tenninology the exception is well taken. Canada
is not a confederation but a federation, although from the point of derivation, apart
from the recognized meaning, the use of "Confederation" could be justified.
Murray's Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition of Confederation:
«jj_ *    *    *    *    j^ league^  an alliance   (between persons or states), in modern
use only the latter.
"2. A number of states (or formerly of persons) united by a league; a body of
states united for certain common purposes.
"In modern common use 'Confederation' is usually limited to a permanent union of
sovereign states for common action in relation to external affairs. Such were the following: Germanic Confederation, the union of the German States under the presidency
of the Emperor of Austria from 1815 to 1866; Confederation of the Rhine, the union
^of certain German States under the protection of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1806 to
1873; New England Confederation, the union of four New England Colonies for commrtm
defence against the Dutch and the Indians, 1643-84. The United States are commonly
described as a confederation (or confederacy) from 1777 to 1789; but from 1780, their
closer union has been considered a 'federation' or federal republic."
There is no question that the Canadian union cannot be strictly regarded'as a confederation, which involves a compact or alliance by treaty among sovereign powers for
some common purpose, but without reference to the directiQn of local affairs; but the
term has been so persistently ^and invariably used in Canada from the very outset that
it may be said to have become authorized by general consent and constant usage. If
I were to give to this book the title of "The Story of Federation," the majority of
readers would have to read the contents to gather the purport of the phrase. One
might almost as "well try to give-a new name to Canada itself. :
provinces. That ancient colony had representatives at the
celebrated conference of 1864, but the scheme as submitted
to the people subsequently was voted down by a large
majority, and they have never evinced any disposition to join
Canada since. It is not necessary here to discuss the reasons,
but as the war has changed everything it is likely to be followed by the complete rounding out of Confederation by the
addition of Newfoundland.
Perhaps nothing affecting the destinies of the British
Empire has been so significant as the consolidation of the
British possessions in North America under the title of the
Dominion of Canada. It has had a far-reaching effect in
stimulating similar consolidations in Australasia and in
Southern Africa, and it may well be that the example set by
Canada in 1867 will be followed in that wider and closer consolidation of the Empire, which it is predicted will come after
the war.
Claims have been made for Joseph Howe, Sir. Chas.
Tupper, George Brown and Sir John Macdonald as having
first advocated Confederation, and having promoted the movement. None of these can be established. As a matter of
fact, the first proposal dates as far back as 1690, the idea being
to unite Anglo-American colonies for purposes of defence
against the French and hostile Indians. The second proposal
was in 1754-55, and originated with no less a personage than
Benjamin Franklin himself. In 1775 Wm. Smith, who was
afterwards a chief justice, proposed a plan of union, but was
banished to Canada, and one authority refers to him as "the
grandfather of Confederation." And so from that time at
frequent intervals it was advocated and supported by prominent men, in the newspapers and magazines, in books and
pamphlets and by legislative resolutions. I can give you a
list of over fifty of the times and occasions, and these could
no doubt be greatly multiplied; but the four men referred to
were certainly early and strong advocates. Sir John A. Mac-"
donald attended a meeting in Montreal in 1849, at which a THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
resolution in favour of union was passed, and in the same
year the British North American League, which, according to
the Hon. Alexander Morris, was composed of the advanced
wing of the Conservative party "that rallied around the
banner of John A. Macdonald." Sir Charles Tupper in his
reminiscences does not claim to go back of i860, when he
delivered a lecture in St. John, New Brunswick, on the subject. Of Joseph Howe, his biographer, Hon. J. W. Longley,
has said: "When Johnston, in 1854, moved a resolution and
made an eloquent speech in favour of union of the British
North American provinces, Howe had spoken in anything but
enthusiastic terms in support of Johnston's resolution. On
the contrary, he pitted against this proposition a wider and
more dazzling prospect of Imperial Union. It is just to affirm
that while Howe recognized the value and importance of
Canadian Confederation, he always cherished a lurking fear
that the Maritime Provinces would be completely overshadowed and absorbed by the Upper Provinces by such a
union." Of the Hon. George Brown's share in bringing about
Confederation reference will be made later.
The leading Canadians who supported the movement
were Chief Justice Sewell (1814 and 1822), William Lyon
Mackenzie (1831), Bishop Strachan (1838), Hon. Hamilton
Merritt (1851), Colonel Rankin (1851), Hon. J. W. Johnston,
in the legislature of Nova Scotia (1854), R. S. Hamilton, Nova
Scotia (1855), Hon. J. H. Gray, in New Brunswick legislature
(1856), J. C. Tache, Quebec (1857), Hon. A. T. Gait, Toronto
(1857), and in the Canadian Legislature, supported by the
Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee, in 1859; at later dates Sir
George E. Carter, Sir John Rose, Hon. Alexander Morris,
Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John A. Macdonald, Hon. Joseph
Howe, Hon. George Brown, and, of course, we have others
who were delegates at the Charlottetown Conference of 1864,
which included William Macdougall, Alexander Campbell,
Oliver Mowat, H. L. Langevin (of Old Canada), A. G. Archibald and R. B. Dickie, of Nova Scotia; Sir Leonard Tilley,
Hon. Charles Mitchell and J. H. Gray, New Brunswick; the  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Hon. Colonel Gray, E. Palmer, W. H. Pope (father of Sir
Joseph Pope), and A. A. McDonald, Prince Edward Island.
These were not all the most prominent after Sir John A.
Macdonald, Sir Charles Tupper and George Brown.*
But in any review of the persons who are deserving
of credit is included the late Judge Thomas Chandler
Haliburton, famous in Canadian literature as the creator of
the character of "Sam Slick," whose vision of Empire, as
revealed in his writings was greater, wider and farther in the
future than that of any other Canadian, not even excepting
Joseph Howe. He was the first and the best of Canadian
humorists. It will be seen, therefore, from this cursory
outline of the movement in its inception that confederation
of the British possessions in North America is something
which was for a long time in the air, just as some form of
Imperial federation has been in the air for many years and -
to whom to attach some special credit on its account as the
originator would be most difficult. Before leaving this phase
of the subject it would be well to remember the celebrated
report of Lord Durham in 1839, in which there was the first
definite and official recommendations in regard to union of
all the Canadian colonies and parts of British North America.
Without any doubt that report, whether written by himself
or his secretary, had much to do with formulating opinion on
the subject.
* On Wednesday, August 8th, of this year, Sir James Grant, in replying to an
address of the City of St. Catherines, the freedom of which had been extended to him,
after referring to the Welland Canal constructed in 1824, he said:
"Near reference to the C. P. R. recalls a period almost of ancient history. .In 1849
and 1850 I entered the medical department of McGill University, guest of the late Allen
McDonald, ex-Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. During my college term
frequent conferences were held on the Great West, at which Sir George Simpson,
Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and ex-chief factors resident in Montreal, took
an active interest I thus obtained valuable information in spare hours on this great
and unknown territory in the residence of Mr. McDonald. In 1854, at graduation, I
located at Bytown, afterwards Ottawa City. In 1862 I delivered a lecture on the union
of the different parts of Canada and binding together by an iron splint, a railway to
promote trade and commerce.
"The following day Sir John invited me to Earnscliffe, and enquired where I obtained
the facts for the lecture. Trom Sir George Simpson and ex-chief factors of the Hudson's
Bay Company,' I replied. Tou must come into parliament,' said Sir John, and in 1871
I was elected for the county of Russell at Confederation. Some time afterward I was
summoned to Stadacona Hall, where Sir John had a slight cold. He was seated in an
arm chair in his studio reading a book, in which was a yellow marker, which he withdrew and asked me to read, a cable received the night previous from Grenfell, London,
announcing arrangements had been completed for the construction of the C. P. R." 18
In a previous article I gave what might be termed the
genesis of Confederation. Reference has been made to the
Conference of Charlottetown in 1864, which was adjourned
to Quebec in the same year, where a basis of Confederation
was arrived at and presented in a series of resolutions,
seventy-two in number. It is not the intention here to give
the history of that conference, or outline its discussions, or
describe its personnel. These are matters which will form
the subjects of a separate article. I shall rather anticipate
the results and refer to the attitude of mind in which they
were received in the various provinces and colonies affected
by the proposals.
Railways and Confederation are so closely associated
that they could not be considered apart. They were complementary in their relations to each other. The Maritime
Provinces were sequestered from Canada, with which they
had not even a nodding acquaintance. Before Confederation
railways in New Brunswick occupied the attention of its
people. Ten years after the first railway was in operation
in England an agitation was started in that province, and it
is stated, by the way, that New Brunswick today has more
railways in proportion to its population than any other
country in the world, except British Columbia, something
over 2,000 miles. A meeting was held in St. Andrew's in
1853 to discuss a railway to Quebec, the line of which was
surveyed the following year. It was not until 1858 that it
was completed as far as Canterbury and not until 1868 as
far as Woodstock.
The first sod of a railway from St. John to Shediac, on the
Straits of Northumberland, was turned in 1853, and it was on
this occasion that the conception of Confederation had its
first definite and specific expression vin that province. In
the address presented to Sir Edmund Head, Lieutenant-
Governor, this appeared: "Our sister colonies and ourselves,
though under the same   flag   and   enjoying   the same free THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
institutions, are comparatively strangers to each other, our
interests disunited, our feelings estranged, our objects divided.
From this work, from this time, a more intimate union, a
more lasting intercourse must arise, and the British provinces
become a powerful and united portion of the British Empire."
It would be hardly possible to frame a better description of
the situation or one that could have proved more prophetic.
His Excellency in replying cordially endorsed the sentiment,
and expressed the hope that the people of Canada (Ontario
and Quebec of today, then called Upper and Lower Canada),
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
would speedily realize that their interests were identical and
be inspired with a unity of purpose and of action such as had
not yet existed, and he added: "If these sentiments prevail
I have no fear for the future greatness of British North
America." Unfortunately, when the sentiment was put to
test after the conference of 1864, the only opposition, and in
Nova Scotia it was very bitter, came from the Maritime
Provinces, where the idea of Confederation was practically
first conceived.
The new railway was called the European & North
American Railway, and was part of a plan to connect the great
cities of the United States with an eastern port in the Atlantic
provinces, in order to shorten the voyage to Europe. It was
not until 1871 that, with great eclat, the President of the
United States honoring the occasion-with his presence, was
the last spike driven to complete the connection. Conditions
governing railway and ocean transportation since that time
have greatly changed. The Canadian Pacific Railway built
a short line through Maine, and the slow passage across the
Atlantic is now a thing of the past. The conditions which
prompted building the European & North American Railway
no longer exist. The Intercolonial Railway, however, from
Halifax to Quebec first gave the connection in Canada desired
and anticipated, and as a railway of national importance it
was essentially a part of the Confederation scheme so far as 20
the Maritime Provinces were concerned, just as the C.P.R.
was part of Confederation so far as British Columbia was
concerned. A delegation of influential men, which included
representatives from Canada, went to England in 1861 to press
upon the authorities there the importance of aiding in the
construction of the Intercolonial Railway. Curiously enough
just at that time the Trent affair occurred, and with the
intense excitement which followed war was all but declared
between Great Britain and the United States. Troops were
hurriedly sent to Canada, and as winter was at hand they
had to be sent to Quebec through New Brunswick. The
difficulty and delay attending transportation by sleds, as a
writer puts it, served as an object lesson to statesmen on
both sides of the Atlantic, and led the Home Government to
more seriously consider the construction of a railway for ,
military purposes, as they did later on consider the C.P.R.
in a similar connection. The building of the Intercolonial
was the price paid for the entrance of the Maritime Provinces
into Confederation. It was carried out as a Government
enterprise, and from the first was regarded, as it was, as a
political rather than a commercial undertaking. The present,
what was known as the "northern route," was selected out of
deference to the judgment of the Imperial authorities for
military reasons. Sir Sandford Fleming, who later distinguished himself as a great Imperialist, not only in theory
but in constructive policy, and who wrote a history of the
Intercolonial, had charge of surveys and construction. As
a political factor it paid Canada, but as a commercial venture
it has been a loss. Railways, therefore, have cemented the
political structure of Canada in a manner which otherwise
would not have been possible. The Intercolonial brought
in the Maritime Provinces, the C.P.R. made the West; the
Grand Trunk, the Great Western and the Northern energized
and along with the canals developed the trade of Quebec and
Ontario, and, essentially, the basis of Confederation and its
chief incentive was interprovincial trade.   'Sentiment was the THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION 21
least important factor, although it fed the imagination of the
earliest promoters.
Confederation began with the desire of the Maritime
Provinces for a Maritime union, and the movement was
followed closely by Canadian statesmen. The British Government took very little interest in the initiation. There was a
section of British politicians and economists, whose mouthpiece for the time being was The London Times, who
regarded the "colonies" as an incubus rather than as a benefit.
At no time I think did this attitude represent the feelings
of the bulk of the people of Great Britain; but having in mind
the events in America which followed on after the Boston
"tea party" they refrained from bringing pressure to bear
upon the colonies, and this was wise as the sequence of events
in Canada and in the Empire has shown.
In 1864, the Maritime Provinces held a convention for
the purpose of negotiating a union among themselves. It
so happened that about that very time a memorable meeting
was being held in the St. Louis Hotel, Quebec, where Sir
John Macdonald, Sir Alexander Gait and the Hon. George
Brown met to endeavor to compose the differences between
Upper and Lower Canada, which had resulted in a deadlock
in which no political progress seemed to be possible. Brown,
perhaps, more than any other person, was responsible for
this condition of affairs, and having his eyes opened to the
consequences of such a situation, through the mediation of
Lord Monck, held out the olive leaf to Sir John, and together
they agreed at this meeting that the Government should
negotiate for a Confederation of all the provinces. If this
failed, as Sir Joseph Pope puts it, they should then introduce
the federal principle in Canada alone, while providing for
the future incorporation of the Maritime Provinces and the
West. On this understanding, says Pope, Oliver Mowat,
Brown and William McDougall entered the Cabinet. William
McDougall was afterwards more familiarly known as "Wandering Willie" from his proclivity to shift party allegiance.  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
As already stated, steps were being taken for a maritime
union and a conference had been called to be held in Charlottetown. The Canadian Government at once appointed a delegation of twelve to seek admission to the conference to discuss
the question of including all the British provinces in North
America. The whole history of events in Canada was changed
by the momentous decision to admit them, and the masterful
mind of Sir John Macdonald dominated the proceedings. If
he did not initiate the movement, or take the first step, his
genius for organization of men and practical measures caused
him to emerge as the greatest of the Fathers of Confederation
in solving its problems.
The immediate causes of Confederation are now so
remote that they are largely forgotten by the older generation and not understood by the younger generations, who
have grown up under conditions wholly unlike those which
existed sixty or seventy years ago in Canada. Confederation
was not, as in Germany, the result of a definite, determined
policy, but of political and physical exigencies. By a fortunate
conjunction of political causes as they affected Canada and
those which affected the Maritime Provinces, quite different
in each case, there was afforded the solution of several difficult
problems. We had no Bismarck in British North America
in those days and no Hohenzollern dynasty whose ambitions
for. consolidation and a dominant Prussia had to be satisfied.
As provinces we were brought together by pure force of
I have already pointed out that the Confederation movement had its nucleus in a practical way in the desire of the
Maritime Provinces for a Maritime union. There arose from
the isolation of their position the needs of communication
with the outside world much greater than they possessed,
and their inability as individual units to satisfy those
needs.      Had   Canada   depended   upon    a    national   policy THE   STORY   O.F   CONFEDERATION
and a Bismarck to carry it to a successful consummation
the Provinces of Canada would in all probability now have
been states of an American union. At the time I refer to,
the old "Family Compact" everywhere was a thing of the
past, and the fight for responsible government had been
ended. In Canada, however, as the result of the union of
Quebec and Ontario in 1841, the basis of which was illogical
and unworkable, government had come to a deadlock, and
in order to make this quite plain I shall have to be somewhat
retrospective, as history enters very largely into a situation
which became intolerable. As I have said, the hitter struggle
against the Family Compact was ended, but, as nails driven
into a wall after being extracted leave their scars, so the
fight left its acrid memories. The Family Compact, though
a regrettable factor in Canadian history, represented the
aristocracy of the country, and also unswerving loyalty to
Great Britain and British institutions, then not quite so
enlightened in relation to the common people and not so
democratic as they are today, and very naturally those who
desired a change associated the two facts in their minds.
The politics of the country ranged itself on the sides of
Reformers and Tories, in the first instance, and afterwards
of Clear Grits, led by George Brown, and the Conservatives,
whose virtual leader after he joined the Draper administration
in 1847, was John Macdonald. All the old bitterness of the
Family Compact days was imported into the new order of
affairs, and few at the present time can realize the venom
which was displayed in politics then and for over forty years
after. While the people of Canada were at all times as a
body loyal to the core to Great Britain and the Sovereign,
not unnaturally some of the leaders of the radical party and
many of their followers were regarded as rebels by the other
side, and so bitterness was always being intensified.
The Union of Upper and Lower Canada was a step
toward Confederation, but a very imperfect one. In 1840 the
basis of union was provided for.    It involved equal represen- THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
tation from the two provinces, dual leadership, and double
majority. Although Quebec at the time of the union had more
than half the population of Canada, Upper and Lower Canada
were each given forty-two representatives, and that was a
solemn and fixed agreement, which could not be altered
without mutual consent. Here was the seed of trouble,
because Ontario developed much more rapidly than Quebec,
and soon outstripped the latter in population and production.
The Hon. George Brown, who had become a power in Upper
Canada as editor of The Globe, which he established in 1844/
and who was a fervid and forceful speaker, attacked this
principle and advocated what was known as "rep" by "pop,"
or representation by population, not in constituencies, but as
between the two provinces. Dual leadership meant that there
should be two premiers or leaders, one from each province,
and so without reference to order there was a succession
of administrations known as Morin-McNab, Tache-Mac-
donald, Hincks-Morin, Brown-Dor ion, Macdonald-Sicotte,
Cartier-Macdonald, Macdonald-Cartier, Baldwin-Lafontaine,
and so on, all of which were short-lived, and had to
depend upon a double majority of votes in Parliament.
That is, every measure or resolution had to be carried by
a majority in both provinces, and, considering the number
of controversial questions, sectional, religious and racial,
which were constantly being intruded into the arena by,
particularly, George Brown, leader of the Clear Grits in
Ontario, Protestant, English-speaking and radical, as opposed
to Quebec, Catholic, French and essentially Conservative, it
is no wonder that in time there came about a political impasse
in which union threatened to go to pieces. The hyphenated
principle was no more popular then than it is just now in
the United States. Among the questions which agitated
Canada in those days were representation by population, the
abolition of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada, the secularization of clergy reserves in Upper Canada, compensation for
rebellion losses, the seat of Parliament, which, like our Easter, 26
was a movable feast, and separate schools. These questions
were all settled in time, and would have been settled without
much hardness of feeling had not George Brown, in The
Globe and in Parliament, discussed them in his vehement and
uncompromising way, and in a spirit which alienated Quebec
from sympathy with the union and sowed the seeds of discord,
as between that province and Quebec, which are still bearing
fruit. There was this essential difference between Sir John
and his implacable rival Brown, that the one bided his time
to bring about what he considered should be done, and saw
clearly ahead the difficulties which he had to overcome. The
other was impetuous and brooked of no delay. Incidentally
through the estrangement brought about by Brown's course
with his old-time moderate reform allies, the party known
as Liberal-Conservatives came into existence, when men like
Mowat and Macdougall joined hands with Sir John to bring
about a better state of affairs, and it continued to exist with
few defections after Confederation.
So we come to the time when Brown, seeing the logical
results of his -own course, came to Sir John Macdonald, at
the instigation of Lord Monck, Governor-General, offering to
co-operate with the latter in some scheme to relieve the
situation. Gait, at the memorable meeting in Quebec,
proposed as a remedy a federal union of all the Provinces.
Gait had in 1858 formed one of a delegation that went to
England to discuss the subject of Confederation with the
Imperial authorities, and that may be regarded as the
beginning of the movement in that direction. Brown's
idea, however, was not national in its conception. His
idea, obsessed as he was with the principle of representation by population, was to build a line of railway to the Middle
West, developing and settling the prairies with an English
population, giving the latter a.preponderance over the French.
Persuaded that such a measure was impossible to be carried
through, he agreed to a Confederation of all the Provinces,
and a fusion of forces was effected, after which a delegation
attended the Charlottetown Conference. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
In Ontario the Charlottetown programme met with little
or no opposition. In Quebec there was little enthusiasm
displayed, and a great deal of sectional and other prejudice
had to be overcome. The man who was mainly responsible
for bringing Quebec into line was the late Sir George Etienne
Cartier, for long a close colleague of Sir John. He was
undoubtedly one of the ablest men Quebec ever produced,
a man loyal to the state, scrupulous in honesty ^both publicly
and privately, and in whom his compatriots of Lower Canada
had the fullest confidence. The adherence of Quebec was
obtained as the result of a series of compromises without
which it would have been impossible, and in the great debate
m -Parliament, when the Confederation resolutions were
moved, George Brown admitted the fact and approved of it.
It was different in the Maritime Provinces, in which
the opposition to Confederation was led by Nova Scotia, of
which Sir Joseph Howe was the uncrowned king. He had
fought the fight of responsible government against executive
Family Compact rule, which he won by almost unaided
efforts. It is acknowledged that he possessed the most
consummate skill of any man in our history as an effective
popular orator, and as an editorial writer he was easily in the
very first rank. He had the graces of inspirational speaking
and writing, both in prose and poetry, which George Brown
lacked, gifts, in addition to his personality, which endeared
him to the hearts of the people. It is said that the opposition
to Confederation in Nova Scotia was not so much to the
principle as to the manner in which it was proposed to give
it effect. The two Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and
New Brunswick were undoubtedly brought in against their
will, but they were powerless from the fact that they had
been committed to the scheme by their representatives in
the conference, and could only protest, which Joseph Howe,
did with all his might and with such effect, so far as popular
opinion was concerned, that only two Unionists were returned
for the Local Assembly after the arrangement was confirmed  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
' and only one to the federal House. The latter was Sir Charles
Tupper, then Dr. Tupper, the man responsible for the entrance
of Nova Scotia into Confederation, and for much else that
was of importance in this period of our history. It is not
necessary to discuss the reasons which caused Howe to take
the position he did, because the point will probably never
be settled. He was getting on in years. There may have
been considerations of his own part in the movement, and possibly hostility to Dr. Tupper, his great antagonist, whose
debates with the latter have been described as a "battle of
giants." One can never tell to what extent the personal
element is involved even among really great men. Howe
continued to oppose Confederation until it was consummated,
and went to England to endeavor to have the union repealed.
He subsequently came under the spell of Sir John Macdonald,
who, after giving Nova Scotia Better Terms, took him into
his Cabinet and subsequently made him Lieutenant-Governor.
He became very unpopular in Nova Scotia as a consequence
of his change in policy, and died of a broken heart. Long
ago, however, his memory became rehabilitated in the affections of his native province.
The late Sir Leonard Tilley stood in about the same
relationship with New Brunswick in connection with Confederation as did Sir Charles Tupper in Nova Scotia, but
his task was a much easier one, as opposition was much less
keenly directed toward it. However, the electors of New
Brunswick, no more than those of j Nova Scotia, were
consulted in the details. Opposition was also very strong in
Prince Edward Island, which did not come in for several
years later. The opposition of all three provinces arose
largely out of the supposition that their entity was being
submerged into that of the greater Province of Canada, and
their interests made subsidiary. No one in the Maritime
Provinces today would contend that any of the fears of pre-
Confederation days have been realized. As a matter of fact,
the statesmen who came from these provinces took a very 30
important part in Canadian affairs, and exercised a tremendous influence upon its destinies.
While I shall have occasion again to refer to the attitude
of some of the provinces represented at the Charlottetown
Conference, and that of some of the men who were leaders of
public opinion, I now come direct to the celebrated conference,'
the results of which were destined to be so momentous for
Canada. To Dr. Tupper, later Sir Charles, is due the almost
sole credit of initiating it. The first man he invited to attend
was Joseph Howe, who, although he had moved a resolution
in the Legislature of Nova Scotia, which was seconded by
Dr. Tupper was unanimously passed in its favor, excused
himself on the ground that he was a fishery officer of the
Imperial Government, but at the same time wished the
convention every success. The conference was to be held at
Charlottetown on September I, 1864, and as soon as wind of
It got to Canada and the Liberal-Conservative coalition was
effected, a dispatch was sent in the name of the Governor-
General to the Governors of the Maritime Provinces inquiring
whether the Charlottetown Conference would receive a delegation from Canada, "which wished," to use Sir Charles
Tupper's own words, "to express its views on the wider
The suggestion was very welcome to the members of the
conference, and so were the delegates, who were received
with open arms. So isolated were the Maritime Provinces
from old Canada then that a visit of prominent citizens of
the latter was as much an event as if a deputation today came
to Canada from South Africa on some important mission. The
delegation from Canada comprised: John A. Macdonald,
Hon. George Brown, Hon. Alexander T. Gait, Hon. George
E. Cartier, Hon. Hector L. Langevin, Hon. Wm. Macdougall,
and Hon. D'Arcy McGee, all of whom took prominent part
in affairs in Confederation, and to whom subsequent personal THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
references will be made. The names of several of them will
be permanently part of Canadian history. The conference
at Charlottetown was only preliminary, with the single result
of it being decided to adjourn to Quebec in October. I am
not aware of any minutes of that conference having been kept
or of any informal account of them being published. What
was important about it was that it gave the Canadian delegates an opportunity of familiarizing themselves with the i
people, the conditions, the natural resources and the views
of the leaders. There was a series of meetings held. What I
have been able to obtain is taken from a book entitled
"Confederation of Canada," written by the late Hon. J.
Hamilton Gray, a member of the Supreme Court Bench of
British Columbia, a former Premier of New Brunswick, and
one of the Fathers of Confederation.     It states:
"The advantages of such a union, and the outlines of the
proposed constitution—should union be effected—were
j submitted by the Hon. John A. Macdonald, ably supported
by Messrs. Brown and Cartier. The financial position of
Canada was contrasted with the several provinces, their
several sources of wealth, their comparative increase, the
detrimental way in which their conflicting tariffs operated to
each other's disadvantage, the expansion of their commerce,
the expansion of their manufactures and the development of
the various internal resources that would be fostered by a
free intercourse of trade, and a greater unity of interest were
pointed out with great power by Mr. Gait. In a speech of
three hours statistics were piled upon statistics confirming
his various positions and producing a marked effect upon the
convention. It might be said of him as was once said of Pope,
though speaking of figures in a different sense (He lisped
in numbers—for the numbers came). Messrs. McGee,
Langevin and Macdougall briefly but strenuously corroborated the views of their colleagues, and, after two days'
command of the undivided attention of the convention, the
Canadian deputies withdrew. 32
"Before doing so, however, they proposed that the
convention should suspend its deliberations upon the immediate subject for which they met, and should adjourn to
Quebec at an early day, to be subsequently named by the
Governor-General, there further to consider the wider and
broader union which had been proposed. On the following
day the convention deemed it better for the general interests
of British North America that an adjournment should take
place, and agreed to report to their respective governments
what had occurred."
While in Prince Edward Island the members of the
Canadian delegation were most hospitably entertained, and
many speeches were made. Judge Gray throws a sidelight
on the subject by telling us that while Mr. Dundas, Lieutenant-Governor of the Island, cordially cheered on the movement, it was well known to the New Brunswick delegation
that the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Mr. Gordon,
who was at the time on a visit to Mr. Dundas, was not
friendly, though, with diplomatic reticence, he was most
cautious in expressing his opinions, and it was believed that
the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia was equally
unfriendly. This may have had something to do with the
subsequent attitude of the Maritime Provinces on the question, but one never knows the undercurrents which influence
public opinion at a time when all the men who took part are
dead and gone.
From Charlottetown the Canadian delegates went to
Halifax, where, accepting Judge Gray's version, a pro forma
meeting of the convention was held on September 10 in the
Legislative Council chamber, but no business of any importance was done, and the further consideration of Confederation
was by unanimous consent postponed until after the details
should be fully entered into at the proposed conference at
Quebec. The presence of the Canadian delegates was taken
advantage of both at Halifax and St. John, New Brunswick,
to give opportunity to the leading citizens to hear their views, THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
which were expressed at banquets at which Brown, Cartier,
Macdonald, Gait and others spoke. Perhaps the most illuminating of all the speeches from an informative point of view
was made by the Hon. George Brown, who, as a journalist
and a student of public affairs, had a veritable store of facts
at his disposal, and, along with the Hon. A. T. Gait, shared
the honors of the conference and subsequent proceedings in
that respect. We learn that the population of all the provinces
represented, including Newfoundland, was about 3,750,000,
and the total number of males between twenty and sixty
years of age about 700,0000. Of the lands held by private
parties there were over 45,500,000 acres, of which 13,000,000
acres were under cultivation. The value of farm products
was estimated at about $150,000,000, and the assessed value
of farm lands at $550,000,000. Considering the low value
of land and farm products in those days, Canada, it will be
seen, had made very considerable progress under very serious
disadvantages. George Brown, in his speech at Halifax, said:
"I might continue this analysis through our whole industrial
pursuits, and show one and all of them in the same high
efficiency; I might tell you how we exported last year
$15,000,000 in timber alone (one-half of the present production
of British Columbia in lumber in value—R.E.G.) ; I might
expose to you the rapidly increasing importance of our coal
mines, our iron works and our petroleum wells (Oil wells had
been developed in the county of Lambton, Ont., in which the
honorable gentleman was personally interested—R.E.G.), I
might enlarge on the fast rising importance of our manufactures. . . . Let me, however, wind up with this, that
were the provinces all united tomorrow they would have an
annual export trade of no less than $65,000,000 and an import
traffic to an equal amount (The aggregate trade of Canada is
now over $2,000,000,000—R.E.G.) ; they would have 2,500 miles
of railway (At the present time there are nearly 40,000 miles
of railway in Canada—R.E.G.) ; telegraph wires extending
to every city and town throughout the country, and an annual  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
government revenue of nearly $13,000,000 (Revenue of Canada
is now about $275,000,000—R.E.G.). It needs no special
wisdom to perceive that a state presenting such resources and
offering such varied and lucrative employment to the immigrant and the capitalist would at once occupy a high position,
and attract to it the marked attention of other countries. It
would be something to be a citizen of such a state (It is—
It is impossible within the limits of reasonable space to
even give a synopsis of the various speeches, but one by Sir
John Macdonald is important in reflecting that peculiarly
practical temperament of his and his bent in the direction
of Imperial unity to which we are now so rapidly moving.
"We were," he said, "at present states of one sovereign, and
all paid allegiance to the great central authority; but as
between ourselves, there is no political connection, and we
are as wide apart as British America was from Australia.
But we must have one common organization, one political
government. It has been said that the United States Government is a failure. I do not go so far. On the contrary, I
consider it a marvellous exhibition of human wisdom. It
was as perfect as human wisdom could make it, and under it
the United States prospered greatly until very recently. But
being the work of men it had its defects; and it is for us to
take advantage of experience and avoid the mistakes, and
endeavor to see if we cannot arrive, by careful study, at such
a plan as will avoid the mistakes of our neighbors." After
dwelling upon what he considers the weaknesses of the United
States' constitution, which are well understood now, he
observed: "Then we shall have taken a great step in advance
of the American Republic. If we can only obtain that object,
a vigorous general government, we shall not be New Bruns-
wickers nor Nova Scotians, but British Americans, under the
sway of the British sovereign. In discussing the question of
local union we must consider what is desirable and practicable; we must consult local prejudices and aspirations.    It 36
is Our desire to do so. I hope that we shall be enabled to
work out a i. onstitution that will have a strong central
government, able to offer a powerful resistance to any foe
whatever, and at the same time will preserve for each province
its own identity, and will protect every local ambition; and
if we 'Cannot do that we shall not be able to carry out the
object we have in view. ... If we allow so favorable an
opportunity to pass, it may never come again. But I believe
we have arrived at such a stage ift our deliberations, that I
may state without breach of confidence, that we all unitedly
agree that such a measure is a matter of the first necessity
and that only a few (imaginary, I believe) obstacles stand in
the way of its consummation. I shall feel that I have not
served in public life without a reward if, before I enter into
private life, I am subject of a great British nation, under the
Government of His Majesty, and in connection with the
Empire of Great Britain and Ireland."
On October 10, 1864, at 11 a.m., in the Parliament Buildings of Canada, in Quebec, the adjourned conference was
In the previous article a list of the delegates to the
Quebec Conference was given, and the names* of the men
represented the best brains of Canada, and while it may be
* The represeriteatives were as follows:
Canada—Hon. Sir Etienne P. Tache, Premier, M.L.C.; Hon. John A. Macdonald,
Attorney-General West, M.P.P.; Hon. George E. Cartier, Attorney-General East, M.P.P.;
Hon. George Brown, President of the Executive Council, M.P.P.; Hon. Alex. T. Gait,
Finance Minister, M.P.P.; Hon. Alex. Campbell, Commissioner of Crown Lands, M.L.C;
Hon. William Macdougall, Provincial Secretary, M.P.P.; Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee,
Minister of Agriculture, M.P.P.; Hon. Hector Langevin, Solicitor-General East, M.P.P.;
Hon. J. Cockburn, Solicitor-General West, M.P.P.; Hon. Oliver Mowat, Postmaster-
General, M.P.P.;   Hon. J. C. Chapais, Commissioner of Public Works, M.L.C
Nova Scotia—Hon. Charles Tupper, Provincial Secretary, M.P.P.; Hon. W. A.
Henry, Attorney-General, M.P.P.; Hon. R. B. Dickey, M.L.C; Hon. Adams G. Archibald,
M.P.P.;   Hon. Jonathan McCully, M.L.C
New Brunswick—Hon. Samuel L. Tilley, Provincial Secretary, M.P.P.; Hon. John
M. Johnson, Attorney-General, M.P.P.; Hon. Edward B. Chandler, M.L.C.; Hon. John
Hamilton Gray, M.P.P.; Hon. Peter Mitchell, M.L.C.; Hon. Charles Fisher, M.P.P.;
Hon. William H. Steves, M.L.C.
Newfoundland—Hon. F. B. T. Carter, M.P.P., Speaker of the House of Assembly;
Hon. Ambrose Shea, M.P.P.
Prince Edward Island—Hon. John Hamilton Gray, Premier, M.P.P.; Hon. Edward
Palmer, Attorney-General, M.P.P.; Hon. W. H. Pope, Provincial Secretary, M.P.P.; Hon.
A. A. Macdonald, M.L.C;   Hon. T. H. Haviland, M.P.P.;   Hon. Edward Whelan, M.L.C. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
said that distance lends enchantment to the view I do not
believe there was ever a time in our history when there were
so many able and brilliant statesmen on the political horizon.
In 1864 there were two British colonies on the Pacific Coast,
Vancouver Island and British Columbia, but the-; Government
of neither of them was invited to send representatives. In
fact, it would have been a physical impossibility after the
Charlottetown Conference was announced for either to have
had notification, or to have sent delegates in time, and, of
course, the Middle West was wholly unorganized territory,
a Hudson's Bay Co. possession, an "imperium in imperio."
The West, however, was kept in mind, and it was part of the
programme of the Fathers of Confederation to include it when
it should have been sufficiently developed and populated.
The proceedings of the Quebec Conference was never set
down in extenso. The records consist of a list of notes and
resolutions, and of these we have a fairly complete list in
Pope's "Confederation Documents." As secretary of Sir John
Macdonald, Sir Joseph Pope had very ample access to all and
sundry information in respect of this important gathering.
The Hon. John Hamilton Gray, who was one of the delegates, is the only man who wrote extensively about the
When the Quebec Conference assembled all the preliminary sentimental considerations had been eliminated, the
general principle of political consolidation having been
approved of and decided upon. The delegates at once settled
down to the prosaic business of adjusting the various
relations that should subsist between the proposed Provinces
and the proposed new Dominion. The questions which were
discussed, and wjiich were necessarily of a very -delicate and
complicated nature, involving as they did so many diverse
interests and sectional views, must form somewhat dry
material as pabulum for readers, but as forming the very
substructure of Confederation they are of extreme importance.
Everything  depended  upon   how   the   details   were   worked 38
out in order to satisfy a variety of conditions to be harmonized. Sir Etienne P. Tache, Premier of Quebec, was unanimously chosen as President. Judge Gray makes a very
appropriate and graceful reference in his opening account:
"Thus was opened a convention whose deliberations were
to have a marked bearing upon the future of British North
America. The time, the men, the circumstances were peculiar. The place of meeting was one of historical interest.
Beneath the shadow of Cape Diamond, on the ruins of the
1 old castle of St. Louis, with the broad St. Lawrence stretching
away in front, the Plains of Abraham in sight, and the St.
Charles winding its silvery course through scenes replete
with memories of old France, where scarce a century gone
the Fleur de Lys and the Cross of St. George had waved in
deadly strife, now stood the descendants of those gallant
races, the Saxon and the Gaul, hand in hand, with a common
country and a common cause."
There were other things which added to the solemnity
of the occasion, should I say. Less than a century before the
other American colonies of Great Britain had formed a
federation of States, but independent of the flag under whose
egis a new Canada was now coming into existence. In that
Republic a great strife was going on in which the principles
of its constitution were being tested in the crucible of civil
war. In connection with the war complications had arisen
between Great Britain and the United States which threatened hostilities between the two countries. In such an event
Canada would naturally be invaded. Owing to a series of
misunderstandings a great deal of bitter feeling was fomented
on the other side of the line, which, fortunately, for the
greater part, has long since passed away.
In the first place there arose a discussion as to publicity
being given to the debates, but it was decided, and a mutual
understanding was arrived at, to the effect that to have the
freest possible discussion of all matters, so as not to affect
local prejudices while conclusions were being reached, the THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
proceedings should be conducted in camera, a plan which
had as a precedent the Philadelphia Conference in 1787 in
similar circumstances. It was also decided that as the Canadian
representation was numerically much greater than that of
any other of the provinces, the voting should be by provinces,
so that equal weight should be given to all, the representatives
of each province in groups consulting apart on every proposition advanced, and reporting as a unit through their chairman.
First in order of importance on the agenda was the basic
nature of the union, whether a legislative or a federal union.
To illustrate, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales form at
present a legislative union, with a central Parliament and a
central administration dealing with all matters, whether local
or general. It was obvious that in a country of such vast
extent as British North America, with varying local wants
and conditions, the federal principle was greatly to be
preferred, and that was very quickly approved of. Thus was
established the principle of local autonomy, or home rule in
local affairs, and federal authority in matters of common
interest and affecting all. Then as a natural corollary
followed the question of the delegation of rights as between
two powers. The experience of the United States, as particularly emphasized by the civil war, in state rights, was sufficient
to cause the Conference to conclude that the opposite principle
should be adopted. In the United States the source of power
is the people as represented by the States of the Union, and
what was known as residuary rights were delegated to the
central authority. State rights were responsible for the civil
war, and especially where international relations were
affected, the federal government at Washington has been
severely handicapped at times. In our case the central
government is the fountain of authority and the powers of
the provinces are delegated powers. But as Gray rightly
remarks the results are practically the same, as in both
countries the source of power is inherent in the people.  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Perhaps the greatest difficulty experienced was in deciding as to the basis of representation in the federal Parliament.
The Hon. George Brown had for many years been advocating
representation by population in the old Parliament of Canada,
and, as a matter of fact, as previously explained, that question
was immediately responsible for the bringing about of
Confederation. As we have found in British Columbia, and
as has been demonstrated in other parts of Canada, with
very unequal conditions the principle is not strictly applicable
in practice, but so far as it was possible it was applied to
federal representation. Quebec with sixty-five electoral
divisions was made the fixed unit of representation, so that
after Confederation each province in each readjustment after
the census-taking would have a representation in the same
proportion as 65 bore to the population of Quebec. In the
first instance, provincial representation was not altered. I
am not going to discuss the merits of such a basis. Theoretically it may not have been correct, but in a rough and ready
way, and more or less equitably, it was the best that could
be arrived at then, and as a basis has continued ever since.
Representation in the Upper House was more easily arrived
at, the provinces being divided into three groups, 24 to each
group, although it was not so easy to determnie the method
of the selection of Senators and their tenure of office. Brown
perhaps more forcibly than anybody else advocated the
present system of appointment by the executive for life. In
more recent years there have been many suggestions for
reform of the Senate, but the original plan has been adhered
to, and for political reasons no government leader cared to
take the initiative. As to the admission of western provinces
as they were formed, no suggestions were made as to their
representation, it being left for time and circumstances to
In consideration of the fact that the settlement of financial
relations was easily the most important of all questions to
be settled by the Conference, and that it requires far more 42
space than could be spared in an article which has almost
reached its limit, I have decided to make it the subject of a
separate article, and proceed to other matters dealt with. I
may say that the Conference came to a deadlock on finances
and all but broke up without coming to any conclusion. The
solution was afforded by forming a committee of all the
Finance Ministers of the provinces, who, after a private
conference, came to an agreement which was accepted in open
meeting, and thus a crisis in the affairs of Confederation-in-
making passed away.
The respective powers of the federal and local Parliaments are set forth in the provisions of the British North
America Act, and are familiar to most readers. Although the
division was not so clearly defined as to avoid frequent
reference to the courts, with final interpretation by the Privy
Council, in the main they afforded a good, practical, working
code, and now as the result of judicial construction there is
little left in doubt. Speaking generally and broadly, the
jurisdiction of the provinces is confined to property and
private rights and matters of purely internal administration.
The jurisdiction of the federal Parliament extends to making
"laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada,
in relation to all matters not coming within the classes of
subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures
of the provinces."
Judge Gray informs us that the question of the judiciary
was not so easily settled, and led to long and animated
discussion. Lower Canada with its civil laws based on the
French code would not be permitted by its representatives to
be made uniform with the civil laws of the other provinces.
The outcome was that it retained its civil code and the codes
of other provinces were made uniform. That was a compromise rendered necessary in order that Confederation might
be made possible. It was unanimously admitted that the.
criminal law must be the same throughout Canada, and that
it must have its origin in the federal Parliament, the appoint- THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
ment of judges lying within the prerogative of the federal
executive. I am not going to deal with the remaining subjects
of taxation, imports and exports and railways because they
form essentially part, or at least are cognate with that of
financial relations, which I have reserved for separate treatment.
All the conclusions of the Conference were embodied in
seventy-two resolutions to be transmitted to the several
government of the provinces represented, and were the basis
of subsequent discussion as to details, of which there were
four or five revisions before finality was reached.
Among the many difficulties incident to the adjustment
of various relations, the most difficult of all was the question
of financial relations, and I am devoting an article exclusively
to the subject on account of the political developments
consequent upon the original settlement. As Crown colonies,
the provinces had their own sources of revenue independent
of each other and separate fiscal systems. One can readily
imagine that in the circumstances when they were asked to
surrender their main sources of revenue to a central government and depend upon minor revenues for the purpose of
carrying on the local administration there would be serious
trouble, and, as I have previously stated, it brought about
a crisis that all but spelled failure for the whole scheme. Had
the Conference broken up on this or any other issue we cannot
speculate upon what would have been the future of British
North America.
It was Judge Gray's opinion that the simplest and the
shortest method would have been at once to determine that
each province should by its own direct taxation bear the
burden of its own local expenditure and wants, and that the
general revenue should all be distributed solely for general
purposes. It certainly would have been the simplest and
shortest method, but the question is, what would have been THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
the best or most equitable way? All the provinces differ
from each other in physical conditions, and the cost of
administration in one province would have borne more heavily
upon its people than the cost of administration on another
province. As a matter of fact, that is the case at the present
time. In British Columbia, for instance, we know that on
account of our "sea of mountains" the cost of government
is many times greater for similar services than in some of
the other provinces, and always will be. That fact was recognized in 1906, although not adequately, when the interprovincial conference of that year recommended an additional special
allowance of $100,000 a year for ten years. Nineteen hundred
and six was the year when an effort was made to arrive at
a "final and unalterable" settlement of the financial relations
of the provinces and the Dominion, although we well know
that nothing done under the authority of legislation is final
and unalterable, but it was intended in this way to give all
the finality possible to the conclusions reached on that
occasion, and the intended use of the words in the Imperial
Act which was passed confirming the arrangement would at
least have been an index of what the conclusions were intendel
to be.
In any event the arrangement suggested by Judge Gray
was out of the question. In Upper Canada there had been
a very considerable development of the municipal system, in
which local wants are provided for by local taxation, but in
the Maritime Provinces, though understood, municipalities
had not been formed, and the Government, to use Judge
Gray's words, was to the people "a nursing mother" of
children. Everything in the gamut of requirements was
supplied by the Government. It was inevitable, therefore,
that these provinces would not consent to any proposition
which did not provide for substantial assistance in matters
of local administration to which they had been accustomed.
On the other hand, it was very difficult for the people of
Upper  Canada  to   understand   that   that  was  right.    The THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
representatives of the Maritime Provinces stood firm as a
rock, and a compromise was necessary if the chief end of
all were to be accomplished. The question was what system
to adopt. There was no precedent except that of the United
States, and in that union each state is supreme in its rights
of taxation, and the Fathers of Confederation had decided
against States' rights as they existed across the line. When
Australia federated another principle was adopted—that of
the Commonwealth collecting all taxes for general purposes
and returning to the states a certain proportion of the
revenue. A settlement was arrived at by compromise effected
through a special committee of the several ministers of finance.
The report was the basis of the financial relations provided
for the British North America Act, but the resolutions of
the Quebec Conference as a whole were materially altered
in the final conference at Westminster, and, therefore, it is
not necessary to deal with any but the final result, but it will
be interesting to give some of the figures upon which the
financial arrangements were based. A. T. Gait, afterwards
Sir Alexander, was the financial genius of the situation, and,
while almost an impossible politician, made an able Minister
of Finance.
Canada in 1864 had a funded debt of over $60,000,000,
imports of $52,500,000, exports of nearly $42,000,000, a population of about 2,800,000, a revenue of $9,750,000, and an
expenditure of $10,759,000. These are all round numbers.
Newfoundland had a debt of $946,000; Nova Scotia, $460,000;
New Brunswick, $5,700,000; Prince Edward Island, $241,000.
Figures are very dry reading, but the following table, being
a calculation as to the revenue, expenditure, debt, imports,
etc., per head of the population in each province in 1864, are
those upon which the financial relations were based, or rather
those through which a basis was arrived at:  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Newfoundland. . . 3.41 $3.50
Nova Scotia  18.72 3.39
New Brunswick.. 10.06 3.29
Prince Edward Is. 40.95 2.29
Canada  8.40 3.51
"3 tig1
5*0 eS
$ 6.90
Average     8.32     $3.45     $3.68   $19.83   $19.18     $2.04   $18.42
Canada,   1864     8.69     $3.79     $3.67   $20.93   $18.23     $2.30   $13.14
In the final draft the provinces got the following amounts
for the support of their governments and legislatures:
Ontario    $80,000
Quebec     70,000
Nova Scotia     60,000
New Brunswick   50,000
and an annual grant of 80 cents per head of the population
as ascertained from time to time by the decennial census-
taking. Ontario and Quebec were made liable to Canada for
any amount which exceeded $62,500,000, and for interest on
the same at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum. Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick were made liable in the same way for
debts exceeding $8,000,000 and $7,000,000, respectively. The
debts of all the provinces were taken over by the Dominion.
All lands, mines, minerals and royalties of the provinces
continued in their right, and, of course, the Dominion took
over all duties in the way of customs and inland revenue.
A most important provision was the undertaking of the
Dominion to begin within six months the construction of the
Intercolonial Railway connecting the St. Lawrence River and
Halifax, and to complete it with all practicable speed. This
was the price Canada had to pay for the entrance of the
Maritime Provinces into Confederation, and should be kept
strictly in mind in connection with the fact that when British
Columbia entered the union she was obliged to convey, or
agree to convey, a forty-mile belt, 500 miles in length,  to 48
secure the C.P.R., also a railway built for purely national
purposes. It is true that British Columbia got a yearly allowance of $100,000 in lieu of that land, but that was only another
way of increasing the subsidy, which was admittedly too small
for this province to carry on with. In a similar way it was
proposed that Newfoundland should hand over her lands,
etc., to the Dominion, and in lieu thereof to receive $150,000
per annum as an allowance. These facts were openly stated
in Parliament when the Terms of Union with British
Columbia were submitted in 1870. The opposition was so
strong against the building of the C. P. R. and other obligations to be assumed as part of the bargain, that the Government was obliged to cover up the increased allowance of the
extra $100,000 under the guise of a payment for lands. At
that time it was considered that the construction of the C.P.R.
would ruin the country, and that British Columbia would
forever remain a burden on Canada.
As has been previously stated, when the terms of Confederation had been agreed upon, Joseph Howe started an
agitation against them, in which he was thoroughly vindicated
in so far as local opinion was concerned but in which he was
defeated by legislative action. After the union was accomplished he endeavored to get the Imperial Government to permit Nova Scotia to withdraw, but in that he was also foiled.
In a campaign for better terms, some of the grounds of which
were similar to those in the case of British Columbia, he
succeeded in 1868 in obtaining a substantial allowance on
account of the debt of the province. When the agreement
came before Parliament the Hon. Edward Blake, a great
constitutional lawyer, took the ground that it was illegal, as
the terms were fixed and unalterable, and also that it set a
precedent for future alterations. Sir John Macdonald,
however, had the opinion of the law officers of the Imperial
Government to back him up, and it went into effect. The
Canadian Parliament by virtue of its supreme control over
the expenditure of its revenues can vote to consign them to THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
the sea. There have been several readjustments since that
New Brunswick in 1873 was allowed-$150,000 per annum
as compensation for loss of export duty on logs under the
Treaty of Washington in 1871. Under the Terms of Union
New Brunswick was permitted to impose this duty, which
had been in force since 1842. It has always been regarded
and really was, a very liberal settlement. It was arranged
by Sir Leonard Tilley, one of the New Brunswick representatives of the Dominion Government.
There was a general readjustment of terms in 1873, as
the result of agitation in Ontario and Quebec against the
payment of interest on 10^2 millions, by which amount the
actual debt of the old Province of Canada exceeded its
allowed debt of $62,500,000 under the Union Act.
Prince Edward Island in 1901 was allowed $35,000 per
annum for failure to provide regular communication, winter
and summer, between the Island and Mainland, as per Terms
of Union. Communication at times is irregular, owing to
hummocky ice in the Straits, which can never be overcome,
except by tunneling.
Nova Scotia in 1885, in which the Government of Canada
took over the Extension Line Railway constructed by Nova
Scotia and paid therefor $1,324,042, purchased certain wharves
and extended the line to Sydney as a work of general benefit.
This line was afterwards amalgamated with the Intercolonial
system; and in 1901 a sum of $671,836 was placed in the
estimates in connection with claims of that province.
New Brunswick in 1901 also received the sum of
The necessity for a revision of the financial terms was
realized a long time ago. In 1887 the Hon. Honore Mercier,
Premier of Quebec, held an interprovincial conference in
Quebec city. British Columbia, curiously enough, did not
respond. It was so soon after the Settlement Act of 1884 that
the Provincial authorities did not think it would be in good 50
grace to participate. A series of resolutions were passed,
and were practically re-affirmed in two subsequent conferences. In the fall of 1906 the Conference at Ottawa presided
over by Sir Lomer Guoin, Premier of Quebec, and at which
Sir Richard McBride represented British Columbia, recommendations were made for largely increased subsidies all
round, which were accepted and put into effect by the Laurier
Government. A long story could be made of Better Terms,
but for the present the foregoing must suffice.
My last article contained too many figures to be interesting, but one cannot discuss financial relations without a
good many statistics. I shall now deal with the events which
took place immediately after the Quebec Conference. The
opposition in Nova Scotia has been discussed in previous
issues. Sir Charles Tupper was head and front of the movement for Confederation in that province, but he tells in his
reminiscences that the outlook for carrying it in the Maritime
Provinces, or even in Canada as a whole, was not too favorable. After the close of the Quebec- Conference, he and a
number of the other delegates made a tour of Quebec and
Ontario before returning home, and had a very hearty reception everywhere, so that his surprise was all the greater when
a vigorous opposition developed. Sir Charles Tupper naturally
looked for the co-operation of Joseph Howe, and nowhere
before the Quebec Conference had there been indications of
hostility. Had Howe championed the cause there would
have been little active opposition. He was the people's
leader in Nova Scotia, and in all the other provinces he was
recognized as the champion of popular rights and liberty.
His example stimulated opinion everywhere on similar lines.
In an introduction to a paper read before the last annual
meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, on "Howe and the
Anti-Confederation League," written by J. Lawrence Burpee,
a man in no sense prejudiced against the great Nova Scotian, THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
remarks, and his views correspond with those expressed in
a former article before this was brought to my attention:
"Howe was over sixty years of age when he accepted
the leadership of the party in Nova Scotia organized to fight
Confederation. His motives in taking such a step at first
seem inexplicable. In 1849, in 1861 and even in 1864 he had
supported with all his fiery eloquence the principle of Confederation. He was still an advocate of Maritime union and of
Imperial union—and yet in 1865 we find him waging a furious
battle against the union of all the British North American
colonies, or at any rate against any such union as was
proposed by the Quebec Conference. The objections he
professed to find on public grounds to the terms of the Quebec
resolutions are sufficiently set forth in these letters to Stairs,
and in his published speeches. But no careful student of the
character of Joseph Howe can avoid the conclusion that there
were personal as well as public reasons for his extraordinary
change of front. Howe was a man of brilliant parts, one of
the very great speakers that British North America has
produced, and a born leader of men. He was a man of generous
sympathies, a delightful companion, and a warm friend—as
long as he was allowed to have his own way. There lies the
key to the puzzle. Howe was a supreme egoist. He had
unlimited faith in his own judgment, and would brook no
opposition. He would put every ounce of strength into a
fight if his place was at the front. He was content that
everyone else should have the tangible rewards, but his must
be the glory.
"Unfortunately, circumstances made it difficult if not
impossible for him to attend the Charlottetown Conference
or the Quebec Conference. Had he been there he would
probably have thrown himself heart and soul into the Confederation project. But he was not there, and there sat his one
great rival in Nova Scotian politics, Sir Charles Tupper. The
scheme of Confederation probably owed more to the shrewd
common sense, political sagacity and indomitable courage of  BY   WAY   OF   INTRODUCTION
Sir Charles Tupper than to the qualities of any of its fathers.
So far as Nova Scotia was concerned, Tupper was the very
embodiment of the movement. There remained in 1865 only
one place in that movement for Howe, and that place he
would rather perish than accept. In his own forcible language
he would 'not play second fiddle to that damned Tupper.'"
In fairness to Howe, it may be said that the tendency
of every great leader with advancing age is to take the
attitude he did. Sir Charles Tupper, as he grew old,
was probably as great an egoist as Howe, and would
not brook opposition even in the most trivial affairs.
Once trained and used to lead and you cannot follow, and
if you do it is to fret and fume like a horse used to go
single to be made to drive double. Howe had fought
his great fight in Nova Scotia, and it is for that and his
brilliant career as an orator, an editor, poet, and as a public
man of sturdy virtue that have fixed his place in historical
esteem. The egoism in any man is the stimulant to the
greatest and highest efforts of life.
Joseph Howe was not the only opponent of Confederation. Sir Charles Tupper tells us in his reminiscences that
prominent business men, bankers of Halifax, were afraid of
the business results, just as the business men of St. John's,
Newfoundland, were, and Joseph Howe was "tempted" to
accept the leadership. I am now quoting almost literally
from the paper to which I have referred, because I could not
give a better statement of the case than has Mr. Burpee.
The League of the Maritime Provinces was organized at
Halifax in the summer of 1866. The name, Mr. Burpee says,
was something of a misnomer, because its membership was
confined almost exclusively to Nova Scotia and largely to
Halifax. Joseph Howe, Hugh McDonald and William
Annand were appointed delegates of the league to oppose in
England the passage of the Imperial Act sanctioning the
proposed union of the colonies. Howe and Annand sailed
early, and were followed by others from Nova Scotia and 54
New Brunswick. Howe used his great energy to work up
in the English newspapers a sentiment against union, and
as a result most of the leading newspapers were involved in
the discussion. Sir Charles and Jonathan McCully followed
Howe to England and the controversy became general, but
for the details reference must be made to the correspondence
and papers in the Dominion archives. "The delegates of the
League," says Burpee, "remained in England until April,
1867, when, having fought Confederation to the last ditch and
lost the battle, they returned to Halifax. The British North
America Act had been finally passed on the 29th March."
Sir Charles Tupper, in Nova Scotia, alarmed by the
unexpected opposition, had to adopt, as he says, a waiting
policy. Premier Tilley, in New Brunswick, was defeated by
the Anti-Confederates, and in Prince Edward Island the same
thing happened. Prince Edward Island did not come in until
1873, and Newfoundland rejected the principle entirely, and
Tupper had to depend upon his resourcefulness to carry the
day. It was not done by popular vote, but by legislation.
Opinion in New Brunswick switched around, and, says Sir
Charles Tupper, "seeing New Brunswick coming into line, I
introduced a resolution in April, 1866, in favor of sending
delegates to a conference in London to finally negotiate the
terms of union. The resolution passed both Houses by a
large majority. Subsequently the Confederation party, led
by Hon. Mr. Tilley, swept New Brunswick, whose Legislature
met and adopted a similar resolution. The united Parliament of Upper and Lower Canada had made a similar
pronouncement in the previous year. All this cleared the
way for the London Conference, Prince Edward Island and
Newfoundland abstaining."
The Rouge party in Quebec, led by the Hon. Mr. Dorion,
was hostile to the project, as were Sandfield Macdonald and
a few Upper Canadian Reformers. The London Conference
met in Westminster Palace Hotel in London on December
4, 1866.    The representatives were for Canada:   Sir John A. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Macdonald, Hon. Geo. E. Carter, Hon. A. T. Gait, Hon. Wm.
Macdougall and Hon. H. L. Langevin; Nova Scotia, Hon.
Charles Tupper, Hon. W. A. Henry, Hon. J. W. Ritchie, Hon.
J. McCully, and Hon. A. G. Archibald; New Brunswick,
Hon. S. L. Tilley, Hon. Peter Mitchell, Hon. D. R. Wilmot,
Hon. J. M. Johnson and Hon. Charles Fisher. Sir John
Macdonald presided.
Here the resolutions of the Quebec Conference were
debated, and after, I think, four drafts had been prepared,
the British North America Act was finally adopted. It was
decided that the final draft should be passed as made without
variation, a wise provision, and so it went.
Perhaps the opposition of Joseph Howe and others was
not an unmixed blessing, because no great measure has been
passed which did not go through the crucible of fire, and
while the British North America Act may not be perfect, as
nothing human is, it is possibly one of the best political codes
ever framed. At all events it has, though perhaps providing
for too much government for the population of Canada as
it has been, suited the conditions of this country with its
British ideals, and enabled Canada to expand under a free
and elastic system of political and other development.
Outside of Sir Charles Tupper there were two outstanding figures, Sir John Macdonald and Sir Oliver Mowat.
Perhaps more than any other person Sir John was responsible
for the details. He had a very practical mind, influenced by
ideals which were not shared then or since by the majority
of Canadians, but which were essentially Imperial in the sense
in which we understand the word today. On the other hand,
while Sir Oliver Mowat did not have the constructive ability
of Sir John, he had the clearest ideas of the fundamental
principles of Confederation, and Sir John Macdonald was
no mean constitutional lawyer. In a series of cases referred
to the Privy Council at Mowat's instigation he succeeded in
clarifying a number of our constitutional problems favorably
to his views. 56
All the delicate complications arising out of the overlapping powers of the provinces and the Dominion have not yet
been settled, but in the main the atmosphere has been cleared
and the disposition for some years has been to steer clear of
political considerations involved in Provincial rights, and to
settle them in accordance with the principles of friendly
In my last article I referred to the fight made by Howe
in England to defeat the measure in the British Parliament to
give effect to the resolutions of the Quebec Conference. The
correspondence that was carried on by the members of the
two delegations, for and against, with their allies in Canada,
and the communications to newspapers and magazines and
editorial opinion expressed in respect of the whole question,
are exceedingly interesting to students of the history of this
period, but they are too voluminous to be summarized in any
reasonable degree of conciseness.
The most significant fact in connection with the matter
was the attitude of the British people. When I speak of the
people, I am perhaps overstepping the mark. The people
as a whole took no interest whatsoever. They neither knew
nor cared for what it was all about. A few of the leading
newsapers and a few of the leading men in political life
expressed opinions, but with few exceptions their interest
was academic, just as it would have been in the probable
effect of war between Thibet and Afghanistan if such a thing
could be regarded as at all probable. Howe, Tupper, Annand,
McCully and others of the delegates thought they were arouse
ing a great deal of public interest and influencing public
opinion, and if vigorous discussion could have accomplished
their objects they certainly succeeded, but the subject was
out of the perspective of British politics. The work was
accomplished behind the official doors in Downing Street.
The British Government, of course, desired to see Confederation brought about, but the official attitude was that it THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
was a Canadian affair, and it was simply the duty of the
Government and Parliament to give effect to an arrangement
which Canadian representatives themselves had agreed upon.
Needless to say, the office of the Colonial Secretary, whose
officials were men of keen appreciation of the situation and
well versed in colonial affairs, assisted materially. Lord
Carnarvon, Colonial Secretary, the man who gave to British
Columbia what are known as the Carnarvon Terms, was very
able and far-seeing, and his policy throughout his term of
office met with the warmest approval, both at home and in
the colonies. I use the term "colonies," now apparently so
objectionable, because at that time they were colonies in
every sense of the word, and were known by no other name.
Lord Carnarvon has been credited with framing the B. N. A.
Act. That, of course, is not true, but he rendered great
assistance, and had moved the second reading when he
resigned office upon the Reform Bill of 1867. It was during
his second term as Colonial Secretary, to which he was
appointed in 1874, that he was appealed to by Premier
Walkem, after the famous Edgar incident, against the action
of the Dominion Government in respect of our terms of
William Garvie, a journalistic associate of Joseph Howe
during his stay in England and a very clever writer, wrote a
letter from London, dated March, 1867, which is very illuminating in regard to the interest taken in the Confederation Bill
while wending its way through the various stages of the
British House of Commons.    He begins by remarking:
"I deeply regret that my news in respect of Confederation
should be of the most unpleasant description.
"As King Francis exclaimed after his disastrous defeat
at Pavia, 'All is lost except honor.'
"Everything was done, that was possible to be done, be
sure of that, but if one had come from the dead he would not
have got the English Parliament even to look at both sides of
the question. <$&)i>mp#pm*!m*Bfitm'*szr' THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
"The only people who really cared anything about the
matter were precisely the people whose interest it was to
put it forward.
"The Grand Trunk influence had a powerful effect on the
Government, who, being weak, were glad enough to bargain
about votes for a reform bill on condition of a Confederation
"More than that, I find among English politicians a growing fear of the United States which is really humiliating.
English statesmen have made up their minds not to fight a
land battle on this continent, for they know just as well as
we do that they could never keep the Yankee troops on tiherr
side of the frontier, and that it would be one of the costliest
campaigns into which Britain could drift.
"They are under the impression that if they do not own
a foot of soil in America the Yankees cannot come over to
attack them without positive peril—and they are, therefore,
willing upon any pretext to turn us adrift. 'I would not care,'
said a member of Parliament to me, if Grant were in Montreal
tomorrow, so long as we were not bound to find soldiers to
drive him out. He would not hurt you if you were not bound
to us; and he could never hurt us there; while he would ruin
himself by coming to us on board ship.'"
I am very much under the impression that Garvie had
been mixing a good deal with the wrong kind of people, consorting with politicians "agin the government." In addition
to that, he was feeling sorely the disappointment of defeat,
and was looking for good excuses. The Little Englander
talked a good deal about that time, and without doubt interest
in the colonies was at its lowest ebb, but the great mass of
the English and the real statesmen of Great Britain would
not have deserted Canada in the time of grave peril. There
is a good deal more in the letter of similar nature, but the
really interesting part of it is the description of the way the
Bill passed the House.    He goes on:
"None of them ventured to deny the justice of our case,
but then nobody could spare a thought from the questions at THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
home to waste time on us. (This refers to English editors
and politicians generally.—R.E.G.) .... The great body of
the House was utterly indifferent, even the delegates seemed
chagrined at the lazy contempt with which a thin House
suffered their bill to pass unnoticed through committee.
"A clerk at the table gabbled on, not the clauses even,
but the numbers of the clauses and, as if that were not a
quick enough mode of rushing through a disagreeably dull
measure which did not affect anybody's seat, and which,
therefore, could not be listened to, he used to read a whole
batch of numbers at once, for example, saying, 'Moved that
clauses 73, 74, 75 pass,' and they passed sure enough, without
anybody worrying himself about their contents. (Respecting
this statement, the editor of the Confederation letters, from
which the above are extracts, makes this footnote: 'A graphic
and sufficiently mortifying picture of the birth of the Canadian Constitution.'—R.E.G.) One member who had been in
Australia and therefore wanted to drag himself into notice
as a great colonial authority, asked some solemnly absurd
questions about the Governor-General's duties, and so forth,
and got equally solemn and absurd replies from Adderley,
who stood with Cardwell, as if both were wet nurses for a
foundling bill.
"The House got livelier and better filled when a dog tax
bill came up—for, you see, the country gentlemen who could
not maybe, point out Nova Scotia on the map, keep fox
hounds, subject to a tax, which interests them more keenly
than a Canadian tariff.
"I confess this utter indifference was more mortifying to
me than positive opposition. I would allow for the action
of Watkin, Kinnaird and other Grand Trunk members, but
when I saw English gentlemen sitting where Burke sat framing his indignant sentences against the Government's disregard for the popular wish of the American colonies, I felt
that their changed policy, contrasting so remarkably with his,
was one of the worst signs of the times. It showed that they
considered colonists being as little related to them as the THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
inhabitants of some nameless Chinese mud village, and it
showed that the complaint so general now in England that
this Parliament is utterly indifferent to a proper sense or
share of responsibility, and utterly devoid of the quick sympathies with popular rights which used to ennoble the name
of the House of Commons is correct."
The explanation of this regrettable indifference is not
really a reflection on the English House of Commons at that
time. The members were not interested in the subject of the
bill, and knew little or nothing about the merits of the issues
involved. If you know English character you know when
an Englishman has no interest and does not know, he does
not pretend to have interest or to know. The members as a
whole were much more honest than the man from Australia.
In my humble opinion this attitude on the part of the British
House is on account of the fact that it has jurisdiction over
parish matters as well as over Empire and international affairs,
and the little things which affect a member's constituency,
which should be settled in a town council, take up more time
and get more attention than the big affairs of state. It is
an evil we avoided in Canada by adopting the federal system
of government.
Howe, after the passing of the B. N. A. Act by the British
Parliament, knew that so far as Canada was concerned nothing
further could be done to defeat Confederation, but he at once
set about to have Nova Scotia released from the Union. In
1868 he and a number of other delegates from Nova Scotia
went to England with monster petitions. The Imperial Government refused the appeal, and the House of Commons voted
down by a large majority a resolution in favor of a Royal
Commission for an investigation of Nova Scotia's objections
to the scheme. Tupper, the watchdog of Confederation, was
asked by Sir John Macdonald to go to England, and was
soon on the spot. He had made a great speech in the first
Federal Parliament in 1867 in reply to Joseph Howe, who
had been stumping Nova Scotia, and with whom he had a
great debate at Truro, called the "battle of the giants."   This 62
speech, at the request of a British member of Parliament, had
been printed in pamphlet form and distributed among the
members of the latter, and it played an important part in the
campaign. Sir Charles Tupper tells us in his reminiscences
that the first man he called upon after reaching London was
Joseph Howe himself. Howe's greeting was, "Well, I can't
say I am glad to see you, but we must make the best of it."
Tupper pointed out to him the hopelessness of his mission,
stating that the Government and the Imperial Parliament
were overwhelmingly opposed to him. Then Howe said:
" 'I have 800 men in each county in Nova Scotia who will
take an oath that they will never pay a cent of taxation to
the Dominon, and I defy the Government to enforce taxation.'
'You have no power of taxation, Howe,' Tupper replied, 'and
in a few years you will have every sensible man cursing you,
as there will be no money for roads and bridges. I will not
ask that troops be sent to Nova Scotia, but I shall recommend
that if the people refuse to obey the law, the federal subsidy be
The upshot of it all was that Howe withdrew his opposition, and within six months entered the Cabinet of Sir John
Macdonald, and in the general elections of 1870, Tupper swept
Nova Scotia, and he and Howe were elected by acclamation
—a curious but fortunate outcome of a great political struggle
in which Howe and Tupper were head and shoulders above all
others in the fight as opponents.
In a former article I explained the circumstances under
which there was a fusion of parties in order to bring about
Confederation. Several of the men who joined forces with
Sir John Macdonald were the Hon. George Brown, the Hon.
Oliver Mowat, and the Hon. William Macdougall, familiarly
known as "Wandering Willie." The son of the last-named
started, if not the first, one of the first papers in Vancouver
Macdougall was a gifted man and an able writer and
speaker, but he had the misfortune, in a politician, of changing
sides too often, and while independence may be a merit, in.
our system of party government the inability to give and take
greatly lessens the influence of a statesman. He must either
be strong enough to carry all before him or, like Sir John A.
Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and other great leaders, he
must accept as the solution of a situation what comes nearest
to his actual views. Nearly all of the Liberals who joined
Sir John or amalgamated with his party, including Joseph
Howe, became permanently part of the Liberal-Conservative
regime, but almost as soon as Confederation was decided
upon, the Hon. George Brown broke away and went violently
into opposition. Except Joseph Howe, Brown was probably
the greatest editor Canada ever produced, but was impossible
of restraint of any kind, and never long retained alliances,
although the Toronto Globe, which he established, owned
and edited, always remained a power in Ontario as long as
he remained at the helm. Brown was a man of extremes, and
belabored his opponents without distinction of rank or merit
in a way that was always unmerciful. Temperamentally, and
from every angle of view, he was opposed to Sir John Macdonald, whom he literally hated. His temporary alliance
with the latter to bring about Confederation was greatly to
his credit and on account of his tremendous influence with
the Liberal element of Ontario, accomplished something
which might have been otherwise impossible in those strenuous days of political faction fights. Sir Oliver Mowat in
1864, after the Quebec Conference, was made a judge, and
when he stepped down in 1872, it was to take the premiership
of Ontario in succession to the Hon. Edward Blake. Although
of almost entirely different temperament from George Brown,
he could never affiliate with Sir John Macdonald, and their
long fight in respect of the rights of the Dominion and the
Province of Ontario, and, incidentally, of all provinces, is
historic. «Sjs w*2
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Sir A. T. Gait, who was the first minister of finance, also
fell away from Sir John Macdonald, although he always
remained an independent Conservative. Gait was a splendid
financier, and his efforts in the cause of Confederation were .
notable, but, using Sir Joseph Pope's words, as a politician
• he was an impossibility. There was a feeling, acute at first,
on account of the honors bestowed by the Imperial Government through Lord Monck on the first Dominion Day. Sir
John Macdonald had been created a Knight Commander of
the Bath, and Cartier, Gait, Tilley, Tupper, Howland and
Macdougall had been made Companions of the same order.
Cartier and Gait considered this recognition of their services
inadequate and declined to receive the decoration. "A good
deal of feeling was aroused," says Sir Joseph Pope, "among
the French Canadians at what was looked upon as a slight to
the representative of their race. Cartier himself appears to
have taken the matter momentarily to heart, and is said to
have shown a disposition to attach some blame to Macdonald,
who, of course, had nothing to do with it. It was this circumstance that gave rise to the stories, echoes of which are
heard even today, of dissensions between Macdonald and
Cartier. In the first flush of his natural disappointment
Cartier may have used some hasty expressions, and thus lent
color to a report which had no serious foundation. In order
to allay the soreness, Lord Monck obtained permission to
offer Cartier a baronetcy if Sir John Macdonald were agreeable. Sir John Macdonald at once replied that he would be
only too glad to see his colleague thus honored. Gait was*
made a K.C.M.G. at the same time, and thus the affair was
brought to a happy termination." As a matter of fact, Cartier
and Macdonald were always the closest of friends. Sir
Charles Tupper refers to Cartier as a man of unfailing industry and indomitable courage, and easily the most influential
man in the Province of Quebec. Sir John said of him that
he was "bold as a lion." I shall have more to say of hinL,
when I come to the chapters dealing with British Columbia's
entrance into Confederation.    Another man who left Sir John 66
after Confederation was the Jate Sir Richard Cartwright.
Cartwright was a Tory of the Tories, and the real reason of
his severance of relations has never been known. After Sir
A. T. Gait resigned his post as minister of finance, Sir John
Rose became minister of finance, and two years later he
resigned to take up his residence in London as member of the
banking firm of Morton, Rose & Company, a very important
financial institution. Then Sir John had to look around for
a new minister of finance, and, rightly or wrongly, chose Sir
Francis Hincks. Hincks had been away from the country
for some years as governor of various of the West India
Islands, and had made a good record. Cartwright took
umbrage at the appointment. It has been said -that he wanted
the portfolio for himself, although there is really no evidence
of the fact. |t is said that Sir John referred to him as "a round
peg trying to fill a square hole," but at all events Cartwright
became one of his bitterest opponents. He was a member of
an old aristocratic family, with a liberal education. He had
a bitter tongue, and his command of sarcasm and satire was
perhaps the greatest of any man who sat in the Canadian
House of Commons. He literally flayed his opponents in
language that was always classical in its preciseness. He
had not the massive attack of Edward Blake, who, perhaps,
was the best debater of the Empire in his time, but was
biting, incisive and almost cruel.
After Confederation, Sir John Macdonald took to himself
two men who may be regarded as his right and left bowers,
Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Leonard Tilley. Both were most
helpful to him in his policies, which have made him famous,
and both were loyal to him to the last. Sir Charles did not
at first accept a place in the Government, because, as he tells
us himself, he made a vow that he would not accept office in
the Canadian Government until his course had been vindicated by the people of Nova Scotia, for whose entrance into
Confederation he was almost wholly responsible. In the
elections of 1870 that vindication came in the most emphatic THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
form. Sir Charles Tupper was essentially a constructive
statesman, but lacking that charming personality and magnetism that characterized Sir John Macdonald, and without
which no leader can succeed in captivating the affections of
the people. Not that he was lacking in many of the graces
of a politician, but his sheer force of character gave him a
ruggedness that passed too often for what is referred to as
"brute force." He was too direct and too aggressive in his
methods to be liked by those who prefer the lines of least
resistance. Of his colleague of the Maritime Provinces he
says: "Sir Leonard Tilley was a man of high personal character and a very effective speaker," I have the very kindest
of recollections of Sir Leonard in St. John in 1890. He carried
into the smallest details of life those graces which endeared
him to all his friends. His personal influence as a man had
largely to do with bringing New Brunswick into the Union,
and in addition to his personal qualities he was a man of
meticulous scrupulousness in financial affairs and of constructive ability.
A man who was a real factor in the Confederation movement was Lord Monck. He was appointed Governor-General
of Canada in 1861. He came to the country just at a time
when the legislative union of 1841 was on the point of
breaking down, and it was largely through his influence that
George Brown was induced to join hands with Sir John
Macdonald in reaching a solution of a very difficult situation.
He was very tactful and of a conciliatory temper, and was
thus enabled to bring albout agreement where agreement
seemed to be most hopeless. He was reappointed Governor-
General after 1867, Dut resigned after a further year of office.
The dual authority which characterized the legislative union
just referred to was the root of the troubles of his time, and
Lord Monck, when confiding the duty of forming the first
Cabinet to Sir John Macdonald, addressed him in these
"In authorizing you to undertake the duty of forming
an administration for the Dominion of Canada, I desire to
express my strong opinion that, in future, it shall be distinctly
understood that the position of First Minister shall be held
by one person, who shall be responsible to the Governor-
General for the appointment of the other ministers, and
that the system of dual ministers, which has heretofore
prevailed, shall be put an end to. I think this is of importance
not only with reference to the maintenance of satisfactory
relations between the Governor-General and his Cabinet, but
also with a view to the complete consolidation of the union
which we have brought about."
The murder of D'Arcy McGee was a great loss to Canada.
Not as previously stated, he was shot while entering his
house after a session of Parliament. D'Arcy McGee was a
Reformer who came in with the coalition. Moreover, he was
possibly the most eloquent man we have ever had in Canada.
I except Joseph Howe, but his eloquence was of a different
character. He was an Irishman, with all the warmth of
imagination that adorns Irish eloquence. He was also a poet,
and in the debates of 1865 in the old Canadian Parliament
his was the most literary effort of the lot. The speech of
George Brown was perhaps the fullest of meat and that of
Sir John Macdonald the most practical, but there was nothing
to equal that of D'Arcy McGee, according to the standards
of great parliamentary speeches as they are adjudged.
There has just come to hand a book entitled the "Federation of Canada," which is a symposium by Prof. George M.
Wrong, ;Sir John Willison, Z. A. Lash and R. A. Falconer,
president of the Toronto University. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
I have before me a copy of the Debates on Confederation,
which took place in the Parliament of old Canada in the year
1865, following the Conference at Quebec. It contains over
1,030 large, closely-printed pages, which some years ago I
read carefully through, more as a matter of necessity than of
inclination, I have here and there, incidentally, in previous articles referred to the attitude of the leading federation-
ists as well as to that of some who were opposed to them, and
to some of the arguments used for and against, and I do not
propose here to attempt even a summary of the debates. Parliament was then as at present divided into two branches, the
Legislative Council, or Upper House, and the Legislative
Assembly, called also the House of Commons. The seventy-
two resolutions passed by the Quebec Conference were
presented to the Legislative Council by Hon. Sir E. P. Tache,
who had presided at the Quebec Conference, on February
3rd, and he formally moved that an address be presented to
Her Majesty praying that a measure should be submitted to
, Imperial Parliament based on these resolutions. He opened
the debate, and as a great many English members could not
understand French, and all the French members understood
English he spoke in English. Thirty members took part at
greater or less length, the most and the best known to
present-day readers being Hon. James Aikens, Hon. George
Allen, Hon. Narcisse Belleau, Hon. Geo. S. Boulton, Hon. A.
Campbell, Hon. David Christie, Hon. Billa Flint, Hon. L.
Letellier de St. Just, Hon. David Macpherson, Hon. Wm.
McMaster, Hon. A. Vidal and Hon. S. Sanbora. Several
amendments were moved, the principal being that the transmission of the address should be delayed until the resolutions
were approved by a direct vote of the provinces. This and
all other amendments were voted down by considerable
A similar procedure was followed in the popular Assembly,  in  which  Hon.  Attorney-General  Macdonald  was  the  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
introducer of the resolution and mover of the address. The
greatest interest centred in the debate in the Legislative
Assembly, in which 7° out of 130 members spoke. The
principal of these included the mover, John A. Macdonald,
Hon. George Brown, Hon. John Hilliard Cameron, M. C.
Cameron, Hon. G. E. Cartier, Richard Cartwright, Hon.
James Cockburn, Hon. A. A. Dorion, Christopher Dunkin
(author of the Dunkin Act), Hon. A. T. Gait, Thomas N.
Gibbs, Hon. L. H. Holton, Hon. W. P. Howland, Hon. Lucius
P. Huntingdon (largely responsible for the celebrated Pacific
scandal), H. G. Joly de Lotbiniere (against the resolutions),
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald (afterwards Premier of
Ontario), Alexander Mackenzie (second Premier of United
Canada), Hon. Wm. Macdougall, Archibald McKellar, Alexander Morris, Hon. John Rose, Joseph Rymal (known as
the wag of the House), Hon. T. D'Arcy McGee, Walter Shan-
ley, Henri Taschereau and Hector Langevin. Each name in
that list is familiar to every -person who has read Canadian
history or studied Canadian politics. I have stated previously
that John A. Macdonald, whom Sir John Willison describes
as, if not peculiarly the Father of Confederation, its chief
architect, the master craftsman of the Quebec Conference,
made the most practical speech from a constitutional point
of view, D'Arcy McGee made the most eloquent, and George
Brown the most informative and inspirational. In Sir John
Willison's lecture delivered in the Toronto University in
March last he says that of all the debates on Confederation
there is no more remarkable address than that of Christopher
Dunkin, of Brome, and he relates this story: "He said that
the attempt to overcome deadlock in United Canada by the
scheme of Confederation reminded him of the two boys who
upset the canoe. Tom said, 'Bill can you pray?' Bill admitted
that he could not think of any prayer suitable for the
occasion. Tom's rejoinder, according to Dunkin, was earnest
but not parliamentary. He said: 'Well, something has to be
done and that—soon.'"    Dunkin, Willison tells us, spoke for 72
two days with unfailing courtesy and reserve;, the language
scholarly, the argument sustained and powerful; but he was
utterly opposed to the scheme. His speech was purely
destructive, cold and uninspiring, nevertheless a great contribution to the political literature of Canada. In speaking of
Dorion, Willison says: "There is no more chivalrous figure
in Canadian history than Antoine Dorion. He had eloquence
and courage and integrity. He had all the charm and courtesy
of a scholarly Frenchman, with the gravity, sobriety and
reserve of the cultivated Englishman. He had dignity without
pretension, he was gracious without condescension. Where
he was men were clearer and finer, and discourse was serene
and elevated." He was greatly handicapped in Quebec,
however, by his loyal adhesion to George Brown, notwithstanding the latter's hostility to the French-Canadians and
his anti-Catholic crusade. Dorion spoke at great length, not
so much against the principle of the proposed union as against
the provisions contained in the resolutions for union—the
thing in the concrete. Other speakers from Quebec opposed
to union were Holton, Joly and Huntingdon, and Willison,
to illustrate the temper which prevailed in Quebec, says that
even Wilfrid Laurief, whose life he wrote in two volumes,
then a young advocate at Arthabaskaville writing editorials
for a weekly newspaper between interviews with clients,
declared that Confederation would be "the tomb of the French
race and the ruin of Lower Canada." The opposition in
Upper Canada was largely of a political nature for the sake of
The debate lasted from February 3rd to March 14th
inclusive. There was a large number of amendments moved,
having various objects in view, the principal being for reference to the people before the measure should be got into
operation, all of which were defeated. On March 14th the
House waited on His Excellency with its address to Her
Majesty. The Governor-General made a brief and formal
official acknowledgment.    The subsequent proceedings until THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
the Union was accomplished and brought into effect on July
ist, 1867, have all heretofore been described.
I referred in my last article to a very attractive little
volume entitled "The Federation of Canada," which had
just come to hand. The contents consist of four lectures
delivered in the University of Toronto in March last, by
George M. Wrong, Professor of History in the University,
whose subject was "The Creation of the Federal System in
Canada"; Sir John Willison, editor of the Toronto News, on
"Some Political Leaders in the Canadian Federation"; by Z.
A. Lash, K.C, on "The Working of Federal Institutions in
Canada"; by R. A. Falconer, C.M.G., President of the University, on "The Quality of Canadian Life in Canada." These
four men, each in his own way, are eminently qualified to
deal with the subject allotted to them, and, although there
is necessarily a good deal of duplication of statements, their
treatment of these subjects amply sustains their reputation
for literary and historical acquirements. After perusal of
this book I was very pleased to ascertain that practically
every statement made in the succession of articles in The
Colonist as to facts and conditions and as to estimates of the
leading men of the Confederation movement have been amply
confirmed. There is, however, an advantage in a continued
and concise narrative over a symposium even of brilliant
writers. There is in the latter a good deal of repetition.
Histories of Canada which have been written topically by a
number of different authors have not been a success, and
could not possibly be such a success as that achieved by
Parkman, for instance, whose style and treatment are
harmonious throughout. Nevertheless, for the purpose for
which these four lectures have been published the symposium
is highly successful. Prof. Wrong, who is an industrious
student and a digger, gives us the historical aspect, although
he overlaps to some extent President Falconer's treatment
of his subject. 74
Viewing Confederation as an accomplished fact, Prof.
Wrong remarks: "The very vastness of the Canadian union
created one of its chief difficulties. In Victoria one can rarely
secure a newspaper published in Toronto less than a week
old. Distance is a great handicap in the building up of a
national life. In Britain a political leader can make a speech
in the south of England in the morning and repeat it in the
capital of Scotland on the same day. In Canada it takes
about six days and nights to pass from one end of the country
to the other. What London talks of in the morning
Manchester and Glasgow are discussing in the afternoon, but
of what Montreal or Toronto are discussing Victoria and
Vancouver often hear nothing. It is the penalty of vastness
that it is both difficult to create a common public opinion
in Canada, and, when the opinion exists, difficult so to
concentrate it as to make it effective at the national capital.
We need not despair, but the problem of adequate education
in national affairs is real and difficult.  .   .   .
"Our whole outlook on life has changed since 1867. . . .
Simcoe, first Governor of Upper Canada, had thought English
society so beautiful that he wished to have Canada an exact
copy with hereditary peers, a state church, a powerful landed
gentry. . . . Today, looking back, we find that only that
has survived which was vital in harmony with the spirit and
conditions of new society. Our successful men are those
who were free to adjust themselves to what they found in
the country and to conquer conditions by learning to know
them.  .   .   .
"Now we are required to consider how we may unite
with other states of a great Empire in order to make its position secure and its power effective. Of the solvings of this
question I can say nothing new, but upon it we must continue
to fix our eyes. Surveying it, one's last words must be a
tribute of admiration to the builders of 1867."
Sir John Willison's contribution is decidedly the most
interesting from the newspaper man's point of view, and is THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
ably written. Respecting Brown, Mackenzie and Blake,
while admitting their temperamental defects as political
leaders, he is eminently fair and appreciative. Brown was
the great Protestant and radical force of Upper Canada, without which Confederation might not have been accomplished.
Nature gave Blake much, yet withheld something. For sheer
intellectual power Mr. Blake perhaps has had no equal in the
public life of Canada. If he had a peer it was Sir John
Thompson. He was painfully sensitive of criticism, even in
small things. He had innate kindness and friendliness, which,
however, could not unfold themselves to others, except to
very particular intimates of which he had few. He was
undoubtedly Canada's greatest jurist and advocate. Mackenzie, who was too much of a slave to the details of office
work, was one of the greatest debaters in the Canadian House
of Commons, and quite a match for Sir Charles Tupper on
the stump. Sir John's analysis of Sir John Macdonald and
Sir Charles Tupper are too minute to be described, but it does
not differ materially in effect from my own previously given.
They are given the palm for constructive political ability.
Of Cartier he says that he had not magnetic quality, but he
had optimism, self-confidence and power in debate. He
inspired confidence, and his character gave authority to his
Z. A. Lash, K.C, a leading lawyer of Canada, who has
been writing upon Imperial relations lately, had the advantage in dealing with the working of federal institutions of
having been for some years Deputy Minister of Justice at
Ottawa, and many of the early questions which arose at the
outset necessarily came before him. It must be understood
that in 1867, although we got a written constitution very
specific in its details, it was at the time elastic as to interpretation, and as the B.N.A. Act stands today it represents a
gradual fixing of constitutional powers as determined by a
series of judicial decisions. Mr. Lash very clearly and
concisely traces this evolution through its various stages, and g
h i
so splendidly mirrors the essential features of the Canadian
constitution that his article might be well accepted as a textbook on the subject.
The quality of Canadian life is dealt with by the able and
scholarly president of Toronto University, and his address
on this subject necessarily involves so many lights and
shades and so many considerations and conditions that it
cannot be dealt with even in characteristic quotations. He
says however that "The creation of Western Canada is the
most splendid achievement of our life since 1867," and that
will afford me a valuable text for my concluding articles on
the bringing in of the country from the Great Lakes to the
Pacific Ocean, in which, of course, British Columbia will
receive special consideration.
I now come to the West. When Confederation, in 1864,
was first seriously considered in conference the West was
in mind, but, owing to the great intervening territory
between Ontario and British Columbia, practically unsettled,
the latter was not invited to participate. In fact, there was
not time after the conference at Charlottetown. Nor were
there the facilities for travel. But from the very first talk
of Confederation, and that was quite far back, there was a
lure about the West that incited the imagination, and, almost
as soon as railways had been shown to be practicable, the
vision of joining the Atlantic with the Pacific colony became
clear. A united British North America was a dream at
least 150 years old. However, to make British Columbia a
possibility as a province of the Union, the great territory
known as Prince Rupert's Land, in the possession of the
Hudson's Bay Co., had to be acquired, and the Company's
title extinguished. It was a delicate matter. The Hudson's
Bay Co. influence with the Imperial Government and in Parliament was very strong. In Great Britain, much more than
at the present time, vested interests were regarded as sacred, 78
and in 1670 Rupert's Land passed into the exclusive control
of the great company of adventurers. Any arrangement with
British Columbia before the intervening territory had been
acquired would have stiffened the back of the Hudson's Bay
Company and made negotiations more difficult, and Sir John
Macdonald, with his usual sagacity, decided that it would be
better to settle with the Company before opening up formal
negotiations with the Pacific colony. To be brief, after the
matter had been taken up with the Home authorities an Act
was passed by the Imperial Parliament in 1868 whereby the
rights of the Company were relinquished for a consideration
of $1,500,000 and certain allotments of land, which the land
department of the Hudson's Bay Co., Winnipeg, is still selling
and thus the whole of the Middle West passed under the
jurisdiction and exclusive control of the Dominion. The
purchase was completed on May nth, of 1870, and on the
fifteenth of July of the same year Manitoba, containing 27,000
square miles, was created a province of Canada.
There were mistakes made in bringing in of Manitoba,
which led to the lamentable Riel first rebellion. The Metis,
or French half-breeds, of that country, had settled along the
banks of the Red River on a principle somewhat similar to
settlement of the French-Canadians along the St. Lawrence.
They had not been properly apprised of the change in eminent
domain, and when the Canadian surveyors appeared on the
scene with their plan of block surveys, their suspicions were
aroused, and they were led to believe that their holdings
would be confiscated or altered. Louis Riel, a clever, but
very much misguided man, who had an ambition to establish
a republic in the West with himself as its head, fomented
rebellion, of the history of which I do not intend to deal. His
cold-blooded murder of Scott, one of his prisoners, raised a
storm of indignation throughout Canada, and the political
consequences promised to be very serious. Incidentally, (the
late) Alderman John Dilworth (of Victoria, B. C) was a
fellow-prisoner of Scott, and was to have been shot with the THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
others, but better counsels prevailed. They had to live on
bread and water for many days. The arrival of Col. Wolseley,
afterwards a Field Marshal of the Empire, with his expedition, which marched overland via Fort William, put an end
to the rebellion, and should have put an end to Riel as well,
but, on account of the race question involved, the matter had
to be handled with great delicacy. This uprising was a
regrettable incident of Confederation, but only an incident.
It would be interesting to dwell upon the unfortunate ending
of the attempt of the Hon. William Macdougall to take his
post as Lieutenant-Governor, the private visit of Sir Charles
Tupper, the mission of Donald Smith, afterwards Lord
Strathcona, and the efforts of the late Archbishop Tache in
connection with the affair, but these are incidents not part
of the story.
The population of Manitoba, at the time of its entrance
into Confederation was very limited, and consisted principally outside of the Indian tribes, of the descendants of the
early Selkirk colony, the Metis and other half-breeds and
of the servants of the Hudson's Bay Co., and descendants of
fur traders of all time in the West. We can hardly refer to
the terms of the Union i& this case, because the people were
not consulted in the matter. It is only necessary to say that
because the Dominion bought and paid for Rupert's Land,
Manitoba, as was the case with Saskatchewan and Alberta
later on, did not get control of the natural resources, but was
given an extra allowance in the way of subsidies in lieu
thereof. The only lands given were those for school purposes
and these are held in trust.
British Columbia was the next province to join Confederation, and the circumstances in connection with its coming
in are particularly interesting, not only on account of the
initial steps but of what followed after the Union took place.
After Sir James Douglas resigned the Governorship he was
succeeded in British Columbia by Governor Seymour, and in
Vancouver Island by Governor Kennedy.    Then began the 80
agitation for the union of the two colonies. The white population of the two colonies did not equal 10,000 in all, and there
were two very expensive administrations to carry on. It was
obviously absurd that such a state of things should exist,
but, of course, there were sectional prejudices to overcome.
The New Westminster district, and in particular New Westminster City, was afraid of the predominance of Victoria and
the Island in wealth, population and influence. If the question
of the location of the capital had not been at issue, it perhaps
might have been a much easier matter to arrange, but each
colony was at first resolute in keeping its capital. I cannot
tell the whole story of the war of capitals, but eventually
union was accomplished in 1866, and official influence in
Victoria was so strong that it was selected as the capital.
It left a great deal of heartburning on the lower Mainland,
which was not healed for many years afterwards.
No sooner had union of the colonies been accomplished
than the wider .union with Canada began to be discussed.
British Columbia was a long way from Canada, and had very
imperfect and rather tortuous means of communication with
the older colonies of British North America, but the editors
of the papers in Victoria and New Westminster got their
Canadian exchanges, and everything that happened during
and after the Charlottetown-Quebec Conference was carefully
noted and discussed. Thus, though somewhat belated, Canadian news was fairly familiar to those who took an interest
in it. There was a number of prominent Canadians in British
Columbia both on the Island and the Mainland, who were
very anxious for union, union of course coupled with some
direct form of communication. Douglas's great dream was
a wagon road to connect British Columbia with the eastern
provinces, and, to some extent, the celebrated Dewdney Trail
was intended as a start in that direction, and when the delegation went to Ottawa it was a wagon road they had in mind
and not a railway, because a railway 3,000 miles long seemed
to be beyond the dreams of   avarice,   especially  through   a THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
country which was largely an undeveloped waste. Beyond,
however, the desire of direct communication to end the
isolation of British Columbia there was among the Canadian
element a sentimental desire to see British Columbia united
with the home provinces, and to understand that desire
more thoroughly, it must be known that in those early days
there was a good deal of feeling against Canadians among
the British-born element, which was a very considerable and
influential one socially. The official, Hudson's Bay Company
and naval elements were practically all British in the natal
sense, and there existed a very foolish prejudice against the
outsiders, very much as has existed in Canada up until
recently against "Englishmen." The anti-Canadian sentiment was largely confined to the Island and the city of
Victoria, but it existed elsewhere as well. The Canadians
whom I have particularly in mind included such men as Mr.
Amor de Cosmos, Mr. D. W. Higgins, Mr. Robert Beaven,
Mr. F. J. Barnard, Dr. Powell, Mr. J. A. Mara, Mr. John
Robson, Dr. Carrall, Mr. John Grant and a great many others
whom it would take too long to enumerate.
At the time the agitation was well started annexation to
the United States was more popular than was Confederation
in certain circles. One very prominent man wrote a letter
in the newspapers openly advocating it, and there was a
newspaper published in Victoria whose policy it was. Sir
Charles Tupper, who was thoroughly posted on public opinion
in the British Colony, in his reminiscences discussing the
possible fate of British Columbia had not union been brought
about at the time it was, says:
"There is no question that it would have inevitably
resulted in the absorption of the Crown Colony on the Pacific
Coast by the United States. Social and economic forces were
working in that direction from the date of the discovery of
gold in 1856. Thousands of adventurous American citizens
flocked to British Columbia, and between the two countries
there was a good deal of inter-communication by land and  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
sea. Sir James Douglas, an ex-Governor, a prominent figure
in the early days of the Colony, was opposed to Confederation. (So was my old friend Dr. Helmcken, Judge' Drake
and others equally prominent.—R.E.G.)
"Until his eleventh-hour conversion, ex-Governor Seymour entertained similar views. The appointment of Anthony
Musgrave, a pro-union man, in 1869, came at a psychological
moment, when the Imperial authorities were giving their
ardent support to the cause dearest to the hearts of Canadian
statesmen. .   .   .
"It would have been impossible to retain British Columbia as a Crown Colony if overtures in favor of the Union
had not been made by the Dominion. How could it have
been expected to remain British when it had no community
of interest with the rest of Canada, from which the people
were separated by two ranges of mountains and the vast
prairie? Under the existing circumstances it had no means
of advancement except by throwing in its lot with the great
nation to the south, with which it had constant communication by land and sea."
There is no suggestion in the foregoing that there was
any lack of loyalty in British Columbia, but physical isolation had reduced it to almost a state of desperation, and the
colony was in a state of business stagnation. It was the
feeling of uncertainty in British Columbia as to the future
and to another fact, to which I shall refer in the next article,
that decided Sir John Macdonald as leader of the Government
at Ottawa to stake all on bringing in British Columbia.
Once the movement for Confederation was fairly inaugurated it quickly gathered momentum, not so much perhaps
sentimentally as on account of material considerations. There
were economic forces at work which impelled it. The mines,
which at that time were exclusively placer, were being
exhausted.    What  little  agriculture  there  was  had  a very 84
limited market. Business in all branches was stagnant. The
public debt was intolerable, and there was neither development in progress nor in prospect. All this was the result
of extreme isolation and lack of communication with the
outside world by means of railway. There was only very
meagre communication by steamship. There were two things
for it, annexation with the United States or union with
Canada. There was a considerable element in favor of the
former, and from a near point of view there was much to be
said in its favor, but a large portion of the British-born population, while it did not like union with Canada, did not want
to give up allegiance to Great Britain. Of the two alternatives they finally chose the latter. There was a number of
enthusiastic, able and shrewd Canadians who put their
shoulders to the wheel and decided the issue, although there
was a long, hard fight for it.
One of the obstacles to Union was Governor Seymour,
who opposed it as strongly as he had opposed the union of
the colonies. Sir John Macdonald, who had been informed of
his attitude, planned for his removal and for the appointment
of Anthony Musgrave, whose term as Governor of Newfoundland was just expiring. Musgrave was known as a strong
pro-Confederation advocate, and Sir John wrote a confidential
letter to the Governor-General of Canada at the time, enclosing a communication on the subject from a newspaper in
British Columbia to Sir Leonard Tilley, which letter confirmed
a letter received some time previous from Dr. Carrall. Sir
John said that "it was quite clear that no time should be
lost by Lord Granville in putting the screws on Vancouver
Island," urging that the first thing to be done was to recall
Governor Seymour. He hinted that now that the Hudson's
Bay Company had succumbed and was anxious to make
things pleasant with the Canadian Government it would
likely instruct its officials to change their anti-Confederate
tone, and added that "We shall then have to fight only the
Yankee adventurers and the annexation party proper, which THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
there will be no difficulty in doing." Musgrave, as Governor
of Newfoundland, had done his very best to bring that colony
into line and had made himself personally very popular, and
Sir John, not without good reason, expected him to succeed
on the Pacific side of Canada. The obstacle of Seymour in
British Columbia, however, was unexpectedly removed by
death on H.M.S. Sparrowhawk at Bella Bella, June 10, 1869.
In respect of Confederation, British Columbia was fortunate in her newspapers and editors, who really directed public
opinion in the matter. The Colonist, owned and edited by
Mr. D. W. Higgins, and The Westminster Columbian, owned
and edited by the late Hon. John Robson, were heart and
soul in the movement. The Hon. Amor de Cosmos, another
journalist, though not in the possession of a newspaper at
the time, was a strong advocate, and thereby hangs a tale.
J. S. Thompson, editor of The Cariboo Sentinel, an able and
rather brilliant writer and speaker, who afterwards represented Cariboo federally for three Parliaments, was another.
Three men who took a very prominent and personal part
in the movement were Amor de Cosmos, John Robson and
D. W. Higgins. Robson was a powerful and convincing
writer. De Cosmos and Higgins, also able writers, were
rivals in journalism and politics, although agreeing on this
one issue. De Cosmos had gone East in the interests of
Confederation, and at a big Liberal convention at Toronto
pledged himself to return a solid delegation of members after
the union, if union were effected, to support the Liberal party,
from British Columbia. Higgins, who had the cause very
much at heart and did not want the issue to be confused with
party politics, at his own expense went to Ottawa in 1868
and had long conferences with members of the Government
there, and I have his little diary of his trip, in which he put
various jottings and memoranda connected with his mission.
Some of these jottings are very interesting. For instance:
"August 19, Ottawa—Tilley says delegation will be sent
to Ottawa to Imperial Government after general election is THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
over to arrange as to transfer of H. B. Co. territory to Dominion. Thinks H. B. Co. must be secured with British Columbia
or before, and believes Imperial Government will, make
Legislature do its duty—that is urge Confederation on council
or resign. That in any negotiations with H. B. Co. delegation
to Imperial Government will act as arbitrators.
"Tilley received letters from Seelye and Powell yesterday
and telegraphed Powell. There will probably be a delegation
from Vancouver Island to arrange matters with him.
"Had an audience with Cabinet. Saw Sir John A. Macdonald, Tilley, Langevin, Chapais, Campbell and Rose. Told
them wants of colony and expenses $517,000. No markets.
Last year $701,000. Seymour imbecile. Corroborated by
Waddington. (Waddington was then in Ottawa promoting
a transcontinental line of railway by way of Bentick Arm,
upon the preliminary surveys of which he spent his fortune,
and may thus be regarded as the original promoter of the
"Sir John A. very kind, and said wanted colony, but
policy was not to take it until H. B. Territory was had too,
because if did then H. B. Co. would be more stiff and independent.  Must have intervening territory.
"Sir John showed me act last passed by Imperial Parliament authorizing opening of negotiations with H. B. Co. and
Government as arbitrator. John A. shrewd and intelligent
Scotch face. All members held out hope of speedy relief.
Tilley ordered nineteen weeklies (Colonist).
I "Evening called on Tilley at his home with Mary (the
late Mrs. Higgins) and Lizzie (Mrs. James Raymur) and
took tea. Think Confederation sure in 1869."
The only other item of interest in this connection is this:
"Saw that H. B. Co. will sell out for $1,500,000 and that offer
will be accepted. Notable that opposition is urging purchase
by Government of territory and blaming them for not doing
so." This refers particularly to George Brown, who in the
Globe for some time had advocated the acquirement of Prince THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Rupert's land, and was, as he always was, very impatient of
Governor Seymour had what Sir Charles Tupper referred
to as a "death-bed repentance',' and at the opening of the
Legislative Council on March 13, 1868, he said: "During the
last session your honorable council unanimously passed a
resolution in favor of negotiations being entered into for the
union of this colony with Confederation, which has been
formed with the Eastern British provinces in this continent.
Although I could not be blind to the difficulties which made
me consider the resolution principally as the expression of a
disheartened community longing for change of any kind, yet
the possibility of something arising out of it to promote an
overland communication with Canada, was enough to induce
me to support your resolution. The public feeling in respect
of this important matter is reflected in a memorial drawn up
by Messrs. James Trimble, Amor de Cosmos, I. W. Powell,
J. R. Findlay, R. Wallace, and A. G. Seelye, a committee
appointed at a public meeting of the citizens on January 29,
1868. It is interesting because the resolution belonging to
the time fairly sets forth what at this time might be merely
regarded as my own personal opinion. After a preliminary
recital, the resolution affirms:
"That the people of Cariboo, the next most populous and
influential portion of the colony, held in December last a
highly enthusiastic meeting, and unanimously passed resolutions in favor of joining the Dominion.
"That public opinion throughout the colony is, as far
as we can learn, overwhelmingly in favor of Confederation.
"That there is a small party in favor of annexation to
the United States, and if it were practicable or possible their
number would be increased.
"That there is a small party other than annexationists
who are opposed to Confederation.
"That nearly all the office-holders of this colony are allied
to the latter party.  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
"That the total number of those opposed to Confederation on fair and equal terms is numerically small, but
supported by the office-holders they may exert good deal of
resistance to the popular will.
"That from the information in a telegram from Ottawa,
dated January 2.2, 1868, we learn that Governor Seymour has
not made any proposition to the Dominion Government
respecting our admission as was expected.
"That the Legislative Council is made up of a majority,
consisting of heads of departments, gold commissioners, magistrates and others subject to Government influence, and
cannot be relied upon to urge a Confederation as it ought to
be at the present juncture.
"That the only popular institutions in the colony are the
City Councils of Victoria and New Westminster.
"That the people of this colony are really without the
means of expressing and carrying out their wishes through
the Legislature.
"We, therefore, representing the views of a large
majority of the people of this, the most populous and influential section of the colony, would respectfully ask the
Government of the Dominion of Canada to take immediate
steps to bring this colony into the Dominion, by telegraphing
or communicating with Her Majesty's Government, to issue
immediate instructions to Governor Seymour, or otherwise
to conclude negotiations as to terms or admission.
"We feel that without the help and liberal support of the
Government of the Dominion the time will be somewhat
remote when the colony will be admitted into the Dominion,
but with the aid which we solicit we believe that there is
no obstacle to prevent our admission by July 1 next.
"We would further represent, for the information of the
Government of the Dominion, that the terms of admission
which would be acceptable to the people of this colony would
(And here follows a recital of things much as they are
now, but with this important exception) :
"The construction of a transcontinental wagon road,
from Lake Superior to the head of navigation on the lower
Fraser, within two years after the time of admission. This
is regarded as an essential condition."
A wagon road in this era of automobiles might have been
some use, but not otherwise. Travelling at the rate of 30
miles a day, a wagon would get to Montreal in about 100
days, barring accidents and delays.
Reference was made in my last article to a public meeting
held in the City of Victoria, at which a series of resolutions
was passed. These and other representations were contained
in a memorial forwarded to Ottawa. They were acknowledged
on March 25th, 1868, by the Hon. Leonard Tilley, the Minister
of Customs, who sent the following reply: "The Canadian
Government desires union with British Columbia and has
opened communication with the Imperial Government on the
subject of the resolutions, and suggests immediate action by
your legislators and a passage of an address to Her Majesty
requesting Union with Canada. Keep us informed of
progress." It may. be stated that the question first came
prominently before the public during the session of the Legislature of 1867, when a resolution was unanimously passed in
its favor, requesting Governor Seymour "to take measures
without delay to secure the admission of British Columbia
into Confederation on fair and equitable terms." Governor
Seymour, as we already know, was not favorable to union,
and took no steps to inform the Dominion Government of
the action of the Legislature. He was a man of no particular
calibre, and the fact that the only photograph I have seen of
him shows him with a cat in his arms is significant of a
certain kind of weakness made celebrated in the history of
French royalty. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
On the 21 st of May, 1868, a Confederation League was
formed in the City of Victoria, of which the following formed
the executive: James Trimble (mayor), Capt. Stamp, Dr.
Powell, J. F. (afterwards Premier and Mr. Justice) McCreight,
Robert Beaven, J. G. Norris, George Pearkes, R. Wallace, C
Gowen, W. M. Gibbs, Amor de Cosmos and George Fox. The
league began with a membership of one hundred, and had
branches in several places on the Island and the Mainland.
Prominent among those who opposed Confederation in Victoria was Dr. Helmcken the Speaker of the Legislature, and
son-in-law of Sir James Douglas. He was quite conscientious
and sincere in his objections. He did not think the time was
ripe for it. Confederation, in his estimation, was an experiment, and he wanted to see it worked out to some extent
before British Columbia was committed to it. He thought
that by waiting the colony would be able to secure better
terms than public opinion in Eastern Canada would sanction
at that time, and I am not one to say that, having in view
much that forms the sequel of the story, that he was not
right. Dr. Helmcken possessed a great deal of native wisdom.
Meetings were held at New Westminster and in Cariboo. The
leaders of the movement on the Mainland were John Robson,
editor of The Columbian, J. F. Barnard, head of the Cariboo
road stage line and a man of great energy and executive
ability, Hugh Nelson, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of k
Burrard Inlet, J. A. Mara, Kamloops, J. S. Thompson, a
Cariboo journalist, and Cornelius Booth, who was afterwards
supervisor of the assessment rolls for the province. At a
meeting in Cariboo on July 1st, 1868, resolutions were passed
condemning the Government for opposing Confederation and
favoring some organized and systematic mode of obtaining
admission into the Dominion of Canada. At this meeting
Thompson, in an eloquent and effective speech, moved the
resolutions, which were seconded by Booth, familiarly known
to his friends as "Corney."   Before the meeting adjourned a 92
committee of five was appointed to carry out the wishes of
the meeting.
As the result of concerted effort, the next most important
step in the agitation was the celebrated Yale convention,
which was held on the 14th of September, at which a number
of the leading men of the province were present.
The delegates to this convention, who may in a sense
be regarded as the Fathers of Confederation of British Columbia, although the list does not include some of the most
prominent advocates and workers in the cause.* All but a
very few of them have passed away, and a number of them
are wholly unknown to the present generation. The Yale
Convention, though much advertised, and incidentally much
caricatured and ridiculed, was only attended by thirty-five
persons, but it must be remembered that facilities of travel
were limited in those days and travelling was expensive.
It was resolved "that the proper remedy for the present
political condition of the colony, and the one that recommends
itself as preferable to all others—being in harmony with
Imperial policy and the legitimate aspirations and desires of
the people of the colony—is the immediate admission of
British Columbia into the Dominion of Canada, on terms
equitable, expedient and beneficial, simultaneously with the
establishment of representative government; and that whether
admission into the Dominion of Canada shall occur or not,
representative institutions and responsible government should
be inaugurated forthwith in British Columbia." The principal
effect of the convention was to consolidate those in favor of
* A long list of names is not usually very interesting reading, but readers -will like to
know who were the delegates. The list is as follows: James Trimble, Amor de Cosmos,
I. W. Powell, R. Wallace, J. G. Norris, Chas. Gowen, M. W. Gibbs, Wm. Thain, G. Jen- .
kinson, J. A. Cragge, George Pearkes, Charles E. Bunting, Noah Shakespeare, Peter
Lester, Thomas Russell, Thomas Wilson, Francis Dodd, C. McCollem, James Kirk, John
Gordon McKay, J. F. McCreight, G. C. Gerow, John J. Jacobs, John Dunlop, Joseph Blackburn, John Jessop, J. G. Timmerman, Henry Waller, A. Couves, Aaron Workman, T. H.
Giffin, W. B. Toleson, S. B. Toleson, Stephen Burt, John Wilson, W. C. Seelye, T. C.
Jones, John Lachapelle, W. A. Robertson, George Creighton, George Fox, William Mackay,
Ed. McCaffray, Willis Bond, John Leach, James Orr, Warren Harroough, James Hutcheson,
A. H. Frances, John Jeffrey, Guy Huston, Alex. Wilson, Robert Beaven, Leigh Harnett,
W. M. Keehan, David James, Thos. Hodges, James Crossen, William Backster, Stephen
Sandover, Charles Pollock, John Jackson, Alfred Syne, J. H. Doane, R. H. Austin, Richard
Baker, George Deans, Wm. Webster, James E. McMillan, W. R. Gibbon, Stephen Whitely,
J. B. Thompson, H. E. Wilby, Edward Phelps. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
the Union with Canada and to show that the Mainland was
largely a unit in its favor. A committee was appointed by
the convention to carry out the objects which have been
outlined, consisting of Amor de Cosmos, and Messrs. Macmillan, Wallace, Norris, Robson and Nelson. It will be seen
that in British Columbia, as in Canada before it, the political
and material conditions of the country were in a bad way, and
that when they reached a climax, or rather sank to rock
bottom," a remedy was sought in union, which in both cases
had the result of bringing about a new order of things
The agitation for Confederation, however, did not have
much influence on the Governor or the Legislature. At the
session of the latter in 1869 the Government carried an
adverse resolution as follows: "That this council, impressed
with the conviction that under existing circumstances the
Confederation of this colony with the Dominion of Canada
would be undesirable, even if practicable, would urge Her
Majesty's Government not to take any steps toward the
' present consummation of such union." Messrs. Carrall,
Robson, Havelock, Walkem and Humphreys, who stated that
they had been returned to the Legislature as Confederation-
ists, entered a protest against the passage of the resolution
and placed on record their disapproval of the action of the
Government. As has been stated previously, there was a
very large element on the Island of Vancouver opposed to
Confederation, and the opposition included such very well
known men as Trutch, Pemberton, O'Reilly, Cox, Wood,
Helmcken, Smith, Elwyn, Ker, Ball, Spalding, Crease, Drake,
Douglas, Davie, Sanders and Ring. The official class was a
unit against it. If we understand conditions at the time, their
opposition was quite natural. As a class the officials of British
Columbia were a splendid type, but they were all British
born, and wholly without knowledge of Eastern Canada and
Canadian people; they were not in sympathy with them. A
similar feeling existed in the Maritime Provinces against
Canada prior to Confederation.   Living quite apart they were  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
strangers to each other. Then again there was a great deal
of feeling between the British-born in British Columbia and
Canadians in the colony, and hence the former were prejudiced
against Canada as a whole on that account. We all have
prejudice against newcomers. Then again the official class
did not desire any change which would mean disturbance in
office. The high officials were men of standing in social
circles and were extremely well paid. Do you blame them
from the ordinary human point of view?
The scene was quickly changed, Governor Seymour, who
strongly opposed Confederation, had been to England and
experienced a change of heart, through, of course, contact
with the Imperial authorities. All through life it largely
depends upon what the man higher up thinks. In any event,
in June, 1869, he died, and was succeeded by Anthony Musgrave, former Governor of Newfoundland, who was heart
and soul with the movement. Moreover, he had explicit
instructions to use his influence to bring about Confederation
as quickly as possible, and this he proceeded to do. We are
told that he "was admirably fitted for the work of reconciling
the opposing elements and his efforts were easily successful."
There were two things which hastened on the accomplishment. Sir John Macdonald was the stimulating force. He
was often referred to by his political opponents as "old
Tomorrow." Nobody was ever more maligned by such a
nickname. Sir John often postponed but he never procrastinated. It was said of Napoleon, I think, that he never
answered correspondence inside of six months, because within
that time most of it had answered itself. Napoleon was a man
of action and so essentially was Sir John Macdonald. When
he wanted results, he was an incessant worker through every
known channel. He had inside knowledge of what might
lead to annexation to the United States, and there was more
danger in the situation than people imagined then or now.
Again, at that very time a group of capitalists associated
with the Northern Pacific had planned to extend that railway 96
through Manitoba and through the Middle West and British
Columbia to and into Alaska, full details of which I read in
the Library at Ottawa. Sir John realized the danger of such
an enterprise in view of the long-dreamed of Canadian trans-
Atlantic railway, and he lost no time in the "rounding out
of Confederation" in order to forestall any inroads from the
United States. The best circumstantial proof of that is that
when the delegates from British Columbia arrived at Ottawa,
notwithstanding that a railway was considered by them as
out of the question and they had been authorized to ask
simply for a wagon road, much to their surprise they were
met by a fully matured proposal for a railway. No wonder
the people of British Columbia rejoiced at the unexpected
boon to be conferred upon them.
Another proof of my statement is that as soon as the
Terms of Union were arrived at the proposal of the Americans was dropped, though they tried to become interested
in the Canadian railway.
In a former article in referring to Dr. Powell, I forgot,
in speaking about his strong advocacy of Union with Canada,
that he made the first speech on the subject on Vancouver
Island. Popular opinion in Victoria was largely hostile to
Confederation. In the election of 1866 it was the straight
issue in Victoria and Esquimalt, and as a candidate he lost
his seat in the Legislature as a consequence. After 1871, as
a recognition of his services, he was offered a Senatorship by
his warm personal friend, Sir John A. Macdonald, but refused
it on account of the long distance from Ottawa and the time
consumed in going to and returning from the federal capital.
I now come to the actual discussion of the Terms of ,
Union as proposed by Governor Musgrave, who, of course,
knew the mind of the authorities at Ottawa.    They were
pretty much as finally adopted, with the important exception
that a wagon road to Lake Superior and not a transcontinental THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
railway, and a subsidy of 80 cents per head of population, rated at 120,000, or three times the actual population
including Indians, were proposed. I shall refer to the terms
finally secured later on, and also to the reason why 120,000
was the rated population for the purposes of subsidy.
I wrote the story of Confederation, so far as British
Columbia is concerned, for the Year Book of 1897, and as
history cannot change, for convenience I am adopting my own
language as used at that time. On Wednesday, March 9th,
1870, began the memorable debate on the subject, when the
then Attorney-General (the late Sir Henry Pellew Pering
Crease) rose to move: "That this Council do now resolve
itself into committee of the whole to take into consideration
the terms proposed for the Confederation of the Colony of
British Columbia with the Dominion of Canada, in His
Excellency's message to this Council." "In doing so," he
said, "I am deeply impressed with the momentous character
of the discussion into which we are about to enter, the grave
importance of a decision by which the fate of this, our adopted
country of British Columbia, must be influenced for better or
for worse for all time to come. And I earnestly hope that
our minds and our best energies may be bent to a task which
will tax all patriotism, all our forbearance, all our abnegation
of self and selfish aims; to combine all our individual powers
into one great united effort for the common good." He then
invoked the Divine blessing in the following words: "May
He who holds the fate of nations in the hollow of His hand
and crowns with success, or brings to naught the councils of
men, guide all our deliberations to such an issue as shall
promote the peace, honor and welfare of our Most Gracious
Sovereign, and of this and all other portions of her extended
realms." His speech, in introducing the resolution in the
foregoing was brief, lucid and eloquent. "This issue is
'Confederation or no Confederation,' and pungently added,
"Your question, Mr. President, 'that I do now leave the chair,'
means:   Will you refuse Confederation at any price or will 98
you have it on favorable terms? That is the issue that is
before us now." Thus was launched a discussion which,
vigorously conducted for a number of days, landed the Province of British Columbia into the arms of the Dominion.
The debate to go into committee of the whole lasted three
days, and nine days were occupied in discussing the details
in committee. Some notable speeches were made, and probably no debate since that time brought into requisition more or
greater talent, or better sustained and more dignified oratory
in the Legislative Assembly. They were able men, some of
them, who took part, and all the speakers were prominent
in the affairs of the country. Among them were Attorney-
General Crease, the Hon. J. S. Helmcken, Amor de Cosmos,
Thomas Humphreys, M. T. W. Drake (afterwards President
of the Council and later Mr. Justice Drake), John Robson,
Joseph Trutch (one of the delegates to Ottawa, later Sir
Joseph Trutch, Lieutenant-Governor), Henry Holbrook, T.
L. Wood, F. J. Barnard (father of our present Lieutenant-
Governor), Dr. W. W. Carrall (another of the three Ottawa
delegates and afterwards a Senator), Edgar Dewdney (afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories,
Minister of the Interior and Lieutenant-Governor of British
Columbia), and 'G. A. Walkem (twice Premier of the province, and later a member of the Supreme Court bench)—the
names of all of whom are familiar to even late comers as men
having taken a high place in the affairs of British Columbia.
In limited space it would be impossible to give even an
intelligent summary of the speeches of the various speakers.
The proceedings of the Legislature on the occasion were
reported by Mr. W. Sebright Green, a gentleman who was
well-known in Victoria in early days, and a lawyer. He
returned to England a good many years ago.
I have already given the reasons for Hon. J. S. Hel-
mcken's opposition to Union, principally on account of his
belief that Confederation as a whole was experimental, and
its success was not assured.   There were indications that there THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
might be new discoveries of gold and existing depression
would be swept away. He also objected to the Canadian
tariff, which was lower than that of British Columbia. At
that time he shared Goldwin Smith's views of geography
governing the situation, and thought sooner or later both
British Columbia and Canada as a whole would be absorbed.
by the United States. His view was not an uncommon one
in any part of Canada, but is one that has had a marked lack
of confirmation in subsequent events.
The Hon. Mr. Drake, member for Victoria City, moved
the six months' hoist. He had always been opposed, and had
seen nothing up to that time to cause him to change his views.
He spoke particularly against the Canadian tariff. In his
opinion there were many insuperable obstacles in the way
of success. His amendment was seconded and supported by
the Hon. Mr. Ring, member for Nanaimo.
The strongest speech was made by the Hon. J. W.
Trutch, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. He
possessed a very practical mind. Although inclined to be a
little pompous, he was really quite able in public affairs. He
had formerly opposed Confederation on the grounds of the
apparent lock of ability to supply direct means of communication; his advocacy of Union was moderate but firm. He
repudiated the suggestion that the Terms of Union might not
be carried out by Canada, but in the matter of tariff he agreed
that British Columbia should be permitted to retain its own,
which, temporarily, as ajnatter of fact, it was permitted to
do. Concluding, he said: "As we shall, from our position on
the Pacific Coast, be the keystone of Confederation, I hope
we may become the most glorious in the whole structure, and
tend to our own and England's greatness."
The Hon. T. L. Wood, in an able and argumentative
speech, supported the amendment. He objected to Union on
account of many of the provisions of the B.N.A. Act, and to
the principle of Confederation, which was bad, and supported
by Great Britain on selfish grounds, rather than considera-  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
tions of broad statesmanship. However, Mr. Wood's reasoning has been so upset by experience that it is unnecessary to
enumerate his many objections.
The Hon. Amor de Cosmos made a long and vigorous,
though somewhat discursive, speech. One trouble with de
Cosmos was that he overloaded his Parliamentary speeches
with material. He claimed that he had been the first in the
colony to advocate Confederation. "From the time when I
first mastered the institutes of physical and political geography," he said, "I could see Vancouver Island on the Pacific
from my home on the Atlantic; and I could see a time when
the British possessions, from the United States boundary to
the Arctic Ocean, and extending from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, would be consolidated into one great nation." He
told the House that had he had his way Alaska, instead of
being owned by the United States, would have been British.
He laid great stress on the terms of Confederation, and was
anxious to make as good a money bargain as possible. On
that ground he objected to the financial arrangements submit-.
ted by the Government as not creating sufficient surplus of
revenue and also the fiction, as he termed it, of assuming the
population to be 120,000, instead of 40,000, including Indians.
I have had ample opportunity in my researches to confirm
the wisdom of his views in this respect. Incidentally, the
assumption of 120,000 as the population was not based as an
estimate of the actual population, but on the relative tariff
revenue as compared with that of Canada, which was in the
ratio of three to one, or, in other words, 120,000 was the
potential population as compared with that of Canada, and it
is an interesting actual fact that up until just before the war
that ratio was still retained.
Mr. F. J. Barnard was the most enthusiastic supporter
of the resolution, and he took up the subject as he did all
things with peculiar energy. He spoke with sentimental
fervor of the land of his birth, Canada, but while he loved it
he  would  never  consent  to  see  the  land  of  his   adoption 102
wronged by Canada, any more than the thousands of British
who made Canada their home would permit a wrong done to
her by Great Britain. He had no fear of annexation. In
early days it had been fashionable to associate Canada with
rebellion, but that was the result of prejudice and ignorance
of Canadians, and was a great mistake.
The Hon. Thomas Humphreys, Lillooet, a very eloquent
platform speaker, was somewhat fiery in his criticism of the
Government, and while he was in favor of Confederation,
wanted to see responsible government made a sine qua non
of Union. The Hon. R. W. W. Carrall, Cariboo, an enthusiastic 'Confederationist from the outset, spoke strongly for
the resolution. The Hon. Mr. Alston, Registrar-General,
whose son is a rector of a church near Norwich, England,
and who paid us a visit a few years ago, a representative of
the official element, supported the Government. Mr. Edgar
Dewdney represented Kootenay, and, although his constituents, few as they were, were opposed to Union, he took the
responsibility of also supporting the resolution.
The discussion for the next ten days was on matters of
detail, and was quite too long and too irregular to be presented in any concise form. It had to do principally with
the financial arrangements, and the terms submitted by
Governor Musgrave were agreed to with a few exceptions..
The $35,000 proposed to be paid the province as an allowance
for the support of official government, was raised to $75,000,
and the limit of population at which the amount of subsidy
was changed from 400,000 to 1,000,000. A series of supplementary resolutions were added.
Helmcken, Trutch and Carrall were chosen by the Executive to go to Ottawa to arrange the terms, and the sum of
$3,000 was voted to defray the expenses, an amount which
in these days of liberal travelling allowances can not be
regarded as extravagant. The delegates left on May 10, 1870,
by way of San Francisco. And here I have to interject an
interesting paragraph: THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
The terms which went to Ottawa had no provisions in
respect of responsible government. The late John Robson,
the late H. E. Seelye and D. W. Higgins* had a conference, and it was decided that in order to secure parliamentary government on a basis of the rest of Canada it would be
necessary for one of the number to go to Ottawa and inform
the Government that unless responsible government was
assured by the terms they would oppose the adoption of the
terms altogether and thus delay Confederation. Mr. Seelye,
whose expenses were entirely borne by Mr. Higgins himself
as proprietor of The Colonist, was selected as the delegate,
and proceeded to Ottawa along with the Government delegates. He was a warm friend of Leonard Tilley, Minister of
Customs, afterwards Sir Leonard, and he succeeded in convincing the Government that the contention for responsible
government was right. On July 7, Seelye telegraphed to
Higgins: "Terms agreed upon. The delegates are satisfied.
Canada is favorable to immediate union and guarantee the
railway. Trutch has gone to England. Carrall remains one
month. Helmcken and your correspondent are on their way
home." In this connection, there is another story of short
interest. John Robson, who founded The New Westminster
Columbian, brought his paper to Victoria for the wider field
the latter afforded, but his paper did not pay. Through the
efforts of the late Mr. J. F. Barnard, Robson and Higgins,
both strong advocates of Confederation, were brought
together, with the result that Robson locked up his paper and
became editor of The Colonist, which position he held until
appointed comptroller of C.P.R. surveys in the Province. As
a perusal of the files of The Columbian and The Colonist
will evidence, he was a powerful writer and was also a vigorous speaker in the Legislature. He was always logical and
had a large fund of information to draw upon.
* Since the above was written, the Hon. D. W. Higgins, the doyen of Pacific Coast
journalism, has passed away. A very full account of his life, written by myself, was
published in The Colonist. 104
In connection with the Terms of Union submitted by
Governor Musgrave, and adopted in substance by the Legislative Council of British Columbia, supplementary resolutions,
as stated in the previous article, were passed, stating: i. That
duties levied upon maltsters and brewers, under the excise
law of Canada, would be detrimental to British Columbia, and
requesting that no export duty should be charged on spars
exported from British Columbia; 2. That the application of
the Canadian tariff, while reducing the aggregate burden of
taxation, would injuriously affect the agricultural and commercial interests of the community, and requesting that special
rates of customs duties and regulations should be arranged
for the colony; 3. That a geographical survey of British
Columbia be made, such survey to be commenced one year
after Confederation; 4. And that all public works and property
of British Columbia at the time of admission, except such
public works and property as properly belonged to the
Dominion under the B. N. A. Act, should belong to British
Columbia, and all roads to be free of toll of every kind
The terms agreed upon between the delegates from
British Columbia and the Government of Canada differed
from those adopted by the Legislative Council in the following important respects: That the population should be esti-'
mated at 60,000, instead of 120,000; that British Columbia
should be entitled to six members in the House of Commons,
instead of eight, and three in the Senate, instead of four.
The proposal for the construction of a wagon road from
the main trunk road of British Columbia to Fort Garry was
dropped, and the Dominion undertook to secure the commencement, simultaneously, within two years of the date of union,
of the construction of a railway from the Pacific to the Rocky
Mountains, and from a selected place east of the Rocky
Mountains to the Pacific, to connect the seaboards of the
Pacific with the railway system of Eastern Canada, and to THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
secure the completion of the railway within ten years from
the date of union. For the construction of such railway the
Government agreed to convey to the Dominion Government
a land grant similar in extent through the entire length of
British Columbia, not to exceed twenty miles on each side
of the line of railway, to that appropriated for the same purpose by the Dominion Government from lands in the Northwest Territories and the Province of Manitoba, with this
provision, however, that the lands held under pre-emption
right or Crown grant within the forty mile belt should be
made good to the Dominion from contiguous public lands.
In consideration of the lands thus to be conveyed on account
of the railway the Dominion agreed to pay to British Columbia from the date of union the sum of $100,000 per annum
in half-yearly payments in advance. The charge of the
Indians and the trusteeship and management of lands reserved
for their use and benefit were assumed by the Dominion
In this connection it must be understood that it was the
original idea of the Dominion Government that the line of
railway could be built out of land subsidies, with possibly a
cash bonus per mile to a private company and not as a Government undertaking at all, just as the Southern Pacific and
Northern Pacific were built. The forty-mile railway belt
was intended to have been handed over to a company and not
be retained by the Dominion Government as it subsequently
was, and to this contribution of a railway belt from British
Columbia and the Dominion, Ontario was also committed.
It is doubtful if Sir John Macdonald himself at the time would
have agreed to undertake to assume the responsibility of the
C P. Railway had he not thought that it could be built
largely out of land subsidies.
The provisions of the B. N. A. Act, of course, applied
generally to the Province of British Columbia, but the constitution of the executive authority of the Legislature of
British Columbia was to continue as existing at the time of
the union until altered under the authority of the B. N. A. £££ THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Act, but it was understood that the Dominion Government
would readily consent to the introduction of responsible
government when desired by British Columbia, and it was
agreed by the Government of British Columbia to amend the
constitution so as to provide that the majority of the Legislative Council should be elective.
The Dominion was to provide an efficient mail service,
fortnightly, between Victoria and San Francisco, and twice
a week between Victoria and Olympia, the vessels to be
adapted for the conveyance of freight and passengers.
Suitable pensions were to be provided, as approved by
Her Majesty's Government, for-officials in the colony whose
position and emoluments were affected by the union. As a
consequence of this, the names of a number of the old servants
of the colony appeared for years in the superannuation list of
the Dominion. This, of course, eliminated the opposition of
the official element to Confederation.
The existing customs tariff and excise duties in force in
British Columbia were to continue until the C. P. R. was
completed, unless the Legislature decided sooner to accept
the Dominion tariff and excise laws of Canada, which, as a
matter of fact, it did at the very first session of the Legislature
after union.
The influence of the Dominion Government was to be
exercised to secure the continued maintenance of the Naval
Station at Esquimalt. Esquimalt was made a British naval
base in 1855, but-that this clause of the terms of union became
a dead letter is shown by the fact that when Canada took over
its own defences in 1905, exactly fifty years later, Esquimalt
ceased to be a British naval station. In other words, as the
result of a definite policy, the Dominion Government did not
use its influence in the direction required.
Another very important stipulation was that the Dominion
Government should guarantee the interest for ten years from
the date of the completion of the works, at the rate of five
per cent, per annum, on such sum, not exceeding $500,000,
, as might be required for the construction of a first-class grav- 108
ing dock at Esquimalt. The history of politics in British
Columbia for about ten years after union was seriously
affected by that bargain. The Province should never have
agreed to undertake such a burden as the construction of a
dry dock, which was essentially Federal and Imperial in its
objects, and in the end it had to be relieved of it. The prospects are that we shall have in Esquimalt a graving dock
which shall be Imperial in the truest sense of the term, the
British Headquarters of a Pacific Fleet, part of a navy common to the Empire.
An election was held in November of 1870, in which it
is unnecessary to state, the terms of union were the main
issue. The new Council met January 5, 1871. Dr. Helmcken
was nominated as Speaker, but declined. The terms as agreed
upon were unanimously passed, and an address was presented
to His Excellency the Governor praying that Her Majesty
would be graciously pleased to admit British Columbia, under
the provisions of the B. N. A. Act, into the Dominion of
In previous articles I have told how through the efforts
of Mr. D. W. Higgins and others, responsible government
was made a "sine qua non" of British Columbia entering Confederation, and for this the colony was fully prepared. A bill
was introduced on January 31, 1871, to give.power to alter
the constitution of British Columbia. The bill was considered in committee of the whole and reported complete.
It was formally adopted on February 6th.
Anthony Musgrave, afterwards knighted for his services
in connection with Confederation, continued in office until the
appointment of the Hon. Joseph Trutch—afterwards Sir
Joseph—on the first of July as the first Lieutenant-Governor
of British Columbia. On July 20th British Columbia formally
passed into Confederation as a province of the Dominion.
On July 26 Governor Musgrave took his departure, not, however, before receiving an address from the public officials of
the Province, by whom, as well as by the people generally,
he was highly respected.   Lieutenant-Governor Trutch arrived THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
on H.M.S. Sparrowhawk in Victoria on August 13, and was
sworn in on the following day. In the interregum the curious
situation developed that there was no government of any kind.
Musgrave had gone, and Trutch had not arrived. However,
that was not considered a serious matter, although the King
was dead and there was no king. Another curious situation
developed. Governor Trutch, who styled-himself "His Excellency," loved to govern alone, and it was not until October,
1871, that the first election was held. Out of the elected
members of the new Legislature he had to choose his Ministers. It was always a matter of wonderment why he chose
the advisers he did, viz., the Hon. J. F. McCreight, Premier;
the Hon. Rocke Robertson, Colonial Secretary (as he was
styled) ; Hon. G. A. Walkem, Commissioner of Lands and
Works; and Henry Holbrook, New Westminster, President
of the Council. None of these men had been very prominent
in the agitation for Confederation, prominent as such men as,
for instance, the Hon. Amor de Cosmos, and the Hon. John
Robson had been. It was without doubt a matter of personal
" The statement of The Colonist at the time that responsible government had not been achieved was true in a literal
rather than in a constitutional sense. The Governor was the
power behind the throne during the period of the first administration, and sat with his ministers in council, something that
no representative of the Crown had done in responsible government since the days of George III. Perhaps, in a sense,
that was an advantage, as none of his ministers had had
ministerial experience. This state of affairs only existed
until after the resignation of the McCreight Government,
which was short-lived.
I have stated that Confederation is still in the making,
and certainly so far as British Columbia is concerned the
terms of union were not completed until 1884.    It is supposed 110
to be in very bad form for a writer to quote himself, but when
you have expressed yourself as well as you can on any subject
there does not seem to be any reason why you should try to
galvanize a previous production. In 1913, in a history which
I was weak enough to undertake, I said, and I cannot say
it any better now:
"In a previous chapter the events which led up to the
Confederation have been traced step by step, and, therefore,
it is not necessary to deal further with the causes or conditions
that gave it effect. The fact, however, should be borne in
mind that, while in principle and in law the constitution of
the Province was made subject to the B. N. A. Act, the terms
of union were essentially a treaty between British Columbia
and the Dominion. The relations of this Province and of
other provinces which came into Confederation after 1867,
whatever may be said about those of the original members
of the Confederation, are not in the nature of a pact among
provinces. This proposition has been disputed and endeavors
have been made to maintain a contrary theory, but Lord
Lisgar, Governor-General, in his telegraphic dispatch to"
Governor Musgrave, dated 1st February, 1871, is explicit.
He stated in explanation of the attitude of the authorities
at Ottawa in regard to certain changes in the British Columbia
tariff desired by the British Columbia Government that 'the
terms of union are in the nature of a treaty The Canadian Government, therefore, think they have no right to alter
those terms after acceptance by Canada. Parliament may, in
its discretion, modify the tariff, on the request of British
Columbia.' To put the case in another form—if for any
reason British Columbia wished to withdraw from Confederation—which constitutionally, except by successful rebellion,
or consent of the Dominion, she could not do—the acquiescence of the people of the other provinces, as provinces, would
not be required or involved. It would be a matter entirely
between the Province of British Columbia and the Dominion
of Canada, qua Dominion. The B. N. A. Act as a national
code is only constitutionally effective and binding so long as THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
the Province remains in Confederation. As a concrete
instance of efforts, made by implication at least, to establish
the contrary proposition, the Dominion Government contended that the decision of the late interprovincial conference
at Ottawa was binding upon the Province of British Columbia,
notwithstanding the fact that British Columbia had refused
to accept that decision in so far as it related to the allowance
recommended to be made to this Province in settlement of its
special claims—a decision which the Imperial Parliament was
asked to make 'final and unalterable.' It is important that
this distinction between a treaty and a pact in federal and
interprovincial relations should be clearly emphasized, having
regard to its bearings on any future negotiations between the
Dominion and the Province."
I have given this rather long extract for the purpose of
clearing the way for a review of conditions subsequent to
Union in 1871. In Mallandaine's Directory of 1874 I find
this note: "On the 20th of July, 1871, Confederation with
Canada was completed. On that very day, or slightly before
it, the first party of railway surveyors, completely equipped,
many of them from Eastern Canada, left Victoria for the
Mainland to commence the exploratory survey of the C. P. R.
The 20th of July in the next year was the date fixed for the
actual commencement of the railway; but beyond a formal
two-hours' survey nothing was done in construction at this
end. In the meantime, surveys were carried on vigorously.
Victoria especially at first seemed to realize Confederation on
the arrival, soon after the commencement of the survey, of the
Hon. H. L. Langevki, Minister of Public Works, and Sandford Fleming, Chief Engineer, both of whom, on their return,
presented exhaustive and highly interesting reports on British
Columbia." It will be seen, therefore, that no time was lost
in commencing the surveys and prosecuting them vigorously,
but the actual commencement of railway construction was
quite another matter. It was a physical impossibility to
determine the proper route to take within a year. There were
half a dozen possible and practicable routes, each of them, in 1 THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
an almost untraveled country, requiring careful reconnaissance. As a matter of fact, it took eight years before the
surveys for the main line in British Columbia were completed.
However, the people of the Province did not grumble
much at first. The building of the C. P. R. was recognized
to be a big undertaking, and they were satisfied so long as
work was progressing. Sir Joseph Trutch at Ottawa made a
speech after the terms were concluded, for which he was
rather severely criticized, in which he stated that time was
not so much the essence of the contract as bona fides, and
that the people of British Columbia would be satisfied if the
terms of the contract were carried out within some reasonable
time. These were not his exact words, but they express the
purport. When Sir John Macdonald was defeated and Alexander Mackenzie took the reins of government as a Liberal,
it was a horse of another color. Sir John and his Government
had given British Columbia the terms and had made them
more liberal than had been expected would be the case at
the outset. Hon. Alexander Mackenzie and his party had
opposed those terms with all the vigor possible and had not
only opposed the terms themselves as being outrageously
oppressive to the rest of Canada, but in the course of debate
and public discussions had said many hard and unjust things
about the western Province and about its people. This was
partly the result of party feeling and partly the result of a
lack of knowledge of the West and its possibilities. Naturally,
therefore, when their friends the Conservatives went out of
power and their supposed enemies the Liberals came into
power, the people of British Columbia began to get nervous
and fear the worst. They had already begun to chafe under
the delay of commencing construction when Sir John went
out of power in 1873, but they nevertheless were confident of
being right in the end. They knew, too, that elections had
intervened and the Government of Ottawa had been much
harassed over the Pacific Scandal.
A railway, it must be understood, was the very breath of
life for the people of British Columbia, the "sine qua non" of 114 THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
Confederation, the last hope of an isolated and very much
depressed Province. To understand that is to understand
how the advent of a Government, the members of which, and
whose followers, had all declared themselves antagonistic to '
it, would be viewed with alarm. Many prominent Liberals
had openly expressed themselves in favor of letting British
Columbia cut adrift rather than assume the responsibility
of carrying it in Confederation, and building a railway 3,000
miles long, which it was assumed would bankrupt the nation
to construct, not speaking of the annual loss of operation,
and the expression of such sentiments was well known in
British Columbia. An attitude of mind was created that had
very baneful results. Everybody was hopeful and confident
under the old regime. When Mackenzie came into power all
feeling of confidence changed into fear. It was immediately
assumed that an administration, the members of which had
been hostile to the terms of union, would be loathe to give
them full effect. Hence the very first suggestion emanating
from Ottawa under the new regime savoring in the slightest
of modification or relaxation immediately excited the suspicion that repudiation was in the air. The Liberal party, as
a party, apart from political bias, really believed the bargain
with British Columbia had been a bad one, and regarded the
terms as impracticable of fulfilment, and consequently unreasonable and absurd. Thus at the very outset a barrier was
erected against reasonable and judicious readjustment of
relations. Through fear, therefore, of the intentions of the
Ottawa Government the feeling in British Columbia was one
of insecurity; and hence in the Province, in fancied self-
defence, the demand was made for the whole terms and
nothing but the terms, even before the people had any indication of what the intentions at Ottawa were. Negotiations,
therefore, at the outset were seriously prejudiced.
Alexander Mackenzie, however, although he believed the
treaty with British Columbia Was fraught with dangerous
results to Canada and more or less impracticable and unreasonable, was essentially an honest man, and believed that a
solemn bargain entered into with the Province should be
carried out so far as that was possible, having in view the
financial resources of the country. He believed the fulfilment
of the exact terms to be impossible; in fact, they had already
been violated from the fact that railway construction had not
been commenced when he came into power. His idea was
to substantially carry out the scheme, but to have certain
modifications as to details, so as to permit the railway being
built more slowly than had been intended, in a way that
would be cheaper by the utilization of water stretches, and
in accordance with the ability of the country from year to
year to finance it. There were many rumors in the air before
the Government policy was known, which were disturbing.
As an illustration of the feeling engendered, negotiations had
been for some time on foot in regard to the graving dock at
Esquimalt. It had been found impossible, even with the five
per cent, guarantee of the Dominion Government, to raise
money to construct it. Negotiations had been begun with
the Macdonald Government and were still continued for some
easier way. When a definite proposition was mooted for the
Dominion to make a direct advance of $250,000 to the Province
instead of a guarantee, the people of Victoria jumped to the
conclusion that it was an attempt to vary the Terms of
Union, including those of building the railway, and that the
two Governments were in collusion to that end. Political
feeling ran very high and, while the people had little use for
the Government at Ottawa, they had scarcely more for the
local (Walkem) Government. Really for lack of information of the situation as it was and of the intentions at Ottawa,
the feeling became intense.
Then followed the celebrated Edgar incident, which
became the subject of a discussion that would fill a volume of
itself. Mr. J. D. Edgar, of Toronto, a personal friend and
confidant of Mackenzie, was sent to British Columbia on a
confidential mission to ascertain the feeling of the leaders of
public opinion and public opinion itself by quiet and careful
inquiry, and to sound the Government at Victoria as to the 116 THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
modification of terms that would be acceptable. It would
take too long to deal with the merits of the case, but Edgar's
mission ended in leaving matters worse than they were before.
Mr. Edgar, who, by the way, afterwards was a speaker of the
House of Commons during Sir Wilfrid Laurier's administration and was made Sir James Edgar, remained for two months
in the Province, travelling to and fro and interviewing as
many persons as he could, and finally came to conclusions with
the Government. I believe that Mr. Edgar honestly and conscientiously endeavored to carry out his instructions with a
view to an amicable and just settlement of what was obviously
a very difficult question to deal with. Although Premier
Walkem and members of his Government had been in treaty
with him and knew all about the objects of his mission, in the
end seized upon the expedient of questioning Mr. Edgar's
credentials. Walkem was in a somewhat delicate situation.
Public feeling was rather tense, largely from the fact that the
public were not informed of what was going on, and to say
"yes" to Ottawa's proposals meant an immediate election,
still in the ordinary routine a year away, and "no" meant a
break with Ottawa with uncertain consequences. Mr. Mackenzie was altogether too serious a man to be trifled with,
and not possessing the diplomacy of Sir John, infuriated at
the refusal of Walkem to accept Edgar as his accredited
agent, withdrew the latter, and suddenly broke off all negotiations, the rupture being complete. The result was unfortunate in the extreme, because it entirely estranged the
Liberals of the East from the cause of British Columbia, and,
on the other hand, created fresh prejudice against Eastern
Canada in the minds of the people of British Columbia. A
long series of misunderstandings and recriminations followed.
We often hear of the Carnarvon Terms, but just what is
meant by them is not generally very well understood. As
soon as Premier Walkem failed in re-opening negotiations THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
with Alexander Mackenzie, at Ottawa, on the subject of a
modification of the Terms of Union, he resolved on a very bold
stroke, the successful outcome of which greatly increased his
prestige. He decided without delay to go to London and lay
his case at the foot of the Throne. Before carrying out his
intention, however, he went to Ottawa, and there, it was
stated, made another effort to re-open the question, but Mr.
Mackenzie was obdurate. The latter, however, offered no
objection to Walkem going to England, and rather encouraged
the idea. After securing the necessary credentials, Walkem
started out on his mission. Notwithstanding the irregular
and informal way in which he had to present his case to Lord
Carnarvon, the latter lent a welling ear to his representations.
Carnarvon was a broadminded Colonial Secretary, and did not
stand on technicalities. Traditionally, since the secession of
the States of the Union, Great Britain, in her colonial policy,
favored a careful consideration of all grievances of the weaker
party arising out of constitutional complications in the outlying dominions. In particular, the Colonial Office had urged
Confederation on British Columbia, and the Colonial Secretary, therefore, felt a deep sense of responsibility for the
success of the partnership.
Premier Walkem, a very astute politician and a clever
lawyer, had in London the assistance of the late Gilbert
Malcolm Sproat, Agent-General of the Province, a man of
outstanding ability and a splendid writer. Together they
were highly successful in their representations. The petition
itself, which contained the case of British Columbia, and the
letter written to Lord Carnarvon at the conclusion of the
negotiations, are two very able state documents, in which the
contentions of the Provincial authorities are set forth with
great clearness and force; and upon his return to British
Columbia his report to the Lieutenant-Governor was, on the
face of it, unimpeachable and unanswerable. It was indeed a
mosaic, cleverly concealing, however, some of the weaknesses
of his previous attitude on the question. On the other hand,
the Dominion Government submitted statements for the infor-  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
mation of His Lordship, partly with the object of explaining
the situation from an Ottawa point of view, and partly in reply
to the contentions of the British Columbia delegate. The
correspondence as a whole was carried on in such a spirit of
moderation, as to call forth compliments from Lord Carnarvon, who had undertaken the not altogether pleasant task of
arbitrating between the contending parties. Before Lord
Carnarvon would undertake this arbitration he made it a
condition that his decision should be binding on both the
Dominion and the Province, and his position was stated as
follows: "The duty which, under a sense of the importance
of interests concerned, I have thus offered to discharge, is,
of course, a responsible and difficult one, which I could not
assume unless by the desire of both parties, nor unless it
should be fully agreed that my decision, whatever it may be,
shall be accepted without any question or demur." Both
Governments cordially agreed to these terms and there was
an interchange of briefs on the subject.
It is rather a long story to give the arguments on both
sides. In brief, the case for British Columbia contended that,
while the Province had carried out to the letter every request
of the Dominion in respect of terms, the Dominion had
violated the treaty by unnecessary delays in construction and
surveys, and that the Railway Act of 1874 had contemplated
giving effect to changes which had not been agreed to by the
Province. Esquimalt had been selected as terminus of the
Canadian Pacific Railway, and its selection confirmed by
order-in-council. Moreover, the Province had been asked to
set aside a reserve of twenty miles of land on the east coast
from Esquimalt harbor to Seymour Narrows—3,200 square
miles in extent, and had complied. The contentions of the
Dominion, in brief, were the absolute bona fides of the Dominion in dealing with British Columbia in accordance with the
spirit of the Terms of Union, and that practical difficulties in
the way of exact fulfilment were too great. It was admitted
that the time for the commencement of the line had long
passed, but the charge that the   surveys,   the  completion  of 120
which was necessary to definitely locate the line, had not been
vigorously prosecuted was fully denied. It was pointed out
that, on the other hand, the force of surveyors and engineers
was larger than would, in other circumstances, have been
employed and was as large as was possible to utilize.
The proposals submitted to the Provincial Government
by Mr. Edgar, in view of the impossibility of carrying out the
terms literally, expressed the wish "to make new stipulations
and to enter into additional obligations of a definite char-
. acter for the benefit of the Province." It was proposed to
begin the Island railway immediately and push it to completion. The difficulties on the Mainland, the proposals went on
to state, were very great; it was useless to begin there until
the route was located, and for that purpose a very large sum
had been asked for by the Government in the estimates. To
give the people as much as possible the benefit of construction, they would open a road and construct a telegraph line
through the whole length of the Province, and carry the telegraph line across the continent. It was believed there would
be little benefit to the people east of the Cascades from construction if there were no road to convey their products and
sell them to the contractors, and the Government was anxious
to avail themselves of all the supplies possible along the route.
There was, Edgar pointed out, no stipulation in the Terms of
Union as to the amount to be expended in any one year. Not
only was commencement desirable, but continuous prosecution as well. To that end the Government was willing to
expend under the most favorable circumstances a minimum
each year in the Province of $1,500,000. The delegation to
Ottawa, he said, had been willing to be satisfied with
$1,000,000 per annum, the road to be begun three years after
the Union.
The Carnarvon Terms, while more favorable, did not
materially differ from those proposed by Edgar. The railway from Esquimalt was to be commenced as soon as possible
and proceeded with with all dispatch. Not less than $2,000,000
was to be expended per annum on the main line in the Prov- THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
ince and the railway was to be completed from the Pacific
seaboard to the western end of Lake Superior before the 31st
of December, 1890.
Mr. Walkem did not bring down any measure to the
Legislature to ratify the new terms, denying that there were
any new terms. He referred to efforts of Lord Carnarvon to
unravel the tangle as merely "friendly intervention" and not
"arbitration." However, a bill was introduced to enable the
Dominion Government to build from Esquimalt to Nanaimo.
Needless to say, there had been an arbitration. That exact
expression, as indicating precisely the nature of the intervention of Lord Carnarvon, is used throughout the correspondence. The House of Commons approved of the award,
but the measure for its adoption was defeated in the Senate.
Just what was the cause of the Senate's action is very much
in doubt. Certain Conservative politicians blamed the
Liberal leaders, notably Mr. Blake, for conspiring towards
defeat in the Upper House, while Liberals claimed that as the
Conservatives had a majority in the Senate the Conservatives
were to blame. It was held, too, that as the British Columbia
Premier himself had not regarded Lord Carnarvon's intervention as an arbitration, and as the local Government had
not implemented the Carnarvon Terms by legislation on its
part, they were not binding on the Dominion.
Notwithstanding that the action of the Senate was a
gross repudiation of an implied obligation on the part of the
Government of Canada, of which the Senate is one of the
three branches, the Executive at Ottawa did not hold itself
in any way responsible for the action of the Senate, and did
not again attempt to enforce the terms. In fact, shortly
after this, the Hon. Edward Blake joined the Cabinet as
Minister of Justice, on the distinct understanding that the
Carnarvon Terms should not be made effective. Instead,
through his influence an offer of $750,000 in cash was made
to the Province in compensation for not building the railway
on the Island, and for any possible delays in the construction
of the main line, on condition that the provision for the speci- THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
fied amount of yearly expenditure and the completion of the
railway to Lake Superior by 1890 were waived by the Province. The Walkem Government very properly refused the
offer, which was tantamount to an insult to the people of
British Columbia. In other words, they were invited to
barter their rights, which were undoubted, for a certain paltry
sum of money. The Hon. Edward Blake was a great constitutional lawyer and had an open and a very clear thinking
mind on many subjects, but his attitude in respect of British
Columbia and the C. P. R. remains incomprehensible to this
day. No doubt in this case Mackenzie was overruled by his
colleagues, and especially by Blake, Cartwright and Scott,
who remained to the end bitterly opposed to the Terms of
Union. And in view of the state of public opinion in Eastern
Canada, opinion, of course, largely created by politicians and
the press, this opposition is not to be wondered at. I have
examined the files of all the newspapers and magazines, pamphlets, reports and other documents in the library and
archives at Ottawa, covering a period of fifteen years, bearing on the subject, and the bitterness of feeling they reflect
is amazing. After the Edgar incident, for ten years this
same feeling continued, and it was not by any means confined
to Liberals.     It represented a general attitude of mind.
In the general elections of the Province following the
Carnarvon Terms, the Walkem Government was apparently
sustained on the railway question, but was defeated early in
the session of 1876 on account of the conditions of Provincial
finance. Representations were forwarded by the Government
and resolutions were passed by the Legislature, which were
embodied in the form of a petition to Her Majesty's Government. Feeling on the Island became extreme and there was I
organized what was known as the Carnarvon Club. At a
public meeting in Victoria a resolution was unanimously
passed in favor of separation. Then came the celebrated
visit of Lord Dufferin. It is not intended to give any details
of his tour of the Province, except in so far as they relate to
the subject in hand.    Undoubtedly, he came as a messenger THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
of peace, and no man in the Empire was so well qualified by
the arts and tongue of diplomacy to successfully perform such
a mission. He had a splendid reception in Victoria, of which
the celebrated separation arch was an incident. An arch had
been erected by private citizens, independent of the general
committee of arrangements, bearing the legend "Carnarvon
Terms or Separation." Lord Dufferin, with ready wit, suggested the substitution of an "R" for "S" in "Separation,"
but this was not agreed to, and His Excellency refused to
pass under it.
On his tour through the Mainland, Lord Dufferin found a
distinctly different state of feeling. There were no hints of
separation, no disloyal arches erected and no dissatisfaction
expressed as to the course of the Dominion. At the same
time, it was evident that the people of the Mainland were
really highly pleased on account of the defeat of the Carnarvon Terms and lost no occasion to assure His Excellency on
that score. There had then begun what was known as the
"Battle of the Routes." Cariboo was not really interested,
as either route as then proposed would suit its interests,
but the rest of the Mainland was afraid the Bute Inlet route
would be chosen. Its ambition and efforts were in the direction of Burrard Inlet being selected. The great speech made
by Dufferin at Victoria on his return from the Mainland was a
masterpiece of eloquence. Regarding the threatened secession
from the Union, he pointed out that if Vancouver Island took
that step it would go out alone, and he painted a very gloomy
picture of its future in isolation. Lord Dufferin's speech
made a deep impression, and did much to stem a very dangerous tide of public opinion. It did not, however, bring the
railway appreciably nearer, and again dissatisfaction was rife,
and was so far reflected in the Legislature that on August 29,
1878, the Hon. Mr. Walkem, seconded by the Hon. Robert
Beaven, moved a resolution, the conclusion of which ran
thus: "Under these circumstances . . . Your Majesty will
be graciously pleased to see fit, order and direct: That
British Columbia shall thereafter have the right to exclusively  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
collect and maintain the customs and excise duties and to
withdraw from the Union, and shall also in any event be
entitled to be compensated by the Dominion for losses sustained by reason of past delays and the failure of the Dominion
Government to carry out their railway and other obligations
to the Province." This was regarded by the Imperial authorities as impossible without a special Act of the Imperial
Parliament, and was disregarded. The solution of the difficulties was found in the Settlement Act of 1884, the bringing
about of which will form the subject of my concluding article.
The Mackenzie Government was defeated in the Fall of
1878. Undoubtedly, the National Policy was the principal
issue, but one of the issues was the construction of the C. P. R.
I knew very little about politics then, even less than I do now;
but I remember with distinctness Sir Charles Tupper, senior,
in a three hours' speech denouncing the purchase of steel rails
by Mackenzie, the water stretches scheme—described as
amphibious—the Neebing Hotel, St. Frances lock, Fort William townsite steal and other scandals, real or imaginery,
with which he made the welkin ring. Being committed to
the C P. R. scheme and the British Columbia Terms of Union
as a whole, Sir John Macdonald started in immediately to
give them effect, the result of which was that in 1880 the
C P. R. syndicate was organized. The syndicate, for
$25,000,000 cash and 25,000,000 acres of land in the Middle
West and certain other concessions, agreed to complete the
line, all rail, within ten years. As soon as the bargain was
announced, there was tremendous political opposition, and a
new syndicate was formed, which offered more favorable
terms, but as the Government was tied down to the original
bargain it had to stand or fall by it. We know that with some
additional help, at a critical moment, the C. P. R. was built in
five, instead of ten years. 126
The fact of greatest local interest in connection with the
matter is that attempts were made to have the terms of the
Carnarvon Award carried out. After the defeat of the Beaven
Government in 1882, the Smithe Government opened negotiations with that in view; but the opposition in the Government ranks at Ottawa was too strong. It was considered,
irrespective of the Carnarvon Award, or the offer of the Hon.
Edward Blake to compromise on the basis of $750,000 cash
as compensation for non-fulfilment and delays in construction
of the main line, that the whole duty of Canada to British
Columbia would be performed in the building of the main line
to Burrard Inlet. A line on Vancouver Island was not
regarded as part of the Terms of Union at all. And to go
back a little, it may be explained that the Mackenzie Government, in a huff, after the failure of the Edgar mission, cancelled the order-in-council which declared Esquimalt to be
the terminus of the C P. R., and that without any definite and
final information as to the best route to adopt, hence discarding the Bute Inlet and Seymour Narrows route. As soon
as Sir John Macdonald came into power he re-enacted the old
order-in-council as to Esquimalt, but merely as a tentative
policy—in other words, leaving the question as it was before
he went out of power. In the late autumn of 1879, principally
as the result of information supplied by the Hon. Edgar
Dewdney and actual surveys of the lower Fraser, the Government adopted the route line from Yellowhead Pass to Burrard
Inlet, via Thompson River, Lytton and Yale, and it was
determined at once to build from Emory's Bar on the Fraser
to Savona's Ferry. The contract was let to Mr. Andrew
Onderdonk, a young engineer of ability, who was backed by
D. O. Mills, a multi-millionaire of California.
After the formation of the C P. R. syndicate, the construction of the portion of the line from Port Moody to
Emory's Bar was also contracted for with Onderdonk, and
here I want to quote Mr. H. J. Cambie, the veteran engineer
of the Pacific end of the C P. R., who writes: "When the C. P.
R. Co. was organized in 1880, they pushed the work from Win- THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
nipeg westward with all possible energy, and appointed General Rosser chief engineer. He came to the conclusion that
many advantages would be gained by adopting the Kicking
Horse Pass as the one through which the railway should be
carried instead of the Yellowhead Pass, which had been chosen
by the Government, and in March, 1881, he determined to
explore the Selkirks, and ascertain if a pass could be found
through them which would cut off the Big Bend of the Columbia. Many years before, Dr. Hector had examined the Kicking
Horse Pass, and Mr. Walter Moberley had explored Eagle
Pass, and continuing westward had selected the Illecillewaet
as far as Albert Canyon. He had also sketched off the
Columbia Valley from Golden down to the Canoe River in
the spring of 1872. So General Rosser sent out Major Rogers
in March, armed with Moberley's sketches, to see if a pass
could be found where the line now runs. The Major had
not had experience of that kind of work, and pinned his faith
on his gun and a coat with many pockets and the contents
thereof. He was a man of indomitable energy and very
forcible methods of expression; in fact, his language was of
so impressive a character that he passed by the name of 'the
Bishop,' and he 'was proud of it.'" Rogers Pass was named
after him. It is not necessary, however, to go into the reasons
for a change of route, or to go into further particulars of
A factor of the situation, which I wish more particularly
to explain in connection with the subject, was Sir Joseph
Trutch. With the incoming of the Macdonald Administration
in 1878, he became Dominion Government Agent for British
Columbia. He was a man thoroughly familiar with British
Columbia's resources and geography, so far at least as that
was possible at the time. Whether the suggestion came from
Ottawa or not, at all events he raised the question with the
local Government that as a great deal of the land within the
forty-mile railway belt, which by the Terms of the Union
were to be conveyed to the Dominion, was unfit for agriculture and a mountainous waste, this worthless land should be THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
made up by good land in other portions of the Province.
Sir Joseph having drawn up with his own hand the clause in
the Terms about the conveyance of the lands, knew perfectly
well that there had not been any stipulation as to the character of the land, and as the Dominion was standing at that
time strictly on its rights, or, in other words, upon the letter
of the law, it was somewhat surprising that its agent should
insist upon improving its own end of the bargain; but thereby
hangs a tale. The Dominion Government was entitled to
what were known as "lieu" lands—that is, an equivalent for
ands that had been alienated by purchase and settled, in all
amounting to about 800,000 acres. Keeping these facts in
mind, I shall proceed to recite the steps which led up to the
Settlement Act of 1884, which was really the completion of
Confederation as far as British Columbia was concerned.
I have pointed out one or two important facts in dealing
with our relations with the Dominion subsequent to 1871;
viz., that from the first it was understood that Esquimalt was
to be the terminus of the railway, although not so designated
in the Terms of Union; that it had been selected as such ; and
its selection confirmed by order-in-council; that at the request
of the Dominion Government the Province had reserved a
twenty-mile belt along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island
as far as Comox; that under the terms of the Carnarvon
Award the Dominion was obliged to build a line of railway
from Esquimalt to Nanaimo free of cost to the Province;
that the Dominion Government recognized that obligation by
its offer of $750,000 as compensation for non-fulfilment; and
that, which is extremely important to bear in mind, there was
an attitude of mind in Eastern Canada strongly opposed to
the Terms of Union with British Columbia, an attitude of
mind which we shall presently see not only prevented justice
being done to the Province, but imposed conditions of further
injustice. When one considers all the facts of history from
1871 to 1884, one wonders at the hands of which party British
Columbia suffered most. Had it had not been that the people
of Vancouver Island, and particularly of Victoria, were so THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
keen to have a railway at any price, the bargain of 1884
would never have been made. Another factor in the case
was the graving dock at Esquimalt, which the Province,
aided by the Canadian and Imperial Governments, had
foolishly undertaken to build. It did not seem to be realized
then that it did not properly fall within the sphere of a province to provide facilities for the convenience of shipping or
of the navy. It in the end proved too much of a burden,
and the construction, so far as the Province, had
been badly bungled. It was something, however, which the
people of Victoria, as in the case of the railway, wanted at
any cost. It was clear as part of the consummation of the
treaty between the Province and the Dominion that a full
and final settlement of outstanding disputes should be made.
For this purpose, two very important personages came from
Ottawa—the Marquis of Lome, then Governor-General, and
Sir Alexander Campbell, Minister of Justice.
The Marquis of Lome was the forerunner, not formally,
or even generally known, as an emissary of peace. He came
in 1882 and stayed in Victoria for some time. It was he who
induced the late Robert Dunsmuir to first consider the project
of building the E. & N. Railway. The latter was quite
unwilling to undertake it. He was the only man in the
Province with sufficient means to be considered in that connection, but he told His Excellency that he had made his
fortune out of industry, and he did not propose to jeopardize
it by embarking it in an enterprise which was speculative.
However terms, so to speak, were made to suit. Later, in
1883, Sir Alexander Campbell came to complete the bargain.
The claims of the Province under the Carnarvon Award were
abandoned. The Walkem Government had repealed the Act
of 1875, which had placed a reserve on certain lands, set
apart for the construction of the line from Esquimalt to
Nanaimo, and in the opinion of the Marquis of Lome that
action of the Government had relieved the Government of
Canada of any further responsibility to build that section of
the railway.     The purpose of the repeal was to enable an 130
arrangement to be made with Clement & Co. to construct it,
as was at one time proposed. When Sir Alexander came to
British Columbia he found two groups of capitalists ready
to negotiate. One was headed by the late David Oppen-
heimer, and the other by the late Robert Dunsmuir. Along
with Mr. Dunsmuir were associated the "Big Four"—the two
Crockers, Leland Stanford and Colis P. Huntington, who
supplied an equal part of the capital with Mr. Dunsmuir.
The negotiations are of no consequence here. The conclusion
was that the Dunsmuir group was preferred, and their offer,
on terms previously arranged as between the Provincial
Government and Sir Joseph Trutch, agent for the Dominion.
The terms of settlement were that the Dominion would
take over and complete the graving dock, reimbursing the
Province for its outlay; that the Dominion would give a
subsidy of $750,000 to the railway company, and that the
Province on its own part would convey to the Dominion
1,900,000 acres (known as-the E. & N. Railway belt), including all their natural resources, except the precious metals, to
be recenveyed to the railway company, and to convey as well
3,500,000 acres in the Peace River District to the Dominion <
as a part of the railway grant. The Peace River block
included about 800,000 acres of "lieu" lands, and, needless to
state, that when the Dominion Government selected this
block it was in the very heart of the fertile country. There
were a few other, minor, details of the bargain, but all of this
was done that a railway seventy-two miles in length might
be built. I have spoken about the attitude of mind in Eastern
Canada, which was so strong that when the proposal to subsidize the E. & N. Railway with cash to the extent of $750,000
came before caucus it was turned down, and in order to com-,
plete a deal the Province had to supplement the E. & N..
grant of nearly 2,000,000 acres with the Peace River grant
of 3,500,000 acres. It was not sufficient that the Province
should have given its original land grant of about 13,000,000 I
acres on the Mainland for a railway for purposes which were
purely national, but it had to supplement it with 5,500,000 THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
acres of the most valuable land in British Columbia to obtain
seventy-five miles of railway on the Island of Vancouver,
which the Dominion of Canada by all laws of honor and
decency was bound to build free of cost. This bargain was
the result of the opposition of the people of Canada to something which they considered was a ruinous proposition to the
country. We know now that the C. P. R., as a national and
commercial undertaking, has become Canada's greatest asset,
but the bargain still remains. I regret to have to finish my
story of Confederation, which, on the whole, has been a
pleasurable task, with a recital of incidents which blot our
relations with the Dominion. The whole story from 1871 to
1884 reflects discredit on the politicians of both Eastern
Canada and of British Columbia. Each, of course, acted
according to their lights and their prejudices at the time, but
both lacked foresight and a sense of proportion.
I now come to Newfoundland, one of the oldest of the
British colonies in America. It was represented in the
Charlottetown conference, adjourned to Quebec, in 1864.
Unfortunately, Newfoundland's representatives were unable
to get endorsement of the scheme, which was defeated
by two to one on an appeal to the people of the colony. It
is pretty difficult to know just why the Newfoundlanders were
opposed to the scheme. Writers on the subject allege two
reasons, which are in all probability the real ones. The hardy
folk of that splendid old colony did not like to give up their
autonomy, their government independence. In this way they
were not unlike the great majority of the self-governing
colonies of Great Britain, in the finalx steps towards Confederation ; but being very much isolated, and an insular folk,
the Newfoundlanders possessed the spirit of independence in
a greater degree than any of the others. Since the elction
referred to, union with Canada—although there have been
undercurrents occasionally in its favor—has never formed a.  THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
plank in the political platform of any party, and Canada for
its part has—very wisely, I think—refrained from any attempt
to influence public opinion in the Island in that regard.
Negotiations were opened in 1895 between the two Governments, but Sir Mackenzie Bowell, the then Premier, declined
to assume responsibility for the whole of the debt of the
ancient colony, and the burden of operating the railway
through its lengthy, unsettled territory.
Newfoundland, though less favorably situated climatically, is not unlike British Columbia in its .principal characteristics physically, and in its natural resources, and consequently
it is confronted with somewhat similar problems. It has
extensive fisheries, although the value of our British Columbia
fishery products now exceed those of Newfoundland. It has
extensive iron, and possibly other mineral, depo.sits. It has
extensive and valuable pulp limits. Its special requirements
are extension of railway facilities. The population, generally
speaking, is poor, and the Government therefore is always
face to face with financial disabilities in any effort of development. Hon. George Shea, nephew of Sir Ambrose Shea, one
of the representatives of Newfoundland at the Charlottetown-
Quebec conference in 1864, stated in effect, in an interview,
that while generally the people were opposed in sentiment
to Confederation, which might be a long time delayed, it was
inevitable on financial grounds, and it was upon these grounds
alone that the negotiations of 1895 were based. The late
Principal Grant, writing in the Canadian Magazine in 1898,
said: "It is now impossible for Newfoundland to isolate itself
much longer from the general life of British North America.
In spite of the mistakes of Canada, especially the blunder of
1895, Confederation with the Dominion is sure to come, and
it is impossible for the Treaty Shore question to remain
Probably the most influential opposition to Confederation
has come from the merchants of St. John's, the capital of the
colony, with a population of 32,300. These merchants are
certain   of  their   trade  now,  but   are   afraid,   as   Mr.   Shea 134
expressed it, "they would lose their assured position under
Confederation, as have the merchants of Halifax."
Newfoundland would be an important factor in rounding
out our Dominion. It is about three-sevenths the size of
British Columbia, with a total population of 242,620, or over
one-half the population of this Province. The exports of its
fishery products last year were valued at about $9,250,000, and
in 1912—since which its trade has declined—its imports
amounted in value to about $16,000,000, and its exports to
Undoubtedly, with the aid of the Dominion in developing
its interior resources by means of railways, its trade would
be much augmented. Moreover, standing as it does as a
sentinel on the Atlantic to the great Mainland shores, as
Vancouver Island does on the Pacific, it has a strategical and
commercial value of great importance to Canada and the
Newfoundland's present weakness is its finances. With
a revenue of about $3,500,000 and an expenditure of about
$4,000,000, it has a funded debt of about $32,000,000, and
prospects in that respect are not improving at present. Canada
would have to be prepared to make ample provision for the
cost of local administration, and also for railway development,
if Newfoundland is to look for success under the proposed
new regime.
We have seen that Manitoba came into line in 1870, or
rather that she was brought into line, for as a matter of fact
the few inhabitants there had nothing to say about it, the
Government title, so to speak, vesting wholly in the Dominion
of Canada. The same is true of the other two Provinces,
created in 1905. The territory west of the Manitoba boundary
line, and the eastern boundary of British Columbia, was practically divided into two parts, the sixtieth parallel of North
latitude being the northern boundary of each, and each part
was made into a separate Province. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
As all the public lands in the three prairie provinces
were retained by the Dominion, except certain reservations
for school purposes, the subsidies paid to these provinces
were very large compared to that paid to British Columbia,
which retained its own lands, timbers and minerals, except
"of course, what was conveyed to the Dominion for railway
purposes—something, by the way, which never should have
been done.
The next step in rounding out Confederation, or rather
the adjustment of relations between the Provinces and the
Dominion, was the interprovincial conference at Ottawa in
1906, when there was a rearrangement of the basis of the payment of subsidies to the Provinces, not necessary here to discuss in detail. The amount of Federal allowance was largely
increased, but the special allowance of $1,000,000, payable
in ten years, was not made permanent as we thought it
should have been.
The most recent step taken was the enlargement of the
boundaries of three of the Provinces—Ontario, Quebec and
Manitoba. The area of Ontario was increased from 222,000
to 407,250 square miles; of Quebec (the great territory of
Ungava being taken in), from 228,000 to 706,834 square miles;
and of Manitoba, from 73,960 to 251,832 square miles.
British Columbia, whose area was largest prior to 1912, is
now third in size.
The additional areas to the Provinces in question were
obtained by extending Quebec and Ontario northward to
Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay, and Manitoba to the 60th
parallel of latitude. It has been suggested that the Yukon
Territory should, for purposes of convenient administration,
be added to British Columbia, but I think you will agree
with me that, considering the character of the entire counttry
to be administered, British Columbia is quite large enough as
it is; unless, of course, the Dominion Government would guarantee the whole cost.
After Newfoundland is added, it is not probable that any
more Provinces will be created.     The remaining portions of 136
the country, Yukon Territory and the North-West Territory,
are not likely ever to attract sufficient population to justify it,
although there may be large developments in mining some
time in the future, or the earth may shift its axis again. The
Yukon, which once had a population of about 30,000, has
now only about 8,000, and the North-West Territory had in
1911 only 18,500, largely consisting of Indians and Esquimaux.
The marvellous development of the Middle West, and
its immense production, are among the wonderful things of
our history as Canadians, and it is yet only on the threshold
of its possibilities. The opening of the West and the development of British Columbia have, on the other hand, contributed
wonderfully to the development and prosperity of Eastern
One more word about Newfoundland before I conclude.
War has made many and vital changes in the mental and
political attitudes of the peoples involved, and Newfoundland,
which per head of population, has made the most splendid
contribution of any part of the Empire to naval defence, in her
fishermen, has been transformed as well in its attitude towards
the Dominion of Canada, and I fully believe that at the close
of the war we shall see her Government make an advance on
the lines of Confederation, and that Canada will open her
arms in welcome. The late Hon. Mr. Jackman, formerly a
member of the Newfoundland Government, had completed
a confidential mission to Great Britain and to Ottawa, in
connection with a solution of the problems involved, and
had handed in his report just before he died. I am not permitted to speak of the nature of that report, but the fact of
his mission having been undertaken and ably performed is
in itself significant. In the full rounding out of Confederation, Canada will have accomplished a large part of her
destiny, and then it will remain with her to go on to the goal
of her ambition and establish herself definitely and permanently in her high place in the affairs of the Empire. THE   STORY   OF   CONFEDERATION
In conclusion, let me say of the war generally, as I have
said in a more limited way of its effect on Newfoundland, that
it has given us a new mental, or shall I say psychic, outlook
to all of us. The idea I have in mind has had eloquent
expression both in speech and in the press, and I am simply
repeating in other words what has been so well said on so
many previous occasions. All the peoples of the Allies and
other peoples as well have, so to speak, found themselves,
clarified in vision, as if by a new religion. Particularly, have
the outlook and destiny of the British Empire, which was in
a state of flux, of indeterminate transition, been influenced
and affected. The relations, as in the past, as at the present
time, as prospectively, of the various dominions and dependencies among each other and with the Mother Country, are
being set in a new and much wider perspective, and the future
staging of the Empire will be majestic in its conception.
Civilization is in a death grip with the "kultur" of scientific
barbarism raised to the Nth power of refined ruffianism, and
for the very reason of the unspeakable disaster that would
befall the world should civilization die in the struggle, victory
must cause it to survive and triumph. The awful horrors of
war and the material and dynastic ends on account of which
it was brought on, have given the civilized world a clearer
spiritual insight into the things that count in a nation's life
—freedom, love of liberty, right-thinking, justice-seeking, and
all the rest involved in the tenets which civilization in all
the ages has expounded. The great lesson which the war
has taught the Empire, our Empire, and particularly the Old
Land, is that no longer in our career can we trust to the
undefined and ill-defined relations of the past. The slender
tie of sentiment which binds us together at present is strong,
stronger possibly than any constitutional bonds, but sentiment
of this kind is a thing of war and not of prolonged peace, and
it must be inwrought with organization and constitutional
unity so that the Empire may always be able to present an
undivided and impregnable front in the face of dangers such
as those by which we are now imperilled.    Britain will emerge 138
from this war mightier than ever—not so much in might of
arms, and not perhaps so much in wealth and territorial
expansion as in unity of spirit, in love of freedom, in recognition of. all nation's rights, in sound principles of government,
things mightier than all the ambitions of all the Hohenzollerns
had they been realized, and over which scientific barbarism
can never prevail.
In reviewing the story of Confederation, its conception,
its inception, its development, its basic principles, we may,
with all honesty, lay the flattering unction to our souls that
Canada set the first example in modern times of dominion
consolidation on true federal lines, an example which, in a
modified way, suitable to their conditions, was followed by
Australia and South Africa, and that in all human probability
will be followed by Great Britain and Ireland, and it will, I
confidentally predict, be our proud boast as Canadians, that
when Empire consolidation shall have been completed after
the war, it will be modelled upon the design of the structure
erected by our wise old architects of state in 1867. Empire
possessions will encircle the globe, as they do now, but
secured in unity and common defence, co-ordinated in constitutional principles, autonomous in their sovereign powers, harmonious in relations. Our boys are fighting at the front
not only for the Mother Country, for the rights of wronged
nations, for the freedom of the races, and for-their own homeland, but for this great result—a consummation which, when
reached, will be the profoundest in effect in the history of the
whole human race.*
* I have not dealt, as originally intended, with the West India Islands and other
British possessions in America. Undoubtedly, in some form or another, they will be
consolidated with the Dominion of Canada, or they may be exchanged with the United
States for Alaska, which would be a logical rounding out of British North America
under the egis of the flag of Empire. POSTSCRIPT   ON   THE
SIR HUGH JOHN MACDONALD in his Foreword to
this book, refers to the recent Dominion election as a
supreme test of Confederation. The results are significant as to the attitude of Canada as a whole, and
as to the peculiar position of Quebec and of constituencies
in which French-Canadians have been a factor in the
voting, in relation to the vital issue, namely, Canada's
participation in a great European War in which Great
Britain is predominant among the Allies arrayed against
the Central Powers. There were minor issues, as there
are in all elections, but conscription was the deciding
issue. Conscription, however, while in the meaning of Sir
\Wilfrid Laurier's manifesto referred to a choice between
enforced conscription under the terms of the Military Service
Act and a referendum such as was taken in Australia, involved
in so far as Quebec is concerned, the much.wider and more profound issue of Canada's moral and, shall I say, constitutional
right to take part in a war initiated by Great Britain without
previous reference to other governing forces of the Empire.
The voice of Quebec on the essential issue said "No." French-
Canadians throughout Canada said "No." The Canadian general election was a real referendum on the question and whatever might have been the terms of a special referendum submitted as advocated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the voice of Quebec would still have been the same. The situation, therefore,
from the point of view of those who believe in an empire, one
and indivisible, is a serious one, and even now that Canada
has emphatically declared itself from that point of view the
situation as to the outcome of Confederation is not without 140
its elements of apprehension. The substantial majority for
the Union Government, the essential principle of which is represented in the desire to win the war and to win it as quickly
as possible, is unfortunately not the final win. It has simply
accentuated and made clearer the line of cleavage between
the aspirations of the two races, the English speaking and the
French speaking. The one, if they are not yet quite defined,
as to the relations which should subsist among the peoples
of the Empire in the future, are yet strong for a continued
relationship not less intimate than in the past. The other
are in the direction of complete Canadian autonomy—independent nationality, but preferably of a separate existence as
a French-Canadian republic on the banks of the St. Lawrence;
and since the Maritime Provinces have given a vote somewhat
adverse to the Union Government, there have been pronouncements in favor of making the Ottawa River the eastern boundary in Canada of English speaking control. There is no possibility of presenting the situation, as revealed since conscription became an issue, in any other light, and it must be faced
in the light of facts as they exist. It is unnecessary to say
that there is no way out of Confederation for Quebec,
any more than there is for Ireland out of the United
Kingdom, except by fighting its way out. The rest of
Canada would not consent and Great Britain even "in
extremis" would not otherwise consent. British Columbia
which had a real grievance once, through its Legislature
asked for separation as an alternative to fulfilment of the
Carnarvon Terms. Nova Scotia passed a resolution of secession in 1885 and a successful provincial election was fought on
the issue. These were really "bargaining resolutions," as the
result showed, and the resolution (at the time of writing)
proposed in Quebec, it has been suggested, is a "bargaining
resolution." But what has Quebec legitimately to bargain for
that she has not already got to which she is entitled? One of
her own people has referred to Quebec as "the spoiled child
of the Dominion," and the most impartial judicial commission
would fail to discover in the smallest instance wherein all the
essential and incidental benefits and rights of the B. N. A.
Act have not been conveyed to that province and of which its
people are not in the fullest enjoyment.
That the situation is an unfortunate and regrettable one
is a fact that is everywhere admitted. The question "Why
is there such a situation?" is, in the light of years, easily
answered. The question, "How is the situation to be remedied?" is not so easily answered. Who has solved the Irish
riddle? Old race feuds have accounted for much, perhaps,
for most, in Ireland, but there have never been race feuds in
Quebec between the English-speaking and the French-speaking peoples, if we except the occasional, perhaps, not infrequent, fisticuffs between the Irish Catholics and the French
Canadians. These, however, were purely local, and did not
at all arise out of national considerations of any kind. Language, landlordism and religion have each had something to
do with the situation in Ireland. Language is perhaps the
greatest factor of the situation in Quebec. French Canada
has always looked to France as a Fatherland, the cradle of
the race, with that feeling which was natural, until the religious orders were expelled from France and settled so numerously in Quebec. Then, the close affiliation which exists in
that province 'between language and religion gradually
weaned the people from any racial affection for a nation
whose national institutions, at least, were non-religious. The
influence of the new stock of clerics has become very marked.
The Habitants, temperamentally peace-loving and traditionally influenced by parish environment, are not now moved by
the cause of France, and as for the English-speaking people
they were, always of another world. If we add to these considerations the sinister influences of political leaders, we can
readily exercise that forbearance so necessary at the present
time in formulating policies for the future. Speaking personally, I have neither prejudices of language or religion so far
as French-Canadians are concerned.    I have always regretted 142
that I did not master the language of which I never had more
than an imperfect knowledge and to me theologically all
religions look alike in the sense that the Golden Rule, the
conscience clause of every creed, is the saving salt of all religionists and without it every religion must become the empty
shell of cold formalism. My daughter, who was brought up
in the faith, I used to take on my knee and teach her the
Catholic Catechism and never permitted her to neglect her
church duties. I have always had the highest admiration for
the heroism of Cardinal Newman, who, with all the clearness
of his great intellect, saw no logical standing ground between
Agnosticism and Catholicism and finally bowed to Authority
in the latter. Sincerity of conviction is the greatest of moral
and political forces.
I differentiate, however, between the church theological
and the church political which trenches upon the domain of
state, and in Quebec we must confess that as completely as
in any other country in the world, and much more successfully, has the church become identified with the~*State in matters large and small; and in the very complexity of that
organization and in its intimacy with the very fibre of political life, lies one of the serious problems we have to face.
But it is not the most serious, because the Church is wise
enough in matters which may ultimately be its own undoing.
We are not so much concerned in the church, as a church, as
in a state politically which might destroy in part at least the
objects for which federation was devised, to make us one
people in British North America, to eliminate racial feuds
and to develop our moral and material resources to their fullest extent. Beyond our own federation, the wider federation
to which many of us at least look as a logical evolution, it
is a matter for Canadians to argue out sanely, not by resort
to recrimination, intrigue and implications of race enmity.
Every man has the right to his own views as to Canada's destiny, but as a unit we should march towards it once it has been
I have stated that the question as to how the situation
in Quebec has been reached is easy to answer. There has
been for years what might be called a school of politicians,
and this school includes a number of serious political students,
who have been cultivating a sentiment in favor of French-
Canadian nationality and a spirit of hostility to the English-
speaking element of Canada.
This propaganda of exclusiveness, of isolation, of inde-
dependence of Quebec, like that of the Sinn Fein in Ireland,
has spread to almost alarming proportions. The movement
has been among the young men and youths principally. The
older generations are not, generally speaking, so much affected
by it.
There has been a persistent campaign in recent years of
instilling into the minds of the younger generation the notion
that in some—unknown and it must be mysterious—way the
French-Canadians are being oppressed and tyrannized over
by the English of Canada, whose object is to keep them in
submission and make them victims of, and subject to, Britain's international entanglements and foreign aggression.
This, notwithstanding that there is not a single historical
instance either in deed or motive, expressed or implied, to
authenticate it.
On the other hand, the ideal of a French republic on the
banks of the St. Lawrence is held up to them—a republic in
which everything will be peaceful, happy and prosperous and
in which the French-Canadian people will be able to develop
to the full their own aims, their own culture and their own
national manhood, one in which, too, they will be free and
independent of, and safe from, their common enemy the
English. Quotations from the speeches of French-Canadians
politicians and the French-Canadian press confirming these
statements can be produced and multiplied almost endlessly.
I This propaganda has gone on unrebuked, even encouraged, by the natural leaders of the people in whose power
it was to divert the current of political thought into safe and rJ^JT
patriotic channels, and it has been winked at throughout
Canada as a whole. Men in public life have disliked to
express freely their views of the inevitable consequences for
fear of offending French-Canadians as a class.
One cannot really blame the young men of French Canada
for their enthusiasm in this cause, which is really a revival
of the political doctrines of Papineau. They have been
misled by false teachers and have never had the opportunity,
or even been permitted in their environment, to know the
truth as it is, and to study Canadian history in the light of
The French-Canadians have inherited many of their
characteristics from their Normandy, Anjou, Maine and
Poitou French ancesters. They are naturally susceptible to
the influences of poetry and eloquence. The educated young
French-Canadian is idealistic and imaginative. He has,
therefore, many of the qualities of mind and heart that made
the Republic of France.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier is intellectually too large and too
well developed in statescraft to believe in the possibility of a
French-Canadian republic on the banks of the St. Lawrence.
It is true that as a young man, and the flights of fancy of
the young man are not to be held up against him in mature
years, he was opposed to Confederation. He wrote and spoke
vigorously in opposition to it. In this attitude he declared
himself a follower of Papineau.
By a strange chain of circumstances he became the
Premier of the Confederation of which he was so earnestly
skeptical and the principles of which he so vehemently
denounced. He became the hero of his race and in a large
sense the pride of all our people.
Before, however, he became the leader of the Liberal
party, and not yet a conspicuous Canadian politician, he
espoused the cause of Louis Riel, whom he refused to regard
as a rebel, without question, from racial reasons. Years
later, speaking of the Riel rebellion, Sir Wilfrid averred that
had he lived on the banks of the Saskatchewan, he, too, would
have shouldered his musket in the half-breed cause. Honore
Mercier, a Quebec leader, was the apostle of the cause of
Riel and today his memory is revered in Quebec solely on
that account.
This is simply evidence of the persistence of the ideal of
Papineau, of whose school so many today declare themselves
adherents. But why should men like Riel be exempt from
the consequences of their crimes, or hallucinations, if you
please, merely on account of their race?
j Sir Wilfrid would not echo some of the extreme sentiments expressed in Quebec today. He is too enlightened a
publicist and too learned historically. He does, however,
believe in Canadian independence. A careful study of his
earlier writings and speeches, coupled with the logical trend
of his policy in all matters pertaining to Imperial relations in
later life, can lead to no other conclusion, although in many
of his utterances in respect of Great Britain, he has to some
extent camouflaged, to use, not in an offensive way, a term
lately in fashion and certainly useful in conveying a meaning.
It is not for his views on independence he is to be censured.
There are prominent English-speaking Canadians who share
these with him, though we should admire him to a greater
degree for taking a more direct road towards his goal. We do
blame, him, however, for not exercising a more tempering influence over those who, openly declaring him as their leader, are
proclaiming sentiments not unlike those he did in his younger
days, only much more extreme. Essentially the representative of his race in public life and the hero of his people, with
his maturer years and his greater wisdom, he has not lifted
his little, finger in the way of warning or advice. Practically
his only counsel to them has been that no "overt act" be committed. Of course, Sir Wilfrid is in politics and in Quebec
lies the greatest source of his power, but he would have
been accorded a much greater place in our history had he
turned aside from the allurements of high office based on  POSTSCRIPT ON  QUEBEC SITUATION
such support, when an even more serious issue than Canadian
independence was facing his country—that of breaking up
Confederation itself—when the fate of the Empire was at
stake. No one has expressed in writing more admiration
for his gifts and graces and his high personal qualities than
myself, but it would be the extreme of hypocrisy to express
all the admiration of even his late followers in respect of
I am not discussing Sir Wilfrid politically, except in the
one respect in which many of us feel most keenly. Every
politician and statesman can be truly outlined only in the
perspective of time. A political writer has referred to him
seriously as the greatest citizen of Canada and one of the
most conspicuous men of the Empire, who has done more
than any other man of the land "to bring all of the various
classes of Canada together." Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been
one of the most conspicuous men of the Empire. His picturesque figure, his fine personality, his pleasing eloquence and
splendid phrasing would mark him in any conference of distinguished British statesmen; and he will live in Canadian
history as a remarkable example of a unique type of political
leader. The exercise of his gifts in respect of these distinguishing traits did much in Great Britain to raise in esteem
and respect Canadians as a class; but the situation in Quebec
does not bear out the claims made in his behalf for the harmonizing of classes.
There has grown up in Quebec since Sir Wilfrid Laurier
became a leader greater racial prejudices than ever existed
there before, even in the days of Papineau. After all, Papineau only carried into rebellion a comparatively few of those
who accepted him as leader. A more unsatisfactory situation
in that respect has never existed. The symptoms of the
situation exhibited in riots, dynamiting plots, inflammatory
speeches and writings, have, on the other hand, excited bitter
feelings in other parts of Canada. 148
No one blames Sir Wilfrid personally for such a condition
of affairs, or sets him up as the inciting or contributory cause,
but I say again, the facts discredit the claims made for him.
Sir Wilfrid talked fairly and well in Ontario and other provinces about the brotherhood of races in Canada, but he did
not go to Quebec and tell the people there, what is the truth,
that the English-speaking people of Canada have no animosity
to the French-Canadians and that they wish them only well.
It is true that Sir Wilfrid blames the Nationalists for the
present situation, and it is also true that political exigencies
rewarded rather than penalized the Nationalists for their propaganda, but the Nationalists were a product of an educational
programme of years and not the creators of the situation or of
the sentiment at the root of it. The man to whom the province naturally and rightly looked as leader and counsellor did
not use his efforts to point out and emphasize the evil of the
course being pursued and if he did not share the extreme
views and favor the unlawful acts of the thousands who
shouted for him, he should have at least disavowed them on
the spot. Opposition to conscription, is not a crime. Many
good people all over Canada, as well as in Quebec, honestly
opposed it, but the ballot, not violence or seditious talk, is the
constitutional form of protest. Conscription was adopted as
a matter of urgency, but the defeat of the government fairly
on that issue, would have meant the defeat of conscription,
lamentable though we think the consequences might have
been. It is even now the duty of Sir Wilfrid, believing as he
does in our participation in the war, and in the continuation
of a Confederation, of which he was for years the brilliant
head and foremost figure—united in sentiment as in form—
to begin the campaign of education so urgently required in
his native province. His example would be followed by
leaders in all the other provinces in which there are many
hotheads as well as in Quebec.
In an introduction to a pamphlet on political conditions
in Canada as they affected Imperial unity, written in 1911, POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
but never published, after making comparisons in respect
of forces in the Empire unfavorable to closer union—the Sinn
Feiners in Ireland, the Nationalists in Quebec, the Boers in
South Africa (then a problem) and the I. W. W. element of
labor in Australia, I said, and in almost every particular the
conclusions apply today and even more strikingly on account
of subsequent events:
"Canada is the key of the situation. She set the example
of local self-government in respect of the federal principle,
and her example will be followed by other Dominions. The
racial situation in South Africa is not unlike that in Canada,
where Great Britain fought for ascendancy for the rights of
British subjects; then handed the country back to local self-
control without even a try to hold it in check. South Africa
can now, as she has been in the past, be controlled by financial
influence, but Canada's example of disintegration would be
most infectious. In Australasia the Labor party are actuated
in politics by a spirit of democracy whose principal objection
to British connection is to kings, queens, lords and the like;
but it is essentially British throughout, and when national
considerations arise, when the safety and defence of the
great Southern archipelago are in question, would not hesitate to consolidate with other portions of the Empire for a
common purpose. Nevertheless, the spirit of independence is
strong among all classes, and young blood is hot blood. New
Zealand is like Australasia, only more British in spirit, and"
would not act alone. Newfoundland might join Canada in
forming a new nation, but whether or not, situated as it is, it
would not be a factor to be considered.
"I have referred to the French-Canadians and tQ Sir Wilfrid Laurier, their national leader, as possessing racial
instincts and national ideals as fundamentally and radically
opposed to British supremacy or British hegemony. I have
referred to the Irish Nationalists in much the same way; and
to the Boers of South Africa, and the Labor party of Australasia.    Born among French-Canadians in Quebec, I know them 150 POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
well, and have always liked them for their picturesque quaint-
ness, their simplicity of life, their natural cheerfulness. I
almost love the country they have made singular and historical by the impress, of their several centuries of occupation.
I am not blind, however, to the problem they have created
by their isolarity and exclusiveness, for which, however, they
are not themselves responsible. It is the most serious question in Canada today.
"Having read Irish history, I have a fairly good appreciation of the Irish character, and sympathize as strongly as
any Home Ruler can with the wrongs which cruel fate
imposed on a brilliant and lovable race of people; but racial
prejudices, the curse of our country, inherited like instincts
of animals, have come down from a past in which the vendetta
universally existed—mutual antagonism—the extinction of
which on national grounds all civilized peoples should unite
in securing. We of today are divided by strifes of various
kinds, the object apparently being to perpetuate what personally we have had little or no hand in creating, and yet we,
though it was no quarrel of ours, go about with the chip on
our shoulder, a perpetual challenge to those who have as little
personal share or responsibility in the original quarrel as ourselves. So Orangemen, Irish Nationalists and Catholics keep
on embittering each other by renewed assaults on each other
with no rational reason except racial or religious antipathy.
"There is no reason why French-Canadians should not
forget the war between France and England which culminated in the taking of Quebec, and there is no reason why English-speaking people, who have had no share in that war,
should remind the French-Canadians that they are a conquered people. It is no longer a question of French against
English. The British people represent a power of which
French-Canadians, for over 150 years have been subjects the
same as English-Canadians. It is no longer a question
whether we shall be British or French or even Canadian;
but under which  national form of government,  and under POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
what auspices can Canada reach its highest destiny. There is
no reason why the Irish people should not be actuated by a
similar idea, and why they should not in the future share
with the Anglo-Saxon in the glories of an Empire whose
greatness their own brilliant exploits have tended to achieve.
"If the peoples of the Empire could forget that there
ever was a nation called English, and think only of an aggregation called British, they would find a common sink into
which to pour their differences, because at the very roots of
history Britain is a term wide enough to include the French,
the Irish, the Scotch, the Welsh and the Anglo-Saxon, who,
in his turn was first cousin of the ancestors of the Boers. The
Normans, who conquered and ruled England and gave it its
best blood, were ancestors of our French-Canadians. Ancient
Britain was populated with Celts, of which the Irish were the
most distinguished and celebrated branch. There can be no
more talk of an Irish Kingdom, any more than there can be
talk of the French again governing Canada, or of the Boers
setting up a Dutch Republic in South Africa, except in the
dreams of a few enthusiasts. Then why cannot we accept
history and the inevitable and develop a patriotism common to
an Empire to which we are all by force of circumstances
" attached. Unless by a great political catyclism it will be ages
at least before the cycle of events shall have run its course,
and civilized nations will have been dissolved into primordial
racial elements again, if ever such a thing could be possible.
New conditions have arisen among nations just as they have
in the industrial and commercial world. The same principle
of consolidation and aggregation of forces and centralization
are at work. Germany set the pace under the great Bismarck, and Bismarckian traditions and ambitions look forward to dominating the commercial world. The great nations
in the strife—perhaps not of war as of old, but of commercial
control—will be Germany, the United States, France, Russia,
Japan and China, (separately or in combination) and the.
British Empire, if it comes out of the crucible as such.    The POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
rest of the nations will be but pawns in the game. No longer
can a small nation exist independently, except by favor of the
high powers or as buffers. The strongest arguments against
Canadian independence is that under the new order of things
complete autonomy would be impossible for long. Canadian
independence is a chimera because in the waging of the larger
forces the United States would be found to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, in self-defense, and Canada isolated, as Mexico
or Peru or the Argentine would have to submit to the conditions which that doctrine imposes, or fight. Talk of treaties
of peace and arbitration, but there is no logic so stern as self-
interest, and when that looms up the claims of the brotherhood
of man and the demands of honorable pact are swept aside as
easily as a feather.
"War is like a fight between two men, it is more often the
ignition caused by the clash of two hot tempers, not premeditated. Fisticuffs and duels between sensible beings are
becoming rarer, and war may be said to be following the same
course, but when in the last twelve years we have had three
great epoch-making wars, besides the usual number of smaller
ones, is it safe to assume that we have reached the millenium
of peace, more especially as with our great navies, standing
armies and munitions of war, there is always the temptation
of trying conclusions ?
So, I say, in attempting to decide the future of Canada,
we must consider the combinations of the great controlling
forces and study world politics, because these take no account
of what is being concocted in the parish council of Quebec,
the Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario, the Grain Growers'
Association of the Middle West, or the Fruit Growers' meeting of British Columbia. We must decide what is to be our
place in the political landscape of the globe; whether a factor
in the affairs of big nations or a pawn in their game."
In conclusion, it may be held that this postscript is a
deviation from the spirit of a narrative intended to be historical and not disputatious, but the political events of the months POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
preceding the general election have a serious bearing upon
the future regarding which so many Canadians have set high
hopes. National aspirations are amongst the greatest of stimuli,
individually and collectively, and the higher and wider the
aspirations the greater the stimulus. I have said that the
situation in Quebec is the result of an educational programme
as insidious as it is inimical to the general interests—a propaganda of misrepresentation, of misinformation, of prejudice
as to the policy, aims and attitude of English-speaking
Canadians in respect of their French-Canadian brethren, and
there has been just enough color in the utterances of sectarian
societies and newspapers in English-speaking and Protestant
Canada to form a groundwork. These religious and racial
feuds are the "hangover" from a time as far back as, and
before the "Battle of the Boyne," each outrage, each act of official injustice, each reprisal reacting and reacting in stupid
revenge—the sins of all our forefathers extending to the third
and fourth and to many generations. Was it without cause
that Mme. Roland exclaimed: "O Liberty! how many crimes
are committed in thy name?" This might be paraphrased: "O
Lord! What deeds are done in Thy name?"
Knowing the course of history in Ireland and Quebec
it is the duty of leaders of Canada and French-Canadian patriots to direct the course of public opinion in an opposite
direction. In a political struggle in which the struggle was
largely French Canada and French-Canadian ideals against
the rest of Canada, Quebec was badly worsted and I think
clearly upon the merits of the fight. It is now the duty of the
victorious party to be forbearing and dignified in victory—not
vainglorious. The sting of defeat is deep and hard to eradicate. It is the duty of English-speaking Canadians, not by
indulgence or concessions or special favors, but by conduct
and example, to establish an "entente cordial" as complete as
that which brought together in bonds of friendship and
alliance the traditional enemies, France and Great Britain,
who are now in arms in the common cause of freedom and
on the same soil fighting a common enemy. 154
I shall not again refer to race and religion, but there is
the question of language, more serious than either as a factor
of discord. Races die out and become absorbed, creating a
new composite; religion changes and adapts itself to conditions according to time, place and circumstances; but language
is the most persistent of all human possessions. The greater
the effort to suppress it, the greater is the determination to
retain it. The mother tongue, like mother herself, lingers
longer and fondest in our memories. We of the English-
speaking tongue may lament the fact of a dual official language
in Canada following after the conquest of Quebec; we may
regret and regard as mistaken and mischevious that Quebec
obtained special rights and privileges-—not in any way guaranteed by treaty—concessions, unsolicited and unexpected
at the outset in the cause of good will, and for the purpose
of making a people oppressed and poor and tax-ridden under
French rule, happy and contented under British rule. We
may further grieve over the fact and resent it that your French-
Canadian brethren have been taught to accept their special
treatment as being neither unusual or unprecedented under
similar conditions of conquest, and that they are oppressed
and hated by what they chose to regard as their "English
rulers." The fact of religious and civil institutions, "sui
generis" as they are, remains, and a privilege once granted
and regarded as a right cannot be easily taken *away without
creating deep resentment and sowing seeds of revolt. Therefore, Quebec within its own provincial boundaries must work
out its own future, conformable with the general aims of
Confederation. It must learn, of course, that Quebec, and
Quebec alone, can demand what a generous victory conceded
after war; a war not against French Canada but against
France to which nation it no longer owes allegiance or gives
In the matter of language I think the rest of Canada
attaches too much importance to the French-Canadian attitude. When Canada came under British rule, the population
was altogether French, and, without prescience of future devel- POSTSCRIPT ON QUEBEC SITUATION
opments, it would clearly have been an injustice to impose the
English as the sole official language upon the population
which did not understand it at all. We must remember that
even today two-fifths of the people of Canada speak French
and the truth is that the proportion of French-Canadians who
speak English is far greater than the proportion of English
who speak French. It is altogether beside the question to
say that Canada is a British dominion and that, therefore,
English should be the official language or the only language
taught in schools. Language is, so to speak, a private right
and there is no moral law that compels any citizen of any
country to speak any other than the language of his parents.
In modern times the compelling force of language is commerce and inter-communication and any nation or community
or individual, which or who in business cannot speak in the
language of the customer or the purchaser is handicapped to
that extent. The problem of language therefore solves itself
in time. The German nation long ago learned that lesson
and profited by it enormously. A German is not less a German, however, because he speaks more than one language.
And do we not sympathize with the people of Alsace and Lorraine, although conquered provinces, in their persistence in
not discarding French for German? Belgium has two languages but is not less consolidated in sentiment on that
account. The polyglot races in southern Europe under
the sway of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia have successfully resisted, or as effectually as they could, the efforts
of their overlord to impose upon them a language not tneir
own; and have we not in our hearts gone out to them, because
we hated the despotism of these same overlords. Language
is part of ourselves.
It is a reflection indeed, upon our English-speaking public men that in Parliament they cannot address their French-
Canadian colleagues in French. Probably not more than
half a dozen of them can go into Quebec and make themselves
understood on the platform to an audience which in many
instances would be responsive and sympathetic.    On the other 156
hand, nearly every French^Canadian of public standing can in
and out of Parliament address himself intelligibly and nearly
always eloquently to an audience in English. It is recorded
that in the great debate on Confederation in the Parliament
of Old Canada in 1865, the French members all spoke in
English because the English 'members could not understand
French, much less speak it. With what greater effect could
the English members have appealed to the French members
had they been able in a portion of the remarks, at least, to
have spoken French with that degree of fluency and purity
that Dorion and Cartier, for instance, spoke English? We
speak of the French-Canadians refusing to speak English and
their desire to remain apart. Have we, as English-speaking
Canadians, searched our own souls on a similar count? Do
we realize that reciprocity in language is as much an essential
of free and friendly intercourse as that in commerce it is
necessary to buy ls well as sell to do business? Apart altogether from what Quebec may choose to do, I believe that
French should as far as possible be taught in every school in
Canada. There is nothing that will bring two races together
more completely than the study of each other's literature and
that personal and intimate knowledge of each other obtained
only through the vehicle of language. More especially is it
desirable that the two languages should be taught alongside
of each other and be generally understood, when we are in such
close alliance with the great nation of France, with whose
people business relations will be greatly extended after the
war. The French language was, and still is to a considerable
extent, the diplomatic language of Europe. That fact did not
make the courts of Europe one whit more French in leaning
and as to the ultimate survival or dominancy of either language
in Canada we need not worry. We must not in this almost
critical stage in the history of Confederation lay the burden
of blame all on one side. We have not on either side in the
past studied, nor indeed have we been at all inclined to study,
the point of view of the other and have thus drifted apart in
sympathy and in ideals.   m
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