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Canadian federation, its origin and achievement; a study in nation building Trotter, Reginald Geroge 1924

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Assistant Professor of History in Stanford University
BEDFORD   STREET,   LONDON,   W.C.2 All rights reserved
I5"I 3*S
The story of the movement which created the
Canadian Dominion has been told many times and
in many connections. Yet the words are still true
which the veteran Sir Richard Cartwright spoke in
1906 to the Ottawa Canadian Club. Recounting
his "Memories of Confederation," he concluded:
" Sir, I doubt very much whether what these men
did, the circumstances under which they did it and
why they did it, have been altogether fully and
properly appreciated." True there are several admirable accounts of the movement, but a wide-
reaching search among the manuscript records of
the period has convinced the present writer that
there is occasion for still another study. Its justification must be the contribution, to a story already
generally known in many of its features, of something
new and significant, in incident or in point of view.
The present study claims attention on both these
grounds. An examination of much manuscript
material never previously used has brought into
prominence factors hitherto ignored or unduly subordinated. Consequently ijt has become possible both
to amplify certain phases of the story and to view
the whole from a revised and broadened angle of
vision. The writer has aimed at a comprehensive
treatment. He has sought to avoid the limitations
of the political chronicle narrowly focussed upon the
official scene.     He has shunned the tendency of CANADIAN  FEDERATION
biography to exaggerate the prominence of a particular hero. In short, the endeavour has been to
give non-political factors due weight, and the work
of the men involved in the story has been viewed
with a persistent effort to eliminate from the narrative all personal or partisan bias.
Of course, to envisage the manifold influences which
produced and moulded Canadian federation, and to
do this impartially and with true emphasis upon the
significant, is a task which one may not hope to
attack with complete success, however extensive his
preparatory researches. But so dramatic and so
fundamentally important was the movement not only
in the development of the Canadian Dominion but
in the growth of that anomaly of the modern world,
the British Commonwealth of democratic nations,
that the task is highly inviting. Ample excuse for
attempting it is furnished by a serious study of firsthand sources and a conscientious effort to find and
to tell the truth. Yet perhaps also the time has come
when the venture is further justified by the mere
passing of the years. Certainly the sententious Mr.
Dooley would approve, for while there is an invidious
suggestion there is also a valid one in his aphorism
that "Th' further ye get away fr'm anny peeryod
th' better ye can write about it. Ye are not subject
to interruptions by people that were there."
This work is mainly a narrative, although it treats,
incidentally, the new Dominion's political constitution. Primarily it is an account of the circumstances
which made federation not only possible, but also
timely, necessary, and even, one is tempted to say,
inevitable: it displays the influences which brought
the issue to the fore and those which finally pushed
the developed project to consummation.   The nature PREFACE ix
of the material has demanded a twofold treatment of
the subject. The first section comprises an account
of early federation proposals, of the political situation
which furnished occasion for the provinces to come
together in conference, of the negotiations over the
drafting of the scheme, and of the methods by which
its formal acceptance by the provinces was at length
secured. The second deals more particularly with
certain economic phases of the movement and with
their political implications.
It has always been recognised that the Dominion
Government's assumption of responsibility for the
building of the Intercolonial Railway was a sine qua
non to the entrance of the Maritime Provinces into
the union, and rightly so, but the whole truth goes
further. The relation of the project and its projectors
to the federation movement was complex and rewards
careful inspection. Again, it has often been said that
the future of the North-West presented only a remote
problem to the " Fathers of Confederation." The
latter are assumed to have taken for granted that,
while of course the problem must be coped with some
day, it demanded of them no immediate solution and
therefore no very intensive study. But actually much
time and thought were devoted to the subject, devoted
not only by private citizens, but by political leaders
in their official capacity. As a matter of fact the
Canadian provincial government quietly gave large
attention to the matter for, some years before federation. These problems of establishing adequate means
of communication among the old provinces, and
opening the North-West, prove to have been more
closely related to one another than at first appears
on the surface. Separately and together they had
important bearing upon the evolution of a united x CANADIAN  FEDERATION
British North America. In the whole field, in fact,
the railway promoter and builder were vital figures.
They were moulders of empire as truly as those who
were by profession political leaders. And they were
actively interested, more or less openly as occasion
served, in the political as well as in the economic
situation. Their influence, direct and indirect, upon
the course of public events, deserves marked attention. The phases of the story particularly associated
with their activities are given special treatment in
the second part of this volume in an attempt to do
full justice to these important and neglected aspects
of the subject. In a concluding section the main
threads of the story are drawn together.
»The writer would make acknowledgments to the
many whose aid has contributed to the completion
of this study. For courtesies shown in connection
with the search for material he would thank the staffs
of the Harvard College Library, the Toronto Reference
Library, the Library of the University of Toronto,
the Library of Stanford University, the Library of
Parliament, Ottawa, and especially the Dominion
Archives, Ottawa. He would gratefully record the
co-operation of a number of his advanced students
at Stanford University, notably Mr. John P. Pritchett
and Mr. Herman H. Chrisman, in checking certain
phases of his research. Particularly should be recognised his obligation to Clarance M. Warner, Esq.,
curator of Canadian history and literature at Harvard
University, for facilitating his work by every means
at his disposal, and to Professor William Bennett
Munro of the same university for valuable counsel at
the inception of the study and for later helpful
encouragement and advice. To many other friends
the writer  owes  a  debt  of gratitude  for  counsel, PREFACE xi
criticism, and stimulus in the progress of the work.
Finally, he would not forget his indebtedness to
Harvard University for the privilege of pursuing
his researches for a year as a travelling fellow of
that institution.
Reginald G. Trotter.
" Valhalla,"
Lake Cecebe, Ontario,
nth August, 1923.  CONTENTS
Map of British North America
Preface      ....
I. Early Dreams and Dreamers
II. Seeking an Antidote for Annexation  .
III. Programmes and Parties
IV. Lights and Shadows of Impending Crisis
V. Canada in a Cul de sac
VI. Coalition Opens the Way Out
VII. Canada and the Maritime Provinces Shake Hands
VIII. The "Fathers of Confederation" in Conference
IX. A Working Compromise: The Quebec Resolutions
X. The Battle for Acceptance ....
XI. Communications as Links of Empire      .        .        .143
XII. The Grand Trunk Era  158
XIII. Introducing a Promoter, of Empire       .        .        .178
XJV. Edward Watkin and Intercolonial Negotiations . 184
XV. The    Intercolonial    Railway:     Agreement    and
Construction   ....... 205
XVI. The West as a Corporation's Preserve         .        . 222
XVII. Throwing a Searchlight on the Great Company . 234
XVIII. Canada's Eyes Open to the North-West       .        . 248
XIX. Thb Problem of Communications Westward .        . 257
xiii r
XX. Communications and the Hudson's Bay Company    .    267
XXI. The Dominion gains the North-West and a Pacific
Frontage.        .......    282
XXII. Rounding out the Boundaries        ....    302
XXIII. The Gist of the Story 309
Bibliography 321
Index     333 PART   ONE
" We are of different races, not for strife, but to work together
for the common welfare."
Georges E. Cartier, 1865.
" There is one thing peculiar about our position. There is no
other instance on record of a colony peacefully remodelling Us own
constitution; such changes have been always the work of the parent
state and not of the colonists themselves. Canada is rightly setting
the example of a new and better state of things"
George Brown, 1864. L PART  ONE
The success of the American Revolution, considered
in its relation to the wider aspects of history, was
hardly more momentous than its failure. The revolting "Patriots" of 1776, thanks to the valorous
fight of a determined and ably led minority, the stupidity of a king, and French sea-power, succeeded in
depriving Britain of the chief part of her eighteenth-
century empire; but they failed to drive her altogether from the North American continent as both the
French and the revolting Americans hoped and strove
to do. The peace treaty left her in possession of the
northland recently won from France, and also of her
older holdings that guarded the eastern and northern
sea-entrances to that northland, Nova Scotia with its
old wide boundaries, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and the territory of the Hudson's Bay
Company. Thus while the "Patriots" had secured
liberty to try their own republican experiment in
separation from the empire,, in spite of their efforts
an opportunity was still to be found in North
America under the British flag for experiment in
free colonial self-government, experiment which in
due time was to attain high and far-reaching significance. For if the United States has been the
inspiring prototype of modern federal republics, it is 4 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
equally true that British America, in producing the
Dominion of Canada, set the example for the establishment of free national governments in the Britains
overseas, and it is further true that she has been the
principal exponent of the idea that such governments
can maintain their essential autonomy and at the
same time retain membership in the larger British
commonwealth. From this idea it is but a step, if a
long one, to the reconciliation of national autonomy
with the necessities of international co-operation and
organisation on a larger, even a world-wide scale.
Should an internationalist world of the future owe to
the constitutional experiments of the modern far-
flung British Empire a tithe of the debt that the
nationalist world of to-day owes to the older growth
of free government in the narrower realm of England,
then Canada's share in the shaping of the Britannic
commonwealth must be adjudged increasingly significant, and the failure of the American revolutionists
which made the Dominion possible will be accounted
scarcely less important than their success which
ushered in the United States of America.
True it is that thé remnants of Britain's North
American possessions that remained in her hands
after the revolution seemed little worthy of notice
compared with the lost provinces. The latter were
soon able, by the success of their federal experiment,
to stand before the world strong in their union and
to attract at least lip service from abroad as the
young colossus of the west. A far different picture
was presented by the fragmentary and insignificant
northern remnants of Britain's empire. Widely
separated geographically, these regions seemed even
further apart in the character of their peoples and
institutions.    Scattered in communities strung out EARLY DREAMS 5
between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes lived a
few score thousand French and a few thousand British
(the latter, however, soon notably augmented by
refugee loyalists from the lost colonies), while the
vast north-west was the preserve, so far as the white
man was concerned, of a few hundred fur traders.
In the next three-quarters of a century the population of the Provinces increased more than twenty-
five fold, became, indeed, a little larger than that of
the original United States. By the end of that
period the several sections had at last developed
sufficiently to find additional strength and stimulus
to further growth, as the states had done so long
before, in a federal union. The tendency of the early
days, however, reflecting the practical necessities of
the time, was towards devolution rather than amalgamation. In 1784 New Brunswick and Cape Breton
Island were separated from Nova Scotia and each
given its own government, and in 1791 Upper Canada
as an English-speaking province was set apart from
Lower Canada which was still chiefly French.
Academic as any discussion of British American
union had to be in those early days, the idea was
nevertheless occasionally broached. In the very next
year after that in which the infant United States won
recognition of their independence, a certain Colonel
Robert Morse of the Royal Engineers, reporting on
the military defences required for Nova Scotia, wrote
thus: "In the course of this Report, my mind has
been strongly impressed with the idea of uniting
these Provinces with Canada, to the advantage of
both countries, and that by establishing the same
laws, inducing a constant intercourse and mutual
interest, a great country may yet be raised up
in  North America."1     The colonel's  optimism, if 6 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
eventually proven to be well founded, was none the
less premature in face of the pioneer conditions in
the settlements.
Morse was not alone in raising the question of union.
Already in the previous year William Smith, a New
York loyalist, had urged the establishment of a
"General Government for the Colonies." In 1786
he became Chief Justice of Quebec and four years
later, when the Constitutional Act of 1791 was under
consideration, he again advocated such a step as a
means of avoiding, when the new colonies should
become prosperous, a repetition of "the late Revolt
and Rent." That disaster to the empire he would
trace "to a remoter cause, than those to which it is
ordinarily ascribed. The Truth is that the Country
had outgrown its Government, and wanted the true
remedy for more than half a century before the
Rupture commenced. ... To expect wisdom and
moderation from near a score of Petty Parliaments,
consisting in effect of only one of the three necessary
branches of a Parliament, must, after the light brought
by experience, appear to have been a very extravagant expectation. ... an American Assembly, quiet
in the weakness of their Infancy, could not but
discover in their Elevation to Prosperity, that themselves were the substance, and the Governor and
Board of Council mere shadows in their political
Frame." 2 The additions he proposed to the Constitutional Bill then pending would have provided
for a general legislature with an appointed council
and an assembly comprising representatives of the
several provincial assemblies. The voting in this
assembly would have been by provinces. His suggestions were vague, but his purpose was clear, so to
strengthen the hands of the recently created Captain- EARLY DREAMS 7
General and Governor-in-Chief of all the North
American Provinces,3 as better to ensure the preservation of the British connection. Lord Dorchester,
the incumbent of the new office, transmitted the
proposal of the Chief Justice to the Colonial Secretary, but the latter gave it only perfunctory acknowledgment. "The formation of a general Legislative
Government for all the King's Provinces in America,"
he wrote, "is a point which has been under Consideration, but I think it liable to considerable objection," though he added that he thought the principle
of uniting the executive government, already acted
upon, was "of material importance to the British
Interests in America." 4
A quarter of a century later, in 1814, establishment of a simple federal system was advocated by
another Chief Justice of Quebec, Jonathan Sewell,
who was also a son-in-law of this William Smith.
He had correspondence on the subject with the Duke
of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria, who had served
in Canada for several years at an earlier period. The
duke acknowledged his communication with real
interest, had some suggestions of his own to offer,
and expressed his intention of bringing the proposal
to the notice of the Colonial Secretary. There,
apparently, the matter dropped.5 In the early
twenties, however, the difficulties that had arisen
between the two Canadas gave occasion for fuller
discussion of union than theretofore. The Union bill
introduced into the British Parliament in 1822 referred merely to the Canadas, but those who dreamt
of a more comprehensive measure did not let the
opportunity pass of bringing forward their ideas.
Active in this work were Chief Justice Sewell, the
Reverend Doctor John Strachan, and John Beverley r
Robinson. The last-named gentleman was in England
when the bill was under discussion and pressed for
consideration of a wider union, but the British
Government did not believe that all the colonies
would welcome the proposal. The writings, schemes,
and arguments of this group of prominent men, published in a number of pamphlets,6 could not help
arousing a certain amount of discussion, which in
the middle twenties occasionally found its way into
the provincial newspapers.7 Another man with a
vision of union, a man of a type very different from
these three pillars of government by "Family Compact," was Robert Gourlay. That erratic and persecuted reform agitator, who had loved Canada well,
but not wisely as such contemporaries as these
reckoned wisdom, issued a plan in 1826 from his
enforced habitation, the House of Correction, Cold
Bath Fields, London, in which he proposed a confederation of all the provinces, "each to be as free
within itself as any of the United States and the
whole to hold congress at Quebec. Each also to send
two members to the British Parliament to speak but
not to vote." 8
In the same year the old attorney-general of Nova
Scotia, Richard John Uniacke, submitted a lengthy
paper to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in
which he urged the necessity of a union of the
provinces,9 if their absorption by the United States
was to be prevented and their preservation as part
of the British Empire insured, and proposed in outline a scheme for the federal union of the provinces
under the title "The United Provinces of British
America," with provision for the remaining territory
being received later on the same basis.10 The Colonial
Secretary received the communication courteously, EARLY DREAMS 9
but its author "was told by His Lordship that as
things were then tranquil ... he would not agitate
the question, or bring it before the Cabinet."n
When, towards the end of the following decade,
the evils of the political situations in the two Canadas
had produced rebellions that called forth the investigation and report of Lord Durham, the idea of a
union of all the provinces naturally entered into discussion of possible remedies. In the Assembly of
Upper Canada a committee on the political state of
the province, under the chairmanship of Henry Sherwood, proposed in 1838 either the re-union of the
two Canadas or the legislative union of all the British
North American provinces, as a device that would
remedy existing evils by promoting "the establishment of 1British Ascendancy' without any change
in the principles of the existing constitution."ia
Durham recognised these two possibilities, also
that of a federation of all the provinces; indeed on
his first arrival he was strongly inclined towards the
last plan and he discussed it with deputations from
the Maritime Provinces as well as with individuals
and public bodies in both the Canadas.13 But he
became convinced that in the disturbed state of
feeling existing at the time among the French population of Lower Canada tranquillity could "only be
restored by subjecting the Province to the vigorous
rule of an English majority; and that the only
efficacious government would be that formed by a
legislative union," that is by a union in which the
separate provincial legislatures would be abolished,
and be replaced by one legislature for the whole.
He would have preferred such a close union of all
the provinces to one including only the two Canadas,
but as a proposal for the former would in justice have io CANADIAN  FEDERATION
to be referred to the Maritime Provinces for deliberation and consent, and the situation in the Canadas
would brook of no delay, he fell back upon the idea
of a legislative union of merely the Canadas, though
he thought provision should be made for the later
admission of "any or all of the other North American
colonies, on the application of the Legislature" and
"with consent of the two Canadas, or their united
Legislature," on such terms as might be agreed on
between them.14
Although in the Act of Union of 1840 a solution
for the political difficulties of the Canadas was sought
in a legislative union of the two provinces, there
were those who still anticipated that some day the
way would open, and perhaps necessity call, for a
larger union, whether legislative or federal, which
should include not only the drainage basin of the
St. Lawrence and of the Great Lakes north of the
international boundary, but also the little provinces
down east and the great West beyond the Lakes, a
region as yet largely unknown. Not, however, until
many of the actual "Fathers of Confederation" were
already prominent in public life did this larger
question begin to awaken a wider popular interest
or approach the threshold of practical politics.
This first great widening of interest in British
North American union came in 1849. It followed
closely upon the important changes in colonial status
involved in the achievement of responsible government by the several colonies and the concurrent
abandonment by England of the old colonial system
in matters of trade.15 Before these changes federation would have been premature. Had the provinces
been united in a dominion prior to the firm establishment of their virtual autonomy, the scheme of EARLY DREAMS n
union, like the act which united the two Canadas in
1841, must have been chiefly the work of British
hands. Fortunately for the autonomous principle,
which seems to flourish most surely where the forms
of its application have been worked out under intelligent self-determination, the larger organisation did
not come until brought about at the instance of the
colonial governments themselves and along lines
mapped out in detail by their members, men already
trained in the exacting school of practical politics
in a self-governing colony. It is not surprising that
for a decade and a half these men were so engrossed
with the problems connected with working the new
responsible government that for the most part they
refused to recognise a pressing issue in the question
of a larger organisation. When the subject finally
became of vital interest it was not merely because
of increased academic discussion of the advantages
of union, but was chiefly the result of critical developments in provincial politics and of the fact that
during the middle years of the century various other influences, economic, imperial, and international, were
operating strongly to break down old barriers and
promote the consolidation of British North American
interests. But the growth of the idea itself is an
essential part of the story, and therefore before considering the forces which finally brought the diverse
provincial interests to the fusing point in 1864 and
made federation an actuality in 1867, it will be well
to outline the history of the discussion and advocacy
of intercolonial union during the decade and a half
preceding the rise of the curtain upon the actual
drama of its achievement. 12 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
P. 5, n. i. "Report on Nova Scotia, 1784,"  in Canadian Archives,
Report, 1884, Appendix C.
P. 6, n. 2. Letter to Lord Dorchester enclosing his proposed additions
to the new Canada Bill, in Shortt and Doughty, Documents, 2nd
edition, pp. ioi8j(jf.    Regarding this and other early proposals see
also Canadian Archives, Report, 1890, pp. xxiii/. and Note B.
P- 7, n. 3. As to the creation of this office see Shortt and Doughty,
ôp. cit., p. 810 and note.
P. 7, n. 4. Grenville to Dorchester, 5th June, 1790, in ibid., p. 1027.
P. 7, n. 5. In   1838   Sewell,  still  Chief   Justice,   showed  the  duke's
letter to Durham, who embodied it in his Report.    See Sir C. P.
Lucas' edition, vol. ii. pp. 320/.
P. 8, n. 6. See the Life of Sir fohn Beverley Robinson, by his son,
Major-General C. W. Robinson, pp. 152ff., idiff.
P. 8, n. 7. Y ear-Book   and Almanac of  British  North  America for
1868, p. 14.
P. 8, n. 8. Canadian Archives, Series Q, 343, part i. pp. 125ff.
P. 8, n. 9. Except Newfoundland, whose admission, he thought, had
better be deferred until the province had full representative institutions.
P. 8, n. 10. "Observations on the British Colonies in North America
with a Proposal for the Confederation of the Whole under One
Government," enclosed in R. J. Uniacke to Earl Bathurst, London,
nth April, 1826, Canadian Archives, CO. 217, vol. 146, pp. 332^.
P. 9, n. 11. Sir Colin Campbell to the Earl of Durham, Halifax, 4th
September, 1838, Canadian Archives, Durham Papers. Sir Colin also
informs Durham that James Boyle Uniacke, a son of the old Attorney-
General, and one of the Nova Scotian delegation being sent to confer
with Durham, is taking a copy of his father's paper with him, at Sir
Colin's request, in case Durham "should wish to peruse it."
P. 9, n. 12. Canadian Archives, Report, 1890, p. xxiv. Data are there also
given on several early incidents in the development of the union idea.
P. 9, n. 13. In the Durham Papers, at the Canadian Archives, there
is some correspondence of 1838 on this point.   See especially:   Sir
John Harvey to Durham, No. 7, 16th August;  Sir Colin Campbell
to Durham, Private, 4th September;   Campbell to Couper,  10th
October;   Durham to Sir George Arthur, Confidential,  16th September;  Durham to J. B. Robinson, 16th September;  Durham to
Arthur, 9th October.    See also, in the Delancey-Robinson Collection,
volume   of   "Harvey   Miscellaneous   Correspondence,"   a   confidential paper in Durham's hand, embodying his ideas on the form
advisable for a federal  union of   the   Provinces,   with  marginal
annotations by Harvey, in whose hands Durham placed it at Quebec,
3rd July, 1838.
P. 10, g£. 14. Durham's Report, edited by Lucas, vol. ii. pp. 304/jf.   Cf.
Lucas' discussion of the topic in his introduction, vol. i. pp. 247^.,
and Charles Buller's in his sketch of Durham's mission, ibid., vol. iii.
pp. 362^.  See also S. J. Reid's Durham, vol. ii. pp. 330^.
P. 10, n. 15. Gait,   Canada,   1849-1859,   p.   6;   Sir  Charles  Tupper,
Recollections, p. 21. CHAPTER II
In the late 'forties the Province of Canada was boiling
with unrest, from causes both political and economic.
The Conservative party, overwhelmed at the polls by
the Reformers, saw the governor ask the leader of
the victors to form a ministry. Here was acceptance of the debated principle of responsible government in circumstances most hateful to the Tories.
So long had they preened themselves on being the
sole loyal element in the community that they could
hardly bear to see government and patronage pass
now into the hands of their enemies. That this
should come about with the ready acquiescence of
Britain's representative strained a loyalty to the
British connection even so steadfast as this party
boasted, and the strain was seriously increased when
Lord Elgin, acting according to his lights as a constitutional governor, signed the Rebellion Losses Bill
passed by the new government, which provided for
the indemnification of Lower Canadian sufferers from
the Rebellion of 1837-38. Another and perhaps more
critical factor in the unrest was the economic depression under which the country was suffering as a result
of Britain's changed fiscal policy. A costly canal
system had been built up and the Canadian miffing
industry had been largely increased on the basis of
the St. Lawrence trade in American grain, a trade
fostered by a British preference. When Britain abandoned her preferential policy towards the colonies this
13 1
recent artificial expansion collapsed. The resulting
depression of trade, when to it was added resentment at the Liberal victory and at Elgin's failure to
stand by the Tory party, proved to be too much,
temporarily, for some persons' loyalty.1
Spite at the Governor-General's endorsement of
the Rebellion Losses Bill showed itself at Montreal
in mob violence, in the midst of which the parliament
building was burned; but that story need not be told
here. More important for its bearing on the development
of sentiment in favour of federation was an agitation
which arose among the malcontents for annexation
to the United States Much of the talk was probably
intended merely to force the recall of Elgin or compel
Britain to restore protection to colonial commerce.
However true this supposition may be, it is indubitable that the annexation propaganda was weakening
the already disorganised Conservative party and
playing into the hands of the Reform government,
strong for the time being in its affiance of the Liberals
of both Upper and Lower Canada. The Tory party
must be saved. An effort to salvage as much of it
as possible gave birth now to the British American
Montreal, the hotbed of annexation sentiment, soon
became also the centre of the League's activities.
A convention was summoned to consider the commercial crisis and discuss the seeking of remedies in
constitutional changes. The published address of
summons spoke out uncompromisingly for maintenance of the British connection, but many members
of the League, particularly in Montreal, openly
favoured annexation. The election of convention
delegates, however, showed a decided majority for
the British connection, even from that city.    The ANTIDOTE  FOR ANNEXATION    15
convention met at Kingston, 26th July, 1849. Although the chief bond of union among its diverse
elements was merely opposition to the Reform
administration,3 yet this gathering of the League
had a steadying influence upon the moderate section
of the Conservative party.
The convention is best remembered for the resolution, to which it agreed unanimously, in favour of
a union of the British North American colonies.
This proposal was so generally approved by those
assembled chiefly because it offered a means of escape
from dreaded evils. To the loyalists it seemed a way
of avoiding separation from the empire. To the
Orange members with their anti-Catholic sentiments,
its greatest recommendation was the promise which
it held of freeing the country from the "dangers"
of French domination.4 The convention appointed
a Committee of Conference to negotiate with representative persons in the Maritime Provinces on the
matter of a federal union.
A report of progress from this committee was
heard at a second convention of the League, which
met at Toronto 2nd November of the same year. It
appeared that the negotiations had not gone altogether smoothly; "... there being," ran the report,
"no associations, known to your committee, organised in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's Island and
Newfoundland, a communication was made to ' prominent and influential' parties in Halifax, requesting
them to co-operate with your Committee by disseminating, through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's
Island and Newfoundland, the printed proceedings of
the Convention, accompanied by circulars, written
for the purpose of inviting the action of those provinces  on  a  proposition for the  union of all the i6 CANADIAN FEDERATION
colonies." The committee had communicated similarly with the "Colonial Association of New Brunswick," which had responded by appointing two
representatives to the conference. These gentlemen
were authorised, however, merely to ascertain the
views of the British American League and report
thereon. In the debate on the report the committee
was defended by one of its members as having done
all that circumstances allowed, for the New Brunswick delegates had no powers save to confer and
report, and friends approached in Nova Scotia had
not co-operated as requested, "and he doubted much
if the Nova Scotians cared anything about the
matter." "The gentlemen from New Brunswick
had told him that the Lower Provinces were looking to the Convention to lead them in the matter,
and expecting the League to devise a plan for the
Union of the Provinces." 5
The attitude at this time of Nova Scotia's great
Liberal leader, Joseph Howe, towards the union idea
is clearly voiced in a letter of 8th May, 1849, to the
President of the League. He wrote: "Suppose tomorrow propositions were submitted to the Lower
Colonies for a legislative union or a general confederation. If made by the Government and Parliament of Canada, they would be treated with deference
and respect. If made by a party in opposition, they
would not for a moment be entertained." He accused
the League of being implicated in the burning of the
parliament building at Montreal on 25th April. Concerning the general subject of union he said: "We
desire free trade among all the Provinces, under one
national flag, with one coin, one measure, one tariff;
one Post Office. We feel that the courts, the press,
the educational institutions of North America, would ANTIDOTE  FOR ANNEXATION    17
be elevated by union; that intercommunication by
railroads, telegraphs and steamboats would be promoted, and that, if such a combination of interests
were achieved wisely and with proper guards, the
foundations of a great nation, in friendly connection
with the mother country, would be laid on an indestructible basis." 6 But then, as later, Howe was
not optimistic about these "proper guards." 7
The maintenance of the British connection was
strongly urged in the convention, and it was asserted
that this connection could only be preserved by a
union of the Provinces.8 The strong anti-annexation
sentiment of the gathering was embodied in the
following resolution: "That, whether protection or
reciprocity shall be conceded or withheld, it is essential to the welfare of this colony and its future good
government, that a constitution should be framed
in unison with the wishes of the people, and suited
to the growing importance and intelligence of the
country, and that such constitution should embrace
a union of the British American provinces, on
mutually advantageous terms, with the concession
from the mother country of enlarged powers of
self-government." 9
Just before this second convention of the League
met, the annexation propaganda had given birth at
Montreal to the famous Annexation Manifesto, the
list of signers containing among other names prominent in Canadian history that of a future prime
minister of the Dominion.10 It may be noted that
a much more famous premier of the Dominion, John
A. Macdonald, though urged to sign the document,
refused. He was always a firm supporter of the
British connection, and at this time was prominent
in the British American League.   Another consistent i8 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
Britisher who opposed the annexation proposal was
George Brown, who, at a later time, although Mac-
donald's bitter political opponent, was to unite with
him in order to bring about federation. Brown's
paper, the Toronto Globe, has been given chief credit
for preventing at this critical time the spread of
annexation sentiment in Upper Canada, especially
among the Reformers, with whom the paper had
great influence.11 Georges E. Cartier, later the French
confederation chieftain in Lower Canada, was also
against the movement; indeed he was one of the
signers of a protest drawn up against the manifesto
in October by Liberal members of the Legislature in
and around Montreal.12
In advocating annexation the manifesto dismissed
the project of a federal union, declaring that it was
no remedy for the ills of the country.13 The League
convention at Toronto, as we have seen, took issue
with this position. Its advocacy of union, nevertheless, came to naught.14 The end of its activity was
marked by a manifesto issued by the central committee in May 1850, in which its members were called
upon to petition the Governor-General and both
Houses of Parliament in favour of a federal union.
Neither the Government nor the Legislature paid any
attention. By the end of the year the League had
practically disappeared, absorbed in the Conservative
party.15 In the legislative assembly in 1851 a motion
by William Hamilton Merritt of Welland Canal fame
for an address requesting that a conference be summoned to consider a federal union obtained the
support  of only seven  members.16
The country was not yet ready to consider federation on its own merits. This movement in its favour,
called forth as an alternative to annexation to the ANTIDOTE  FOR ANNEXATION
United States—without which, it was thought, closer
commercial relations were not possible—died down
with the decrease in the agitation for annexation.
The leading annexationists had maintained that
England would not oppose their movement, and
accordingly it was hard hit when the British Government made known its strong opposition to secession.17
Moreover, the repeal of the navigation laws lowered
freights by making American shipping available for
the carriage of colonial produce to the United Kingdom and thus contributed somewhat to ease the
economic situation.18 The increasing prosperity in
England after the repeal of the corn laws also made
British capital available in large amount for Canadian
development.19 Returning prosperity exploded the
theory that the economic welfare of the country
necessitated separation from England. Five years
of negotiations resulted in the reciprocity treaty of
1854 with the United States. The operation of the
treaty convinced many people that the advantages
of close economic relations with the American republic might be enjoyed without jeopardising the
British connection.
Reciprocity, however, was frowned upon in some
quarters as too much akin to annexationism. Dire
prophecies were uttered while the reciprocity treaty
was in the making. An interesting example is found
in a book which issued from the London press in
1853 with the wilderness * title : Pine Forests and
Hackmatack Clearings ; or Travel, Life and Adventure
in the British North American Provinces. The author
was a Lieutenant-Colonel Sleigh, "late of Her
Majesty's 77th Regiment," but his interests were
wider than one would suppose either from his own
title or that of his book. A military residence of some 20
years in the provinces had acquainted him with
government circles, and he had also become variously
involved in business ventures. He purchased a Prince
Edward's Island proprietorship, and in 1852 he experimentally placed an eleven-hundred-ton steamer
on the St. Lawrence route between New York and
Quebec, with calls at Halifax, Charlottetown, and
Miramichi. Several chapters of his book are taken
up with a discussion of the political future of British
America. He urges most strongly that it should not
be allowed to drift away from British allegiance. He
believes the reciprocity agitation augurs a crisis when
the question of "adherence or separation" will be
agitated. " Reciprocists and Annexationists " he stigmatises as traitors who "must declare themselves
Republicans." For cementing the British connection
he supports Durham's contention that there must be
raised up "for the North American colonist some
nationality of his own," which will relieve the colonists
from "the degrading position of cinferiority to their
neighbours.' "
Thereupon, he sketches a union of the provinces.
Among the conditions which he thinks necessary are
the establishment of British North America as a
viceroyalty of the British crown, with a member of
the royal family as viceroy, the creation of "a titled
class, not however hereditary," a House of Peers, to
include also bishops of the Church of England and
the Roman Catholic prelates, and an elected House
of Commons. He would abolish the existing provincial legislatures, thus creating a legislative in
preference to a federal union, but would retain the
several executive councils for the handling of "questions of no national importance." He would have a
standing frontier army of regulars, supplemented by ANTIDOTE  FOR ANNEXATION    21
volunteers, officered by Canadians or retired British
officers. Lastly, "the Judges should be placed on an
equal footing with the Judges of Great Britain, with
a Chancellor in the House of Peers." By such
measures he is confident that there may be secured
to the people of British North America "a Nationality
with a centralization of power, and a permanent
connection with the Mother-country." Immigration
will increase tenfold and "Canada will secure that
which is precious and valuable—a virtuous and
industrious community."
These views, he assures the reader, "are not the
result of a hasty conclusion, but the embodiment of
sentiments which, during two periods of residence in
British North America, we have often publicly expressed, and of which we have received from the
most eminent men in those Provinces the most
cordial approval."20
P. 14, n. 1. An Imperial Act of 1843 permitted American wheat,
ground in Canada, to be shipped to England as colonial. It was an
impetus to canal building. See Gait, Canada, 1849-1859, p. 22. The
dissatisfaction and its causes are discussed in Elgin's Letters and
Journals, edited by Walrond, pp. 59/jf. On the Rebellion Losses Bill
and the annexation movement see ibid., pp. Tiff., 99j(jf.
P. 14, n. 2. Allin and Jones, Annexation, Preferential Trade, and
Reciprocity, pp. 53^. The account of the League in ibid, is considerably supplemented in Allin, "The British North American
League, 1849," Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records, vol.
xiii- PP. 74#
The League's attitude towards Elgin is shown in a resolution
adopted unanimously at its second convention, Toronto, 7th November, 1849 : " That it be resolved, That the continued presence of Lord
Elgin, as Governor General of Canada, is injurious to the interests
of the people of this province, and calculated to undermine the
loyalty of Her Majesty's subjects."—Minutes and Proceedings of
the Second Convention of the British American League.
P. 15, ri. 3. Allin and Jones, op. cit., p. 61.
P. 15, n. 4. Ibid., pp. 63jQf.   The Montreal Gazette declared: "A union 22
of the provinces would give the colonists practical independence, so
much desired, and remove the idea of annexation now existing among
many influential persons."—Quoted in ibid., p. 80.
P. 16, n. 5. Proceedings, pp. 7/., xxii.
P. 17, n. 6. Howe to Hon. George Moffat, in Chisholm, Speeches and
Public Letters of Joseph Howe, vol. ii. p. 25.
P. 17, n. 7. Cf. Longley, Howe, p. 175.
P. 17, n. 8. Proceedings, pp. xxiiij^.
P. 17, n. 9. Ibid., p. 12.
P. 17, n. 10. Sir John Abbott. In a speech in the Dominion Senate,
15th March, 1889, he defended the loyalty of the signers, saying that
they signed it in an outburst of petulance, and except for a few
American signers, "there was not a man who signed that Manifesto
who had any more serious idea of seeking annexation than a petulant
child who strikes his nurse has of deliberately murdering her." They
were exasperated by the Governor-General signing the Rebellion
Losses Bill. "The people were excited, and did many things that
they ought not to have done . . . and within two or three days,
while still under the influence of this excitement, a number of them
signed this paper."—Quoted from Senate Debates in Pope's Memoirs
of Sir fohn A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 70. It is a commentary on the
fallibility of human memory that the "two or three days" were in
reality five or six months. The Rebellion Losses Bill was assented to
25th April, 1849, and the Parliament buildings were burned that
night; the Annexation Manifesto was not published until October.
P. 18, n. 11. Allin and Jones, op. cit., p. 89.
P. 18, n. 12. Weir, Sixty Years in Canada, p. 91. The author devotes
considerable space to the annexation and counter-annexation agitations, pp. 4i#., Soff. ;  also to the B. A. League, pp. 3$ff.
P. 18, n. 13. Ibid., p. 109. The whole manifesto is reproduced, pp. 106/f.
It is also given, along with some explanatory letters of Lord Elgin,
in Egerton and Grant, Canadian Constitutional Development, pp. 335^.
P. 18, n. 14. Proceedings, p. 11.
P. 18, n. 15. Allin, "The Genesis of the Confederation of Canada,"
Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1911, vol. i.
pp. 241/f. The article is a recital of the B. A. League's movement for
federation. It supplements with footnotes to newspapers of the day
the story as derived from the Proceedings of the two conventions.
P. 18, n. 16. The vote was fifty-one to seven. Canada, Journals of the
Legislative Assembly, vol. x. p. 202.
P. 19, n. 17. Allin and Jones, op. cit., p. 268. Elgin felt that disloyal
suggestions of annexation, caused by motives of self-interest, were
neutralised by " a political sentiment, a feeling of gratitude for what
has been done and suffered this year in the cause of Canadian self-
government."—Letters and Journals, pp. 105/.
P. 19, ». 18. June 1849. The measure increased the profits of the
Canadian trade in wheat and timber.—Elgin's Letters and Journals,
pp. 106/.
P. 19, n. 19. See Shortt, "Railroad Construction and National Prosperity: an Historic Parallel," Trans. Roy. Soc. Can., 3rd Ser.,
vol. viii. pp. 295j^.
P. 21, n. 20. Sleigh, Pine Forests and Hackmatack Clearings, pp. 337^. CHAPTER III
A notable discussion of British American federation,
the first of any importance in a colonial legislature,
took place in the Nova Scotia Assembly in 1854,
upon a motion made by J. W. Johnstone, leader of
the Conservative opposition. Sixteen years earlier,
though in a less formal way, there had been some
discussion of the idea in the legislature at Halifax.
Johnstone, home from conferring with Lord Durham
at Quebec, had then spoken in the Legislative Council
advocating union. Joseph Howe, in the Lower House,
had voiced "fears that while in principle Confederation might be sound, yet in practice the small Provinces by the sea would likely suffer injustice at the
hands of the two larger Provinces." In this later
revival of the topic Johnstone made a formal motion :
"Resolved,—That the union or confederation of the
British Provinces on just principles, while calculated
to perpetuate their connection with the parent State,
will promote their advancement and prosperity, increase their strength and influence, and elevate their
position." The resolution went on to authorise the
Governor of Nova Scotia to enter into communication with the governments of the other provinces
and with the Imperial Government respecting the
proposal, "which, if matured on principles satisfactory to the several Provinces, was calculated to
secure their harmony and bring into action their
consolidated strength, and must result in lasting
benefit of incalculable value."1
In the discussion of his resolution Johnstone maintained that the colonies had now advanced to a stage
where they could and should graduate from their
existing condition. He dwelt forcibly on the benefits
union would yield and the evils it would avert. He
referred to the scheme adopted by the British American League at its second convention. As to the mode
of union which would be preferable, he thought that
it was "hardly the question for present deliberation,"
but he would not withhold his "strong conviction
that a Legislative Union would best promote the
common interests and the objects to be attained."
On the following evening Joseph Howe, at this
time real though not nominal leader of the government, discussed the motion in one of his most notable
speeches, an address afterwards widely circulated in
pamphlet form. Rather than show hospitality towards
the proposal of his opponent he devoted himself to
the discussion of a larger problem, which had for him,
indeed, a stronger appeal, the organisation of the
empire, the relation of the provinces to the motherland rather than to one another. "The union of the
colonies," he said, "is the object of the resolution,
but in my judgment such a proposition covers but
a limited portion of ground which the agitation of
that subject opens up." Strongly in favour of a
continuance of British connection, he dismissed the
idea of accepting the alleged solution of the country's
difficulties offered by annexation to the United States.
He believed union of the provinces impossible until
they were more closely connected physically. "Overspread the colonies with railways," he said, "... the
people of British America will then be united, and
will soon assert the position which they will feel their
capacity to maintain." In his opinion "a union of
the Provinces ... if unaccompanied with other provisions, would lead to separation ! " He insisted that
what was required was union with the empire, representation in the Parliament of Britain. Both Johnstone and Howe had even at this time no idea of
accomplishing more than arousing interest and stimulating discussion; at least so Howe wrote to Francis
Hincks. He said he thought this object had been
attained, and added : "It would have been premature
for Nova Scotia to have come to any direct action
upon this question until the subject had been agitated
far and wide." 2
Another Nova Scotian shortly took up the subject
in the press and pamphleteered for union, Peter
S. Hamilton, the forceful editor of The Acadian
Recorder at Halifax. In 1855 he published a pamphlet
preaching the advantages of legislative union and
advocating it as a stepping-stone towards entrance
into a confederation of the British Empire.3 The
next year he followed with a second pamphlet, emphasising the idea that the colonies of British North
America had now reached a stage where they could
and should enter upon a national life and thus attain
to the position they were entitled to not only in the
empire but also in the world at large.4
In 1857 the legislative resolution of three years
earlier bore some slight fruit in actual negotiation.
Johnstone, then premier, and A. G. Archibald were
in England on business for the provincial government, and according to their instructions brought the
subject of federation before the Secretary of State
for the Colonies. Labouchere, who held that office,
informed the delegates, however, that his government 26
would not feel warranted in dealing with the question in the absence of a united request from the
colonies, but he added that, should such a request
be forthcoming, they would not oppose union.5
While the idea of federation was thus stirring
among the leaders down by the sea and even being
brought by them to the attention of Downing Street,
along the St. Lawrence it was winning increased
attention. In the great valley and by the Great Lakes,
indeed, peculiar local circumstances were producing
a situation wherein some change would be imperative.
Constitutional difficulties of growing seriousness
beset politics in the Province of Canada. Under the.
Act of Union of 1840 the two sections had equal
representation in the Legislative Assembly. The
object of this arrangement had been to prevent a
Lower Canadian French majority tyrannising over
an Upper Canadian English minority. About 1850,
however, the balance of population turned in favour
of Upper Canada and thereafter steadily increased.6
To prevent the will of either section being imposed
upon the other, a device known as the double majority
was for a time partially accepted, according to which
a government must have the support of a majority
of the members of the Assembly from each section
of the Province. But even though it was also understood that measures affecting either section must
have the support of its representatives, this arrangement was not satisfactory. An agitation grew in
Upper Canada for representation by population, or,
as it was popularly called, " Rep. by Pop." 7 Its
most vehement advocate was George Brown, the
virulent Scotch editor of the Toronto Globe, and
eloquent prophet of the "Clear Grits." He based the
demand  upon  Upper  Canada's  greater  population PROGRAMMES AND PARTIES     27
and greater contribution to the provincial revenue.
And it was not merely his own radical followers who
believed the terms of the existing union unjust to
Canada West. As early as September 1855, John
Ross, Conservative speaker of the Legislative Council^
wrote John A. Macdonald: "There is nothing that
will so surely break down the Union as the leeching
process going on towards Upper Canada. If they
will insist on throwing away from year to year sums
of money which bring us no return and are productive
of no real good to the country, the Union cannot be
preserved." 8 Upper Canada became gradually more
and more of a unit on the issue until finally it became
the dominant question in Canadian politics.9
In the search for a way out of the difficulty increasing attention was given to the subject of federation. For example, Henry Sherwood, who in the crisis
of 1838 had been chairman of the Upper Canadian
legislative committee on the political situation, a
committee which had then suggested British North
American union, published a pamphlet in 1851 in
which he gave a draft constitution for a federation
of all the Provinces.10 A. A. Dorion, who in 1865
was to lead the French-Canadian element of the
opposition against a general federation, spoke in the
House in 1856 suggesting a federal government for
the two Canadas as a possible means of deliverance
from the inconveniences arising from their legislative
union.11 In July of the following year, J. C. Taché
of Quebec began a notable series of articles in Le
Courrier du Canada in advocacy of federation.12 After
discussing the resources of the several Provinces, and
their geographical, political, racial, and other conditions, he proposed a scheme of federal government
based avowedly on a mixture of the British and 28 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
American constitutions, really in larger part upon
the latter. In such ways the public was being
familiarised with the federation idea.
In the summer of 1858 in the Canadian Legislature
the subject in one form or another received more
attention than ever before. The short-lived Brown-
Dorion administration, which took office 1st August,
was formed on the understanding that either a federation of the Canadas or representation by population
would be adopted as a government policy. This
ministry, however, held office only three days and
so never formulated its programme. It is doubtful
whether with longer life it could have settled upon
a platform acceptable to both its leaders. Dorion
apparently believed the only cure lay in federating
the two Canadas, while Brown preferred the existing
union under one legislature, but with representation
according to population, and believed that federation, when it should come, must include all British
America. "We will be past caring for politics," he
had written in January 1858, "when that measure
is finally achieved."13
The credit for securing the adoption of the idea of
federation by one of the great political parties as a
definite feature of its platform is due to Alexander
Tilloch Gait,14 member for Sherbrooke, in the English-
speaking Eastern Townships of Lower Canada. He
was the son of John Gait, well known for his novels
and his connection with the Canada Company, and
had grown up in an atmosphere calculated to give
him a forward outlook and a broad vision of Canadian
possibilities, both economic and political. His career
was consistent chiefly in being marked throughout
by a keen sensitiveness to current possibilities and
tendencies, and so he has been called the chameleon PROGRAMMES AND PARTIES     29
of Canadian politics. In the present instance, however, his action was not a reflection of popular tendency so much as it was the result of his unusually
keen sense of the difficulties in the existing situation
and the possibilities which the future held. On 6th
July, 1858, he delivered a strong speech in the Canadian Parliament in which he advocated a federal union
of British North America. Without such a union,
he said, the Provinces would drift into the United
States. In a few weeks, 6th August, he entered the
newly-formed Cartier-Macdonald ministry on condition that it support federation.15 Cartier, probably
through Gait's persuasion, now became a convert to
the idea. As he explained later, he had hitherto
opposed representation by population because of the
belief that Upper Canada's territorial ascendency
would engender strife even without the Upper Canadian majority tyrannising over Lower Canada. In
1858 he first saw that "Rep. by Pop." "would not
involve the same objection if other partners were
drawn in by a federation." He wished justice for
Upper Canada but without injustice to Lower. A
general federation would bring this. In the programme announced on 7th August, an important item
was the following statement: "The expediency of a
federal union of the British North American provinces
will be anxiously considered, and communications
with the Home Government and the Lower Provinces entered into forthwith on this subject." The
Governor-General's speech proroguing Parliament
contained word that the government proposed to
communicate during the recess with the British and
provincial governments with a view to inviting them
to discuss principles on which a federation of British
North America might be practicable.16 3°
Cartier, Gait, and John Ross went to England and
urged the Home Government to issue instructions for
the appointment of delegates from each province to
discuss the subject. They argued both the constitutional difficulties of Canada and the desirability of
removing the danger of absorption by the United
States. They presented confidentially a scheme of
federation, the handiwork of Gait, similar in outline
to that finally adopted. Of the four eastern provinces
Newfoundland was the only one whose government
responded to the query of the imperial authorities
with an expression of readiness to name delegates.
The other provinces, though not opposed, hesitated
to join in as the question had not been brought conspicuously before their people. Downing Street was
indifferent if not hostile, and Lytton, the Colonial
Secretary, was apparently only dissuaded by Gait
from expressing formal disapproval. Gait frankly
told him that it might cause "dangerous complication" if the discussion of federation, which was bound
to take place anyway in the colonies, should do so
"in the face of an adverse decision from the Home
Government." "My deliberate opinion," he wrote,
"is that the question is simply one of Confederation
with each other or of ultimate absorption in the
United States, and every difficulty placed in the way
of the former is an argument in favour of those who
desire the latter."17 But British officialdom was not
yet wholly alive to the North American situation,
and the secretary would not authorise the meeting.
"We think," he wrote to the governor, Sir Edmund
Head, "that we should be wanting in proper consideration for those Governments if we were to authorize,
without any previous knowledge of their views, a
meeting of delegates from the Executive Councils, PROGRAMMES AND PARTIES     31
and thus to commit them to preliminary steps towards the settlement of a momentous question of
which they have not yet signified their assent to the
principle." On the return of the delegates a minute
of council was passed, on Carrier's motion, that a
copy of the proceedings, including the memorandum
to the British Government, be communicated to the
government of each of the provinces "with a view
to invite such action in the matter as may be deemed
expedient." The defeat of the Derby Government
in the United Kingdom left the question in abeyance.18
When in England again in the winter of 1859-60,
Gait was entrusted with the duty of bringing it to
the notice of the new Colonial Secretary, the Duke of
Newcastle, but without satisfactory result.19
The year 1858 saw also outside the legislature
important public discussion of federation. Alexander
Morris had been an active advocate of the idea
as a young man of twenty-three in the Kingston
convention of the British American League. In the
following years as a barrister in Montreal he contributed from time to time to the discussion of the
subject, with which was strongly allied in his mind
the question of the acquisition of the North-West,
still monopolised by the Hudson's Bay Company.
He was destined to become, in 1864, one of the chief
instruments in the formation of the coalition ministry
which negotiated federation. His most noteworthy
contribution to the propaganda for union was a
lecture on "Nova Britannia," delivered in Montreal
in March 1858, and widely circulated in pamphlet
form. A glowing account of the growth and possibilities of British North America from the Atlantic
to Vancouver Island, it foretold the day when this
wide domain would be united politically.20 32 CANADIAN FEDERATION
George Brown was still incessantly agitating for
constitutional change. That change, he considered,
ought to be the granting of "Rep. by Pop." He
became convinced, however, that this device, by
itself, would long be resisted. Accordingly, feeling
that some solution must soon be found, he sought
for an alternative policy which might win acceptance
in Lower Canada.21
On 23rd September, 1859, he called a meeting of the
Reform members of both Houses. This caucus decided
to summon a convention of the Liberal party, the
famous Reform Convention of 1859, wbich met in
Toronto on 9th November, five hundred and seventy
strong. A full discussion of the existing evils resulted
in the convention taking a decided stand on the
constitutional question. The resolutions adopted
affirmed the failure of the union in its existing form
and the inadequacy of the double-majority principle
as a remedy for that failure. They set aside as impracticable the idea of a federal union of all the
colonies of British North America, but asserted that
"the best practicable remedy for the evils now encountered in the government of Canada is to be found
in the formation of two or more local governments,
to which shall be committed the control of all matters
of a local or sectional character, and some joint
authority charged with such matters as are necessarily common to both sections of the province."
The convention also reiterated the assertion that no
government would be satisfactory to the people of
Upper Canada which was not based upon the principle of representation by population.22 An elaborate
address was issued, chiefly Brown's work, setting
forth the evils suffered by Upper Canada under the
existing régime.23  A. A. Dorion was unable to attend
the Toronto convention, though invited to do so;
but a meeting of the Liberal members of the House
from Lower Canada was held and a manifesto issued
in support of the fédéralisation of the existing
Canadian Union.24
The policy adopted at Toronto was embodied in
two resolutions, favouring discontinuance of the union
in its existing form and the substitution of a federal
system, which were submitted by Brown at the next
session of Parliament. Though defeated by a large
majority the resolution had the support of most of
Brown's followers.25 It was on the principles and
policy set forth by this convention of 1859 that the
Liberal party made its appeal to the country in the
election of 1861. Alexander Mackenzie, in his partisan
though invaluable biography of George Brown, says
that it was this platform "which was predestined to
prevail in the parliament elected in 1863." 26 True,
the federal idea was to win out there, but in an
expanded form. In 1859 the Liberal party offered
to stand sponsor for a federation not of all British
North America but of the two Canadas. Favourable
discussion of the idea of federation in the years before
it became an immediate practical issue was not the
exclusive monopoly of any one political party.
As we turn again to developments in the Maritime
Provinces we leave the leaders of the parties in
Canada lined up with some definiteness on the constitutional issue. Brown, 'followed by most of the
Upper Canadian Liberals, was insisting primarily
upon representation by population, but had professed
willingness to accept a fédéralisation of the Canadian
Union if it could be made a practicable means to that
end. He was doubtful, however, of the feasibility of
a federal union unless it should include the Maritime 34 CANADIAN FEDERATION
Provinces, while, on the other hand, so extensive a
federation as the latter did not seem to him to be
advisable until the country should have shown further
development. Sandfield Macdonald, refusing to follow
Brown, was still holding to the principle of double
majority,27 though as Premier in 1862 he was to find
it impracticable. Dorion and the Liberals of Lower
Canada were advocating a federation of Upper and
Lower Canada, but recognising, in the event of that
proving impracticable, the validity of Upper Canada's
demand for " Rep. by Pop." John A. Macdonald and
Georges E. Cartier, with their Conservative followers
in both sections of the country, seemed to consider
that a federation which should include all the Provinces would be a more feasible scheme.28 But they
were not so enthusiastic over the idea as their fellow-
leader, Alexander Gait. They were quite ready to
leave the constitutional issue alone until circumstances
should force their hands.
P. 24, n. 1. Saunders, Three Premiers of Nova Scotia, pp. 117, 244.
Resolution dated 23rd February, 1854.
P. 25, n. 2. Howe to Francis Hincks, August 1855, Chisholm, op. cit.,
vol. ii. p. 320. For extended extracts from Johnstone's speech, with
the omitted portions summarised, see Saunders, op. cit., pp. 245^.
For Howe's speech see Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii. pp. 268^. Both
speeches are given in full in Bourinot's Builders of Nova Scotia,
pp.   I52j(f.
P. 25, n. 3. Observations upon a Union of the Colonies of B.N.A.
"Security against any abuses of the centralisation system" he would
provide by an extension of municipal corporations.—P. 46.
P. 25, n. 4. A Union of the Colonies of B.N.A. Considered Nationally.
P. 26, n. 5. Saunders, op. cit., p. 343; Campbell, Nova Scotia, p. 434.
Union was also discussed somewhat in the New Brunswick legislature,
where it was supported in 1856 by John Hamilton Gray.—Johnson,
First Things in Canada, p. 57.
P. 26, n. 6. Cf. Mackenzie, Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown,
pp. 263/. On the sectional conflict and the various remedies proposed
see Skelton, Life and Times of Sir Alexander Tilloch Gait, chap. viii. NOTES TO CHAPTER III
P. 26, n. 7. More than one hundred petitions reached the Legislative
Assembly during 1856 urging that representation in parliament be
based upon population.—-Canada, Journals of Legislative Assembly,
vol. xiv., 1856, passim.
P. 27, n. 8. Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 150.
P. 27, n. 9. Cf. ibid., vol. i. pp. 221/.
P. 27, n. 10. Federative Union of the British North American Provinces.
P. 27, n. 11. Canada, Confederation Debates, pp. mff., 215^.
P. 27, n. 12. Republished in book form at Quebec in 1858: Des Provinces de l'Amérique du Nord et d'une Union Fédérale. Taché was
Secretary of Agriculture in the Cartier Government.
P. 28, n. 13. Brown to L. H. Holton, 29th January, 1858, Mackenzie,
op. cit., p. 194. For Dorion's account of the Brown-Dorion Government's relation to a policy of federation see his speech in Canada,
Confed. Debates, p. 247, and for Brown's account see Mackenzie,
op. cit., pp. 274/. The Governor-General's account of the rise and
fall of this rninistry is in Head to Lytton, No. 102, 9th August, 1858,
Canadian Archives, G 463.
P. 28, n. 14. See Skelton, Gait, pp. 236^.
P. 29, n. 15. Head asked him to form a ministry himself, but he
thought Cartier more capable of doing so at the moment.—Head
to Lytton, loc. cit.
P. 29, n. 16. Canada, Confed. Debates, pp. 53^.
P^ 30, n. 17. Skelton, op. cit., p. 252.
P. 31, «. 18. The correspondence connected with the federation aspect
of the delegation's work is in a confidential Colonial Office pamphlet
of November 1858: Question of Federation of the British Provinces
in America. See also Canadian Archives, G 158; G 463; State Book
T, p. 105. Several of the documents in the case are reprinted from
the Journals of the Canadian Legislature in Boyd's Cartier, pp. 176^.
P. 31, «. 19. Minute of Council, 13th February, i860, Canadian Archives,
State Book U, pp. a^off.; Head to Newcastle, No. 12, 13th February,
i860, Canadian Archives, G 463. Cf. also Gait's memorandum of 20th
August, i860, on inter-provincial free trade, concurred in by Council
2nd January, 1861, Canadian Archives, State Book V, pp. 5S5ff.
P. 31, n. 20. Worthy of notice among pamphlets of the time besides
Morris's Nova Britannia are Henry Taylor's On the Intention of the
Imperial Government to Unite thé Provinces of British North America
and James Anderson's The Union of the British North American
Provinces Considered in a Letter Addressed to the Citizens of British
America. The latter appeared in the Montreal Gazette, October 1858,
and was reprinted in the following year.
P. 32, n. 21. Mackenzie, op. cit., pp. 71/.
P. 32, n. 22. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 113.
P. 32, n. 23. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 72.
-P» 33t n. 24. The manifesto, signed by McGee, Dessaulles, Drummond
and Dorion, said: "The proposition to federalise the Canadian union
is not new. On the contrary, it has been frequently mooted in
Parliament and in the press during the last few years. It was, no doubt,
suggested by the example of the neighbouring states, where the
admirable adaptation of the federal system to the government of
an extensive territory, inhabited by people of divers origins, creeds,
D 36
laws and customs, has been amply demonstrated; but shape and
consistency were first imparted to it in 1856, when it was formally
submitted to parliament by the Lower Canada Opposition, as offering,
in their judgment, the true corrective of the abuses generated under
the present system."—Canada, Confed. Debates, pp. 112, 215, 247.
P. 33, n. 25. Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 221. J. S. Macdonald opposed,
because he clung to the double majority plan. Only two of those
who usually followed the Liberal leader ultimately voted against the
resolution.—Mackenzie, loc. cit. More than seventy petitions were
presented at this session for the repeal of the union and the establishment of two or more local governments.—Canada, fournals Legislative
Assembly, vol. xviii., i860, passim.
P. 33, n. 26. Mackenzie, loc. cit. In the election of 1861 "The candidates in Upper Canada generally pledged themselves to advocate
constitutional changes almost as a matter of course. There was no
further need to fight a battle to prove the wisdom and necessity for
such changes."—Ibid., p. 76.
P. 34, n. 27. Isaac Buchanan, member for Hamilton, followed him in
this. In Letters Illustrative of the Present Position of Politics in Canada
. . . 1859, he wrote: "The federation of the two Canadas, with the
island of Montreal the seat of the Federal Government and common
ground, is all the wildest should now contemplate." He advocated
not only the double majority principle, but also freedom of the
Government from parliamentary responsibility regarding legislation
and an American Zolverein.—P. 8.
P. 34, n. 28. Speaking in the Assembly, 19th April, 1861, Macdonald
said: "The only feasible scheme which presents itself to my mind as
a remedy for the evils complained of, is a confederation of all the
provinces." He was opposed, as always, to "Rep. by Pop." as a
violation of the Union compact and as a recognition of the principle
of universal suffrage.—Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 228. A Maritime
Province interpretation of the local situation in Canada was well
stated in P. S. Hamilton's Letter to His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
upon a Union of the Colonies of B.N.A. (i860). He wrote: "The
seemingly insurmountable difficulties in the way of longer continuance
in operation of its present Constitution are not owing to the fact that
Upper and Lower Canada are united, but result from certain artificial
conditions annexed to the Union Act. It seems difficult to conceive
how these difficulties can now be got rid of without doing manifest
injustice to either one or the other of the two great divisions of
Canada, unless by combining them with the other North American
Colonies under a single Colonial Government."—P. 17. CHAPTER IV
When the youthful Prince of Wales, later Edward
VIL, made his celebrated visit to North America
in i860, the friends of colonial union seized the
occasion to attract British attention to their proposals. On the day the prince landed at Halifax
an elaborate editorial favouring federal union appeared in the Halifax Reporter. The pronouncement
is said to have "elicited from His Royal Highness
an expression of approval."1 But of course more
important than the opinion of the boy prince was
the attitude of his chief counsellor on the trip, the
Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the Colonies.
It was not long since the duke had shown indifference
to Gait's overtures on the subject. Now that he was
in the country, could his interest be aroused ? In an
effort to do so, P. S. Hamilton, of Halifax, addressed
to him an open letter on colonial union.2 He set
forth the condition of affairs that made some action
necessary if the provinces were to develop as rapidly
as they should and to do so within the empire. He
did not dwell upon the question as to what kind of
union would best suit the* circumstances, but observed "that a Federative Constitution similar to
that lately accorded by Imperial Act to New Zealand 8
. . . would seem to combine the greatest degree of
security to local interests with the greatest unanimity
upon all matters of importance affecting the whole
United Colony. It would also probably satisfy the
wishes and aspirations of the greatest number." He
concluded by suggesting that his grace improve the
opportunities afforded by his travels in the colonies
to enquire into the state of feeling among their
inhabitants in regard to this subject. Whether or
not it was as a result of this particular advice, the
duke did, at any rate, as will be seen later, use his
eyes and ears to good effect during the following weeks.
In November of the same year Dr. Charles Tupper,
the young lion of the Nova Scotia Conservatives,
lectured at the opening of the Mechanics' Institute
in St. John, New Brunswick, on "The Political Condition of British North America." The address soon
gained wide publicity, as it was reported quite fully
in the press and repeated at Amherst, Truro, Halifax,
and Horton.4 The speaker dwelt upon the "impotent
position" which the Province occupied in relation to
the parent State. The cause of British disregard of
colonial interests he ascribed to the fact that British
North America had no voice or influence in the
Parliament of the United Kingdom. "Our position,"
he said, "is ever one of uncertainty. We have no
constitution but the dicta of the ever-changing occupants of Downing Street." Repudiating the idea of
annexation or independence, he advocated "building
up on this side of the Atlantic a powerful confederation which shall be in reality an integral portion of
her Empire." This he thought preferable to representation in the Imperial Parliament, which, though
it would have some advantages, would not be acceptable in the colonies because of the burden of taxation
by which it must needs be accompanied. "It would
be premature to decide definitely on any particular
plan" of union; the first thing to do was to get the
desirability of union in any form generally recog- IMPENDING CRISIS
nised; it would then be possible to arrange the
matter in a way satisfactory to all sections. The
closing portion of the lecture was devoted to an
enthusiastic portrayal of the chief results likely to
flow from a union of the Provinces. It would give
British North Americans a nationality and do away
with petty jealousies, and by furnishing broader
public questions and providing greater distinctions
for public men would elevate the tone of public life.
It would be valuable in a military sense; and as a
question of political economy it was "not unworthy
of consideration," for it would mean interprovincial
free trade, and economy in administration, and would
render concerted action possible in the "vitally
important question of intercommunication." 5
At Portland, across the St. John River, he delivered another lecture, on " Maritime Union," which
had been advocated almost half a century before by
the Duke of Kent. Tupper's practical mind saw the
possibility of an early fulfilment of this dream. The
St. John Morning Chronicle of 22nd November, i860,
referring to the lecture, said that while the union of
all the British North American Provinces was not
likely for many years, union of the Maritime Provinces was practicable now and not antagonistic to
the larger question.6
The first step taken by any legislature in the final
unbroken series of official events that led up to
federation was taken in the* adoption of a resolution
by the Nova Scotia Assembly in 1861. To Joseph
Howe, then leader of the Government, must be
granted, in spite of his later open antagonism to
federation, the credit of moving the resolution. As
the attitude of the Opposition leader was already
unmistakably in favour of  such  a movement, the 4o CANADIAN  FEDERATION
motion was passed unanimously. Referring to the
discussion in all the colonies of the question of a
union, either of all the Provinces or only of the Maritime ones, and to the obstacles which could "only be
overcome by mutual consultation of the leading men
of the Colonies and by free communication with the
Imperial Government," the resolution went on to
provide "that His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor be respectfully requested to put himself in communication with his Grace the Colonial Secretary and
his Excellency the Governor General, and the Lieutenant Governors of the other North American provinces, in order to ascertain the policy of Her Majesty's
Government, and the opinions of the other colonies,
with a view to an enlightened consideration of a
question involving the highest interests, and upon
which the public mind in all the provinces ought to
be set at rest." 7
The Lieutenant-Governor, the Earl of Mulgrave,
in transmitting the resolution to the Colonial Office
some months later, stated that though there was considerable diversity of opinion in regard to the form
which a union should take, yet the feeling in favour
of a union of some sort was decidedly on the increase
in the Province. "Under these circumstances," he
said, " my Government are of opinion that a meeting
of the leading men of the different provinces should
take place, in the hope that, after full deliberation
and discussion, some practical scheme may be devised
to which the public attention may be directed in the
future consideration of the subject." 8
The Duke of Newcastle, after his trip of inspection
and consultation, was now much more responsive to
the idea than he had been when Gait brought it to
his notice some months before, and his reply to Lord IMPENDING CRISIS
Mulgrave became an important document, constituting as it did the authority upon which the colonies
later acted in drawing up the Quebec Resolutions.9
In this despatch the Colonial Secretary, after voicing
appreciation of the importance of the two measures
alluded to in the resolution—Maritime union and union
of all the Provinces—went on to say: "They are,
however, of a nature which renders it especially fit
that if either of them be proposed for adoption it
should emanate in the first instance from the Provinces,
and should be concurred in by all of them which it
would affect . . . the most satisfactory mode of testing the opinion of the people of British North America
would probably be by means of Resolution or Address,
proposed in the Legislature of each Province by its
own Government ... if a Union, either partial or
complete, should hereafter be proposed with the concurrence of all the Provinces to be united, I am sure
that the matter would be weighed in this country
both by the public, by Parliament, and by Her
Majesty's Government, with no other feelings than
an anxiety to discern, and to promote any course
which might be the most conducive to the prosperity,
the strength and the harmony of all the British
Communities in North America."10
Upon receipt of this despatch Mr. Howe communicated with the provincial secretaries of Canada, New
Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. "It was,"
he wrote, "thought desirable by the Legislature of
Nova Scotia that the question should be set at rest
by such a formal discussion as would promote such
a union, if there be any general desire to effect it,
and save much time, if there was not." He therefore asked whether the governments were prepared
to discuss the question of union, and for that purpose I
to appoint delegates to meet about the middle of
September.11 In accordance with this suggestion
delegates considered the matter at Quebec, but after
deliberating for some time they came to the conclusion that further discussion of the subject at that
juncture was inexpedient.12
The gradually widening discussion of the question
of consolidating the British Provinces in North
America under a central government was not merely
the result of politics in the narrow sense; it was
rather a symptom of important developments in the
determining conditions of British North American
life. Discussion had in itself much to do with popularising the general idea, but what was impracticable
in 1839 or x^49 or ^5 8 could not have become an
accomplished fact in 1867 had there not in the meantime been important changes in these determining
conditions of British American relationships. While
it may be well in passing to remember that the mid-
nineteenth century was a time when the making of
new nations and constitutions was the fashion in
many countries, it must be noted that the movement
towards nationality in British North America, though
parallel to those wider world changes and perhaps
to some extent influenced by them, is to be accounted
for largely by factors peculiar to this group of colonies,
such as the circumstances of their economical and
political growth, the nature of their bonds with the
motherland, and their relations with their great
English-speaking neighbour, the United States.
The change in the colonial status of the Provinces
involved in their acquisition of responsible government
and fiscal autonomy had cumulative results important
in their effect upon the growth of colonial self-consciousness and pride.   The colonies, moreover, thrust IMPENDING CRISIS
now by the mother-country into a position of greater
independence, became increasingly aware of their
own insignificance as separate communities. This
feeling of insignificance was driven home by the way
in which their wishes were set aside in treaty-making
with the United States ; they were convinced that
more than once their interests had been sacrificed.18
So distinguished a colonial as Joseph Howe, visiting
the Old Country, was painfully conscious of the condescending attitude held towards him and towards
his home by people there. The feeling of the inhabitants of the Provinces that they had outgrown
the status of "colonist" was fostered by their growth
in population and in prosperity. They coveted a
recognised position in the world more consistent with
their own opinion of their capabilities and importance.
Public men, especially in the Maritime Provinces,
felt keenly the contrast between their narrow opportunities for distinction and the avenues to greatness
open to men no whit their superior in the neighbouring States.14 In this respect the achievement of
responsible government had been insufficient. "There
is still," wrote Colonel Sleigh in '53, "no genuine scope
for intellect and talent, and a great people are still
squabbling for the 'petty prizes of the paltry raffle
of Colonial faction.' " He was not far wrong in conceiving that "an independent Viceroyalty" was
needed to remove those evils.15
Parallel with the growing dissatisfaction of the
colonies over their existing status came increased
mutual acquaintance, understanding, and trust among
the people of the several Provinces as facilities for
intercourse between widely separated regions became
better and as the problem of still further improving
means of communication and travel brought out- 1!
standing men together for consultation and co-operation. In fact it was an interprovincial postal conference, held at Montreal in 1847, which first officially
brought together the leaders of the provincial governments.16 As late as 1850 British America had less
than a hundred miles of railway, but the following
decade was a time of rapid railway expansion accompanied by growing recognition of its necessity.17
There arose, especially, a louder and louder cry for
a railway to connect Canada with the Lower Provinces. Lord Durham had suggested that project,18
and several times it seemed near consummation. But
it was felt that such a railway would not pay commercially. The colonial governments were early led
to consultation on the problem, but they hesitated
to enter unassisted on the financing of such an undertaking. Efforts to obtain British help in the form of
a guarantee also failed. The necessity of finding
means to build such a road was an important factor
in the federation movement, so important that the
subject is reserved for separate treatment in the
second part of this book. In that section also is
treated the whole question of preserving the North-
West to British rule, and opening it to settlement
and general trade, another problem that is vitally
bound up with the movement for federation.
The example of the United States, and the progress
of events there, constituted an important influence
promoting a federal union of the neighbouring British
colonies. The very existence of the United States
furnished an ever-present example of a workable
federation.19 True, even early in 1864 it still looked
as if the Civil War might end in disunion; and here
and there a British-American voice was heard arguing
that this failure of the American union proved the IMPENDING CRISIS
futility of any federation. But for the most part it
was held that the trouble had arisen from the existence of too great powers in the state governments,*
rather than from the fact of union. This deduction,"
as will be seen later, strengthened the hands of the
men who wished a strong central government for
British America, and the Civil War in the United
States was thus, even in the realm of political theory,
not a hindrance to British-American union. On the
other hand, in the practical realm, it will be seen
that the complications arising from the war stimulated
the movement powerfully.
Irritation over the recent settlements of the Maine
and Oregon boundary disputes was still easily aroused.
Under the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, trade with
the States was thriving, but, perhaps partly for that
very reason, the annexation sentiment north of the
frontier was virtually dead. Men remembered now
that twice since the century began that frontier had
been endangered; they remembered the American
election cry, " 54°-4o'. or fight," and the talk of public
men of all parties about "manifest destiny," and
ascribed to the average American the sentiment of
the oft-quoted couplet:
No pent-up Utica contracts our powers;
The whole unbounded continent is ours !80
They reminded each other that the United States had
extended itself geographically at every opportunity,
and had only refrained from lusting after the British
possessions in recent years because of the jealousy of
the slave-states lest free territory be added to the
Union.21 The war had not only removed that check
upon American aggressiveness; it had also changed
the United States into a great military and naval CANADIAN FEDERATION
power. So, in spite of widespread sympathy with
emancipation, evidenced in the enlistment of many
British Americans in the Union armies, there was
much fear lest this newly developed military and
naval power of America become a menace to the
British provinces and territories and absorb them
one by one, if they remained separate and weak.22
This feeling was strengthened by the unfortunate
developments in the official relations of the two
countries. The Trent affair in the fall of 1861 led to
preparations for war. While Britain forthwith sent
regular troops to America, at the same time she made
it known that she expected the colonies to take a
real part in their own defence.23 The Militia Act
introduced in the Canadian Legislature failed to pass,
however, because of party strife. The colonies were
now more than ever impressed with their own weakness so long as they lacked either political machinery
for common legislative action or adequate facilities
for transportation from one section to the other. The
difficulties of troop transport in winter from the ice-
free ports of the Maritime Provinces to the St. Lawrence presented to the people an object lesson of their
need of an intercolonial railway. The Province of
Canada would need it all the more should the United
States deprive her, as she feared, of the privilege of
shipping goods to and from the American seaboard
in bond.
Uncertainty as to the future of reciprocity was
another outcome of the unfortunate condition of
relations with the United States. Under the terms
of the treaty of 1854 either party might after ten
years abrogate the agreement on a year's notice.
Would the American Government in its existing
feeling  of rancour  at  the  official  British  attitude IMPENDING CRISIS
towards the Civil War, terminate reciprocity in order
to get even, and perhaps, by economic pressure, to
make the colonial status intolerable? Annexation
had been considerably in favour in Canada in 1849,
but that time was past. Now, should the American
market afforded by the preference be lost, the alternative of a union of British North America, which
would bring with it as a matter of course inter-
provincial free trade, was looked upon generally with
much more favour than annexation as a possible
antidote to commercial disaster.24
Thus numerous elements in both the internal and
external affairs of the colonies were creating a favourable field for the growth of the federation idea. And
its popularisation, meanwhile, went on apace. A
most persistent advocate of the project was D'Arcy
McGee, that picturesque Irishman who had been converted from a plotter against British rule in Ireland
to an enthusiastic campaigner for British rule in the
American colonies as opposed to annexation to the
United States, and who in a few years was to fall a
victim, for his loyalty, to the bullet of a Fenian
assassin. In the press and on the platform, in the
Maritime Provinces as well as in Canada, he campaigned ardently.* In "A Plea for British-American
Nationality" and "A Further Plea for British-
American Nationality," two articles that appeared
in the British American Magazine in 1863, he rebuked
the laissez-faire attitude in politics, rejoiced that the
future of British America was beginning to excite
serious discussion, and argued warmly for a voluntary
federal union, under the Crown, as "the only means
to perpetuate a future connection between Great
Britain and the trans-oceanic Provinces of the Empire," a connection which he believed to be in the 48
interest of the Provinces, and to be for civilisation
itself "beyond all price desirable." 25
As 1864 opened, many influences were operating
to lead the colonies towards united action. But any
such action had to come after all by the instrumentality of politics. Fortunately, in the Maritime
Provinces political leadership was ready once more
to blaze the trail, and in Canada the apparent hopelessness of the political situation under the existing
régime was calculated to make the leaders there
ready to work together in opening the road to great
changes. Everywhere the situation was now for the
first time such as to allow the federation issue to be
met largely in a non-partisan spirit.
P. 37, n. 1. Johnson, First Things in Canada, p. 58.
P. 37, n. 2. 28th July, i860, Letter to His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
upon a Union of the Colonies of B.N.A.
■P* 37» «. 3. ". . . dividing the whole United Colonies into a number
of provinces, each with an elective Superintendent and Council to
administer, and legislate upon, certain defined and exclusively local
affairs,—the whole being subordinated to a Viceroy, appointed by the
Crown, or hereditary, in a branch of the Royal Family, and a metropolitan Parliament of two Houses, to deal with all matters of general
interest, and to possess the power of exercising a general supervision
over the local legislation of the Provinces so as to harmonise their
action."—Pp. 17/.
P. 38, tt. 4. Saunders, Three Premiers, p. 343.
P- 39. **• 5. Tupper, Recollections, pp. 14^.
P. 39» n. 6. Saunders, op. cit., p. 345.
P. 40, n. 7. 15th April, 1861.   Nova Scotia, Journals of Legis. Assembly,
1861, p. 125. Printed also, but somewhat inaccurately, in Chisholm's
Howe, vol. ii. pp. 368/. On 19th April John A. Macdonald spoke
in the Canadian Assembly in support of federation.—Pope, Memoirs
of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 228.
P. 40, tt. 8. Mulgraye to Newcastle, No. 47—Miscellaneous, 21st May,
1862, Nova Scotia, Journals of Legis. Assembly, 1863, Appendix
No. 17. The Provincial Government had considered it inexpedient
to act on the resolution in the previous year. NOTES  TO CHAPTER IV
P. 41, n. 9. Pope, Confederation Documents, p. 59; Canada, Confed.
Debates, p. 136.
P. 41, n. 10. Newcastle to Mulgrave, N.Sc. No.' 182, 6th July, 1862,
Nova Scotia, Journal of Assembly, 1863, Appendix No. 17; also in
Pope, op. cit., pp. 303/.
P. 42, tt. 11. Howe to Dorion, Tilley, Pope, respectively, 14th August,
1862, Nova Scotia, Journal of Assembly, 1863, loc. cit.
P. 42, tt. 12. Saunders, op. cit., p. 347. Cf. Howe to Newcastle, 13th
September, 1862, Canadian Archives, Howe Papers, vol. viii. pp.
3iàff., in which Howe says that the question of union "has been
postponed to a more convenient season, after public opinion has
been prepared by the intercourse over the Road [the Intercolonial
Railway, which was also discussed by the delegates]."
P. 43, «. 13. £.g. Maritime Provinces and Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.—
Hamilton, Letter to Newcastle, p. 11.  Cf. Tupper, op. cit., p. 17.
P. 43, tt. 14. Cf. ibid., p. 23.
P. 43, n. 15. Sleigh, op. cit., pp. 343/.
P. 44, tt. 16. Smith, History of the Post Office in B.N.A., p. 268.
P. 44, tt. 17. In 1850 British America had sixty-six miles of railway, in
1867 she had 2087 miles.
P. 44, tt. 18. In his speech in the N.S. Assembly in 1854, Johnstone said:
"The impediments resulting from distance, and from the unhappy
circumstances of both the Canadas, at the time, were those chiefly
felt by Lord Durham in 1838, when the subject was discussed at
Quebec by that distinguished and acute statesman and his able
advisers . . . and the delegates attending from the Provinces [of
whom Johnstone was one]."—Saunders, op. cit., p. 246.
P. 44, tt. 19. The prosperity of the U.S. was often pointed to as a result
of their union. It was sometimes forgotten that the British colonies
had a later start. Hamilton, on the other hand, in his Observations
(Halifax, 1855), gave figures to show the greater relative growth of
B.N.A. than otthe original U.S. He wished to demonstrate the fitness
of the colonies for union.
P. 45, n. 20. Cf. Morris, Nova Britannia, p. 36, quoting Howe.
P. 45, «. 21. Hamilton, Union of the Colonies of B.N.A., p. 6. This is
a reprint of the three papers referred to elsewhere, preceded by an
introduction dated October 1864, and was published while the Quebec
Conference was meeting.
P. 46, tt. 22. McGee, in Canada, Confed. Debates, pp. 129/jf., 143; Dilke,
Greater Britain, p. 61; Saunders, op. cit., p. 251; Hamilton, Letter
to Newcastle, p. 12. Annexation may have been a phantom, as it was
characterised by L. O. David in L* Union des deux Canadas, 1841-
1867, p. 220, but when what peçple think and the truth fail to
harmonise it is the former rather than the latter that influences the
course of events.
P. 46, n. 23. On the British policy of throwing the burden of defence
more and more upon the colonies, see Elgin's Letters and Journals,
pp. I28#.
P. 47, tt. 24. It was believed that the total imports of N.S., N.B., P.E.I.,
and Newfoundland from the U.S., "of articles which Canada might
supply, were, speaking in round numbers, equal to the aggregate
exports from Canada to the States."—S. R. Day, English America, ï
vol. i. p. 320. The provincial governments considered in 1862 the
possibilities of interprovincial free trade in manufactures, but postponed the question because, though there were obvious advantages,
the Maritime Provinces, dependent upon tariffs for practically all
their revenue, felt that they could ill afford to make the change.—
Howe to Newcastle, 13th September, 1862, Canadian Archives, Howe
Papers, vol. viii. pp. 316^". See also Tilley to Howe, 1st February,
1862, ibid., vol. iii. p. 349; and Canadian Archives, State Book X,
pp. 516/.
P. 48, n. 25. In British American Magazine, August and October 1863,
vol. i. pp. 337#., 55i# In the same year he lectured on the subject in
the Maritime Provinces.  See his Speeches and Addresses, passim. CHAPTER V
The long and embittered sectional strife in the
Province of Canada culminated early in 1864 in a
deadlock which had a happy result. It convinced
most of the leaders of both Government and Opposition that some radical step was necessary if a way
out was to be found for their country from the cul de
sac of petty politics in which she was groping.
Many were the points of recurring irritation between the two sections of the Province, for the most
part arising out of matters affecting merely one or
the other, but dealt with by their common legislature.
As George Brown once phrased it, the sources of
discord were found in the divergent views regarding
"the applying of public money to local purposes—
the allotment of public lands to local purposes—the
building of local roads, bridges, and landing-piers with
public funds—the chartering of public institutions
-—the granting of public money for sectarian purposes—the interference with our school system—and
similar matters." *
Friction over such details of administration was
Vastly increased by the Upper Canadian jealousy of
Lower Canada's retention of equal strength in the
Provincial Legislature, in spite of the fact that Upper
Canada's contribution to revenues was alleged to be
much larger than Lower Canada's and that the population of the former section was becoming increasingly
the greater. George Brown's virulent campaign in
the columns of the Globe for "representation by
population" reached the height of its strength in the
early 'sixties, when this reform, demanded as it was
by Upper Canada and strongly opposed by Lower
Canada, became "the leading question of Provincial
political parties." 2 It was now a sectional dispute
rather than a mere party issue. Even in the Conservative Cartier-Macdonald Government, which held
the reins after Brown's three uneasy days in the
saddle in 1858, so strong was the Upper Canadian
element in favour of "Rep. by Pop." that the question had to be left an open one. On 20th May, 1862,
a Militia Bill introduced by this Government was
defeated on its second reading in a full House by a
majority of seven. The vote was intended to express
want of confidence, and was so interpreted by the
Government. John Sandfield Macdonald was entrusted with the formation of a new Cabinet, and
he took Louis Victor Sicotte as his French-Canadian
colleague in the leadership. Formed on the basis of
retrenchment in expenditure, reform in departmental
administration, and the encouragement of volunteering as a means of defence, this Government chose to
conciliate Lower rather than Upper Canada on the
question of representation, for J. S. Macdonald,
though a Liberal, was as strongly an opponent of
representation by population as John A. Macdonald
or G. E. Cartier. Thus, although containing some
advocates of representation by population, this Government decided to oppose that reform, hoping to
avoid sectional strife by an understanding that it
would be governed by the principle of the "double
majority," a principle, however, which it soon deserted at the beck of expediency.8
After a precarious life of less than a year, the CANADA IN A CUL DE SAC       53
Macdonald-Sicotte Ministry went down on 8th May,
1863, before a vote of want of confidence, sixty-three
to fifty-nine, taken on the motion of John A. Macdonald. A few days later the Legislature was prorogued and the Lower Canadian members of the
Ministry and one member from Upper Canada
resigned. With his platform altered to the extent
of abandoning the "double majority" principle and
of ceasing to consider the representation question as
a closed one, Sandfield Macdonald appealed to the
people, and in the election in June just held his own.
George Brown had at first bitterly opposed Sandfield Macdonald's Government. Now, however, that
Macdonald had consented to make "Rep. by Pop."
an open question, Brown gave him his cordial support,4 and it was in the campaign for this election
that the " Rep. by Pop." cry attained its height. On
the 26th of the month George Brown wrote from
Toronto to Luther H. Holton of Montreal, who soon
became Minister of Finance in Sandfield Macdonald's
reconstructed Government: "The elections are over.
We have been as successful as we could hope to be,
and now begins the real trouble . . . our very success in Upper Canada, and the complete rout of the
old corruptionists, have rendered our future more
difficult than before. We cannot hold up the return
of . . . [John A. Macdonald] and Cartier as a scarecrow for those who insist on our carrying out our
principles. We have men returned on our side firmly
pledged to carry out our views, and what is more,
all but two oppositionists returned are as earnest as
we are in claiming the same reform. The vote for
representation by population will be almost unanimous on the part of Upper Canada members, and the
conservatives will now  be  most  violent  in  their 54 CANADIAN FEDERATION
clamours for it, when they see that the country has
completely adopted it." 5
Brown may have been rather too sanguine regarding the violence of Conservative clamours for "Rep.
by Pop.," but he was assuredly right in his view that
the constitutional crisis for which he had long worked
was rapidly approaching. A brief autumn session of
Parliament revealed the fact that Sandfield Macdonald's reconstructed Ministry, with A. A. Dorion
as the leader of his new Lower Canadian colleagues,
was very little stronger than its predecessor.6 Hostile
motions against the Government were defeated by
majorities varying from one to three. An increased
support from Upper Canada was offset by the fact
that only a minority of Lower Canada's representatives supported the Government,7 the larger part of
the members from that section following the banner
of Cartier. Prospects for the achievement of a stable
administration became even less bright during the
following parliamentary recess. In December there
occurred a ministerial by-election in Upper Canada
which was watched with great interest, for it was
generally felt that its outcome would spell the fate
of the Government. The new Cabinet member was
rejected at the polls by his former constituents in
favour of a follower of John A. Macdonald.8
A few days later, 19th February, 1864, Parliament
met. The address was carried without any amendment being moved, and several Government measures
introduced without any hostile division having been
taken. While it might be easy to overthrow the
existing Ministry, the political history of recent
months had left no one confident that another could
secure a position any more stable. On 1st March
George Brown wrote home : " It is not at all unlikely CANADA IN A CUL DE SAC       55
that a crisis may be brought on this week—and it
may come any day, and we may all get home
much sooner than any of us anticipate. There is
very little party spirit throughout the House—most
of the members on both sides want to get on
with the business, and how a crisis may end no
one can predict." 9
A crisis was due, but no Opposition leader felt
strong enough to precipitate it. Nevertheless, it took
only a few weeks to convince the Premier that there
was nothing for it but to resign. He saw that with
his precarious majority of one or two votes he would
be unable to carry through measures, particularly
concerning finance, which he felt that his Government must introduce. There seemed nothing more
that could be done to strengthen his administration.
But he was hopeful that if he got out of the way a
coalition might be formed strong enough to carry
on government successfully. Accordingly he interviewed Lord Monck on the morning of Monday,
21st March. In that interview, as the Governor-
General reported it to Newcastle,10 Macdonald said
"that it appeared to him the time was come when
a junction of men of opposite parties might with
advantage be formed, and that as he might perhaps
be a personal obstacle to such an arrangement he
begged leave to place his resignation and that of his
colleagues" in the Governor-General's hands.
"He concluded," Monck*continues, "by advising
me to put myself in the hands of Mr. Fergusson Blair
(who held the office of Provincial Secretary in his
Ministry) as a gentleman likely to conciliate support
from both sides of the House.
"As it seemed to me, from my own observation, that there is really no question, involving any 56 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
principle which ought to prevent public men from cooperating in Government, in dispute between political
parties in Canada, and as I was aware that Mr. Blair
is personally popular with men of all parties I adopted
Mr. S. Macdonald's advice and entrusted to Mr.
Blair the duty of forming a new Administration on
a broader basis."
Blair found the task too much for him. After
communicating with Sir Etienne Taché, a former Conservative Premier, and others who had opposed the
Macdonald-Dorion Government, Blair came to Monck
late on the evening of 22nd March and reported the
failure of his attempt to reconstruct the Government
by bringing opposing parties together. Monck asked
him to withhold announcement of the fact till next
morning in order that he himself might try to reconcile the parties. Early in the morning Monck saw
Taché, "who," he reported, "possessed great unwillingness to reenter official life," also Blair and
Macdonald, and was soon convinced as a result
of these interviews that a coalition was out of
the question.
Then the Governor sent for Cartier as the recognised leader of the party hitherto in opposition. The
latter delayed giving a definite answer until he could
see his friends. The same afternoon, about an hour
later, he called and announced his acceptance. Later
in the day he called again, with Sir E. Taché, asked
that the veteran leader be First Minister, and agreed
to be a member himself of such an administration.
Taché spent some days negotiating with various
gentlemen. "I saw him from day to day," Monck
reported, "and he informed me that he had endeavoured to bring about a coalition with some of
the members or supporters of Mr. S. Macdonald's CANADA IN A CUL DE  SAC
Government but with a similar want of success to
that which had attended Mr. Blair's efforts in the
same direction." After more than a week, however,
the new Premier at length succeeded in forming a
Conservative Cabinet on 30th March. The Upper
Canadian portion of it was chosen by his principal
colleague, John A. Macdonald, who after much persuading had been induced to share in the thankless
task because his leadership for Upper Canada seemed
the best insurance for the new Ministry's life.11 It
lived, but only until 14th June, when it was defeated
by a majority of two votes, the fourth Ministry to
fall in three years, years in which even the turmoil
of two general elections had failed to avert deadlock.
Short as was this Government's life, it is important
in the progress of the present story.
Political deadlock inevitably entails serious difficulties and dangers for a country's administration,
but it was especially serious for Canada in 1864
because of the peculiarly critical period through which
the Province was passing. The country faced problems
which could not be evaded and which could only be
handled adequately by a strong Government. That
the chief of these problems were generally recognised
is evidenced by the contents of a paper read in the
Assembly on the evening of 30th March, 1864, embodying the policy proposed by this Taché-Macdonald
Government formed on that day.12 As a result of the
American Civil War, which had been waging now for
three years, and of the international politics connected
with it, there had arisen a feeling of hostility on the
part of the United States towards the people of
Canada that determined several points in the new
Government's policy. Defence was mentioned first;
in this, efficiency would be aimed at, but since the CANADIAN FEDERATION
electorate had shown itself hostile to any large
increase of outlay from the provincial treasury for
this purpose, the aim would be pursued without
increasing the existing expense. The Government
stood also for the maintenance and extension of the
Reciprocity Treaty and bonding system with the
United States. Probably because of a growing feeling that it was risky longer to depend upon this
American-trade basket for carrying to market so
large a proportion of Canada's eggs of commerce, it
was announced as well: "A conference will be sought
with the sister Provinces with the view of effecting
a more intimate commercial union with them." To
the pressing problems of developing means of communication and expansion a paragraph was devoted.
"Measures for the development of the North Western
Territory and the improvement of our communications with the Seaboard will," it was promised, "be
submitted for the early consideration of Parliament;
and such readjustment of the Canal Tolls will be
made, as may be necessary to prevent the diversion
of the Western Trade from our own waters." As for
the issue which more than any other had brought on
the crisis between the parties, the pronouncement
was: "The question of the Representation of the
People in Parliament will remain an open question."
Promising to promote the settlement of available
public lands in Canada and to treat the development
of agriculture as of paramount importance, the Government concluded by avowing that their general
policy would be governed by the "great constitutional
principles of Britain."
Parliament, having adjourned after the formation
of the Taché-Macdonald Ministry, in order to give
time   for   the   ministerial   by-elections,   met   again CANADA IN A CUL DE SAC
3rd May. Then for a fortnight general business
filled the calendar, while constitutional issues remained in the background. On 18th May, however,
a motion of George Brown's came up for discussion.
The earlier history of this motion is interesting for
its connection with the federation idea. Brown first
introduced it on 12th October, a few days before the
close of the brief autumn session of the previous year,
but withdrew it, explaining to the House that he
then merely wished to keep the matter before them,
but would introduce it again next session, as he
thought that in his motion lay the solution of the
constitutional difficulties that divided the two sections of the Province. The phraseology of the resolution cleverly linked it with the mission to England
of the Conservative Ministers, Cartier, Gait, and Ross,
in 1858-9, when they had urged the Home Government to issue instructions for the appointment of
delegates from each Province to discuss the subject
of a federation of British North America. It moved
for the appointment of a select committee "to enquire
and report on the important subjects embraced in
the despatch" addressed 2nd February, 1859, ky
these Ministers, then in London, to the Colonial
Minister, in which they explained that the increasingly critical state of sectional politics in Canada
had impressed the Government of that province with
" * the importance of seeking for such a mode of dealing
with the difficulties as may forever remove them.' "18
On 14th March, 1864, Brown kept his promise and
again moved his resolution. In doing so he pointed
out that political feelings had so far subsided that
every member of the House could now see the absolute necessity of remedying all causes of variance
between the two sections of the Province, and that 6o CANADIAN FEDERATION
the time was come when they could approach a
question like this more harmoniously than in former
times. He explained that he had sought to introduce
the subject in the least objectionable form, and so
instead of bringing forward a proposition of his own
had appeared as a defender of a policy enunciated
by his honourable friends on the opposite side of the
House. "I have determined," he said, "that I will
take ground that cannot be assailed; that is perfectly indisputable, and that both sides of the House
have agreed to. I ask my honourable friends opposite
to take that course now which they considered it
desirable to take five years ago." He warned his
hearers that with Cartier 's majority from Lower
Canada and Sandfield Macdonald's from Upper
Canada a general election would surely come if this
thing were not done. He stood as an independent
member, ready to vote for or against any Government if he considered that thereby the interests of
the country would be advanced. For eleven years
crisis had been chronic. No one would consider it
desirable to continue that state of things. The
question was, what remedy ought to be applied.
Some were for a federation of all the Provinces,
some for one of the Canadas alone, some would
merely dissolve the existing union, some favoured
a legislative union of all the Provinces. It would be
for the committee to discover a basis upon which the
Legislature could agree.14
The conciliatory attitude of many of the members
of the Assembly was evinced by the treatment
accorded an amendment the purpose of which was
to secure the permanent inviolability of the principle of equality of representation of the two sections
of the  Province.     The amendment was  not  even CANADA IN A CUL DE SAC      61
debated, and was defeated by a majority of fifty-
seven.15 Nevertheless in the discussion of Brown's
motion it was apparent that politics had not yet
entirely forsaken the field. Considerable desire was
shown to avoid the loss of political vantage-ground
which might result from too outspoken support of
constitutional change. Charges of inconsistency, the
ever-ready recourse of the parliamentary debater,
furnished some party ammunition. Cartier and Gait
refused to be beguiled by the phrasing of the motion,
the former opposing it on the plea that it would
smother the question, the latter contending that the
Government should avow its policy in regard to the
matter and not allow the consideration of so important a subject to be delegated to a committee. In
spite of this challenge, however, Sandfield Macdonald
as Premier declined to express any Government policy
on the subject. John A. Macdonald thought that if
there were any union it should be a real one, with
one legislature and government for the united Provinces, and he attacked Brown's apparent inconsistency in regard to the principle of representation by
population, pointing out that the despatch of the
three Ministers had recognised "Rep. by Pop." as
impossible and had suggested a federation instead.
After this preliminary debate, consideration of the
resolution was dropped for the time and was not
resumed until the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion Government had given way to* that of Taché and John
A. Macdonald. Then, as has already been said, on
18th May the motion was again brought forward.
Old party lines appeared to have comparatively
little weight. The alignment of members on this
issue was even more sectional than the old division
between parties.  A large proportion of the represen- 62
tatives from Upper Canada favoured it strongly.
With these stood the bulk of the members from the
Eastern Townships, the chief English-speaking part
of Lower Canada. During the long agitation for
representation by population, the latter, with the
interests of a minority to safeguard, had done their
best to maintain a policy of conciliation and toleration; now, in the possibility of a federal union, they
seemed to see hope of escaping the political cul de sac
in which the country seemed losing itself. Most of
the remaining Lower Canadian members opposed the
motion because they feared that their part of the
Province might lose its dominating position in Canadian politics. But the French-Canadian attitude was
really not tested at this time, for Cartier, though
already for several years a convert to the federation
idea, voted against Brown's motion as "time would
solve the difficulty." The motion was carried by
fifty-nine to forty-eight.16
Brown's feelings over the course of the debate and
the result of the vote are shown in two letters which
he wrote home from Quebec.  In the first he said :
"I brought on my motion for constitutional
changes this afternoon, and we had a capital debate
upon it—the best debate on the question we ever
had in parliament—calm, temperate, and to the
point. I really believe there is a chance of my motion
being carried. ... I feel a very great desire to carry
the motion. It would be the first vote ever carried
in parliament in favour of constitutional change, and
even that would be some satisfaction after my long
fight for it."17
When he wrote again on 20th May his hopes had
been partially fulfilled:
"It was indeed a great success, and took Cartier, CANADA IN A CUL DE  SAC
Macdonald, &c, by intense surprise. ïlhey had no
conception that there was a probability of my motion
being carried. It has excited great discussion this
morning, and my committee had its first meeting at
noon to-day. Sixteen members of the committee
were present, and we had a very useful and harmonious discussion. Much that is directly practical
may not flow from the committee; but it is an
enormous gain to have the acknowledgement on our
journals that a great evil exists, and that some
remedy must be found."18
Having obtained his committee, comprising the
leading members of both parties,19 Brown was determined that its discussion should not end without its
having squarely faced the problem of sectional discord in the Province of Canada. Years later he told
to a friend an incident of the meeting which illustrates his unyielding attitude on this point. After
considerable bantering talk it had been finally decided
that the committee's deliberations should be private,
in order that in the discussion members might be
untrammelled by party affiliation or by former utterances and might thus more readily maintain a spirit
of compromise. Thereupon, Brown locked the door,
put the key in his pocket, and accosted his surprised
committee-men with the words: "Now, you must
talk about this matter, as you cannot leave this room
without coming to me."20
Spurred on by such a spirit in its" chairman, the
committee wound up its business on 13th June and
embodied its decision on the matter at issue in a
report, which was submitted by Brown on the next
day, and which ran as follows:
"That the committee have held eight sittings and
have endeavoured to find some solution for existing 64 CANADIAN FEDERATION
difficulties likely to receive the assent of both sections
of the province. A strong feeling was found to exist
among the members of the committee in favour of
changes in the direction of a federative system,
applied either to Canada alone, or to the whole
British North American provinces, and such progress has been made as to warrant the committee
in recommending that the subject be again referred
to a committee at the next session of parliament." 21
The only opposition in the committee to the adoption
of this report came from John A. Macdonald, John
Sandfield Macdonald, and John Scoble. The first of
these gentlemen very soon changed his mind, and
within a few months was devoting his energies to
framing and pushing through a scheme for the federation of British North America. There may be
some validity in the contention of his political opponent, Alexander Mackenzie, that his conversion was
hastened by the fall of the Taché-Macdonald Government, of which he was really the active head.22 The
critical events precipitated by that fall and involving
Macdonald's conversion must now be related.    /
P. 51, n. 1. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 96.
P. 52, n. 2. So the Governor-General, Lord Monck, called it in his
despatch to Colonial Secretary Newcastle, No. 68, 25th July, 1862,
Canadian Archives, G 464. This despatch gives an account of the
state of parties in the Canadian Legislature from Monck's arrival in
1861, and upon it the following paragraphs are based in considerable part.
P. 52» n- 3- The principle had fallen through in connection with
R. W. Scott's School Bill (1863), which was supported by the Government and passed though the U. C. vote showed a minority of nine.—
Pope, Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. i. p. 245.
■P. 53. '*. 4- See Pope, op. cit., vol. i. pp. 247/f. Pope thinks that Brown
would have liked to co-operate with the Conservatives to secure NOTES TO CHAPTER V 65
"Rep. by Pop." had he not procured better terms by coining to the
support of Sandfield Macdonald. He implies, as always, that Brown
had ulterior motives.
P. 54, n. 5. Mackenzie, George Brown, p. 206.
P. 54, n. 6. This session, 13th August to 15th October, is described in
Monck to Newcastle, No. 102, 21st October, 1863, Canadian Archives,
G 464.
P. 54» n. 7. Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 252.
P. 54, n. 8. For particulars regarding this election see Monck to Newcastle, No. 43, 31st March, 1864, Canadian Archives, G 465; also
Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 254.
P- 55. n. 9. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 220.
P- 55. n- i°> Monck to Newcastle, No. 43, loc. cit., describes negotiations
leading to formation of Taché-Macdonald Ministry.
P. 57, tt. 11. Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 255.
P. 57, n. 12. Printed in the Quebec Chronicle of 31st March, 1864, and
a copy enclosed with Monck's despatch of the same date to Newcastle,
loc. cit.
P. 59, n. 13. Cameron, Vansittart Memoirs, p. no. Regarding this
work of fictional history see note in bibliography.
P. 60, n. 14. Canada, Journals of Assembly, vol. xxiii. pp. 91 ff.
Brown's speech is reproduced from the newspapers in Cameron, op.
cit., pp. luff., also a summary of the views of the various speakers
in the debate of 14th March on the motion.
P. 61, «. 15. Amendment offered by J. F. Perrault of Richelieu.—
Journals of Assembly, vol. xxiii. p. 94.
P. 62, n. 16. Cameron, op. cit., pp. 123/.; Journals of Assembly, vol.
xxiii. pp. 223/f. John A. Macdonald took the ground that the
Government had already, in the negotiations of 1858-9, done all that
was possible to have federation adopted, and that recent events in
the U.S. had now made it apparent that a stronger form of union
than a federation would be necessary; he therefore voted against
the motion.
P. 62, t». 17.  18th May.   Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 221.
P. 63, tt. 18. Ibid., p. 222.
P. 63, tt. 19. Cons.: John A. Macdonald, Gait, Cartier, Chapais, Street,
J. H. Cameron, Turcotte, McGee; libs.: J. S. Macdonald, Mowat,
Holton, McKellar, Scoble, McDougall, Brown.—Ibid., p. 85.
P. 63, n. 20. The incident is reported in Hammond's Canadian Confederation and Its Leaders, p. 45. In Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 26,
John A. Macdonald gives a commendatory account of the committee's
mode of procedure.
P. 64, tt. 21. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. §6; Gray, Confederation, pp. 18/.
P. 64, tt. 22. Mackenzie, loc. cit. For diametrically opposed views as to
whether or no John A. Macdonald was an eleventh-hour convert to
the federation policy, see Skelton's Gait, p. 224, and Pope's Correspondence of Sir J9hn A, Macdonald, p, n, note. CHAPTER VI
Tuesday, 14th June, the Government were defeated
by a majority of two, on a motion by A. A. Dorion
condemning a financial transaction under a former
Government when Gait had been Minister of Finance.1
The vote was accepted as a defeat; another Ministry
had failed to break the deadlock. It was obvious now
that no mere party change in Government could do
so. And it was unthinkable that the crisis should be
allowed to go further from bad to worse, not only
blocking the country's progress but endangering its
very existence as a self-governing member of the
British Empire. The time called for exceptional
measures. A week of negotiations followed, perhaps
the most critical in Canada's history, and of vital
and permanent interest because the outcome made
possible a federal union of British North America.
On the morning following his defeat, Sir Etienne
Taché called on the Governor-General and informed
him that the Government were unanimously desirous
of dissolution and so advised. Some of the party,
however, dissented from this proposal of the Government, and in the caucus held on that day expressed
the desire that another attempt should be made to
bring about a coalition.2 Lord Monck, too, who had
wished for the formation of a coalition at the time
of the March crisis, earnestly counselled delay—wisely,
as events proved. It seemed improbable that a new
House would show a very different complexion from
the existing one, and a superfluous election would
but mean an added burden of expense for the members. With no great unbridgeable issue dividing the
parties, conditions were still highly favourable,
Monck thought, for overcoming the unfortunate situation by means of a coalition. In fact when he presented a memorandum to the Government on Friday
counselling them to seek this way out of their difficulties in preference to a dissolution, negotiations
had already opened which, though aiming at first
merely at co-operation, were to result in coalition.
Accordingly Taché, on behalf of his colleagues, then
expressed concurrence in the view of the Governor-
General and assured him that the Government would
"not cease in their efforts to effect the formation of
an Administration" which would "obtain the confidence of Parliament and of the Country without
having recourse to a dissolution." 3
After the defeat of the Government on Tuesday
night, George Brown lost no time in speaking to
several of their supporters, urging that now was the
time for settling the constitutional difficulties between
the two sections of Canada, and promising his cooperation with any Government that would set themselves to a final settlement of the problem.4 Chief
of these Conservatives with whom he talked on that
evening and the following morning was Alexander
Morris, of "Nova Britannia" fame. This long-time
prophet and enthusiastic advocate of British American union had entered the House in 1862, carrying
with him his reputation for devotion to this cause.5
He and John Henry Pope, member for Compton,
asked if they might report the conversation to John A.
Macdonald and Alexander Gait. And this, obtaining
permission, they did.   Meanwhile Brown's willingness 68 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
to be conciliatory had already been publicly shown
in another incident. It was on Wednesday when
John A. Macdonald announced that the situation
had been reported to the Governor and asked that
the House adjourn without any previous statement
of intention from the Government. While Sandfield
Macdonald, as Opposition leader, was opposed to
granting the request, Brown contended that under
the circumstances the Government should be allowed
full opportunity to decide upon their course.6
As a result of Morris' message-bearing, on Thursday afternoon, just before the Speaker took the chair
at three o'clock, John A. Macdonald and George
Brown talked together in the centre of the space
dividing the seats of the Opposition from those of
the Government side of the House, greatly to the
astonishment of the members, for the two men were
not only political but personal enemies and for years
had not been on speaking terms. To Macdonald's
question if he "had any objection to meet Mr. Gait
and discuss the matter," Brown's reply was, "Certainly not." 7 The Finance Minister was pre-eminently
the man to represent the Government in such a discussion, in view of his earlier important advocacy
of union in 1858-9, when he had gone so far as briefly
to sketch a federal scheme little different from that
finally adopted.
The interview, arranged by Morris, took place
about one o'clock on Friday, when Macdonald and
Gait called upon Brown at the St. Louis Hotel. All
agreed that only by "the extreme urgency of the
present crisis, and the hope of settling the sectional
troubles of the province for ever," was their meeting
justified. The detailed records of this and the ensuing
conversations embodied in the " Ministerial Explana- COALITION OPENS  WAY OUT     69
tions " read to the House a week later are further
evidence of the spirit in which these old opponents
met. Ready to sink personal and party differences
to save the situation, they nevertheless, in the conduct of the negotiations, were under the necessity
of guarding their reputations for political integrity
in the most explicit way.
To the proposal on behalf of the Cabinet that he
accept a seat in that body as a guarantee "to the
Opposition and to the country for the earnestness of
the Government," Brown objected strenuously on
personal grounds and because he "conceived it highly
objectionable that parties who had been so long and
so strongly opposed to each other, as he and some
members of the Administration had been, should
enter the same Cabinet." It was, moreover, but
natural for one to take this ground who only a few
months before had been ready in the Globe to denounce as a traitor anyone who "was prepared to
betray his friends, and strike hands with . . . the
leader of the enemy [Cartier]." 8 If it should prove
essential that some Opposition member enter the
Government, he thought it had far better be another
than himself. Macdonald insisted that in any case
Brown should be identified with the Government in
carrying out the measure agreed upon, and that if
he did not enter the Cabinet, "he might undertake
a mission to the Lower Provinces, or to England, or
to both." It was then agreed to waive the discussion of this and similar topics until it were seen
"if a satisfactory solution of the sectional difficulty
could be agreed upon."
The question of how to remedy "the injustice
complained of by Upper Canada" and settle the
sectional trouble was not solved at once.   Gait and 7°
now Macdonald were for a federal union of all the
British North American Provinces. Brown, however,
in spite of the report of his committee submitted
three days earlier, held that such a remedy would
not be acceptable to the people of Upper Canada.
"He believed that federation of all the provinces
ought to come, and would come about ere long, but
it had not yet been thoroughly considered by the
people; and even were this otherwise, there were so
many parties to be consulted, that its adoption was
uncertain and remote." He still stood by his old
remedy of representation by population in the Parliament of the existing Province of Canada. But
Macdonald and.Gait insisted that no Government
could carry such a measure, and gave it as their
opinion that the only basis upon which anything was
likely to be settled lay in "the federation principle
suggested by the report of Mr. Brown's committee."
At length it was decided that a compromise might
be reached "in the adoption either of the federal
principle for all the British North American Provinces, as the larger question, or for Canada alone,
with provisions for the admission of the Maritime
Provinces and the North Western Territory, when
they should express the desire." Of these alternatives, Brown thought that the Canadian federation
should come first, in order to ensure to the people
of Upper Canada that their interests would not be
overlooked when it came to negotiations with
the Lower provinces.
It was agreed to tell the House that there was
hope of reaching an understanding, and to ask for
an adjournment until Monday. Macdonald did so
that afternoon, stating that as a result of conference
with a gentleman on the other side, the honourable
member for South Oxford (Brown), he saw a way
out of the existing difficulties without a dissolution.
The announcement was received with enthusiasm,
and the adjournment took place amidst great excitement. Immediately after the interview, according
to the telegraphic report to Brown's paper, Brown
"saw the leading men of his own party and entered
into full explanations with them; and the country
will be glad to know," the despatch continued, "that
a most hearty approval and cordial co-operation were
tendered by everyone of them." 9
The negotiations were continued on Saturday.
Carrier was now present, and Sir Etienne Taché
would have been but that he was out of town. At
Brown's request a memorandum of the views of the
Administration was drawn up that he might submit
it confidentially to his friends. This was done and
formally approved by the Executive Council and the
Governor-General. In the memorandum10 the Government promised to press negotiations for a confederation of all the Provinces. Failing in that, they
pledged themselves to legislation to federalise the
existing union and provide for the later incorporation
of the Maritime Provinces and the North-West Territory. A royal commission, "composed of three
members of the Government and three members of
the Opposition," of whom Brown should be one,
should be established to carry on the negotiations and
settle the details of the promised legislation. The
Administration would support this commission in its
work. There should be no dissolution of Parliament
until the Government had again met the present
House, provided, of course, that the latter permitted
the conduct of public business. After interviewing
a number of his friends, Brown again met the other 72 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
negotiators at six o'clock. He had concluded that
the bulk of his friends would, as a compromise, accept
the second alternative proposed by the memorandum.
The Government's representatives replied, however,
"that the Administration could not consent to waive
the larger question." "After considerable discussion
an amendment to the original proposal was agreed
to in the following terms, subject to the approval, on
Monday, of the Cabinet and of His Excellency:—
"'The Government are prepared to pledge themselves to bring in a measure next session for the
purpose of removing existing difficulties by introducing the federal principle into Canada, coupled
with such provisions as will permit the Maritime
Provinces and the North-West Territory to be incorporated into the same system of government.
"'And the Government will seek, by sending representatives to the Lower Provinces and to England,
to secure the assent of those interests which are
beyond the control of our own legislation to such a
measure as may enable all British North America
to be united under a General Legislature based upon
the federal principle."'
This general basis of agreement having been
reached, Brown then raised the question of security
for the good faith of the Government in carrying out
the whole movement and for the fairness of the
details, and stated that the majority of his friends
felt, although he still thought otherwise, that to this
end they should receive a fair representation in the
Cabinet. This subject was only briefly discussed on
Saturday evening, but was resumed on Monday
morning, when Taché was present at the negotiations. Brown offered the opinion that as the Opposition comprised half of the House it should be given COALITION OPENS WAY OUT     73
the choosing of half of the twelve members of the
Cabinet, namely, four of the six from Upper and two
of the six from Lower Canada. Cartier and Gait,
however, believed that in its Lower Canadian membership the Cabinet already " afforded ample guarantees for their sincerity," while it was Macdonald's
opinion that for the representation of the present
Government party from Upper Canada to be reduced
to two in this manner would mean a loss of support
in the Assembly. He was willing to see admitted to
the Cabinet three gentlemen of the Opposition provided "that they would bring with them a support
equal to that now enjoyed by the Government from
Upper Canada." He would expect Brown to be one
of these, "as affording the best, if not the only
guarantee, for the adhesion of his friends," and he
and Brown would confer "as to the selection of Upper
Canada colleagues from both sides." To Brown's
query as to what he proposed to do regarding the
Upper Canada leadership, Macdonald replied that
while if he stayed in the Government he must retain
his position, he "would be quite ready to facilitate
arrangements" by retiring from the Government,
though of course he could not do so without Sir
Etienne Taché's consent.
"Brown then stated that without discussing the
propriety or reasonableness of the proposition, he
would consult his friends, and give an early reply."
Inwardly, he felt that on the big issue, for which he
had fought, the recognition of the claims of Upper
Canada, events were moving his way, and that night
he wrote a calmly exultant letter home :
"Carrier and all his party, by the compulsion of
circumstances, have been driven into the necessity
of taking up the representation question openly and 74
vigorously. They have asked me to enter the cabinet
with two friends; to conduct the negotiations with
the Lower Provinces for a union of all British North
America, and to conduct the negotiations in London
with the Imperial Government. They agree to bring
down a measure next session to apply the federative
principle to Canada alone, with population as the
basis of representation, and with provision for the
admission of the Maritime Provinces and the great
North-West gradually into the union." 1
Tuesday morning was occupied by the negotiators
in consulting their friends. At a meeting of the Upper
Canada Opposition, Brown presented a statement of
the negotiations with the Government and received
a mandate to continue them. To the main resolution
there were no adverse votes (though five refused to
commit themselves). This resolution read: "That
we approve of the course which has been pursued by
Mr. Brown in the negotiations with the government,
and that we approve of the project of a federal union
of the Canadas, with provisions for its extension to
the Maritime Provinces and the North-West Territory, as one basis on which the constitutional difficulties now existing could be settled." By more than
two-thirds majority it was also resolved: "That the
proposition for at least three members of the opposition entering the government be accepted." And
with only three adverse votes the meeting put itself
on record: "That it is all important that Mr. Brown
should be one of the 'party' to enter the cabinet."12
In the ministerial caucus held on the same afternoon
there was expressed "a unanimous feeling ... in
favour of sustaining the Ministry in the course they
had taken."13
In  the  afternoon  the  negotiators,  Taché,  Mac- COALITION OPENS WAY OUT     75
donald, Carrier, Gait, and Brown, met again, and
Brown, Macdonald, and Cartier reported that they
had received satisfactory assurances from their
friends. Brown stated that he still entertained "the
strongest repugnance to accepting office," and must
consider further what course he should pursue. In
the evening they discussed details in case Brown and
his friends should accept office. Macdonald stood
firmly by his position that equality of party representation from Upper Canada must be maintained,
and that therefore no more than three Opposition
members of the Cabinet were possible. He assured
Brown, too, that the latter's acceptance of a Cabinet
position was a sine qua non.
The final meeting took place on the following day,
Wednesday, 22nd June, 1864, shortly after one
o'clock. Brown then gave his consent to the proposed reconstruction of the Cabinet, but preferred
that it be postponed until after the prorogation of
Parliament "as he did not wish to assume the responsibility of the Government business before the
House."  To this Taché and Macdonald agreed.
At the session of that day Macdonald reported to
the House upon the situation, reading the "Ministerial Explanations" which have been quoted in the
foregoing account. When he was done Cartier read
a French version of the same document.14 In the
brief discussion that followed, Brown spoke in further
explanation and justification of his own action. He
realised, he said, the anomaly of allying himself with
men whom he had opposed as he had opposed some
of the members of the present Government. Had
the circumstances under which the country was
placed been less important than they were, he
would "not have approached hon. gentlemen opposite r
to negotiate with reference to the present difficulties." He had long stated that he was prepared,
as far as he was concerned, "to join any man, no
matter to what party he belonged, with the object
of effecting a settlement of those great questions"
which had so long divided the country. Only the
urgency of the case, and the "manful way" in which
the question had been taken up by Carrier and his
colleagues, had induced him to follow his present
course. He regretted exceedingly the political break
which his action involved with his party friends in
Lower Canada, some of whom, like Dorion and
Holton, were close personal friends as well. "Can
any hon. gentleman," he asked, "think it is any
pleasure or joy to me to sit in the Government with
hon. gentlemen opposite, and oppose my old friends ?
Nothing but the strongest sense of duty would ever
place me in such a position. I have struggled to
avoid entering the Government . . . but they would
not consent." He pleaded with his Lower Canadian
friends to "try to rise superior to the pettiness of
mere party politics, and take up the question as it
should be considered," to wait until a measure was
brought down and not to condemn the new régime
without giving it a chance at least to prove the
honesty of its intentions. He felt himself entitled
to the sympathy of his fellow-oppositionists in his
present position. He had no fear as to the result
when the measure contemplated was properly understood and when the sincerity of the parties to the
negotiations, of which, he assured his hearers, he was
perfectly satisfied, was justly appreciated. "If," he
concluded, "I have no other success to boast of
during my political career than that which has
attended me in bringing about the formation of a COALITION OPENS  WAY OUT    77
Government, with the strength which no other Government has possessed for many years—a Government formed for the purpose of settling the sectional
difficulties between Upper and Lower Canada, I feel
•that I have something to be proud of, and that I
have accomplished some good for the country. I wish
no greater honour for my children, no more noble
heirloom to transmit to my descendants, than the
record of the part I have taken in this great work."15
Nevertheless, Brown confessed to a member of his
family a few weeks later that "going into the government" had been "a bitter pill to swallow . . . and
nothing but a sense of duty could have forced" him
into it. By that time he was gratified, however, that
the public, not only in Canada but in the United
States and Britain, had given him full credit for
patriotic motives. And all fear, he wrote, of the
compact not being carried out in good faith had
pretty well passed from his mind.16
In the course of the debate the question was
raised by L. H. Holton as to what was meant by the
expression in the "Explanations": "according to
the well understood principles of Federal Government."
Was it meant that representation in a federal legislature would be according to population? In other
words, was the proposal merely camouflaged "Rep.
by Pop." ? The replies of Carrier and John A. Macdonald, as reported in the Toronto Globe, may well
be quoted. "Mr. Cartier said [that] the honourable
gentleman knew quite well what was meant by the
'principles of Federal Government,* and so did his
colleague Mr. Dorion, who had several times moved
resolutions in favour of the federative system. The
details had not been arranged, but he conceived that
the principle of federation involved equality in one r
branch,   and   that   both   population   and   territory
should be taken into account in the other branch."
Surely, said John A. Macdonald, Dorion "did not
need to be informed what 'the well-understood principles of federal government' were.    They were exemplified on this continent.    The Attorney-General
East (Cartier), however, had properly guarded himself,
for he and the member for South Oxford (Brown),
and himself (Attorney-General Macdonald), were all
equally opposed to making the assertion of representation by population as equivalent to universal
suffrage."  A little later the speaker went on "to say
that in the lower branch of the General Legislature
there would be representation based upon population,
with the necessary checks required by the interests
of property, as provided under the present constitution of this House, where we had representation
not according to population, but according to certain
rights and territorial divisions."17
E Further light is thrown upon the influences that
induced Brown to enter the detested path of coalition
in a letter home, dated 23rd June:
"My negotiations with the Government were successfully closed on Monday night. On Tuesday I
called a meeting of the Upper Canada liberals,
and submitted what I had done ... my course
was sustained almost unanimously ... the meeting
passed a resolution urging me to go into the government, but that did not influence me wholly; private
letters from many quarters did something more, and
the extreme urgency of the Governor-General did still
more. His Excellency sent a very kind letter, urging
me to go in. . . . The thing that finally determined
me was the fact, ascertained by Mowat and myself,
that unless we went in the whole effort for consti- COALITION OPENS WAY OUT     79
tutional changes would break down, and the enormous advantages gained by our negotiations probably
be lost. . . . We consented with great reluctance,
but there was no help for it; and it was such a
temptation to have possibly the power of settling
the sectional troubles of Canada for ever. ... In
short, the whole movement is a grand success, and
I really believe will have an immense influence on
the future destinies of Canada."18
Lord Monck, as Brown recognises in this letter,
exerted considerable influence towards the formation
of the coalition, though the Governor-General possibly went a little far in his despatch to the Colonial
Secretary when he credited the result of the negotiations to the fact that during their progress he had
"had constant interviews with gentlemen representing
the different parties in Canadian politics."19 Undoubtedly, however, his influence as a mediator was
a highly important even if not an altogether decisive
factor in the situation.20
If the coalition agreement compromised Brown in
the eyes of some of his former political friends, not
only in Lower Canada but to some extent in Upper
Canada as well,21 it created an even more difficult
position for Cartier. The leader of the majority of
French-Canadians, he had been their champion for
years in the defence of their peculiar rights against
the attacks of Upper Canadians of the Brown and
Globe school. His entrance into an alliance with the
arch-enemy of French-Catholic interests in Canada
therefore had a particularly compromising appearance; it seemed to most of his people to involve a
surrender of their treasured rights. Very possibly if
a general election had come in that summer the
Rouge leader, Dorion, could have overwhelmed him. r
But Cartier was not a full-blooded democrat of the
modern relentlessly logical self-deterministic type—
at any rate he believed it the statesman's high duty
to lead rather than merely to follow public opinion.
There was not to be an election that summer, and
before public opinion should thus have voice he would
win it to the support of his policy.22
Macdonald's position was considerably easier. Already in alliance with Cartier, he had nothing to
fear from the Lower Canada majority party, while
his own followers in Upper Canada were by this time
practically as convinced as Brown's of the need of
constitutional reform. They required, however, a
good deal of argument to bring them to view with
complacency the addition of Brown to the Cabinet.
On 30th June Parliament was prorogued, and the same
day the names of the new Ministers were announced
in the Gazette: George Brown as President of the
Council, Oliver Mowat as Postmaster-General, and
William McDougall as Provincial Secretary. The
first two were promptly re-elected by acclamation,
but McDougall had to face a contest in his constituency of North Ontario County, where a Conservative, M. C. Cameron, succeeded in defeating him
in spite of the fact that Macdonald gave his new
colleague his full support. To one prominent Conservative in the riding who asked whether he should
support the coalition candidate, Macdonald wrote :
"It is the sincere desire of the Conservative section
of the Cabinet to secure the return of their colleague,
the Hon. Wm. McDougall. They unitedly, and I
individually, will feel much obliged by your interesting yourself actively in his behalf. The recent
coalition, although a strong measure, was one imperatively called for to relieve Canada from deadlock— COALITION OPENS  WAY  OUT     81
the virtual anarchy that the equality of parties had
produced. A new election would not have greatly
mended matters, and would have left the sectional
difficulty (which threatened to become of the most
formidable dimensions) unsettled as before.
"The leaders on both sides of the House became
alarmed at the perilous state of affairs, and thought
they would not be guiltless if party resentments or
individual ambitions should prevent them from joining together for the common good, or rather for the
cure of the growing evil.
"Under these circumstances, you will see that it
is all important that the Reform section of the
Government should be elected for the purpose of
carrying out this great object." 23
After some difficulty Macdonald, set upon making
the coalition a success, found another seat for the
defeated Minister in North Lanark, whence he was
returned by acclamation. The Conservative leader's
persuasiveness had failed of its purpose in North
Ontario, but during the months that followed, his
unique powers in the handling of men were employed
with great effectiveness to further the ends for which
the coalition existed. Until the constitutional question could be attacked, he kept the energetic Brown
happily occupied with a number of missions. Then,
as soon as the new Ministers were all re-elected,
the Government, Macdonald's biographer tells us,
"diligently applied themselves to the great object of
the coalition." 24 r
P. 66, tt. 1. See Skelton's Gait, pp. 359/.
P. 66, n. 2. Toronto Globe, 16th June, 1864. The caucus was held in
John A. Macdonald's office.
P. 67, n. 3. Monck reported on the formation of the coalition in his
despatch to Cardwell, No. 97, 30th June, 1864, Canadian Archives,
G 465, pp. 125ff. Drafts of the enclosures, including his memorandum to the Government and Taché's reply, are in Canadian
Archives, G 215, pp. 239/jf.
P. 67, n. 4. The official story of the negotiations is found in the
"Ministerial Explanations" read to the House by Macdonald, 22nd
June, 1864. One of the original printed copies is among the enclosures
in Monck's despatch. The document is printed in full in Pope,
Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. pp. 344#, and in Gray,
Confederation, pp. 20^.
P. 67, tt. 5. Morris, Nova Britannia, p. viii. John Charles Dent, the
anonymous editor of this book of Morris's speeches, implies, p. 99,
that this interview with Brown was of Morris's seeking. James Ferrier
of Montreal, however, stated in the Legislative Council in February
1865 (Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 194) that Brown was the first to
declare what he was ready to do. Morris informed Ferrier one evening
what Brown had proposed, and Ferrier recommended him to communicate it at once to the leading members of the Government and
accompanied him to one of them, when Morris, having told what
Brown had communicated to him, "was authorised to make an
arrangement for the other members of the Government to meet."
P. 68, n. 6. Cameron, op. cit., p. 126.
P. 68, tt. 7. "Ministerial Explanations," loc. cit. Quotations in the
following account of the negotiations are from this document unless
otherwise noted.
P. 69, tt. 8. In the Globe of 16th April, when Sandfield Macdonald had
been trying to strengthen his tottering adniinistration by suggesting
a coalition.
P. 71, n. 9. Toronto Globe, 17th June, 1864.
P. 71, n. 10. Text given in "Ministerial Explanations," loc. cit.
P. 74, n. 11. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 223.
P. 74, n. 12. Toronto Globe, 22nd June, 1864. Thirty-four voted in
favour of the first resolution, five refusing to vote. On the second
the vote was twenty-six to eleven, one not voting. Much of the
report is in Mackenzie, op. cit., pp. 88/f.
P. 74, tt. 13. Toronto Globe, 22nd June, 1864.
P- 75, n. 14. Ibid., 23rd June, 1864.
P. 77, n. 15. The discussion is fully reported in the Toronto Globe of
23rd, 24th, and 28th June, 1864.
P. 77, n. 16. Letter dated Quebec, 8th August, 1864, in Mackenzie,
op. cit., p. 226.
P. 78, n. 17. Toronto Globe, 23rd June, 1864.
P. 79, ». 18. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 223.
P. 79, n. 19. Monck to Cardwell, No. 97, 30th June, 1864, loc. cit.
Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 96, credits Monck with exercising great influence NOTES TO CHAPTER VI
in favour of federation, and prints his letter of 21st June, 1864, to
Brown.  Cf. Lewis, George Brown, pp. 157/.
P. 79, n. 20. See Trotter, "Lord Monck and the Great Coalition of
1864," Canadian Historical Review, June 1922, pp. i&iff.
P. 79, tt. 21. Mackenzie,  Brown's lieutenant, states that he himself
never concurred .in the wisdom of Brown entering the Coalition
Government.—Op. cit., p. 95.
P. 80, n. 22. On Carrier's part in the movement see Boyd's Cartier,
especially chapter x. passim.
P. 81, n. 23. A variety of interesting correspondence relating to this
election is printed in Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i.
pp. 2fyoff. The extract quoted above is from a letter to Thomas Pyne,
Newmarket, dated Kingston, 16th July, 1864.
P. 81, n. 24. Ibid., vol. i. pp. 26$ff. CHAPTER VII
The year 1864 was the great "get-together" year in
the political development of British North America.
The leading men in the responsible governments of
the several Provinces met in conference in September
at Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward
Island, and in October at that more ancient capital
on the St. Lawrence, the old French city of Quebec.
Besides the formal deliberations of these assemblages,
there was much intercourse of a more popular and
even sometimes jovial sort at the public banquets
tendered in various towns of the Maritime Provinces
to delegations from Canada, and later, in the cities
along the St. Lawrence and north of the Great Lakes,
to the visitors from the distant and dimly known little
lands by the Atlantic. In years gone by there had
been an occasional interprovincial conference to consider some special matter of common interest, such
particularly as the postal conference of 1847 and the
later railway conferences, but never before had there
been so wholesale an introduction of the Provinces
to one another. This was the first personal contact
for many of the leaders, even such outstanding
figures as John A. Macdonald and Charles Tupper,1
the two men who were soon, in close co-operation,
to pilot the launched scheme of federation through
the shoals of indifference and the reefs of opposition
in their respective Provinces. PROVINCES  SHAKE  HANDS      85
Notable accomplishment was the result of these
conferences of 1864: a scheme of federation was
formulated in detail, a scheme that underwent only
minor alterations before its final adoption as the
constitution of a federated Dominion. The "getting
together" of 1864 resulted in more, however, than
the mere drafting of the " Quebec Resolutions " ; the
mutual acquaintance and understanding that were
brought about helped enormously thereafter in securing the acceptance of the project. A remark made
by George Brown in the Parliament of his Province
when the scheme was under consideration there in
the following winter shows that he, for one, recognised this fact. "Many of us have learned," he said,
"since we last met here, far more of the Maritime
Provinces than we ever did before. We have visited
the Maritime Provinces—we have seen the country
—we have met the people and marked their intelligence and their industry and their frugality—we
have investigated their public affairs and found thern
satisfactory—we have discussed terms of union with
their statesmen and found that no insuperable obstacle
to union exists, and no necessity for long delay." 2
The first of the year's formal conferences, that at
Charlottetown, did not meet until September, but it
was the result of action initiated early in the year, in
Nova Scotia, by Dr. Charles Tupper, now the head of
the Conservative-Government there. Like his former
chief, James W. Johnstone; Tupper believed in provincial union. His St. John and Portland lectures of
i860, delivered while he was in the Opposition, had
done much to popularise the idea. On his accession
to the premiership he was eager to promote its
realisation. A union of all the Provinces seemed
impracticable, and he accordingly fell back upon the 86 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
less ambitious project of bringing together the three
little Provinces by the sea. In March and April
of 1864, he introduced and carried in the Nova Scotia
Legislature a resolution in favour of a conference to
discuss a legislative union of the Maritime Provinces.3
He explains in his Recollections that he "regarded it as
a step in the direction of a wider union, in the way
of which insuperable difficulties then existed." 4
At Tupper's suggestion, and through the instrumentality respectively of Samuel Leonard Tilley,
Premier and Provincial Secretary of New Brunswick, and of William -Henry Pope, Colonial Secretary
of Prince Edward Island, practically identical resolutions were carried at about the same time in the
legislatures of those two Provinces. Thus, by the
representatives of the people in each of the three
colonies it was resolved that their respective Governments should appoint delegates to consider the union
of the three Provinces "under one Government and
Legislature," such union, however, to take effect only
when confirmed by the several legislatures and
approved by the British Government.5 Local party
issues were absent from the discussion of this resolution, though there was some dissatisfaction, especially in Prince Edward Island, that the union proposed
in the resolution was of so close a type.8
Thereafter, and before the Charlottetown Conference met in September, there were important and
rapid developments that led ultimately to the substitution of a comprehensive scheme for the union of
all the colonies in place of the narrower project. For,
if the Maritime Provinces were from choice taking
steps in the direction of a new and inclusive political
organisation, Canada was being whipped by relentless
circumstances towards a similar goal.  And so urgent PROVINCES SHAKE  HANDS       87
was the crisis there that it brought opposing leaders
together in the great coalition of 1864.
It will be recalled that in the official memorandum
stating the object of the coalition the larger ideal of
a union of all British North America gave precedence
to the lesser proposal for a federation of the two
Canadas. The phrasing of the latter alternative, however, recognised the desirability of a realisation, some
day, of the more ambitious project. And now events
favoured an immediate exploration of the possibilities
of union with the Provinces by the sea* The Canadians
having heard of the resolution passed in the Maritime
legislatures in the spring, in favour of holding a conference to discuss the expediency of Maritime union,
felt that the occasion of this conference might well
afford a favourable opportunity for broaching the
larger question. In the course of the debate in the
House on 22nd June upon the "Ministerial Explanations" concerning the formation of the coalition,
Dorion raised the question "as to whether a Federation of all the Provinces or of Canada alone would
be prosecuted first." The reply was "that the Government intended to be represented at the approaching convention at Charlottetown, Prince Edward
Island, with a view to promoting the federation of
all the Provinces, but a measure for the federation
of the Canadas would be positively submitted next
session if the other objects could not be attained in
the meantime." 7
As early as 30th June, Lord Monck, at the request
of the Canadian Cabinet, wrote to the governors of
the three Provinces asking for information as to
the time and place for the meeting of the conference, and also whether it would be acceptable to
their Governments to receive a delegation from the 88
Government of Canada, "to ascertain whether the
proposed Union may not be made to embrace the whole
of the British North American Provinces." No action
had yet been taken since the passage of the authorising
resolutions. Now, however, the Government of Nova
Scotia took advantage of the occasion offered by the
enquiry from Canada to revive the subject, and suggested to the Governments of New Brunswick and
Prince Edward Island the expediency of appointing
delegates. The Nova Scotian Government also responded favourably to the enquiry by stating that
they would be glad to confer with any delegates sent
from Canada, but that they had no authority to go
beyond the resolution relating to the appointment of
delegates to consider Maritime union. In the course
of the following weeks it was arranged that the conference should meet at Charlottetown, Prince Edward
Island, on 1st September, and that an informal delegation from the Canadian Government would be
made welcome at that meeting, although none of
the Maritime Province delegates was authorised to
take official action on any wider proposal than a
union of the three smaller Provinces.8
Meanwhile, in August, a large number of Canadians
enjoyed an excursion to the Lower Provinces. As
this excursion had wide-reaching influence in forwarding the British-American "getting together" of
1864, it is of interest to know how it was brought
about. At the bottom of the scheme were Sandford
Fleming, the engineer for the projected intercolonial
railway, and D'Arcy McGee, the oratorical advocate
and exponent, in season and out of season, of the
idea of British-American union. The two men, with 1
these vitally related interests, had become well
acquainted  at   Quebec.      In   a   conversation  there PROVINCES  SHAKE  HANDS
about the time the Coalition Government was formed,9
McGee voiced his impatience with the indifference
of many of the people in Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick to his pet project, upon which he had
lectured in those Provinces in the summer of the
previous year.10 Fleming thought that the great
obstacle, to union was the fact that the people of the
Upper and Lower Provinces did not know one another,
for he had found in the latter great ignorance of
Canada, and questioned whether there was not a
corresponding ignorance in the majority of Canadians.
This circumstance he ascribed to the fact that between them there was little communication and practically no commerce. With this diagnosis of the
situation McGee agreed. Fleming thereupon said
that it would be well if Canadian leaders and press
representatives would go down and get into personal
touch with the people of the Maritime Provinces.
He was going down in a few days and offered to
try to arrange it at that end. McGee on his part
agreed to fix things in Canada as soon as he should
hear from Fleming.11
The railway man, as he tells it himself, interviewed Tupper at Halifax. The latter liked the idea,
but saw no way of extending an invitation at the
moment because there seemed to be no event which
would serve as a pretext. Fleming went to St. John.
The Board of Trade there at once wired an invitation
to the members of the Canadian Legislature to visit
St. John as soon as the session closed. The next day
Fleming returned to Halifax, and Tupper then was
able to see to it that the Halifax Board of Trade
followed suit.
Arrangements for the trip were soon satisfactorily
completed.    Later, McGee publicly gave credit for 9o CANADIAN FEDERATION
rendering the excursion practicable to two gentlemen representing the Grand Trunk Railway, James
Ferrier, of the Legislative Council, and C. J. Brydges,
general manager of the railway.12 These men arranged
for the transportation of the party by rail to Portland, Maine, and thence, on 4th August, by boat,
the usual route at that time, inconvenient and
circuitous as it was, for travel between Canada and
the Maritime Provinces.
McGee was unable to procure the Canadian Legislature's acceptance of the invitation as a body, but
the leaders would soon be going down anyway for
the Charlottetown Conference, and a good many of
the other members now went as individuals. He
went himself, being the most prominent member who
was present.13 All told, some forty members of the
Assembly, twenty-five members of the Legislative
Council, and forty others, mostly representatives of
Canadian papers, availed themselves of the invitation.14 At Eastport, Maine, Premier Tilley of New
Brunswick joined the party. The welcome given the
visitors was everywhere cordial. There were banquets at St. John and Halifax, and all the while the
idea of the proposed union of the Provinces was kept
in the foreground. Though some of the people were,
to say the least, apathetic in their reception of that
idea, yet most of the leading men were enthusiastic
towards the general proposition.15 The originators of
the excursion had good reason to feel well repaid for
their efforts. The public of the different Provinces
were brought to realise as never before the largeness
of their common interests. Undoubtedly, as Fleming
afterwards said, "this social visit eventually had not
a little to do with the successful outcome of the
negotiations for Confederation."16 NOTES TO CHAPTER VII
P. 84, n. i. Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 271.
P. 85, n. 2. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 97.
P. 86, n. 3. Agreed to by the Assembly 29th March and by the Council
a fortnight later.—N.S., Journal of Assembly, 1864, pp. 87, 116.
P. 86, n. 4. Recollections, p. 39.
P. 86, n. 5. The correspondence, begun by N.S., 8th February, 1864,
and containing the several resolutions, is Appendix No. 24 of the
N.S. Journal of Assembly, 1864.
P. 86, n. 6. Whelan, Union of the British Provinces, p. 4 ;   Year-Book
and Almanac of B.N.A. for 1868, p. 15.
P. 87, n. 7. Toronto Globe, 23rd June, 1864.
P. 88, tt. 8. The correspondence is printed inN.S., Journal of Assembly,
1865, Appendix 3.    Monck's report upon it is in his despatch to
Cardwell, No. 124, 26th August, 1864, Canadian Archives, G 465.
P. 89, n. 9. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 135.
P. 89, tt. 10. These  lectures  are  printed  in  McGee's Speeches and
Addresses on British-American Union, pp. $6ff.   In regard to them
cf. Cameron's Vansittart Memoirs, p. 101.
P. 89, n. 11. Fleming's own account of this conversation and of his
negotiations in N.S. and N.B. to secure the carrying out of the plan
is in Burpee, Sandford Fleming, pp. goff.
P. 90, tt. 12. McGee gave his account of the excursion in the great
debate of 1865.—Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 135.
P. 90, tt. 13. Toronto Globe, 21st June, 1864; Toronto Leader, 17th
August, 1864.
P. 90, n. 14. These are McGee's figures. Cameron, op. cit., p. 136, gives
figures for members of Assembly and Council respectively as thirty-
three and eighteen.
P. 90, n. 15. Toronto Leader, particularly of 16th August, 1864.
P. 90, ». 16. Burpee, loc. cit. CHAPTER VIII
Only one course could justify the existence of
Canada's Coalition Government to the public or to
the members of the Ministry themselves, and that
was a prompt and strenuous attack upon the constitutional problem, to which, therefore, serious attention was given as soon as possible after the necessary
ministerial by-elections had been held. Rather than
postpone consideration of the question until there
could be conference with the Maritime Province
delegates at Charlottetown, the Canadian Government, in preparation for that meeting, devoted the
best part of a week to a Cabinet discussion of the
issues involved. Brown, as President of the Council,
presided over these deliberations ; and on 26th August
he wrote home:
"We have been hard at work with our constitutional discussion for two days, and everything goes
as well as we could possibly hope for. I do believe
we will succeed. The discussion of today lasted from
12 o'clock till 5.45, and from first to last it was
highly interesting, most deeply interesting. For perhaps the first time in my political life I indulged in
a regular chuckle of gratified pride (no higher sentiment) at the thought of my presiding over such a
discussion by such men, there not being one man at
the table who had not openly derided the idea of
such a scene ever occurring in our lifetime.   I could
not help recalling many furious scenes in which
several of those around me had bitterly denounced
me for even proposing the consideration of the very
subject they were then engaged in settling under my
presidency! It will be an immense thing if we
accomplish it. I don't believe any of us appreciate
in its true importance the immensity of the work we
are engaged in. But there is one thing peculiar about
our position. There is no other instance on record of
a colony peacefully remodelling its own constitution,
such changes have been always the work of the
parent state and not of the colonists themselves.
Canada is rightly setting the example of a new and
better state of things."1
How far discussion in the Executive Council at
Quebec reached at this time we do not know. But
whatever the scope of any informal understanding
now arrived at, the formal record concluding the
official deliberations at this juncture was merely a
very simple minute of Council adopted 29th August.
This expressed concurrence with the opinion given in
the despatches of the lieutenant-governors that the
proposed meeting at Charlottetown must necessarily
be informal, but considered that it would result in
"very great advantage" through the opportunity
"thus afforded of considering the practicability of
uniting, under one Government, the respective provinces." Should there develop a reasonable prospect
of such a union being practicable, it would "then be
possible to proceed to a more formal conference and
to place before the Imperial Government such a
general outline of the policy proposed" as might
"enable Her Majesty's Ministers to determine whether
the interests of the Empire" would "be promoted
thereby, and of giving the sanction of the Queen to 94 CANADIAN FEDERATION
the future negotiations on the subject." It was
accordingly provided that such members of the
Executive Council as could "conveniently be spared
from their official duties at Quebec, should be authorized to proceed to Charlottetown, for the purpose of
conferring informally with the representatives from
the Maritime Provinces." 2 Another minute of the
same day authorised a warrant of $1000 to defray
the delegates' expenses, the outlay to be charged
against unforeseen expenses of government.3
A telegram was sent to announce their coming,
and the delegates set off for Charlottetown in the
Government steamer Queen Victoria.4, The members
of the Coalition Cabinet who comprised this mission
were : John A. Macdonald, Georges E. Cartier, George
Brown, Alexander T. Gait, William McDougall, D'Arcy
McGee, and two gentlemen whose names have not
been previously mentioned herein, Alexander Campbell,
Commissioner of Crown Lands, a former law partner
of Macdonald, and Hector L. Langevin, Solicitor-
General of Lower Canada, a lieutenant of Cartier.6
Meanwhile arrangements for the conference at the
Prince Edward Island capital had been going on
apace in the Maritime Provinces. Just as in the
treatment of the resolutions calling for the meeting
there had been no party division, so now the appointment of delegates by the three Governments was
carried out on a non-partisan basis.6
The first man invited to attend on behalf of Nova
Scotia was Joseph Howe, because, Tupper tells us,
"I valued the strength of his influence."7 That
influence was rightly held at high worth, for Howe
had been Nova Scotia's great Liberal leader for a
generation; he was the "tribune of the people" who
had wrested responsible government for his Province "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE     95
from the reluctant grasp of an aristocratic local
oligarchy and a Downing Street that was but slowly
converted to an acceptance of the principle of real
colonial autonomy. No wonder Tupper desired his
alliance on this occasion. But the gods had decreed
otherwise. In 1863 Howe had obtained the desire of
his heart, an appointment in the Imperial service,
and now he was occupied in cruising along the North
Atlantic coast, engaged as a fishery commissioner
under the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 in designating
and delimiting, in co-operation with an American
commissioner, the places reserved by the treaty from
the common use of fishermen of the two countries.
Busy with this work, he felt unable to accede to the
request of his old political rival. In view of his later
strenuous battle against federation, the correspondence between the two men regarding the Charlottetown Conference is worthy of reproduction here.
The letters were exchanged at Halifax on 16th August,
1864.  Tupper wrote:
"My dear Sir, I have the pleasure of informing
you that your name has been this morning submitted
by the Executive Council to His Excellency the
lieutenant Governor as one of the Delegates to the
Conference upon the Union of the Maritime Provinces and I am instructed by His Excellency to
enquire if you will accept that office and attend the
meeting of Delegates at Charlottetown on the 1st
of September.   I remain, Yours faithfully,
"(Sgd.) C. Tupper."
From H.M.S. Lily in the harbour Howe sent the
following reply:
" My dear Sir, I am sorry for many reasons to be
compelled to decline participation in the Conference 96 CANADIAN  FEDERATION
at Charlottetown. The season is so far advanced
that I find my summer's work would be so seriously
deranged by the visit to Prince Edward Island, that
without permission from the Foreign Office I would
scarcely be justified in consulting my own feelings
at the expense of the public service.
" I shall be home in October and will be very
happy to co-operate in carrying out any measure upon
which the Conference shall agree.   Very truly yours,
" (Sgd.) Joseph Howe." 8
Apparently, at this time, Howe was in favour of
a union, at least of the Maritime Provinces, and
believed that any generally accepted scheme for that
purpose would be desirable, and was willing, moreover, to work for its adoption. In a speech at Halifax
on 13th August, three days before this exchange of
notes, at a dinner to the excursionists from Canada,
he spoke enthusiastically in favour of a United
British America.9 Regarding the validity of his
expressed reason for declining appointment as a
delegate to Charlottetown, it should be said that
the decision subsequently given by Earl Russell, to
whom as Foreign Secretary the commissioner was
responsible, was against the latter's abandonment for
such a purpose of his duties under the treaty.10
In default of Howe, the Liberal party was represented on Nova Scotia's delegation by Adams G.
Archibald, Howe's successor as leader of the Opposition, and, at Archibald's suggestion after the work
had been declined by John Locke,11 member of the
Assembly for Shelburne County, by Jonathan McCully,
Liberal leader in the Legislative Council. The delegates chosen from the Conservative party, besides
Tupper, were William A. Henry, Attorney-General, "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE     97
and R. B. Dickey, a member, as McCully was, of
the Upper House.
Similar impartiality was shown in the choice of
delegates from the other Provinces. New Brunswick sent her Premier, Samuel L. Tilley, who was
also Provincial Secretary, John M. Johnson, Attorney-General, William H. Steeves, another member of
the Executive Council, E. B. Chandler of the Legislative Council, and Lieut.-Colonel John Hamilton
Gray of the Assembly.
The Prince Edward Island delegates were : Colonel
John Hamilton Gray, Premier and President of the
Executive Council, Edward Palmer, Attorney-General,
William H. Pope, Colonial Secretary, A. A. Macdonald
of the Legislative Council, and George Coles of the
At the appointed time, 1st September, 1864, t^ie
representatives of the three Maritime Provinces
gathered in Charlottetown, but upon receiving word
that the Canadian Government were really sending
a delegation to confer with them, they adjourned
until it should arrive. When they had welcomed the
Canadians, the latter soon convinced them that a
union of all the Provinces was well worth considering,
for the newcomers, given the floor for two days,
emphasised the advantages that such a union as
they proposed in outline would offer, not only to
these small Provinces but to their statesmen, who
would find opened before them a much larger sphere
for their abilities.12
Under the chairmanship of Colonel Gray (of
P.E.I.) there was what Tupper later described as
"free and frank discussion of the subject." 13 Upon
various matters tentative agreement was reached,
such as:   that population should form the basis of ï
the representation in the Lower House of the federal
Parliament, and that the Upper House should consist
of an equal number of members from each of the
three regions: Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and
the Maritime Provinces as a whole.14 While discussion
of other important subjects led to less conclusive
results at this time, nevertheless so much progress
was made in discussing the proposals of the Canadians
"that it was thought desirable by the Conference
that the subject should be resumed in a formal and
official manner under the authority of the Governments of the several Provinces." Accordingly the
Canadian Government decided to invite the others
to send delegates to a conference and adopted a
minute of Council, 23rd September, to the effect
"that the several Governments of Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland, be invited to appoint delegates, under the
authority of the Despatch of the Secretary for the
Colonies to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia,
dated 6th July, 1862," in which Newcastle had suggested the appropriateness of such a method of
approaching the subject of uniting the Provinces.
Quebec was selected as the place, and 10th October
as the time for the meeting, as it had been ascertained
that such would "meet the views and convenience of
the several Governments." 15
The secrecy that veiled the deliberations at Charlottetown doubtless facilitated freedom of discussion,
and was necessary for successful agreement, but it
had two unfortunate results. In the first place, we
know almost nothing, specifically, of the course of
the discussion, for the press reports, which would
have served as a tolerable substitute in the absence
of official records of the debate, could of course not "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE    99
be made at all, and J. H. Gray's account in his
Confederation fills little more than a page.16 In the
second place, the newspaper-men did not all take
kindly their exclusion from the meetings. The St.
John Globe was unable to hide its pique. A few days
after the conference closed, that paper announced
that it would not be surprised if "the federation
meeting at Charlottetown" should result in a "great
fizzle." "The doings," it went on, "of any convention or association that meets nowadays with closed
doors rarely amount to anything in so far as they
affect the public. The members of the convention
made a great mistake in not inviting the press to
attend their deliberations. They could have had very
little to say that the public ought not to hear." 17 It
was unfortunate for the union cause in the Maritime
Provinces in the next few years that any antagonisms
of this sort should have been aroused at the outset.
The secrecy here, and later at Quebec, necessary as
it was if agreement among the delegates was to be
reached, none the less allowed the enemies of the
project to be the first to get in their arguments with
the people, and, still worse, to do so on the basis of
distorting the aims of the unionists.
The conference adjourned at Charlottetown on
7th September to meet at Halifax on the 10th. Thence
it adjourned on the 12th to meet at St. John on the
16th, when it was decided to adjourn until after the
Quebec Conference should have "formally discussed
the larger question in all its bearings."18 At Charlottetown, Halifax, and St. John there were banquets
with speech-making, where general arguments for
union were advanced and toasts drunk to its success.
Macdonald, Carrier, Brown, Gait, McGee, and others
spoke upon these occasions.19 r
Macdonald may in the first instance have taken
up the proposition as an expedient forced upon him
by the vicissitudes of party politics, but at any rate,
now that British-American union was beginning to
appear feasible, his receptive mind was seized by the
largeness of the idea.20 At the Charlottetown banquet
he prophesied that union would make British North
America "at least the fourth nation on the face of
the globe," a a statement less grandiloquent then than
it appears now, for as yet Italy and Germany were
geographical expressions, while the only nations whose
mercantile marines would not be outclassed by the
combined fleets of the Provinces were Great Britain,
the United States, and France. "The question of
colonial union," he said at Halifax, "is one of such
magnitude that it dwarfs every other question on
this portion of the continent. It absorbs every idea
as far as I am concerned. For twenty long years
I have been dragging myself through the dreary
waste of colonial politics. I thought there was no
end, nothing worthy of ambition, but now I see
something which is well worthy of all I have suffered
in the cause of my little country. . . . There may
be obstructions, local prejudices may arise, disputes
may occur, local jealousies may intervene, but it
matters not-—the wheel is now revolving and we are
only the fly on the wheel; we cannot delay it—the
union of the colonies of British America under the
Sovereign is a fixed fact." 22 And he emphasised, as
was his wont, the need of a strong central government
for the new political organism.
When the time came a steamer was sent to the
Maritime Provinces to convey their delegates to
Quebec as guests of Canada. In due course at the
historic old capital on the St. Lawrence there gath- "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE   101
ered representatives from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and also Newfoundland,
and on ioth October, 1864, the Quebec Conference,
comprising these representatives and the full Canadian
Cabinet, began its epoch-making deliberations.23
The Canadian Ministers had proposed at Charlottetown that they should submit a federation scheme
in all its details at the approaching conference at
Quebec.24 In the intervening weeks, accordingly, they
had continued their work upon the problem. In order
to sound public opinion in regard to the project, and
elicit any helpful criticism that might be forthcoming,
a sketch of the scheme as proposed at Charlottetown
was published unofficially in the papers towards the end
of September.25 Even after the full conference had
convened, the Canadian Ministers continued to meet
by themselves as occasion permitted in order further to
thrash out details for presentation to the larger body.26
Judging from results and from Gait's prominent
position in the coalition it is probable that his scheme,
confidentially outlined for the British Government
six years before, formed a basis for the deliberations
of his colleagues.27 At any rate Gait, in view of his
long and important advocacy of the project, must
have had a large share in the task which the Coalition
Government had taken in hand. Doubtless most if
not all of the Ministers were active in the deliberations, but there is not much evidence on which to
apportion with certainty the responsibility for the
actual phrasing of the resolutions presented to the
conference. Oliver Mowat, whose later influence upon
constitutional developments after the establishment
of the Dominion was to be unique, was soon generally
known to have had an important share in the preparation of the federation project.28   Published evidence to ■MS
that effect is corroborated by a story narrated to the
author by Mr. William Smith of the Canadian
Archives. Mr. Smith was told many times by Mowat's
secretary that the latter's employer was the author
of numerous clauses in the Quebec scheme, some
of which were dictated to him by Mowat at odd
moments, as, for example, on coming in after a walk
when he had been pondering over the constitutional
formulas required to meet the situation. It was only
a short time that John A. Macdonald had been an
eager advocate of union, but his genius as a reconciler
of diverse views combined with his leading place in the
Government to give him a prominent share in the
shaping of the resolutions. It was publicly reported
that fifty of the seventy-two resolutions adopted by
the conference at Quebec were written by him.29
The proposals worked out by the Canadian Coalition Government were presented to the delegates
from the other Provinces, and underwent comparatively few important changes in the sessions of the
conference. This procedure accounts for the paucity
of information in regard to the drafting of the
seventy-two "Quebec Resolutions," which embodied
the results of the conference's work and which later
formed the basis for the British North America Act
of 1867. Even were not the records of the Quebec
Conference itself rather scanty,30 the fact that details were first worked over in Cabinet meeting would
naturally result in a dearth of records of much of the
really formative discussion. The so-called "Minutes
of Council" found in the manuscript "State Books"
of the Province of Canada are merely records of
Orders in Council and contain no word as to the
course of Cabinet deliberations.
One might suppose that even under such conditions "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE     103
some participants in the work would have been
moved by a sense of self-importance, if not by a
realisation of the largeness of what they were doing,
to make and preserve records comparable with those
left by members of the United States Federal Convention of 1787. But apparently the traditions of
recordless Cabinet procedure were too strong. It
should be remembered, moreover, that neither in
Cabinet nor in conference were these men drawing
up a declaration of a sovereign people. They were
doing virtually what they had done many times before
on a lesser scale, when drafting the basis of a bill for
parliamentary consideration.
But none the less, in view of the importance of
the subject-matter of the document, their manner of
approach is likely at first sight to appear rather
casual. They began with no such elaborate preliminary research in constitutional history as was
made later in the case of Australia or more particularly in that of South Africa. Not that they were,
therefore, necessarily without expert counsel. The
Parliamentary Librarian of Canada was Alpheus
Todd, the noted historian of parliamentary institutions in Great Britain and the British colonies, who
for over a quarter of a century had been devoting
his researches to the operation of this type of government "in assisting," he says, "Canadian statesmen in giving effect to the grant of 'responsible
government.' " 31 With such & scholar immediately at
hand in their own library, it may be safely assumed
that the practical politicians of the Provincial Cabinet called upon him now as heretofore for information
and advice concerning precedents and principles.
Doubtless he could furnish them as occasion suggested with the various proposals for British American r
union that had been put forth through the years, and
with materials on federal governments of the past.
There is no record, however, as to whether any of
these men undertook a comparative study of other
constitutions comparable with that which Madison
made in preparation for the Philadelphia Convention
of 1787. One runs hopefully upon a pamphlet by
McGee entitled Notes on Federal Governments, Past and
Present, but finds little except the significant deduction from the history of federal governments, that
while the federal form is preferable to the unitary it
can only succeed if the central power is strong.32 The
New Zealand Constitution of 1852, quasi-federal in
its initial application, was the subject of some study,
as were the proposals for Australian federation.33 And
of course the American Constitution, and the process
by which it was made, received considerable attention. Mr. Clarance M. Warner of Boston and Napanee
has in his library John A. Macdonald's copy of the
Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention
Assembled at Philadelphia in the Tear 1787 for the
Purpose of Forming the Constitution of the United
States of America (Washington, 1836). The pencillings
in the margin indicate that the book had a thorough
reading, and it is interestingly confirmative of Macdonald's well-known views to find that the marked
passages are chiefly those emphasising the necessity
of a strong central government.
After all, it was by no means essential to the performance of their task that these British Americans
should make a study of foreign constitutions except
in their strictly federal aspects.34 They had no need
to go abroad for the main materials for their bricks,
but merely for the straw to bind the whole together.
They already had free parliamentary institutions in "FATHERS" IN CONFERENCE   105
the Provinces, institutions that could readily be
adapted to the needs of their national government.35
Of new or borrowed features they needed merely such
as would establish workable relations between the
provincial governments and the new central authority.
■P. 93» n. 1. Mackenzie, George Brown, p. 227.
P. 94, n. 2. Canadian Archives, State Book AA, pp. 266/.
P. 94, n. 3. Ibid., p. 272.
P. 94, n. 4. Gray, Confederation, p. 30.
P. 94, tt. 5. Campbell's name is sometimes erroneously omitted from
this list, but see Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i.
p. 267, note.
P. 94, n. 6. Gray, op. cit., p. 29.
P. 94, n. 7. Recollections, p. 39.
P. 96, tt. 8. The letters are in the Howe Papers (Canadian Archives),
vol. iv. p. 32; vol. viii. p. 557. Printed in Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii.
pp. 434/., and in Longley's Howe, pp. 176/.
P. 96, n. 9. The speech is in Chisholm, op. cit., pp. 432jQT.
P. 96, n. 10. Johnson, MS. Life of Howe, p. 184.  Cf. Chisholm, loc. cit.
P. 96, n. 11. N.S., Journal of Assembly, 1865, Appendix 3, pp. 34/.
P. 97, n. 12. Gray, op. cit., p. 31.
P. 97, n. 13. Recollections, p. 40.
P. 98, tt. 14. Pope, Confed. Documents, p. 72;' Lieutenant-Governor
Gordon to Colonial Secretary Cardwell, Confidential, 12th September
and 22nd September, 1864, Canadian Archives, CO. 189, vol ix.
pp. iff., nff.
P. 98, n. 15. This minute is in Canadian Archives, State Book A A,
p. 291, and Monck's enclosing despatch to Cardwell is in G 465. Both
are printed in Gt. Brit., Pari. Papers, 1865 [3426], pp. 3/. See also
the inter-provincial correspondence in N.S., Journal of Assembly,
1865, Appendix 3. The formal minute was merely confirmatory
of an arrangement already made.—Infra, note 18.
P. 99, n. 16. Gray, op. cit., pp. 30/.  See also infra, note 25.
P. 99, n. 17. Quoted by Hammond in Confederation and Its Leaders,
p. 195.
P. 99, n. 18. "Report of Proceedings of a Conference Held to Consider
the Question of a Legislative Union of N.S., N.B., and P.E.I."
In N.S., Journal of Assembly, 1865, Appendix 3, pp. 29/. The delegates were at Fredericton 15th September, and conferred there informally with Lieutenant-Governor Gordon. Before they finally
left St. John an understanding was reached that the Quebec
conference should convene 10th October.—Gordon to Cardwell,
Confidential, 22nd September, 1864, loc. cit.
P. 99, n. 19. The affairs are reported at some length in Gray's Con- ï
federation, and more fully in Whelan's Union of the British Provinces.
See also Young, Public Men and Public Life in Canada, vol. i.
pp.   22OJ0T.
P. ioo, n. 20. Supra, chap. v. note 22.
P. 100, n. 21. Whelan, op. cit., p. 8.
P. 100, «. 22. Ibid., p. 43.
P. 101, n. 23. The conference comprised the following members, known
traditionally as the "Fathers of Confederation." Canada: Sir
Etienne P. Taché, M.L.C., Premier; John A. Macdonald, M.P.P.,
Attorney-General West; Georges E. Carrier, M.P.P., Attorney-
General East; George Brown, M.P.P., President of the Executive
Council; Alex. T. Gait, M.P.P., Finance Minister; Alex. Campbell,
M.L.C., Commissioner of Crown Lands; William McDougall, M.P.P.,
Provincial Secretary; Thos. D'Arcy McGee, M.P.P., Minister of
Agriculture; Hector L. Langevin, M.P.P., Solicitor-General East;
James Cockburn, M.P.P., Solicitor-General West; Oliver Mowat,
M.P.P., Postmaster-General; J. C. Chapais, M.L.C., Commissioner
of Public Works. Nova Scotia : Charles Tupper, M.P.P., Provincial
Secretary; W. A. Henry, M.P.P., Attorney-General; R. B. Dickey,
M.L.C.; Adams G. Archibald, M.P.P.; Jonathan McCully, M.L.C.
New Brunswick: Samuel L. Tilley, M.P.P., Provincial Secretary;
John M. Johnson, M.P.P., Attorney-General; Edw. B. Chandler,
M.L.C; John Hamilton Gray, M.P.P.; Peter Mitchell, M.L.C;
Charles Fisher, M.P.P.; Wm. H. Steves, M.L.C. Prince Edward
Island: John Hamilton Gray, M.P.P., Premier; Edward Palmer,
M.P.P., Attorney-General; W. H. Pope, M.P.P., Provincial Secretary;
George Coles, M.P.P.; T. H. Haviland, M.P.P.; A. A. Macdonald,
M.L.C; Edward Whelan, M.L.C. Newfoundland: Frederick
B. T. Carter, M.P.P., Speaker of the House of Assembly; Ambrose
Shea, M.P.P.
P. 101, n. 24. Whelan, op. cit., p 17.
P. 101, n. 25. Brown from Quebec to a member of his family, 23rd
September, 1864, Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 228; Editorial, and a column
reprinted from Quebec papers of 23rd September in Toronto Leader,
27th September, 1864. This semi-official statement is also reprinted
from the Montreal Gazette of 23rd September in the pamphlet Three
Letters to the Hon. John A. McDonald [sic], by a Backwoodsman
(Montreal, 1864).
P. 101, n. 26. Brown to a member of his family, 17th October, 1864,
Mackenzie, loc. cit.   Cf. Pope, Confed. Documents, p. 8.
P. 101, n. 27. Lieutenant-Governor Gordon of N.B., who was in Charlottetown during part of the conference there, wrote Colonial Secretary Cardwell from Fredericton, 12th September, 1864: "I had
also a good deal of conversation with the Canadian Ministers, especially
with Mr. Gait, who appears to me by far the ablest of their number.
He developped to me at considerable length the details of the scheme
of federation which had been agreed upon by the Canadian Cabinet."
—Canadian Archives, CO. 189, vol. ix. p. 3. The reference to Gait
was deleted from the printed despatch presented to the Legislature
in 1865. For Gait's scheme of 1858 see Skelton's Gait, pp. 242^. In
the same book, pp. 371/., is a comparison, in parallel columns, of
Gait's draft and the Quebec Resolutions of 1864. NOTES TO CHAPTER VIII
P. 101, n. 28. McGee said in the debate of 1865 that Mowat "took a
constant and honourable share in the preparation of this project.'*—
Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 137. Cf. Biggar, Sir Oliver Mowat, vol. i.
p. 129; Dent, Canadian Portrait Gallery, vol. ii. p. 89; Hammond,
op. cit., p. 74.
P. 102, tt. 29. Joseph How and William Annand to Earl of Carnarvon,
3rd October, 1866, Howe Papers, vol. ix. pp. 171/f. The writers of
this letter, in opposition to the Quebec scheme, attempt to make
the point that this authorship, recently announced by a colleague
of Macdonald at a public dinner at Kingston, discredits the
P. 102, n. 30. We are indebted to Sir Joseph Pope for the publication,
in Confed. Documents, of such records of the Quebec Conference as
he could find in Sir John Macdonald's papers, viz., the minutes and
the brief notes of discussion kept by the executive secretary, Hewitt
Bernard. For first-hand accounts of the conference we are practically
limited to these rather meagre records, to A. A. Macdonald's "Notes
on the Quebec Conference," edited by A. G. Doughty, in the Can. Hist.
Review, March 1920, and to the accounts of Gray in his Confederation
and of other members in Confed. Debates. Whelan, in The Union of
the British Provinces, reports the public festivities and speech-making,
but gives virtually no space to the conference itself. See also Young,
Public Men and Public Life in Canada, vol. i. pp. 223^.
P. 103, n. 31. Todd, Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies,
p. vii. It was in 1867 and 1869 that his famous Parliamentary
Government in England was published.
P. 104, n. 32. McGee, Notes on Federal Governments, specially pp. 52/.
Cf. Ross, in Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 74.
P. 104, n. 33. The New Zealand constitution is printed as an appendix
in McGee, op. cit. Concerning it, see Earl Grey's Colonial Policy of
Lord John Russell*s Administration, vol. ii. pp. 133, i$5ff., and
Egerton's Federations and Unions, pp. 4, 44. See also Morris, in
Canada, Confed. Debates, pp. 436ff., and John A. Macdonald in ibid.,
p. 39; Hamilton, Letter to Newcastle, p. 17; Pope, Confed. Documents,
p. 86.
P. 104, n. 34. Cf. Jenkyns, British Rule and Jurisdiction Beyond the
Seas, p. 90, where he says: "Apart from the division of powers
which is necessary in every federation and the fixed proportion of
the number of senators from each province, it is difficult to specify
any point of resemblance between the government of Canada and
that of the United States which is not also a point of resemblance
between the former and the government of the United Kingdom."
Cf. also Colquhoun, Fathers of Confederation, p. 126, and Bourinot,
Canadian Studies in Comparative Politics, passim.
P. 105, n. 35. Cf. Gait's remark in Speech on Proposed Union . . .
Delivered at Sherbrooke, lyrd November, 1864, p. 8: "The form of
government which should be adopted for the administration of the
general affairs of the whole union . . . was copied almost literally
from the system existing in the several Provinces." r
The Quebec Conferencex had little difficulty in agreeing that the proposed union should be federal rather
than unitary, or, to use the term then generally
employed, legislative. Some, particularly John A.
Macdonald, would much have preferred the latter
form, with its complete elimination of separate provincial legislatures,2 but that was utterly unacceptable
to the French-Canadians. Their desire to maintain
that cultural identity which the Act of Union had
failed to suppress, their fear lest ultimately they be
dominated by the growing population of Upper
Canada, had been a prime factor in producing the
political deadlock out of which came the coalition.
Carrier and his followers realised their strength too
well to think now of surrendering their advantage
and accepting a legislative union which would ensure
English-speaking ascendency. Fédéralisation, on the
other hand, would leave French Canada free to maintain and develop her individuality.3 The inclusion of
the Maritime Provinces in the federation was desired
by the ministerialists 4 in Lower Canada for a similar
reason; it would create minority groups in the central government not unlikely to co-operate with
Lower Canada in resisting Upper Canadian aggressiveness. In the Maritime Provinces themselves so
strong was the local feeling that, as we shall see,
serious opposition was encountered there to the
acceptance of federation ; a proposal for legislative
union would almost certainly have met defeat.5
With federation decided upon as the preferable
type of union, the most important question which
remained was that of the allocation of powers to the
central and local units. The solution of the problem
was easier than if the Provinces had been sovereign
states, each jealous of maintaining its sovereign position. For they were already, as separate colonies,
under the Crown, and federation would leave them
there, but instead of remaining in direct relation with
the Colonial Office they would now occupy an analogous position towards the new federal government.6
Since it was not necessary to secure a surrender of
sovereign rights by the parties to the union, as it
had been in the United States in 1787, advocates of
a strong central government could be more successful
this time in moulding the federal scheme in accordance with their ideas.7 Macdonald and other believers
in a legislative union were thus able to exert a considerable centralising influence upon the character of
the federation. Indeed, the conviction was general
that a federation, to be successful, must have a
strong central government, for the American Civil
War, then being waged, was looked upon widely in
the British Provinces as chiefly the result of too
great local autonomy.8
In the division of powers there was careful specification of those belonging ! exclusively to the local
governments as well as of those exclusively in the
hands of the central government.9 Much was made
at the time of the fact that the latter received the
"residual powers,"10 those not specifically allocated to
provincial or federal authority, in contrast to the
course followed in the Constitution of the United no        CANADIAN  FEDERATION
States. The transfer from the British to the federal
•government of the power to disallow provincial acts
was expected also to reinforce the central authority,
but in practice this power has almost disappeared.
Originally held to be very broad, it has been limited
to the acts of provincial legislatures that are either
ultra vires or inimical to Imperial interests.11 Indeed,
the Provinces have on the whole found it easier to
retain their authority than have the States of the
American Union. While the latter, in entering the
Union, retained the "residual" powers, they do not
enjoy any authority expressly reserved to them, as
the Provinces do, and hence have less to guard them
from encroachments of federal jurisdiction.
The "Fathers of Confederation" were fortunate, in
working out a scheme of government involving division of powers, that they were not under the necessity
of providing for a supreme tribunal to settle disputes
over jurisdiction. As the written constitution was to
take the form of an Act of the Imperial Parliament,
it was the natural course to assume that its interpretation would rest, in the last resort, with the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which would
thus continue to function as the court of final appeal.12
Similarly, amendments to the constitution as embodied in Imperial Act also would naturally come
through the parliament by which it had been enacted.
And in those respects in which the provincial and
federal legislatures would be enabled to amend their
own constitutions, there seemed no reason to require
any extraordinary method or unusual majority for
the attainment of that end.13
Already accustomed to legislative supremacy, the
"Fathers of Confederation" seem to have taken for
granted that such supremacy should continue.   That A WORKING COMPROMISE      m
attitude not only accounts for their policy, or lack
of policy, as to amendment; it also explains the
absence of "constitutional limitations" in the scheme
of government that they drew up. Of course federation necessarily involves a restriction of the subject
matter upon which federal and local legislatures
respectively may legislate, but within the limits so
set Dominion and Province alike, in Canada, have
"plenary powers of legislation as large and of the
same nature as those of Parliament itself."14 As
Justice Riddell has said, the word "unconstitutional"
does not have a meaning in Canada corresponding to
its use in the United States: rather, the word is
used "in the same sense and with the same connotation as in the Old Land. Careful speakers and
writers use the phrase 'ultra vires' for 'unconstitutional' in its American meaning; 'intra vires' for
It is plain that in the minds of the "Fathers of
Confederation" the sense of continuity was stronger
than the feeling of change, in so far as the form and
workings of governmental machinery were concerned.
They assumed that the British connection was to be
maintained, that British institutions were to be preserved, and that whatever new institutions might be
necessary were to be shaped, so far as possible, on
British models. This assumption greatly simplified
the task of constructing a federal organism. Responsible government, for example, was continued in the
Provinces16 and its use in the federal government taken
for granted, thereby not only preserving the interdependence of executive and legislature but also
avoiding the problem of devising a new type of
executive. The appointive governorship, representative of the Crown and exercising its constitutional CANADIAN  FEDERATION
functions, was retained. Federal appointment of
provincial lieutenant-governors replaced appointment
by the Colonial Office, the change furthering that
central supremacy so much desired. The presence of
an appointee of the Imperial Government as Governor-
General representing the Crown in the federal government was another factor in addition to the judicial
supremacy of the Privy Council, calculated to preserve the British connection.17 Further attachment to
British example was evidenced in the scheme as it
finally went into effect. The old term for the Lower
House, " Assembly," gave way in the federal parliament to the peculiarly British term " House of
Commons," in spite of the inapplicability of that
expression in strict truth to conditions in a new and
as yet relatively unclassed country. And the " Executive Council" became in the Dominion Government
"Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada."
Although British and colonial institutions largely
formed the basis of the new scheme of government,
these offered no suggestion for solving the strictly
federal aspects of the problem. Here the experience of
the United States proved useful. In the matter of the
distribution of legislative powers, as we have seen,
that experience was adduced as pointing out what
not to do, for the Civil War was looked upon as an
"awful example" of states' rights run amuck. In
some other respects, however, there was helpful
suggestion, positive rather than negative, in the
American Constitution.18
The Philadelphia Convention had solved the problem of the allotment of representation by basing that
in the Lower House upon population, and that in the
Upper upon the equality of the States. A similar
problem in  British  America  received a somewhat A WORKING COMPROMISE      113
similar solution. The old cry for "Rep. by Pop."
was satisfied in the Lower Chamber,19 and an attempt
was made to furnish the safeguards demanded by
sectional minorities in the composition of the Upper
House, which was to have twenty-four members from
Upper Canada, twenty-four from Lower Canada, and
twenty-four from the Maritime Provinces considered
as one section.20 This question of the distribution
of members in the Upper Chamber occupied three
days of the Conference at Quebec, and nearly broke
up proceedings.21
Discussion waxed warm, too, over the mode of
choosing the members of the Upper House. Canada's
Legislative Council had been for some years elective.22
McDougall and Mowat sponsored a motion for the
adoption of the elective principle now, which secured
the support of about a third of the delegates, but
the Maritime Province representatives, with the exception of the Prince Edward Islanders, were unanimously against it. Brown lined up with Macdonald
on the side of appointment. He, with others, felt
that two elective Houses were incompatible with the
responsible Cabinet system. To which House, in case
of deadlock, would the Ministry be responsible ?
Another argument that weighed heavily in favour
of appointment was the fact that such large constituencies as would be necessary for the elective
method would be impracticable and impossibly expensive. The advocates of appointment, accordingly,
won the day. The decision that the first members of
the new body should be chosen from the existing
provincial Upper Chambers23 may indicate that the
creation of positions of honour for these provincial
legislative councillors was considered desirable as a
means of insuring their support for federation.24 II4
It was contended that the limitation of membership in the Upper House would prevent its "being
swamped from time to time by the ministry of the day "
and thus preserve its independence and "make it, in
reality, a separate and distinct Chamber, having a
legitimate and controlling influence in the legislation
of the country," and serving as a valuable regulating
body to prevent "hasty or ill-considered legislation."
As for the danger of deadlock, it would be greater
with two elective bodies.25
The creation of an Upper House of this sort as a
special embodiment of the federal idea has proved
less important than was expected. A much surer
guarantee, in practice, of the representation of sectional interests in the federal government, has been
the custom of taking geographical as well as political,
racial, and religious factors into account in making
up the membership of the Dominion Cabinet. Nor
has the Canadian Senate become a strong independent
force in legislation.26 But discussion of the history of
Canadian government since federation is beyond the
bounds of this work.
One more problem must be noticed which proved
difficult of solution, that of finance, upon which, as
upon the question of the constitution of the Upper
House, the Quebec Conference almost went to pieces.27
The root of the difficulty lay in the proposed provincial surrender to the central government of practically all sources of revenue except direct taxation
for local purposes.28 The Maritime Provinces had no
municipal system, and no direct taxation, and so
were accustomed to meet local needs from the provincial treasury. . The Canadians, already used to
local direct taxation, and in the habit of letting turnpike companies build many of their roads, found it A WORKING COMPROMISE
hard to appreciate the situation in which the Maritime Provinces would be placed. So difficult of
solution did the question prove, that it became
necessary to adjourn the conference for a day and
hand this matter over for special consideration to a
small committee, comprising Gait and Brown for
Canada, Tupper and Archibald for Nova Scotia,
Tilley for New Brunswick, Shea for Newfoundland,
and Pope for Prince Edward Island. They toiled at
the problem till late at night, and at noon on the
following day, when the conference reassembled, Gait
reported their conclusions, which formed the basis of
settlement.29 In addition to taking over the provincial
debts, up to certain fixed limits, the central government was to grant annually to the Provinces, in
consideration of the transfer of their powers of taxation, a sum equal to eighty cents per head of the
population according to the census of 1861.30
It was further agreed that the central government
should assume responsibility for the prompt construction of an intercolonial railway, an agreement
that was a sine qua non to the entrance of the Maritime Provinces into a union. Communications with
the North-West and improvements that would develop
western trade with the seaboard through Canada were
declared to be subjects of the highest importance to
the proposed federation, and they were accordingly
to be undertaken as soon as finances would permit.
The whole relation of these matters to the federation
movement was of fundamental importance and is
reserved for treatment at length in later chapters.
The Quebec Conference lasted only three weeks, and
during the final days a good many resolutions were
put through with little discussion.31 One must remember, however, how much work was done on the n6       CANADIAN FEDERATION
scheme by the Canadian Ministers in fulfilment of
their promise that they would present detailed proposals to the delegates from the other Provinces.
Once the conference had reached decision on the
chief questions, therefore, the rapid settlement of
subordinate points was not unnatural. Certainly,
under the circumstances, it does not give good ground
for the old superficial charge that the conference did
its task with unseemly haste. The Quebec Resolutions, while somewhat imperfectly arranged, were not
thrown together in anything like so haphazard a
fashion as has sometimes been inferred from a cursory
reading of the mere formal records.
. Upon leaving Quebec3a the delegates made a tour of
Canada, speaking at banquets at the chief cities and
educating public opinion. At Toronto, on 3rd November, the details of the scheme were opened to the
people by George Brown.33 The excursion culminated
in an informal meeting of the delegates at Montreal,
.where the resolutions of the conference were once
more gone over and the correction of a few minor
points agreed to, after which a parchment copy was
signed by all the delegates present.34
P. 108, tt. 1. At Quebec, as at Charlottetown, proceedings were secret.
See Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 56; Gray, op. cit., pp. 53/.; Pope,
Confed. Documents, pp. 7/., 10/., 35/., 59. On other points of procedure see ibid., pp. 5/., 53/. Voting was by provinces, Canada having
two votes, the others one each.
The seventy-two resolutions are accessible in many places, e.g. in
Confed. Debates', Pope, op. cit.; Gray, op. cit.; Houston, Documents',
Gt. Brit., Parliamentary Papers, 1865 [3426]. Cf. also supra, chap,
viii. note 30.
P. 108, n. 2. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 29; Cartwright, Reminiscences, p. 38;   David, L'Union des deux Canadas, pp. 210, 291; NOTES to CHAPTER IX
Egerton, Federations and Unions, pp. 39, 93. Cf. Pope, Correspondence
of Sir John Macdonald, p. 11, note.
P. 108, tt. 3. Concerning the necessity of federal rather than legislative
union because of the need to guarantee Lower Canadian identity,
see David, op. cit., p. 209; Boyd, Cartier, pp. 73, lobff., 179', Canada,
Confed. Debates, pp. 12, 57, 108.
Cartier later felt bitter towards Sir John Macdonald for what he
considered the latter's ingratitude. "It is I who have kept him in
power," he told Henry J. Morgan of Ottawa, "and see how he uses
me and the people I represent. He has always been the enemy of my
race, and would, but for me, have forced a legislative union upon
us."—Henry J. Morgan to the editor of the Montreal Herald, 30th
January, 1906.
On the rights of the French in Canada see DeCelles, "Les Constitutions du Canada," in Trans. Roy. Soc. Can., 2nd Ser., vol. vi.
sect. 1, pp. sff.
The later French-Canadian attitude was typified in Laurier's
statement: "The federative form was only adopted to preserve for
Quebec the exceptional and unique position which it occupied on
the American continent."—Wilfrid Laurier on the Platform, p. 19.
P. 108,». 4. But not by the "Rouges," who, like the "Grits" of
Upper Canada, were arguing against the larger scheme.—Toronto
Leader, 18th August, 1864.
P. 109, n. 5. Although Howe expressed preference for legislative
union.—Howe to Cardwell, September 1865, Howe Papers, vol. viii.
pp. 7iojff. So did J. W. Johnstone.—See Bourinot, Builders of
N.S., pp. 153/.
P. 109, m. 6. Downing Street considers them merely as divisions of a
single colonial dominion. Cf. Jenkyns, British Rule and Jurisdiction,
pp. 89, 118.
P. 109, ». 7. Cf. Egerton, Federations and Unions, p. 39.
P. 109, n. 8. See Russell, Canada : Its Defences, Condition, and Resources, p. 352; Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 74; Gray, op. cit., p. 57.
P. 109, tt. 9. See Pope, Confed. Documents, pp. 22ff., I'jff., 43/f. for the
minutes on division of powers. The slight notes of discussion are at
PP« 79ff- Tke latter a*6 not strictly accurate: Mowat wished to
prevent the subordination of the provincial legislatures to the federal.
—Biggar, Mowat, vol. i. pp. 132/. On division of powers and Dominion
control of the Provinces see Jenkyns, op. cit., pp. 203/jf. ; Todd, op.
cit., pp. 325/f.; Munro, Constitution of Canada, pp. 223^. For the law
of the constitution as interpreted by the Privy Council see Lefroy,
Canada's Federal System, and Cameron, The Canadian Constitution
as Interpreted by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in
its Judgments.
P. 109, tt. 10. Gait in his proposals of 1858 had characterised the
disposal of the residual powers as a question for mature deliberation.
P. no, «. n. Cf. Egerton, op. cit., p. 93.
P. no, tt. 12. Though, of course, a system of courts was provided for,
and it was assumed that constitutional questions would in many
cases come before them in the first instance. See Pope, Confed.
Documents, p. 84. Cf. Bourinot, Federal Government in Canada,
pp. 65jfjf.   Contrast the provision of the Commonwealth of Australia r
Constitution Act limiting appeals to the Privy Council.—Egerton,
Op. Cit., p. 212.
P. no, n. 13. See Munro, op. cit., pp. 229^.; Jenkyns, op. cit., p. 75;
Ross, Senate of Canada, pp. ioqj^. As to the methods of altering the
constitutions of Australia, South Africa, and other colonies, see
Jenkyns, op. cit., pp. 72^.; Egerton, op. cit., pp. 228/. and note 1.
P. in, n. 14. Quoted from Judicial Committee in Reg. v. Borah (1878)
by Justice W. R. Riddell in The Constitutions of the United States
and Canada, p. 7.
P. in, n. 15. Riddell, loc. cit. On the distinction between the conventions and the law of the Canadian constitution see Bourinot, Federal
Government in Canada, pp. 33^. Cf. Canada, Confed. Debates,
pp. 219/.
P. in, n. 16. It was left for the Canadian Legislature in 1866 to provide
for the local governments and legislatures of the two sections of the
Province, when federation should be effected. For the resolutions of
the Legislature on the subject see Pope, Confed. Documents, pp. 89/jf.
On the provincial governments and legislatures see Bourinot, Manual
of Constitutional History, pp. 62j^. ; Munro, op. cit., pp. 44/jf.
Brown would have liked to do away with the responsibility of the
provincial executive to the legislature, substituting the American
system of direct election of both by the people. Indeed, in the late
'fifties the Globe had been party to an agitation against responsible
government. The single chamber adopted for Ontario, while Quebec
was given two, was due to the respective attitudes of Brown and
Cartier on that matter.  See Pope, op. cit., pp. 74/.
P. 112, n. 17. Cf. Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 34; Hamilton, Union
of the Colonies, p. xi; Todd, op. cit., pp. 574/f. ; Jenkyns, op. cit.,
pp. 77ff., 213/jf. The Governor-Generalship of B.N.A., which existed
long before federation, was little more than nominal.—Cf. Durham's
Report, edited by Lucas, vol. ii. p. 8, note 1.
P. 112, n. 18. On the influence of the U.S. constitution as compared
with the British see Canada, Confed. Debates, especially in the speeches
of Macdonald, Brown, and McGee, pp. 32/., 85, 145. See also J. W.
Johnstone to P. S. Hamilton, 2nd March, 1865, in Bourinot, Builders,
of Nova Scotia, p. 154. For a suggestive discussion of origins see
W. R. Riddell, "Some Origins of 'The British North America Act,
1867'" (Trans. R.S.C, 3rd Ser., vol. xi. sect. 2, pp. yiff.).
P. 113, n. 19. The use of existing constituencies brought it about that
at first the representation was not strictly according to population,
but it was so after the census of 1871.—Gray, op. cit., pp. 58/.
P. 113, n. 20. Canada, Confed. Debates, pp. 21, 35, 88; Pope, op. cit.,
pp. 11, ii7#
P. 113, n. 21. Lewis, Brown, p. 164. There is no record in Pope, op.
cit., of the discussion on these days.
P. 113, n. 22. Characterised as a mistake by Adderley in his Review of
Grey's "Colonial Policy," p. 39.
P. 113, n. 23. Except in the case of P.E.I. Apparently appointment by
the provincial legislatures, except in the first instance, was not
P. 113, n. 24. Pope, op. cit., pp. 61, 117^.; Canada, Confed. Debates,
pp. 22#, 35#, 88j(jf., 235jfjf., 287, etc.; Young, op. cit., pp. 226/. and NOTES TO CHAPTER IX
note;   Colquhoun, op. cit., p.  80 and note   1;   Gait,  Speech on
Proposed Union delivered at Sherbrooke, p. 9.
P. 114, n. 25. Macdonald, in Canada, Confed. Debates, p. 36. At the
suggestion of the British Government, the B.N.A. Act authorised
the appointment of six additional members in case of deadlock,
hardly a sufficient measure if the situation were serious.
P. 114, n. 26. For a historical study of the Senate see Sir George Ross,
Senate of Canada.
P. 114, tt. 27. Lewis, Brown, p. 165.
P. 114, n. 28. N.B.'s export duty on timber an exception.—See Gait in
Confed. Debates, p. 67. His whole speech is an able exposition of the
financial terms.
P. 115, n. 29. Gray, op. cit., pp. 61/.; Pope, op. cit., pp. 25/., 34, 82jQf.
P. 115, n. 30. $62,500,000, $8,000,000 and $7,000,000 were the debt
limits respectively for Canada, N.S., and N.B. Prince Edward Island
and Newfoundland were to receive interest at five per cent, on the
difference between their indebtedness, in proportion to population,
and the average of that of the other three Provinces. New Brunswick
and Newfoundland were to receive special additional grants. For
further details see the resolutions in Pope, op. cit., pp. 50/., and the
slight record of discussion, ibid., pp. 82j(f.
For statistics of the financial condition and prospects of British
North America in 1864, see infra, appendix to this chapter. Cf.
Confed. Debates, especially pp. ôzff., 92jf., i39j(f., 2ôoff.
P. 115, «. 31. Cf. Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 356.
P. 116, «. 32. The final session of the three weeks' conference was held
at Montreal, 29th October.—Pope, Confed. Documents, p. 37.
P. 116, n. 33. For reports of these banquets, see Gray, op. cit., pp. 8off. ;
Whelan, op. cit., pp. 84^. About the middle of the month the full
resolutions were made public in the Prince Edward Island Monitor.
Whether or no the publication was secretly authorised is not known.
—Johnson, MS. Life of Howe, p. 209.
P. 116, n. 34. Whelan, op. cit., p. 216; Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A.
Macdonald, vol. i. p. 356. ï
From Speech on the Proposed Union of the North American Pro-
vinces, delivered at Sherbrooke, CE., by the Hon. A. T. Gait,
Minister of Finance, 23rd November, 1864. Reprinted from
the "Montreal Gazette" (Montreal, 1864).
[Several minor errors are to be found in the following tables. These errors
occur in the figures as printed in Gait's pamphlet. No attempt has been made
to correct them, for it is impossible to tell whether what appear to be mistakes
in addition may not in reality seem so only because of typographical errors in
the numbers added. Attempted corrections, therefore, might introduce new
mistakes. The errors are all essentially negligible.]
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick   .
Newfoundland (1862)   .
Prince Edward Island  .
Maritime Provinces
Canada .
Debt, 1863.
Income, 1863.
Outlay, 1863.
$79,012,205       $12,523,320       $13,350,832
Increased Revenues in 1864.
Canada, without the produce of the new taxes
New Brunswick        .        .        .        .
Nova Scotia     ......
Deficit of 1863
Surplus of 1864
Total Revenues of all the Colonies,
Outlay ....
Estimated Surplus .
$872,488 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER IX    121
Revenue now
Local Revenues
Subsidy to be
produced for
which would
paid to
available for
not go into the
the purposes of
General Chest.
the General
Canada   .
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Prince Edward
Difference payable
Local Outlay.
[>y the General
Canada   .
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
P. E. Island     .
Newfoundland .
disposal of th
3 General Government
Surplus at the
Nova Scotia .  10
New Brunswick   .  15^
20 per cent.       Newfoundland .  11 per cent.
Prince Edward Island 10
Nova Scotia .
New Brunswick
P. E. Island .
Estimated Outlay
for 1864, under present Government.
t *2,o2i,979
tf 238,170
Estimated Local
Outlay under the
$1.530.043    $3.981,914      i
* Average of the.last fouryears.       t Interest on excess of debt.
t Not submitted by Mr. Gait, for reasons'given in the speech. r
Debenture Debt, direct and indirect
Miscellaneous liabilities
Common School Fund  .
Indian Fund ....
Banking Accounts
Seigniorial Tenure:
Capital to Seigniors    .        .        .    $2,899,711 09
Chargeable on Municipalities' Fund        196,719 66
On account of Jesuits' Estates      . 140,271 87
Indemnity to the Townships . 891,500 00
Less—Sinking Funds
Cash and Bank Accounts
$4,883,177 11
2,248,891 87
From which, for reasons given in his speech, Mr. Gait
deducted the Common School Fund .
Leaving as NET LIABILITIES      .
$65,238,649 21
64,426 14
1,181,958 85
1,577,802 46
3*396,982 81
4,118,202 62
75.578.o22 09
7,132,068 98
68,445.953 11
1,181,958 85
$67,263,994 26
Nova Scotia .
New Brunswick
P.E.Island .
Total Trade
Sea-going Tonnage.
Inward & Outward.
No returns
66,846,604 4,952,934
Lake T'ge 6,907,000
Total Tons   11,859,934 CHAPTER X
At the banquets which, marked the triumphal progress of the delegates through the Canadian cities
after the Quebec Conference, much enthusiasm for the
union cause was displayed. But when the feasting
was over, and the shouting had died, it soon became
apparent that much must still be done before the
dream of federation could become a reality.
Acceptance of the Quebec scheme was secured with
less difficulty in Canada than in any other Province.
There, in March 1865, after a debate of several weeks,
the Legislature agreed to the seventy-two resolutions * in toto and adopted an address requesting that
the Imperial Parliament pass legislation in accordance with their provisions.2 Upper Canadians were
naturally almost unanimous in support of a scheme
that would gain for their section "Rep. by Pop.,"
though some of the "Grits" adhered to the programme of the Toronto Convention, voicing preference for a federation of the two Canadas without the
Maritime Provinces.3 Among Lower Canadians there
was naturally more difficulty, because the French
would be a minority in the new federal government,
and the English in that of the French Province.
Accordingly opposition came from a few members of
all parties there, though chiefly from the Liberals of
both races, and a group of young French Conservatives who were afraid of placing Lower Canadian
interests, even in general matters, in the hands of
123 V
an English majority. But what could they do, asked
one of those young Conservatives later, against the
united influence of the clergy, the Government, the
great majority of the English of Upper and Lower
Canada, and of England, against the seductions of
place, of honours and of favours that confederation
offered to its advocates and partisans ?4 In spite of
the fact that much of the opposition in Canada to
the Quebec scheme came from Lower Canada,6 Cartier
led his party there to an overwhelming victory at
the next election, in 1867. The Church was actively
with him, explaining its attitude by the contention
that the alternative to federation was annexation to
the United States, a step feared by the Church
because it might mean the confiscation of Church
lands6 and would certainly decrease hierarchical influence in the Government. Gait's assurances to his
English-speaking Protestant compatriots in Lower
Canada that their interests would be safeguarded
carried great weight with them. The bulk of Conservatives there, French and English, thus supported
the federation project, in spite of the astonishment
which they were sometimes unable to suppress at
seeing their leaders in the same Government with
George Brown.
The delegates of the Lower Provinces to the Quebec
Conference were on the whole so satisfied with the
results of the gathering, and so confident of the
success of the scheme there formulated, that at an
adjourned meeting of the Maritime Conference on
Legislative Union, held at Toronto on 3rd November,
they resolved, in view of the Quebec Conference's
adoption of the seventy-two resolutions, to postpone
considering the question of a legislative union for the
Maritime Provinces.7 When they reached their homes, BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE     125
however, they were disillusioned. Opposition was
already active, due partly to the separatist instincts
of the little community which dislikes the loss of
identity involved in union with a larger and fears
the economic exploitation that may result, and partly
to dissatisfaction with the proposed financial terms.
The cry that they were being sold to Canada at
eighty cents a head embodied in a popular slogan
both these lines of opposition. The Lieutenant-
Governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were
not cordial to the project, MacDonnell of Nova Scotia
supposedly because he did not want the importance
of his office lessened, Gordon of New Brunswick, it
was said, because he had hoped to be governor of
a union of the three Maritime Provinces.8
It was disappointing that the Quebec scheme was
rejected by Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland,
but they were relatively too small for their action to
kill the project. (Discussion of their attitude is reserved for Chapter XXII., on rounding out the
Dominion's boundaries.) Unless, however, rejection
could be checkmated in both New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia, the whole idea might as well be abandoned. For a time the prospect looked gloomy in
both Provinces. In New Brunswick, an election in
March, resulted in the overwhelming defeat of the
Tilley Administration, and with it, apparently, the
federation cause. Tupper, in Nova Scotia, took care
to avoid committing the Legislature upon the question and managed to put through instead a motion
in favour of renewing negotiations regarding Maritime Union.9 It would be worse than useless to push
matters there against the strong opposition to which
Howe had now become a party, until New Brunswick, holding the key position between Canada and 126       CANADIAN  FEDERATION
Nova Scotia, should have been induced to change
her mind.
The influences were diverse which brought about
another turnover in New Brunswick in 1866, and
thus opened the way again to the realisation of
federation. On sober second thought many New
Brunswickers decided that the terms of union were
not altogether unfavourable after all. The bait of
the intercolonial railway, in fact, meant more to that
Province than to any other. A most important
factor in the situation, already pointed out in Chapter IV. as an influence at the beginning of the
'sixties, was the condition of British-American relations with the United States. More recently the
St. Albans raid and the Alabama depredations had
not tended to promote good feeling in the States
towards the Provinces. The United States attitude
was becoming distinctly more hostile, and its aggressiveness was enhanced by some Americans' dislike
of the movement for federation of the Provinces,
which seemed liable to postpone indefinitely the
possibility of those regions being politically absorbed
by the republic.
In January 1865, Congress, which had had the
purpose in mind for many months, resolved to abrogate the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, the abrogation
to go into effect at the earliest date possible under
the terms of the treaty, which would be 17th March,
1866. That this action was "the result rather of a
strong political feeling than of any commercial considerations " was stated by so distinguished a man
as Charles Francis Adams, American Minister at
London during the Civil War.10 The free trade sentiment of the South, which had done much to secure
acceptance of the treaty, now of course had no voice BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE
in Congress, and the political animosity aroused in
the North against the Provinces by the situation
during the war was thus able to exercise a controlling
influence upon policy. Southern leaders had feared,
in 1854, t£at> unless reciprocity were granted, the
Provinces might be driven by their loss of British
trade favours to seek admittance to the republic and
thus throw the balance of power irrevocably to the
free North. In the Congress of 1865 any thought
that the withdrawal of American reciprocity might
compel the Provinces to seek economic salvation
through annexation to the States was welcome rather
than otherwise. But there were some commercial
interests in the North which believed that the treaty
had been economically advantageous, and in July
1865 a great international convention was held at
Detroit to consider the possibility of a new treaty. At
the gathering, after Howe had made one of his greatest
speeches,11 in which he swung a hostile crowd to his
support, resolutions were finally adopted favouring
a renewal of reciprocity. But political antagonism
was voiced even at this convention, and in the end
it won the day, and reciprocity was "sacrificed on
the annexation altar."12
The sacrifice proved vain. Rather than hurrying
to a favourable consideration of annexation, the people
of the Provinces were led to a more serious study of
other alternatives. As one effect of the abrogation of
reciprocity a joint trade contmission from the Provinces was sent in the fall of 1865 to study possibilities of trade developments in the West Indies
and Brazil.13 Another effect was to furnish a powerful
argument for free trade among the Provinces, and
for the federation project as a practical means of
achieving that end.    Isaac Buchanan of Hamilton, 128
for example, an ardent upholder of reciprocity,14
now, in his retiring address to his constituents, 17th
January, 1865, argued that because of the uncertain
tenure of reciprocity, federation was a " necessity as
a means of preserving the Canadas to the British
Empire" because of the "necessity to save the
Canadas from remaining immeasurably lower in
material industrial advantages and prospects than
the United States."15
It turned out that the American Government was
not prepared to take active measures against the
Provinces,16 but the annexation talk, official and unofficial, whether or not voiced in connection with
reciprocity abrogation, certainly roused the fears of
those colonists, and they were the large majority,
who did not wish to transfer their allegiance.17 And
there is little doubt that the realisation of the federation scheme lessened the chances that popular clamour
in the United States might force the Government
there to take active measures against British America.
While the authorities at Washington took no such
step themselves, they winked for a time in 1865 and
1866 at Irish-American preparations that were being
made on a large scale for the invasion of the Provinces. The Fenians in the United States had conceived the unhappy notion that the way to free
Ireland was to attack Britain in America. Their
threats of invasion were voiced openly, and they
gathered in menacing numbers, armed and well
officered, on the Canadian and New Brunswick
borders.18 Their talk and their doings, tales of which
filled the colonial newspapers, caused much excitement. The volunteers were called out in the spring,
and in Canada had to meet actual invasion in June.
On the New Brunswick border, so threatening had BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE      129
the situation become in April that Governor Gordon
telegraphed to General Hastings Doyle, in command
of the forces at Halifax, asking for the assistance of
regular troops to strengthen the defences of the
Province.19 Thanks to the presence of volunteer and
regular troops, and war vessels, also to the prompt
arrival of the American, General Meade, with a force
sent by the Washington Government as soon as the
affair became critical, there were no hostilities along
the St. Croix. But the excitement came at a convenient time for the cause of federation, and it was
made the most of by that movement's supporters.
Just as the Fenian situation was approaching a
crisis, the Provincial Government resigned, 13th April,
practically forced out of office by Governor Gordon,20
in order to facilitate the acceptance of federation,
towards which public opinion had been veering for
some time. -In May and June the elections were held.
The victory of the federation party was as complete
as that of its opponents had been in the previous year.
A telegram from Governor Gordon to General
Doyle, dated 25th May, 1866, casts interesting light
upon the usefulness of the Fenian situation at this
time: "I, some days ago, sent down Anderson with
discretion to arrest embarkation, and myself postponed it, at all events till next week. I don't believe
half the reports which are I think very much got
up for election purposes. It is essential to success of
confederation that Volunteer Battalion should be at
St. John during election nearly all are voters and a
majority favourable I hoped to dispense with them
altogether, for they are very expensive, but if I found
they would have to return I intended to ask you to send
to St. Andrews, for the week of their absence the two companies of i$tb you originally destined for St. Stephens." 13°
The telegram is endorsed by Doyle to the effect
that the underlined sentences were received in cypher.
Gordon's wish for troops to take the place of the
volunteers is explained by another telegram to Doyle
three days later: "I send you the details and you
will I think concur in necessity of some protection.
There is, however, until after the Elections a political
necessity not to allow a cry of abandoning the Charlotte people to be raised, you will see my request
for 15 is only temporary & the Volunteers will at
once replace them after the St. John election if
Here was Governor Gordon, who was opposed to
federation in 1865, and who, indeed, was in part
responsible for its defeat in that year, in the following
year working hard for its realisation. The cause of
his change of heart lay in the attitude of the British
Government. Colonial Secretary Cardwell instructed
the Maritime Province governors in June of 1865 to
inform their Governments that it was "the strong
and deliberate opinion of Her Majesty's Government"
that it was "an object much to be desired that all
the British North American Colonies should agree to
unite in one Government." He urged as a prime
reason for this the greatly improved condition in
regard to defence that would then be possible.22 It is
significant that this despatch was sent a few days
after the Colonial Secretary had concluded a conference with a deputation from Canada. The Coalition Government in that Province, much perturbed at
the course affairs were taking down by the sea, and
at the general uncertainty as to its own future, sent
Macdonald, Cartier, Brown, and Gait to confer with
the British Government upon means for the speedy
effecting of federation, upon arrangements for defence BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE      131
in case of war with the United States, upon the course
to be pursued in regard to reciprocity, upon the
arrangements necessary for the settlement of the
North-West Territory and Hudson's Bay Company's
claims, and generally upon the critical state of affairs
seriously affecting Canada.23 The Imperial Government's intervention in the Maritime Provinces was
hastened and strengthened as a result of the conference. Not only was the despatch already quoted
sent to the Maritime governors, but delegates who
went to England from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to advance the cause of Maritime Union were
informed that the British Government could not countenance "any proposals which would tend to delay
the Confederation of all the Provinces, which they
[were] ... so desirous to promote." Aid could only
be given to proposals for a Maritime Union if that
union were " subordinate to and formed part of the
scheme for general union." 24
In favouring federation the British Government
was following its colonial policy of a generation to a
logical conclusion. The grant of real self-government,
the adoption of free trade, and the repeal of navigation laws, must naturally be followed by throwing
the colonies more and more upon their own resources
for defence. The military menace to British America
arising out of the Civil War in the neighbouring
republic served to strengthen an attitude which the
Home Government had long held.25 From the beginning of the war a stream of despatches on the subject
went from the Colonial Office to the Provinces.
Federation, by enabling the latter better to utilise
their own strength, would constitute a long step
forward. So eager was the Imperial Government
for the step, that assurances were given that if the
two Canadas agreed, Britain would see to it that the
other Provinces were brought into line.26 There lies
sufficient explanation of Gordon's action in unseating
the Smith Government and precipitating a second
election. A trip to England had made of him an
ardent worker for the policy desired by the Home Government. MacDonnefl, less amenable to reason, was
shipped off to the governorship of Hong-Kong and
his place at Halifax given to Sir Fenwick Williams,
popular as a native Nova Scotian, illustrious as the
hero of Kars, and a firm believer in federation.27
There was another side to the British attitude.
Many believed that the natural evolution of the
colonies was towards complete independence from
the Mother Country.28 There would have been considerable relief, indeed, in some quarters, had the
Provinces chosen to join the United States and thus
remove themselves from their place as the Achilles'
heel of the empire stretched out naked for the
American Republic to snap at.29 Even the Colonial
Office contained among its permanent officials men
of these views.30 Newcastle, however, who was Colonial
Secretary from 1859 to 1864, when ill-health forced
his retirement, held no such separatist doctrines.
Believing in colonial autonomy, he was eager at the
same time to retain the colonies within the empire.
The favourable change in the official British attitude
towards the colonies was really due in large part to
his influence.31 Cardwell, who had taken his place as
Whig Colonial Secretary, was likewise friendly to the
federation cause, as evidenced by the pressure brought
to bear on the Maritime Province Governments during
his term of office.
As a consequence of the second turnover in New
Brunswick, that Province and Nova Scotia decided BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE
to send delegates to England to discuss with the
British Government and with delegates from Canada
the question of British-American federation. The
fall of Lord Russell's Cabinet caused some delay, but
Lord Carnarvon, who became Colonial Secretary in
the new Conservative Ministry of Lord Derby, was
a true "Conservative-Imperialist" and a "persistent
advocate of . . . federation."82
The Maritime Province delegates had to wait for
the men from Canada, whose prompt departure was
hindered by Fenian difficulties. At last the conference
convened at the Westminster Palace Hotel in London,
4th December, 1866.33 While Carnarvon presided over
the later sessions of the conference, and other British
officials, as well as Lord Monck, who had gone over
for the purpose, assisted it in its work, its decisions
were essentially made by the colonial delegates. In
London as at Quebec, John A. Macdonald stood out
for his skill as a conciliator, and manager of men.34
In spite of the stand that had been taken in the
Maritime Provinces against the Quebec Resolutions,
they were now made the basis of discussion. Indeed,
they were modified in few important respects. Two
alterations in the scheme were made to meet the
expressed wish of the British Government: the pardoning power was transferred from the provincial
lieutenant-governors to the Governor-General as the
direct representative of the Crown, and the number of members in the Upper House was made
slightly flexible as a possible advantage in avoiding
deadlock.85 It had been understood at Quebec that
the Provincial Legislature of Canada, in shaping a
frame of government for the two new Provinces into
which old Canada was to be divided, would provide
for the security of the educational interests of the 134        CANADIAN FEDERATION
Protestant minority in Lower Canada. A bill had
been brought in but had been withdrawn on account
of political exigencies. Gait had left the Cabinet over
the matter. Now, as a delegate in London, he obtained an alteration in the federation scheme which
guaranteed to Protestant or Roman Catholic minorities in both sections of old Canada the rights regarding
separate schools which they previously enjoyed.36 As
for the governments which must be set up in the
new Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, provision,
made in the last session of the Legislature of the
Province of Canada, was now embodied in the
new bill.37
A name for the new federation was chosen at the
Westminster Conference. As old Canada would be
split into two Provinces with new titles, that name
became available, and it was thought to call the new
whole the Kingdom of Canada, thus denoting its
relationship to the British Crown and connoting a
national status in the empire. But Lord Stanley
suggested that this monarchical term might offend
the republican susceptibilities of the United States,
and accordingly another title was found in the old
word Dominion. The aptness of this name may well
have appealed to those who believed that soon there
would be applicable to the new federation the scriptural passage: "He shall have dominion also from
sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the
earth." It is interesting that the suggestion of the
passage is now embodied in the Latin motto on the
new Royal Arms of the Dominion, A mari usque
ad mare.38
After the measure had been drafted and re-drafted
and finally put into proper form for submission to
Parliament,39 it was introduced by Carnarvon in the BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE     135
Lords, passed there with little discussion, and then
piloted through the Commons by Adderley. As both
parties were already committed to the idea, and as
the attitude was taken that the scheme must be considered as a whole, being in the nature of an agreement among the Provinces, it was natural that it
should arouse little opposition, but it seems at first
surprising that it should have excited no more interest
than it did. It was an instance of the Imperial Parliament dealing with an imperial project in the
absence of mind of most of its members. To the
pique of some colonials in the gallery, the House woke
up noticeably when it passed to the consideration of
a dog-tax bill.40 The Act received the royal assent
28th March, and on 22nd May a proclamation declared that the three Provinces, Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, and Canada, the last now to be divided
into Ontario and Quebec, would be united on the
following 1st of July.
Joseph Howe had headed a delegation of opposition in England during the winter, but without avail.41
He won the sympathy of some men, notably John
Bright, with his tale of the will of a people overridden, but his campaign had no chance of success
against the indifference of the British public, the
desire of the Colonial Office to simplify its problems
by shifting some of them on to the shoulders of a
federal government, and the wish of large financial
interests in London to improve conditions for investment in British America. (The last-named factor
was highly important and will be discussed in Part
Two.) The repeal agitation that followed the passage
of the Act was equally as hopeless as the previous
opposition to the bill. The British Government refused to recognise as valid either the contention that I
federation was accomplished without properly consulting the Province of Nova Scotia, or the objection
that the results were prejudicial to some of its special
interests.42 When Howe at last appreciated the hopelessness of the repeal agitation, he refused to countenance the idea of revolt or of annexation, and
allowed himself to be won over by Macdonald and
his colleagues to advocating the acceptance of the
fait accompli, sweetened somewhat by increased subsidies, "Better Terms," to the Provinces. Then he
accepted a position in the Dominion Cabinet.43
In Howe's leadership lay the greatest strength of
the opposition to federation in Nova Scotia. His
attitude, in view of his earlier advocacy of colonial
union, is the most difficult phase of his whole political
career satisfactorily to explain. It were of course
utterly unreasonable, merely because federation
proved in the long run successful and in a following
generation won the approval of most Nova Scotians,
to charge him with disloyalty for having opposed it
at the beginning. There is no justice in that sort of
ex post facto verdict on political opinions. Howe had
as much right to his own view in this matter as any
other man. The difficulty lies in the fact that friends
of the federation cause believed him already committed to it; in their eyes his opposition seemed an
irrational volte face. His own later attribution of his
stand to pique that circumstances had given his
rival, Tupper, such leadersliip in the enterprise as
he had coveted for himself, seems, indeed, a half-
humorous admission of personal weakness.44 Posterity has been perhaps too ready to seize upon this
explanation to the exclusion of other factors. In
view of all the circumstances it assuredly seems impossible to believe that personal motives were alto- BATTLE  FOR ACCEPTANCE     137
gether absent, but, none the less, to explain Howe's
position as entirely due to a failure of character were
even more unfair than completely to deny any weakness in the man. This at least may be said in his
behalf, that it was not entirely inconsistent with his
previous general advocacy of colonial union that he
should view critically the particular terms embodied
in the Quebec Resolutions and in the British North
America Act of 1867. And he doubtless believed that
in some important respects those terms did not give
his Province its full due. Whether their failure to do
so should warrant his opposing the whole scheme, only
he could decide. Whether he would have decided as
he did, had circumstances afforded him a share in
framing the terms, and had he thus been able to feel
satisfied that they were the best obtainable, is one of
those interesting conjectures in which the historian is
not supposed to indulge.
P. 123, n. 1. Regarding certain alterations made in the draft submitted to the Canadian Legislature see Pope's Confed. Documents,
, pp. 38, 42/., 46, 297/jf., and his Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald,
vol. i. p. 272 ; also Gray, Confederation, p. 59.
P. 123, n. 2. Although many of the later speakers in the debate merely
rehashed ideas already expressed by others, nevertheless the speeches
of the leaders were on a high plane, and the volume of Confed.
Debates throws much important light on the course of the federation
movement. Extensive selections from the most important speeches are
reprinted in Gray, op. cit. ; Kennedy, Documents; Egerton and Grant,
Constitutional Development.
P. 123, n. 3. Cf. Toronto Leader, 18th August, 1864.
P. 124, n. 4. David, in his L'Union des deux Canadas, pp. 2i2jQf.
P. 124, n. 5. E.g. Dorion, Holton, Dunkin.
P. 124, n. 6. Cf. Dilke, Greater Britain, p. 61.
P. 124, n. 7. N.S., Journal of A ssembly, 1865, Appendix 3, p. 30.
P. 125, n. 8. Hannay, Tilley, p. 301. Cf. Pope, Correspondence of Sir
John A. Macdonald, pp. 28/.
P. 125, n. 9. N.S., Journal of Assembly, 1865, p. 93. Cf. Saunders,
Tupper, vol. i. pp. ii4# 138
P. 126, n. 10. Quoted in Haynes, Reciprocity Treaty with Canada of
1854, p. 28. The author gives other evidence in support of the conclusion. See also the discussion of reciprocity abrogation in Theodore
C. Blegen, "A Plan for the Union of British North America and the
United States, 1866" (Mississippi Valley Historical Review, March
1918, vol. iv. pp. ^yoff.).
P. 127, n. 11. Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii. pp. 438^.
P. 127, n. 12. Young, op. cit., vol. i. pp. 247^. Cf. editorial in Toronto
Leader, 1st January, 1866. See also Howe to Sir F. Bruce, 15th July,
1865, Howe Papers, vol. viii. pp. 59i#; Johnson, MS. Life of Howe,
p. 190; Watkin, Canada and the States, p. 17.
P. 127, n. 13. Canadian Archives, State Book AC, pp. sff., 264/f.; also
Michel to Cardwell, No. 19, 20th November, 1865; No. 23, 27th
November, 1865; No. 33, 18th December, 1865; Monck to Cardwell,
No. 25, 14th April, 1866, all in Canadian Archives, G 465. A synopsis
of the report of the Commissioners is in the Y ear-Book and Almanac
of B.N.A. for 1867, PP- 89/-
P. 128, n. 14. Cf. supra, chap. iii. note 27.
P. 128, n. 15. Buchanan, The British American Federation a Necessity,
p. 11. On the use made in Nova Scotia of the Detroit annexation talk
cf. Saunders, op. cit., vol. i. p. 120.
P. 128, n. 16. Cf. Martineau, Newcastle, pp. 30iff.
P. 128, n. 17. A phase of American attitude was shown by a bill reported
by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of
Representatives on 2nd July, 1866, to the effect that on acceptance
of the proposition by the several British Provinces the President
should proclaim their admission as States and Territories.—Moore,
Digest of International Law, vol. i. par. 116; Watkin, op. cit., pp. 227/jf.
The circumstances of the framing and consideration of this bill are
dealt with in detail by Theodore C. Blegen, op. cit.
On 27th March, 1867, a resolution from the Committee on Foreign
Affairs was passed in the House without opposition, t,o the effect
that the people of the U.S. regarded with extreme solicitude the
proposal for confederation on the northern frontier without thé assent
of the people of the Provinces to be confederated, such a measure
being likely to increase the embarrassment already existing between
Great Britain and the U.S.—Moore, loc. cit. See also Journal H. of R.,
40th Congress, 1st Session, p. 125; Congressional Globe, 40th Congress,
1st Session, p. 392.
P. 128, n. 18. Cartwright, Reminiscences, pp. 5Qff. A Fenian Congress
met at New York in January, 1866, and the Canadian papers for the
first half of that year are full of tales of their doings. For O'Mahoney's
message to the "Congress" on the question of invading Canada see
Toronto Leader, 13th January, 1866. See also the same paper of
29th January, 30th January, 2nd February, and 18th May. Regarding the precautions taken against the Fenian menace in 1865-6, see
many minutes of Council in Canadian Archives, State Books AC, AD
and AE, and numerous despatches in Canadian Archives, G 465,
G 466, G 176, G 177, many of which are printed in Gt. Brit., Pari.
Papers, 1867 [3785].
P. 129, n. 19. Telegram, 15th April, 1866, Canadian Archives, C 1672.
The portfolio contains a considerable telegraphic correspondence NOTES TO CHAPTER X 139
which Doyle had with Gordon, with military and naval officers and
others, concerning the Fenian situation. See also, concerning the
Fenians on the Maine border, Buckingham to Monck, No. 61, 26th
July, 1867, with enclosures, Canadian Archives, G 179; and mention
of the subject in a draft of a letter Howe to Gait, 8th March, 1866,
Howe Papers, vol. ix. pp. 20/.
P. 129, n. 20. For an account of Gordon's action and the correspondence in the case see Hannay, Tilley, pp. 301$".
P. 130, n. 21. Canadian Archives, C 1672. The despatches in Gordon's
letter-book during this period go to show that though ready to admit
that the talk of danger on the border was exaggerated for election
purposes, he looked upon the danger as decidedly real. Doubtless
it was wise to take precautions for defence, not only by the use of
naval vessels and regular troops, but also by calling out the militia
and enrolling and training special volunteers. It was nevertheless
convenient that no sooner were the elections over than he was able to
express confidence that the Fenian menace was no longer serious.
Special naval protection of the port of St. John was at once dispensed
with ; the regular troops borrowed from Nova Scotia were sent home ;
the militia were disbanded; and the special volunteer training units
suspended their activities.—Canadian Archives, CO. 189, vol. ix.,
specially pp. 327, 341, 348, 363.
P. 130, n. 22. Despatch of 24th June, 1865, enclosed in Cardwell to
Monck, No. 103, 24th June, 1865, Canadian Archives, G 174. Printed
in Canada, Parliament, 1865, Papers Relating to the Conferences
between Her Majesty's Government and a Deputation from the Executive Council of Canada, pp. 12/.
P. 131, n. 23. Gt. Brit., Pari. Papers, 1865 [3535]. For the report of the
delegates, and further papers not in ibid., see Canada, Parliament,
1865, op. cit.
P. 131, n. 24. Cardwell to Monck, No. 124, 29th July, 1865, and
enclosures, Canadian Archives, G 174. Cf. Pope, Correspondence of
Sir John A. Macdonald, p. 30.
P. 131, n. 25. Cf. Grey, Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration, vol. i. pp. 44/f.; Adderley, Review of Grey's "Colonial
Policy," pp. 3, 14.
P. 132, n. 26. Cartwright, Memories of Confederation, p. 89.
P. 132, n. 27. Johnson, MS. Life of Howe, p. 217. Cf. Pope, op. cit.,
pp. 28/., also Saunders, Tupper, vol. i. pp. 118/.
P. 132, n. 28. Cf. Bright in Hansard, 3rd Ser., vol. clxxxv. p. 1188.
P. 132, n. 29. See Cartwright, Reminiscences, p. 55; Pope, Memoirs of
Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. p. 273.
P. 132, n. 30. Notably Sir Frederic Rogers, long Under-Secretary for
the Colonies, who became Lord Blachford.   See his Letters, pp. 297^.
P. 132, n. 31. Martineau, Newcastle, pp. 287/.
P. 133, n. 32. Morison, "The Imperial Ideas of Benjamin Disraeli,"
Can. Hist. Rev., vol. i. p. 272. The author points out that to Carnarvon, not to Disraeli, "the credit for all the conservative energy in
reorganising the new Empire must be given."
P. 133, n. 33. See Pope, Confed. Documents, pp. g^ff., for minutes and
some record of discussion. See also Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A.
Macdonald, vol. i. pp. 31 iff., 387^. 140
P. 133, n. 34. Blachford, op. cit., pp. 301/.
P. 133, n. 35. These two had been suggested by Cardwell in acknowledging receipt of the Quebec Resolutions.—Cardwell to Monck,
No. 93, 3rd December, 1864, Gt. Brit., Pari. Papers, 1865 [3426],
pp. 11/. Regarding the practical placing of the pardoning power
completely in the hands of the Canadian Ministers in 1878 see
Todd, op. cit., pp. 270^.
P. 134, n. 36. Skelton, Gait, pp. 402^.   Cf. David, op. cit., p. 290.
P. 134, n. 37. Supra, chap. ix. note 16.
P. 134, n. 38. On choice of a name see Pope, op. cit., vol. i. p. 313;
Skelton, op. cit., p. 409. Sir Leonard Tilley's son has stated that his
father proposed the term "Dominion," struck by its suggestiveness
as used in Psalm lxxii. 8.—Leonard P. D. Tilley to George S.
Holmested, 28th June, 1917 (Canadian Archives). The Latin motto
is from the Vulgate version of the passage quoted.
P. 134, n. 39. For the various drafts see Pope, Confed. Documents.
P. 135» n. 40. Hansard, 3rd Ser., vol. clxxxv. pp. 557, 804, ion, 1164,
1310. Cf. William Garvie's account in letter of 15th March, 1867,
Canadian Archives, Stairs Papers. The Stairs Papers are printed in
L. J. Burpee, "Joseph Howe and the Anti-Confederation League"
(Trans. Roy. Soc. Can., 3rd ser., vol. x. sect. 2, pp. 409^.).
P. 135, n. 41. For the delegation's letter of protest to Carnarvon, with
anti-confederation petitions, see Gt. Brit., Pari. Papers, 1867 [3770].
Cf. Stairs Papers, loc. cit. On the anti-federation movement in Nova
Scotia see also Saunders, op. cit., vol. i. pp. logff., Longley, Howe,
pp. iJZff-, and Grant, The Tribune of Nova Scotia, pp. 137ff.
P. 136, n. 42. Buckingham to Monck, No. 107, 4th June, 1868, Gt.
Brit., Pari. Papers, 1867-8 [4036], pp. 8/.
P. 136, n. 43. Pope, Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, vol. i. pp. 301 ff. ;
Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii. pp. 583^., 599/f.
P. 136, n. 44. In this connection an interesting story was told the
author by the late Sir Mackenzie Bowell. It was related to him by
Senator John Boyd of St. John, and concerned a conversation
between Boyd and Howe. Said Boyd: "It was your speeches that
converted me to confederation." And Howe replied: "If you had
a circus, and had got together a good show, and were ready to open
up, how would you like it if that fellow Tupper came and stood by
the door and collected the shillings? " The late George Johnson, for
many years Dominion statistician, a friend and admirer of Howe,
voiced the conviction that this element was a crucial factor in
determining Howe's attitude. PART   TWO
" I believe that many in this room will live to hear the whistle
of the steam-engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains and to
make the journey from Halifax to the Pacific in, five or six days.**
Joseph Howe, 1851.
" It is my fervent aspiration and hope that some here to-night
may live to see the day when the British American flag shall proudly
wave from Labrador to Vancouver Island, and from our own
Niagara to the shores of Hudson Bay.**
George Brown, 1858. —— PART TWO
It is already evident from the previous chapters that
closely bound up with the project for the federation
of British North America was the problem of developing means of communication and transportation. The
extension of means of intercourse was essential if
scattered communities, linked geographically, not to
one another, but to adjacent sections of a powerful
and expanding state to their south, were to be united
either socially or politically by any such bonds as
should give them the right to call themselves a nation.
Such development, accordingly, was fundamental
.both in the solidification and in the expansion of the
rising British North American commonwealth. In
the east the problem of linking together the older
Provinces culminated eventually in the undertaking
of the Intercolonial Railway. Expansion to the westward was dependent upon the trail-makers and was
also an incentive to their activities. The development of communications from the populous centres
of the old Province of Canada both to the Atlantic
and to the Pacific presented so vast a problem for a
people numbering hardly more than three million,
inhabiting half a continent, that it constituted inevitably a powerful factor in the influences that brought
about federation.
Dependence of political expansion upon the trail-
makers was no new mid-nineteenth century relation's i44
ship. The New World owed its discovery to the
search for a trade route. Then before long French
and British, shut by Spain from the new-found
southern waters, travelled the bays and rivers of
North America with eyes wide for some "north-west
passage" which might prove an open way to the
opulent East. There were doubters, of course, like
La Salle's men, whose derision of their master's
dreams is said to have been responsible for the name
La Chine given to the seigniory at the rapids above
Montreal, which the Sulpicians granted him in 1666.
But in spite of pessimists the search was kept up
with adventurous, often heroic, persistence. That
the water passage did exist was proven in the mid-
nineteenth century, and at length in the twentieth
it was traversed successfully by Amundsen. By this
time, however, the achievement was of little practical importance, for the route lay in northern regions
inaccessible for ordinary travel and commerce. Meanwhile, moreover, the importance of a water channel
had been relatively lessened by the tremendous strides
in the development of land transport. For in the
nineteenth century, Britain having made good her
claims to the northern half of the continent, across
which such fur-trade explorers as Alexander Mackenzie, David Thompson, and Simon Fraser had
already pushed their way, proving the existence of
passable overland routes to the Pacific, the construction of an all-British "iron-road" from ocean to
ocean made of the land route a practical "northwest passage" that brought Japan within little more
than three weeks' travel from the British Isles.
Linked with the conception of the "north-west
passage," of an imperial route to the East, was the
desire on the part of men of vision and capital to COMMUNICATIONS  AS LINKS    145
promote settlement and trade in the wide new land
which that route would traverse. In fact, in the
nineteenth century this desire may have had the
greater practical potency, though the advantages of
a direct route to the Orient furnished valuable talking
points. The task of realising the dream of an all-
British railway from ice-free water on the Atlantic
to ice-free water on the Pacific, a road that would
bind east to west and open up the continent's interior
to settlement, was closely related to the problem of
politically consolidating British North America. The
relationship between schemes for railway expansion
and for federation will be discussed in its various
ramifications in this second part of the book.
In the opening of routes, in the progress of settlement, and in the efforts to create and capture trade,
British and British-American activity was constantly
spurred on by the assertive rivalry of the expanding
republic to the south. From the American Revolution to the war of 1812, the traffic with the Indians
of the "Old North-West," the rich wilderness region
between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, was an
object of rivalry to the fur traders of Canada and
the States. The war of 1812 having finally confirmed American ascendency there, and reinforced
anti-annexation sentiment in Canada, it was not long
before the westward push of population into this
American North-West created opportunities for new
and greater rivalries. Competition arose for the
growing trade of this region, and it was not limited
to the various seaboard sections of the United States,
since British America also became an active participant in the contest.
The Erie Canal, begun in 1817 and opened in 1825
to barge traffic between Lake Erie and the Hudson 146
River, was the seven-million-dollar attempt of New
York State to draw to itself the increasing western
trade. Canadians not only appreciated the need of
improving their waterways to facilitate internal intercourse, but they also craved a share in this new
western commerce, and they felt that development
of their natural waterways of the St. Lawrence
system would make that share large and profitable.
Accordingly, under the urgings of William Hamilton
Merritt1 of St. Catherines, and others of like vision,
the Government of the Province gradually overcame
the obstacles to navigation that had hitherto prevented the passage of vessels between the lower St.
Lawrence and the upper Great Lakes, by constructing
canals around the falls and rapids. The largest single
work in the St. Lawrence River system, the Welland
Canal across the Niagara Peninsula between Lake
Erie and Lake Ontario, was begun in 1824 and opened
in 1829. Between 1841 and 1850 this canal was enlarged
and the same decade saw the whole St. Lawrence
system opened to navigation for vessels of nine foot
draft, at a cost to the Province of about $20,000,000.
Those who pushed the work had been encouraged
by the lowering of the British duty on colonial wheat
and flour, a preference which fostered the cultivation
of wheat, its import from the States, and the industry
of grinding it for shipment to England. But three
years after its creation this preference was abolished
by England's repeal of the Corn Laws. The old
navigation laws were also repealed and colonial carrying trade thus thrown open to the world; but Canadians considered this a doubtful benefit and the lower
shipping rates which resulted no compensation for
the lost preference to colonial shipping.2 By the
middle of the century, then, Canada had a canal COMMUNICATIONS AS LINKS    147
system, but in spite of its great cost, it had failed to
draw any considerable proportion of the overseas
trade of the United States into British-American
channels, although it had proved of decided value
in facilitating the opening up and development of
the western section of the Province.3
An insuperable obstacle to making the canals satisfactory as the sole means of long-distance bulk transport in Canada was their unavailability for nearly
half the year on account of ice. The States to the
south were establishing a transportation service by
means of railways, available for internal traffic and
for shipment to ocean ports at all seasons. It was
obvious that if the Canadians wished to compete for
the trade of the west and to conduct their winter
foreign trade without dependence upon those American routes, they must provide Canada with railways
of her own, and see that these were extended to the ice-
free ports of the Maritime Provinces. In the period
of depression in the late 'forties a definite start was
made in this direction, and the 'fifties were a period
of relatively great railway building in British America.
Long before this, various efforts had been made to
improve communications between Canada and the
Maritime Provinces. Since early days some mail,
particularly official despatches, had been sent by way
of the St. John River, by couriers travelling afoot,
in canoes, or on snowshoes, only recently and for
part of the way in horse-drawn vehicles. The Post
Office had long urged improvement of this important
route, and in fact postal officials were among those
who most highly appreciated the importance of improving interprovincial communications. The first
important interprovincial conference was a postal
conference at Montreal in 1847.4   Joseph Howe, who, r
as will be seen, was a leader in various attempts to
secure an intercolonial railway, may have owed his
zeal in part to his close acquaintance with postal
affairs, due to the fact that for many years his father
and brother had charge of the mails and post office
in Nova Scotia.6 But not until the Intercolonial Railway was completed in 1876 did the bulk of mail
between the Maritime Provinces and the St. Lawrence pass directly over British soil; most of it up
to that time went through the United States. Even
at confederation the mail-coach between Truro and
Rivière du Loup went not oftener than three times
a week, and carried only a fraction of the mail.6 The
military as well as the postal officials were specially
appreciative of the importance of adequate means of
communication through New Brunswick to Canada.
This phase of the question will appear prominently
a little later.
The closing of the St. Lawrence in winter and the
undue length of the roundabout voyage through the
Gulf had prevented the profitable establishment of
an adequate service by water. The most interesting
attempt to place a steamer on the Gulf route was
made in the early 'thirties. A chief objection urged
against the proposals of the 'twenties for a union of
all the Provinces had been the lack of appreciable
direct trade among them. The Legislatures of Lower
Canada and Nova Scotia had offered to subsidise
steam communication between Quebec and Halifax,
and the Quebec and Halifax Navigation Company
was accordingly formed. The Royal William, famous
later as the first vessel to steam all the way across
the Atlantic, was built in Quebec for this company
and in 1831 was placed in service. But in less than
two years she was sold to satisfy a mortgage.7 COMMUNICATIONS AS LINKS   149
The steam railway had hardly been invented when
the idea occurred naturally to men interested in the
problem of interprovincial communications that its
best solution would be a railway. In 1827, only two
years after George Stephenson had completed the
first railway in England, an agitation began in
British America for a railway from Quebec to St.
Andrews, New Brunswick—"a route," said one of its
advocates, Henry Fairbairn, writing in the British
United Service Journal in 1832, "which will convey
the trade of the St. Lawrence in a single day to the
Atlantic waters." In eight years the movement
gathered such head that, in 1835 and 1836 respectively, the Legislatures of Lower Canada and of
Nova Scotia expressed themselves in favour of the
project, and in the latter year, that of New Brunswick
went so far as to put through an Act incorporating
the St. Andrews and Quebec Railway Company.
Surveys, towards which the Imperial Government contributed £10,000, were begun in 1836 by
Captain Yule of the Royal Engineers. The next year,
however, Washington objected to the proposed route,
contending that part of the territory traversed belonged of right to the United States. The British
Government accordingly ordered the work to be
stopped until the boundary line should be settled.8
There is no occasion to discuss here the lengthy
negotiations regarding this Maine boundary, terminated at last by the Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
Suffice it to say that the Une then drawn lay approximately midway between those claimed by the
respective countries, the United States receiving
seven-twelfths and British America five-twelfths of the
disputed territory. The result, therefore, so far as
the projected St. Andrews and Quebec Railway was ISO
concerned, was disastrous. It banished every hope
for an all-British direct route between Canada and
the ice-free ports of the Maritime Provinces. The lobe
of American territory lying between these Provinces
on the east and the Canadian centres on the west
meant that a road staying on British soil must follow
a roundabout course and a course through inhospitable country, where there could be little hope of
developing local traffic commensurate with the greater
mileage. The Imperial Government, recognising the
military need for an all-British route between the
Provinces, shortly instituted a survey for a military
road. This was accomplished in 1844 by Colonel Hollo-
way of the Royal Engineers. The route which he
explored crossed New Brunswick from the bend of
the Petitcodiac, by Boiestown, Grand Falls, the north
of Lake Temiscouata and Rivière du Loup to Quebec.9
With the abandonment of the St. Andrews and
Quebec Railway scheme, construction on any considerable scale was postponed for some time. In
1850, in fact, after fifteen years of building, there
were in all British North America only sixty-six
miles of railway. Of talk, however, there was plenty
during this period, and valuable surveys of a preliminary nature were carried through. It was in
1845, the year of the great railway mania in Britain,
'that a prospectus was issued there for the Halifax
and Quebec Railway. The promoters secured the
support of Sir Richard Broun, who was interested in
schemes for colonisation on a large scale and for
linking the British Isles with the Far East by steamers
on the Atlantic and the Pacific and a railway across
British North America. Through him, in July 1845,
the provisional board of the new company memorialised the  Governors of New  Brunswick  and Nova COMMUNICATIONS AS LINKS   151
Scotia in behalf of their project. They pointed out
that the railway would supersede the necessity for
the projected military road, and argued that it would
promote systematic settlement of the frontier regions.10
These proposals and the negotiations that followed
roused the people of St. Andrews to revive the idea
of a railway that would have its ocean terminus
there. The Ashburton boundary decision, however,
had handicapped that port to such an extent as to
put it out of the running. For an all-British line,
either St. John or Halifax had obvious advantages,
while if a railway from Canada was to enter American
territory at all, Portland would be a more convenient
terminus than St. Andrews.11
The promoters of the Halifax and Quebec scheme
gave their project a black eye by using the names of
several prominent Nova Scotians in their English
prospectus without the sanction of those gentlemen,
who, when they learned of it, publicly repudiated the
connection. Lord Falkland, however, the Governor
of Nova Scotia, was convinced that the scheme was
both practicable and desirable alike to the Mother
Country and to the colonies, and he asked the Home
Government to send out engineers to make an accurate survey. He suggested also that as such a railway
would fulfil the purpose of the proposed military road,
Great Britain might well spend on the former some of
the money which would otherwise be spent on the latter.
A larger aspect of the importance of the railway
project as it appeared to the more progressive minds
of the time was developed by Sir John Harvey,
Falkland's successor as lieutenant-governor, in his
opening address to the Nova Scotia Legislature in
January 1847. He spoke of this railway as worthy
of their continued attention, and characterised it as r
a project second to none which had ever engaged the
legislature of any British colony, and as one which
would "constitute the most important link in the
great line of communication, which may be destined
at no remote period to connect the Atlantic with the
Pacific Ocean, and to conduct to a British seaport,
from those into which it is now forced, that vast
stream of trade, not of our own Western possessions alone, but of the rich and extensive wheat and
grain growing districts of all central America."12 The
question of a Pacific railway will be reverted to
later; for the present, attention may be confined
to the narrower problem that was now of more
immediate concern.
At the time of Lord Falkland's request to the
British Government, Gladstone was Secretary of
State for the Colonies. His reply was cautious regarding the question of granting financial aid, but
the Royal Engineers were instructed in April 1846
to make the survey. In the same spring the three
Provincial Legislatures passed resolutions, in Nova
Scotia on 4th March, New Brunswick13 on 2nd April,
and Canada on 26th May, not only affirming the
necessity for the survey but binding each Province
to make good the expense within its own limits. The
work was begun that summer by Captain Pipon and
Lieutenant Henderson and continued in 1847 by
Major Robinson, who made the final report of his
survey 31st August, 1848.14 Of the several routes
considered, he recommended that which passed northward near the east coast of New Brunswick to Bay
Chaleur and thence up the Metapedia valley, virtually
the one adopted twenty years later. He considered
it simplest from an engineering point of view because
of its proximity to the sea, and argued that it would COMMUNICATIONS  AS LINKS    153
do most to develop the commerce and fisheries of
New Brunswick and thus be the most remunerative
line. Against the objection that it was the longest
of the possible routes, he also set the fact of the
military advantage which would result from its remoteness from the frontier in case of war with the
United States.
Though the survey had been made, there was
destined to be no intercolonial railway for many
years. The chief factors in the failure of the scheme
were two, the problem of financing it and the question
of choosing the route. Where was money to be found ?
There was little capital in the Provinces, and the
British investing public was a long way off. The
British Government, moreover, disappointed the
hopeful ones by refusing to "submit to Parliament
any measure for raising the funds necessary for the
construction" of the railway to Quebec.16 In 1850
delegates returned to the Maritime Provinces from a
railway convention held at Portland, Maine, with
proposals for a "European and North American
Railway" between Halifax and Portland, to be built
largely by the aid of American capital. In preference
to this, Joseph Howe launched in Nova Scotia the
policy of construction by the Provincial Governments. The only alternative then seemed to be to
entrust the task to American capitalists. As Sir John
Harvey reported the matter to the Colonial Office, his
Government had "to decide whether they would stand
aloof . . . and allow a great highway, which in
peace would be a thoroughfare of nations, and in war
might be of vast importance, to be constructed and
controlled by foreign capitalists; or should at once
grasp the enterprise, and by the aid of the public
funds and credit, discharge towards the country the iS4       CANADIAN FEDERATION
highest and jmost legitimate functions of a vigorous
Executive." 16
But if the Provinces were willing to shoulder the
burden themselves, still they felt financially too weak
to do so unless they could secure the necessary loans
upon such favourable rates of interest as could only
be obtained with the help of an Imperial guarantee.
Howe, aiming principally at securing aid for the railway to connect his Province with the American
roads, but not unmindful of the desirability of a line
to Canada as well, accordingly went to England to
urge the matter upon the attention of the authorities
there. So far successful was he that Earl Grey agreed
in March 1851 that the British Government would
guarantee the interest on the required loans on the
stipulation that the line to Canada be built wholly
through British territory.17 While it need not follow
the route advocated by Major Robinson, any deviation therefrom must, he said, be subject to the
approval of the Home Government.18 In June, Howe,
with E. B. Chandler of New Brunswick, went to
Toronto, where the Canadian Legislature was then
in session, and in a conference there it was agreed
that measures should be introduced in the three
Legislatures for the construction of the railway from
Quebec to Halifax on joint account.19
Before the New Brunswick Legislature could meet,
there was a new turn of events. Howe had understood and reported that the British guarantee would
not only apply as regarded the line from Halifax to
Quebec, but would also cover the so-called European
and North American Line connecting that road with
the Maine frontier via St. John. Word now came
from London that the Government there, while not
objecting to the Provinces building both lines, would COMMUNICATIONS AS LINKS   155
not include the cost of the second under its guarantee.
Now the chief interests in New Brunswick centred
in the south and the St. John valley, and the Legislature was therefore not willing to support the project for an intercolonial railway that would pass that
region by far to the east unless the link with the
American road should be constructed under the same
terms. In order to see what chances there might be
of overcoming the difficulty, Messrs. Hincks, Taché
and Young of the Canadian Cabinet went to Fre-
dericton, and after satisfactory conferences with the
local Ministers proceeded to Halifax, accompanied by
E. B. Chandler, in the hope of persuading the Nova
Scotia Government to back a modification of the
former proposals. The new scheme was that the
Halifax and Quebec railway should follow the St.
John valley, and that the cost should be borne by
the Provinces in the proportion of three-twelfths by
Nova Scotia, four-twelfths by Canada, and five-
twelfths by New Brunswick. After some opposition
Howe and his Government assented, and early in
1852 Hincks, Chandler, and Howe were appointed,
delegates from their respective Provinces to go to
England and submit the new scheme to the Imperial
Government. Hincks sailed on 4th March, and
Chandler a fortnight later, but after they had waited
six weeks they received word from Howe that he
would not be able to join them at all. They accordingly had to pursue the negotiations without him.
The new Derby Government, with Sir John Paking-
ton at the Colonial Office, decided that while they
would fulfil the pledge of the previous administration
and guarantee loans to build a railway on the line
recommended by Major Robinson, they were unwilling to approve of the proposed transfer of the 156
route to the St. John valley.20 The failure of the
Provinces' attempt to gain Imperial backing for
a joint railway project compelled its abandonment
for the time being.
P. 146, n. 1. See "The Late William Hamilton Merritt and the
Reciprocity Treaty," British American Magazine, vol. i. pp. 249-258.
P. 146, n. 2. Ibid.
P. 147, n. 3. In 1865 William Kingsford, civil engineer, dissatisfied
with the slight attention given at the Quebec Conference to the canal
question, put forth a work on The Canadian Canals : Their History
and Cost, with an Inquiry into the Policy necessary to Advance the Well-
being of the Province. Pointing out that the development of the
canal system had brought prosperity to Upper Canada by supplying
the much-needed means of easy communication with the seaboard,
he argued that they now no longer sufficed for the wants they had
created. For the full prosperity of the Canadian lake region the
canals should be enlarged sufficiently to allow the passage of oceangoing vessels. Montreal would of course lose some of her profitable
transhipping, but the lake ports would receive more than an offsetting advantage and much trade of the American west would also
be attracted to the St. Lawrence route from the rival channel of the
Erie Canal and Hudson River. The author's purpose, he says,, is
that "of directing the public mind to consider what position the
Canada of the lakes will hold in the new Confederacy, in the matter
of internal navigation."—P. 8. The proposed Halifax railway he
considers "utterly valueless to the west."—P. 9. Specifically, he
criticises the sixty-ninth resolution of the Quebec Conference for
its vagueness. "By implication," he says, "the language of the
resolution holds the improvement of the canals is not of immediate
and paramount necessity. As a consequence, that improvement
may be called upon to yield precedence to a measure, which for
many years can have no possible bearing upon Canadian interests.
. . . The future accordingly is unassured, uncertain and unsatisfactory."—P. 16.
P. 147, n. 4. Smith, History of the Post Office in B.N.A., pp. 268j^.
148, n. 5. Ibid., pp. 243^.
148, n. 6. Ibid., pp. 327/.
148, n. 7. Johnson, First Things in Canada, p. 180.
Fairbairn's article is quoted at length in Burpee's
Sandford Fleming, p. 74. This early project was for a railway for
wagons. For a fuller account see Fleming's Intercolonial. The first
five chapters of this final report of the engineer-in-chief of the
I.C.R. contain an account of the pre-confederation agitation for
and progress towards an intercolonial railway.   Copies of the inter-
P. 149, NOTES TO CHAPTER XI        157
national correspondence on the matter, and that between the Colonial
and Foreign Offices, are enclosed with copy of Glenelg to Harvey,
No. 18, 8th June, 1837, and Separate of same date, Canadian Archives,
Durham Papers.
P. 150, n. 9. Fleming, Intercolonial, p. 40.
P. 151, n. 10. For details of the several routes projected see ibid., p. 42.
P. 151, «.11. Mr. William Bridges, formerly of the Halifax and Quebec
Railway, who had brought that project to the attention of Sir Richard
Broun, became secretary of the London board of the St. Andrews and
Woodstock Railway Company. In 1847 Lord Ashburton took an
interest of five hundred pounds in this company, because, he said,
"I feel so strongly interested in the settling of your fine Colony."
By the St. Andrews and Canada Railway Company a line was finally
constructed over the ninety-four miles to Woodstock.—Ibid., p. 43.
P. 152, n. 12. Quoted in ibid., p. 45.
P. 152, ». 13. Reports Relating to the Project of Constructing a Railway,
and a Line of Electro-Magnetic Telegraph through the Province of
New Brunswick from Halifax to Quebec were presented to the N.B.
Legislature 3rd February, 1847. They made a bulky pamphlet of
one hundred and fifteen pages. It is a curious indication of the stage
of railway development that one finds J. Wilkinson of the Provincial
Surveyor-General's Department advocating the use of wooden rails
after the example of South Carolina.
P. 152, n. 14. For the report, with an excellent large scale map, and
relevant papers, see Gt. Brit., Pari. Papers, 1849 [1031].
■P. 153» n. 15. Earl Grey, Colonial Secretary, refused in a despatch to
Sir John Harvey, July 1850, quoted in Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii.
p. 92. On Howe's connection with the project see ibid., passim, and
especially chap. xvii.
P. 153, n. 16. Harvey to Grey, 29th August, 1850, ibid., p. 97. This
referred more particularly to the railway to connect Halifax via Truro
and St. John with Maine, the primary object of Howe's going
to England.
P. 154, n. 17. The guarantee of interest on ^7,000,000 to be spent on
intercolonial railways was confidently expected to "secure the
completion of those works at a little more than one-half of what they
would cost without the direct interposition of Imperial credit."—From
a resolution of satisfaction moved by Howe at a Halifax meeting,
15th May, 1851.—Ibid., p. 184.
P. 154, n. 18. Nova Scotia Legislature, Railway Correspondence. Nova
Scotia Delegation. Despatches laid before the Legislature in the
Session of 1851, on the Subject of the Halifax, Quebec, and Portland
Railroads. Also in Gt. Brit., Pari..Papers, 1851, [1344] and [1382].
P. 154, n. 19. Hincks, Reminiscences, p. 201.
P. 155, n. 20. Howe later accused Hincks of wilfully securing this
decision at the corrupt instigation of and in co-operation with certain
railway interests in England. The charge, however, was never substantiated.—Chisholm, op. cit., vol. ii. pp. 269, 311. For Hmcks* denial
and refutation see his Reminiscences, pp. i\iff. For his account of
the negotiations among the Provinces and with the British Government at this time see the same work, pp. 201-222, 438-450, containing a large part of the official memoranda and correspondence. r
The proposal to secure Imperial assistance in building an intercolonial railway was not revived for
several years.1 Meanwhile the Provincial Governments
forthwith set about, each on its own account, promoting the building of railways within their respective borders. Chandler, while in England, entered
into negotiations with the great firm of Peto, Brassey,
Jackson and Betts, and in September of the same
year, 1852, New Brunswick contracted with this firm
for the construction of a railway from the eastern to
the western border of the Province, under private
ownership but with the Province as a large shareholder and bondholder. The surveys made such
progress that construction was begun one year later,
only to cease, however, in 1854 as a result of the
financial crisis brought by the Crimean War. After
two years, the Government refusing to give further
aid to the contractors, the latter withdrew and the
Government proceeded with the work, opening to
traffic, in i860, the 108 miles from St. John to Shediac
on the Strait of Northumberland. During these years
a line was pushed slowly north from St. Andrews,
but at confederation it reached only one-third of
the distance to the St. Lawrence. Howe was insistent
that Nova Scotia should adopt the policy of public
ownership. In spite of this, however, the Brassey
firm in 1853 secured a contract,2 but the financial
situation forcing them to relinquish it, in the next
158 THE GRAND TRUNK  ERA      159
year the Province returned to Howe's policy and
in the spring of 1854 the Legislature authorised a
provincial loan. Work was begun that summer and
in 1858 the sixty-one miles between Halifax and
Truro, with a branch to Windsor, were opened to
public traffic.8
Canada's railway career during this period was less
simple than that of the Maritime Provinces. A definite Government policy in regard to the problem was
worked out there largely as a result of the activity
of Francis Hincks, the Inspector-General or Finance
Minister. In 1849 he introduced in the Legislature
the first measure for Government aid. Its title indicates the nature of the policy. The bill was "To
provide for affording the guarantee of the province
to the bonds of railway companies on certain conditions, and for rendering assistance in the construction of the Halifax and Quebec Railway."4 The
Government were authorised to guarantee interest at
six per cent, on railway bonds up to one-half the
cost of construction for lines not less than seventy-
five miles in length chartered by the Province. The
new policy proved encouraging, and several lines
took advantage of its provisions. So indefinite was
the extent, however, to which the Province might
become liable under the guarantee provision of this
Act, that the London financial agents of the Government, Messrs. Baring Bros, and Co., and Messrs.
Glyn, Mills and Co., felt that the provincial credit
might suffer impairment.5 Accordingly in 1851 the
aid was limited to one trunk line, though continued
also to the Great Western (Niagara to Detroit) and
the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron, later known as the
Northern (Toronto to Collingwood), which had already
taken advantage of the Act of 1849.6    It has been r
noticed that this Canadian policy contemplated not
only the building of railways in Canada, but also the
linking of those lines with Maritime Province winter
ports by means of the Halifax and Quebec Railway.
With the failure of the latter project in 1852 came a
change in Canadian governmental policy, a change
which involved eventually the building of the Grand
Trunk Railway with an ice-free Atlantic terminal at
Portland, Maine.
Before these new developments are considered it
should be noted that Portland occupied a peculiar
position in relation to the railway problems of the
British Provinces. Canada had long realised the
desirability of securing an outlet to ice-free ports. It
was impracticable under early tariff restrictions to
seek such an outlet nearer than the Maritime Provinces. In 1845, however, the United States Congress
passed a bill which altered the situation materially
in that it provided for drawbacks of customs duties
on through traffic. Forthwith there developed an "
extensive forwarding trade through the New York
canals to Western Canada.7 Montreal wished for this
new traffic; moreover, she saw an opportunity to
draw to herself the export trade not only of Canada
West but also of the grain-shipping states south of
the lakes. The ship navigation of the upper St.
Lawrence gave that route an initial advantage over
one dependent upon barge canals, but the additional
advantage arising from the fact that Montreal was
nearer than New York to Liverpool was offset by the
closing of navigation in the winter. If, however,
thought the merchants of Montreal, a railway should
be built to Portland, less than three hundred miles
away and two days on the voyage from New York
to the British Isles, could not Montreal, availing her- THE GRAND TRUNK  ERA      161
self of the bonding privilege, compete successfully
with New York and Boston and become herself the
entrepot of the overseas trade of the West ? Such a
railway, too, would give entrance for Canadian products into the New England market. Portland, likewise, had dreams of becoming one of the great shipping
centres of the Atlantic seaboard, of drawing rich
tribute from the foreign trade of Canada and of the
American West via this Canadian route.8 The aspirations of Montreal and of Portland being thus complementary, co-operation between the two centres
was to be expected. In 1845 the Legislatures of
Canada and of Maine passed Acts incorporating respectively the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad
and the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad, for the
express purpose of constructing a continuous line
between the two cities.9
Portland was interested, as we have seen, in establishing connection also with St. John and Halifax.
John A. Poor, her chief promoter, hoped to make his
city the focus of the through traffic of his own country
as well as of Canada. A railway, from Portland to
Halifax or perhaps to Canso, and a line of fast
steamers thence to Ireland, would so shorten the sea
voyage and lessen the total time consumed by the
journey from the States to Europe, that he thought
much of the passenger and mail traffic of North
America would seek that route. It was through
Poor's instrumentality that, chiefly to push this
scheme for a "European and North American Railway," an international railway convention met at
Portland in July 1850.10 Portland's ambition was
similar to that of a number of cities in the eastern
United States which held railway conventions in 1849
and 1850, each considering ways and means to make r
itself the chief terminus of the much-talked-of railway to the Pacific, interest in which had been suddenly stimulated by the discovery of gold in newly
conquered California.11 But Portland was not the
least of these in her ambitions; she hoped to draw
the traffic of Canada as well.
The Maritime Provinces enthusiastically endorsed the
desirability of a railway along the route proposed at
Portland, but, as has been seen, they sought its construction under their own rather than foreign auspices.
Howe's unavailing efforts to secure British Government
aid for such a road along with the kindred Halifax and
Quebec line have been already sufficiently described.12
When the Hincks-Chandler compromise proposal
for shifting the latter line to the St. John valley
route likewise failed to secure Imperial aid, it was
not long before the British railway interests already
mentioned as obtaining short-lived contracts in the
Maritime Provinces became the chief factor in the
phenomenal railway development of the next decade
in the Province of Canada. The fact that Hincks
now played into their hands was a particularly bitter
pill for Howe, as their influence had been used against
him in the Nova Scotia elections of i85i.ia The firm
of Peto, Brassey, Betts and Jackson (the order of
the names varied in different contracts) has been
called "the most noted firm of contractors in railway history."14 Having built one-third of the railways
of Great Britain, and also lines in France, Spain,
Italy, Prussia, and India, they were on the look-out
for new worlds to conquer when in 1851 Howe conducted his vigorous publicity campaign in England
for the building of railways in British America. That
same year they sent an agent, C. D. Archibald, to
Toronto to present their interests to the Canadian THE  GRAND TRUNK  ERA      163
Government, and he explained as follows the situation in which they then found themselves. "In the
course of their gigantic operations," he said, "an
army of dependents and retainers, amounting to
several thousands, has sprung up; and for these
they feel bound to provide employment. A large
division of this veteran force, consisting of artisans
and skilled labourers, regularly organised under their
Clerks of Works, Architects, Surveyors and Foremen,
were upon the point of being removed and domiciled
in France, when influences were brought to bear upon
their employers, which induced them to turn their
attention to British North America."16
Such a strong case were these contractors able to
make, that when Hincks journeyed to England in
the spring of 1852 he went empowered to negotiate
with them for the construction of the trunk line
which he then hoped could be built under Government ownership by means of the expected Imperial
guarantee of interest on provincial loans for the
purpose up to .£7,000,000. Colonial hopes for a
guarantee at this time proved illusory, but their
abandonment did not involve the failure of the rest
of Canada's railway programme. While the Quebec-
Halifax project had to be dismissed for the time,
in Canada as in the Maritime Provinces there were
other important lines to be pushed forward. Early
that spring the Canadian Parliament passed legislation providing for three alternative policies. Should
the guarantee materialise, the trunk line westward
through the Province would be built, so far as possible, from the proceeds of the guaranteed loan.
Otherwise the Province and interested municipalities
might undertake the work on their own resources, or,
should this also prove impracticable, the opportunity r
might be opened to private companies with a provincial guarantee of half the cost, both principal
and interest. This aid was to be limited to the three
roads already building, the St. Lawrence and Atlantic,
the Northern, and the Great Western, and to such
roads as might form part of the trunk line. Two of
these, the Montreal and Kingston, and the Kingston
and Toronto, were chartered provisionally, the charters to go into effect by proclamation upon failure
of the other plans.16
When it came to the carrying out of this third line
of policy, Hincks played into the hands of the Brassey
interests. Negotiating with them in England he found
that upon the failure of the guarantee they were
willing not only to contract to