Canada under British Rule 1760-1900
John G. Bourinot

Part 4 out of 6

brought in a measure to organise the civil service, on whose character
and ability so much depends in the working of parliamentary
institutions. From that day to this the Canadian government has
practically recognised the British principle of retaining public
officers without reference to a change of political administration.

Soon after the union the legislating obtained full control of the civil
list and the post-office. The last tariff framed by the imperial
parliament for British North America was mentioned in the speech at the
opening of the Canadian legislature in 1842. In 1846 the British
colonies in America were authorised by an imperial statute to reduce or
repeal by their own legislation duties imposed by imperial acts upon
foreign goods imported from foreign countries into the colonies in
question. Canada soon availed herself of this privilege, which was
granted to her as the logical sequence of the free-trade policy of Great
Britain, and, from that time to the present, she has been enabled to
legislate very freely with regard to her own commercial interests. In
1849 the imperial parliament repealed the navigation laws, and allowed
the river St. Lawrence to be used by vessels of all nations. With the
repeal of laws, the continuance of which had seriously crippled Canadian
trade after the adoption of free trade by England, the provinces
gradually entered on a new career of industrial enterprise.

No part of the constitution of 1840 gave greater offence to the French
Canadian population than the clause restricting the use of the French
language in the legislature. It was considered as a part of the policy,
foreshadowed in Lord Durham's report, to denationalise, if possible, the
French Canadian province. The repeal of the clause, in 1848, was one
evidence of the harmonious operation of the union, and of a better
feeling between the two sections of the population. Still later,
provision was made for the gradual establishment of an elective
legislative council, so long and earnestly demanded by the old
legislature of Lower Canada.

The members of the Lafontaine-Baldwin government became the legislative
executors of a troublesome legacy left to them by a Conservative
ministry. In 1839 acts had been passed by the special council of Lower
Canada and the legislature of Upper Canada to compensate the loyal
inhabitants of those provinces for the loss they had sustained during
the rebellions. In the first session of the union parliament the Upper
Canadian act was amended, and money voted to reimburse all persons in
Upper Canada whose property had been unnecessarily, or wantonly,
destroyed by persons acting, or pretending to act, on behalf of the
crown. An agitation then commenced for the application of the same
principle to Lower Canada, and in 1845 commissioners were appointed by
the Draper administration to inquire into the nature and value of the
losses suffered by her Majesty's loyal subjects in Lower Canada. When
their report was presented in favour of certain claims the Draper
ministry brought in some legislation on the subject, but went out of
office before any action could be taken thereon. The Lafontaine-Baldwin
government then determined to set the question at rest, and introduced
legislation for the issue of debentures to the amount of $400,000 for
the payment of losses sustained by persons who had not been convicted
of, or charged with, high treason or other offences of a treasonable
nature, or had been committed to the custody of the sheriff in the gaol
of Montreal and subsequently transported to the island of Bermuda.
Although the principle of this measure was fully justified by the action
of the Tory Draper government, extreme Loyalists and even some Reformers
of Upper Canada declaimed against it in the most violent terms, and a
few persons even declared that they would prefer annexation to the
United States to the payment of the rebels. The bill, however, passed
the legislature by a large majority, and received the crown's assent
through Lord Elgin on the 25th April, 1849. A large crowd immediately
assembled around the parliament house--formerly the St. Anne Market
House--and insulted the governor-general by opprobrious epithets, and by
throwing missiles at him as he drove away to Monklands, his residence in
the country. The government and members of the legislature appear to
have been unconscious of the danger to which they were exposed until a
great crowd rushed into the building, which was immediately destroyed by
fire with its fine collection of books and archives. A few days later,
when the assembly, then temporarily housed in the hall of Bonsecours
Market, attempted to present an address to Lord Elgin, he was in
imminent danger of his life while on his way to the government
house--then the old Chateau de Ramesay in Notre-Dame Street--and the
consequences might have been most serious had he not evaded the mob on
his return to Monklands. This disgraceful affair was a remarkable
illustration not simply of the violence of faction, but largely of the
discontent then so prevalent in Montreal and other industrial centres,
on account of the commercial policy of Great Britain, which seriously
crippled colonial trade and was the main cause of the creation of a
small party which actually advocated for a short time annexation to the
United States as preferable to the existing state of things. The result
was the removal of the seat of government from Montreal, and the
establishment of a nomadic system of government by which the legislature
met alternately at Toronto and Quebec every five years until Ottawa was
chosen by the Queen as a permanent political capital. Lord Elgin felt
his position keenly, and offered his resignation to the imperial
government, but they refused to entertain it, and his course as a
constitutional governor under such trying circumstances was approved by

The material condition of the provinces--especially of Upper Canada,
which now became the first in population and wealth--kept pace with the
rapid progress of the people in self-government. The population of the
five provinces had increased from about 1,500,000, in 1841, to about
3,200,000 when the census was taken in 1861 The greatest increase had
been in the province of Upper Canada, chiefly in consequence of the
large immigration which flowed into the country from Ireland, where the
potato rot had caused wide-spread destitution and misery. The population
of this province had now reached 1,396,091, or nearly 300,000 more than
the population of Lower Canada--an increase which, as I shall show in
the next chapter, had important effects on the political conditions of
the two provinces. The eastern or maritime provinces received but a
small part of the yearly immigration from Europe, and even that was
balanced by an exodus to the United States. Montreal had a population of
100,000, or double that of Quebec, and was now recognised as the
commercial capital of British North America. Toronto had reached 60,000,
and was making more steady progress in population and wealth than any
other city, except Montreal. Towns and villages were springing up with
great rapidity in the midst of the enterprising farming population of
the western province. In Lower Canada the townships showed the energy of
a British people, but the _habitants_ pursued the even tenor of ways
which did not include enterprise and improved methods of agriculture.

The value of the total exports and imports of the provinces reached
$150,000,000 by 1864, or an increase of $100,000,000 in a quarter of a
century. The great bulk of the import trade was with Great Britain and
the United States, but the value of the exports to the United States was
largely in excess of the goods purchased by Great Britain--especially
after 1854, when Lord Elgin arranged a reciprocity treaty with the
United States. Lord Elgin represented Great Britain in the negotiations
at Washington, and the Congress of the United States and the several
legislatures of the Canadian provinces passed the legislation necessary
to give effect to the treaty. Its most important provisions established
free trade between British North America and the United States in
products of the forest, mine, and sea, conceded the navigation of the
St. Lawrence to the Americans, and the use of the canals of Canada on
the same terms as were imposed upon British subjects, gave Canadians the
right to navigate Lake Michigan, and allowed the fishermen of the United
States to fish on the sea-coasts of the British provinces without
regard to distance from the shore, in return for a similar but
relatively worthless privilege on the eastern shores of the republic,
north of the 30th parallel of north latitude. During the thirteen years
the treaty lasted the trade between the two countries rose from over
thirty-three million dollars in 1854 to over eighty million dollars in
1866, when it was repealed by the action of the United States government
itself, for reasons which I shall explain in a later chapter.

The navigation of the St. Lawrence was now made continuous and secure by
the enlargement of the Welland and Lachine canals, and the construction
of the Cornwall, Williamsburgh, and Beauharnois canals. Railways
received their great stimulus during the government of Sir Francis
Hincks, who largely increased the debt of Canada by guaranteeing in 1852
the bonds of the Grand Trunk Railway--a noble, national work, now
extending from Quebec to Lake Michigan, with branches in every
direction, but whose early history was marred by jobbery and
mismanagement, which not only ruined or crippled many of the original
shareholders, but cost Canada eventually twenty-three million dollars.
In 1864 there were two thousand miles of railway working in British
North America, of which the Grand Trunk Railway owned at least one-half.
The railways in the maritime provinces were very insignificant, and all
attempts to obtain the co-operation of the imperial and Canadian
governments for the construction of an Intercolonial Railway through
British American territory failed, despite the energetic efforts of Mr.
Howe to bring it about.

After the union of the Canadas in 1841, a steady movement for the
improvement of the elementary, public, or common schools continued for
years, and the services of the Reverend Egerton Ryerson were engaged as
chief superintendent of education with signal advantage to the country.
In 1850, when the Lafontaine-Baldwin government was in office, the
results of the superintendent's studies of the systems of other
countries were embodied in a bill based on the principle of local
assessment, aided by legislative grants, for the carrying on of the
public schools. This measure is the basis of the present admirable
school system of Upper Canada, and to a large extent of that of the
other English-speaking provinces. In Lower Canada the history of public
schools must be always associated with the names of Dr. Meilleur and the
Honourable Mr. Chauveau; but the system has never been as effective as
in the upper province. In both provinces, separate or dissentient
schools were eventually established for the benefit of the Roman
Catholics in Upper or Protestant Canada, and of the Protestants in Lower
or Catholic Canada. In the maritime provinces satisfactory progress was
also made in the development of a sound school system. In Nova Scotia
Dr. Tupper, when provincial secretary (1863-1867), laid the foundations
of the excellent schools that the province now enjoys.

During this period the newspaper press increased remarkably in influence
and circulation. The most important newspaper in the Dominion, the
_Globe_, was established at Toronto in 1844 by Mr. George Brown, a
Scotchman by birth, who became a power from that time among the Liberal
politicians of Canada. No notable books were produced in the
English-speaking provinces except "Acadian Geology," a work by Dr.
Dawson, who became in 1855 principal of McGill University, and was, in
later years, knighted by the Queen; but the polished verses of Cremazie
and the lucid histories of Canada by Ferland and Garneau already showed
that French Canada had both a history and a literature.

Towards the close of this memorable period of Canadian development, the
Prince of Wales, heir-apparent to the throne, visited the British
American provinces, where the people gave full expression to their loyal
feelings. This was the third occasion on which these communities had
been favoured by the presence of members of the royal family. Prince
William Henry, afterward William IV, visited Nova Scotia during the
years 1786-1788, in command of a frigate. From 1791 until 1797 Prince
Edward, Duke of Kent, father of the present sovereign, was in command of
the imperial forces, first at Quebec, and later at Halifax. The year
1860 was an opportune time for a royal visit to provinces where the
people were in the full enjoyment of the results of the liberal system
of self-government extended to them at the commencement of the Queen's
reign by the mother-country.

A quarter of a century had passed after the union of the Canadas when
the necessities of the provinces of British North America forced them to
a momentous constitutional change, which gave a greater scope to the
statesmanship of their public men, and opened up a wider sphere of
effort to capital and enterprise. In the following chapter I shall show
the nature of the conditions which brought about this union.



SECTION 1--The beginnings of confederation.

The idea of a union of the provinces of British North America had been
under discussion for half a century before it reached the domain of
practical statesmanship. The eminent Loyalist, Chief Justice Smith of
Quebec, so early as 1789, in a letter to Lord Dorchester, gave an
outline of a scheme for uniting all the provinces of British North
America "under one general direction." A quarter of a century later
Chief Justice Sewell of Quebec, also a Loyalist, addressed a letter to
the father of the present Queen, the Duke of Kent, in which he urged a
federal union of the isolated provinces. Lord Durham was also of opinion
in 1839 that a legislative union of all the provinces "would at once
decisively settle the question of races," but he did not find it
possible to carry it out at that critical time in the history of the

Some ten years later, at a meeting of prominent public men in Toronto,
known as the British American League, the project of a federal union was
submitted to the favourable consideration of the provinces. In 1854 the
subject was formally brought before the legislature of Nova Scotia by
the Honourable James William Johnston, the able leader of the
Conservative party, and found its most eloquent exposition in the speech
of the Honourable Joseph Howe, one of the fathers of responsible
government. The result of the discussion was the unanimous adoption of a
resolution--the first formally adopted by any provincial
legislature--setting forth that "the union or confederation of the
British provinces, 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." Mr.
Howe, on that occasion, expressed himself in favour of a federation of
the empire, of which he was always an earnest advocate until his death.

In the legislature of Canada Mr., afterwards Sir, Alexander Tilloch Galt
was an able exponent of union, and when he became a member of the
Cartier-Macdonald government in 1858 the question was made a part of the
ministerial policy, and received special mention in the speech of Sir
Edmund Head, the governor-general, at the end of the session. The matter
was brought to the attention of the imperial government on more than one
occasion during these years by delegates from Canada and Nova Scotia,
but no definite conclusion could be reached in view of the fact that the
question had not been taken up generally in the provinces.

The political condition of the Canadas brought about a union much sooner
than was anticipated by its most sanguine promoters. In a despatch
written to the colonial minister by the Canadian delegates,--members of
the Cartier-Macdonald ministry--who visited England in 1858 and laid the
question of union before the government, they represented that "very
grave difficulties now present themselves in conducting the government
of Canada"; that "the progress of population has been more rapid in the
western province, and claims are now made on behalf of its inhabitants
for giving them representation in the legislature in proportion to their
numbers"; that "the result is shown by agitation fraught with great
danger to the peaceful and harmonious working of our constitutional
system, and, consequently, detrimental to the progress of the province"
that "this state of things is yearly becoming worse"; and that "the
Canadian government are impressed with the necessity for seeking such a
mode of dealing with these difficulties as may for ever remove them." In
addition to this expression of opinion on the part of the
representatives of the Conservative government of 1858, the Reformers of
Upper Canada held a large and influential convention at Toronto in
1859, and adopted a resolution in which it was emphatically set forth,
"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 and sectional character, and some general authority charged
with such matters as are necessarily common to both sections of the
provinces"--language almost identical with that used by the Quebec
convention six years later in one of its resolutions with respect to the
larger scheme of federation. Mr. George Brown brought this scheme before
the assembly in 1860, but it was rejected by a large majority. At this
time constitutional and political difficulties of a serious nature had
arisen between the French and English speaking sections of the united
Canadian provinces. A large and influential party in Upper Canada had
become deeply dissatisfied with the conditions of the union of 1840,
which maintained equality of representation to the two provinces when
statistics clearly showed that the western section exceeded French
Canada both in population and wealth.

A demand was persistently and even fiercely made at times for such a
readjustment of the representation in the assembly as would do full
justice to the more populous and richer province. The French Canadian
leaders resented this demand as an attempt to violate the terms on which
they were brought into the union, and as calculated, and indeed
intended, to place them in a position of inferiority to the people of a
province where such fierce and unjust attacks were systematically made
on their language, religion, and institutions generally. With much
justice they pressed the fact that at the commencement of, and for some
years subsequent to, the union, the French Canadians were numerically in
the majority, and yet had no larger representation in the assembly than
the inhabitants of the upper province, then inferior in population. Mr.
George Brown, who had under his control a powerful newspaper, the
_Globe_, of Toronto, was remarkable for his power of invective and his
tenacity of purpose, and he made persistent and violent attacks upon the
conditions of the union, and upon the French and English Conservatives,
who were not willing to violate a solemn contract.

The difficulties between the Canadian provinces at last became so
intensified by the public opinion created by Mr. Brown in Upper Canada
in favour of representation by population, that good and stable
government was no longer possible on account of the close division of
parties in the legislature. Appeals were made frequently to the people,
and new ministries formed,--in fact, five within two years--but the
sectional difficulties had obviously reached a point where it was not
possible to carry on successfully the administration of public affairs.
On the 14th June, 1864, a committee of the legislative assembly of
Canada, of whom Mr. Brown was chairman, reported that "a strong feeling
was found to exist among the members of the committee in favour of
changes in the direction of a federal system, applied either to Canada
alone or to the whole of the British North American provinces." On the
day when this report was presented, the Conservative government, known
as the Tache-Macdonald ministry, suffered the fate of many previous
governments for years, and it became necessary either to appeal at once
to the people, or find some other practical solution of the political
difficulties which prevented the formation of a stable government. Then
it was that Mr. Brown rose above the level of mere party selfishness,
and assumed the attitude of a statesman, animated by patriotic and noble
impulses which must help us to forget the spirit of sectionalism and
illiberality which so often animated him in his career of heated
partisanship. Negotiations took place between Mr. John A. Macdonald, Mr.
Brown, Mr. Cartier, Mr. Galt, Mr. Morris, Mr. McDougall, Mr. Mowat, and
other prominent members of the Conservative and Reform parties, with the
result that a coalition government was formed on the distinct
understanding that it would "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 territories to be incorporated
into the same system of government." The Reformers who entered the
government with Macdonald and Cartier on this fundamental condition were
Mr. Brown, Mr. Oliver Mowat, and Mr. William McDougall, who stood
deservedly high in public estimation.

While these events were happening in the Canadas, the maritime provinces
were taking steps in the direction of their own union. In 1861 Mr. Howe,
the leader of a Liberal government in Nova Scotia, carried a resolution
in favour of such a scheme. Three years later the Conservative ministry
of which Dr., now Sir, Charles Tupper, was premier, took measures in the
legislature of Nova Scotia to carry out the proposition of his
predecessor; and a conference was arranged at Charlottetown between
delegates from the three provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and
Prince Edward Island By a happy forethought the government of Canada,
immediately on hearing of this important conference, decided to send a
delegation, composed of Messrs J.A. Macdonald, Brown, Cartier, Galt,
McGee, Langevin, McDougall, and Campbell. The result of the conference
was favourable to the consideration of the larger question of the union
of all the provinces; and it was decided to hold a further conference at
Quebec in October for the purpose of discussing the question as fully as
its great importance demanded.

SECTION 2.--The Quebec convention of 1864.

Thirty-three delegates met in the parliament house of this historic
city. They were all men of large experience in the work of
administration or legislation in their respective provinces. Not a few
of them were noted lawyers who had thoroughly studied the systems of
government in other countries. Some were gifted with rare eloquence and
power of argument. At no time, before or since, has the city of Quebec
been visited by an assemblage of notables with so many high
qualifications for the foundation of a nation. Descendants of the
pioneers of French Canada, English Canadians sprung from the Loyalists
of the eighteenth century, eloquent Irishmen and astute Scotchmen, all,
thoroughly conversant with Canadian interests, met in a convention
summoned to discharge the greatest responsibilities ever entrusted to
any body of men in Canada.

The chairman was Sir Etienne Paschal Tache, who had proved in his youth
his fidelity to England on the famous battlefield of Chateauguay, and
had won the respect of all classes and parties by the display of many
admirable qualities. Like the majority of his compatriots he had learned
to believe thoroughly in the government and institutions of Great
Britain, and never lost an opportunity of recognising the benefits which
his race derived from British connection. He it was who gave utterance
to the oft-quoted words: "That the last gun that would be fired for
British supremacy in America would be fired by a French Canadian." He
lived to move the resolutions of the Quebec convention in the
legislative council of Canada, but he died a few months before the union
was formally established in 1867, and never had an opportunity of
experiencing the positive advantages which his race, of whose interests
he was always an earnest exponent, derived from a condition of things
which gave additional guarantees for the preservation of their special
institutions. But there were in the convention other men of much greater
political force, more deeply versed in constitutional knowledge, more
capable of framing a plan of union than the esteemed and discreet
president. Most prominent among these was Mr., afterwards Sir, John A.
Macdonald, who had been for years one of the most conspicuous figures in
Canadian politics, and had been able to win to a remarkable degree the
confidence not only or the great majority of the French Canadians but
also of a powerful minority in the western province where his able
antagonist, Mr. Brown, until 1864 held the vantage ground by his
persistency in urging its claims to greater weight in the administration
of public affairs. Mr. Macdonald had a great knowledge of men and did
not hesitate to avail himself of their weaknesses in order to strengthen
his political power. His greatest faults were those of a politician
anxious for the success of his party. His strength lay largely in his
ability to understand the working of British institutions, and in his
recognition of the necessity of carrying on the government in a country
of diverse nationalities, on principles of justice and compromise. He
had a happy faculty of adapting himself to the decided current of public
opinion even at the risk of leaving himself open to a charge of
inconsistency, and he was just as ready to adopt the measures of his
opponents as he was willing to enter their ranks and steal away some
prominent men whose support he thought necessary to his political

So early as 1861 he had emphatically expressed himself on the floor of
the assembly in favour of the main principles of just such a federal
union as was initiated at Quebec. The moment he found that the question
of union was likely to be something more than a mere subject for
academic discussion or eloquent expression in legislative halls, he
recognised immediately the great advantages it offered, not only for the
solution of the difficulties of his own party, but also for the
consolidation of British American as well as imperial interests on the
continent of North America From the hour when he became convinced of
this fact he devoted his consummate ability not merely as a party
leader, but as a statesman of broad national views, to the perfection of
a measure which promised so much for the welfare and security of the
British provinces. It was his good fortune, after the establishment of
the federation, to be the first premier of the new Dominion and to mould
its destinies with a firm and capable hand. He saw it extended to the
Pacific shores long before he died, amid the regrets of all classes and
creeds and races of a country he loved and in whose future he had the
most perfect confidence.

The name of the Right Honourable Sir John Macdonald, to give him the
titles he afterwards received from the crown, naturally brings up that
of Mr., afterwards Sir, George Etienne Cartier, who was his faithful
colleague and ally for many years in the legislature of old Canada, and
for a short time after the completion of the federal union, until his
death. This able French Canadian had taken an insignificant part in the
unfortunate rising of 1837, but like many other men of his nationality
he recognised the mistakes of his impetuous youth, and, unlike Papineau
after the union of 1840, endeavoured to work out earnestly and honestly
the principles of responsible government. While a true friend of his
race, he was generous and fair in his relations with other
nationalities, and understood the necessity of compromise and
conciliation in a country of diverse races, needs, and interests. Sir
John Macdonald appreciated at their full value his statesmanlike
qualities, and succeeded in winning his sympathetic and faithful
co-operation during the many years they acted together in opposition to
the war of nationalities which would have been the eventual consequence
of Mr. Brown's determined agitation if it had been carried to its
logical and natural conclusion--conclusion happily averted by the wise
stand taken by Mr. Brown himself with respect to the settlement of
provincial troubles. In the settlement of the terms of union, we can see
not only the master hand of Sir John Macdonald in the British framework
of the system, but also the successful effort of Sir George Cartier to
preserve intact the peculiar institutions of his native province.

All those who have studied Mr. Brown's career know something of his
independent and uncompromising character; but for some time after he
entered the coalition government his speeches in favour of federation
assumed a dignified style and a breadth of view which stand out in great
contrast with his bitter arguments as leader of the Clear Grits. In the
framing of the Quebec resolutions his part was chiefly in arranging the
financial terms with a regard to the interests of his own province.

Another influential member of the Canadian delegation was Mr.,
afterwards Sir, Alexander Galt, the son of the creator of that original
character in fiction, Laurie Todd, who had been a resident for many
years in Western Canada, where a pretty city perpetuates his name. His
able son had been for a long time a prominent figure in Canadian
politics, and was distinguished for his intelligent advocacy of railway
construction and political union as measures essential to the material
and political development of the provinces. His earnest and eloquent
exposition of the necessity of union had no doubt much to do with
creating a wide-spread public sentiment in its favour, and with
preparing the way for the formation of the coalition government of 1864,
on the basis of such a political measure. His knowledge of financial and
commercial questions was found to be invaluable in the settlement of the
financial basis of the union, while his recognised position as a
representative of the Protestant English-speaking people in French
Canada gave him much weight when it was a question of securing their
rights and interests in the Quebec resolutions.

The other members of the Canadian delegation were men of varied
accomplishments, some of whom played an important part in the working
out of the federal system, the foundations of which they laid. There was
a brilliant Irishman, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, poet, historian and orator,
who had been in his rash youth obliged to fly from Ireland to the United
States on account of his connection with the rebellious party known as
Young Ireland during the troubles of 1848. When he removed from the
United States in 1857 he advocated with much force a union of the
provinces in the _New Era_, of which he was editor during its short
existence. He was elected to parliament in 1858, and became a notable
figure in Canadian politics on account of his eloquence and _bonhomie_.
His most elaborate addresses had never the easy flow of Joseph Howe's
speeches, but were laboured essays, showing too obviously the results of
careful compilation in libraries, while brightened by touches of natural
humour. He had been president of the council in the Sandfield Macdonald
government of 1862--a moderate Reform ministry--but later he joined the
Liberal-Conservative party as less sectional in its aspirations and more
generous in its general policy than the one led by Mr. Brown. Mr. McGee
was during his residence in Canada a firm friend of the British
connection, having observed the beneficent character of British rule in
his new Canadian home, with whose interests he so thoroughly identified

Mr. William McDougall, the descendant of a Loyalist, had been long
connected with the advocacy of Reform principles in the press and on the
floor of parliament, and was distinguished for his clear, incisive style
of debating. He had been for years a firm believer in the advantages of
union, which he had been the first to urge at the Reform convention of
1859. Mr., afterwards Sir, Alexander Campbell, who had been for some
years a legal partner of Sir John Macdonald, was gifted with a
remarkably clear intellect, great common sense, and business capacity,
which he displayed later as leader of the senate and as minister of the
crown. Mr., afterwards Sir, Oliver Mowat, who had been a student of law
in Sir John Macdonald's office at Kingston, brought to the discharge of
the important positions he held in later times as minister,
vice-chancellor, and premier of the province of Ontario, great legal
learning, and admirable judgment. Mr., now Sir, Hector Langevin was
considered a man of promise, likely to exercise in the future much
influence among his countrymen. For some years after the establishment
of the new Dominion he occupied important positions in the government of
the country, and led the French Conservative party after the death of
Sir George Cartier. Mr. James Cockburn was an excellent lawyer, who
three years later was chosen speaker of the first house of commons of
the federal parliament--a position which his sound judgment, knowledge
of parliamentary law, and dignity of manner enabled him to discharge
with signal ability. Mr. J.C. Chapais was a man of sound judgment, which
made him equal to the administrative duties entrusted to him from time
to time.

Of the five men sent by Nova Scotia, the two ablest were Dr., now Sir,
Charles Tupper, who was first minister of the Conservative government,
and Mr., later Sir, Adams G. Archibald, who was leader of the Liberal
opposition in the assembly. The former was then as now distinguished for
his great power as a debater and for the forcible expression of his
opinions on the public questions on which he had made up his mind. When
he had a great end in view he followed it with a tenacity of purpose
that generally gave him success. Ever since he entered public life as an
opponent of Mr. Howe, he has been a dominant force in the politics of
Nova Scotia. While Conservative in name he entertained broad Liberal
views which found expression in the improvement of the school system, at
a very low ebb when he came into office, and in the readiness and energy
with which he identified himself with the cause of the union of the
provinces. Mr. Archibald was noted for his dignified demeanour, sound
legal attainments, and clear plausible style of oratory, well calculated
to instruct a learned audience. Mr. William A. Henry was a lawyer of
considerable ability, who was at a later time elevated to the bench of
the supreme court of Canada. Mr. Jonathan J. McCully, afterwards a judge
in Nova Scotia, had never sat in the assembly, but he exercised
influence in the legislative council on the Liberal side and was an
editorial writer of no mean ability. Mr. Dickey was a leader of the
Conservatives in the upper house and distinguished for his general
culture and legal knowledge.

New Brunswick sent seven delegates, drawn from the government and
opposition. The Loyalists who founded this province were represented by
four of the most prominent members of the delegation, Tilley, Chandler,
Gray, and Fisher. Mr., afterwards Sir, Samuel Leonard Tilley had been
long engaged in public life and possessed admirable ability as an
administrator. He had for years taken a deep interest in questions of
intercolonial trade, railway intercourse and political union. He was a
Reformer of pronounced opinions, most earnest in the advocacy of
temperance, possessed of great tact and respected for his high character
in all the relations of life. In later times he became finance minister
of the Dominion and lieutenant-governor of his native province.

Mr. John Hamilton Gray, later a judge in British Columbia, was one of
the most eloquent and accomplished men in the convention, and brought to
the consideration of legal and constitutional questions much knowledge
and experience. Mr. Fisher, afterwards a judge in his province, was also
a well equipped lawyer and speaker who displayed a cultured mind. Like
all the delegates from New Brunswick he was animated by a great love for
British connection and institutions. Mr. Peter Mitchell was a Liberal,
conspicuous for the energy he brought to the administration of public
affairs, both in his own province and at a later time in the new
Dominion as a minister of the crown. Mr. Edward Barron Chandler had long
been a notable figure in the politics of New Brunswick, and was
universally respected for his probity and worth. He had the honour of
being at a later time the lieutenant-governor of the province with which
he had been so long and honourably associated. Mr. John Johnson and Mr.
William H. Steeves were also fully qualified to deal intelligently with
the questions submitted to the convention.

Of the seven members of the Prince Edward Island delegation, four were
members of the government and the rest were prominent men in one or
other branch of the legislature. Colonel Gray--a descendant of a
Virginia Loyalist--was prime minister of the island. Mr. George Coles
was one of the fathers of responsible government in the island, and long
associated with the advocacy and passage of many progressive measures,
including the improvement of the educational system. Mr. Edward Whelan
was a journalist, an Irishman by birth, and endowed, like so many of his
countrymen, with a natural gift of eloquence. Mr. Thomas Heath Haviland,
afterwards lieutenant-governor of the island, was a man of culture, and
Mr. Edward Palmer was a lawyer of good reputation. Mr. William H. Pope
and Mr. Andrew Archibald Macdonald were also thoroughly capable of
watching over the special interests of the island.

Newfoundland had the advantage of being represented by Mr. Frederick
B.T. Carter, then speaker of the house of assembly, and by Mr. Ambrose
Shea, also a distinguished politician of the great island. Both were
knighted at later times; the former became chief justice of his own
province, and the latter governor of the Bahamas.

SECTION 3.--Confederation accomplished.

The Quebec convention sat with closed doors for eighteen days, and
agreed to seventy-two resolutions, which form the basis of the Act of
Union, subsequently passed by the imperial parliament. These resolutions
set forth at the outset that in a federation of the British American
provinces "the system of government best adapted under existing
circumstances to protect the diversified interests of the several
provinces, and secure harmony and permanency in the working of the
union, would be a general government charged with matters of common
interest to the whole country, and local governments for each of the
Canadas, and for the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince
Edward Island, charged with the control of local matters in their
respective sections" In another paragraph the resolutions declared that
"in forming a constitution for a general government, the conference,
with a view to the perpetuation of our connection with the
mother-country, and the promotion of the best interests of the people of
these provinces, desire to follow the model of the British constitution
so far as our circumstances permit" In a subsequent paragraph it was set
forth: "the executive authority or government shall be vested in the
sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and be
administered according to the well-understood principles of the British
constitution, by a sovereign personally, or by the representative of the
sovereign duly authorised."

In these three paragraphs of the Quebec resolutions we see clearly
expressed the leading principles on which the Canadian federation
rests--a federation, with a central government having jurisdiction over
matters of common interest to the whole country comprised in the union,
and a number of provincial governments having the control and management
of certain local matters naturally and conveniently belonging to them,
each government being administered in accordance with the
well-understood principles of the British system of parliamentary

The resolutions also defined in express terms the respective powers of
the central and provincial governments. Any subject that did not fall
within the enumerated powers of the provincial legislatures was placed
under the control of the general parliament. The convention recognised
the necessity of preventing, as far as possible, the difficulties that
had arisen in the working of the constitution of the United States,
where the residuary power of legislation is given to the people of the
respective states and not to the federal government. In a subsequent
chapter I give a brief summary of these and other details of the system
of government, generally laid down in the Quebec resolutions and
practically embodied in an imperial statute three years later.

Although we have no official report of the discussions of the Quebec
convention, we know on good authority that the question of providing
revenues for the provinces was one that gave the delegates the greatest
difficulty. In all the provinces the sources of revenue were chiefly
customs and excise-duties which had to be set apart for the general
government of the federation. Some of the delegates from Ontario, where
there had existed for many years an admirable system of municipal
government, which provided funds for education and local improvements,
recognised the advantages of direct taxation; but the representatives of
the other provinces would not consent to such a system, especially in
the case of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, where
there were no municipal institutions, and the people depended almost
exclusively on the annual votes of the legislature for the means to meet
their local necessities. All of the delegates, in fact, felt that to
force the maritime provinces to resort to direct taxes as the only
method of carrying on their government, would be probably fatal to the
success of the scheme, and it was finally decided that the central
government should grant annual subsidies, based on population, relative
debts, financial position, and such other facts as should be fairly
brought into the consideration of the case.

It is unfortunate that we have no full report of the deliberations and
debates of this great conference. We have only a fragmentary record from
which it is difficult to form any adequate conclusions as to the part
taken by the several delegates in the numerous questions which
necessarily came under their purview.[4] Under these circumstances, a
careful writer hesitates to form any positive opinion based upon these
reports of the discussions, but no one can doubt that the directing
spirit of the conference was Sir John Macdonald. Meagre as is the record
of what he said, we can yet see that his words were those of a man who
rose above the level of the mere politician, and grasped the magnitude
of the questions involved. What he aimed at especially was to follow as
closely as possible the fundamental principles of English parliamentary
government, and to engraft them upon the general system of federal
union. Mr. George Brown took a prominent part in the deliberations. His
opinions read curiously now. He was in favour of having the
lieutenant-governors appointed by the general government, and he was
willing to give them an effective veto over provincial legislation. He
advocated the election of a legislative chamber on a fixed day every
third year, not subject to a dissolution during its term--also an
adaptation of the American system. He went so far as to urge the
advisability of having the executive council elected for three years--by
the assembly, we may assume, though the imperfect report before us does
not state so--and also of giving the lieutenant-governor the right of
dismissing any of its members when the house was not sitting. Mr. Brown
consequently appears to have been the advocate, so far as the provinces
were concerned, of principles that prevail in the federal republic
across the border. He opposed the introduction of responsible
government, as it now obtains, in all the provinces of the Dominion,
while conceding its necessity for the central government.

[4: Mr. Joseph Pope, for years the able confidential secretary of Sir
John Macdonald, has edited and published all the official documents
bearing on the origin and evolution of the British North America Act of
1867; but despite all the ability and fidelity he has devoted to the
task the result is most imperfect and unsatisfactory on account of the
absence of any full or exact original report of proceedings.]

We gather from the report of discussions that the Prince Edward Island
delegates hesitated from the beginning to enter a union where their
province would necessarily have so small a numerical representation--one
of the main objections which subsequently operated against the island
coming into the confederation. With respect to education we see that it
was Mr., afterwards Sir, Alexander Galt, who was responsible for the
provision in the constitution which gives the general government and
parliament a certain control over provincial legislation in case the
rights of a Protestant or a Roman Catholic minority are prejudicially
affected. The minutes on this point are defective, but we have the
original motion on the subject, and a note of Sir John Macdonald himself
that it was passed, with the assent of all the provinces, at the
subsequent London conference in 1867. The majority of the delegates
appear from the outset to have supported strenuously the principle which
lies at the basis of the confederation, that all powers not expressly
reserved to the provinces should appertain to the general government, as
against the opposite principle, which, as Sir John Macdonald pointed
out, had led to great difficulties in the working of the federal system
in the United States. Sir John Macdonald also, with his usual sagacity,
showed that, in all cases of conflict of jurisdiction, recourse would be
necessarily made to the courts, as was the practice even then whenever
there was a conflict between imperial and Canadian statutes.

Addresses to the Queen embodying the Quebec resolutions were submitted
to the legislature of Canada during the winter of 1865, and passed in
both houses by large majorities after a very full discussion of the
merits of the scheme. The opposition in the assembly came chiefly from
Mr. Antoine A. Dorion, Mr. Luther H. Holton, Mr. Dunkin, Mr. Lucius Seth
Huntington, Mr. John Sandfield Macdonald, and other able Liberals who
were not disposed to follow Mr. Brown and his two colleagues in their
patriotic abandonment of "partyism."

The vote on the address was, in the council--Contents 45, Non-contents
15. In the assembly it stood--Yeas 91, Nays 33. The minority in the
assembly comprised 25 out of 65 representatives of French Canada, and
only 8 out of the 65 from Upper Canada. With the speaker in the chair
there were only 5 members absent on the taking of the final vote.

Efforts were made both in the council and assembly to obtain an
unequivocal expression of public opinion at the polls before the address
was submitted to the imperial government for final action. It was argued
with much force that the legislature had had no special mandate from the
people to carry out so vital a change in the political condition of the
provinces, but this argument had relatively little weight in either
house in view of the dominant public sentiment which, as it was obvious
to the most superficial observer, existed in the valley of the St.
Lawrence in favour of a scheme which seemed certain to settle the
difficulties so long in the way of stable government, and offered so
many auspicious auguries for the development of the provinces embraced
in federation.

Soon after the close of the session Messrs Macdonald, Galt, Cartier, and
Brown went to England to confer with the imperial authorities on various
matters of grave public import. The British government agreed to
guarantee a loan for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway and
gave additional assurances of their deep interest in the proposed
confederation. An understanding was reached with respect to the mutual
obligations of the parent state and the dependency to provide for the
defences of the country. Preliminary steps were taken in the direction
of acquiring the north-west from the Hudson's Bay Company on equitable
terms whenever their exact legal rights were ascertained. The report of
the delegates was laid before the Canadian parliament during a very
short session held in August and September of 1865. It was then that
parliament formally ratified the Civil Code of Lower Canada, with which
must be always honourably associated the name of Mr. Cartier.

In the maritime provinces, however, the prospect for some months was far
from encouraging. Much dissatisfaction was expressed with the financial
terms, and the haste with which the maritime delegates had yielded to
the propositions of the Canadian government and given their adhesion to
the larger scheme, when they were only authorised in the first instance
by their respective legislatures to consider the feasibility of a union
of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. In New
Brunswick Mr. Tilley found himself in a minority as a result of an
appeal to the people on the question in 1865, but his successor Mr.,
afterwards Sir, Albert Smith, minister of marine in the Mackenzie
government of 1873-78, was forced to resign a year later on some
question purposely raised by Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton Gordon, then
very anxious to carry the union before he left the province. A new
government was immediately formed by Mr. Peter Mitchell, a very
energetic Liberal politician--the first minister of marine in
the first Dominion ministry--who had notoriously influenced the
lieutenant-governor in his arbitrary action of practically dismissing
the Smith cabinet. On an appeal to the people Mr. Mitchell was
sustained, and the new legislature gave its approval to the union by a
large majority. The opinion then generally prevailed in New Brunswick
that a federation was essential to the security of the provinces, then
threatened by the Fenians, and would strengthen the hands of the parent
state on the American continent. In Nova Scotia the situation was
aggravated by the fact that the opposition was led by Mr. Howe, who had
always been the idol of a large party in the country, and an earnest and
consistent supporter of the right of the people to be first consulted on
every measure immediately affecting their interests. He succeeded
in creating a powerful sentiment against the terms of the
measure--especially the financial conditions--and it was not possible
during 1865 to carry it in the legislature. It was not attempted to
submit the question to the polls, as was done in New Brunswick, indeed
such a course would have been fatal to its progress; but it was
eventually sanctioned by a large vote of the two houses. A strong
influence was exerted by the fact that confederation was approved by the
imperial government, which sent out Sir Fenwick Williams of Kars as
lieutenant-governor with special instructions that, both Canada and New
Brunswick having given their consent, it was proposed to make such
changes in the financial terms as would be more favourable to the
maritime provinces. In Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland it was not
possible for the advocates of federation to move successfully in the
matter. The opposition to the scheme of union, as proposed at Quebec,
was so bitter in these two provinces that the delegates found it useless
to press the matter in their legislatures.

In the meantime, while confederation was on the eve of accomplishment,
the people of Canada were subjected to an attack which supplied the
strongest possible evidence of the necessity for a union enabling them
to combine for purposes of general defence as well as other matters of
national importance. In the month of April, 1866, the Fenians, an Irish
organisation in the United States, made an insignificant demonstration
on the New Brunswick frontier, which had no other effect than to excite
the loyal action of the people of the province and strengthen the hands
of the advocates of confederation. In the beginning of June a
considerable body of the same order, under the command of one O'Neil,
crossed from Buffalo into the Niagara district of Upper Canada and won a
temporary success near Ridgeway, where the Queen's Own, a body of
Toronto Volunteers, chiefly students and other young men, were badly
handled by Colonel Booker. Subsequently Colonel Dennis and a small
detachment of militia were surprised at Fort Erie by O'Neil. The
knowledge that a large force of regulars and volunteers were marching
against him under Colonel Peacock forced O'Neil and his men to disperse
and find their way back to the United States, where a number were
arrested by the orders of the Washington government. The Eastern
Townships of Lower Canada were also invaded but the raiders retreated
before a Canadian force with greater rapidity than they had shown in
entering the province, and found themselves prisoners as soon as they
crossed the frontier. Canada was kept in a state of anxiety for some
months after these reckless invasions of a country where the Irish like
all other nationalities have always had the greatest possible freedom;
but the vigilance of the authorities and the readiness of the people of
Canada to defend their soil prevented any more hostile demonstrations
from the United States. The prisoners taken in the Niagara district were
treated with a degree of clemency which their shameless conduct did not
merit from an outraged people. No persons were ever executed, though a
number were confined for a while in Kingston penitentiary. The invasion
had the effect of stimulating the patriotism of the Canadian people to
an extraordinary degree, and of showing them the necessity that existed
for improving their home forces, whose organisation and equipment proved
sadly defective during the invasion.

In the summer of 1866 the Canadian legislature met for the last time
under the provisions of the Union Act of 1840, and passed addresses to
the Queen, setting forth constitutions for the new provinces of Upper
and Lower Canada, afterwards incorporated in the imperial act of union.
A conference of delegates from the provinces of Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, and Canada was held in the December of 1866 at the
Westminster Palace Hotel in the City of London. The members on behalf of
Canada were Messrs Macdonald, Cartier, Galt, McDougall, Langevin, and
W.P. Howland (in the place of Mr. Brown); on behalf of Nova Scotia,
Messrs Tupper, Henry, McCully, Archibald, and J.W. Ritchie (who took Mr.
Dickey's place); of New Brunswick, Messrs Tilley, Johnson, Mitchell,
Fisher, and R.D. Wilmot. The last named, who took the place of Mr.
Steeves, was a Loyalist by descent, and afterwards became speaker of
the senate and a lieutenant-governor of his native province. Their
deliberations led to some changes in the financial provisions of the
Quebec plan, made with the view of satisfying the opposition as far as
possible in the maritime provinces but without disturbing the
fundamental basis to which Canada had already pledged itself in the
legislative session of 1865. All the difficulties being now removed the
Earl of Carnarvon, then secretary of state for the colonies, submitted
to the house of lords on the 17th of February, 1867, a bill intituled,
"An act for the union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the
government thereof; and for purposes connected therewith." It passed the
two houses with very little discussion, and the royal assent was given
to it on the 29th of March of the same year as "The British North
America Act, 1867." It is interesting to know that in the original draft
of the bill the united provinces were called the "Kingdom of Canada,"
but when it came eventually before parliament they were designated as
the "Dominion of Canada"; and the writer had it from Sir John Macdonald
himself that this amendment did not emanate from the colonial delegates
but from the imperial ministry, one of whose members was afraid of
wounding the susceptibilities of United States statesmen.

During the same session the imperial parliament passed a bill to
guarantee a loan of three million pounds sterling for the construction
of an intercolonial railway between Quebec and the coast of the maritime
provinces--a work recognised as indispensable to the success of the new
federation. Her Majesty's proclamation, giving effect to the Union Act,
was issued on the 22nd May, 1867, declaring that "on and after the first
of July, 1867, the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick,
shall form and be one Dominion, under the name of Canada."


CONFEDERATION. 1867--1900.

SECTION I--The first parliament of the Dominion of Canada. 1867--1872.

The Dominion of Canada took its place among the federal states of the
world on the first of July, 1867. Upper and Lower Canada now became
known as Ontario and Quebec, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
retained their original historic names. The first governor-general was
Viscount Monk, who had been head of the executive government of Canada
throughout all the stages of confederation. He was an Irish nobleman,
who had been a junior lord of the treasury in Lord Palmerston's
government. He was a collateral descendant of the famous general of the
commonwealth, created Duke of Albemarle after the Restoration. Without
being a man of remarkable ability he was gifted with much discretion,
and gave all the weight of his influence to bring about a federation,
whose great benefits from an imperial as well as a colonial point of
view he fully recognised.

The prime minister of the first federal government was naturally Sir
John Macdonald, who chose as his colleagues Sir George E. Cartier, Sir
S.L. Tilley,--to give them all their later titles--Sir A.T. Galt, Sir
W.P. Howland, Mr. William McDougall, Mr. P. Mitchell, Sir A.G.
Archibald, Mr. A.F. Blair, Sir A. Campbell, Sir H.L. Langevin, Sir E.
Kenny, and Mr. J.C. Chapais. Mr. Brown had retired from the coalition
government of 1864 some months before the union, nominally on a
disagreement with his colleagues as to the best mode of conducting
negotiations for a new reciprocity treaty with the United States. The
ministry had appointed delegates to confer with the Washington
government on the subject, but, while Mr. Brown recognised the
desirability of reciprocal trade relations with the United States on
equitable conditions, he did not deem it expedient to appear before
American statesmen "as suitors for any terms they might be pleased to
grant." A general impression, however, prevailed that this difference of
opinion was not the real reason of Mr. Brown's resignation, but that
the animating motive was his intense jealousy of Sir John Macdonald,
whose dominant influence in the government he could no longer brook.

The governments of the four provinces were also regularly constituted at
this time in accordance with the act of union. The first
lieutenant-governor of Ontario was Lieutenant-General Stisted, of
Quebec, Sir Narcisse Belleau; of Nova Scotia, Lieutenant-General Sir
Fenwick Williams, the hero of Kars; of New Brunswick, Major-General
Doyle, but only for three months. With the exception of the case of
Quebec, these appointments were only temporary. It was considered
prudent to select military men in view of the continuous reports of
Fenian aggression. Sir William Howland became, a year later,
lieutenant-governor of Ontario, Major-General Sir Francis Hastings Doyle
of Nova Scotia in the fall of 1867, and Hon. L.A. Wilmot, of New
Brunswick in July 1868. The first prime minister of Ontario was Mr. John
Sandfield Macdonald, who had been leader of a Canadian ministry before
confederation. He had been a moderate Liberal in politics, and opposed
at the outset to the federal union, but before 1867 he became identified
with the Liberal-Conservative party and gave his best assistance to the
success of the federation. In Quebec, Mr. Pierre Chauveau, a man of high
culture, formed the first government, which was also associated with the
Liberal-Conservative party. In New Brunswick, Attorney-General Wetmore
was the first prime minister, but he was appointed a judge in 1870, and
Mr. George E. King, a judge of the supreme court of Canada some years
later, became his successor. In Nova Scotia, Mr. Hiram Blanchard, a
Liberal and unionist, formed a government, but it was defeated at the
elections by an overwhelming majority by the anti-unionists, and Mr.
Annand, the old friend of Mr. Howe, became first minister.

The elections for the Dominion house of commons took place in the
summer of 1867, and Sir John Macdonald's government was sustained by
nearly three-fourths of the entire representation. The most notable
incident in this contest was the defeat of Mr. Brown. Soon after his
resignation in 1866 he assumed his old position of hostility to Sir John
Macdonald and the Conservatives. At a later date, when the Liberals were
in office, he accepted a seat in the senate, but in the meantime he
continued to manage the _Globe_ and denounce his too successful and wily
antagonist in its columns with his usual vehemence.

The first parliament of the new Dominion met in the autumn of 1867 in
the new buildings at Ottawa--also chosen as the seat of government of
the federation--and was probably the ablest body of men that ever
assembled for legislative purposes within the limits of old or new
Canada. In the absence of the legislation which was subsequently passed
both in Ontario and Quebec against dual representation--or the election
of the same representatives to both the Dominion parliament and the
local legislatures--it comprised the leading public men of all parties
in the two provinces in question. Such legislation had been enacted in
the maritime provinces before 1867, but it did not prevent the ablest
men of New Brunswick from selecting the larger and more ambitious field
of parliamentary action. In Nova Scotia Sir Charles Tupper was the only
man who emerged from the battle in which so many unionists were for the
moment defeated. Even Sir Adams Archibald, the secretary of state, was
defeated in a county where he had been always returned by a large
majority. Mr. Howe came in at the head of a strong phalanx of
anti-unionists--"Repealers" as they called themselves for a short time.

The legislation of the first parliament during its five years of
existence was noteworthy in many respects. The departments of government
were reorganised with due regard to the larger interests now intrusted
to their care. The new department of marine and fisheries, rendered
necessary by the admission of the maritime provinces, was placed under
the direction of Mr. Peter Mitchell, then a member of the senate, who
had done so much to bring New Brunswick into the union. An act was
passed to provide for the immediate commencement of the Intercolonial
Railway, which was actually completed by the 1st of July, 1876, under
the supervision of Mr., now Sir, Sandford Fleming, as chief government
engineer; and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec were at last directly
connected with the maritime sections of the Dominion.

The repeal agitation in Nova Scotia received its first blow by the
defection of Mr. Howe, who had been elected to the house of commons. He
proceeded to England in 1868 with an address from the assembly of Nova
Scotia, demanding a repeal of the union, but he made no impression
whatever on a government and parliament convinced of the necessity of
the measure from an imperial as well as colonial point of view. Dr.
Tupper was present on behalf of the Dominion government to answer any
arguments that the Repealers might advance against the union. The visit
to England convinced Mr. Howe that further agitation on the question
might be injurious to British connection, and that the wisest course was
to make the union as useful as possible to the provinces. Then, as
always, he was true to those principles of fidelity to the crown and
empire which had forced his father to seek refuge in Nova Scotia, and
which had been ever the mainspring of his action, even in the trying
days when he and others were struggling for responsible government. He
believed always in constitutional agitation, not in rebellion. He now
agreed to enter the ministry as president of the council on condition
that the financial basis, on which Nova Scotia had been admitted to the
federation, was enlarged by the parliament of Canada. These "better
terms" were brought before the Canadian parliament in the session of
1869, and provided for the granting of additional allowances to the
provinces, calculated on increased amounts of debt as compared with the
maximum fixed by the terms of the British North America Act of 1867.
They met with strong opposition from Edward Blake, a very eminent
lawyer and Reformer of Ontario, on the ground that they violated the
original compact of union as set forth in the British North America Act;
but despite the opposition of the western Reformers they were ratified
by a large majority, who recognised the supreme necessity of
conciliating Nova Scotia. On account of his decision to yield to the
inevitable, Mr. Howe incurred the bitter antagonism of many men who had
been his staunch followers in all the political contests of Nova Scotia,
and it was with the greatest difficulty that he was re-elected for the
county of Hants as a minister of the crown. He remained in the
government until May, 1873, when he was appointed lieutenant-governor of
Nova Scotia. The worries of a long life of political struggles, and
especially the fatigue and exposure of the last election in Hants, had
impaired his health and made it absolutely necessary that he should
retire from active politics. Only a month after his appointment, the
printer, poet and politician died in the famous old government house,
admittance to which had been denied him in the stormy days when he
fought Lord Falkland. It was a fit ending, assuredly, to the life of the
statesman, who, with eloquent pen and voice, in the days when his
opinions were even offensive to governors and social leaders, ever urged
the right of his countrymen to a full measure of self-government.

Canada and all other parts of the British empire were deeply shocked on
an April day of 1868 by the tragic announcement of the assassination of
the brilliant Irishman, Thomas D'Arcy McGee on his return late at night
from his parliamentary duties. He had never been forgiven by the Irish
enemies of England for his strenuous efforts in Canada to atone for the
indiscretion of his thoughtless youth. His remains were buried with all
the honours that the state could give him, and proper provision was made
for the members of his family by that parliament of which he had been
one of the most notable figures. The murderer, Thomas Whelan, a member
of the secret society that had ordered his death, was executed at
Ottawa on the 11th February, 1869.

SECTION 2.--Extension of the Dominion from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Ocean. 1869-1873.

The government and parliament, to whom were entrusted the destinies of
the federation of four provinces, had a great work to accomplish in the
way of perfecting and extending the Dominion, which was necessarily
incomplete whilst its western territorial limits were confined to the
boundaries of Ontario, and the provinces of British Columbia on the
Pacific coast and of Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of the St.
Lawrence remained in a position of isolation. The provisions of the
British North America Act of 1867 provided in general terms for the
addition of the immense territories which extend from the head of Lake
Superior in a north-westerly direction as far as the Rocky Mountains.
Three great basins divide these territories; Hudson Bay Basin, with
probably a drainage of 2,250,000 square miles; the Winnipeg sub-basin
tributary to the former, with nearly 400,000 square miles; the Mackenzie
River basin with nearly 700,000 square miles. The Winnipeg basin covers
a great area of prairie lands, whose luxuriant grasses and wild flowers
were indented for centuries only by the tracks of herds of innumerable
buffaloes on their way to the tortuous and sluggish streams which flow
through that wide region. This plain slopes gently towards the arctic
seas into which its waters flow, and is also remarkable for rising
gradually from its eastern limits in three distinct elevations or
steppes as far as the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains. Forests of
trees, small for the most part, are found only when the prairies are
left and we reach the more picturesque undulating country through which
the North Saskatchewan flows. An extraordinary feature of this great
region is the continuous chain of lakes and rivers which stretch from
the basin of the St. Lawrence as far as the distant northern sea into
which the Mackenzie, the second largest river in North America, carries
its enormous volume of waters. As we stand on the rugged heights of
land which divides the Winnipeg from the Laurentian basin we are within
easy reach of rivers which flow, some to arctic seas, some to the
Atlantic, and some to the Gulf of Mexico. If we ascend the Saskatchewan
River, from Lake Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains, we shall find
ourselves within a measurable distance not only of the sources of the
Mackenzie, one of whose tributaries reaches the head waters of the
Yukon, a river of golden promise like the Pactolus of the eastern
lands--but also within reach of the head waters of the rapid Columbia,
and the still more impetuous Fraser, both of which pour into the Pacific
Ocean, as well as of the Missouri, which here accumulates strength for
its alliance with the Mississippi, that great artery of a more southern
land. It was to this remarkable geographical feature that Oliver Wendell
Holmes referred in the following well-known verses:

"Yon stream whose sources run
Turned by a pebble's edge,
Is Athabaska rolling toward the Sun
Through the cleft mountain ledge."

"The slender rill had strayed,
But for the slanting stone,
To evening's ocean, with the tangled braid
Of foam-flecked Oregon."


A great company claimed for two centuries exclusive trading privileges
over a large portion of these territories, known as Rupert's Land, by
virtue of a charter given by King Charles II, on the 2nd May, 1670, to
Prince Rupert, the Duke of Albemarle, and other Englishmen of rank and
wealth. The early operations of this Company of Adventurers of England
were confined to the vicinity of Hudson and James Bays. The French of
Canada for many years disputed the rights of the English company to this
great region, but it was finally ceded to England by the Treaty of
Utrecht. Twenty years after the Treaty of Paris (1763) a number of
wealthy and enterprising merchants, chiefly Scotch, established at
Montreal the North-West Company for the purpose of trading in those
north-western territories to which French traders had been the first to
venture. This new company carried on its operations with such activity
that in thirty years' time it employed four thousand persons and
occupied sixty posts in different parts of the territories.

The Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters was York Factory, on the great
bay to which British ships, every summer, brought out supplies for the
posts. The North-West Company followed the route of the old French
traders from Lachine by way of the Ottawa or the lakes to the head of
Lake Superior, and its principal depot was Fort William on the
Kaministiquia River. The servants of the North-West Company became
indefatigable explorers of the territories as far as the Pacific Ocean
and arctic seas. Mr., afterwards Sir, Alexander Mackenzie first followed
the river which now bears his name, to the Arctic Ocean, into which it
pours its mighty volume of water. He was also the first to cross the
Rocky Mountains and reach the Pacific coast. Simon Fraser, another
employee of the company, discovered, in 1808, the river which still
recalls his exploits; and a little later, David Thompson, from whom a
river is named, crossed further south and reached Oregon by the Columbia
River. The energetic operations of the North-west Company so seriously
affected the business of the Hudson's Bay Company that in some years the
latter declared no dividends. The rivalry between the two companies
reached its highest between 1811 and 1818, when Thomas Douglas, fifth
Earl of Selkirk, who was an enthusiastic promoter of colonisation in
British North America, obtained from the Hudson's Bay Company an immense
tract of land in the Red River country and made an earnest effort to
establish a Scotch settlement at Kildonan. But his efforts to people
Assiniboia--the Indian name he gave to his wide domain--were baulked by
the opposition of the employees of the North-west Company, who regarded
this colonising scheme as fatal to the fur trade. In the territory
conveyed to Lord Selkirk, the Montreal Company had established posts
upon every river and lake, while the Hudson's Bay Company had only one
fort of importance, Fort Douglas, within a short distance of the
North-west Company's post of Fort Gibraltar, at the confluence of the
Red and Assiniboine Rivers, where the city of Winnipeg now stands. The
quarrel between the Scotch settlers who were under the protection of the
Hudson's Bay Company and the North-westers, chiefly composed of French
Canadians and French half-breeds, or _Metis_ culminated in 1816, in the
massacre of Governor Semple and twenty-six other persons connected with
the new colony by a number of half-breeds. Two years later, a number of
persons who had been arrested for this murder were tried at York in
Upper Canada, but the evidence was so conflicting on account of the
false swearing on the part of the witnesses that the jury were forced to
acquit the accused. Lord Selkirk died at Pau, in 1820, but not before he
had made an attempt to assist his young settlement, almost broken up by
the shameful attack of 1816.

The little colony managed to exist, but its difficulties were aggravated
from time to time by the ravages of clouds of grasshoppers which
devastated the territories and brought the people to the verge of
starvation. In March, 1821, the North-west Company made over all their
property to the older company, which now reigned supreme throughout the
territories. All doubts as to their rights were set at rest by an act of
parliament giving them a monopoly of trade for twenty-one years in what
were then generally known as the Indian territories, that vast region
which lay beyond the confines of Rupert's Land, and was not strictly
covered by the charter of 1670. This act was re-enacted in 1838 for
another twenty-one years. No further extension, however, was ever
granted, as an agitation had commenced in Canada by 1859 for the
surrender of the company's privileges and the opening up of the
territories, so long a great "lone land," to enterprise and settlement.
When the two rival companies were united, Mr., afterwards Sir, George
Simpson, became governor, and he continued to occupy that position until
1860, when he died in his residence at Lachine, near Montreal. This
energetic man largely extended the geographical knowledge of the wide
dominions entrusted to his charge, though like all the servants of the
company, he discouraged settlement and minimised the agricultural
capabilities of the country, when examined in 1857 before a committee of
the English house of commons. In 1837 the company purchased from Lord
Selkirk's heirs all their rights in Assiniboia. The Scotch settlers and
the French half-breeds were now in close contiguity to each other on the
Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The company established a simple form of
government for the maintenance of law and order. In the course of time,
their council included not only their principal factors and officials,
but a few persons selected from the inhabitants. On the whole, law and
order prevailed in the settlements, although there was always latent a
certain degree of sullen discontent against the selfish rule of a mere
fur company, invested with such great powers. The great object of the
company was always to keep out the pioneers of settlement, and give no
information of the value of the land and resources of their vast domain.

Some years before the federation of the British-American provinces the
public men of Canada had commenced an agitation against the company,
with the view of relieving from its monopoly a country whose resources
were beginning to be known. Colonial delegates on several occasions
interviewed the imperial authorities on the subject, but no practical
results were obtained until federation became an accomplished fact.
Then, at length, the company recognised the necessity of yielding to
the pressure that was brought to bear upon them by the British
government, at a time when the interests of the empire as well as of the
new Dominion demanded the abolition of a monopoly so hostile to the
conditions of modern progress in British North America. In 1868
successful negotiations took place between a Canadian delegation--Sir
George Cartier and the Hon. William Macdougall--and the Hudson's Bay
Company's representatives for the surrender of their imperial domain.
Canada agreed to pay L300,000 sterling, and to reserve certain lands for
the company. The terms were approved by the Canadian parliament in 1869,
and an act was passed for the temporary government of Rupert's Land and
the North-west territory when regularly transferred to Canada. In the
summer of that year, surveyors were sent under Colonel Dennis to make
surveys of townships in Assiniboia; and early in the autumn Mr.
Macdougall was appointed lieutenant-governor of the territories, with
the understanding that he should not act in an official capacity until
he was authoritatively informed from Ottawa of the legal transfer of the
country to the Canadian government. Mr. Macdougall left for Fort Garry
in September, but he was unable to reach Red River on account of a
rising of the half-breeds. The cause of the troubles is to be traced not
simply to the apathy of the Hudson's Bay Company's officials, who took
no steps to prepare the settlers for the change of government, nor to
the fact that the Canadian authorities neglected to consult the wishes
of the inhabitants, but chiefly to the belief that prevailed among the
ignorant French half-breeds that it was proposed to take their lands
from them. Sir John Macdonald admitted, at a later time, that much of
the trouble arose "from the lack of conciliation, tact and prudence
shown by the surveyors during the summer of 1869." Mr. Macdougall also
appears to have disobeyed his instructions, for he attempted to set up
his government by a _coup-de-main_ on the 1st December, though he had no
official information of the transfer of the country to Canada, and was
not legally entitled to perform a single official act.

The rebellious half-breeds of the Red River settlement formed a
provisional government, in which one Louis Riel was the controlling
spirit from the beginning until the end of the revolt. He was a French
Canadian half-breed, who had been educated in one of the French Canadian
colleges, and always exercised much influence over his ignorant,
impulsive, easily-deluded countrymen. The total population living in the
settlements of Assiniboia at that time was about twelve thousand, of
whom nearly one-half were _Metis_ or half-breeds, mostly the descendants
of the _coureurs-de-bois_ and _voyageurs_ of early times. So long as the
buffalo ranged the prairies in large numbers, they were hunters, and
cared nothing for the relatively tame pursuit of agriculture. Their
small farms generally presented a neglected, impoverished appearance.
The great majority had adopted the habits of their Indian lineage, and
would neglect their farms for weeks to follow the scarce buffalo to
their distant feeding grounds. The Scotch half-breed, the offspring of
the marriage of Scotchmen with Indian women, still illustrated the
industry and energy of his paternal race, and rose superior to Indian
surroundings. It was among the French half-breeds that Riel found his
supporters. The Scotch and English settlers had disapproved of the
sudden transfer of the territory in which they and their parents had so
long lived, without any attempt having been made to consult their
feelings as to the future government of the country. Though they took no
active part in the rebellion, they allowed matters to take their course
with indifference and sullen resignation. The employees of the Hudson's
Bay Company were dissatisfied with the sale of the company's rights, as
it meant, in their opinion, a loss of occupation and influence. The
portion of the population that was always quite ready to hasten the
acquisition of the territory by Canada, and resolutely opposed Riel from
the outset, was the small Canadian element, which was led by Dr.
Schultz, an able, determined man, afterwards lieutenant-governor of
Manitoba. Riel imprisoned and insulted several of the loyal party who
opposed him. At last he ruthlessly ordered the execution of one Thomas
Scott, an Ontario man, who had defied him.

While these events were in progress, the Canadian government enlisted in
the interests of law and order the services of Mr. Donald Smith, now
Lord Strathcona, who had been long connected with the Hudson's Bay
Company, and also of Archbishop Tache, of St. Boniface--the principal
French settlement in the country--who returned from Rome to act as
mediator between the Canadian authorities and his deluded flock.
Unhappily, before the Archbishop could reach Fort Garry, Scott had been
murdered, and the Dominion government could not consider themselves
bound by the terms they were ready to offer to the insurgents under a
very different condition of things. The murder of Scott had clearly
brought Riel and his associates under the provisions of the criminal
law; and public opinion in Ontario would not tolerate an amnesty, as was
hastily promised by the Archbishop, in his zeal to bring the rebellion
to an end. A force of 1200 regulars and volunteers was sent to the Red
River towards the end of May, 1870, under the command of Colonel
Wolseley, now a field-marshal and a peer of the realm. Riel fled across
the frontier before the troops, after a tedious journey of three months
from the day they left Toronto, reached Fort Garry. Peace was restored
once more to the settlers of Assiniboia. The Canadian government had had
several interviews with delegates from the discontented people of Red
River, who had prepared what they called "a Bill of Rights," and it was
therefore able intelligently to decide on the best form of governing the
territories. The imperial government completed the formal transfer of
the country to Canada, and the Canadian parliament in 1870 passed an act
to provide for the government of a new province of Manitoba.
Representation was given to the people in both houses of the Canadian
parliament, and provision was made for a provincial government on the
same basis that existed in the old provinces of the Dominion. The
lieutenant-governor of the province was also, for the present, to govern
the unorganised portion of the North-west with the assistance of a
council of eleven persons. The first legislature of Manitoba was elected
in the early part of 1871, and a provincial government was formed, with
Mr. Albert Boyd as provincial secretary. The first lieutenant-governor
was Sir Adams Archibald, the eminent Nova Scotian, who had been defeated
in the elections of 1867. Mr. Macdougall had returned from the
North-west frontier a deeply disappointed man, who would never admit
that he had shown any undue haste in commencing the exercise of his
powers as governor. Some years later he disappeared from active public
life, after a career during which he had performed many useful services
for Canada.

In another chapter on the relations between Canada and the United States
I shall refer to the results of the international commission which met
at Washington in 1870, to consider the Alabama difficulty, the fishery
dispute, and other questions, the settlement of which could be no longer
delayed. In 1870, while the Red River settlements were still in a
troublous state, the Fenians made two attempts to invade the Eastern
Townships, but they were easily repulsed and forced to cross the
frontier. They were next heard of in 1871, when they attempted, under
the leadership of the irrepressible O'Neil, who had also been engaged in
1870, and of O'Donohue, one of Riel's rebellious associates, to make a
raid into Manitoba by way of Pembina, but their prompt arrest by a
company of United States troops was the inglorious conclusion of the
last effort of a dying and worthless organisation to strike a blow at
England through Canada.

The Dominion government was much embarrassed for some years by the
complications that arose from Riel's revolt and the murder of Scott. An
agitation grew up in Ontario for the arrest of the murderers; and when
Mr. Blake succeeded Mr. Sandfield Macdonald as leader of the Ontario
government, a large reward was offered for the capture of Riel and such
of his associates as were still in the territories. On the other hand,
Sir George Cartier and the French Canadians were in favour of an
amnesty. The Macdonald ministry consequently found itself on the horns
of a dilemma; and the political tension was only relieved for a time
when Riel and Lepine left Manitoba, on receiving a considerable sum of
money from Sir John Macdonald. Although this fact was not known until
1875, when a committee of the house of commons investigated the affairs
of the North-west, there was a general impression after 1870 throughout
Ontario--an impression which had much effect on the general election of
1872--that the government had no sincere desire to bring Riel and his
associates to justice.

In 1871 the Dominion welcomed into the union the great mountainous
province of British Columbia, whose picturesque shores recall the
memories of Cook, Vancouver and other maritime adventurers of the last
century, and whose swift rivers are associated with the exploits of
Mackenzie, Thompson, Quesnel, Fraser and other daring men, who first saw
the impetuous waters which rush through the canons of the great
mountains of the province until at last they empty themselves into the
Pacific Ocean. For many years Vancouver Island and the mainland, first
known as New Caledonia, were under the control of the Hudson's Bay
Company. Vancouver Island was nominally made a crown colony in 1849;
that is, a colony without representative institutions, in which the
government is carried on by a governor and council, appointed by the
crown. The official authority continued from 1851 practically in the
hands of the company's chief factor, Sir James Douglas, a man of signal
ability, who was also the governor of the infant colony. In 1856 an
assembly was called, despite the insignificant population of the island.
In 1858 New Caledonia was organised as a crown colony under the name of
British Columbia, as a consequence of the gold discoveries which brought
in many people. Sir James Douglas was also appointed governor of
British Columbia, and continued in that position until 1864. In 1866,
the colony was united with Vancouver Island under the general
designation of British Columbia. When the province entered the
confederation of Canada in 1871 it was governed by a lieutenant-governor
appointed by the crown, a legislature composed of heads of the public
departments and several elected members. With the entrance of this
province, so famous now for its treasures of gold, coal and other
minerals in illimitable quantities, must be associated the name of Sir
Joseph Trutch, the first lieutenant-governor under the auspices of the
federation. The province did not come into the union with the same
constitution that was enjoyed by the other provinces, but it was
expressly declared in the terms of union that "the government of the
Dominion will readily consent to the introduction of responsible
government when desired by the inhabitants of British Columbia."
Accordingly, soon after its admission, the province obtained a
constitution similar to that of other provinces: a lieutenant-governor,
a responsible executive council and an elective assembly. Representation
was given it in both houses of the Dominion parliament, and the members
took their seats during the session of 1872. In addition to the payment
of a considerable subsidy for provincial expenses, the Dominion
government pledged itself to secure the construction of a railway within
two years from the date of union to connect the seaboard of British
Columbia with the railway system of Canada, to commence the work
simultaneously at both ends of the line, and to complete it within ten
years from the admission of the colony to the confederation.

In 1872 a general election was held in the Dominion, and while the
government was generally sustained, it came back with a minority from
Ontario. The Riel agitation, the Washington Treaty, and the undertaking
to finish the Pacific railway in so short a time, were questions which
weakened the ministry. The most encouraging feature of the elections
was the complete defeat of the anti-unionists in Nova Scotia,--the
prelude to their disappearance as a party--all the representatives, with
the exception of one member, being pledged to support a government whose
chief merit was its persistent effort to cement the union and extend it
from ocean to ocean. Sir Francis Hincks, finance minister since 1870,
was defeated in Ontario and Sir George Cartier in Montreal. Both these
gentlemen found constituencies elsewhere, but Sir George Cartier never
took his seat, as his health had been seriously impaired, and he died in
England in 1873. The state gave a public funeral to this great French
Canadian, always animated by a sincere desire to weld the two races
together on principles of compromise and justice. Sir Francis Hincks
also disappeared from public life in 1873, and died at Montreal in 1885
from an attack of malignant small-pox. The sad circumstances of his
death forbade any public or even private display, and the man who filled
so many important positions in the empire was carried to the grave with
those precautions which are necessary in the case of those who fall
victims to an infectious disease.

But while these two eminent men disappeared from the public life of
Canada, two others began now to occupy a more prominent place in
Dominion affairs. These were Mr. Edward Blake and Mr. Alexander
Mackenzie, who had retired from the Ontario legislature when an act was
passed, as in other provinces, against dual representation, which made
it necessary for them to elect between federal and provincial politics.
Sir Oliver Mowat, who had retired from the bench, was chosen prime
minister of Ontario on the 25th October, 1872, and continued to hold the
position with great success and profit to the province until 1896, when
he became minister of justice in the Liberal government formed by Sir
Wilfrid Laurier.

In 1873 Prince Edward Island yielded to the influences which had been
working for some years in the direction of union, and allied her
fortunes with those of her sister provinces. The public men who were
mainly instrumental in bringing about this happy result, after much
discussion in the legislature and several conferences with the Dominion
government, were the following: Mr. R.P. Haythorne, afterwards a
senator; Mr. David Laird, at a later time minister in Mr. Mackenzie's
government and a lieutenant-governor of the North-west territories; Mr.
James C. Pope, who became a member of Sir John Macdonald's cabinet in
1879; Mr. T.H. Haviland, and Mr. G.W. Howlan, who were in later years
lieutenant-governors of the island. The terms of union made not only
very favourable financial arrangements for the support of the provincial
government, but also allowed a sum of money for the purpose of
extinguishing the claims of the landlords to whom the greater portion of
the public domain had been given by the British government more than a
hundred years before. The constitution of the executive authority and
the legislature remained as before confederation. Adequate
representation was allowed to the island in the Canadian parliament, and
the members accordingly took their places in the senate and the house of
commons during the short October session of 1873, when Sir John
Macdonald's government resigned on account of transactions arising out
of the first efforts to construct the Canadian Pacific railway.

The Dominion was now extended for a distance of about 3,500 miles, from
the island of Prince Edward in the east to the island of Vancouver in
the west. The people of the great island of Newfoundland, the oldest
colony of the British crown in North America, have, however, always
shown a determined opposition to the proposed federation, from the time
when their delegates returned from the Quebec convention of 1864.
Negotiations have taken place more than once for the entrance of the
island into the federal union, but so far no satisfactory arrangement
has been attained. The advocates of union, down to the present time,
have never been able to create that strong public opinion which would
sustain any practical movement in the direction of carrying Newfoundland
out of its unfortunate position of insular, selfish isolation, and
making it an active partner in the material, political, and social
progress of the provinces of the Canadian Dominion. Financial and
political difficulties have steadily hampered the development of the
island until very recently, and the imperial government has been obliged
to intervene for the purpose of bringing about an adjustment of
questions which, more than once, have rendered the operation of local
self-government very troublesome. The government of the Dominion, on its
side, while always ready to welcome the island into the confederation,
has been perplexed by the difficulty of making satisfactory financial
arrangements for the admission of a colony, heavily burdened with debt,
and occupying a position by no means so favourable as that of the
provinces now comprised within the Dominion. Some Canadians also see
some reason for hesitation on the part of the Dominion in the existence
of the French shore question, which prejudicially affects the
territorial interests of a large portion of the coast of the island, and
affords a forcible example of the little attention paid to colonial
interests in those old times when English statesmen were chiefly swayed
by considerations of European policy.

SECTION 3.--Summary of noteworthy events from 1873 until 1900.

On the 4th November, 1873, Sir John Macdonald placed his resignation in
the hands of the governor-general, the Earl of Dufferin; and the first
ministry of the Dominion came to an end after six years of office. The
circumstances of this resignation were regrettable in the extreme. In
1872 two companies received charters for the construction of the
Canadian Pacific railway--one of them under the direction of probably
the wealthiest man in Canada, Sir Hugh Allan of Montreal, and the other
under the presidency of the Honourable David Macpherson, a capitalist of
Toronto. The government was unwilling for political reasons to give the
preference to either of these companies, and tried to bring about an
amalgamation. While negotiations were proceeding with this object in
view, the general elections of 1872 came on, and Sir Hugh Allan made
large contributions to the funds of the Conservative party. The facts
were disclosed in 1873 before a royal commission appointed by the
governor-general to inquire into charges made in the Canadian house of
commons by a prominent Liberal, Mr. Huntington. An investigation ordered
by the house when the charges were first brought forward, had failed
chiefly on account of the legal inability of the committee to take
evidence under oath; and the government then advised the appointment of
the commission in question. Parliament was called together in October,
1873, to receive the report of the commissioners, and after a long and
vehement debate Sir John Macdonald, not daring to test the opinion of
the house by a vote, immediately resigned. In justice to Sir John
Macdonald it must be stated that Sir Hugh Allan knew, before he
subscribed a single farthing, that the privilege of building the railway
could be conceded only to an amalgamated company. When it was shown some
months after the elections that the proposed amalgamation could not be
effected, the government issued a royal charter to a new company in
which all the provinces were fairly represented, and in which Sir Hugh
Allan appears at first to have had no special influence, although the
directors of their own motion, subsequently selected him as president on
account of his wealth and business standing in Canada. Despite Sir John
Macdonald's plausible explanations to the governor-general, and his
vigorous and even pathetic appeal to the house before he resigned, the
whole transaction was unequivocally condemned by sound public opinion.
His own confidential secretary, whom he had chosen before his death as
his biographer, admits that even a large body of his faithful supporters
"were impelled to the conclusion that a government which had benefited
politically by large sums of money contributed by a person with whom it
was negotiating on the part of the Dominion, could no longer command
their confidence or support, and that for them the time had come to
choose between their conscience and their party."

The immediate consequence of this very unfortunate transaction was the
formation of a Liberal government by Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, the leader
of the opposition, who had entered the old parliament of Canada in 1861,
and had been treasurer in the Ontario ministry led by Mr. Blake until
1872. He was Scotch by birth, and a stonemason by trade. He came to
Canada in early manhood, and succeeded in raising himself above his
originally humble position to the highest in the land. His great
decision of character, his clear, logical intellect, his lucid, incisive
style of speaking, his great fidelity to principle, his inflexible
honesty of purpose, made him a force in the Liberal party, who gladly
welcomed him as the leader of a government. When he appealed to the
country in 1874, he was supported by a very large majority of the
representatives of the people. His administration remained in office
until the autumn of 1878, and passed many measures of great usefulness
to the Dominion. The North-west territories were separated from the
government of Manitoba, and first organised under a lieutenant-governor
and council, appointed by the governor-general of Canada. In 1875,
pending the settlement of the western boundary of Ontario, it was
necessary to create a separate territory out of the eastern part of the
North-west, known as the district of Keewatin, which was placed under
the jurisdiction of the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba. This boundary
dispute was not settled until 1884, when the judicial committee of the
privy council, to whose decision the question had been referred,
materially altered the limits of Keewatin and extended the western
boundaries of Ontario. In 1878, in response to an address of the
Canadian parliament, an imperial order in council was passed to annex to
the Dominion all British possessions in North America not then included
within the confederation--an order intended to place beyond question the
right of Canada to all British North America except Newfoundland. In the
course of succeeding years a system of local government was established
in the North-west territories and a representation allowed them in the
senate and house of commons.

As soon as the North-west became a part of the Dominion, the Canadian
government recognised the necessity of making satisfactory arrangements
with the Indian tribes. The policy first laid down in the proclamation
of 1763 was faithfully carried out in this great region. Between 1871
and 1877 seven treaties were made by the Canadian government with the
Crees, Chippewas, Salteaux, Ojibways, Blackfeet, Bloods and Piegans, who
received certain reserves of land, annual payments of money and other
benefits, as compensation for making over to Canada their title to the
vast country where they had been so long the masters. From that day to
this the Indians have become the wards of the government, who have
always treated them with every consideration. The Indians live on
reserves allotted to them in certain districts where schools of various
classes have been provided for their instruction. They are
systematically taught farming and other industrial pursuits; agents and
instructors visit the reserves from time to time to see that the
interests of the Indians are protected; and the sale of spirits is
especially forbidden in the territories chiefly with the view of
guarding the Indians from such baneful influences. The policy of the
government for the past thirty years has been on the whole most
satisfactory from every point of view. In the course of a few decades
the Indians of the prairies will be an agricultural population, able to
support themselves.

The Mackenzie ministry established a supreme court, or general court of
appeal, for Canada. The election laws were amended so as to abolish
public nominations and property qualification for members of the house
of commons, as well as to provide for vote by ballot and simultaneous
polling at a general election--a wise provision which had existed for
some years in the province of Nova Scotia. An act passed by Sir John
Macdonald's government for the trial of controverted elections by judges
was amended, and a more ample and effective provision made for the
repression and punishment of bribery and corruption at elections. A
force of mounted police was organised for the maintenance of law and
order in the North-west territories. The enlargement of the St. Lawrence
system of canals was vigorously prosecuted in accordance with the report
of a royal commission, appointed in 1870 by the previous administration
to report on this important system of waterways. A Canada temperance
act--known by the name of Senator Scott, who introduced it when
secretary of state--was passed to allow electors in any county to
exercise what is known as "local option"; that is to say, to decide by
their votes at the polls whether they would permit the sale of
intoxicating liquors within their respective districts. This act was
declared by the judicial committee of the privy council to be
constitutional and was extended in the course of time to very many
counties of the several provinces; but eventually it was found quite
impracticable to enforce the law, and the great majority of those
districts of Ontario and Quebec, which had been carried away for a time
on a great wave of moral reform to adopt the act, decided by an equally
large vote to repeal it. The agitation for the extension of this law
finally merged into a wide-spread movement among the temperance people
of the Dominion for the passage of a prohibitory liquor law by the
parliament of Canada. In 1898 the question was submitted to the electors
of the provinces and territories by the Laurier government. The result
was a majority of only 14,000 votes in favour of prohibition out of a
total vote of 543,049, polled throughout the Dominion. The province of
Quebec declared itself against the measure by an overwhelming vote. The
temperance people then demanded that the Dominion government should take
immediate action in accordance with this vote; but the prime minister
stated emphatically to the house of commons as soon as parliament opened
in March, 1899, "that the voice of the electorate, which has been
pronounced in favour of prohibition--only twenty-three per cent. of the
total electoral vote of the Dominion--is not such as to justify the
government in introducing a prohibitory law." In the premier's opinion
the government would not be justified in following such a course "unless
at least one-half of the electorate declared itself at the polls in its
favour." In the province of Manitoba, where the people have pronounced
themselves conclusively in favour of prohibition, the Macdonald
government are now moving to give effect to the popular wishes and
restrain the liquor traffic so far as it is possible to go under the
provisions of the British North America act of 1867 and the decisions of
the courts as to provincial powers.

For two years and even longer, after its coming into office, the
Mackenzie government was harassed by the persistent effort that was made
in French Canada for the condonation of the serious offences committed
by Riel and his principal associates during the rebellion of 1870. Riel
had been elected by a Manitoba constituency in 1874 to the Dominion
house of commons and actually took the oath of allegiance in the clerk's
office, but he never attempted to sit, and was subsequently expelled as
a fugitive from criminal justice. Lepine was convicted of murder at
Winnipeg and sentenced to be hanged, when the governor-general, Lord
Dufferin, intervened and commuted the sentence to two years'
imprisonment, with the approval of the imperial authorities, to whom, as
an imperial officer entrusted with large responsibility in the exercise
of the prerogative of mercy, he had referred the whole question. Soon
afterwards the government yielded to the strong pressure from French
Canada and relieved the tension of the public situation by obtaining
from the representative of the crown an amnesty for all persons
concerned in the North-west troubles, with the exception of Riel and
Lepine, who were banished for five years, when they also were to be
pardoned. O'Donohue was not included, as his first offence had been
aggravated by his connection with the Fenian raid of 1871, but he was
allowed in 1877 the benefit of the amnesty. The action of Lord Dufferin
in pardoning Lepine and thereby relieving his ministers from all
responsibility in the matter was widely criticised, and no doubt had
much to do with bringing about an alteration in the terms of the
governor-general's commission and his instructions with respect to the
prerogative of mercy. Largely through the instrumentality of Mr. Blake,
who visited England for the purpose, in 1875, new commissions and
instructions have been issued to Lord Dufferin's successors, with a due
regard to the larger measure of constitutional freedom now possessed by
the Dominion of Canada. As respects the exercise of the prerogative of
mercy, the independent judgment of the governor-general may be exercised
in cases of imperial interest, but only after consultation with his
responsible advisers, while he is at liberty to yield to their judgment
in all cases of local concern.

One of the most important questions with which the Mackenzie government
was called upon to deal was the construction of the Canadian Pacific
railway. It was first proposed to utilise the "water-stretches" on the
route of the railroad, and in that way lessen its cost, but the scheme
was soon found to be impracticable. The people of British Columbia were
aggrieved at the delay in building the railway, and several efforts were
made to arrange the difficulty through the intervention of the Earl of
Carnarvon, colonial secretary of state, of the governor-general when he
visited the province in 1876, and of Mr., afterwards Sir, James Edgar,
who was authorised to treat with the provincial government on the
subject. At the instance of the secretary of state the government agreed
to build immediately a road from Esquimalt to Nanaimo on Vancouver
Island, to prosecute the surveys with vigour, and make arrangements for
the completion of the railway in 1890. Mr. Blake opposed these terms,
and in doing so no doubt represented the views of a large body of the
Liberal party, who believed that the government of Canada had in 1871
entered into the compact with British Columbia without sufficient
consideration of the gravity of the obligation they were incurring. The
commons, however, passed the Esquimalt and Nanaimo bill only to hear of
its rejection in the senate, where some Liberals united with the
Conservative majority to defeat it. When the surveys were all completed,
the government decided to build the railway as a public work; but by the
autumn of 1878, when Mr. Mackenzie was defeated at a general election,
only a few miles of the road had been completed, and the indignation of
British Columbia had become so deep that the legislature passed a
resolution for separation from the Dominion unless the terms of union
were soon fulfilled.

During the existence of the Mackenzie government there was much
depression in trade throughout the Dominion, and the public revenues
showed large deficits in consequence of the falling-off of imports. When
the elections took place in September, 1878, the people were called upon
to give their decision on a most important issue. With that astuteness
which always enabled him to gauge correctly the tendency of public
opinion, Sir John Macdonald recognised the fact that the people were
prepared to accept any new fiscal policy which promised to relieve the
country from the great depression which had too long hampered internal
and external trade. In the session of 1878 he brought forward a
resolution, declaring emphatically that the welfare of Canada required
"the adoption of a national policy which, by a judicious readjustment of
the tariff will benefit the agricultural, the mining, the manufacturing
and other interests of the Dominion ... will retain in Canada thousands
of our fellow-countrymen now obliged to expatriate themselves in search
of the employment denied them at home ... will restore prosperity to our
struggling industries now so sadly depressed ... will prevent Canada
from being made a sacrifice market ... will encourage and develop an
interprovincial trade ... and will procure eventually for this country a
reciprocity of trade with the United States." This ingenious resolution
was admirably calculated to captivate the public mind, though it was
defeated in the house of commons by a large majority. Mr. Mackenzie was
opposed to the principle of protection, and announced the determination
of the government to adhere to a revenue tariff instead of resorting to
any protectionist policy, which would, in his opinion, largely increase
the burdens of the people under the pretence of stimulating
manufactures. As a consequence of his unbending fidelity to the
principles of his life, Mr. Mackenzie was beaten at the general election
by an overwhelming majority. If he had possessed even a little of the
flexibility of his astute opponent he would have been more successful as
a leader of a party.

One of Lord Dufferin's last official acts in October, 1878, was to call
upon Sir John Macdonald to form a new administration on the resignation
of Mr. Mackenzie. The new governor-general, the Marquess of Lorne, and
the Princess Louise, arrived in Canada early in November and were
everywhere received with great enthusiasm. The new protective
policy--"the National Policy" as the Conservatives like best to name
it--was laid before parliament in the session of 1879, by Sir Leonard
Tilley, then finance minister; and though it has undergone some
important modifications since its introduction it has formed the basis
of the Canadian tariff for twenty years. The next important measure of
the government was the vigorous prosecution of the Canadian Pacific
railway. During the Mackenzie administration the work had made little
progress, and the people of British Columbia had become very indignant
at the failure to carry out the terms on which they had entered the
confederation. In the session of 1880-81 Sir Charles Tupper, minister of
railways, announced that the government had entered into a contract with
a company of capitalists to construct the railway from Montreal to
Burrard's Inlet. Parliament ratified the contract by a large majority
despite the vigorous opposition made by Mr. Blake, then leader of the
Liberal party, who had for years considered this part of the agreement
with British Columbia as extremely rash. Such remarkable energy was
brought to the construction of this imperial highway that it was
actually in operation at the end of five years after the commencement of
the work--only one-half of the time allowed in the charter for its
completion. The financial difficulties which the company had to
encounter in the progress of the work were very great, and they were
obliged in 1884 to obtain a large loan from the Dominion government. The
loan was secured on the company's property, and was paid off by 1887.
The political fortunes of the Conservative administration, in fact, were
indissolubly connected with the success of this national enterprise, and
from the moment when the company commenced the work Sir John Macdonald
never failed to give it his complete confidence and support.

One of the delicate questions which the Macdonald government was called
upon to settle soon after their coming into office was what is known as
"the Letellier affair." In March, 1878, the lieutenant-governor of the
province of Quebec, Mr. Letellier de Saint-Just, who had been previously
a member of the Mackenzie Liberal government, dismissed the Boucherville
Conservative ministry on the ground that they had taken steps in regard
to both administrative and legislative measures not only contrary to his
representations, but even without previously advising him of what they
proposed to do. At his request Mr., now Sir, Henry Joly de Lotbiniere
formed a Liberal administration, which appealed to the country. The
result was that the two parties came back evenly balanced. The
Conservatives of the province were deeply irritated at this action of
the lieutenant-governor, and induced Sir John Macdonald, then leader of
the opposition, to make a motion in the house of commons, declaring Mr.
Letellier's conduct "unwise and subversive of the sound principles of
responsible government." This motion was made as an amendment on the
proposal to go into committee of supply, and under a peculiar usage of
the Canadian commons it was not permitted to move a second amendment at
this stage. Had such a course been regular, the Mackenzie government
would have proposed an amendment similar to that which was moved in the
senate, to the effect that it was inexpedient to offer any opinion on
the action of the lieutenant-governor of Quebec for the reason that "the
federal and provincial governments, each in its own sphere, enjoyed
responsible government equally, separately, and independently"--in
other words, that the wisest constitutional course to follow under the
circumstances was to allow each province to work out responsible
government without any undue interference on the part of the Dominion
government or parliament. As it happened, however, Mr. Mackenzie and his
colleagues had no alternative open to them but to vote down the motion
proposed in the commons; while in the Conservative senate the amendment,
which could not be submitted to the lower house under the rules, was
defeated, and the motion condemning the lieutenant-governor carried by a
large party vote.

In 1879, when the Macdonald government was in office, the matter was
again brought before the house of commons and the same motion of censure
that had been defeated in 1878 was introduced in the same way as before,
and carried by a majority of 85. The prime minister then informed Lord
Lorne that in the opinion of the government Mr. Letellier's "usefulness
was gone," and he recommended his removal from office; but the
governor-general was unwilling to agree hastily to such a dangerous
precedent as the removal of a lieutenant-governor, and as an imperial
officer he referred the whole matter to her Majesty's government for
their consideration and instructions. The colonial secretary did not
hesitate to state "that the lieutenant-governor of a province has an
indisputable right to dismiss his ministers if, from any cause, he feels
it incumbent to do so," but that, in deciding whether the conduct of a
lieutenant-governor merits removal from his office, as in the exercise
of other powers vested in him by the imperial state the governor-general
"must act by and with the advice of his ministers." After further
consideration of the subject, the Canadian government again recommended
the dismissal of Mr. Letellier, and the governor-general had now no
alternative except to act on the advice of his responsible ministers. It
was unfortunate that the constitutional issue was obscured, from the
outset, by the political bitterness that was imported into it, and that
the procedure, followed in two sessions, of proposing an amendment,
condemnatory of the action of the lieutenant-governor, on the motion of
going into committee of supply, prevented the house from coming to a
decision squarely on the true constitutional issue--actually raised in
the senate in 1878--whether it was expedient for the parliament or
government of Canada to interfere in a matter of purely provincial

In 1891 another case of the dismissal of a ministry, having a majority
in the assembly, occurred in the province of Quebec, but the
intervention of parliament was not asked for the purpose of censuring
the lieutenant-governor for the exercise of his undoubted constitutional
power. It appears that, in 1891, the evidence taken before a committee
of the senate showed that gross irregularities had occurred in
connection with the disbursement of certain government subsidies which
had been voted by parliament for the construction of the Bay des
Chaleurs railway, and that members of the Quebec cabinet were
compromised in what was clearly a misappropriation of public money. In
view of these grave charges, Lieutenant-governor Angers forced his prime
minister, Mr. Honore Mercier, to agree to the appointment of a royal
commission to hold an investigation into the transaction in question.
When the lieutenant-governor was in possession of the evidence taken
before this commission, he came to the conclusion that it was his duty
to relieve Mr. Mercier and his colleagues of their functions as
ministers "in order to protect the dignity of the crown and safeguard
the honour and interest of the province in danger." Mr. de Boucherville
was then called upon to form a ministry which would necessarily assume
full responsibility for the action of the lieutenant-governor under the
circumstances, and after some delay the new ministry went to the country
and were sustained by a large majority. It is an interesting coincidence
that the lieutenant-governor who dismissed the Mercier government and
the prime minister who assumed full responsibility for the dismissal of
the Mercier administration, were respectively attorney-general and
premier in the cabinet who so deeply resented a similar action in 1878.
But Mr. Letellier was then dead--notoriously as a result of the mental
strain to which he had been subject in the constitutional crisis which
wrecked his political career--and it was left only for his friends to
feel that the whirligig of time brings its revenge even in political

[5: Since this chapter was in type, the Dominion government have found
it necessary to dismiss Mr. McInnes from the lieutenant-governorship of
British Columbia, on the ground--as set forth in an order-in-council
--that "his official conduct had been subversive of the principles of
responsible government," and that his "usefulness was gone." While Mr.
McInnes acted as head of the executive at Victoria, the political
affairs of the province became chaotic. He dismissed ministries in the
most summary manner. When the people were at last appealed to at a
general election by Mr. Martin, his latest adviser, he was defeated by
an overwhelming majority, and the Ottawa government came to the
conclusion--to quote the order-in-council--"that the action of the
lieutenant-governor in dismissing his ministers has not been approved by
the people of British Columbia," and it was evident, "that the
government of the province cannot be successfully carried on in the
manner contemplated by the constitution under the administration of the
present incumbent of the office." Consequently, Mr. McInnes was removed
from office, and the Dominion government appointed in his place Sir
Henri Joly de Lotbiniere, who has had large experience in public affairs,
and is noted for his amiability and discretion.]

A very important controversy involving old issues arose in 1888 in
connection with an act passed by the Mercier government of Quebec for
the settlement of the Jesuits' estates, which, so long ago as 1800, had
fallen into the hands of the British government, on the death of the
last surviving member of the order in Canada, and had been, after some
delay, applied to the promotion of public instruction in the province of
Quebec. The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church always contended that
the estates should have been vested in them "as the ordinaries of the
various dioceses in which this property was situated." After
confederation, the estates became the property of the government of
Quebec and were entirely at the disposal of the legislature. The
Jesuits in the meantime had become incorporated in the province, and
made, as well as the bishops, a claim to the estates. Eventually, to
settle the difficulty and strengthen himself with the ecclesiastics of
the province, Mr. Mercier astutely passed a bill through the
legislature, authorising the payment of $400,000 as compensation to the
Jesuits in lieu of all the lands held by them prior to the conquest and
subsequently confiscated by the crown. It was expressly set forth in the
preamble of the act--and it was this proposition which offended the
extreme Protestants--that the amount of compensation was to remain as a
special deposit until the Pope had made known his wishes respecting the
distribution. Some time later the Pope divided the money among the
Jesuits, the archbishops and bishops of the province, and Laval
University. The whole matter came before the Dominion house of commons
in 1888, when a resolution was proposed to the effect that the
government should have at once disallowed the act as beyond the power of
the legislature, because, among other reasons, "it recognizes the
usurpation of a right by a foreign authority, namely his Holiness the
Pope, to claim that his consent was necessary to dispose of and
appropriate the public funds of a province." The very large vote in
support of the action of the government-188 against 13-was chiefly
influenced by the conviction that, to quote the minute of council, "the
subject-matter of the act was one of provincial concern, only having
relation to a fiscal matter entirely within the control of the
legislature of Quebec." The best authorities agree in the wisdom of not
interfering with provincial legislation except in cases where there is
an indisputable invasion of Dominion jurisdiction or where the vital
interests of Canada as a whole may imperatively call for such

In March, 1885, Canada was startled by the news that the half-breeds of
the Saskatchewan district in the North-west had risen in rebellion
against the authority of the Dominion government. It is difficult to
explain clearly the actual causes of an uprising which, in all
probability, would never have occurred had it not been for the fact that
Riel had been brought back from Montana by his countrymen to assist them
in obtaining a redress of certain grievances. This little insurrection
originated in the Roman Catholic mission of St. Laurent, situated
between the north and south branches of the Saskatchewan River, and
contiguous to the British settlement of Prince Albert. Within the limits
of this mission there was a considerable number of half-breeds, who had
for the most part migrated from Manitoba after selling the "scrip[6]"
for lands generously granted to them after the restoration of order in
1870 to the Red River settlements. Government surveyors had been busily
engaged for some time in laying out the Saskatchewan country in order to
keep pace with the rapidly increasing settlement. When they came to the
mission of St. Laurent they were met with the same distrust that had
done so much harm in 1870. The half-breeds feared that the system of
square blocks followed by the surveyors would seriously interfere with
the location of the farms on which they had "squatted" in accordance
with the old French system of deep lots with a narrow frontage on the
banks of the rivers. The difficulties arising out of these diverse
systems of surveys caused a considerable delay in the issue of patents
for lands, and dissatisfied the settlers who were anxious to know what
land their titles covered. The half-breeds not only contended that their
surveys should be respected, but that they should be also allowed scrip
for two hundred and forty acres of land, as had been done in the case of
their compatriots in Manitoba. Many of the Saskatchewan settlers had
actually received this scrip before they left the province, but
nevertheless they hoped to obtain it once more from the government, and
to sell it with their usual improvidence to the first speculators who
offered them some ready money.

[6: A certificate from the government that a certain person is entitled
to receive a patent from the crown for a number of acres of the public
lands--a certificate legally transferable to another person by the
original holder.]

The delay of the government in issuing patents and scrip and the system
of surveys were no doubt the chief grievances which enabled Riel and
Dumont--the latter a resident of Batoche--to excite the half-breeds
against the Dominion authorities at Ottawa. When a commission was
actually appointed by the government in January, 1885, to allot scrip to
those who were entitled to receive it, the half-breeds were actually
ready for a revolt under the malign influence of Riel and his
associates. Riel believed for some time after his return in 1884 that he
could use the agitation among his easily deluded countrymen for his own
selfish purposes. It is an indisputable fact that he made an offer to
the Dominion government to leave the North-west if they would pay him a
considerable sum of money. When he found that there was no likelihood of
Sir John Macdonald repeating the mistake which he had made at the end of
the first rebellion, Riel steadily fomented the agitation among the
half-breeds, who were easily persuaded to believe that a repetition of
the disturbances of 1870 would obtain them a redress of any grievances
they might have. It is understood that one of the causes that aggravated
the agitation at its inception was the belief entertained by some white
settlers of Prince Albert that they could use the disaffection among the
half-breeds for the purpose of repeating the early history of Manitoba,
and forcing the Dominion government to establish a new province in the
Saskatchewan country, though its entire population at that time would


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