The Canadian Dominion, a Chronicle of our Northern Neighbor
Oscar D. Skelton

Part 2 out of 4

aristocratic Radical, intensely devoted to political equality and
equally convinced of his own personal superiority. Yet he had
vision, firmness, independence, and his very rudeness kept him
free from the social influences which had ensnared many another
Governor. Attended by a gorgeous retinue and by some able working
secretaries, including Charles Buller, Carlyle's pupil, he made a
rapid survey of Upper and Lower Canada. Suddenly, after five
crowded months, his mission ended. He had left at home active
enemies and lukewarm friends. Lord Brougham, one of his foes,
called in question the legality of his edict banishing the rebel
leaders to Bermuda. The Ministers did not back him, as they
should have done; and Durham indignantly resigned and hurried
back to England.

Three months later, however, his "Report" appeared and his
mission stood vindicated. There are few British state papers of
more fame or more worth than Durham's "Report". It was not,
however, the beginning and the end of wisdom in colonial policy,
as has often been declared. Much that Durham advocated was not
new, and much has been condemned by time. His main suggestions
were four: to unite the Canadas, to swamp the French Canadians by
such union, to grant a measure of responsible government, and to
set up municipal government. His attitude towards the French
Canadians was prejudiced and shortsighted. He was not the first
to recommend responsible government, nor did his approval make it
a reality. Yet with all qualifications his "Report" showed a
confidence in the liberating and solving power of self-government
which was the all-essential thing for the English Government to
see; and his reasoned and powerful advocacy gave an impetus and a
rallying point to the movement which were to prove of the
greatest value in the future growth not only of Canada but of the
whole British Empire.


The struggle for self-government seemed to have ended in deadlock
and chaos. Yet under the wreckage new lines of constructive
effort were forming. The rebellion had at least proved that the
old order was doomed. For half a century the attempt had been
made to govern the Canadas as separate provinces and with the
half measure of freedom involved in representative government.
For the next quarter of a century the experiment of responsible
government together with union of the two provinces was to be
given its trial.

The union of the two provinces was the phase of Durham's policy
which met fullest acceptance in England. It was not possible, in
the view of the British Ministry, to take away permanently from
the people of Lower Canada the measure of self-government
involved in permitting them to choose their representatives in a
House of Assembly. It was equally impossible, they considered, to
permit a French-Canadian majority ever again to bring all
government to a standstill. The only solution of the problem was
to unite the two provinces and thus swamp the French Canadians by
an English majority. Lower Canada, Durham had insisted, must be
made "an English province." Sooner or later the French Canadians
must lose their separate nationality; and it was, he contended,
the part of statesmanship to make it sooner. Union, moreover,
would make possible a common financial policy and an energetic
development of the resources of both provinces.

This was the first task set Durham's successor, Charles Poulett
Thomson, better known as Lord Sydenham. Like Durham he was a man
of outstanding capacity. The British Government had learned at
last to send men of the caliber the emergency demanded. Like
Durham he was a wealthy Radical politician, but there the
resemblance ended. Where Durham played the dictator, Sydenham
preferred to intrigue and to manage men, to win them by his
adroitness and to convince them by his energy and his business
knowledge. He was well fitted for the transition tasks before
him, though too masterful to fill the role of ornamental monarch
which the advocates of responsible government had cast for the

Sydenham reached Canada in October, 1839. With the assistance of
James Stuart, now a baronet and Chief Justice of Lower Canada, he
drafted a union measure. In Lower Canada the Assembly had been
suspended, and the Special Council appointed in its stead
accepted the bill without serious demur. More difficulty was
found in Upper Canada, where the Family Compact, still entrenched
in the Legislative Council, feared the risk to their own position
that union would bring and shrank from the task of assimilating
half a million disaffected French Canadians. But with the support
of the Reformers and of the more moderate among the Family
Compact party, Sydenham forced his measure through. A confirming
bill passed the British Parliament; and on February 10, 1841, the
Union of Canada was proclaimed.

The Act provided for the union of the two provinces, under a
Governor, an appointed Legislative Council, and an elective
Assembly. In the Assembly each section of the new province was to
receive equal representation, though the population of Lower
Canada still greatly exceeded that of Upper Canada. The Assembly
was to have full control of all revenues, and in return a
permanent civil list was granted. Either English or French could
be used in debate, but all parliamentary journals and papers were
to be printed in English only.*

* From 1841 to 1867 the whole province was legally known as the
"Province of Canada." Yet a measure of administrative separation
between the old sections remained, and the terms "Canada East"
and "Canada West" received official sanction. The older terms,
"Lower Canada" and "Upper Canada," lingered on in popular usage.

In June, 1841, the first Parliament of united Canada met at
Kingston, which as the most central point had been chosen as the
new capital. Under Sydenham's shrewd and energetic leadership a
business programme of long-delayed reforms was put through. A
large loan, guaranteed by the British Government, made possible
extensive provision for building roads, bridges, and canals
around the rapids in the St. Lawrence. Municipal institutions
were set up, and reforms were effected in the provincial

Lord John Russell in England and Sydenham in Canada were anxious
to keep the question of responsible government in the background.
For the first busy months they succeeded, but the new Parliament
contained men quite as strong willed as either and of quite other
views. Before the first session had begun, Baldwin and the new
French-Canadian leader, La Fontaine, had raised the issue and
begun a new struggle in which their single-minded devotion and
unflinching courage were to attain a complete success.

Responsible government was in 1841 only a phrase, a watchword.
Its full implications became clear only after many years. It
meant three things: cabinet government, self-government, and
party government. It meant that the government of the country
should be carried on by a Cabinet or Executive Council, all
members of Parliament, all belonging to the party which had the
majority in the Assembly, and under the leadership of a Prime
Minister, the working head of the Government. The nominal head,
Governor or King, could act only on the advice of his ministers,
who alone were held responsible to Parliament for the course of
the Government. It meant, further, national self-government. The
Governor could not serve two masters. If he must take the advice
of his ministers in Canada, he could not take the possibly
conflicting advice of ministers in London. The people of Canada
would be the ultimate court of appeal. And finally, responsible
government meant party government. The cabinet system presupposed
a definite and united majority behind the Government. It was the
business of the party system to provide that majority, to insure
responsible and steady action, and at the same time responsible
criticism from Her Majesty's loyal Opposition. Baldwin saw this
clearly in 1841, but it took hard fighting throughout the forties
to bring all his fellow countrymen to see likewise and to induce
the English Government to resign itself to the prospect.

Sydenham fought against responsible government but advanced it
against his will. The only sense in which he, like Russell, was
prepared to concede such liberty was that the Governor should
choose his advisers as far as possible from men having the
confidence of the Assembly. They were to be his advisers only, in
fact as well as form. The Governor was still to govern, was to be
Prime Minister and Governor in one. When Baldwin, who had been
given a seat in the Executive Council, demanded in 1841 that this
body should be reconstructed in such a way as to include some
French-Canadian members and to exclude the Family Compact men,
Sydenham flatly refused. Baldwin then resigned and went into
opposition, but Sydenham unwillingly played into his hand. By
choosing his council solely from members of the two Houses, he
established a definite connection between Executive and Assembly
and thus gave an opportunity for the discussion of the
administration of policy in the House and for the forming of
government and opposition parties. Before the first session
closed, the majority which Sydenham had built up by acting as a
party leader at the very time he was deriding parties as mere
factions, crumbled away, and he was forced to accept resolutions
insisting that the Governor's advisers must be men "possessed of
the confidence of the representatives of the people." Fate ended
his work at its height. Riding home one September evening, he was
thrown from his horse and died from the injuries before the month
was out.

It fell to the Tory Government of Peel to choose Sydenham's
successor. They named Sir Charles Bagot, already distinguished
for his career in diplomacy and known for his hand in matters
which were to interest the greater Canada, the Rush-Bagot
Convention with the United States and the treaty with Russia
which fixed, only too vaguely, the boundaries of Alaska. He was
under strict injunctions from the Colonial Secretary, Lord
Stanley, to continue Sydenham's policy and to make no further
concession to the demands for responsible government or party
control. Yet this Tory nominee of a Tory Cabinet, in his brief
term of office, insured a great advance along this very path
toward freedom. His easy-going temper predisposed him to play the
part of constitutional monarch rather than of Prime Minister, and
in any case he faced a majority in the Assembly resolute in its

The policy of swamping French influence had already proved a
failure. Sydenham had given it a full trial. He had done his
best, or his worst, by unscrupulous manipulation, to keep the
French Canadians from gaining their fair quota of the members in
the Union Assembly. Those who were elected he ignored. "They have
forgotten nothing and learnt nothing by the Rebellion, " he
declared, "and are more unfit for representative government than
they were in 1791." This was far from a true reading of the
situation. The French stood aloof, it is true, a compact and
sullen group, angered by the undisguised policy of Anglicization
that faced them and by Sydenham's unscrupulous tactics. But they
had learned restraint and had found leaders and allies of the
kind most needed. Papineau's place--for the great tribune was now
in exile in Paris, consorting with the republicans and socialists
who were to bring about the Revolution of 1848--had been taken by
one of his former lieutenants. Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine still
stands out as one of the two or three greatest Canadians of
French descent, a man of massive intellect, of unquestioned
integrity, and of firm but moderate temper. With Baldwin he came
to form a close and lifelong friendship. The Reformers of Canada
West, as Upper Canada was now called, formed a working alliance
with La Fontaine which gave them a sweeping majority in the
Assembly. Bagot bowed to the inevitable and called La Fontaine
and Baldwin to his Council. Ill health made it impossible for him
to take much part in the government, and the Council was far on
the way to obtaining the unity and the independence of a true
Cabinet when Bagot's death in 1843 brought a new turn in affairs.

The British Ministers had seen with growing uneasiness Bagot's
concessions. His successor, Sir Charles Metcalfe, a man of honest
and kindly ways but accustomed to governing oriental peoples,
determined to make a stand against the pretensions of the
Reformers. In this attitude he was strongly backed both by
Stanley and by his successor, that brilliant young Tory, William
Ewart Gladstone. Metcalfe insisted once more that the Governor
must govern. While the members of the Council, as individuals,
might give him advice, it was for him to decide whether or not to
take it. The inevitable clash with his Ministers came in the
autumn of 1843 over a question of patronage. They resigned, and
after months of effort Metcalfe patched up a Ministry with W. H.
Draper as the leading member. In an election in which Metcalfe
himself took the platform and in which once more British
connection was said to be at stake, the Ministry obtained a
narrow majority. But opinion soon turned, and when Metcalfe, the
third Governor in four years to whom Canada had proved fatal,,
went home to die, he knew that his stand had been in vain. The
Ministry, after a precarious life of three years, went to the
country only to be beaten by an overwhelming majority in both
East and West. When, in 1848, Baldwin and La Fontaine were called
to office under the new Governor General, Lord Elgin, the fight
was won. Many years were to pass before the full implications of
responsible government were worked out, but henceforth even the
straitest Tory conceded the principle. Responsible government had
ceased to be a party cry and had become the common heritage of
all Canadians.

Lord Elgin, who was Durham's son-in-law, was a man well able to
bear the mantle of his predecessors. Yet he realized that the day
had passed when Governors could govern and was content rather to
advise his advisers, to wield the personal influence that his
experience and sagacity warranted. Hitherto the stages in
Canadian history had been recorded by the term of office of the
Governors; henceforth it was to be the tenure of Cabinets which
counted. Elgin ceased even to attend the Council, and after his
time the Governor became more and more the constitutional
monarch, busied in laying corner stones and listening to tiresome
official addresses. In emergencies, and especially in the gap or
interregnum between Ministries, the personality of the Governor
might count, but as a rule this power remained latent. Yet in two
turning points in Canadian history, both of which had to do with
the relations of Canada to the United States, Elgin was to play
an important part: the Annexation Movement of 1849 and the
Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.

In the struggle for responsible government, loyalty to the
British Crown, loyalty of a superior and exclusive brand, had
been the creed and the war cry of the Tory party. Yet in 1849 men
saw the hotheads of this group in Montreal stoning a British
Governor General and setting fire to the Parliament Buildings,
while a few months later their elders issued a manifesto urging
the annexation of Canada to the United States. Why this sudden
shift? Simply because the old colonial system they had known and
supported had come to an end. The Empire had been taken to mean
racial ascendancy and trade profit. Now both the political and
the economic pillars were crumbling, and the Empire appeared to
have no further excuse for existence.

In the past British connection had meant to many of the English
minority in Lower Canada a means of redressing the political
balance, of retaining power in face of a body of French-speaking
citizens outnumbering them three or four to one. Now that support
had been withdrawn. Britain had consented, unwillingly, to the
setting up of responsible government and the calling to office of
men who a dozen years before had been in arms against the Queen
or fleeing from the province. This was gall and wormwood to the
English. But when the Ministry introduced, and the Assembly
passed, the Rebellion Losses Bill for compensating those who had
suffered destruction of property in the outbreak, and when the
terms were so drawn as to make it possible, its critics charged,
that rebels as well as loyalists would be compensated, flesh and
blood could bear no more. The Governor was pelted with rotten
eggs when he came down to the House to sign the bill, and the
buildings where Parliament had met since 1844, when the capital
had been transferred from Kingston to Montreal, were stormed and
burned by a street mob.

The anger felt against the Ministry thus turned against the
British Government. The English minority felt like an advance
guard in a hostile country, deserted by the main forces, an
Ulster abandoned to Home Ruler and Sinn Feiner. They turned to
the south, to the other great English-speaking Protestant people.
If the older branch of the race would not give them protection or
a share in dominance, perhaps the younger branch could and would.
As Lord Durham had suggested, they were resolved that "Lower
Canada must be ENGLISH, at the expense, if necessary, of not
being BRITISH."

But it was not only the political basis of the old colonial
system that was rudely shattered. The economic foundations, too,
were passing away, and with them the profits of the Montreal
merchants, who formed the backbone of the annexation movement. It
has been seen that under this system Great Britain had aimed at
setting up a self-contained empire, with a monopoly of the
markets of the colonies. Now for her own sake she was sweeping
away the tariff and shipping monopoly which had been built up
through more than two centuries. The logic of Adam Smith, the
experiments of Huskisson, the demands of manufacturers for cheap
food and raw materials, the passionate campaigns of Cobden and
Bright, and the rains that brought the Irish famine, at last had
their effect. In 1846 Peel himself undertook the repeal of the
Corn Laws. To Lower Canada this was a crushing blow. Until of
late the preference given in the British market on colonial goods
in return for the control of colonial trade had been of little
value; but in 1848 the duties on Canadian wheat and flour had
been greatly lowered, resulting in a preference over foreign
grain reckoned at eighteen cents a bushel. While in appearance an
extension of the old system of preference and protection, in
reality this was a step toward its abandonment. For it was
understood that American grain, imported into Canada at a low
duty, whether shipped direct or ground into flour, would be
admitted at the same low rates. The Act, by opening a back door
to United States wheat, foreshadowed the triumph of the cheap
food agitators in England. But the merchants, the millers, and
the forwarders of Montreal could not believe this. The canal
system was rushed through; large flour mills were built, and
heavy investments of capital were made. Then in 1846 came the
announcement that the artificial basis of this brief prosperity
had vanished. Lord Elgin summed up the results in a dispatch in
1849: "Property in most of the Canadian towns, and more
especially in the capital, has fallen fifty per cent in value
within the last three years. Three-fourths of the commercial men
are bankrupt, owing to free trade. A large proportion of the
exportable produce of Canada is obliged to seek a market in the
United States. It pays a duty of twenty per cent on the frontier.
How long can such a state of things endure?"

In October, 1849, the leading men of Montreal issued a manifesto
demanding annexation to the United States. A future Prime
Minister of Canada, J. J. C. Abbott, four future Cabinet
Ministers, John Rose, Luther Holton, D. L. Macpherson, and A. A.
Dorion, and the commercial leaders of Montreal, the Molsons,
Redpaths, Torrances, and Workmans, were among the signers.
Besides Dorion, a few French Canadians of the Rouge or extreme
Radical party joined in. The movement found supporters in the
Eastern Townships, notably in A. T. Galt, a financier and
railroad builder of distinction, and here and there in Canada
West. Yet the great body of opinion was unmistakably against it.
Baldwin and La Fontaine opposed it with unswerving energy, the
Catholic Church in Canada East denounced it, and the rank and
file of both parties in Canada West gave it short shrift. Elgin
came out actively in opposition and aided in negotiating the
Reciprocity Treaty with the United States which met the economic
need. Montreal found itself isolated, and even there the revival
of trade and the cooling of passions turned men's thoughts into
other channels. Soon the movement was but a memory, chiefly
serviceable to political opponents for taunting some signer of
the manifesto whenever he later made parade of his loyalty. It
had a more unfortunate effect, however, in leading public opinion
in the United States to the belief for many years that a strong
annexationist sentiment existed in Canada. Never again did
annexation receive any notable measure of popular support. A
national spirit was slowly gaining ground, and men were
eventually to see that the alternative to looking to London for
salvation was not looking to Washington but looking to

In the provinces by the sea the struggle for responsible
government was won at much the same time as in Canada. The
smaller field within which the contest was waged gave it a bitter
personal touch; but racial hostility did not enter in, and the
British Government proved less obdurate than in the western
conflicts. In both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick little
oligarchies had become entrenched. The Government was
unprogressive, and fees and salaries were high. The Anglican
Church had received privileges galling to other denominations
which surpassed it in numbers. The "powers that were" found a
shrewd defender in Haliburton, who tried to teach his fellow
Bluenoses through the homely wit of "Sam Slick" that they should
leave governing to those who had the training, the capacity, and
the leisure it required. In Prince Edward Island the land
question still overshadowed all others. Every proposal for its
settlement was rejected by the influence of the absentee
landlords in England, and the agitation went wearily on.

In Nova Scotia the outstanding figure in the ranks of reform was
Joseph Howe. The son of a Loyalist settler, Howe early took to
his father's work of journalism. At first his sympathies were
with the governing powers, but a controversy with a brother
editor, Jotham Blanchard, a New Hampshire man who found radical
backing among the Scots of Pictou, gave him new light and he soon
threw his whole powers into the struggle on the popular side.
Howe was a man lavishly gifted, one of the most effective orators
America has produced, fearing no man and no task however great,
filled with a vitality, a humor, a broad sympathy for his fellows
that gave him the blind obedience of thousands of followers and
the glowing friendship of countless firesides. There are still
old men in Nova Scotia whose proudest memory is that they once
held Howe's horse or ran on an errand for a look from his kingly

Howe took up the fight in earnest in 1835. The western demand for
responsible government pointed the way, and Howe became, with
Baldwin, its most trenchant advocate. In spite of the determined
opposition of the sturdy old soldier Governor, Sir Colin
Campbell, and of his successor, Lord Falkland, who aped Sydenham
and whom Howe threatened to "hire a black man to horse-whip," the
reformers won. In 1848 the first responsible Cabinet in Nova
Scotia came to power.

In New Brunswick the transition to responsible government came
gradually and without dramatic incidents or brilliant figures on
either side. Lemuel Wilmot, and later Charles Fisher, led the
reform ranks, gradually securing for the Assembly control of all
revenues, abolishing religious inequalities, and effecting some
reform in the Executive Council, until at last in 1855 the
crowning demand was tardily conceded.

From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic the political fight was won,
and men turned with relief to the tasks which strife and faction
had hindered. Self-government meant progressive government. With
organized Cabinets coordinating and controlling their policy the
provinces went ahead much faster than when Governor and Assembly
stood at daggers drawn. The forties and especially the fifties
were years of rapid and sound development in all the provinces,
and especially in Canada West. Settlers poured in, the scattered
clearings; widened until one joined the next, and pioneer
hardships gave way to substantial, if crude, prosperity.
Education, notably under the vigorous leadership of Egerton
Ryerson in Canada West, received more adequate attention. Banks
grew and with them all commercial facilities increased.

The distinctive feature of this period of Canadian development,
however, was the growth of canals and railroads. The forties were
the time of canal building and rebuilding all along the lakes and
the St. Lawrence to salt water. Canada spent millions on what
were wonderful works for their day, in the hope that the St.
Lawrence would become the channel for the trade of all the
growing western States bordering on the Great Lakes. Scarcely
were these waterway improvements completed when it was realized
they had been made largely in vain. The railway had come and was
outrivaling the canal. If Canadian ports and channels were even
to hold their own, they must take heed of the enterprise of all
the cities along the Atlantic coast of the United States, which
were promoting railroads to the interior in a vigorous rivalry
for the trade of the Golden West. Here was a challenge which must
be taken up. The fifties became the first great railway era of
Canada. In 1850 there were only sixty-six miles of railway in all
the provinces; ten years later there were over two thousand.
Nearly all the roads were aided by provincial or municipal bonus
or guarantee. Chief among the lines was the Grand Trunk, which
ran from the Detroit border to Riviere du Loup on the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, and which, though it halted at that eastern terminus in
the magnificent project of connecting with the railways of the
Maritime Provinces, was nevertheless at that time the longest
road in the world operating under single control.

The railways brought with them a new speculative fever, a more
complex financial structure, a business politics which shaded
into open corruption, and a closer touch with the outside world.
The general substitution of steam for sail on the Atlantic during
this period aided further in lessening the isolation of what had
been backwoods provinces and in bringing them into closer
relation with the rest of the world.

It was in closer relations with the United States that this
emergence from isolation chiefly manifested itself. In the
generation that followed the War of 1812 intercourse with the
United States was discouraged and was remarkably insignificant.
Official policy and the memories of 1783 and 1812 alike built up
a wall along the southern border. The spirit of Downing Street
was shown in the instructions given to Lord Bathurst, immediately
after the close of the war, to leave the territory between
Montreal and Lake Champlain in a state of nature, making no
further grants of land and letting the few roads which had been
begun fall into decay thus a barrier of forest wilderness would
ward off republican contagion. This Chinese policy of putting up
a wall of separation proved impossible to carry through, but in
less extreme ways this attitude of aloofness marked the course of
the Government all through the days of oversea authority.

The friction aroused by repeated boundary disputes prevented
friendly relations between Canada and the United States. With
unconscious irony the framers of the Peace of 1783 had prefaced
their long outline of the boundaries of the United States by
expressing their intention "that all disputes which might arise
in future on the subject of the boundaries of the said United
States may be prevented." So vague, however, were the terms of
the treaty and so untrustworthy were the maps of the day that
ultimately almost every clause in the boundary section gave rise
to dispute.

As settlement rolled westward one section of the boundary after
another came in question. Beginning in the east, the line between
New Brunswick and New England was to be formed by the St. Croix
River. There had been a St. Croix in Champlain's time and a St.
Croix was depicted on the maps, but no river known by that name
existed in 1783. The British identified it with the Schoodic, the
Americans with the Magaguadavic. Arbitration in 1798 upheld the
British in the contention that the Schoodic was the St. Croix but
agreed with the Americans in the secondary question as to which
of the two branches of the Schoodic should be followed. A similar
commission in 1817 settled the dispute as to the islands in
Passamaquoddy Bay.

More difficult, because at once more ambiguous in terms and more
vitally important, was the determination of the boundary in the
next stage westward from the St. Croix to the St. Lawrence. The
British position was a difficult one to maintain. In the days of
the struggle with France, Great Britain had tried to push the
bounds of the New England colonies as far north as might be,
making claims that would hem in France to the barest strip along
the south shore of the St. Lawrence. Now that she was heir to the
territories and claims of France and had lost her own old
colonies, it was somewhat embarrassing, but for diplomats not
impossible, to have to urge a line as far south as the urgent
needs of the provinces for intercommunication demanded. The
letter of the treaty was impossible to interpret with certainty.
The phrase, "the Highlands which divide those rivers that empty
themselves into the river St. Lawrence from those which fall into
the Atlantic Ocean," meant according to the American reading a
watershed which was a marshy plateau, and according to the
British version a range of hills to the south which involved some
keen hairsplitting as to the rivers they divided. The intentions
of the parties to the original treaty were probably much as the
Americans contended. From the standpoint of neighborly adjustment
and the relative need for the land in question, a strong case in
equity could be made out for the provinces, which would be cut
asunder for all time if a wedge were driven north to the very
brink of the St. Lawrence.

As lumbermen and settlers gathered in the border area, the risk
of conflict became acute, culminating in the Aroostook War in
1838-39, when the Legislatures of Maine and New Brunswick backed
their rival lumberjacks with reckless jingoism. Diplomacy failed
repeatedly to obtain a compromise line. Arbitration was tried
with little better success, as the United States refused to
accept the award of the King of the Netherlands in 1831. The
diplomats tried once more, and in 1842 Daniel Webster, the United
States Secretary of State, and Lord Ashburton, the British
Commissioner, made a compromise by which some five thousand miles
of the area in dispute were assigned to Great Britain and seven
thousand to the United States. The award was not popular on
either side, and the public seized eagerly on stories of
concealed "Red Line" maps, stories of Yankee smartness or of
British trickery. Webster, to win the assent of Maine, had
exhibited in the Senate a map found in the French Archives and
very damaging to the American claim. Later it appeared that the
British Government also had found a map equally damaging to its
own claims. The nice question of ethics involved, whether a
nation should bring forward evidence that would tell against
itself, ceased to have more than an abstract interest when it was
demonstrated that neither map could be considered as one which
the original negotiators had used or marked.*

* See "The Path, of Empire", by Carl Russell Fish (in "The
Chronicles of America").

The boundary from the St. Lawrence westward through the Great
Lakes and thence to the Lake of the Woods had been laid down in
the Treaty of 1783 in the usual vague terms, but it was
determined in a series of negotiations from 1794 to 1842 with
less friction and heat than the eastern line had caused. From the
Lake of the Woods to the Rockies a new line, the forty-ninth
parallel, was agreed upon in 1818. Then, as the Pacific Ocean was
neared, the difficulties once more increased. There were no
treaties between the two countries to limit claims beyond the
Rockies. Discovery and settlement, and the rights inherited from
or admitted by the Spaniards to the south and by the Russians to
the north, were the grounds put forward. British and Canadian fur
traders had been the pioneers in overland discovery, but early in
the forties thousands of American settlers poured into the
Columbia Valley and strengthened the practical case for their
country. "Fifty-four forty or fight"--in other words, the calm
proposal to claim the whole coast between Mexico and
Alaska--became the popular cry in the United States; but in face
of the firm attitude of Great Britain and impending hostilities
with Mexico, more moderate counsels ruled. Great Britain held out
for the Columbia River as the dividing line, and the United
States for the forty-ninth parallel throughout. Finally, in 1846,
the latter contention was accepted, with a modification to leave
Vancouver Island wholly British territory. A postscript to this
settlement was added in 1872, when the German Emperor as
arbitrator approved the American claim to the island of San Juan
in the channel between Vancouver Island and the mainland.*

* See "The Path of Empire".

With the most troublesome boundary questions out of the way, it
became possible to discuss calmly closer trade relations between
the Provinces and the United States. The movement for reciprocal
lowering of the tariffs which hampered trade made rapid headway
in the Provinces in the late forties and early fifties. British
North America was passing out of the pioneer, self-sufficient
stage, and now had a surplus to export as well as townbred needs
to be supplied by imports. The spread of settlement and the
building of canals and railways brought closer contact with the
people to the south. The loss of special privileges in the
English market made the United States market more desired. In
official circles reciprocity was sought as a homeopathic cure for
the desire for annexation. William Hamilton Merritt, a Niagara
border business man and the most persistent advocate of closer
trade relations, met little difficulty in securing almost
unanimous backing in Canada, while the Maritime Provinces lent
their support.

It was more difficult to win over the United States. There the
people showed the usual indifference of a big and prosperous
country to the needs or opportunities of a small and backward
neighbor. The division of power between President and Congress
made it difficult to carry any negotiation through to success.
Yet these obstacles were overcome. The depletion of the fisheries
along the Atlantic coast of the United States made it worth
while, as I.D. Andrews, a United States consul in New Brunswick,
urged persistently, to gain access to the richer grounds to the
north and, if necessary, to offer trade concessions in exchange.
At Washington, the South was in the saddle. Its sympathies were
strongly for freer trade, but this alone would not have counted
had not the advocates of reciprocity convinced the Democratic
leaders of the bearing of their policy on the then absorbing
issue of slavery. If reciprocity were not arranged, the argument
ran, annexation would be sure to come and that would mean the
addition to the Union of a group of freesoil States which would
definitely tilt the balance against slavery for all time. With
the ground thus prepared, Lord Elgin succeeded by adroit and
capable diplomacy in winning over the leaders of Congress as well
as the Executive to his proposals. The Reciprocity Treaty was
passed by the Senate in August, 1854, and by the Legislatures of
the United Kingdom, Canada, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick,
and Nova Scotia in the next few months, and of Newfoundland in
1855. This treaty provided for free admission into each country
of practically all the products of the farm, forest, mine, and
fishery, threw open the Atlantic fisheries, and gave American
vessels the use of the St. Lawrence and Canadian vessels the use
of Lake Michigan. The agreement was to last for ten years and
indefinitely thereafter, subject to termination on one year's
notice by either party.

To both countries reciprocity brought undoubted good. Trade
doubled and trebled. Each country gained by free access to the
nearest sources of supply. The same goods figured largely in the
traffic in both directions, the United States importing grain and
flour from Canada and exporting it to the Maritime Provinces. In
short the benefits which had come to the United States from free
and unfettered trade throughout half a continent were now
extended to practically a whole continent.

Yet criticism of the new economic regime was not lacking. The
growth of protectionist feeling in both countries after 1857
brought about incidents and created an atmosphere which were
dangerous to the continuance of close trade relations. In 1858
and 1859 the Canadian Government raised substantially the duties
on manufactured goods in order to meet the bills for its lavish
railway policy. This increase hit American manufacturers and led
to loud complaints that the spirit of the Reciprocity Treaty had
been violated. Alexander T. Galt, Canadian Minister of Finance,
had no difficulty in showing that the tariff increases were the
only feasible sources of revenue, that the agreement with the
United States did not cover manufactures, and that the United
States itself, faced by war demands and no longer controlled by
free trade Southerners, had raised duties still higher. The
exports of the United States to the Provinces in the reciprocity
period were greater, contrary to the later traditions, than the
imports. On economic grounds the case for the continuance of the
reciprocity agreement was strong, and probably the treaty would
have remained in force indefinitely had not the political
passions roused by the Civil War made sanity and neighborliness
in trade difficult to maintain.

When the Civil War broke out, the sympathies of Canadians were
overwhelmingly on the side of the North. The railway and freer
trade had been bringing the two peoples closer together, and time
was healing old sores. Slavery was held to be the real issue, and
on that issue there were scarcely two opinions in the British

Yet in a few months sympathy had given way to angry and
suspicious bickering, and the possibility of invasion of Canada
by the Northern forces was vigorously debated. This sudden shift
of opinion and the danger in which it involved the provinces were
both incidents in the quarrel which sprang up between the United
States and Great Britain. In Britain as in Canada, opinion, so
far as it found open expression, was at first not unfriendly to
the North. Then came the anger of the North at Great Britain's
legitimate and necessary, though perhaps precipitate, action in
acknowledging the South as a belligerent. This action ran counter
to the official Northern theory that the revolt of the Southern
States was a local riot, of merely domestic concern, and was held
to foreshadow a recognition of the independence of the
Confederacy. The angry taunts were soon returned. The ruling
classes in Great Britain made the discovery that the war was a
struggle between chivalrous gentlemen and mercenary
counterhoppers and cherished the hope that the failure of the
North would discredit, the world over, the democracy which was
making uncomfortable claims in England itself. The English
trading classes resented the shortage of cotton and the high
duties which the protectionist North was imposing. With the
defeat of the Union forces at Bull Run the prudent hesitancy of
aristocrat and merchant in expressing their views disappeared.
The responsible statesmen of both countries, especially Lincoln
and Lord John Russell, refused to be stampeded, but unfortunately
the leading newspapers served them ill. The "Times", with its
constant sneers and its still more irritating patronizing advice,
and the New York "Herald", bragging and blustering in the frank
hope of forcing a war with Britain and France which would reunite
South and North and subordinate the slavery issue, did more than
any other factors to bring the two countries to the verge of war.

In Canada the tendency in some quarters to reflect English
opinion, the disappointment in others that the abolition of
slavery was not explicitly pledged by the North, and above all
resentment against the threats of the "Herald" and its followers,
soon cooled the early friendliness. The leading Canadian
newspaper, for many years a vigorous opponent of slavery, thus
summed up the situation in August, 1861:

"The insolent bravado of the Northern press towards Great Britain
and the insulting tone assumed toward these Provinces have
unquestionably produced a marked change in the feelings of our
people. When the war commenced, there was only one feeling, of
hearty sympathy with the North, but now it is very different.
People have lost sight of the character of the struggle in the
exasperation excited by the injustice and abuse showered upon us
by the party with which we sympathized."*

* Toronto "Globe", August 7, 1861.

The Trent affair brought matters to a sobering climax.* When it
was settled, resentment lingered, but the tension was never again
so acute. Both Great Britain and in Canada the normal sympathy
with the cause of the Union revived as the war went on. In
England the classes continued to be pro-Southern in sympathy, but
the masses, in spite of cotton famines, held resolutely to their
faith in the cause of freedom. After Lincoln's emancipation of
the slaves, the view of the English middle classes more and more
became the view of the nation. In Canada, pro-Southern sentiment
was strong in the same classes and particularly in Montreal and
Toronto, where there were to be found many Southern refugees,
some of whom made a poor return for hospitality by endeavoring to
use Canada as a base for border raids. Yet in the smaller towns
and in the country sympathy was decidedly on the other side,
particularly after the "Herald" had ceased its campaign of
bluster and after Lincoln's proclamation had brought the moral
issue again to the fore. The fact that a large number of
Canadians, popularly set at forty thousand, enlisted in the
Northern armies, is to be explained in part by the call of
adventure and the lure of high bounties, but it must also be
taken to reflect the sympathy of the mass of the people.

* See "Abraham Lincoln and the Union", by Nathaniel W. Stephenson
(in "The Chronicles of America").

In the United States resentment was slower in passing. While the
war was on, prudence forbade any overt act. When it was over, the
bill for the Alabama raids and the taunts of the "Times" came in.
Great Britain paid in the settlement of the Alabama claims.*
Canada suffered by the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty at
the first possible date, and by the connivance of the American
authorities in the Fenian raids of 1866 and 1870. Yet for Canada
the outcome was by no means ill. If the Civil War did not bring
forth a new nation in the South, it helped to make one in the far
North. A common danger drew the scattered British Provinces
together and made ready the way for the coming Dominion of

*See "The Day of the Confederacy", by Nathaniel W. Stephenson;
and "The Path of Empire" (in "The Chronicles of America").

It was not from the United States alone that an impetus came for
the closer union of the British Provinces. The same period and
the same events ripened opinion in the United Kingdom in favor of
some practical means of altering a colonial relationship which
bad ceased to bring profit but which had not ceased to be a
burden of responsibility and risk.

The British Empire had its beginning in the initiative of private
business men, not in any conscious policy of state. Yet as the
Empire grew the teaching of doctrinaires and the example of other
colonial powers had developed a definite policy whereby the
plantations overseas were to be made to serve the needs of the
nation at home. The end of empire was commercial profit; the
means, the political subordination of the colonies; the debit
entry, the cost of the military and naval and diplomatic services
borne by the mother country. But the course of events had now
broken down this theory. Britain, for her own good, had abandoned
protection, and with it fell the system of preference and
monopoly in colonial markets. Not only preference had gone but
even equality. The colonies, notably Canada, which was most
influenced by the United States, were perversely using their new
found freedom to protect their own manufacturers against all
outsiders, Britain included. When Sheffield cutlers, hard hit by
Canada's tariff, protested to the Colonial Secretary and he
echoed their remonstrance, the Canadian Minister of Finance, A.
T. Galt, stoutly refused to heed. "Self-government would be
utterly annihilated," Galt replied in 1860, "if the views of the
Imperial Government were to be preferred to those of the people
of Canada. It is therefore the duty of the present government
distinctly to affirm the right of the Canadian legislature to
adjust the taxation of the people in the way they deem best -
even if it should unfortunately happen to meet the disapproval of
the Imperial Ministry." Clearly, if trade advantage were the
chief purpose of empire, the Empire had lost its reason for

With the credit entry fading, the debit entry loomed up bigger.
Hardly had the Corn Laws been abolished when Radical critics
called on the British Government to withdraw the redcoat
garrisons from the colonies: no profit, no defense. Slowly but
steadily this reduction was effected. To fill the gaps, the
colonies began to strengthen their militia forces. In Canada only
a beginning had been made in the way of defense when the Trent
episode brought matters to a crisis. If war broke out between the
United States and Great Britain, Canada would be the battlefield.
Every Canadian knew it; nothing could be clearer. When the danger
of immediate war had passed, the Parliament of Canada turned to
the provision of more adequate defense. A bill providing for a
compulsory levy was defeated in 1862, more on personal and party
grounds than on its own merits, and the Ministry next in office
took the other course of increasing the volunteer force and of
providing for officers' training. Compared with any earlier
arrangements for defense, the new plans marked a great advance;
but when judged in the light of the possible necessity of
repelling American invasion, they were plainly inadequate. A
burst of criticism followed from England; press and politicians
joined in denouncing the blind and supine colonials. Did they not
know that invasion by the United States was inevitable? "If the
people of the North fail," declared a noble lord, "they will
attack Canada as a compensation for their losses; if they
succeed, they will attack Canada in the drunkenness of victory."
If such an invasion came, Britain had neither the power nor the
will, the "Times" declared, to protect Canada without any aid on
her part; not the power, for "our empire is too vast, our
population too small, our antagonist too powerful"; not the will,
for "we no longer monopolize the trade of the colonies; we no
longer job their patronage." To these amazing attacks Canadians
replied that they knew the United States better than Englishmen
did. They were prepared to take their share in defense, but they
could not forget that if war came it would not be by any act of
Canada. It was soon noted that those who most loudly denounced
Canada for not arming to the teeth were the Southern
sympathizers. "The 'Times' has done more than its share in
creating bad feeling between England and the United States,"
declared a Toronto newspaper, "and would have liked to see the
Canadians take up the quarrel which it has raised . . . . We have
no idea of Canada being made a victim of the Jefferson Bricks on
either side of the Atlantic."

The question of defense fell into the background when the war
ended and the armies of the Union went back to their farms and
shops. But the discussion left in the minds of most Englishmen
the belief that the possession of such colonies was a doubtful
blessing. Manchester men like Bright, Liberals like Gladstone and
Cornewall Lewis, Conservatives like Lowe and Disraeli, all came
to believe that separation was only a question of time. Yet honor
made them hesitate to set the defenseless colonies adrift to be
seized by the first hungry neighbor.

At this juncture the plans for uniting all the colonies in one
great federation seemed to open a way out; united, the colonies
could stand alone. Thus Confederation found support in Britain as
well as a stimulus from the United States. This, however, was not
enough. Confederation would not have come when it did--and that
might have meant it would never have come at all--had not party
and sectional deadlock forced Canadian politicians to seek a
remedy in a wider union.

At first all had gone well with the Union of 1841. It did not
take the politicians long to learn how to use the power that
responsible government put into their hands. After Elgin's day
the Governor General fell back into the role of constitutional
monarch which cabinet control made easy for him. In the forties,
men had spoken of Sydenham and Bagot, Metcalfe and Elgin; in the
fifties, they spoke of Baldwin and La Fontaine, Hincks and
Macdonald and Cartier and Brown, and less and less of the
Governors in whose name these men ruled. Politics then attracted
more of the country's ablest men than it does now, and the party
leaders included many who would have made their mark in any
parliament in the world. Baldwin and La Fontaine, united to the
end, resigned office in 1851, believing that they had played
their part in establishing responsible government and feeling out
of touch with the radical elements of their following who were
demanding further change. Their place was taken in Canada West by
Hincks, an adroit tactician and a skilled financier, intent on
railway building and trade development; and in Canada East by
Morin, a somewhat colorless lieutenant of La Fontaine.

But these leaders in turn soon gave way to new men; and the
political parties gradually fell into a state of flux. In Canada
West there were still a few Tories, survivors of the Family
Compact and last-ditch defenders of privilege in Church and
State, a growing number of moderate Conservatives, a larger group
of moderate Liberals, and a small but aggressive extreme left
wing of "Clear Grits," mainly Scotch Presbyterians, foes of any
claim to undue power on the part of class or clergy. In Canada
East the English members from the Townships, under A. T. Galt,
were ceasing to vote as a unit, and the main body of
French-Canadian members were breaking up into a moderate Liberal
party, and a smaller group of Rouges, fiery young men under the
leadership of Papineau, now returned from exile, were crusading
against clerical pretensions and all the established order.

The situation was one made to the hand of a master tactician. The
time brought forth the man. John A. Macdonald, a young Kingston
lawyer of Tory upbringing, or "John A.", as generation after
generation affectionately called him, was to prove the greatest
leader of men in Canada's annals. Shrewd, tactful, and genial,
never forgetting a face or a favor, as popular for his human
frailties as for his strength, Macdonald saw that the old party
lines drawn in the days of the struggle for responsible
government were breaking down and that the future lay with a
union of the moderate elements in both parties and both sections.
He succeeded in 1854 in bringing together in Canada West a strong
Liberal-Conservative group and in effecting a permanent alliance
with the main body of French-Canadian Liberals, now under the
leadership of Cartier, a vigorous fighter and an easy-going
opportunist. With the addition of Galt as the financial expert,
these allies held power throughout the greater part of the next
dozen years. Their position was not unchallenged. The Clear Grits
had found a leader after their own heart in George Brown, a
Scotchman of great ability, a hard hitter and a good hater--
especially of slavery, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and "John
A." Through his newspaper, the Toronto "Globe", he wielded a
power unique in Canadian journalism. The Rouges, now led by A. A.
Dorion, a man of stainless honor and essentially moderate temper,
withdrew from. their extreme anticlerical position but could not
live down their youth or make head against the forces of
conservatism in their province. They did not command many
votes in the House, but every man of them was an orator, and they
remained through all vicissitudes a power to reckon with.

Step by step, under Liberal and under Liberal Conservative
Governments, the programme of Canadian Liberalism was carried
into effect. Self-government, at least in domestic affairs, had
been attained. An effective system of municipal government and a
good beginning in popular education followed. The last link
between Church and State was severed in 1854 when the Clergy
Reserves were turned over to the municipalities for secular
purposes, with life annuities for clergymen who had been
receiving stipends from the Reserves. In Lower Canada the
remnants of the old feudal system, the rights of the seigneurs,
were abolished in the same year with full compensation from the
state. An elective upper Chamber took the place of the appointed
Legislative Council a year later. The Reformers, as the Clear
Grits preferred to call themselves officially, should perhaps
have been content with so much progress. They insisted, however,
that a new and more intolerable privilege had arisen--the
privilege which Canada East held of equal representation in the
Legislative Assembly long after its population had fallen behind
that of Canada West.

The political union of the two Canadas in fact had never been
complete. Throughout the Union period there were two leaders in
each Cabinet, two Attorney Generals, and two distinct judicial
systems. Every session laws were passed applying to one section
alone. This continued separation had its beginning in a clause of
the Union Act itself, which provided that each section should
have equal representation in the Assembly, even though Lower
Canada then had a much larger population than Upper Canada. When
the tide of overseas immigration put Canada West well in the
lead, it in its turn was denied the full representation its
greater population warranted. First the Conservatives, and later
the Clear Grits, took up the cry of "Representation by
Population." It was not difficult to convince the average Canada
West elector that it was an outrage that three French-Canadian
voters should count as much as four English-speaking voters.
Macdonald, relying for power on his alliance with Cartier, could
not accept the demand, and saw seat after seat in Canada West
fall to Brown and his "Rep. by Pop." crusaders. Brown's success
only solidified Canada East against him, until, in the early
sixties, party lines coincided almost with sectional lines.
Parties were so closely matched that the life of a Ministry was
short. In the three years ending in 1864 there were two general
elections and four Ministries. Political controversy became
bitterly personal, and corruption was spreading fast.

Constant efforts were made to avert the threatened deadlock.
Macdonald, who always trusted more to personal management than to
constitutional expedients, won over one after another of the
opponents who troubled him, and thus postponed the day of
reckoning. Rival plans of constitutional reform were brought
forward. The simplest remedy was the repeal of the union, leaving
each province to go its own way. But this solution was felt to be
a backward step and one which would create more problems than it
would solve. More support was given the double majority
principle, a provision that no measure affecting one section
should be passed unless a majority from that section favored it,
but this method broke down when put to a practical test. The
Rouges, and later Brown, put forward a plan for the abolition of
legislative union in favor of a federal union of the two Canadas.
This lacked the wide vision of the fourth suggestion, which was
destined to be adopted as the solution, namely, the federation of
all British North America.

Federal union, it was urged, would solve party and sectional
deadlock by removing to local legislatures the questions which
created the greatest divergence of opinion. The federal union of
the Canadas alone or the federal union of all British North
America would either achieve this end. But there were other ends
in view which only the wider plan could serve. The needs of
defense demanded a single control for all the colonies. The
probable loss of the open market of the United States made it
imperative to unite all the provinces in a single free trade
area. The first faint stirrings of national ambition, prompting
the younger men to throw off the leading strings of colonial
dependence, were stimulated by the vision of a country which
would stretch from sea to sea. The westward growth of the United
States and the reports of travelers were opening men's eyes to
the possibilities of the vast lands under the control of the
Hudson's Bay Company and the need of asserting authority over
these northern regions if they were to be held for the Crown.
Eastward, also, men were awaking to their isolation. There was
not, in the Maritime Provinces, any popular desire for union with
the Canadas or any political crisis compelling drastic remedy,
but the need of union for defense was felt in some quarters, and
ambitious politicians who had mastered their local fields were
beginning to sigh for larger worlds to conquer.

It took the patient and courageous striving of many men to make
this vision of a united country a reality. The roll of the
Fathers of Confederation is a long and honored one. Yet on that
roll there are some outstanding names, the names of men whose
services were not merely devoted but indispensable. The first to
bring the question within the field of practical politics was A.
T. Galt, but when attempt after attempt in 1864 to organize a
Ministry with a safe working majority had failed, it was George
Brown who proposed that the party leaders should join hands in
devising some form of federation. Macdonald had hitherto been a
stout opponent of all change but, once converted, he threw
himself into the struggle, with energy. He never appeared to
better advantage than in the negotiations of the next few years,
steering the ship of Confederation through the perilous shoals of
personal and sectional jealousies. Few had a harder or a more
important task than Cartier's-reconciling Canada East to a
project under which it would be swamped, in the proposed federal
House, by the representatives of four or five English-speaking
provinces. McDougall, a Canada West Reformer, shared with Brown
the credit for awakening Canadians to the value of the Far West
and to the need of including it in their plans of expansion.
D'Arcy McGee, more than any other, fired the imagination of the
people with glowing pictures of the greatness and the limitless
possibilities of the new nation. Charles Tupper, the head of a
Nova Scotia Conservative Ministry which had overthrown the old
tribune, Joseph Howe, had the hardest and seemingly most hopeless
task of all; for his province appeared to be content with its
separate existence and was inflamed against union by Howe's
eloquent opposition; but to Tupper a hard fight was as the breath
of his nostrils. In New Brunswick, Leonard Tilley, a man of less
vigor but equal determination, led the struggle until
Confederation was achieved.

It was in June, 1864, that the leaders of the Parliament of
Canada became convinced that federation was the only way out. A
coalition Cabinet was formed, with Sir Etienne Tache as nominal
Premier, and with Macdonald, Brown, Cartier, and Galt all
included. An opening for discussing the wider federation was
offered by a meeting which was to be held in Charlottetown,
Prince Edward Island, of delegates from the three Maritime
Provinces to consider the formation of a local union. There, in
September, 1864, went eight of the Canadian Ministers. Their
proposals met with favor. A series of banquets brought the plans
before the public, seemingly with good results. The conference
was resumed a month later at Quebec. Here, in sixteen working
days, delegates from Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince
Edward Island, and also from Newfoundland, thirty-three in all,
after frank and full deliberation behind closed doors, agreed
upon the terms of union. Macdonald's insistence upon a
legislative union, wiping out all provincial boundaries, was
overridden; but the lesson of the conflict between the federal
and state jurisdiction in the United States was seen in
provisions to strengthen the central authority. The general
government was empowered to appoint the lieutenant governors of
the various provinces and to veto any provincial law; to it were
assigned all legislative powers not specifically granted to the
provinces; and a subsidy granted by the general government in
lieu of the customs revenues resigned by the provinces still
further increased their dependence upon the central authority.

It had taken less than three weeks to draw up the plan of union.
It took nearly three years to secure its adoption. So far as
Canada was concerned, little trouble was encountered. British
traditions of parliamentary supremacy prevented any direct
submission of the question to the people; but their support was
clearly manifested in the press and on the platform, and the
legislature ratified the project with emphatic majorities from
both sections of the province. Though it did not pass without
opposition, particularly from the Rouges under Dorion and from
steadfast supporters of old ways like Christopher Dunkin and
Sandfield Macdonald, the fight was only halfhearted. Not so,
however, in the provinces by the sea. The delegates who returned
from the Quebec Conference were astounded to meet a storm of
criticism. Local pride and local prejudice were aroused. The
thrifty maritime population feared Canadian extravagance and
Canadian high tariffs. They were content to remain as they were
and fearful of the unknown. Here and there advocates of
annexation to the United States swelled the chorus. Merchants in
Halifax and St. John feared that trade would be drawn away to
Montreal. Above all, Howe, whether because of personal pique or
of intense local patriotism, had put himself at the head of the
agitation against union, and his eloquence could still play upon
the prejudices of the people. The Tilley Government in New
Brunswick was swept out of power early in 1865. Prince Edward
Island and Newfoundland both drew back, the one for eight years,
the other to remain outside the fold to the present day. In Nova
Scotia a similar fate was averted only by Tupper's Fabian
tactics. Then the tide turned. In New Brunswick the Fenian Raids,
pressure from the Colonial Office, and the blunders of the
anti-Confederate Government brought Tilley back to power on a
Confederation platform a year later. Tupper seized the occasion
and carried his motion through the Nova Scotia House. Without
seeking further warrant the delegates from Canada, Nova Scotia,
and New Brunswick met in London late in 1866, and there in
consultation with the Colonial Office drew up the final
resolutions. They were embodied in the British North America Act
which went through the Imperial Parliament not only without
raising questions but even without exciting interest. On July 1,
1867, the Dominion of Canada, as the new federation was to be
known, came into being. It is a curious coincidence that the same
date witnessed the establishment of the North German Bund, which
in less than three years was to expand into the German Empire.


The federation of the four provinces was an excellent
achievement, but it was only a beginning on the long, hard road
to nationhood. The Fathers of Confederation had set their goal
and had proclaimed their faith. It remained for the next
generation to seek to make their vision a reality. It was still
necessary to make the Dominion actual by bringing in all the
lands from sea to sea. And when, on paper, Canada covered half a
continent, union had yet to be given body and substance by
railway building and continuous settlement. The task of welding
two races and many scattered provinces into a single people would
call for all the statesmanship and prudence the country had to
give. To chart the relations between the federal and the
provincial authorities, which had so nearly brought to shipwreck
the federal experiment of Canada's great neighbor, was like
navigating an unknown sea. And what was to be the attitude of the
new Dominion, half nation, half colony, to the mother country and
to the republic to the south, no one could yet foretell.

The first problem which faced the Dominion was the organization
of the new machinery of government. It was necessary to choose a
federal Administration to guide the Parliament which was soon to
meet at Ottawa, the capital of the old Canada since 1858 and now
accepted as the capital of the larger Canada. It was necessary
also to establish provincial Governments in Canada West,
henceforth known as Ontario and in Canada East, or Quebec. The
provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were to retain their
existing provincial Governments.

There was no doubt as to whom the Governor General, Lord Monck,
should call to form the first federal Administration. Macdonald
had proved himself easily the greatest leader of men the four
provinces had produced. The entrance of two new provinces into
the union, with all the possibilities of new party groupings and
new personal alliances it involved, created a situation in which
he had no rival. His great antagonist, Brown, passed off the
parliamentary stage. When he proposed a coalition to carry
through federation, Brown had recognized that he was sacrificing
his chief political asset, the discontent of Canada West. But he
was too true a patriot to hesitate a moment on that score, and in
any case he was sufficiently confident of his own abilities to
believe that he could hold his own in a fresh field. In this
expectation he was deceived. No man among his contemporaries
surpassed him in sheer ability, in fearless honesty, in vigor of
debate, but he lacked Macdonald's genial and supple art of
managing men. And with broad questions of state policy for the
moment out of the way, it was capacity in managing men that was
to count in determining success. Never afterward did Brown take
an active part in parliamentary life, though still a power in the
land through his newspaper, the Toronto "Globe", which was
regarded as the Scotch Presbyterian's second Bible. Of the other
leaders of old Canada, Cartier with failing health was losing his
vigor and losing also the prestige with his party which his solid
Canada East majority had given him; Galt soon retired to private
business, with occasional incursions into diplomacy; and McGee
fell a victim in 1868 to a Fenian assassin. From the Maritime
Provinces the ablest recruit was Tupper, the most dogged fighter
in Canadian parliamentary annals and a lifelong sworn ally of

It was at first uncertain what the grouping of parties would be.
Macdonald naturally wished to retain the coalition which assured
him unquestioned mastery, and the popular desire to give
Confederation a good start also favored such a course. In his
first Cabinet, formed with infinite difficulty, with provinces,
parties, religions, races, all to consider in filling a limited
number of posts, Macdonald included six Liberal ministers out of
thirteen, three from Ontario, and three from the Maritime
Provinces. Yet if an Opposition had not existed, it would have
been necessary to create one in order to work the parliamentary
machine. The attempt to keep the coalition together did not long
succeed. On the eve of the first federal election the Ontario
Reformers in convention decided to oppose the Government, even
though it contained three of their former leaders. In the
contest, held in August and September, 1867, Macdonald triumphed
in every province except Nova Scotia but faced a growing
Opposition party. Under the virtual leadership of Alexander
Mackenzie, fragments of parties from the four provinces were
united into a single Liberal group. In a few years the majority
of the Liberal rank and file were back in the fold, and the
Liberal members in the Cabinet had become frankly Conservative.
Coalition had faded away.

Within six years after Confederation the whole northern half of
the continent had been absorbed by Canada. The four original
provinces comprised only one-tenth of the area of the present
Dominion, some 377,000 square miles as against 3,730,000 today.
The most easterly of the provinces, little Prince Edward Island,
had drawn back in 1865, content in isolation. Eight years later
this province entered the fold. Hard times and a glimpse of the
financial strength of the new federation had wrought a change of
heart. The solution of the century-old problem of the island,
absentee landlordism, threatened to strain the finances of the
province; and men began to look to Ottawa for relief. A railway
crisis turned their thoughts in the same direction. The
provincial authorities had recently arranged for the building of
a narrow-gauge road from one end of the island to the other. It
was agreed that the contractors should be paid 5000 pounds a mile
in provincial debentures, but without any stipulation as to the
total length, so that the builders caused the railway to meander
and zigzag freely in search of lower grades or long paying
stretches. In 1873, which was everywhere a year of black
depression, it was found that these debentures, which were
pledged by the contractors to a local bank for advances, could
not be sold except at a heavy loss. The directors of the bank
were influential in the Government of the province. It was not
surprising, therefore, that the government soon opened
negotiations with Ottawa. The Dominion authorities offered
generous terms, financing the land purchase scheme, and taking
over the railway. Some of the islanders made bitter charges, but
the Legislature confirmed the agreement, and on July 1, 1873,
Prince Edward Island entered Confederation.

While Prince Edward Island was deciding to come in, Nova Scotia
was straining every nerve to get out. There was no question that
Nova Scotia had been brought into the union against its will. The
provincial Legislature in 1866, it is true, backed Tupper. But
the people backed Howe, who thereupon went to London to protest
against the inclusion of Nova Scotia without consulting the
electors, but he was not heeded. The passing of the Act only
redoubled the agitation. In the provincial election of 1867, the
anti-Confederates carried thirty-six out of thirty-eight seats.
In the federal election Tupper was the only union candidate
returned in nineteen seats contested. A second delegation was
sent to London to demand repeal. Tupper crossed the ocean to
counter this effort and was successful. Then he sought out Howe,
urged that further agitation was useless and could only bring
anarchy or, what both counted worse, a movement for annexation to
the United States, and pressed him to use his influence to allay
the storm. Howe gave way; unfortunately for his own fame, he went
further and accepted a seat in the federal Cabinet. Many of his
old followers kept up the fight, but others decided to make a
bargain with necessity. Macdonald agreed to give the province
"better terms," and the Dominion assumed a larger part of its
debt. The bitterness aroused by Tupper's high-handed procedure
lingered for many a day; but before the first Parliament was
over, repeal had ceased to be a practical issue.

Union could never be real so long as leagues of barren, unbroken
wilderness separated the maritime from the central provinces.
Free intercourse, ties of trade, knowledge which would sweep away
prejudice, could not come until a railway had spanned this
wilderness. In the fifties plans had been made for a main trunk
line to run from Halifax to the Detroit River. This ambitious
scheme proved too great for the resources of the separate
provinces, but sections of the road were built in each province.
As a condition of Confederation, the Dominion Government
undertook to fill in the long gaps. Surveys were begun
immediately; and by 1876, under the direction of Sandford
Fleming, an engineer of eminence, the Intercolonial Railway was
completed. It never succeeded in making ends meet financially,
but it did make ends meet politically. In great measure it
achieved the purpose of national solidification for which it was
mainly designed.

Meanwhile the bounds of the Dominion were being pushed westward
to the Pacific. The old province of Canada, as the heir of New
France, had vague claims to the western plains, but the Hudson's
Bay Company was in possession. The Dominion decided to buy out
its rights and agreed, in 1869, to pay the Company 300,000 pounds
for the transfer of its lands and exclusive privileges, the
Company to retain its trading posts and two sections in every
township. So far all went well. But the Canadian Government, new
to the tasks of empire and not as efficient in administration as
it should have been, overlooked the necessity of consulting the
wishes and the prejudices of the men on the spot. It was not
merely land and buffalo herds which were being transferred but
also sovereignty over a people.

In the valley of the Red River there were some twelve thousand
metis, or half-breeds, descendants of Indian mothers and French
or Scottish fathers. The Dominion authorities intended to give
them a large share in their own government but neglected to
arrange for a formal conference. The metis were left to gather
their impression of the character and intentions of the new
rulers from indiscreet and sometimes overbearing surveyors and
land seekers. In 1869, under the leadership of Louis Riel, the
one man of education in the settlement, able but vain and
unbalanced, and with the Hudson's Bay officials looking on
unconcerned, the metis decided to oppose being made "the colony
of a colony." The Governor sent out from Ottawa was refused
entrance, and a provisional Government under Riel assumed
control. The Ottawa authorities first tried persuasion and sent a
commission of three, Donald A. Smith (afterwards Lord
Strathcona), Colonel de Salaberry, and Vicar General Thibault.
Smith was gradually restoring unity and order, when the act of
Riel in shooting Thomas Scott, an Ontario settler and a member of
the powerful Orange order, set passions flaring. Mgr. Tache, the
Catholic bishop of the diocese, on his return aided in quieting
the metis. Delegates were sent by the Provisional Government to
Ottawa, and, though not officially recognized, they influenced
the terms of settlement. An expedition under Colonel Wolseley
marched through the wilderness north of Lake Superior only to
find that Riel and his lieutenants had fled. By the Manitoba Act
the Red River country was admitted to Confederation as a
self-governing province, under the name of Manitoba, while the
country west to the Rockies was given territorial status. The
Indian tribes were handled with tact and justice, but though for
the time the danger of armed resistance had passed, the embers of
discontent were not wholly quenched.

The extension of Canadian sovereignty beyond the Rockies came
about in quieter fashion. After Mackenzie had shown the way,
Simon Fraser and David Thompson and other agents of the NorthWest
Company took up the work of exploration and fur trading. With the
union of the two rival companies in 1821, the Hudson's Bay
Company became the sole authority on the Pacific coast. Settlers
straggled in slowly until, in the late fifties, the discovery of
rich placer gold on the Fraser and later in the Cariboo brought
tens of thousands of miners from Australia and California, only
to drift away again almost as quickly when the sands began to

Local governments had been established both in Vancouver Island
and on the mainland. They were joined in a single province in
1866. One of the first acts of the new Legislature was to seek
consolidation with the Dominion. Inspired by an enthusiastic
Englishman, Alfred Waddington, who had dreamed for years of a
transcontinental railway, the province stipulated that within ten
years Canada should complete a road from the Pacific to a
junction with the railways of the East. These terms were
considered presumptuous on the part of a little settlement of ten
or fifteen thousand whites; but Macdonald had faith in the
resources of Canada and in what the morrow would bring forth. The
bargain was made; and British Columbia entered the Confederation
on July 1, 1871.

East and West were now staked out. Only the Far North remained
outside the bounds of the Dominion and this was soon acquired. In
1879 the British Government transferred to Canada all its rights
and claims over the islands in the Arctic Archipelago and all
other British territory in North America save Newfoundland and
its strip of Labrador. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from
the forty-ninth parallel to the North Pole, now all was Canadian

Confederation brought new powers and new responsibilities and
thrust Canada into the field of foreign affairs. It was with slow
and groping steps that the Dominion advanced along this new path.
Then--as now--for Canada foreign relations meant first and
foremost relations with her great neighbor to the south. The
likelihood of war had passed. The need for closer trade relations
remained. When the Reciprocity Treaty was brought to an end, on
March 17, 1866, Canada at first refrained from raising her tariff
walls. "The provinces," as George Brown declared in 1874,
"assumed that there were matters existing in 1865-66 to trouble
the spirit of American statesmen for the moment, and they waited
patiently for the sober second thought which was very long in
coming, but in the meantime Canada played a good neighbor's part,
and incidentally served her own ends, by continuing to grant the
United States most of the privileges which had been given under
the treaty free navigation and free goods, and, subject to a
license fee, access to the fisheries."

It was over these fisheries that friction first developed.*
Canadian statesmen were determined to prevent poaching on the
inshore fisheries, both because poaching was poaching and because
they considered the fishery privileges the best makeweight in
trade negotiations with the United States. At first American
vessels were admitted on payment of a license fee; but when, on
the increase of the fee, many vessels tried to fish inshore
without permission, the license system was abolished, and in 1870
a fleet of revenue cruisers began to police the coast waters.
American fishermen chafed at exclusion from waters they had come
to consider almost their own, and there were many cases of
seizure and of angry charge and countercharge. President Grant,
in his message to Congress in 1870, denounced the policy of the
Canadian authorities as arbitrary and provocative. Other issues
between the two countries were outstanding as well. Canada had a
claim against the United States for not preventing the Fenian
Raids of 1866; and the United States had a much bigger bill
against Great Britain for neglect in permitting the escape of the
Alabama. Some settlement of these disputed matters was necessary;
and it was largely through the activities of a Canadian banker
and politician, Sir John Rose, that an agreement was reached to
submit all the issues to a joint commission.

* See "The Path of Empire".

Macdonald was offered and accepted with misgivings a post as one
of the five British Commissioners. He pressed the traditional
Canadian policy of offering fishery for trade privileges but
found no backing in this or other matters from his British
colleagues, and he met only unyielding opposition from the
American Commissioners. He fell back, under protest, on a
settlement of narrower scope, which permitted reciprocity in
navigation and bonding privileges, free admission of Canadian and
Newfoundland fish to United States markets and of American
fishermen to Canadian and Newfoundland waters, and which provided
for a subsidiary commission to fix the amount to be paid by the
United States for the surplus advantage thus received. The Fenian
Raids claims were not even considered, and Macdonald was angered
by this indifference on the part of his British colleagues. "They
seem to have only one thing in their minds, " he reported
privately to Ottawa, "that is, to go home to England with a
treaty in their pocket, settling everything, no matter at what
cost to Canada." Yet when the time came for the Canadian
Parliament to decide whether to ratify the fishery clauses of the
Treaty of Washington in which the conclusions of the commission
were embodied, Macdonald, in spite of the unpopularity of the
bargain in Canada, "urged Parliament" to accept the treaty,
accept it with all its imperfections, to accept it for the sake
of peace and for the sake of the great Empire of which we form a
part." The treaty was ratified in 1871 by all the powers
concerned; and the stimulus to the peaceful settlement of
international disputes given by the Geneva Tribunal which
followed* justified the subordination of Canada's specific

* See "The Path of Empire"

A change in party now followed in Canada, but the new Government
under Alexander Mackenzie "was as fully committed as the
Government of Sir John Macdonald to the policy of bartering
fishery for trade advantage. Canada therefore proposed that
instead of carrying out the provisions for a money settlement,
the whole question should be reopened. The Administration at
Washington was sympathetic. George Brown was appointed along with
the British Ambassador, Sir Edward Thornton, to open
negotiations. Under Brown's energetic leadership a settlement of
all outstanding issues was drafted in 1874, which permitted
freedom of trade in natural and in most manufactured products for
twenty-one years, and settled fishery, coasting trade,
navigation, and minor boundary issues. But diplomats proposed,
and the United States Senate disposed. Protectionist feeling was
strong at Washington, and the currency problem absorbing, and
hence this broad and statesmanlike essay in neighborliness could
not secure an hour's attention. This plan having failed, the
Canadian Government fell back on the letter of the treaty. A
Commission which consisted of the Honorable E. H. Kellogg
representing the United States, Sir Alexander T. Galt
representing Canada, and the Belgian Minister to Washington, M.
Delfosse, as chairman, awarded Canada and Newfoundland $5,500,000
as the excess value of the fisheries for the ten years the
arrangement was to run. The award was denounced in the United
States as absurdly excessive; but a sense of honor and the
knowledge that millions of dollars from the Alabama award were
still in the Treasury moved the Senate finally to acquiesce,
though only for the ten-year term fixed by treaty. In Canada the
award was received with delight as a signal proof that when left
to themselves Canadians could hold their own. The prevailing view
was well summed up in a letter from Mackenzie to the Canadian
representative on the Halifax commission, written shortly before
the decision: "I am glad you still have hopes of a fair verdict.
I am doubly anxious to have it, first, because we are entitled to
it and need the dollars, and, second, because it will be the
first Canadian diplomatic triumph, and will justify me in
insisting that we know our neighbors and our own business better
than any Englishmen."

Mackenzie's insistence that Canada must take a larger share in
the control of her foreign affairs was too advanced a stand for
many of his more conservative countrymen. For others, he did not
go far enough. The early seventies saw the rise of a short-lived
movement in favor of Canadian independence. To many independence
from England seemed the logical sequel to Confederation; and the
rapid expansion of Canadian territory over half a continent
stimulated national pride and national self-consciousness Opinion
in England regarding Canadian independence was still more
outspoken. There imperialism was at its lowest ebb. With scarcely
an exception, English politicians, from Bright to Disraeli, were
hostile or indifferent to connection with the colonies, which had
now ceased to be a trade asset and had clearly become a military

But no concrete problem arose to make the matter a political
issue. In England a growing uneasiness over the protectionist
policies and the colonial ambitions of her European rivals were
soon to revive imperial sentiment. In Canada the ties of
affection for the old land, as well as the inertia fostered by
long years of colonial dependence, kept the independence movement
from spreading far. For the time the rising national spirit found
expression in economic rather than political channels. The
protectionist movement which a few years later swept all Canada
before it owed much of its strength to its claim to be the
national policy.

But it was not imperial or foreign relations that dominated
public interest in the seventies. Domestic politics were
intensely absorbing and bitterly contested. Within five years
there came about two sudden and sweeping reversals of power.
Parties and Cabinets which had seemed firmly entrenched were
dramatically overthrown by sudden changes in the personal factors
and in the issues of the day. In the summer of 1872 the second
general election for the Dominion was held. The Opposition had
now gained in strength. The Government had ceased to be in any
real sense a coalition, and most of the old Liberal rank and file
were back in the party camp. They had found a vigorous leader in
Alexander Mackenzie.

Mackenzie had come to Canada from Scotland in 1842 as a lad of
twenty. He worked at his trade as a stonemason, educated himself
by wide reading and constant debating, became a successful
contractor and, after Confederation, had proved himself one of
the most aggressive and uncompromising champions of Upper Canada
Liberalism. In the first Dominion Parliament he tacitly came to
be regarded as the leader of all the groups opposed to the
Macdonald Administration. He was at the same time active in the
Ontario Legislature since, for the first five years of
Confederation, no law forbade membership in both federal and
provincial Parliaments, and the short sessions of that blessed
time made such double service feasible. Here he was aided by two
other men of outstanding ability, Edward Blake and Oliver Mowat.
Blake, the son of a well-to-do Irishman who had been active in
the fight for responsible government, became Premier of Ontario
in 1871 but retired in 1872 when a law abolishing dual
representation made it necessary for him to choose between
Toronto and Ottawa. His place was taken by Mowat, who for a
quarter of a century gave the province thrifty, honest, and
conservatively progressive government.

In spite of the growing forces opposed to him Macdonald triumphed
once more in the election of 1872. Ontario fell away, but Quebec
and the Maritime Provinces stood true. A Conservative majority of
thirty or forty seemed to assure Macdonald another five-year
lease of power. Yet within a year the Pacific Scandal had driven
him from office and overwhelmed him in disgrace.

The Pacific Scandal occurred in connection with the financing of
the railway which the Dominion Government had promised British
Columbia, when that province entered Confederation in 1871, would
be built through to the Pacific coast within ten years. The
bargain was good politics but poor business. It was a rash
undertaking for a people of three and a half millions, with a
national revenue of less than twenty million dollars, to pledge
itself to build a railway through the rocky wilderness north of
Lake Superior, through the trackless plains and prairies of the
middle west, and across the mountain ranges that barred the
coast. Yet Macdonald had sufficient faith in the country, in
himself, and in the happy accidents of time--a confidence that
won him the nickname of "Old Tomorrow"--to give the pledge. Then
came the question of ways and means. At first the Government
planned to build the road. On second thoughts, however, it
decided to follow the example set by the United States in the
construction of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific, and to
entrust the work to a private company liberally subsidized with
land and cash. Two companies were organized with a view to
securing the contract, one a Montreal company under Sir Hugh
Allan, the foremost Canadian man of business and the head of the
Allan steamship fleet, and the other a Toronto company under D.
L. Macpherson, who had been concerned in the building of the
Grand Trunk. Their rivalry was intense. After the election of
1872 a strong compromise company was formed, with Allan at the
head, and to this company the contract was awarded.

When Parliament met in 1872, a Liberal member, L. S. Huntington,
made the charge that Allan had really been acting on behalf of
certain American capitalists and that he had made lavish
contributions to the Government campaign fund in the recent
election. In the course of the summer these charges were fully
substantiated. Allan was proved by his own correspondence, stolen
from his solicitor's office, to have spent over $350,000, largely
advanced by his American allies, in buying the favor of
newspapers and politicians. Nearly half of this amount had been
contributed to the Conservative campaign fund, with the knowledge
and at the instance of Cartier and Macdonald. Macdonald, while
unable to disprove the charges, urged that there was no
connection between the contributions and the granting of the
charter. But his defense was not heeded. A wave of indignation
swept the country; his own supporters in Parliament fell away;
and in November, 1873, he resigned. Mackenzie, who was summoned
to form a new Ministry, dissolved Parliament and was sustained by
a majority of two to one.

Mackenzie gave the country honest and efficient administration.
Among his most important achievements were the reform of
elections by the introduction of the secret ballot and the
requirement that elections should be held on a single day instead
of being spread over weeks, a measure of local option in
controlling the liquor traffic, and the establishment of a
Canadian Supreme Court and the Royal Military College--the
Canadian West Point. But fate and his own limitations were
against him. He was too absorbed in the details of administration
to have time for the work of a party leader. In his policy of
constructing the Canadian Pacific as a government road, after
Allan had resigned his charter, he manifested a caution and a
slowness that brought British Columbia to the verge of secession.
But it was chiefly the world-wide depression that began in his
first year of office, 1873, which proved his undoing. Trade was
stagnant, bankruptcies multiplied, and acute suffering occurred
among the poor in the larger cities. Mackenzie had no solution to
offer except patience and economy; and the Opposition were freer
to frame an enticing policy. The country was turning toward a
high tariff as the solution of its ills. Protection had not
hitherto been a party issue in Canada, and it was still uncertain
which party would take it up. Finally Mackenzie, who was an
ardent free trader, and the Nova Scotia wing of his party
triumphed over the protectionists in their own ranks and made a
low tariff the party platform. Macdonald, who had been prepared
to take up free trade if Mackenzie adopted protection, now boldly
urged the high tariff panacea. The promise of work and wages for
all, the appeal to national spirit made by the arguments of
self-sufficiency and fully rounded development, the desire to
retaliate against the United States, which was still deaf to any
plea for more liberal trade relations, swept the country. The
Conservative minority of over sixty was converted into a still
greater majority in the general election of 1878, and the leader
whom all men five years before had considered doomed, returned to
power, never to lose it while life lasted.

The first task of the new Government, in which Tupper was
Macdonald's chief supporter, was to carry out its high tariff
pledges. "Tell us how much protection you want, gentlemen," said
Macdonald to a group of Ontario manufacturers, "and we'll give
you what you need." In the new tariff needs were rated almost as
high as wants. Particularly on textiles, sugar, and iron and
steel products, duties were raised far beyond the old levels and
stimulated investment just as the world-wide depression which had
lasted since 1873 passed away. Canada shared in the recovery and
gave the credit to the well-advertised political patent medicine
taken just before the turn for the better came. For years the
National Policy or "N.P.," as its supporters termed it, had all
the vogue of a popular tonic.

The next task of the Government was to carry through in earnest
the building of the railway to the Pacific. For over a year
Macdonald persisted in Mackenzie's policy of government
construction but with the same slow and unsatisfactory results.
Then an opportunity came to enlist the services of a private
syndicate. Four Canadians, Donald A. Smith, a former Hudson's Bay
Company factor, George Stephen, a leading merchant and banker of
Montreal, James J. Hill and Norman W. Kittson, owners of a small
line of boats on the Red River, had joined forces to revive a
bankrupt Minnesota railway.* They had succeeded beyond all
parallel, and the reconstructed road, which later developed into
the Great Northern, made them all rich overnight. This success
whetted their appetite for further western railway building and
further millions of rich western acres in subsidies. They met
Macdonald and Tupper half way. By the bargain completed in 1881
the Canadian Pacific Railway Company undertook to build and
operate the road from the Ottawa Valley to the Pacific coast, in
return for the gift of the completed portions of the road (on
which the Government spent over $37,000,000), a subsidy of
$25,000,000 in cash, 25,000,000 selected acres of prairie land,
exemption from taxes, exemption from regulation of rates until
ten per cent was earned, and a promise on the part of the
Dominion to charter no western lines connecting with the United
States for twenty years. The terms were lavish and were fiercely
denounced by the Opposition, now under the leadership of Edward
Blake. But the people were too eager for railway expansion to
criticize the terms. The Government was returned to power in 1882
and the contract held.

* See "The Railroad Builders", by John Moody (in "The Chronicles
of America").

The new company was rich in potential resources but weak in
available cash. Neither in New York nor in London could purse
strings be loosened for the purpose of building a road through
what the world considered a barren and Arctic wilderness. But in
the faith and vision of the president, George Stephen, and the
ruthless energy of the general manager, William Van Horne,
American born and trained, the Canadian Pacific had priceless
assets. Aided in critical times by further government loans, they
carried the project through, and by 1886, five years before the
time fixed by their contract, trains were running from Montreal
to Port Moody, opposite Vancouver.

A sudden burst of prosperity followed the building of the road.
Settlers poured into the West by tens of thousands, eastern
investors promoted colonization companies, land values soared,
and speculation gave a fillip to every line of trade. The middle
eighties were years of achievement, of prosperity, and of
confident hope. Then prosperity fled as quickly as it had come.
The West failed to hold its settlers. Farm and factory found
neither markets nor profits. The country was bled white by
emigration. Parliamentary contest and racial feud threatened the
hard-won unity. Canada was passing through its darkest hours.

During this period, political friction was incessant. Canada was
striving to solve in the eighties the difficult question which
besets all federations--the limits between federal and provincial
power. Ontario was the chief champion of provincial rights. The
struggle was intensified by the fact that a Liberal Government
reigned at Toronto and a Conservative Government at Ottawa, as
well as by the keen personal rivalry between Mowat and Macdonald.
In nearly every constitutional duel Mowat triumphed. The accepted
range of the legislative power of the provinces was widened by
the decisions of the courts, particularly of the highest court of
appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England.
The successful resistance of Ontario and Manitoba to Macdonald's
attempt to disallow provincial laws proved this power, though
conferred by the Constitution, to be an unwieldy weapon. By the
middle nineties the veto had been virtually abandoned.

More serious than these political differences was the racial feud
that followed the second Riel Rebellion. For a second time the
Canadian Government failed to show the foresight and the sympathy
required in dealing with an isolated and backward people. The
valley of the Saskatchewan, far northwest of the Red River, was
the scene of the new difficulty. Here thousands of metis, or
French half-breeds, had settled. The passing of the buffalo,
which had been their chief subsistence, and the arrival of
settlers from the East caused them intense alarm. They pressed
the Government for certain grants of land and for the retention
of the old French custom of surveying the land along the river
front in deep narrow strips, rather than according to the
chessboard pattern taken over by Canada from the United States.
Red tape, indifference, procrastination, rather than any illwill,
delayed the redress of the grievances of the half-breeds. In
despair they called Louis Riel back from his exile in Montana.
With his arrival the agitation acquired a new and dangerous
force. Claiming to be the prophet of a new religion, he put
himself at the head of his people and, in the spring of 1885,
raised the flag of revolt. His military adviser, Gabriel Dumont,
an old buffalo hunter, was a natural-born general, and the
half-breeds were good shots and brave fighters. An expedition of
Canadian volunteers was rushed west, and the rebellion was put
down quickly, but not without some hard fighting and gallant
strokes and counterstrokes.

The racial passions roused by this conflict, however, did not
pass so quickly. The fate to be meted out to Riel was the burning
question. Ontario saw in him the murderer of Scott and an
ambitious plotter who had twice stirred up armed rebellion.
Quebec saw in him a man of French blood, persecuted because he
had stood up manfully for the undoubted rights of his kinsmen.
Today experts agree that Riel was insane and should have been
spared the gallows on this if on no other account. But at the
moment the plea of insanity was rejected. The Government made up
for its laxity before the rebellion by severity after it; and in
November, 1885, Riel was sent to the scaffold. Bitterness rankled
in many a French-Canadian heart for long years after; and in
Ontario, where the Orange order was strongly entrenched, a
faction threatened "to smash Confederation into its original
fragments" rather than submit to "French domination."

Racial and religious passions, once aroused, soon found new fuel
to feed upon. Honore Mercier, a brilliant but unscrupulous leader
who had ridden to power in the province of Quebec on the Riel
issue, roused Protestant ire by restoring estates which had been
confiscated at the conquest in 1763 to the Jesuits and other
Roman Catholic authorities, in proportions which the act provided
were to be determined by "Our Holy Father the Pope." In Ontario
restrictions began to be imposed on the freedom of
French-Canadian communities on the border to make French the sole
or dominant tongue in the schoolroom. A little later the
controversy was echoed in Manitoba in the repeal by a determined
Protestant majority of the denominational school privileges
hitherto enjoyed by the Roman Catholic minority.

Economic discontent was widespread. It was a time of low and
falling prices. Farmers found the American market barred, the
British market flooded, the home market stagnant. The factories
stimulated by the "N. P." lacked the growing market they had
hoped for. In the West climatic conditions not yet understood,
the monopoly of the Canadian Pacific, and the competition of the
States to the south, which still had millions of acres of free
land, brought settlement to a standstill. From all parts of
Canada the "exodus" to the United States continued until by 1890
there were in that country more than one-third as many people of
Canadian birth or descent as in Canada itself.

It was not surprising that in these extremities men were prepared
to make trial of drastic remedies. Nor was it surprising that it
was beyond the borders of Canada itself that they sought the
unity and the prosperity they had not found at home. Many looked
to Washington, some for unrestricted trade, a few for political
union. Others looked to London, hoping for a revival of the old
imperial tariff preferences or for some closer political union
which would bring commercial advantages in its train.

The decade from 1885 to 1895 stands out in the record of the
relations of the English-speaking peoples as a time of constant
friction, of petty pin pricks, of bluster and retaliation. The
United States was not in a neighborly mood. The memories of 1776,
of 1812, and of 1861 had been kept green by exuberant comment in
school textbooks and by "spread-eagle" oratory. The absence of
any other rivalry concentrated American opposition on Great
Britain, and isolation from Old World interests encouraged a
provincial lack of responsibility. The sins of England in Ireland
had been kept to the fore by the agitation of Parnell and Davitt
and Dillon; and the failure of Home Rule measures, twice in this
decade, stirred Irish-American antagonism. The accession to power
of Lord Salisbury, reputed to hold the United States in contempt,
and later the foolish indiscretion of Sir Lionel Sackville-West,
British Ambassador at Washington, in intervening in a guileless
way in the presidential election of 1888, did as much to nourish
ill-will in the United States as the dominance of Blaine and
other politicians who cultivated the gentle art of twisting the
tail of the British lion.

Protection, with the attitude of economic warfare which it
involved and bred, was then at its height. Much of this hostility
was directed against Canada, as the nearest British territory.
The Dominion, on its part, while persistently seeking closer
trade relations, sometimes sought this end in unwise ways. Many
good people in Canada were still fighting the War of 1812. The
desire to use the inshore fishery privileges as a lever to force
tariff reductions led to a rigid and literal enforcement of
Canadian rights and claims which provoked widespread anger in New
England. The policy of discrimination in canal tolls in favor of
Canadian as against United States ports was none the less
irritating because it was a retort in kind. And when United
States customs officials levied a tax on the tin cans containing
fish free by treaty, Canadian officials had retaliated by taxing
the baskets containing duty-free peaches.

The most important specific issue was once more the northeastern
fisheries. As a result of notice given by the United States the
fisheries clauses of the Treaty of Washington ceased to operate
on July 1, 1885. Canada, for the sake of peace, admitted American
fishing vessels for the rest of that season, though Canadian fish
at once became dutiable. No further grace was given. The Canadian
authorities rigidly enforced the rules barring inshore fishing,
and in addition denied port privileges to deep-sea fishing
vessels and forbade American boats to enter Canadian ports for
the purpose of trans-shipping crews, purchasing bait, or shipping
fish in bond to the United States. Every time a Canadian fishery
cruiser and a Gloucester skipper had a difference of opinion as
to the exact whereabouts of the three-mile limit, the press of
both countries echoed the conflict. Congress in 1887 empowered
the President to retaliate by excluding Canadian vessels and
goods from American ports. Happily this power was not used.
Cleveland and Secretary of State Bayard were genuinely anxious to
have the issue settled. A joint commission drew up a
well-considered plan, but in the face of a presidential election
the Senate gave it short shrift. Fortunately, however, a modus
vivendi was arranged by which American vessels were admitted to
port privileges on payment of a license. Healing time, a
healthful lack of publicity, changing fishing methods, and
Canada's abandonment of her old policy of using fishing
privileges as a makeweight, gradually eased the friction.

Yet if it was not the fishing question, there was sure to be some
other issue--bonding privileges, Canadian Pacific interloping in
western rail hauls, tariff rates, or canal tolls-to disturb the
peace. Why not seek a remedy once for all, men now began to ask,
by ending the unnatural separation between the halves of the
continent which God and geography had joined and history and
perverse politicians had kept asunder?

The political union of Canada and the United States has always
found advocates. In the United States a large proportion, perhaps
a majority, of the people have until recently considered that the
absorption of Canada into the Republic was its manifest destiny,
though there has been little concerted effort to hasten fate. In
Canada such course of action has found much less backing. United
Empire Loyalist traditions, the ties with Britain constantly
renewed by immigration, the dim stirrings of national sentiment,
resentment against the trade policy of the United States, have
all helped to turn popular sentiment into other channels. Only at
two periods, in 1849, and forty years later, has there been any
active movement for annexation.

In the late eighties, as in the late forties, commercial
depression and racial strife prepared the soil for the seed of
annexation. The chief sower in the later period was a brilliant
Oxford don, Goldwin Smith, whose sympathy with the cause of the
North had brought him to the United States. In 1871, after a
brief residence at Cornell, he made his home in Toronto, with
high hopes of stimulating the intellectual life and molding the
political future of the colony. He so far forsook the strait
"Manchester School" of his upbringing as to support Macdonald's
campaign for protection in 1878. But that was the limit of his
adaptability. To the end he remained out of touch with Canadian
feeling. His campaign for annexation, or for the reunion of the
English-speaking peoples on this continent, as he preferred to
call it, was able and persistent but moved only a narrow circle
of readers. It was in vain that he offered the example of
Scotland's prosperity after her union with her southern neighbor,
or insisted that Canada was cut into four distinct and unrelated
sections each of which could find its natural complement only in
the territory to the south. Here and there an editor or a minor
politician lent some support to his views, but the great mass of
the people strongly condemned the movement. There was to be no
going back to the parting of the ways: the continent north of
Mexico was henceforth to witness two experiments in democracy,
not one unwieldy venture.

Commercial union was a half-way measure which found more favor. A
North American customs union had been supported by such public
men as Stephen A. Douglas, Horace Greeley, and William H. Seward,
by official investigators such as Taylor, Derby, and Larned, and
by committees of the House of Representatives in 1862, 1876,
1880, and 1884. In Canada it had been endorsed before
Confederation by Isaac Buchanan, the father of the protection
movement, and by Luther Holton and John Young. Now for the first
time it became a practical question. Erastus Wiman, a Canadian
who had found fortune in the United States, began in 1887 a
vigorous campaign in its favor both in Congress and among the
Canadian public. Goldwin Smith lent his dubious aid, leading
Toronto and Montreal newspapers joined the movement, and Ontario
farmers' organizations swung to its support. But the agitation
proved abortive owing to the triumph of high protection in the
presidential election of 1888; and in Canada the red herring of
the Jesuits' Estates controversy was drawn across the trail.

Yet the question would not down. The political parties were
compelled to define their attitude. The Liberals had been
defeated once more in the election of 1887, where the continuance
of the National Policy and of aid to the Canadian Pacific had
been the issue. Their leader, Edward Blake, had retired
disheartened. His place had been taken by a young Quebec
lieutenant, Wilfrid Laurier, who had won fame by his courageous
resistance to clerical aggression in his own province and by his
indictment of the Macdonald Government in the Riel issue. A
veteran Ontario Liberal, Sir Richard Cartwright, urged the
adoption of commercial union as the party policy. Laurier would
not go so far, and the policy of unrestricted reciprocity was
made the official programme in 1888. Commercial union had
involved not only absolute free trade between Canada and the
United States but common excise rates, a common tariff against
the rest of the world, and the division of customs and excise
revenues in some agreed proportion. Unrestricted reciprocity
would mean free trade between the two countries, but with each
left free to levy what rates it pleased on the products of other

When in 1891 the time came round once more for a general
election, it was apparent that reciprocity in some form would be
the dominant issue. Though the Republicans were in power in the
United States and though they had more than fulfilled their high
tariff pledges in the McKinley Act, which hit Canadian farm
products particularly hard, there was some chance of terms being
made. Reciprocity, as a form of tariff bargaining, really fits in
better with protection than with free trade, and Blaine,
Harrison's Secretary of State, was committed to a policy of trade
treaties and trade bargaining. In Canada the demand for the
United States market had grown with increasing depression. The
Liberals, with their policy of unrestricted reciprocity, seemed
destined to reap the advantage of this rising tide of feeling.
Then suddenly, on the eve of the election, Sir John Macdonald
sought to cut the ground from under the feet of his opponents by
the announcement that in the course of a discussion of
Newfoundland matters the United States had taken the initiative
in suggesting to Canada a settlement of all outstanding
difficulties, fisheries, coasting trade, and , on the basis of a
renewal and extension of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. This
policy promised to meet all legitimate economic needs of the
country and at the same time avoid the political dangers of the
more sweeping policy. Its force was somewhat weakened by the
denials of Secretary Blaine that he had taken the initiative or
made any definite promises. As the election drew near and
revelations of the annexationist aims of some supporters of the
wider trade policy were made, the Government made the loyalty cry
its strong card. "The old man, the old flag, and the old policy,"
saved the day. In Ontario and Quebec the two parties were evenly
divided, but the West and the Maritime Provinces, the "shreds and
patches of Confederation," as Sir Richard Cartwright, too ironic
and vitriolic in his speech for political success, termed them,
gave the Government a working majority, which was increased in

Again in power, the Government made a formal attempt to carry out
its pledges. Two pilgrimages were made to Washington, but the
negotiators were too far apart to come to terms. With the triumph
of the Democrats in 1899. and the lowering of the tariff on farm
products which followed, there came a temporary improvement in
trade relations. But the tariff reaction and the silver issue


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