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Title: Lord Elgin
Author: Bourinot, John George, Sir, 1837-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Edition De Luxe

Toronto, 1903

[Illustration: "Elgin a Kincardine."]


The late Sir John Bourinot had completed and revised the following
pages some months before his lamented death. The book represents more
satisfactorily, perhaps, than anything else that he has written the
author's breadth of political vision and his concrete mastery of
historical fact. The life of Lord Elgin required to be written by one
possessed of more than ordinary insight into the interesting aspects
of constitutional law. That it has been singularly well presented must
be the conclusion of all who may read this present narrative.


Chapter                                                 Page

   I: EARLY CAREER                                         1

  II: POLITICAL CONDITION IN CANADA                       17

 III: POLITICAL DIFFICULTIES                              41

  IV: THE INDEMNIFICATION ACT                             61


  VI: THE HINCKS-MORIN MINISTRY                          107


VIII: SEIGNIORIAL TENURE                                 171

  IX: CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES                       189

   X: FAREWELL TO CANADA                                 203

  XI: POLITICAL PROGRESS                                 227

 XII: A COMPARISON OF SYSTEMS                            239

      BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE                               269

      INDEX                                              271



The Canadian people have had a varied experience in governors
appointed by the imperial state. At the very commencement of British
rule they were so fortunate as to find at the head of affairs Sir Guy
Carleton--afterwards Lord Dorchester--who saved the country during the
American revolution by his military genius, and also proved himself an
able civil governor in his relations with the French Canadians, then
called "the new subjects," whom he treated in a fair and generous
spirit that did much to make them friendly to British institutions. On
the other hand they have had military men like Sir James Craig,
hospitable, generous, and kind, but at the same time incapable of
understanding colonial conditions and aspirations, ignorant of the
principles and working of representative institutions, and too ready
to apply arbitrary methods to the administration of civil affairs.
Then they have had men who were suddenly drawn from some inconspicuous
position in the parent state, like Sir Francis Bond Head, and allowed
by an apathetic or ignorant colonial office to prove their want of
discretion, tact, and even common sense at a very critical stage of
Canadian affairs. Again there have been governors of the highest rank
in the peerage of England, like the Duke of Richmond, whose
administration was chiefly remarkable for his success in aggravating
national animosities in French Canada, and whose name would now be
quite forgotten were it not for the unhappy circumstances of his
death.[1] Then Canadians have had the good fortune of the presence of
Lord Durham at a time when a most serious state of affairs
imperatively demanded that ripe political knowledge, that cool
judgment, and that capacity to comprehend political grievances which
were confessedly the characteristics of this eminent British
statesman. Happily for Canada he was followed by a keen politician and
an astute economist who, despite his overweening vanity and his
tendency to underrate the ability of "those fellows in the
colonies"--his own words in a letter to England--was well able to
gauge public sentiment accurately and to govern himself accordingly
during his short term of office. Since the confederation of the
provinces there has been a succession of distinguished governors, some
bearing names famous in the history of Great Britain and Ireland, some
bringing to the discharge of their duties a large knowledge of public
business gained in the government of the parent state and her wide
empire, some gifted with a happy faculty of expressing themselves with
ease and elegance, and all equally influenced by an earnest desire to
fill their important position with dignity, impartiality, and

But eminent as have been the services of many of the governors whose
memories are still cherished by the people of Canada, no one among
them stands on a higher plane than James, eighth earl of Elgin and
twelfth earl of Kincardine, whose public career in Canada I propose to
recall in the following narrative. He possessed to a remarkable degree
those qualities of mind and heart which enabled him to cope most
successfully with the racial and political difficulties which met him
at the outset of his administration, during a very critical period of
Canadian history. Animated by the loftiest motives, imbued with a deep
sense of the responsibilities of his office, gifted with a rare power
of eloquent expression, possessed of sound judgment and infinite
discretion, never yielding to dictates of passion but always
determined to be patient and calm at moments of violent public
excitement, conscious of the advantages of compromise and conciliation
in a country peopled like Canada, entering fully into the aspirations
of a young people for self-government, ready to concede to French
Canadians their full share in the public councils, anxious to build up
a Canadian nation without reference to creed or race--this
distinguished nobleman must be always placed by a Canadian historian
in the very front rank of the great administrators happily chosen from
time to time by the imperial state for the government of her dominions
beyond the sea. No governor-general, it is safe to say, has come
nearer to that ideal, described by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, when
secretary of state for the colonies, in a letter to Sir George Bowen,
himself distinguished for the ability with which he presided over the
affairs of several colonial dependencies. "Remember," said Lord
Lytton, to give that eminent author and statesman his later title,
"that the first care of a governor in a free colony is to shun the
reproach of being a party man. Give all parties, and all the
ministries formed, the fairest play.... After all, men are governed as
much by the heart as by the head. Evident sympathy in the progress of
the colony; traits of kindness, generosity, devoted energy, where
required for the public weal; a pure exercise of patronage; an utter
absence of vindictiveness or spite; the fairness that belongs to
magnanimity: these are the qualities that make governors powerful,
while men merely sharp and clever may be weak and detested."

In the following chapters it will be seen that Lord Elgin fulfilled
this ideal, and was able to leave the country in the full confidence
that he had won the respect, admiration, and even affection of all
classes of the Canadian people. He came to the country when there
existed on all sides doubts as to the satisfactory working of the
union of 1840, suspicions as to the sincerity of the imperial
authorities with respect to the concession of responsible government,
a growing antagonism between the two nationalities which then, as
always, divided the province. A very serious economic disturbance was
crippling the whole trade of the country, and made some
persons--happily very few in number--believe for a short time that
independence, or annexation to the neighbouring republic, was
preferable to continued connection with a country which so grudgingly
conceded political rights to the colony, and so ruthlessly overturned
the commercial system on which the province had been so long
dependent. When he left Canada, Lord Elgin knew beyond a shadow of a
doubt that the two nationalities were working harmoniously for the
common advantage of the province, that the principles of responsible
government were firmly established, and that the commercial and
industrial progress of the country was fully on an equality with its
political development.

The man who achieved these magnificent results could claim an ancestry
to which a Scotsman would point with national pride. He could trace
his lineage to the ancient Norman house of which "Robert the Bruce"--a
name ever dear to the Scottish nation--was the most distinguished
member. He was born in London on July 20th, 1811. His father was a
general in the British army, a representative peer in the British
parliament from 1790-1840, and an ambassador to several European
courts; but he is best known to history by the fact that he seriously
crippled his private fortunes by his purchase, while in the East, of
that magnificent collection of Athenian art which was afterwards
bought at half its value by the British government and placed in the
British Museum, where it is still known as the "Elgin Marbles." From
his father, we are told by his biographer,[2] he inherited "the genial
and playful spirit which gave such a charm to his social and parental
relations, and which helped him to elicit from others the knowledge of
which he made so much use in the many diverse situations of his after
life." The deep piety and the varied culture of his mother "made her
admirably qualified to be the depository of the ardent thoughts and
aspirations of his boyhood." At Oxford, where he completed his
education after leaving Eton, he showed that unselfish spirit and
consideration for the feelings of others which were the recognized
traits of his character in after life. Conscious of the unsatisfactory
state of the family's fortunes, he laboured strenuously even in
college to relieve his father as much as possible of the expenses of
his education. While living very much to himself, he never failed to
win the confidence and respect even at this youthful age of all those
who had an opportunity of knowing his independence of thought and
judgment. Among his contemporaries were Mr. Gladstone, afterwards
prime minister; the Duke of Newcastle, who became secretary of state
for the colonies and was chief adviser of the Prince of Wales--now
Edward VII--during his visit to Canada in 1860; and Lord Dalhousie and
Lord Canning, both of whom preceded him in the governor-generalship of
India. In the college debating club he won at once a very
distinguished place. "I well remember," wrote Mr. Gladstone, many
years later, "placing him as to the natural gift of eloquence at the
head of all those I knew either at Eton or at the University." He took
a deep interest in the study of philosophy. In him--to quote the
opinion of his own brother, Sir Frederick Bruce, "the Reason and
Understanding, to use the distinctions of Coleridge, were both largely
developed, and both admirably balanced. ... He set himself to work to
form in his own mind a clear idea of each of the constituent parts of
the problem with which he had to deal. This he effected partly by
reading, but still more by conversation with special men, and by that
extraordinary logical power of mind and penetration which not only
enabled him to get out of every man all he had in him, but which
revealed to these men themselves a knowledge of their own imperfect
and crude conceptions, and made them constantly unwilling witnesses or
reluctant adherents to views which originally they were prepared to
oppose...." The result was that, "in an incredibly short time he
attained an accurate and clear conception of the essential facts
before him, and was thus enabled to strike out a course which he could
consistently pursue amid all difficulties, because it was in harmony
with the actual facts and the permanent conditions of the problem he
had to solve." Here we have the secret of his success in grappling
with the serious and complicated questions which constantly engaged
his attention in the administration of Canadian affairs.

After leaving the university with honour, he passed several years on
the family estate, which he endeavoured to relieve as far as possible
from the financial embarrassment into which it had fallen ever since
his father's extravagant purchase in Greece. In 1840, by the death of
his eldest brother, George, who died unmarried, James became heir to
the earldom, and soon afterwards entered parliament as member for the
borough of Southampton. He claimed then, as always, to be a Liberal
Conservative, because he believed that "the institutions of our
country, religious as well as civil, are wisely adapted, when duly and
faithfully administered, to promote, not the interest of any class or
classes exclusively, but the happiness and welfare of the great body
of the people"; and because he felt that, "on the maintenance of these
institutions, not only the economical prosperity of England, but, what
is yet more important, the virtues that distinguish and adorn the
English character, under God, mainly depend."

During the two years Lord Elgin remained in the House of Commons he
gave evidence to satisfy his friends that he possessed to an eminent
degree the qualities which promised him a brilliant career in British
politics. Happily for the administration of the affairs of Britain's
colonial empire, he was induced by Lord Stanley, then secretary of
state for the colonies, to surrender his prospects in parliament and
accept the governorship of Jamaica. No doubt he was largely influenced
to take this position by the conviction that he would be able to
relieve his father's property from the pressure necessarily entailed
upon it while he remained in the expensive field of national politics.
On his way to Jamaica he was shipwrecked, and his wife, a daughter of
Mr. Charles Cumming Bruce, M.P., of Dunphail, Stirling, suffered a
shock which so seriously impaired her health that she died a few
months after her arrival in the island when she had given birth to a
daughter.[3] His administration of the government of Jamaica was
distinguished by a strong desire to act discreetly and justly at a
time when the economic conditions of the island were still seriously
disturbed by the emancipation of the negroes. Planter and black alike
found in him a true friend and sympathizer. He recognized the
necessity of improving the methods of agriculture, and did much by the
establishment of agricultural societies to spread knowledge among the
ignorant blacks, as well as to create a spirit of emulation among the
landlords, who were still sullen and apathetic, requiring much
persuasion to adapt themselves to the new order of things, and make
efforts to stimulate skilled labour among the coloured population whom
they still despised. Then, as always in his career, he was animated by
the noble impulse to administer public affairs with a sole regard to
the public interests, irrespective of class or creed, to elevate men
to a higher conception of their public duties. "To reconcile the
planter"--I quote from one of his letters to Lord Stanley--"to the
heavy burdens which he was called to bear for the improvement of our
establishments and the benefit of the mass of the population, it was
necessary to persuade him that he had an interest in raising the
standard of education and morals among the peasantry; and this belief
could be imparted only by inspiring a taste for a more artificial
system of husbandry." "By the silent operation of such salutary
convictions," he added, "prejudices of old standing are removed; the
friends of the negro and of the proprietary classes find themselves
almost unconsciously acting in concert, and conspiring to complete
that great and holy work of which the emancipation of the slave was
but the commencement."

At this time the relations between the island and the home governments
were always in a very strained condition on account of the difficulty
of making the colonial office fully sensible of the financial
embarrassment caused by the upheaval of the labour and social systems,
and of the wisest methods of assisting the colony in its straits. As
it too often happened in those old times of colonial rule, the home
government could with difficulty be brought to understand that the
economic principles which might satisfy the state of affairs in Great
Britain could not be hastily and arbitrarily applied to a country
suffering under peculiar difficulties. The same unintelligent spirit
which forced taxation on the thirteen colonies, which complicated
difficulties in the Canadas before the rebellion of 1837, seemed for
the moment likely to prevail, as soon as the legislature of Jamaica
passed a tariff framed naturally with regard to conditions existing
when the receipts and expenditures could not be equalized, and the
financial situation could not be relieved from its extreme tension in
any other way than by the imposition of duties which happened to be in
antagonism with the principles then favoured by the imperial
government. At this critical juncture Lord Elgin successfully
interposed between the colonial office and the island legislature, and
obtained permission for the latter to manage this affair in its own
way. He recognized the fact, obvious enough to any one conversant with
the affairs of the island, that the tariff in question was absolutely
necessary to relieve it from financial ruin, and that any strenuous
interference with the right of the assembly to control its own taxes
and expenses would only tend to create complications in the government
and the relations with the parent state. He was convinced, as he wrote
to the colonial office, that an indispensable condition of his
usefulness as a governor was "a just appreciation of the difficulties
with which the legislature of the island had yet to contend, and of
the sacrifices and exertions already made under the pressure of no
ordinary embarrassments."

Here we see Lord Elgin, at the very commencement of his career as a
colonial governor, fully alive to the economic, social, and political
conditions of the country, and anxious to give its people every
legitimate opportunity to carry out those measures which they
believed, with a full knowledge and experience of their own affairs,
were best calculated to promote their own interests. We shall see
later that it was in exactly the same spirit that he administered
Canadian questions of much more serious import.

Though his government in Jamaica was in every sense a success, he
decided not to remain any longer than three years, and so wrote in
1845 to Lord Stanley. Despite his earnest efforts to identify himself
with the island's interests, he had led on the whole a retired and sad
life after the death of his wife. He naturally felt a desire to seek
the congenial and sympathetic society of friends across the sea, and
perhaps return to the active public life for which he was in so many
respects well qualified. In offering his resignation to the colonial
secretary he was able to say that the period of his administration had
been "one of considerable social progress"; that "uninterrupted
harmony" had "prevailed between the colonists and the local
government"; that "the spirit of enterprise" which had proceeded from
Jamaica for two years had "enabled the British West Indian colonies to
endure with comparative fortitude, apprehensions and difficulties
which otherwise might have depressed them beyond measure."

It was not, however, until the spring of 1846 that Lord Elgin was able
to return on leave of absence to England, where the seals of office
were now held by a Liberal administration, in which Lord Grey was
colonial secretary. Although his political opinions differed from
those of the party in power, he was offered the governor-generalship
of Canada when he declined to go back to Jamaica. No doubt at this
juncture the British ministry recognized the absolute necessity that
existed for removing all political grievances that arose from the
tardy concession of responsible government since the death of Lord
Sydenham, and for allaying as far as possible the discontent that
generally prevailed against the new fiscal policy of the parent state,
which had so seriously paralyzed Canadian industries. It was a happy
day for Canada when Lord Elgin accepted this gracious offer of his
political opponents, who undoubtedly recognized in him the possession
of qualities which would enable him successfully, in all probability,
to grapple with the perplexing problems which embarrassed public
affairs in the province. He felt (to quote his own language at a
public dinner given to him just before his departure for Canada) that
he undertook no slight responsibilities when he promised "to watch
over the interests of those great offshoots of the British race which
plant themselves in distant lands, to aid them in their efforts to
extend the domain of civilization, and to fulfill the first behest of
a benevolent Creator to His intelligent creatures--'subdue the earth';
to abet the generous endeavour to impart to these rising communities
the full advantages of British laws, British institutions, and British
freedom; to assist them in maintaining unimpaired--it may be in
strengthening and confirming--those bonds of mutual affection which
unite the parent and dependent states."

Before his departure for the scene of his labours in America, he
married Lady Mary Louisa Lambton, daughter of the Earl of Durham,
whose short career in Canada as governor-general and high commissioner
after the rebellion of 1837 had such a remarkable influence on the
political conditions of the country. Whilst we cannot attach too much
importance to the sage advice embodied in that great state paper on
Canadian affairs which was the result of his mission to Canada, we
cannot fail at the same time to see that the full vindication of the
sound principles laid down in that admirable report is to be found in
the complete success of their application by Lord Elgin. The minds of
both these statesmen ran in the same direction. They desired to give
adequate play to the legitimate aspirations of the Canadian people for
that measure of self-government which must stimulate an independence
of thought and action among colonial public men, and at the same time
strengthen the ties between the parent state and the dependency by
creating that harmony and confidence which otherwise could not exist
in the relations between them. But while there is little doubt that
Lord Elgin would under any circumstances have been animated by a deep
desire to establish the principles of responsible government in
Canada, this desire must have been more or less stimulated by the
tender ties which bound him to the daughter of a statesman whose
opinions where so entirely in harmony with his own. In Lord Elgin's
temperament there was always a mingling of sentiment and reason, as
may be seen by reference to his finest exhibitions of eloquence. We
can well believe that a deep reverence for the memory of a great man,
too soon removed from the public life of Great Britain, combined with
the natural desire to please his daughter when he wrote these words to

     "I still adhere to my opinion that the real and effectual
     vindication of Lord Durham's memory and proceedings will be
     the success of a governor-general of Canada who works out
     his views of government fairly. Depend upon it, if this
     country is governed for a few years satisfactorily, Lord
     Durham's reputation as a statesman will be raised beyond the
     reach of cavil."

Now, more than half a century after he penned these words and
expressed this hope, we all perceive that Lord Elgin was the
instrument to carry out this work.

Here it is necessary to close this very brief sketch of Lord Elgin's
early career, that I may give an account of the political and economic
conditions of the dependency at the end of January, 1847, when he
arrived in the city of Montreal to assume the responsibilities of his
office. This review will show the difficulties of the political
situation with which he was called upon to cope, and will enable us to
obtain an insight into the high qualifications which he brought to the
conduct of public affairs in the Canadas.



To understand clearly the political state of Canada at the time Lord
Elgin was appointed governor-general, it is necessary to go back for a
number of years. The unfortunate rebellions which were precipitated by
Louis Joseph Papineau and William Lyon Mackenzie during 1837 in the
two Canadas were the results of racial and political difficulties
which had gradually arisen since the organization of the two provinces
of Upper and Lower Canada under the Constitutional Act of 1791. In the
French section, the French and English Canadians--the latter always an
insignificant minority as respects number--had in the course of time
formed distinct parties. As in the courts of law and in the
legislature, so it was in social and everyday life, the French
Canadian was in direct antagonism to the English Canadian. Many
members of the official and governing class, composed almost
exclusively of English, were still too ready to consider French
Canadians as inferior beings, and not entitled to the same rights and
privileges in the government of the country. It was a time of passion
and declamation, when men of fervent eloquence, like Papineau, might
have aroused the French as one man, and brought about a general
rebellion had they not been ultimately thwarted by the efforts of the
moderate leaders of public opinion, especially of the priests who, in
all national crises in Canada, have happily intervened on the side of
reason and moderation, and in the interests of British connection,
which they have always felt to be favourable to the continuance and
security of their religious institutions. Lord Durham, in his
memorable report on the condition of Canada, has summed up very
expressively the nature of the conflict in the French province. "I
expected," he said, "to find a contest between a government and a
people; I found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state; I
found a struggle, not of principles, but of races."

While racial antagonisms intensified the difficulties in French
Canada, there existed in all the provinces political conditions which
arose from the imperfect nature of the constitutional system conceded
by England in 1791, and which kept the country in a constant ferment.
It was a mockery to tell British subjects conversant with British
institutions, as Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe told the Upper Canadians
in 1792, that their new system of government was "an image and
transcript of the British constitution." While it gave to the people
representative institutions, it left out the very principle which was
necessary to make them work harmoniously--a government responsible to
the legislature, and to the people in the last resort, for the conduct
of legislation and the administration of affairs. In consequence of
the absence of this vital principle, the machinery of government
became clogged, and political strife convulsed the country from one
end to the other. An "irrepressible conflict" arose between the
government and the governed classes, especially in Lower Canada. The
people who in the days of the French régime were without influence and
power, had gained under their new system, defective as it was in
essential respects, an insight into the operation of representative
government, as understood in England. They found they were governed,
not by men responsible to the legislature and the people, but by
governors and officials who controlled both the executive and
legislative councils. If there had always been wise and patient
governors at the head of affairs, or if the imperial authorities could
always have been made aware of the importance of the grievances laid
before them, or had understood their exact character, the differences
between the government and the majority of the people's
representatives might have been arranged satisfactorily. But,
unhappily, military governors like Sir James Craig only aggravated the
dangers of the situation, and gave demagogues new opportunities for
exciting the people. The imperial authorities, as a rule, were
sincerely desirous of meeting the wishes of the people in a reasonable
and fair spirit, but unfortunately for the country, they were too
often ill-advised and ill-informed in those days of slow
communication, and the fire of public discontent was allowed to
smoulder until it burst forth in a dangerous form.

In all the provinces, but especially in Lower Canada, the people saw
their representatives practically ignored by the governing body, their
money expended without the authority of the legislature, and the
country governed by irresponsible officials. A system which gave
little or no weight to public opinion as represented in the House of
Assembly, was necessarily imperfect and unstable, and the natural
result was a deadlock between the legislative council, controlled by
the official and governing class, and the house elected by the people.
The governors necessarily took the side of the men whom they had
themselves appointed, and with whom they were acting. In the maritime
provinces in the course of time, the governors made an attempt now and
then to conciliate the popular element by bringing in men who had
influence in the assembly, but this was a matter entirely within their
own discretion. The system of government as a whole was worked in
direct contravention of the principle of responsibility to the
majority in the popular house. Political agitators had abundant
opportunities for exciting popular passion. In Lower Canada, Papineau,
an eloquent but impulsive man, having rather the qualities of an
agitator than those of a statesman, led the majority of his

For years he contended for a legislative council elected by the
people: and it is curious to note that none of the men who were at the
head of the popular party in Lower Canada ever recognized the fact, as
did their contemporaries in Upper Canada, that the difficulty would be
best solved, not by electing an upper house, but by obtaining an
executive which would only hold office while supported by a majority
of the representatives in the people's house. In Upper Canada the
radical section of the Liberal party was led by Mr. William Lyon
Mackenzie, who fought vigorously against what was generally known as
the "Family Compact," which occupied all the public offices and
controlled the government.

In the two provinces these two men at last precipitated a rebellion,
in which blood was shed and much property destroyed, but which never
reached any very extensive proportions. In the maritime provinces,
however, where the public grievances were of less magnitude, the
people showed no sympathy whatever with the rebellious elements of the
upper provinces.

Amid the gloom that overhung Canada in those times there was one gleam
of sunshine for England. Although discontent and dissatisfaction
prevailed among the people on account of the manner in which the
government was administered, and of the attempts of the minority to
engross all power and influence, there was still a sentiment in favour
of British connection, and the annexationists were relatively few in
number. Even Sir Francis Bond Head--in no respect a man of
sagacity--understood this well when he depended on the militia to
crush the outbreak in the upper province; and Joseph Howe, the eminent
leader of the popular party, uniformly asserted that the people of
Nova Scotia were determined to preserve the integrity of the empire at
all hazards. As a matter of fact, the majority of leading men, outside
of the minority led by Papineau, Nelson and Mackenzie, had a
conviction that England was animated by a desire to act considerately
with the provinces and that little good would come from precipitating
a conflict which could only add to the public misfortunes, and that
the true remedy was to be found in constitutional methods of redress
for the political grievances which undoubtedly existed throughout
British North America.

The most important clauses of the Union Act, which was passed by the
imperial parliament in 1840 but did not come into effect until
February of the following year, made provision for a legislative
assembly in which each section of the united provinces was represented
by an equal number of members--forty-two for each and eighty-four for
both; for the use of the English language alone in the written or
printed proceedings of the legislature; for the placing of the public
indebtedness of the two provinces at the union as a first charge on
the revenues of the united provinces; for a two-thirds vote of the
members of each House before any change could be made in the
representation. These enactments, excepting the last which proved
eventually to be in their interest, were resented by the French
Canadians as clearly intended to place them in a position of
inferiority to the English Canadians. Indeed it was with natural
indignation they read that portion of Lord Durham's report which
expressed the opinion that it was necessary to unite the two races on
terms which would give the domination to the English. "Without
effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly," he wrote, "as to shock
the feelings or to trample on the welfare of the existing generation,
it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British
government to establish an English population, with English laws and
language, in this province, and to trust its government to none but a
decidedly English legislature."

French Canadians dwelt with emphasis on the feet that their province
had a population of 630,000 souls, or 160,000 more than Upper Canada,
and nevertheless received only the same number of representatives.
French Canada had been quite free from the financial embarrassment
which had brought Upper Canada to the verge of bankruptcy before the
union; in fact the former had actually a considerable surplus when its
old constitution was revoked on the outbreak of the rebellion. It was,
consequently, with some reason, considered an act of injustice to make
the people of French Canada pay the debts of a province whose revenue
had not for years met its liabilities. Then, to add to these decided
grievances, there was a proscription of the French language, which was
naturally resented as a flagrant insult to the race which first
settled the valley of the St. Lawrence, and as the first blow levelled
against the special institutions so dear to French Canadians and
guaranteed by the Treaty of Paris and the Quebec Act. Mr. LaFontaine,
whose name will frequently occur in the following chapters of this
book, declared, when he presented himself at the first election under
the Union Act, that "it was an act of injustice and despotism"; but,
as we shall soon see, he became a prime minister under the very act he
first condemned. Like the majority of his compatriots, he eventually
found in its provisions protection for the rights of the people, and
became perfectly satisfied with a system of government which enabled
them to obtain their proper position in the public councils and
restore their language to its legitimate place in the legislature.

But without the complete grant of responsible government it would
never have been possible to give to French Canadians their legitimate
influence in the administration and legislation of the country, or to
reconcile the differences which had grown up between the two
nationalities before the union and seemed likely to be perpetuated by
the conditions of the Union Act just stated. Lord Durham touched the
weakest spot in the old constitutional system of the Canadian
provinces when he said that it was not "possible to secure harmony in
any other way than by administering the government on those principles
which have been found perfectly efficacious in Great Britain." He
would not "impair a single prerogative of the crown"; on the contrary
he believed "that the interests of the people of these provinces
require the protection of prerogatives which have not hitherto been
exercised." But he recognized the fact as a constitutional statesman
that "the crown must, on the other hand, submit to the necessary
consequences of representative institutions; and if it has to carry on
the government in unison with a representative body, it must consent
to carry it on by means of those in whom that representative body has
confidence." He found it impossible "to understand how any English
statesman could have ever imagined that representative and
irresponsible government could be successfully combined." To suppose
that such a system would work well there "implied a belief that French
Canadians have enjoyed representative institutions for half a century
without acquiring any of the characteristics of a free people; that
Englishmen renounce every political opinion and feeling when they
enter a colony, or that the spirit of Anglo-Saxon freedom is utterly
changed and weakened among those who are transplanted across the

No one who studies carefully the history of responsible government
from the appearance of Lord Durham's report and Lord John Russell's
despatches of 1839 until the coming of Lord Elgin to Canada in 1847,
can fail to see that there was always a doubt in the minds of the
imperial authorities--a doubt more than once actually expressed in the
instructions to the governors--whether it was possible to work the new
system on the basis of a governor directly responsible to the parent
state and at the same time acting under the advice of ministers
directly responsible to the colonial parliament. Lord John Russell had
been compelled to recognize the fact that it was not possible to
govern Canada by the old methods of administration--that it was
necessary to adopt a new colonial policy which would give a larger
measure of political freedom to the people and ensure greater harmony
between the executive government and the popular assemblies. Mr.
Poulett Thomson, afterwards Lord Sydenham, was appointed
governor-general with the definite objects of completing the union of
the Canadas and inaugurating a more liberal system of colonial
administration. As he informed the legislature of Upper Canada
immediately after his arrival, in his anxiety to obtain its consent to
the union, he had received "Her Majesty's commands to administer the
government of these provinces in accordance with the well understood
wishes and interests of the people." When the legislature of the
united provinces met for the first time, he communicated two
despatches in which the colonial secretary stated emphatically that,
"Her Majesty had no desire to maintain any system or policy among her
North American subjects which opinion condemns," and that there was
"no surer way of gaining the approbation of the Queen than by
maintaining the harmony of the executive with the legislative
authorities." The governor-general was instructed, in order "to
maintain the utmost possible harmony," to call to his councils and to
employ in the public service "those persons who, by their position and
character, have obtained the general confidence and esteem of the
inhabitants of the province." He wished it to be generally made known
by the governor-general that thereafter certain heads of departments
would be called upon "to retire from the public service as often as
any sufficient motives of public policy might suggest the expediency
of that measure." It appears, however, that there was always a
reservation in the minds of the colonial secretary and of governors
who preceded Lord Elgin as to the meaning of responsible government
and the methods of carrying it out in a colony dependent on the crown.
Lord Sydenham himself believed that the council should be one "for the
governor to consult and no more"; that the governor could "not be
responsible to the government at home and also to the legislature of
the province," for if it were so "then all colonial government becomes
impossible." The governor, in his opinion, "must therefore be the
minister [i.e., the colonial secretary], in which case he cannot be
under control of men in the colony." But it was soon made clear to so
astute a politician as Lord Sydenham that, whatever were his own views
as to the meaning that should be attached to responsible government,
he must yield as far as possible to the strong sentiment which
prevailed in the country in favour of making the ministry dependent on
the legislature for its continuance in office. The resolutions passed
by the legislature in support of responsible government were
understood to have his approval. They differed very little in
words--in essential principle not at all--from those first introduced
by Mr. Baldwin. The inference to be drawn from the political situation
of that time is that the governor's friends in the council thought it
advisable to gain all possible credit with the public in connection
with the all-absorbing question of the day, and accordingly brought in
the following resolutions in amendment to those presented by the
Liberal chief:--

     "1. That the head of the executive government of the
     province, being within the limits of his government the
     representative of the sovereign, is responsible to the
     imperial authority alone, but that nevertheless the
     management of our local affairs can only be conducted by him
     with the assistance, counsel, and information of subordinate
     officers in the province.

     "2. That in order to preserve between the different branches
     of the provincial parliament that harmony which is essential
     to the peace, welfare, and good government of the province,
     the chief advisers of the representative of the sovereign,
     constituting a provincial administration under him, ought to
     be men possessed of the confidence of the representatives of
     the people; thus affording a guarantee that the
     well-understood wishes and interests of the people--which
     our gracious sovereign has declared shall be the rule of the
     provincial government--will on all occasions be faithfully
     represented and advocated.

     "3. That the people of this province have, moreover, the
     right to expect from such provincial administration the
     exercise of their best endeavours, that the imperial
     authority, within its constitutional limits, shall be
     exercised in the manner most consistent with their
     well-understood wishes and interests."

It is quite possible that had Lord Sydenham lived to complete his term
of office, the serious difficulties that afterwards arose in the
practice of responsible government would not have occurred. Gifted
with a clear insight into political conditions and a thorough
knowledge of the working of representative institutions, he would have
understood that if parliamentary government was ever to be introduced
into the colony it must be not in a half-hearted way, or with such
reservations as he had had in his mind when he first came to the
province. Amid the regret of all parties he died from the effects of a
fall from his horse a few months after the inauguration of the union,
and was succeeded by Sir Charles Bagot, who distinguished himself in a
short administration of two years by the conciliatory spirit which he
showed to the French Canadians, even at the risk of offending the
ultra loyalists who seemed to think, for some years after the union,
that they alone were entitled to govern the dependency.

The first ministry after that change was composed of Conservatives and
moderate Liberals, but it was soon entirely controlled by the former,
and never had the confidence of Mr. Baldwin. That eminent statesman
had been a member of this administration at the time of the union, but
he resigned on the ground that it ought to be reconstructed if it was
to represent the true sentiment of the country at large. When Sir
Charles Bagot became governor the Conservatives were very sanguine
that they would soon obtain exclusive control of the government, as he
was known to be a supporter of the Conservative party in England. It
was not long, however, before it was evident that his administration
would be conducted, not in the interests of any set of politicians,
but on principles of compromise and justice to all political parties,
and, above all, with the hope of conciliating the French Canadians and
bringing them into harmony with the new conditions. One of his first
acts was the appointment of an eminent French Canadian, M. Vallières
de Saint-Réal, to the chief-justiceship of Montreal. Other
appointments of able French Canadians to prominent public positions
evoked the ire of the Tories, then led by the Sherwoods and Sir Allan
MacNab, who had taken a conspicuous part in putting down the rebellion
of 1837-8. Sir Charles Bagot, however, persevered in his policy of
attempting to stifle racial prejudices and to work out the principles
of responsible government on broad national lines. He appointed an
able Liberal and master of finance, Mr. Francis Hincks, to the
position of inspector-general with a seat in the cabinet. The
influence of the French Canadians in parliament was now steadily
increasing, and even strong Conservatives like Mr. Draper were forced
to acknowledge that it was not possible to govern the province
on the principle that they were an inferior and subject people,
whose representatives could not be safely entrusted with any
responsibilities as ministers of the crown. Negotiations for the
entrance of prominent French Canadians in opposition to the government
went on without result for some time, but they were at last
successful, and the first LaFontaine-Baldwin cabinet came into
existence in 1842, largely through the instrumentality of Sir Charles
Bagot. Mr. Baldwin was a statesman whose greatest desire was the
success of responsible government without a single reservation. Mr.
LaFontaine was a French Canadian who had wisely recognized the
necessity of accepting the union he had at first opposed, and of
making responsible government an instrument for the advancement of the
interests of his compatriots and of bringing them into unison with all
nationalities for the promotion of the common good. The other
prominent French Canadian in the ministry was Mr. A.N. Morin, who
possessed the confidence and respect of his people, but was wanting in
the energy and ability to initiate and press public measures which his
leader possessed.

The new administration had not been long in office when the
governor-general fell a victim to an attack of dropsy, complicated by
heart disease, and was succeeded by Sir Charles Metcalfe, who had held
prominent official positions in India, and was governor of Jamaica
previous to Lord Elgin's appointment. No one who has studied his
character can doubt the honesty of his motives or his amiable
qualities, but his political education in India and Jamaica rendered
him in many ways incapable of understanding the political conditions
of a country like Canada, where the people were determined to work out
the system of parliamentary government on strictly British principles.
He could have obtained little assistance from British statesmen had he
been desirous of mastering and applying the principles of responsible
government to the dependency. Their opinions and instructions were
still distinguished by a perplexing vagueness. They would not believe
that a governor of a dependency could occupy exactly the same relation
with respect to his responsible advisers and to political parties as
is occupied with such admirable results by the sovereign of England.
It was considered necessary that a governor should make himself as
powerful a factor as possible in the administration of public
affairs--that he should be practically the prime minister,
responsible, not directly to the colonial legislature, but to the
imperial government, whose servant he was and to whom he should
constantly refer for advice and assistance whenever in his opinion the
occasion arose. In other words it was almost impossible to remove from
the mind of any British statesman, certainly not from the colonial
office of those days, the idea that parliamentary government meant one
thing in England and the reverse in the colonies, that Englishmen at
home could be entrusted with a responsibility which it was inexpedient
to allow to Englishmen or Frenchmen across the sea. The colonial
office was still reluctant to give up complete control of the local
administration of the province, and wished to retain a veto by means
of the governor, who considered official favour more desirable than
the approval of any colonial legislature. More or less imbued with
such views, Sir Charles Metcalfe was bound to come into conflict with
LaFontaine and Baldwin, who had studied deeply the principles and
practice of parliamentary government, and knew perfectly well that
they could be carried out only by following the precedents established
in the parent state.

It was not long before the rupture came between men holding views so
diametrically opposed to each other with respect to the conduct of
government. The governor-general decided not to distribute the
patronage of the crown under the advice of his responsible ministry,
as was, of necessity, the constitutional practice in England, but to
ignore the latter, as he boldly declared, whenever he deemed it
expedient. "I wish," he wrote to the colonial secretary, "to make the
patronage of the government conducive to the conciliation of all
parties by bringing into the public service men of the greatest merit
and efficiency without any party distinction." These were noble
sentiments, sound in theory, but entirely incompatible with the
operation of responsible government. If patronage is to be properly
exercised in the interests of the people at large, it must be done by
men who are directly responsible to the representatives of the people.
If a governor-general is to make appointments without reference to his
advisers, he must be more or less subject to party criticism, without
having the advantage of defending himself in the legislature, or of
having men duly authorized by constitutional usage to do so. The
revival of that personal government which had evoked so much political
rancour, and brought governors into the arena of party strife before
the rebellion, was the natural result of the obstinate and
unconstitutional attitude assumed by Lord Metcalfe with respect to
appointments to office and other matters of administration.

All the members of the LaFontaine-Baldwin government, with the
exception of Mr. Dominick Daly, resigned in consequence of the
governor's action. Mr. Daly had no special party proclivities, and
found it to his personal interests to remain his Excellency's sole
adviser. Practically the province was without an administration for
many months, and when, at last, the governor-general was forced by
public opinion to show a measure of respect for constitutional methods
of government, he succeeded after most strenuous efforts in forming a
Conservative cabinet, in which Mr. Draper was the only man of
conspicuous ability. The French Canadians were represented by Mr.
Viger and Mr. Denis B. Papineau, a brother of the famous rebel,
neither of whom had any real influence or strength in Lower Canada,
where the people recognized LaFontaine as their true leader and ablest
public man. In the general election which soon followed the
reconstruction of the government, it was sustained by a small
majority, won only by the most unblushing bribery, by bitter appeals
to national passion, and by the personal influence of the
governor-general, as was the election which immediately preceded the
rising in Upper Canada. In later years, Lord Grey[4] remarked that
this success was "dearly purchased, by the circumstance that the
parliamentary opposition was no longer directed against the advisers
of the governor but against the governor himself, and the British
government, of which he was the organ." The majority of the government
was obtained from Upper Canada, where a large body of people were
misled by appeals made to their loyalty and attachment to the crown,
and where a large number of Methodists were influenced by the
extraordinary action of the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, a son of a United
Empire Loyalist, who defended the position of the governor-general,
and showed how imperfectly he understood the principles and practice
of responsible government. In a life of Sir Charles Metcalfe,[5] which
appeared shortly after his death, it is stated that the
governor-general "could not disguise from himself that the government
was not strong, that it was continually on the brink of defeat, and
that it was only enabled to hold its position by resorting to shifts
and expedients, or what are called tactics, which in his inmost soul
Lord Metcalfe abhorred."

The action of the British ministry during this crisis in Canadian
affairs proved quite conclusively that it was not yet prepared to
concede responsible government in its fullest sense. Both Lord
Stanley, then secretary of state for the colonies, and Lord John
Russell, who had held the same office in a Whig administration,
endorsed the action of the governor-general, who was raised to the
peerage under the title of Baron Metcalfe of Fernhill, in the county
of Berks. Earthly honours were now of little avail to the new peer. He
had been a martyr for years to a cancer in the face, and when it
assumed a most dangerous form he went back to England and died soon
after his return. So strong was the feeling against him among a large
body of the people, especially in French Canada, that he was bitterly
assailed until the hour when he left, a dying man. Personally he was
generous and charitable to a fault, but he should never have been sent
to a colony at a crisis when the call was for a man versed in the
practice of parliamentary government, and able to sympathize with the
aspirations of a people determined to enjoy political freedom in
accordance with the principles of the parliamentary institutions of
England. With a remarkable ignorance of the political conditions of
the province--too often shown by British statesmen in those days--so
great a historian and parliamentarian as Lord Macaulay actually wrote
on a tablet to Lord Metcalfe's memory:--"In Canada, not yet recovered
from the calamities of civil war, he reconciled contending factions to
each other and to the mother country." The truth is, as written by Sir
Francis Hincks[6] fifty years later, "he embittered the party feeling
that had been considerably assuaged by Sir Charles Bagot."

Lord Metcalfe was succeeded by Lord Cathcart, a military man, who was
chosen because of the threatening aspect of the relations between
England and the United States on the question of the Oregon boundary.
During his short term of office he did not directly interfere in
politics, but carefully studied the defence of the country and quietly
made preparations for a rupture with the neighbouring republic. The
result of his judicious action was the disappearance of much of the
political bitterness which had existed during Lord Metcalfe's
administration. The country, indeed, had to face issues of vital
importance to its material progress. Industry and commerce were
seriously affected by the adoption of free trade in England, and the
consequent removal of duties which had given a preference in the
British markets to Canadian wheat, flour, and other commodities. The
effect upon the trade of the province would not have been so serious
had England at this time repealed the old navigation laws which closed
the St. Lawrence to foreign shipping and prevented the extension of
commerce to other markets. Such a course might have immediately
compensated Canadians for the loss of those of the motherland. The
anxiety that was generally felt by Canadians on the reversal of the
British commercial policy under which they had been able to build up a
very profitable trade, was shown in the language of a very largely
signed address from the assembly to the Queen. "We cannot but fear,"
it was stated in this document, "that the abandonment of the
protective principle, the very basis of the colonial commercial
system, is not only calculated to retard the agricultural improvement
of the country and check its hitherto rising prosperity, but seriously
to impair our ability to purchase the manufactured goods of Great
Britain--a result alike prejudicial to this country and the parent
state." But this appeal to the selfishness of British manufacturers
had no influence on British statesmen so far as their fiscal policy
was concerned. But while they were not prepared to depart in any
measure from the principles of free trade and give the colonies a
preference in British markets over foreign countries, they became
conscious that the time had come for removing, as far as possible, all
causes of public discontent in the provinces, at this critical period
of commercial depression. British statesmen had suddenly awakened to
the mistakes of Lord Metcalfe's administration of Canadian affairs,
and decided to pursue a policy towards Canada which would restore
confidence in the good faith and justice of the imperial government.
"The Queen's representative"--this is a citation from a London
paper[7] supporting the Whig government--"should not assume that he
degrades the crown by following in a colony with a constitutional
government the example of the crown at home. Responsible government
has been conceded to Canada, and should be attended in its workings
with all the consequences of responsible government in the mother
country. What the Queen cannot do in England the governor-general
should not be permitted to do in Canada. In making imperial
appointments she is bound to consult her cabinet; in making provincial
appointments the governor-general should be bound to do the same."

The Oregon dispute had been settled, like the question of the Maine
boundary, without any regard to British interests in America, and it
was now deemed expedient to replace Lord Cathcart by a civil governor,
who would be able to carry out, in the valley of the St. Lawrence, the
new policy of the colonial office, and strengthen the ties between the
province and the parent state.

As I have previously stated, Lord John Russell's ministry made a wise
choice in the person of Lord Elgin. In the following pages I shall
endeavour to show how fully were realized the high expectations of
those British statesmen who sent him across the Atlantic at this
critical epoch in the political and industrial conditions of the
Canadian dependency.



Lord Elgin made a most favourable impression on the public opinion of
Canada from the first hour he arrived in Montreal, and had
opportunities of meeting and addressing the people. His genial manner,
his ready speech, his knowledge of the two languages, his obvious
desire to understand thoroughly the condition of the country and to
pursue British methods of constitutional government, were all
calculated to attract the confidence of all nationalities, classes,
and creeds. The supporters of responsible government heard with
infinite pleasure the enunciation of the principles which would guide
him in the discharge of his public duties. "I am sensible," he said in
answer to a Montreal address, "that I shall but maintain the
prerogative of the Crown, and most effectually carry out the
instructions with which Her Majesty has honoured me, by manifesting a
due regard for the wishes and feelings of the people and by seeking
the advice and assistance of those who enjoy their confidence."

At this time the Draper Conservative ministry, formed under such
peculiar circumstances by Lord Metcalfe, was still in office, and Lord
Elgin, as in duty bound, gave it his support, although it was clear to
him and to all other persons at all conversant with public opinion
that it did not enjoy the confidence of the country at large, and must
soon give place to an administration more worthy of popular favour. He
recognized the fact that the crucial weakness in the political
situation was "that a Conservative government meant a government of
Upper Canadians, which is intolerable to the French, and a Radical
government meant a government of French, which is no less hateful to
the British." He believed that the political problem of "how to govern
united Canada"--and the changes which took place later showed he was
right--would be best solved "if the French would split into a Liberal
and Conservative party, and join the Upper Canada parties which bear
corresponding names." Holding these views, he decided at the outset to
give the French Canadians full recognition in the reconstruction or
formation of ministries during his term of office. And under all
circumstances he was resolved to give "to his ministers all
constitutional support, frankly and without reserve, and the benefit
of the best advice" that he could afford them in their difficulties.
In return for this he expected that they would, "in so far as it is
possible for them to do so, carry out his views for the maintenance of
the connection with Great Britain and the advancement of the interests
of the province." On this tacit understanding, they--the
governor-general and the Draper-Viger cabinet--had "acted together
harmoniously," although he had "never concealed from them that he
intended to do nothing" which would "prevent him from working
cordially with their opponents." It was indispensable that "the head
of the government should show that he has confidence in the loyalty of
all the influential parties with which he has to deal, and that he
should have no personal antipathies to prevent him from acting with
leading men."

Despite the wishes of Lord Elgin, it was impossible to reconstruct the
government with a due regard to French Canadian interests. Mr. Caron
and Mr. Morin, both strong men, could not be induced to become
ministers. The government continued to show signs of disintegration.
Several members resigned and took judgeships in Lower Canada. Even Mr.
Draper retired with the understanding that he should also go on the
bench at the earliest opportunity in Upper Canada. Another effort was
made to keep the ministry together, and Mr. Henry Sherwood became its
head; but the most notable acquisition was Mr. John Alexander
Macdonald as receiver-general. From that time this able man took a
conspicuous place in the councils of the country, and eventually
became prime minister of the old province of Canada, as well as of the
federal dominion which was formed many years later in British North
America, largely through his instrumentality. From his first entrance
into politics he showed that versatility of intellect, that readiness
to adapt himself to dominant political conditions and make them
subservient to the interests of his party, that happy faculty of
making and keeping personal friends, which were the most striking
traits of his character. His mind enlarged as he had greater
experience and opportunities of studying public life, and the man who
entered parliament as a Tory became one of the most Liberal
Conservatives who ever administered the affairs of a colonial
dependency, and, at the same time, a statesman of a comprehensive
intellect who recognized the strength of British institutions and the
advantage of British connection.

The obvious weakness of the reconstructed ministry was the absence of
any strong men from French Canada. Mr. Denis B. Papineau was in no
sense a recognized representative of the French Canadians, and did not
even possess those powers of eloquence--that ability to give forth
"rhetorical flashes"--which were characteristic of his reckless but
highly gifted brother. In fact the ministry as then organized was a
mere makeshift until the time came for obtaining an expression of
opinion from the people at the polls. When parliament met in June,
1847, it was quite clear that the ministry was on the eve of its
downfall. It was sustained only by a feeble majority of two votes on
the motion for the adoption of the address to the governor-general.
The opposition, in which LaFontaine, Baldwin, Aylwin, and Chauveau
were the most prominent figures, had clearly the best of the argument
in the political controversies with the tottering ministry. Even in
the legislative council resolutions, condemning it chiefly on the
ground that the French province was inadequately represented in the
cabinet, were only negatived by the vote of the president, Mr. McGill,
a wealthy merchant of Montreal, who was also a member of the

Despite the weakness of the government, the legislature was called
upon to deal with several questions which pressed for immediate
action. Among the important measures which were passed was one
providing for the amendment of the law relating to forgery, which was
no longer punishable by death. Another amended the law with respect to
municipalities in Lower Canada, which, however, failed to satisfy the
local requirements of the people, though it remained in force for
eight years, when it was replaced by one better adapted to the
conditions of the French province. The legislature also discussed the
serious effects of free trade upon Canadian industry, and passed an
address to the Crown praying for the repeal of the laws which
prevented the free use of the St. Lawrence by ships of all nations.
But the most important subject with which the government was called
upon to deal was one which stifled all political rivalry and national
prejudices, and demanded the earnest consideration of all parties.
Canada, like the rest of the world, had heard of an unhappy land
smitten with a hideous plague, of its crops lying in pestilential
heaps and of its peasantry dying above them, of fathers, mothers, and
children ghastly in their rags or nakedness, of dead unburied, and the
living flying in terror, as it were, from a stricken battlefield. This
dreadful Irish famine forced to Canada upwards of 100,000 persons, the
greater number of whom were totally destitute and must have starved to
death had they not received public or private charity. The miseries of
these unhappy immigrants were aggravated to an inconceivable degree by
the outbreak of disease of a most malignant character, stimulated by
the wretched physical condition and by the disgraceful state of the
pest ships in which they were brought across the ocean. In those days
there was no effective inspection or other means taken to protect from
infection the unhappy families who were driven from their old homes by
poverty and misery. From Grosse Isle, the quarantine station on the
Lower St. Lawrence, to the most distant towns in the western province,
many thousands died in awful suffering, and left helpless orphans to
evoke the aid and sympathy of pitying Canadians everywhere. Canada was
in no sense responsible for this unfortunate state of things. The
imperial government had allowed this Irish immigration to go on
without making any effort whatever to prevent the evils that followed
it from Ireland to the banks of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes.
It was a heavy burden which Canada should never have been called upon
to bear at a time when money was scarce and trade was paralyzed by the
action of the imperial parliament itself. Lord Elgin was fully alive
to the weighty responsibility which the situation entailed upon the
British government, and at the same time did full justice to the
exertions of the Canadian people to cope with this sad crisis. The
legislature voted a sum of money to relieve the distress among the
immigrants, but it was soon found entirely inadequate to meet the

Lord Elgin did not fail to point out to the colonial secretary "the
severe strain" that this sad state of things made, not only upon
charity, but upon the very loyalty of the people to a government which
had shown such culpable negligence since the outbreak of the famine
and the exodus from the plague-stricken island. He expressed the
emphatic opinion that "all things considered, a great deal of
forbearance and good feeling had been shown by the colonists under
this trial." He gave full expression to the general feeling of the
country that "Great Britain must make good to the province the
expenses entailed on it by this visitation." He did full justice to
the men and women who showed an extraordinary spirit of
self-sacrifice, a positive heroism, during this national crisis.
"Nothing," he wrote, "can exceed the devotion of the nuns and Roman
Catholic priests, and the conduct of the clergy and of many of the
laity of other denominations has been most exemplary. Many lives have
been sacrificed in attendance on the sick, and administering to their
temporal and spiritual need.... This day the Mayor of Montreal, Mr.
Mills, died, a very estimable man, who did much for the immigrants,
and to whose firmness and philanthropy we chiefly owe it, that the
immigrant sheds here were not tossed into the river by the people of
the town during the summer. He has fallen a victim to his zeal on
behalf of the poor plague-stricken strangers, having died of ship
fever caught at the sheds." Among other prominent victims were Dr.
Power, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toronto, Vicar-General Hudon of the
same church, Mr. Roy, curé of Charlesbourg, and Mr. Chaderton, a
Protestant clergyman. Thirteen Roman Catholic priests, if not more,
died from their devotion to the unhappy people thus suddenly thrown
upon their Christian charity. When the season of navigation was nearly
closed, a ship arrived with a large number of people from the Irish
estates of one of Her Majesty's ministers, Lord Palmerston. The
natural result of this incident was to increase the feeling of
indignation already aroused by the apathy of the British government
during this national calamity. Happily Lord Elgin's appeals to the
colonial secretary had effect, and the province was reimbursed
eventually for the heavy expenses incurred by it in its efforts to
fight disease, misery and death. English statesmen, after these
painful experiences, recognized the necessity of enforcing strict
regulations for the protection of emigrants crossing the ocean,
against the greed of ship-owners. The sad story of 1847-8 cannot now
be repeated in times when nations have awakened to their
responsibilities towards the poor and distressed who are forced to
leave their old homes for that new world which offers them well-paid
work, political freedom, plenty of food and countless comforts.

In the autumn of 1847, Lord Elgin was able to seek some relief from
his many cares and perplexities of government, in a tour of the
western province, where, to quote his own words, he met "a most
gratifying and encouraging reception." He was much impressed with the
many signs of prosperity which he saw on all sides. "It is indeed a
glorious country," he wrote enthusiastically to Lord Grey, "and after
passing, as I have done within the last fortnight, from the citadel of
Quebec to the falls of Niagara, rubbing shoulders the while with its
free and perfectly independent inhabitants, one begins to doubt
whether it be possible to acquire a sufficient knowledge of man or
nature, or to obtain an insight into the future of nations, without
visiting America." During this interesting visit to Upper Canada, he
seized the opportunity of giving his views on a subject which may be
considered one of his hobbies, one to which he devoted much attention
while in Jamaica, and this was the formation of agricultural
associations for the purpose of stimulating scientific methods of

Before the close of the first year of his administration Lord Elgin
felt that the time had come for making an effort to obtain a stronger
ministry by an appeal to the people. Accordingly he dissolved
parliament in December, and the elections, which were hotly contested,
resulted in the unequivocal condemnation of the Sherwood cabinet, and
the complete success of the Liberal party led by LaFontaine and
Baldwin. Among the prominent Liberals returned by the people of Upper
Canada were Baldwin, Hincks, Blake, Price, Malcolm Cameron, Richards,
Merritt and John Sandfield Macdonald. Among the leaders of the same
party in Lower Canada were LaFontaine, Morin, Aylwin, Chauveau and
Holmes. Several able Conservatives lost their seats, but Sir Allan
MacNab, John A. Macdonald, Mr. Sherwood and John Hillyard Cameron
succeeded in obtaining seats in the new parliament, which was, in
fact, more notable than any other since the union for the ability of
its members. Not the least noteworthy feature of the elections was the
return of Mr. Louis J. Papineau, and Mr. Wolfred Nelson, rebels of
1837-8, both of whom had been allowed to return some time previously
to the country. Mr. Papineau's career in parliament was not calculated
to strengthen his position in impartial history. He proved beyond a
doubt that he was only a demagogue, incapable of learning lessons of
wise statesmanship during the years of reflection that were given him
in exile. He continued to show his ignorance of the principles and
workings of responsible government. Before the rebellion which he so
rashly and vehemently forced on his credulous, impulsive countrymen,
so apt to be deceived by flashy rhetoric and glittering generalities,
he never made a speech or proposed a measure in support of the system
of parliamentary government as explained by Baldwin and Howe, and even
W. Lyon Mackenzie. His energy and eloquence were directed towards the
establishment of an elective legislative council in which his
compatriots would have necessarily the great majority, a supremacy
that would enable him and his following to control the whole
legislation and government, and promote his dominant idea of a _Nation
Canadienne_ in the valley of the St. Lawrence. After the union he made
it the object of his political life to thwart in every way possible
the sagacious, patriotic plans of LaFontaine, Morin, and other
broad-minded statesmen of his own nationality, and to destroy that
system of responsible government under which French Canada had become
a progressive and influential section of the province.

As soon as parliament assembled at the end of February, the government
was defeated on the vote for the speakership. Its nominee, Sir Allan
MacNab, received only nineteen votes out of fifty-four, and Morin, the
Liberal candidate, was then unanimously chosen. When the address in
reply to the governor-general's speech came up for consideration,
Baldwin moved an amendment, expressing a want of confidence in the
ministry, which was carried by a majority of thirty votes in a house
of seventy-four members, exclusive of the speaker, who votes only in
case of a tie. Lord Elgin received and answered the address as soon as
it was ready for presentation, and then sent for LaFontaine and

He spoke to them, as he tells us himself, "in a candid and friendly
tone," and expressed the opinion that "there was a fair prospect, if
they were moderate and firm, of forming an administration deserving
and enjoying the confidence of parliament." He added that "they might
count on all proper support and assistance from him." When they "dwelt
on difficulties arising out of pretensions advanced in various
quarters," he advised them "not to attach too much importance to such
considerations, but to bring together a council strong in
administrative talent, and to take their stand on the wisdom of their
measures and policy." The result was the construction of a powerful
government by LaFontaine with the aid of Baldwin. "My present
council," Lord Elgin wrote to the colonial secretary, "unquestionably
contains more talent, and has a firmer hold on the confidence of
parliament and of the people than the last. There is, I think,
moreover, on their part, a desire to prove, by proper deference for
the authority of the governor-general (which they all admit has in my
case never been abused), that they were libelled when they were
accused of impracticability and anti-monarchical tendencies." These
closing words go to show that the governor-general felt it was
necessary to disabuse the minds of the colonial secretary and his
colleagues of the false impression which the British government and
people seemed to entertain, that the Tories and Conservatives were
alone to be trusted in the conduct of public affairs. He saw at once
that the best way of strengthening the connection with Great Britain
was to give to the strongest political party in the country its true
constitutional position in the administration of public affairs, and
identify it thoroughly with the public interests.

The new government was constituted as follows:

     Lower Canada.--Hon. L.H. LaFontaine, attorney-general of
     Lower Canada; Hon. James Leslie, president of the executive
     council; Hon. R.E. Caron, president of the legislative
     council; Hon. E.P. Taehé, chief commissioner of public
     works; Hon. I.C. Aylwin, solicitor-general for Lower Canada;
     Hon. L.M. Viger, receiver-general.

     Upper Canada.--Hon. Robert Baldwin, attorney-general of
     Upper Canada; Hon. R.B. Sullivan, provincial secretary; Hon.
     F. Hincks, inspector-general; Hon. J.H. Price, commissioner
     of crown lands; Hon. Malcolm Cameron, assistant commissioner
     of public works; Hon. W.H. Blake, solicitor-general.

The LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry must always occupy a distinguished
place in the political history of the Canadian people. It was the
first to be formed strictly in accordance with the principles of
responsible government, and from its entrance into public life must be
dated a new era in which the relations between the governor and his
advisers were at last placed on a sound constitutional basis, in which
the constant appeals to the imperial government on matters of purely
provincial significance came to an end, in which local self-government
was established in the fullest sense compatible with the continuance
of the connection with the empire. It was a ministry notable not only
for the ability of its members, but for the many great measures which
it was able to pass during its term of office--measures calculated to
promote the material advancement of the province, and above all to
dispel racial prejudices and allay sectional antagonisms by the
adoption of wise methods of compromise, conciliation and justice to
all classes and creeds.

In Lord Elgin's letters of 1848 to Earl Grey, we can clearly see how
many difficulties surrounded the discharge of his administrative
functions at this time, and how fortunate it was for Canada, as well
as for Great Britain, that he should have been able to form a
government which possessed so fully the confidence of both sections of
the province, irrespective of nationality. The revolution of February
in Paris, and the efforts of a large body of Irish in the United
States to evoke sympathy in Canada on behalf of republicanism were
matters of deep anxiety to the governor-general and other friends of
the imperial state. "It is just as well," he wrote at this time to
Lord Grey, "that I should have arranged my ministry, and committed the
flag of Great Britain to the custody of those who are supported by the
large majority of the representatives and constituencies of the
province, before the arrival of the astounding news from Europe which
reached us by the last mail. There are not wanting here persons who
might, under different circumstances, have attempted by seditious
harangues, if not by overt acts, to turn the example of France, and
the sympathies of the United States to account."

Under the circumstances he pressed upon the imperial authorities the
wisdom of repealing that clause of the Union Act which restricted the
use of the French language. "I am for one deeply convinced," and here
he showed he differed from Lord Durham, "of the impolicy of all such
attempts to denationalize the French. Generally speaking, they produce
the opposite effect from that intended, causing the flame of national
prejudice and animosity to burn more fiercely." But he went on to say,
even were such attempts successful, what would be the inevitable

     "You may perhaps Americanize, but, depend upon it, by
     methods of this description you will never Anglicize the
     French inhabitants of the province. Let them feel, on the
     other hand, that their religion, their habits, their
     prepossessions, their prejudices, if you will, are more
     considered and respected here than in other portions of this
     vast continent, who will venture to say that the last hand
     which waves the British flag on American ground may not be
     that of a French Canadian?"[8]

Lord Elgin had a strong antipathy to Papineau--"Guy Fawkes Papineau,"
as he called him in one of his letters--who was, he considered,
"actuated by the most malignant passions, irritated vanity,
disappointed ambition and national hatred," always ready to wave "a
lighted torch among combustibles." Holding such opinions, he seized
every practical opportunity of thwarting Papineau's persistent efforts
to create a dangerous agitation among his impulsive countrymen. He
shared fully the great desire of the bishops and clergy to stem the
immigration of large numbers of French Canadians into the United
States by the establishment of an association for colonization
purposes. Papineau endeavoured to attribute this exodus to the effects
of the policy of the imperial government, and to gain control of this
association with the object of using it as a means of stimulating a
feeling against England, and strengthening himself in French Canada by
such insidious methods. Lord Elgin, with that intuitive sagacity which
he applied to practical politics, recognized the importance of
identifying himself with the movement initiated by the bishops and
their friends, of putting himself "in so far as he could at its head,"
of imparting to it "as salutary a direction as possible, and thus
wresting from Papineau's hands a potent instrument of agitation." This
policy of conciliating the French population, and anticipating the
great agitator in his design, was quite successful. To use Lord
Elgin's own language, "Papineau retired to solitude and reflection at
his seigniory, 'La Petite Nation,'" and the governor-general was able
at the same time to call the attention of the colonial secretary to a
presentment of the grand jury of Montreal, "in which that body adverts
to the singularly tranquil, contented state of the province."

It was at this time that Lord Elgin commenced to give utterance to the
views that he had formed with respect to the best method of giving a
stimulus to the commercial and industrial interests that were so
seriously crippled by the free trade policy of the British government.
So serious had been its effects upon the economic conditions of the
province that mill-owners, forwarders and merchants had been ruined
"at one fell swoop," that the revenue had been reduced by the loss of
the canal dues paid previously by the shipping engaged in the trade
promoted by the old colonial policy of England, that private property
had become unsaleable, that not a shilling could be raised on the
credit of the province, that public officers of all grades, including
the governor-general, had to be paid in debentures which were not
exchangeable at par. Under such circumstances it was not strange, said
the governor-general, that Canadians were too ready to make
unfavourable comparisons between themselves and their republican
neighbours. "What makes it more serious," he said, "is that all the
prosperity of which Canada is thus robbed is transplanted to the other
side of the line, as if to make Canadians feel more bitterly how much
kinder England is to the children who desert her, than to those who
remain faithful. It is the inconsistency of imperial legislation, and
not the adoption of one policy rather than another, which is the bane
of the colonies."

He believed that "the conviction that they would be better off if they
were annexed," was almost universal among the commercial classes at
that time, and the peaceful condition of the province under all the
circumstances was often a matter of great astonishment even to
himself. In his letters urging the imperial government to find an
immediate remedy for this unfortunate condition of things, he
acknowledged that there was "something captivating in the project of
forming this vast British Empire into one huge _Zollverein_, with free
interchange of commodities, and uniform duties against the world
without; though perhaps without some federal legislation it might have
been impossible to carry it out."[9] Undoubtedly, under such a system
"the component parts of the empire would have been united by bonds
which cannot be supplied under that on which we are now entering," but
he felt that, whatever were his own views on the subject, it was then
impossible to disturb the policy fixed by the imperial government, and
that the only course open to them, if they hoped "to keep the
colonies," was to repeal the navigation laws, and to allow them "to
turn to the best possible account their contiguity to the States, that
they might not have cause for dissatisfaction when they contrasted
their own condition with that of their neighbours."

Some years, however, passed before the governor-general saw his views
fully carried out. The imperial authorities, with that extraordinary
indifference to colonial conditions which too often distinguished them
in those times, hesitated until well into 1849 to follow his advice
with respect to the navigation laws, and the Reciprocity Treaty was
not successfully negotiated until a much later time. He had the
gratification, however, before he left Canada of seeing the beneficial
effects of the measures which he so earnestly laboured to promote in
the interests of the country.



The legislature opened on January 18th, 1849, when Lord Elgin had the
gratification of informing French Canadians that the restrictions
imposed by the Union Act on the use of their language in the public
records had been removed by a statute of the imperial parliament. For
the first time in Canadian history the governor-general read the
speech in the two languages; for in the past it had been the practice
of the president of the legislative council to give it in French after
it had been read in English from the throne. The session was memorable
in political annals for the number of useful measures that were
adopted. In later pages of this book I shall give a short review of
these and other measures which show the importance of the legislation
passed by the LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry. For the present I shall
confine myself to the consideration of a question which created an
extraordinary amount of public excitement, culminated in the
destruction of valuable public property, and even threatened the life
of the governor-general, who during one of the most trying crises in
Canadian history, displayed a coolness and patience, an indifference
to all personal considerations, a political sagacity and a strict
adherence to sound methods of constitutional government, which entitle
him to the gratitude of Canadians, who might have seen their country
torn asunder by internecine strife, had there been then a weak and
passionate man at the head of the executive. As it will be seen later,
he, like the younger Pitt in England, was "the pilot who weathered the
storm." In Canada, the storm, in which the elements of racial
antagonism, of political rivalry and disappointment, of spoiled
fortunes and commercial ruin raged tumultuously for a while,
threatened not only to drive Canada back for years in its political
and material development, but even to disturb the relations between
the dependency and the imperial state.

The legislation which gave rise to this serious convulsion in the
country was, in a measure, an aftermath of the rebellious risings of
1837 and 1838 in Upper and Lower Canada. Many political grievances had
been redressed since the union, and the French Canadians had begun to
feel that their interests were completely safe under a system of
government which gave them an influential position in the public
councils. The restoration of their language to its proper place in a
country composed of two nationalities standing on a sure footing of
equal political and civil rights, was a great consolation to the
French people of the east. The pardon extended to the rash men who
were directly concerned in the events of 1837 and 1838, was also well
calculated to heal the wounds inflicted on the province during that
troublous period. It needed only the passage of another measure to
conceal the scars of those unhappy days, and to bury the past in that
oblivion in which all Canadians anxious for the unity and harmony of
the two races, and the satisfactory operation of political
institutions, were sincerely desirous of hiding it forever. This
measure was pecuniary compensation from the state for certain losses
incurred by people in French Canada in consequence of the wanton
destruction of property during the revolt. The obligation of the state
to give such compensation had been fully recognized before and after
the union.

The special council of Lower Canada and the legislature of Upper
Canada had authorized the payment of an indemnity to those loyal
inhabitants in their respective provinces who had sustained losses
during the insurrections. It was not possible, however, before the
union, to make payments out of the public treasury in accordance with
the ordinance of the special council of Lower Canada and the statute
of the legislature of Upper Canada. In the case of both provinces
these measures were enacted to satisfy the demands that were made for
compensation by a large number of people who claimed to have suffered
losses at the outbreak of the rebellions, or during the raids from the
United States which followed these risings and which kept the country
in a state of ferment for months. The legislature of the united
provinces passed an act during its first session to extend
compensation to losses occasioned in Upper Canada by violence on the
part of persons "acting or assuming to act" on Her Majesty's behalf
"for the suppression of the said rebellion or for the prevention of
further disturbances." Funds were also voted out of the public
revenues for the payment of indemnities to those who had met with the
losses set forth in this legislation affecting Upper Canada. It was,
on the whole, a fair settlement of just claims in the western
province. The French Canadians in the legislature supported the
measure, and urged with obvious reason that the same consideration
should be shown to the same class of persons in Lower Canada. It was
not, however, until the session of 1845, when the Draper-Viger
ministry was in office, that an address was passed to the
governor-general, Lord Metcalfe, praying him to take such steps as
were necessary "to insure to the inhabitants of that portion of this
province, formerly Lower Canada, an indemnity for just losses suffered
during the rebellions of 1837 and 1838." The immediate result was the
appointment of commissioners to make inquiry into the losses sustained
by "Her Majesty's loyal subjects" in Lower Canada "during the late
unfortunate rebellion." The commissioners found some difficulty in
acting upon their instructions, which called upon them to distinguish
the cases of those "who had joined, aided or abetted the said
rebellion, from the cases of those who had not done so," and they
accordingly applied for definite advice from Lord Cathcart, whose
advisers were still the Draper-Viger ministry. The commissioners were
officially informed that "it was his Excellency's intention that they
should be guided by no other description of evidence than that
furnished by the sentences of the courts of law." They were further
informed that it was only intended that they should form a general
estimate of the rebellion losses, "the particulars of which must form
the subject of more minute inquiry hereafter, under legislative

During the session of 1846 the commissioners made a report which gave
a list of 2,176 persons who made claims amounting in the aggregate to
£241,965. At the same time the commissioners expressed the opinion
that £100,000 would be adequate to satisfy all just demands, and
directed attention to the fact that upwards of £25,503 were actually
claimed by persons who had been condemned by a court-martial for their
participation in the rebellion. The report also set forth that the
inquiry conducted by the commissioners had been necessarily imperfect
in the absence of legal power to make a minute investigation, and that
they had been compelled largely to trust to the allegations of the
claimants who had laid their cases before them, and that it was only
from data collected in this way that they had been able to come to
conclusions as to the amount of losses.

When the Draper-Viger ministry first showed a readiness to take up the
claims of Lower Canada for the same compensation that had been granted
to Upper Canada, they had been doubtless influenced, not solely by the
conviction that they were called upon to perform an act of justice,
but mainly by a desire to strengthen themselves in the French
province. We have already read that their efforts in this direction
entirely failed, and that they never obtained in that section any
support from the recognized leaders of public opinion, but were
obliged to depend upon Denis B. Papineau and Viger to keep up a
pretence of French Canadian representation in the cabinet. It is,
then, easy to believe that, when the report of the commissioners came
before them, they were not very enthusiastic on the subject, or
prepared to adopt vigorous measures to settle the question on some
equitable basis, and remove it entirely from the field of political
and national conflict.

They did nothing more than make provision for the payment of £9,986,
which represented claims fully investigated and recognized as
justifiable before the union, and left the general question of
indemnity for future consideration. Indeed, it is doubtful if the
Conservative ministry of that day, the mere creation of Lord Metcalfe,
kept in power by a combination of Tories and other factions in Upper
Canada, could have satisfactorily dealt with a question which required
the interposition of a government having the confidence of both
sections of the province. One thing is quite certain. This ministry,
weak as it was, Tory and ultra-loyalist as it claimed to be, had
recognized by the appointment of a commission, the justice of giving
compensation to French Canada on the principles which had governed the
settlement of claims from Upper Canada. Had the party which supported
that ministry been influenced by any regard for consistency or
principle, it was bound in 1849 to give full consideration to the
question, and treat it entirely on its merits with the view of
preventing its being made a political issue and a means of arousing
racial and sectional animosities. As we shall now see, however, party
passion, political demagogism, and racial hatred prevailed above all
high considerations of the public peace and welfare, when parliament
was asked by the LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry to deal seriously and
practically with the question of indemnity to Lower Canada.

The session was not far advanced when LaFontaine brought forward a
series of resolutions, on which were subsequently based a bill, which
set forth in the preamble that "in order to redeem the pledge given to
the sufferers of such losses ... it is necessary and just that the
particulars of such losses, not yet paid and satisfied, should form
the subject of more minute inquiry under legislative authority (see p.
65 _ante_) and that the same, so far only as they may have arisen from
the total or partial, unjust, unnecessary or wanton destruction of
dwellings, buildings, property and effects ... should be paid and
satisfied." The act provided that no indemnity should be paid to
persons "who had been convicted of treason during the rebellion, or
who, having been taken into custody, had submitted to Her Majesty's
will, and been transported to Bermuda." Five commissioners were to be
appointed to carry out the provisions of the act, which also provided
£400,000 for the payment of legal claims.

Then all the forces hostile to the government gathered their full
strength for an onslaught on a measure which such Tories as Sir Allan
MacNab and Henry Sherwood believed gave them an excellent opportunity
of arousing a strong public sentiment which might awe the
governor-general and bring about a ministerial crisis. The issue was
not one of public principle or of devotion to the Crown, it was simply
a question of obtaining a party victory _per fas aut nefas_. The
debate on the second reading of the bill was full of bitterness,
intensified even to virulence. Mr. Sherwood declared that the proposal
of the government meant nothing else than the giving of a reward to
the very persons who had been the cause of the shedding of blood and
the destruction of property throughout the country. Sir Allan MacNab
went so far in a moment of passion as to insult the French Canadian
people by calling them "aliens and rebels." The solicitor-general, Mr.
Hume Blake,[10] who was Irish by birth, and possessed a great power of
invective, inveighed in severe terms against "the family compact" as
responsible for the rebellion, and declared that the stigma of
"rebels" applied with complete force to the men who were then
endeavouring to prevent the passage of a bill which was a simple act
of justice to a large body of loyal people. Sir Allan MacNab instantly
became furious and said that if Mr. Blake called him a rebel it was
simply a lie.

Then followed a scene of tumult, in which the authority of the chair
was disregarded, members indulged in the most disorderly cries, and
the people in the galleries added to the excitement on the floor by
their hisses and shouts. The galleries were cleared with the greatest
difficulty, and a hostile encounter between Sir Allan and Mr. Blake
was only prevented by the intervention of the sergeant-at-arms, who
took them into custody by order of the House until they gave
assurances that they would proceed no further in the unseemly dispute.
When the debate was resumed on the following day, LaFontaine brought
it again to the proper level of argument and reason, and showed that
both parties were equally pledged to a measure based on considerations
of justice, and declared positively that the government would take
every possible care in its instructions to the commissioner; that no
rebel should receive any portion of the indemnity, which was intended
only as a compensation to those who had just claims upon the country
for the losses that they actually sustained in the course of the
unfortunate rebellion. At this time the Conservative and ultra-loyal
press was making frantic appeals to party passions and racial
prejudices, and calling upon the governor-general to intervene and
prevent the passage of a measure which, in the opinion of loyal
Canadians, was an insult to the Crown and its adherents. Public
meetings were also held and efforts made to arouse a violent feeling
against the bill. The governor-general understood his duty too well as
the head of the executive to interfere with the bill while passing
through the two Houses, and paid no heed to these passionate appeals
dictated by partisan rancour, while the ministry pressed the question
to the test of a division as soon as possible. The resolutions and the
several readings of the bill passed both Houses by large majorities.
The bill was carried in the assembly on March 9th by forty-seven votes
against eighteen, and in the legislative council on the 15th, by
fifteen against fourteen. By an analysis of the division in the
popular chamber, it will be seen that out of thirty-one members from
Upper Canada seventeen supported and fourteen opposed the bill, while
out of ten Lower Canadian members of British descent there were six
who voted yea and four nay. The representatives of French Canada as a
matter of course were arrayed as one in favour of an act of justice to
their compatriots. During the passage of the bill its opponents
deluged the governor-general with petitions asking him either to
dissolve the legislature or to reserve the bill for the consideration
of the imperial government. Such appeals had no effect whatever upon
Lord Elgin, who was determined to adhere to the well understood rules
of parliamentary government in all cases of political controversy.

When the bill had passed all its stages in the two Houses by large
majorities of both French and English Canadians, the governor-general
came to the legislative council and gave the royal assent to the
measure, which was entitled "An Act to provide for the indemnification
of parties in Lower Canada whose property was destroyed during the
rebellion in the years 1837 and 1838." No other constitutional course
could have been followed by him under all the circumstances. In his
letters to the colonial secretary he did not hesitate to express his
regret "that this agitation should have been stirred, and that any
portion of the funds of the province should be diverted now from much
more useful purposes to make good losses sustained by individuals in
the rebellion," but he believed that "a great deal of property was
cruelly and wantonly destroyed" in Lower Canada, and that "this
government, after what their predecessors had done, and with Papineau
in the rear, could not have helped taking up this question." He saw
clearly that it was impossible to dissolve a parliament just elected
by the people, and in which the government had a large majority. "If I
had dissolved parliament," to quote his own words, "I might have
produced a rebellion, but assuredly I should not have procured a
change of ministry. The leaders of the party know that as well as I
do, and were it possible to play tricks in such grave concerns, it
would have been easy to throw them into utter confusion by merely
calling upon them to form a government. They were aware, however, that
I could not for the sake of discomfiting them hazard so desperate a
policy; so they have played out their game of faction and violence
without fear of consequences."

His reasons for not reserving the bill for the consideration of the
British government must be regarded as equally cogent by every student
of our system of government, especially by those persons who believe
in home rule in all matters involving purely Canadian interests. In
the first place, the bill for the relief of a corresponding class of
persons in Upper Canada, "which was couched in terms very nearly
similar, was not reserved," and it was "difficult to discover a
sufficient reason, so far as the representative of the Crown was
concerned, for dealing with the one measure differently from the
other." And in the second place, "by reserving the bill he should only
throw upon Her Majesty's government or (as it would appear to the
popular eye in Canada) on Her Majesty herself, a responsibility which
rests and ought to rest" upon the governor-general of Canada. If he
passed the bill, "whatever mischief ensues may probably be repaired,"
if the worst came to the worst, "by the sacrifice" of himself. If the
case were referred to England, on the other hand, it was not
impossible that Her Majesty might "only have before her the
alternative of provoking a rebellion in Lower Canada, by refusing her
assent to a measure chiefly affecting the interests of the _habitants_
and thus throwing the whole population into Papineau's hands, or of
wounding the susceptibilities of some of the best subjects she has in
the province."

A Canadian writer at the present time can refer only with a feeling of
indignation and humiliation to the scenes of tumult, rioting and
incendiarism, which followed the royal assent to the bill of
indemnity. When Lord Elgin left Parliament House--formerly the Ste.
Anne market--a large crowd insulted him with opprobrious epithets. In
his own words he was "received with ironical cheers and hootings, and
a small knot of individuals, consisting, it has since been
ascertained, of persons of a respectable class in society, pelted the
carriage with missiles which must have been brought for that purpose."
A meeting was held in the open air, and after several speeches of a
very inflammatory character had been made, the mob rushed to the
parliament building, which was soon in flames. By this disgraceful act
of incendiarism most valuable collections of books and documents were
destroyed, which, in some cases, could not be replaced. Supporters of
the bill were everywhere insulted and maltreated while the excitement
was at its height. LaFontaine's residence was attacked and injured.
His valuable library of books and manuscripts, some of them very rare,
was destroyed by fire--a deplorable incident which recalls the burning
and mutilation of the rich historical collections of Hutchinson, the
last loyalist governor of Massachusetts, at the commencement of the
American revolution in Boston.

A few days later Lord Elgin's life was in actual danger at the hands
of the unruly mob, as he was proceeding to Government House--then the
old Château de Ramezay on Notre Dame Street--to receive an address
from the assembly. On his return to Monklands he was obliged to take a
circuitous route to evade the same mob who were waiting with the
object of further insulting him and otherwise giving vent to their

The government appears to have been quite unconscious that the public
excitement was likely to assume so dangerous a phase, and had
accordingly taken none of those precautions which might have prevented
the destruction of the parliament house and its valuable contents.
Indeed it would seem that the leaders of the movement against the bill
had themselves no idea that the political storm which they had raised
by their inflammatory harangues would become a whirlwind so entirely
beyond their control. Their main object was to bring about a
ministerial crisis. Sir Allan MacNab, the leader of the opposition,
himself declared that he was amazed at the dangerous form which the
public indignation had at last assumed. He had always been a devoted
subject of the sovereign, and it is only just to say that he could
under no circumstances become a rebel, but he had been carried away by
his feelings and had made rash observations more than once under the
belief that the bill would reward the same class of men whom he and
other loyalists had fought against in Upper Canada. Whatever he felt
in his heart, he and his followers must always be held as much
responsible for the disturbances of 1849 as were Mackenzie and
Papineau for those of 1837. Indeed there was this difference between
them: the former were reckless, but at least they had, in the opinion
of many persons, certain political grievances to redress, while the
latter were simply opposing the settlement of a question which they
were bound to consider fairly and impartially, if they had any respect
for former pledges. Papineau, Mackenzie and Nelson may well have found
a measure of justification for their past madness when they found the
friends of the old "family compact" and the extreme loyalists of 1837
and 1838 incited to insult the sovereign in the person of her
representative, to create racial passion and to excite an agitation
which might at any moment develop into a movement most fatal to Canada
and her connection with England.

Happily for the peace of the country, Lord Elgin and his councillors
showed a forbearance and a patience which could hardly have been
expected from them during the very serious crisis in which they lived
for some weeks. "I am prepared," said Lord Elgin at the very moment
his life was in danger, "to bear any amount of obloquy that may be
cast upon me, but, if I can possibly prevent it, no stain of blood
shall rest upon my name." When he remained quiet at Monklands and
decided not to give his enemies further opportunities for outbursts of
passion by paying visits to the city, even if protected by a military
force, he was taunted by the papers of the opposition with cowardice
for pursuing a course which, we can all now clearly see, was in the
interests of peace and order. When at a later time LaFontaine's house
was again attacked after the arrest of certain persons implicated in
the destruction of the parliament house, and one of the assailants was
killed by a shot fired from inside, he positively refused to consent
to martial law or any measures of increased rigour until a further
appeal had been made to the mayor and corporation of the city. The
issue proved that he was clearly right in his opinion of the measures
that should be taken to restore order at this time. The law-abiding
citizens of Montreal at once responded to a proclamation of the mayor
to assist him in the maintenance of peace, and the coroner's jury--one
member being an Orangeman who had taken part in the funeral of the
deceased--brought in a unanimous verdict, acquitting LaFontaine of all
blame for the unfortunate incident that had occurred during the
unlawful attack on his residence.

The Montreal disturbances soon evoked the indignation of the truly
loyal inhabitants of the province. Addresses came to the
governor-general from all parts to show him that the riots were
largely due to local causes, "especially to commercial distress acting
on religious bigotry and national hatred." He had also the
gratification of learning that his constitutional action was fully
justified by the imperial government, as well as supported in
parliament where it was fully discussed. When he offered to resign his
office, he was assured by Lord Grey that "his relinquishment of that
office, which, under any circumstances, would be a most serious blow
to Her Majesty's service and to the province, could not fail, in the
present state of affairs, to be most injurious to the public welfare,
from the encouragement which it would give to those who have been
concerned in the violent and illegal opposition which has been offered
to your government." In parliament, Mr. Gladstone, who seems never to
have been well-informed on the subject, went so far as to characterize
the Rebellion Losses Bill as a measure for rewarding rebels, but both
Lord John Russell, then leader of the government, and his great
opponent, Sir Robert Peel, gave their unqualified support to the
measure. The result was that an amendment proposed by Mr. Herries in
favour of the disallowance of the act was defeated by a majority of

This action of the imperial authorities had the effect of
strengthening the public sentiment in Canada in support of Lord Elgin
and his advisers. The government set to work vigorously to carry out
the provisions of the law, appointing the same commissioners as had
acted under the previous ministry, and was able in a very short time
to settle definitely this very disturbing question. It was deemed
inexpedient, however, to keep the seat of government at Montreal.
After a very full and anxious consideration of the question, it was
decided to act on the recommendation of the legislature that it should
thereafter meet alternately at Toronto and Quebec, and that the next
session should be held at Toronto in accordance with this arrangement
This "perambulating system" was tried for several years, but it proved
so inconvenient and expensive that the legislature in 1858 passed an
address to Her Majesty praying her to choose a permanent capital. The
place selected was the city of Ottawa, on account of its situation on
the frontier of the two provinces, the almost equal division of its
population into French and English, its remoteness from the American
borders, and consequently its comparative security in time of war.
Some years later it became the capital of the Dominion of Canada--the
confederation of provinces and territories extending across the

In the autumn of 1849 Lord Elgin made a tour of the western part of
the province of Upper Canada for the purpose of obtaining some
expression of opinion from the people in the very section where the
British feeling was the strongest. On this occasion he was attended
only by an aide-de-camp and a servant, as an answer to those who were
constantly assailing him for want of courage. Here and there, as he
proceeded west, after leaving French Canada, he was insulted by a few
Orangemen, notably by Mr. Ogle R. Gowan, who appeared on the wharf at
Brockville with a black flag, but apart from such feeble exhibitions
of political spite he met with a reception, especially west of
Toronto, which proved beyond cavil that the heart and reason of the
country, as a whole, were undoubtedly in his favour, and that nowhere
was there any actual sympathy with the unhappy disturbances in
Montreal. He had also the gratification soon after his return from
this pleasant tour to receive from the British government an official
notification that he had been raised to the British peerage under the
title of Baron Elgin of Elgin in recognition of his distinguished
services to the Crown and empire in America.

But it was a long time before Lord Elgin was forgiven by a small
clique of politicians for the part he had taken in troubles which
ended in their signal discomfiture. The political situation continued
for a while to be aggravated by the serious commercial embarrassment
which existed throughout the country, and led to the circulation of a
manifesto, signed by leading merchants and citizens of Montreal,
urging as remedies for the prevalent depression a revival of colonial
protection by England, reciprocal free trade with the United States, a
federal union or republic of British North America, and even
annexation to the neighbouring states as a last resort. This document
did not suggest rebellion or a forceable separation from England. It
even professed affection for the home land; but it encouraged the idea
that the British government would doubtless yield to any colonial
pressure in this direction when it was convinced that the step was
beyond peradventure in the interest of the dependency. The manifesto
represented only a temporary phase of sentiment and is explained by
the fact that some men were dissatisfied with the existing condition
of things and ready for any change whatever. The movement found no
active or general response among the great mass of thinking people;
and it was impossible for the Radicals of Lower Canada to persuade
their compatriots that their special institutions, so dear to their
hearts, could be safely entrusted to their American republican
neighbours. All the men who, in the thoughtlessness of youth or in a
moment of great excitement, signed the manifesto--notably the Molsons,
the Redpaths, Luther H. Holton, John Rose, David Lewis MacPherson,
A.A. Dorion, E. Goff Penny--became prominent in the later public and
commercial life of British North America, as ministers of the Crown,
judges, senators, millionaires, and all devoted subjects of the
British sovereign.

When Lord Elgin found that the manifesto contained the signatures of
several persons holding office by commission from the Queen, he made
an immediate inquiry into the matter, and gave expression to the
displeasure of the Crown by removing from office those who confessed
that they had signed the objectionable document, or declined to give
any answer to the queries he had addressed to them. His action on this
occasion was fully justified by the imperial government, which
instructed him "to resist to the utmost any attempt that might be made
to bring about a separation of Canada from the British dominions." But
while Lord Elgin, as the representative of the Queen, was compelled by
a stern sense of duty to condemn such acts of infidelity to the
empire, he did not conceal from himself that there was a great deal in
the economic conditions of the provinces which demanded an immediate
remedy before all reason for discontent could disappear. He did not
fail to point out to Lord Grey that it was necessary to remove the
causes of the public irritation and uneasiness by the adoption of
measures calculated to give a stimulus to Canadian industry and
commerce. "Let me then assure your Lordship," he wrote in November
1849, "and I speak advisedly in offering this assurance, that the
dissatisfaction now existing in Canada, whatever may be the forms with
which it may clothe itself, is due mainly to commercial causes. I do
not say that there is no discontent on political grounds. Powerful
individuals and even classes of men are, I am well aware, dissatisfied
with the conduct of affairs. But I make bold to affirm that so general
is the belief that, under the present circumstances of our commercial
condition, the colonists pay a heavy pecuniary fine for their fidelity
to Great Britain, that nothing but the existence of an unwonted degree
of political contentment among the masses has prevented the cry for
annexation from spreading like wildfire through the province." He then
proceeded again to press upon the consideration of the government the
necessity of following the removal of the imperial restrictions upon
navigation and shipping in the colony, by the establishment of a
reciprocity of trade between the United States and the British North
American Provinces. The change in the navigation laws took place in
1849, but it was not possible to obtain larger trade with the United
States until several years later, as we shall see in a future chapter
when we come to review the relations between that country and Canada.

Posterity has fully justified the humane, patient and discreet
constitutional course pursued by Lord Elgin during one of the most
trying ordeals through which a colonial governor ever passed. He had
the supreme gratification, however, before he left the province, of
finding that his policy had met with that success which is its best
eulogy and justification. Two years after the events of 1849, he was
able to write to England that he did not believe that "the function of
the governor-general under constitutional government as the moderator
between parties, the representative of interests which are common to
all the inhabitants of the country, as distinct from those that divide
them into parties, was ever so fully and so frankly recognized." He
was sure that he could not have achieved such results if he had had
blood upon his hands. His business was "to humanize, not to harden."
One of Canada's ablest men--not then in politics--had said to him:

     "Yes, I see it all now, you were right, a thousand times
     right, though I thought otherwise then. I own that I would
     have reduced Montreal to ashes before I would have endured
     half of what you did,"

and he added, "I should have been justified, too." "Yes," answered
Lord Elgin, "you would have been justified because your course would
have been perfectly defensible; but it would not have been the best
course. Mine was a better one." And the result was this, in his own

     "700,000 French reconciled to England, not because they are
     getting rebel money; I believe, indeed that no rebels will
     get a farthing; but because they believe that the British
     governor is just. 'Yes,' but you may say, 'this is purchased
     by the alienation of the British.' Far from it, I took the
     whole blame upon myself; and I will venture to affirm that
     the Canadian British were never so loyal as they are at this
     hour; [this was, remember, two years after the burning of
     Parliament House] and, what is more remarkable still, and
     more directly traceable to this policy of forbearance,
     never, since Canada existed, has party spirit been more
     moderate, and the British and French races on better terms
     than they are now; and this in spite of the withdrawal of
     protection, and of the proposal to throw on the colony many
     charges which the imperial government has hitherto borne."

Canadians at the beginning of the twentieth century may also say as
Lord Elgin said at the close of this letter, _Magna est Veritas_.



The LaFontaine-Baldwin government remained in office until October,
1851, when it was constitutionally dissolved by the retirement of the
prime minister soon after the resignation of his colleague from Upper
Canada, whose ability as a statesman and integrity as a man had given
such popularity to the cabinet throughout the country. It has been
well described by historians as "The Great Ministry." During its
existence Canada obtained a full measure of self-government in all
provincial affairs. Trade was left perfectly untrammeled by the repeal
in June, 1849, of the navigation laws, in accordance with the urgent
appeals of the governor-general to the colonial secretary. The
immediate results were a stimulus to the whole commerce of the
province, and an influx of shipping to the ports of the St. Lawrence.
The full control of the post-office was handed over to the Canadian
government. This was one of the most popular concessions made to the
Canadian people, since it gave them opportunities for cheaper
circulation of letters and newspapers, so necessary in a new and
sparsely settled country, where the people were separated from each
other in many districts by long distances. One of the grievances of
the Canadians before the union had been the high postage imposed on
letters throughout British North America. The poor settlers were not
able to pay the three or four shillings, and even more, demanded for
letters mailed from their old homes across the sea, and it was not
unusual to find in country post-offices a large accumulation of dead
letters, refused on account of the expense. The management of the
postal service by imperial officers was in every way most
unsatisfactory; it was chiefly carried on for the benefit of a few
persons, and not for the convenience or consolation of the many who
were always anxious for news of their kin in the "old country." After
the union there was a little improvement in the system, but it was not
really administered in the interests of the Canadian people until it
was finally transferred to the colonial authorities. When this
desirable change took place, an impulse was soon given to the
dissemination of letters and newspapers. The government organized a
post-office department, of which the head was a postmaster-general
with a seat in the cabinet.

Other important measures made provision for the introduction of the
decimal system into the provincial currency, the taking of a census
every ten years, the more satisfactory conduct of parliamentary
elections and the prevention of corruption, better facilities for the
administration of justice in the two provinces, the abolition of
primogeniture with respect to real estate in Upper Canada, and the
more equitable division of property among the children of an
intestate, based on the civil law of French Canada and old France.

Education also continued to show marked improvement in accordance with
the wise policy adopted since 1841. Previous to the union popular
education had been at a very low ebb, although there were a number of
efficient private schools in all the provinces where the children of
the well-to-do classes could be taught classics and many branches of
knowledge. In Lower Canada not one-tenth of the children of the
_habitants_ could write, and only one-fifth could read. In Upper
Canada the schoolmasters as a rule, according to Mrs. Anna
Jameson,[11] were "ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-paid, or not paid at
all." In the generality of cases they were either Scotsmen or
Americans, totally unfit for the positions they filled. As late as
1833 Americans or anti-British adventurers taught in the greater
proportion of the schools, where the pupils used United States
text-books replete with sentiments hostile to England--a wretched
state of things stopped by legislation only in 1846. Year by year
after the union improvements were made in the school system, with the
object of giving every possible educational facility to rich and poor

In the course of time elementary education became practically free.
The success of the system in the progressive province of Upper Canada
largely rested on the public spirit of the municipalities. It was
engrafted on the municipal institutions of each county, to which
provincial aid was given in proportion to the amount raised by local
assessment. The establishment of normal schools and public libraries
was one of the useful features of school legislation in those days.
The merits of the system naturally evoked the sympathy and praise of
the governor-general, who was deeply interested in the intellectual
progress of the country. The development of "individual self-reliance
and local exertion under the superintendence of a central authority
exercising an influence almost exclusively moral is the ruling
principle of the system."

Provision was also made for the imparting of religious instruction by
clergymen of the several religious denominations recognized by law,
and for the establishment of separate schools for Protestants or Roman
Catholics whenever there was a necessity for them in any local
division. On the question of religious instruction Lord Elgin always
entertained strong opinions. After expressing on one occasion his deep
gratification at the adoption of legislation which had "enabled Upper
Canada to place itself in the van among the nations in the important
work of providing an efficient system of education for the whole
community," he proceeded to commend the fact that "its foundation was
laid deep in the framework of our common Christianity." He showed then
how strong was the influence of the moral sense in his character:

     "While the varying opinions of a mixed religious society are
     scrupulously respected.... it is confidently expected that
     every child who attends our common schools shall learn there
     that he is a being who has an interest in eternity as well
     as in time; that he has a Father towards whom he stands in a
     closer and more affecting and more endearing relationship
     than to any earthly father, and that that Father is in

But since the expression of these emphatic opinions the tendency of
legislation in the majority of the provinces--but not in French
Canada, where the Roman Catholic clergy still largely control their
own schools--has been to encourage secular and not religious
education. It would be instructive to learn whether either morality or
Christianity has been the gainer.

It is only justice to the memory of a man who died many years after he
saw the full fruition of his labours to say that Upper Canada owes a
debt of gratitude to the Rev. Egerton Ryerson for his services in
connection with its public school system. He was far from being a man
of deep knowledge or having a capacity for expressing his views with
terseness or clearness. He had also a large fund of personal vanity
which made him sometimes a busybody when inaction or silence would
have been wiser for himself. We can only explain his conduct in
relation to the constitutional controversy between Lord Metcalfe and
the Liberal party by the supposition that he could not resist the
blandishments of that eminent nobleman, when consulted by him, but
allowed his reason to be captured and then gave expression to opinions
and arguments which showed that he had entirely misunderstood the
seriousness of the political crisis or the sound practice of the
parliamentary system which Baldwin, LaFontaine and Howe had so long
laboured to establish in British North America. The books he wrote can
never be read with profit or interest. His "History of the United
Empire Loyalists" is probably the dullest book ever compiled by a
Canadian, and makes us thankful that he was never able to carry out
the intention he expressed in a letter to Sir Francis Hincks of
writing a constitutional history of Canada. But though he made no
figure in Canadian letters, and was not always correct in his estimate
of political issues, he succeeded in making for himself a reputation
for public usefulness in connection with the educational system of
Upper Canada far beyond that of the majority of his Canadian

The desire of the imperial and Canadian governments to bury in
oblivion the unhappy events of 1837 and 1838 was very emphatically
impressed by the concession of an amnesty in 1849 to all the persons
who had been engaged in the rebellions. In the time of Lord Metcalfe,
Papineau, Nelson, and other rebels long in exile, had been allowed to
return to Canada either by virtue of special pardons granted by the
Crown under the great seal, or by the issue of writs of _nolle
prosequi._ The signal result of the Amnesty Act passed in 1849 by the
Canadian legislature, in accordance with the recommendation in the
speech from the throne, was the return of William Lyon Mackenzie, who
had led an obscure and wretched life in the United States ever since
his flight from Upper Canada in 1837, and had gained an experience
which enabled him to value British institutions more highly than those
of the republic.

An impartial historian must always acknowledge the fact that Mackenzie
was ill-used by the family compact and English governors during his
political career before the rebellion, and that he had sound views of
constitutional government which were well worthy of the serious
consideration of English statesmen. In this respect he showed more
intelligence than Papineau, who never understood the true principles
of parliamentary government, and whose superiority, compared with the
little, pugnacious Upper Canadian, was the possession of a stately
presence and a gift of fervid eloquence which was well adapted to
impress and carry away his impulsive and too easily deceived
countrymen. If Mackenzie had shown more control of his temper and
confined himself to such legitimate constitutional agitation as was
stirred up by a far abler man, Joseph Howe, the father of responsible
government in the maritime provinces, he would have won a far higher
place in Canadian history. He was never a statesman; only an agitator
who failed entirely throughout his passionate career to understand the
temper of the great body of Liberals--that they were in favour not of
rebellion but of such a continuous and earnest enunciation of their
constitutional principles as would win the whole province to their
opinions and force the imperial government itself to make the reforms
imperatively demanded in the public interests.[12] But, while we
cannot recognize in him the qualities of a safe political leader, we
should do justice to that honesty of purpose and that spirit of
unselfishness which placed him on a far higher plane than many of
those men who belonged to the combination derisively called the
"family compact," and who never showed a willingness to consider other
interests than their own. Like Papineau, Mackenzie became a member of
the provincial legislature, but only to give additional evidence that
he did not possess the capacity for discreet, practical statesmanship
possessed by Hincks and Baldwin and other able Upper Canadians who
could in those days devote themselves to the public interests with
such satisfactory results to the province at large.

It was Baldwin who, while a member of the ministry, succeeded in
carrying the measure which created the University of Toronto, and
placed it on the broad basis on which it has rested ever since. His
measure was the result of an agitation which had commenced before the
union. Largely through the influence of Dr. Strachan, the first
Anglican bishop of Upper Canada, Sir Peregrine Maitland, when
lieutenant-governor, had been induced to grant a charter establishing
King's College "at or near York" (Toronto), with university
privileges. Like old King's in Nova Scotia, established before the
beginning of the century, it was directly under the control of the
Church of England, since its governing body and its professors had to
subscribe to its thirty-nine articles. It received an endowment of the
public lands available for educational purposes in the province, and
every effort was made to give it a provincial character though
conducted entirely on sectarian principles. The agitation which
eventually followed its establishment led to some modifications in its
character, but, for all that, it remained practically under the
direction of the Anglican bishop and clergy, and did not obtain the
support or approval of any dissenters. After the union a large edifice
was commenced in the city of Toronto, on the site where the
legislative and government buildings now stand, and an energetic
movement was made to equip it fully as a university.

When the Draper-Viger ministry was in office, it was proposed to meet
the growing opposition to the institution by establishing a university
which should embrace three denominational colleges--King's College,
Toronto, for the Church of England, Queen's College, Kingston, for the
Presbyterians, and Victoria College, Cobourg, for the Methodists--but
the bishop and adherents of the Anglican body strenuously opposed the
measure, which failed to pass in a House where the Tories were in the
ascendant. Baldwin had himself previously introduced a bill of a
similar character as a compromise, but it had failed to meet with any
support, and when he came into office he saw that he must go much
further and establish a non-sectarian university if he expected to
carry any measure on the subject in the legislature. The result was
the establishment of the University of Toronto, on a strictly
undenominational foundation. Bishop Strachan was deeply incensed at
what he regarded as a violation of vested rights of the Church of
England in the University of King's College, and never failed for
years to style the provincial institution "the Godless university." In
this as in other matters he failed to see that the dominant sentiment
of the country would not sustain any attempt on the part of a single
denomination to control a college which obtained its chief support
from public aid. Whilst every tribute must be paid to the zeal,
energy, and courage of the bishop, we must at the same time recognize
the fact that his former connection with the family compact and his
inability to understand the necessity of compromise in educational and
other matters did much injury to a great church.

He succeeded unfortunately in identifying it with the unpopular and
aristocratic party, opposed to the extension of popular government and
the diffusion of cheap education among all classes of people. With
that indomitable courage which never failed him at a crisis he set to
work to advance the denomination whose interests he had always at
heart, and succeeded by appeals to English aid in establishing Trinity
College, which has always occupied a high position among Canadian
universities, although for a while it failed to arouse sympathy in the
public mind, until the feelings which had been evoked in connection
with the establishment of King's had passed away. An effort is now
(1901) being made to affiliate it with the same university which the
bishop had so obstinately and bitterly opposed, in the hope of giving
it larger opportunities for usefulness. Its complete success of late
has been impeded by the want of adequate funds to maintain those
departments of scientific instruction now imperatively demanded in
modern education. When this affiliation takes place, the friends of
Trinity, conversant with its history from its beginning, believe that
the portrait of the old bishop, now hanging on the walls of
Convocation Hall, should be covered with a dark veil, emblematic of
the sorrow which he would feel were he to return to earth and see what
to him would be the desecration of an institution which he built as a
great remonstrance against the spoliation of the church in 1849.

The LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry also proved itself fully equal to the
demands of public opinion by its vigorous policy with respect to the
colonization of the wild lands of the province, the improvement of the
navigation of the St. Lawrence, and the construction of railways.
Measures were passed which had the effect of opening up and settling
large districts by the offer of grants of public land at a nominal
price and very easy terms of payment. In this way the government
succeeded in keeping in the country a large number of French Canadians
who otherwise would have gone to the United States, where the varied
industries of a very enterprising people have always attracted a large
number of Canadians of all classes and races.

The canals were at last completed in accordance with the wise policy
inaugurated after the union by Lord Sydenham, whose commercial
instincts at once recognized the necessity of giving western trade
easy access to the ocean by the improvement of the great waterways of
Canada. It had always been the ambition of the people of Upper Canada
before the union to obtain a continuous and secure system of
navigation from the lakes to Montreal. The Welland Canal between Lakes
Erie and Ontario was commenced as early as 1824 through the enterprise
of Mr. William Hamilton Merritt--afterwards a member of the
LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry--and the first vessel passed its locks in
1829; but it was very badly managed, and the legislature, after having
aided it from time to time, was eventually obliged to take control of
it as a provincial work. The Cornwall Canal was also undertaken at an
early day, but work had to be stopped when it became certain that the
legislature of Lower Canada, then controlled by Papineau, would not
respond to the aspirations of the west and improve that portion of the
St. Lawrence within its provincial jurisdiction.

Governor Haldimand had, from 1779-1782, constructed a very simple
temporary system of canals to overcome the rapids called the Cascades,
Cedars and Côteau, and some slight improvements were made in these
primitive works from year to year until the completion of the
Beauharnois Canal in 1845. The Lachine Canal was completed, after a
fashion, in 1828, but nothing was done to give a continuous river
navigation between Montreal and the west until 1845, when the
Beauharnois Canal was first opened. The Rideau Canal originated in the
experiences of the war of 1812-14, which showed the necessity of a
secure inland communication between Montreal and the country on Lake
Ontario; but though first constructed for defensive purposes, it had
for years decided commercial advantages for the people of Upper
Canada, especially of the Kingston district. The Grenville canal on
the Ottawa was the natural continuation of this canal, as it ensured
uninterrupted water communication between Bytown--now the city of
Ottawa--and Montreal.

The heavy public debt contracted by Upper Canada prior to 1840 had
been largely accumulated by the efforts of its people to obtain the
active sympathy and cooperation of the legislature of French Canada,
where Papineau and his followers seemed averse to the development of
British interests in the valley of the St. Lawrence. After the union,
happily for Canada, public men of all parties and races awoke to the
necessity of a vigorous canal policy, and large sums of money were
annually expended to give the shipping of the lakes safe and
continuous navigation to Montreal. At the same time the channel of
Lake St. Peter between Montreal and Quebec was improved by the harbour
commissioners of the former city, aided by the government. Before the
LaFontaine-Baldwin cabinet left office, it was able to see the
complete success of this thoroughly Canadian or national policy. The
improvement of this canal system--now the most magnificent in the
world--has kept pace with the development of the country down to the
present time.

It was mainly, if not entirely, through the influence of Hincks,
finance minister in the government, that a vigorous impulse was given
to railway construction in the province. The first railroad in British
North America was built in 1837 by the enterprise of Montreal
capitalists, from La Prairie on the south side of the St. Lawrence as
far as St. John's on the Richelieu, a distance of only sixteen miles.
The only railroad in Upper Canada for many years was a horse tramway,
opened in 1839 between Queenston and Chippewa by the old portage road
round the falls of Niagara. In 1845 the St. Lawrence and Atlantic
Railway Company--afterwards a portion of the Grand Trunk
Railway--obtained a charter for a line to connect with the Atlantic
and St. Lawrence Railway Company of Portland, in the State of Maine.
The year 1846 saw the commencement of the Lachine Railway. In 1849 the
Great Western, the Northern, and the St. Lawrence and Atlantic
Railways were stimulated by legislation which gave a provincial
guarantee for the construction of lines not less than seventy-five
miles in length. In 1851 Hincks succeeded in passing a measure which
provided for the building of a great trunk line connecting Quebec with
the western limits of Upper Canada. It was hoped at first that this
road would join the great military railway contemplated between Quebec
and Halifax, and then earnestly advocated by Howe and other public men
of the maritime provinces with the prospect of receiving aid from the
imperial government. If these railway interests could be combined, an
Intercolonial railroad would be constructed from the Atlantic seaboard
to the lakes, and a great stimulus given not merely to the commerce
but to the national unity of British North America, In case, however,
this great idea could not be realized, it was the intention of the
Canadian government to make every possible exertion to induce British
capitalists to invest their money in the great trunk line by a liberal
offer of assistance from the provincial exchequer, and the
municipalities directly interested in its construction.

The practical result of Hincks's policy was the construction of the
Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, not by public aid as originally
proposed, but by British capitalists. The greater inter-colonial
scheme failed in consequence of the conflict of rival routes in the
maritime provinces, and the determination of the British government to
give its assistance only to a road that would be constructed at a long
distance from the United States frontier, and consequently available
for military and defensive purposes--in fact such a road as was
actually built after the confederation of the provinces with the aid
of an imperial guarantee. The history of the negotiations between the
Canadian government and the maritime provinces with respect to the
Intercolonial scheme is exceedingly complicated. An angry controversy
arose between Hincks and Howe; the latter always accused the former of
a breach of faith, and of having been influenced by a desire to
promote the interests of the capitalists concerned in the Grand Trunk
without reference to those of the maritime provinces. Be that as it
may, we know that Hincks left the wordy politicians of Nova Scotia and
New Brunswick to quarrel over rival routes, and, as we shall see
later, went ahead with the Grand Trunk, and had it successfully
completed many years before the first sod on the Intercolonial route
was turned.

In addition to these claims of the LaFontaine-Baldwin government to be
considered "a great ministry," there is the fact that, through the
financial ability of Hincks, the credit of the province steadily
advanced, and it was at last possible to borrow money in the London
market on very favourable terms. The government entered heartily into
the policy of Lord Elgin with respect to reciprocity with the United
States, and the encouragement of trade between the different provinces
of British North America. It was, however, unable to dispose of two
great questions which had long agitated the province--the abolition of
the seigniorial tenure, which was antagonistic to settlement and
colonization, and the secularization of the clergy reserves, granted
to the Protestant clergy by the Constitutional Act of 1791. These
questions will be reviewed at some length in later chapters, and all
that it is necessary to say here is that, while the LaFontaine-Baldwin
cabinet supported preliminary steps that were taken in the legislature
for the purpose of bringing about a settlement of these vexatious
subjects, it never showed any earnest desire to take them up as parts
of its ministerial policy, and remove them from political controversy.

Indeed it is clear that LaFontaine's conservative instincts, which
became stronger with age and experience of political conditions,
forced him to proceed very slowly and cautiously with respect to a
movement that would interfere with a tenure so deeply engrafted in the
social and economic structure of his own province, while as a Roman
Catholic he was at heart always doubtful of the justice of diverting
to secular purposes those lands which had been granted by Great
Britain for the support of a Protestant clergy. Baldwin was also slow
to make up his mind as to the proper disposition of the reserves, and
certainly weakened himself in his own province by his reluctance to
express himself distinctly with respect to a land question which had
been so long a grievance and a subject of earnest agitation among the
men who supported him in and out of the legislature. Indeed when he
presented himself for the last time before his constituents in 1857,
he was emphatically attacked on the hustings as an opponent of the
secularization of the reserves for refusing to give a distinct pledge
as to the course he would take on the question. This fact, taken in
connection with his previous utterances in the legislature, certainly
gives force to the opinion which has been more than once expressed by
Canadian historians that he was not prepared, any more than LaFontaine
himself, to divert funds given for an express purpose to one of an
entirely different character. Under these circumstances it is easy to
come to the conclusion that the LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry was not
willing at any time to make these two questions parts of its
policy--questions on which it was ready to stand or fall as a

The first step towards the breaking up of the ministry was the
resignation of Baldwin following upon the support given by a majority
of the Reformers in Upper Canada to a notion presented by William Lyon
Mackenzie for the abolition of the court of chancery and the transfer
of its functions to the courts of common law. The motion was voted
down in the House, but Baldwin was a believer in the doctrine that a
minister from a particular province should receive the confidence and
support of the majority of its representatives in cases where a
measure affected its interests exclusively. He had taken some pride in
the passage of the act which reorganized the court, reformed old
abuses in its practice, and made it, as he was convinced, useful in
litigation; but when he found that his efforts in this direction were
condemned by the votes of the very men who should have supported him
in the province affected by the measure, he promptly offered his
resignation, which was accepted with great reluctance not only by
LaFontaine but by Lord Elgin, who had learned to admire and respect
this upright, unselfish Canadian statesman. A few months later he was
defeated at an election in one of the ridings of York by an unknown
man, largely on account of his attitude on the question of the clergy
reserves. He never again offered himself for parliament, but lived in
complete retirement in Toronto, where he died in 1858. Then the people
whom he had so long faithfully served, after years of neglect, became
conscious that a true patriot had passed away.

LaFontaine placed his resignation in the hands of the
governor-general, who accepted it with regret. No doubt the former had
deeply felt the loss of his able colleague, and was alive to the
growing belief among the Liberal politicians of Upper Canada that the
government was not proceeding fast enough in carrying out the reforms
which they considered necessary. LaFontaine had become a Conservative
as is usual with men after some experience of the responsibilities of
public administration, and probably felt that he had better retire
before he lost his influence with his party, and before the elements
of disintegration that were forming within it had fully developed.
After his retirement he returned to the practice of law, and in 1853
he became chief justice of the court of appeal of Lower Canada on the
death of Sir James Stuart. At the same time he received from the Crown
the honour of a baronetcy, which was also conferred on the chief
justice of Upper Canada, Sir John Beverley Robinson.

Political historians justly place LaFontaine in the first rank of
Canadian statesmen on account of his extensive knowledge, his sound
judgment, his breadth of view, his firmness in political crises, and
above all his desire to promote the best interests of his countrymen
on those principles of compromise and conciliation which alone can
bind together the distinct nationalities and creeds of a country
peopled like Canada. As a judge he was dignified, learned and
impartial. His judicial decisions were distinguished by the same
lucidity which was conspicuous in his parliamentary addresses. He died
ten years later than the great Upper Canadian, whose honoured name
must be always associated with his own in the annals of a memorable
epoch, when the principles of responsible government were at last,
after years of perplexity and trouble, carried out in their entirety,
and when the French Canadians had come to recognize as a truth that
under no other system would it have been possible for them to obtain
that influence in the public councils to which they were fully
entitled, or to reconcile and unite the diverse interests of a great
province, divided by the Ottawa river into two sections, the one
French and Roman Catholic, and the other English and Protestant.



When LaFontaine resigned the premiership the ministry was dissolved
and it was necessary for the governor-general to choose his successor.
After the retirement of Baldwin, Hincks and his colleagues from Upper
Canada were induced to remain in the cabinet and the latter became the
leader in that province. He was endowed with great natural shrewdness,
was deeply versed in financial and commercial matters, had a complete
comprehension of the material conditions of the province, and
recognized the necessity of rapid railway construction if the people
were to hold their own against the competition of their very energetic
neighbours to the south. His ideas of trade, we can well believe,
recommended themselves to Lord Elgin, who saw in him the very man he
needed to help him in his favourite scheme of bringing about
reciprocity with the United States. At the same time he was now the
most prominent man in the Liberal party so long led by Baldwin and
LaFontaine, and the governor-general very properly called upon him to
reconstruct the ministry. He assumed the responsibility and formed the
government known in the political history of Canada as the
Hincks-Morin ministry; but before we consider its _personnel_ and
review its measures, it is necessary to recall the condition of
political parties at the time it came into power.

During the years Baldwin and LaFontaine were in office, the politics
of the province were in the process of changes which eventually led to
important results in the state of parties. The _Parti Rouge_ was
formed in Lower Canada out of the extreme democratic element of the
people by Papineau, who, throughout his parliamentary career since his
return from exile, showed the most determined opposition to
LaFontaine, whose measures were always distinguished by a spirit of
conservatism, decidedly congenial to the dominant classes in French
Canada where the civil and religious institutions of the country had
much to fear from the promulgation of republican principles.

The new party was composed chiefly of young Frenchmen, then in the
first stage of their political growth--notably A.A. Dorion, J.B.E.
Dorion (_l'enfant terrible_), R. Doutre, Dessaules, Labrèche, Viger,
and Laflamme; L.H. Holton, and a very few men of British descent were
also associated with the party from its commencement. Its organ was
_L'Avenir_ of Montreal, in which were constantly appearing violent
diatribes and fervid appeals to national prejudice, always peculiar to
French Canadian journalism. It commenced with a programme in which it
advocated universal suffrage, the abolition of property qualification
for members of the legislature, the repeal of the union, the abolition
of tithes, a republican form of government, and even, in a moment of
extreme political aberration, annexation to the United States. It was
a feeble imitation of the red republicanism of the French revolution,
and gave positive evidences of the inspiration of the hero of the
fight at St. Denis in 1837. Its platform was pervaded not only by
hatred of British institutions, but with contempt for the clergy and
religion generally. Its revolutionary principles were at once
repudiated by the great mass of French Canadians and for years it had
but a feeble existence. It was only when its leading spirits
reconstructed their platform and struck out its most objectionable
planks, that it became something of a factor in practical Canadian
politics. In 1851 it was still insignificant numerically in the
legislature, and could not affect the fortunes of the Liberal party in
Lower Canada then distinguished by the ability of A.N. Morin, P.J.O.
Chauveau, R.E. Caron, E.P. Taché, and L.P. Drummond. The recognized
leader of this dominant party was Morin, whose versatile knowledge,
lucidity of style, and charm of manner gave him much strength in
parliament. His influence, however, as I have already said, was too
often weakened by an absence of energy and of the power to lead at
national or political crises.

Parties in Upper Canada also showed the signs of change. The old Tory
party had been gradually modifying its opinions under the influence of
responsible government, which showed its wisest members that ideas
that prevailed before the union had no place under the new,
progressive order of things. This party, nominally led by Sir Allan
MacNab, that staunch old loyalist, now called itself Conservative, and
was quite ready, in fact anxious, to forget the part it took in
connection with the rebellion-losses legislation, and to win that
support in French Canada without which it could not expect to obtain
office. The ablest man in its councils was already John Alexander
Macdonald, whose political sagacity and keenness to seize political
advantages for the advancement of his party, were giving him the lead
among the Conservatives. The Liberals had shown signs of
disintegration ever since the formation of the "Clear Grits," whose
most conspicuous members were Peter Perry, the founder of the Liberal
party in Upper Canada before the union; William McDougall, an eloquent
young lawyer and journalist; Malcolm Cameron, who had been assistant
commissioner of public works in the LaFontaine-Baldwin government; Dr.
John Rolph, one of the leaders of the movement that ended in the
rebellion of 1837; Caleb Hopkins, a western farmer of considerable
energy and natural ability; David Christie, a well-known
agriculturist; and John Leslie, the proprietor of the Toronto
_Examiner_, the chief organ of the new party. It was organized as a
remonstrance against what many men in the old Liberal party regarded
as the inertness of their leaders to carry out changes considered
necessary in the political interests of the country. Its very name was
a proof that its leaders believed there should be no reservation in
the opinion held by their party--that there must be no alloy or
foreign metal in their political coinage, but it must be clear Grit.
Its platform embraced many of the cardinal principles of the original
Reform or Liberal party, but it also advocated such radical changes as
the application of the elective principle to all classes of officials
(including the governor-general), universal suffrage, vote by ballot,
biennial parliaments, the abolition of the courts of chancery and
common pleas, free trade and direct taxation.

The Toronto _Globe_, which was for a short time the principal exponent
of ministerial views, declared that many of the doctrines enunciated
by the Clear Grits "embody the whole difference between a republican
form of government and the limited monarchy of Great Britain." _The
Globe_ was edited by George Brown, a Scotsman by birth, who came with
his father in his youth to the western province and entered into
journalism, in which he attained eventually signal success by his
great intellectual force and tenacity of purpose. His support of the
LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry gradually dropped from a moderate
enthusiasm to a positive coolness, from its failure to carry out the
principles urged by _The Globe_--especially the secularization of the
clergy reserves. Then he commenced to raise the cry of French
domination and to attack the religion and special institutions of
French Canada with such virulence that at last he became "a
governmental impossibility," so far as the influence of that province
was concerned. He supported the Clear Grits in the end, and became
their recognized leader when they gathered to themselves all the
discontented and radical elements of the Liberal party which had for
some years been gradually splitting into fragments. The power of the
Clear Grits was first shown in 1851, when William Lyon Mackenzie
succeeded in obtaining a majority of Reformers in support of his
motion for the abolition of the court of chancery, and forced the
retirement of Baldwin, whose conservatism had gradually brought him
into antagonism with the extremists of his old party.

Although relatively small in numbers in 1851, the Clear Grits had the
ability to do much mischief, and Hincks at once recognized the
expediency of making concessions to their leaders before they
demoralized or ruined the Liberal party in the west. Accordingly, he
invited Dr. Rolph and Malcolm Cameron to take positions in the new
ministry. They consented on condition that the secularization of the
clergy reserves would be a part of the ministerial policy. Hincks then
presented the following names to the governor-general:

     Upper Canada.--Hon. F. Hincks, inspector-general; Hon. W.B.
     Richards, attorney-general of Upper Canada; Hon. Malcolm
     Cameron, president of the executive council; Hon. John
     Rolph, commissioner of crown lands; Hon. James Morris,

Lower Canada.--Hon. A.N. Morin, provincial secretary, Hon. L.P.
Drummond, attorney-general of Lower Canada; Hon. John Young,
commissioner of public works; Hon. R.E. Caron, president of
legislative council; Hon. E.P. Taché, receiver-general.

Later, Mr. Chauveau and Mr. John Ross were appointed
solicitors-general for Lower and Upper Canada, without seats in the

Parliament was dissolved in November, when it had completed its
constitutional term of four years, and the result of the elections was
the triumph of the new ministry. It obtained a large majority in Lower
Canada, and only a feeble support in Upper Canada. The most notable
acquisition to parliament was George Brown, who had been defeated
previously in a bye-election of the same year by William Lyon
Mackenzie, chiefly on account of his being most obnoxious to the Roman
Catholic voters. He was assuming to be the Protestant champion in
journalism, and had made a violent attack on the Roman Catholic faith
on the occasion of the appointment of Cardinal Wiseman as Archbishop
of Westminster, an act denounced by extreme Protestants throughout the
British empire as an unconstitutional and dangerous interference by
the Pope with the dearest rights of Protestant England. As soon as
Brown entered the legislature he defined his political position by
declaring that, while he saw much to condemn in the formation of the
ministry and was dissatisfied with Hincks's explanations, he preferred
giving it for the time being his support rather than seeing the
government handed over to the Conservatives. As a matter of fact, he
soon became the most dangerous adversary that the government had to
meet. His style of speaking--full of facts and bitterness--and his
control of an ably conducted and widely circulated newspaper made him
a force in and out of parliament. His aim was obviously to break up
the new ministry, and possibly to ensure the formation of some new
combination in which his own ambition might be satisfied. As we shall
shortly see, his schemes failed chiefly through the more skilful
strategy of the man who was always his rival--his successful
rival--John A. Macdonald.

During its existence the Hincks-Morin ministry was distinguished by
its energetic policy for the promotion of railway, maritime and
commercial enterprises. It took the first steps to stimulate the
establishment of a line of Atlantic steamers by the offer of a
considerable subsidy for the carriage of mails between Canada and
Great Britain. The first contract was made with a Liverpool firm,
McKean, McLarty & Co., but the service was not satisfactorily
performed, owing, probably--according to Hincks--to the war with
Russia, and it was necessary to make a new arrangement with the
Messrs. Allan, which has continued, with some modification, until the
present time.

The negotiations for the construction of an intercolonial railway
having failed for the reasons previously stated, (p. 100), Hincks made
successful applications to English capitalists for the construction of
the great road always known as the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. It
obtained a charter authorizing it to consolidate the lines from Quebec
to Richmond, from Quebec to Rivière du Loup, and from Toronto to
Montreal, which had received a guarantee of $3,000 a mile in
accordance with the law passed in 1851. It also had power to build the
Victoria bridge across the St. Lawrence at Montreal, and lease the
American line to Portland. By 1860, this great national highway was
completed from Rivière du Loup on the lower St. Lawrence as far as
Sarnia and Windsor on the western lakes. Its early history was
notorious for much jobbery, and the English shareholders lost the
greater part of the money which they invested in this Canadian
undertaking.[13] It cost the province from first to last upwards of
$16,000,000 but it was, on the whole, money expended in the interests
of the country, whose internal development would have been very
greatly retarded in the absence of rapid means of transit between east
and west. The government also gave liberal aid to the Great Western
Railway, which extended from the Niagara river to Hamilton, London and
Windsor, and to the Northern road, which extended north from Toronto,
both of which, many years later, became parts of the Grand Trunk

In accordance with its general progressive policy, the Hincks-Morin
ministry passed through the legislature an act empowering
municipalities in Upper Canada, after the observance of certain
formalities, to borrow money for the building of railways by the issue
of municipal debentures guaranteed by the provincial government. Under
this law a number of municipalities borrowed large sums to assist
railways and involved themselves so heavily in debt that the province
was ultimately obliged to come to their assistance and assume their
obligations. For years after the passage of this measure, Lower Canada
received the same privileges, but the people of that province were
never carried away by the enthusiasm of the west and never burdened
themselves with debts which they were unable to pay. The law, however,
gave a decided impulse at the outset to railway enterprise in Upper
Canada, and would have been a positive public advantage had it been
carried out with some degree of caution.

The government established a department of agriculture to which were
given control of the taking of a decennial census, the encouragement
of immigration, the collection of agricultural and other statistics,
the establishment of model farms and agricultural schools, the holding
of annual exhibitions and fairs, and other matters calculated to
encourage the cultivation of the soil in both sections of the
province. Malcolm Cameron became its first minister in connection with
his nominal duties as president of the executive council--a position
which he had accepted only on condition that it was accompanied by
some more active connection with the administration of public affairs.

For three sessions the LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry had made vain
efforts to pass a law increasing the representation of the two
provinces to one hundred and thirty or sixty-five members for each
section. As already stated the Union Act required that such a measure
should receive a majority of two-thirds in each branch of the
legislature. It would have become law on two occasions had it not been
for the factious opposition of Papineau, whose one vote would have
given the majority constitutionally necessary. When it was again
presented in 1853 by Mr. Morin, it received the bitter opposition of
Mr. Brown, who was now formulating the doctrine of representation by
population which afterwards became so important a factor in provincial
politics that it divided west from east, and made government
practically impossible until a federal union of the British North
American provinces was brought about as the only feasible solution of
the serious political and sectional difficulties under which Canada
was suffering. A number of prominent Conservatives, including Mr. John
A. Macdonald, were also unfavourable to the measure on the ground that
the population of Upper Canada, which was steadily increasing over
that of Lower Canada, should be equitably considered in any
readjustment of the provincial representation. The French Canadians,
who had been forced to come into the union hi 1841 with the same
representation as Upper Canada with its much smaller population, were
now unwilling to disturb the equality originally fixed while agreeing
to an increase in the number of representatives from each section.
The bill, which became law in 1853, was entirely in harmony with
the views entertained by Lord Elgin when he first took office as
governor-general of Canada. In 1847 he gave his opinion to the
colonial secretary that "the comparatively small number of members
of which the popular bodies who determine the fate of provincial
administrations" consisted was "unfavourable to the existence of a
high order of principle and feeling among official personages." When a
defection of two or three individuals from a majority of ten or so put
an administration in peril, "the perpetual patchwork and trafficking
to secure this vote and that (not to mention other evils) so engrosses
the time and thoughts of ministers that they have not leisure for
matters of greater moment" He clearly saw into the methods by which
his first unstable ministry, which had its origin in Lord Metcalfe's
time, was alone able to keep its feeble majority. "It must be
remembered," he wrote in 1847, "that it is only of late that the
popular assemblies in this part of the world have acquired the right
of determining who shall govern them--of insisting, as we phrase it,
that the administration of affairs shall be conducted by persons
enjoying their confidence. It is not wonderful that a privilege of
this kind should be exercised at first with some degree of
recklessness, and that while no great principles of policy are at
stake, methods of a more questionable character for winning and
retaining the confidence of these arbiters of destiny should be
resorted to."

While the Hincks government was in office, the Canadian legislature
received power from the imperial authorities--as I shall show
later--to settle the question of the clergy reserves on condition that
protection should be given to those members of the clergy who had been
beneficiaries under the Constitutional Act of 1791. A measure was
passed for the settlement of the seigniorial tenure question on an
equitable basis, but it was defeated in the legislative council by a
large majority amongst which we see the names of several seigneurs
directly interested in the measure. It was not fully discussed in that
chamber on the ground that members from Upper Canada had not had a
sufficient opportunity of studying the details of the proposed
settlement and of coming to a just conclusion as to its merits. The
action of the council under these circumstances was severely
criticized, and gave a stimulus to the movement that had been steadily
going on for years among radical reformers of both provinces in favour
of an elective body.

The result was that in 1854 the British parliament repealed the
clauses of the Union Act of 1840 with respect to the upper House, and
gave full power to the Canadian legislature to make such changes as it
might deem expedient--another concession to the principle of local
self-government. It was not, however, until 1856, that the legislature
passed a bill giving effect to the intentions of the imperial law, and
the first elections were held for the council. Lord Elgin was always
favourable to this constitutional change. "The position of the second
chamber of our body politic"--I quote from a despatch of March,
1853--"is at present wholly unsatisfactory. The principle of election
must be introduced in order to give to it the influence which it ought
to possess, and that principle must be so applied as to admit of the
working of parliamentary government (which I for one am certainly not
prepared to abandon for the American system) with two elective
chambers... When our two legislative bodies shall have been placed on
this improved footing, a greater stability will have been imparted to
our constitution, and a greater strength." Lord Elgin's view was
adopted and the change was made.

It is interesting to note that so distinguished a statesman as Lord
Derby, who had been colonial secretary in a previous administration,
had only gloomy forebodings of the effects of this elective system
applied to the upper House. He believed that the dream that he had of
seeing the colonies form eventually "a monarchical government,
presided over by one nearly and closely allied to the present royal
family," would be proved quite illusory by the legislation in
question. "Nothing," he added, "like a free and regulated monarchy
could exist for a single moment under such a constitution as that
which is now proposed for Canada. From the moment that you pass this
constitution, the progress must be rapidly towards republicanism, if
anything could be more really republican than this bill." As a matter
of fact a very few years later than the utterance of these gloomy
words, Canada and the other provinces of British North America entered
into a confederation "with a constitution similar in principle to that
of the United Kingdom"--to quote words in the preamble of the Act of
Union--and with a parliament of which the House of Commons is alone
elective. More than that, Lord Derby's dream has been in a measure
realized and Canada has seen at the head of her executive a
governor-general--the present Duke of Argyle--"nearly and closely
allied to the present royal family" of England, by his marriage to the
Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, who
accompanied her husband to Ottawa.

One remarkable feature of the Imperial Act dealing with this question
of the council, was the introduction of a clause which gave authority
to a mere majority of the members of the two Houses of the legislature
to increase the representation, and consequently removed that
safeguard to French Canada which required a two-thirds vote in each
branch. As the legislature had never passed an address or otherwise
expressed itself in favour of such an amendment of the Union Act,
there was always a mystery as to the way it was brought about. Georges
Étienne Cartier always declared that Papineau was indirectly
responsible for this imperial legislation. As already stated, the
leader of the Rouges had voted against the bill increasing the
representation, and had declaimed like others against the injustice
which the clause in the Union Act had originally done to French
Canada. "This fact," said Cartier, "was known in England, and when
leave was given to elect legislative councillors, the amendment
complained of was made at the same time. It may be said then, that if
Papineau had not systematically opposed the increase of
representation, the change in question would have never been thought
of in England." Hincks, however, was attacked by the French Canadian
historian, Garneau, for having suggested the amendment while in
England in 1854. This, however, he denied most emphatically in a
pamphlet which he wrote at a later time when he was no longer in
public life. He placed the responsibility on John Boulton, who called
himself an independent Liberal and who was in England at the same time
as Hincks, and probably got the ear of the colonial secretary or one
of his subordinates in the colonial office, and induced him to
introduce the amendment which passed without notice in a House where
very little attention was given, as a rule, to purely colonial

In 1853 Lord Elgin visited England, where he received unqualified
praise for his able administration of Canadian affairs. It was on this
occasion that Mr. Buchanan, then minister of the United States in
London, and afterwards a president of the Republic, paid this tribute
to the governor-general at a public dinner given in his honour.

"Lord Elgin," he said, "has solved one of the most difficult problems
of statesmanship. He has been able, successfully and satisfactorily,
to administer, amidst many difficulties, a colonial government over a
free people. This is an easy task where the commands of a despot are
law to his obedient servants, but not so in a colony where the people
feel that they possess the rights and privileges of native-born
Britons. Under his enlightened government, Her Majesty's North
American provinces have realized the blessings of a wise, prudent and
prosperous administration, and we of the neighbouring nation, though
jealous of our rights, have reason to be abundantly satisfied with his
just and friendly conduct towards ourselves. He has known how to
reconcile his devotion to Her Majesty's service with a proper regard
to the rights and interests of a kindred and neighbouring people.
Would to heaven we had such governors-general in all the European
colonies in the vicinity of the United States!"

On his return from England Lord Elgin made a visit to Washington and
succeeded in negotiating the reciprocity treaty which he had always at
heart. It was not, however, until a change of government occurred in
Canada, that the legislature was able to give its ratification to this
important measure. This subject is of such importance that it will be
fully considered in a separate chapter on the relations between Canada
and the United States during Lord Elgin's term of office.

In 1854 the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Quebec and Montreal were
deeply excited by the lectures of a former monk, Father Gavazzi, who
had become a Protestant and professed to expose the errors of the
faith to which he once belonged. Much rioting took place in both
cities, and blood was shed in Montreal, where the troops, which had
been called out, suddenly fired on the mob. Mr. Wilson, the mayor, who
was a Roman Catholic, was accused of having given the order to fire,
but he always denied the charge, and Hincks, in his "Reminiscences,"
expresses his conviction that he was not responsible. He was persuaded
that "the firing was quite accidental, one man having discharged his
piece from misapprehension, and others having followed his example
until the officers threw themselves in front, and struck up the
firelocks." Be this as it may, the Clear Grits in the West promptly
made use of this incident to attack the government on the ground that
it had failed to make a full investigation into the circumstances of
the riot. As a matter of fact, according to Hincks, the government did
take immediate steps to call the attention of the military commandant
to the matter, and the result was a court of inquiry which ended in
the removal of the regiment--then only a few days in Canada--to
Bermuda for having shown "a want of discipline." Brown inveighed very
bitterly against Hincks and his colleagues, as subject to Roman
Catholic domination in French Canada, and found this unfortunate
affair extremely useful in his systematic efforts to destroy the
government, to which at no time had he been at all favourable.

Several changes took place during 1853 in the _personnel_ of the
ministry, which met parliament on June 13th, with the following
members holding portfolios:

     Hon. Messrs. Hincks, premier and inspector-general; John
     Ross, formerly solicitor-general west in place of Richards,
     elevated to the bench, attorney-general for Upper Canada;
     James Morris, president of the legislative council, in place
     of Mr. Caron, now a judge; John Rolph, president of the
     executive council; Malcolm Cameron, postmaster-general; A.N.
     Morin, commissioner of crown lands; L.P. Drummond,
     attorney-general for Lower Canada; Mr. Chauveau, formerly
     solicitor east, provincial secretary; J. Chabot,
     commissioner of public works in place of John Young,
     resigned on account of differences on commercial questions;
     and E.P. Taché, receiver-general. Dunbar Ross became
     solicitor-general east, and Joseph C. Morrison,
     solicitor-general west.

The government had decided to have a short session, pass a few
necessary measures and then appeal to the country. The secularization
of the reserves, and the question of the seigniorial tenure were not
to be taken up until the people had given an expression of opinion as
to the ministerial policy generally. As soon as the legislature met,
Cauchon, already prominent in public life, proposed an amendment to
the address, expressing regret that the government had no intention
"to submit immediately a measure to settle the question of the
seigniorial tenure." Then Sicotte, who had not long before declined to
enter the ministry, moved to add the words "and one for the
secularization of the clergy reserves." These two amendments were
carried by a majority of thirteen in a total division of seventy-one
votes. While the French Liberals continued to support Morin, all the
Upper Canadian opponents of the government, Conservatives and Clear
Grits, united with a number of Hincks's former supporters and Rouges
in Lower Canada to bring about this ministerial defeat. The government
accordingly was obliged either to resign or ask the governor-general
for a dissolution. It concluded to adhere to its original
determination, and go at once to the country. The governor-general
consented to prorogue the legislature with a view to an immediate
appeal to the electors. When the Usher of the Black Rod appeared at
the door of the assembly chamber, to ask the attendance of the Commons
in the legislative council, a scene of great excitement occurred.
William Lyon Mackenzie made one of his vituperative attacks on the
government, and was followed by John A. Macdonald, who declared its
course to be most unconstitutional. When at last the messenger from
the governor-general was admitted by order of the speaker, the House
proceeded to the council chamber, where members were electrified by
another extraordinary incident. The speaker of the assembly was John
Sandfield Macdonald, an able Scotch Canadian, in whose character
there was a spirit of vindictiveness, which always asserted itself
when he received a positive or fancied injury. He had been a
solicitor-general of Upper Canada in the LaFontaine-Baldwin government,
and had never forgiven Hincks for not having promoted him to the
attorney-generalship, instead of W.B. Richards, afterwards an eminent
judge of the old province of Canada, and first chief justice of
the Supreme Court of the Dominion. Hincks had offered him the
commissionership of crown lands in the ministry, but he refused to
accept any office except the one on which his ambition was fixed.
Subsequently, however, he was induced by his friends to take the
speakership of the legislative assembly, but he had never forgiven
what he considered a slight at the hands of the prime minister in
1851. Accordingly, when he appeared at the Bar of the Council in 1853,
he made an attempt to pay off this old score. As soon as he had made
his bow to the governor-general seated on the throne, Macdonald
proceeded to read the following speech, which had been carefully
prepared for the occasion in the two languages:

     "May it please your Excellency: It has been the immemorial
     custom of the speaker of the Commons' House of Parliament to
     communicate to the throne the general result of the
     deliberations of the assembly upon the principal objects
     which have employed the attention of parliament during the
     period of their labours. It is not now part of my duty thus
     to address your Excellency, inasmuch as there has been no
     act passed or judgment of parliament obtained since we were
     honoured by your Excellency's announcement of the cause of
     summoning of parliament by your gracious speech from the
     throne. The passing of an act through its several stages,
     according to the law and custom of parliament (solemnly
     declared applicable to the parliamentary proceedings of this
     province, by a decision of the legislative assembly of
     1841), is held to be necessary to constitute a session of
     parliament. This we have been unable to accomplish, owing to
     the command which your Excellency has laid upon us to meet
     you this day for the purpose of prorogation. At the same
     time I feel called upon to assure your Excellency, on the
     part of Her Majesty's faithful Commons, that it is not from
     any want of respect to yourself, or to the August personage
     whom you represent in these provinces, that no answer has
     been returned by the legislative assembly to your gracious
     speech from the throne."

It is said by those who were present on this interesting occasion that
His Excellency was the most astonished person in the council chamber.
Mr. Fennings Taylor, the deputy clerk with a seat at the table, tells
us in a sketch of Macdonald that Lord Elgin's face clearly marked
"deep displeasure and annoyance when listening to the speaker's
address," and that he gave "a motion of angry impatience when he found
himself obliged to listen to the repetition in French of the reproof
which had evidently galled him in English." This incident was in some
respects without parallel in Canadian parliamentary history. There was
a practice, now obsolete in Canada as in England, for the speaker, on
presenting the supply or appropriation bill to the governor-general
for the royal assent, to deliver a short address directing attention
to the principal measures passed during the session about to be
closed.[14] This practice grew up in days when there were no
responsible ministers who would be the only constitutional channel of
communication between the Crown and the assembly. The speaker was
privileged, and could be instructed as "the mouth-piece" of the House,
to lay before the representative of the Sovereign an expression of
opinion on urgent questions of the day. On this occasion Mr. Macdonald
was influenced entirely by personal spite, and made an unwarrantable
use of an old custom which was never intended, and could not be
constitutionally used, to insult the representative of the Crown, even
by inference. Mr. Macdonald was not even correct in his interpretation
of the constitution, when he positively declared that an act was
necessary to constitute a session. The Crown makes a session by
summoning and opening parliament, and it is always a royal prerogative
to prorogue or dissolve it at its pleasure even before a single act
has passed the two Houses. Such a scene could never have occurred with
the better understanding of the duties of the speaker and of the
responsibilities of ministers advising the Crown that has grown up
under a more thorough study of the practice and usages of parliament,
and of the principles of responsible government. This little political
episode is now chiefly interesting as giving an insight into one phase
of the character of a public man, who afterwards won a high position
in the parliamentary and political life of Canada before and after the
confederation of 1867, not by the display of a high order of
statesmanship, but by the exercise of his tenacity of purpose, and by
reason of his reputation for a spiteful disposition which made him
feared by friend and foe.

Immediately after the prorogation, parliament was dissolved and the
Hincks-Morin ministry presented itself to the people, who were now
called upon to elect a larger number of representatives under the act
passed in 1853. Of the constitutionality of the course pursued by the
government in this political crisis, there can now be no doubt. In the
first place it was fully entitled to demand a public judgment on its
general policy, especially in view of the fact, within the knowledge
of all persons, that the opposition in the assembly was composed of
discordant elements, only temporarily brought together by the hope of
breaking up the government. In the next place it felt that it could
not be justified by sound constitutional usage in asking a parliament
in which the people were now imperfectly represented, to settle
definitely such important questions as the clergy reserves and the
seigniorial tenure. Lord Elgin had himself no doubt of the necessity
for obtaining a clear verdict from the people by means of "the more
perfect system of representation" provided by law. In the debate on
the Representation Bill in 1853, John A. Macdonald did not hesitate to
state emphatically that the House should be governed by English
precedents in the position in which it would soon be placed by the
passage of this measure. "Look," he said, "at the Reform Bill in
England. That was passed by a parliament that had been elected only
one year before, and the moment it was passed, Lord John Russell
affirmed that the House could not continue after it had declared that
the country was not properly represented. How can we legislate on the
clergy reserves until another House is elected, if this bill passes? A
great question like this cannot be left to be decided by a mere
accidental majority. We can legislate upon no great question after we
have ourselves declared that we do not represent the country. Do these
gentlemen opposite mean to say that they will legislate on a question
affecting the rights of people yet unborn, with the fag-end of a
parliament dishonoured by its own confessions of incapacity?" Hincks
in his "Reminiscences," printed more than three decades later than
this ministerial crisis, still adhered to the opinion that the
government was fully justified by established precedent in appealing
to the country before disposing summarily of the important questions
then agitating the people. Both Lord Elgin and Sir John A.
Macdonald--to give the latter the title he afterwards received from
the Crown--assuredly set forth the correct constitutional practice
under the peculiar circumstances in which both government and
legislature were placed by the legislation increasing the
representation of the people.

The elections took place in July and August of 1854, for in those
times there was no system of simultaneous polling on one day, but
elections were held on such days and as long as the necessities of
party demanded.[15] The result was, on the whole, adverse to the
government. While it still retained a majority in French Canada, its
opponents returned in greater strength, and Morin himself was defeated
in Terrebonne, though happily for the interests of his party he was
elected by acclamation at the same time in Chicoutimi. In Upper Canada
the ministry did not obtain half the vote of the sixty-five
representatives now elected to the legislature by that province. This
vote was distributed as follows: Ministerial, 30; Conservatives, 22;
Clear Grits, 7; and Independents, 6. Malcolm Cameron was beaten in
Lambton, but Hincks was elected by two constituencies. One auspicious
result of this election was the disappearance of Papineau from public
life. He retired to his pretty chateau on the banks of the Ottawa, and
the world soon forgot the man who had once been so prominent a figure
in Canadian politics. His graces of manner and conversation continued
for years to charm his friends in that placid evening of his life so
very different from those stormy days when his eloquence was a menace
to British institutions and British connection. Before his death, he
saw Lower Canada elevated to an independent and influential position
in the confederation of British North America which it could never
have reached as that _Nation Canadienne_ which he had once vainly
hoped to see established in the valley of the St. Lawrence.

The Rouges, of whom Papineau had been leader, came back in good form
and numbered nineteen members. Antoine A. Dorion, Holton, and other
able men in the ranks of this once republican party, had become wise
and adopted opinions which no longer offended the national and
religious susceptibilities of their race, although they continued to
show for years their radical tendencies which prevented them from ever
obtaining a firm hold of public opinion in a practically Conservative
province, and becoming dominant in the public councils for any length
of time.

The fifth parliament of the province of Canada was opened by Lord
Elgin on February 5th, 1854, and the ministry was defeated immediately
on the vote for the speakership, to which Mr. Sicotte--a dignified
cultured man, at a later time a judge--was elected. On this occasion
Hincks resorted to a piece of strategy which enabled him to punish
John Sandfield Macdonald for the insult he had levelled at the
governor-general and his advisers at the close of the previous
parliament. The government's candidate was Georges Étienne Cartier,
who was first elected in 1849 and who had already become conspicuous
in the politics of his province. Sicotte was the choice of the
Opposition in Lower Canada, and while there was no belief among the
politicians that he could be elected, there was an understanding among
the Conservatives and Clear Grits that an effort should be made in his
behalf, and in case of its failure, then the whole strength of the
opponents of the ministry should be so directed as to ensure the
election of Mr. Macdonald, who was sure to get a good Reform vote from
the Upper Canadian representatives. These names were duly proposed in
order, and Cartier was defeated by a large majority. When the clerk at
the table had called for a vote for Sicotte, the number who stood up
in his favour was quite insignificant, but before the Nays were taken,
Hincks arose quickly and asked that his name be recorded with the
Yeas. All the ministerialists followed the prime minister and voted
for Sicotte, who was consequently chosen speaker by a majority of
thirty-five. But all that Hincks gained by such clever tactics was the
humiliation for the moment of an irascible Scotch Canadian politician.
The vote itself had no political significance whatever, and the
government was forced to resign on September 8th. The vote in favour
of Cartier had shown that the ministry was in a minority of twelve in
Upper Canada, and if Hincks had any doubt of his political weakness it
was at once dispelled on September 7th when the House refused to grant
to the government a short delay of twenty-four hours for the purpose
of considering a question of privilege which had been raised by the
Opposition. On this occasion, Dr. Rolph, who had been quite restless
in the government for some tune, voted against his colleagues and gave
conclusive evidence that Hincks was deserted by the majority of the
Reform party in his own province, and could no longer bring that
support to the French Canadian ministerialists which would enable them
to administer public affairs.

The resignation of the Hincks-Morin ministry begins a new epoch in the
political annals of Canada. From that time dates the disruption of the
old Liberal party which had governed the country so successfully since
1848, and the formation of a powerful combination which was made up of
the moderate elements of that party and of the Conservatives, which
afterwards became known as the Liberal-Conservative party. This new
party practically controlled public affairs for over three decades
until the death of Sir John A. Macdonald, to whose inspiration it
largely owed its birth. With that remarkable capacity for adapting
himself to political conditions, which was one of the secrets of his
strength as a party leader, he saw in 1854 that the time had come for
forming an alliance with those moderate Liberals in the two provinces
who, it was quite clear, had no possible affinity with the Clear
Grits, who were not only small in numbers, but especially obnoxious to
the French Canadians, as a people on account of the intemperate
attacks made by Mr. Brown in the Toronto _Globe_ on their revered

The representatives who supported the late ministry were still in
larger numbers than any other party or faction in the House, and it
was obvious that no government could exist without their support. Sir
Allan MacNab, who was the oldest parliamentarian, and the leader of
the Conservatives--a small but compact party--was then invited by the
governor-general to assist him by his advice, during a crisis when it
was evident to the veriest political tyro that the state of parties in
the assembly rendered it very difficult to form a stable government
unless a man could be found ready to lay aside all old feelings of
personal and political rivalry and prejudice and unite all factions on
a common platform for the public advantage. All the political
conditions, happily, were favourable for a combination on a basis of
conciliation and compromise. The old Liberals in French Canada under
the influence of LaFontaine and Morin had been steadily inclining to
Conservatism with the secure establishment of responsible government
and the growth of the conviction that the integrity of the cherished
institutions of their ancient province could be best assured by moving
slowly (_festina lente_), and not by constant efforts to make radical
changes in the body politic. The Liberals, of whom Hincks was leader,
were also very distrustful of Brown, and clearly saw that he could
have no strength whatever in a province where French Canada must have
a guarantee that its language, religion, and civil law, were safe in
the hands of any government that might at any time be formed. The
wisest men among the Conservatives also felt that the time had arrived
for adopting a new policy since the old questions which had once
evoked their opposition had been at last settled by the voice of the
people, and could no longer constitutionally or wisely be made matters
of continued agitation in or out of parliament. "The question that
arose in the minds of the old Liberals," as it was said many years
later by Thomas White, an able journalist and politician,[16]

     "was this: shall we hand over the government of this country
     to the men who, calling themselves Liberals, have broken up
     the Liberal party by the declaration of extravagant views,
     by the enunciation of principles far more radical and
     reckless than any we are prepared to accept, and by a
     restless ambition which we cannot approve? Or shall we not
     rather unite with the Conservatives who have gone to the
     country declaring, in reference to the great questions which
     then agitated it, that if the decision at the polls was
     against them, they would no longer offer resistance to their
     settlement, but would, on the contrary, assist in such
     solution of them as would forever remove them from the
     sphere of public or political agitation."

With both Liberals and Conservatives holding such views, it was easy
enough for John A. Macdonald to convince even Sir Allan MacNab that
the time had come for forgetting the past as much as possible, and
constituting a strong government from the moderate elements of the old
parties which had served their turn and now required to be remodelled
on a wider basis of common interests. Sir Allan MacNab recognized the
necessity of bringing his own views into harmony with those of the
younger men of his party who were determined not to allow such an
opportunity for forming a powerful ministry to pass by. The political
situation, indeed, was one calculated to appeal to both the vanity and
self-interest of the veteran statesman, and he accordingly assumed the
responsibility of forming an administration. He communicated
immediately with Morin and his colleagues in Lower Canada, and when he
received a favourable reply from them, his next step was to make
arrangements, if possible, with the Liberals of Upper Canada. Hincks
was only too happy to have an opportunity of resenting the opposition
he had met with from Brown and the extreme Reformers of the western
province, and opened negotiations with his old supporters on the
conditions that the new ministry would take immediate steps for the
secularization of the clergy reserves, and the settlement of the
seigniorial tenure, and that two members of the administration would
be taken from his own followers. The negotiations were successfully
closed on this basis of agreement, and on September 11th the following
ministers were duly sworn into office:

     Upper Canada.--Hon. Sir Allan MacNab, president of the
     executive council and minister of agriculture; Hon. John A.
     Macdonald, attorney-general of Upper Canada; Hon. W. Cayley,
     inspector-general; Hon. R. Spence, postmaster-general; Hon.
     John Ross, president of the legislative council.

     Lower Canada.--Hon. A.N. Morin, commissioner of crown lands;
     Hon. L.P. Drummond, attorney-general for Lower Canada; Hon.
     P.J.O. Chauveau, provincial secretary; Hon. E.P. Taché,
     receiver-general; Hon. J. Chabot, commissioner of public

The new cabinet contained four Conservatives, and six members of the
old ministry. Henry Smith, a Conservative, became solicitor-general
for Upper Canada, and Dunbar Ross continued in the same office for
Lower Canada, but neither of them had seats in the cabinet. The
Liberal-Conservative party, organized under such circumstances was
attacked with great bitterness by the leaders of the discordant
factions, who were greatly disappointed at the success of the
combination formed through the skilful management of Messrs. J.A.
Macdonald, Hineks and Morin.

The coalition was described as "an unholy alliance" of men who had
entirely abandoned their principles. But an impartial historian must
record the opinion that the coalition was perfectly justified by
existing political conditions, that had it not taken place, a stable
government would in all probability have been for some time
impossible, and that the time had come for the reconstruction of
parties with a broad generous policy which would ignore issues at last
dead, and be more in harmony with modern requirements. It might with
some reason be called a coalition when the reconstruction of parties
was going on, but it was really a successful movement for the
annihilation of old parties and issues, and for the formation on their
ruins of a new party which could gather to itself the best materials
available for the effective conduct of public affairs on the patriotic
platform of the union of the two races, of equal rights to all classes
and creeds, and of the avoidance of purely sectional questions
calculated to disturb the union of 1841.

The new government at once obtained the support of a large majority of
the representatives from each section of the province, and was
sustained by the public opinion of the country at large. During the
session of 1854 measures were passed for the secularization of the
reserves, the removal of the seigniorial tenure, and for the
ratification of the reciprocity treaty with the United States. As I
have only been able so far in this historical narrative to refer in a
very cursory manner to these very important questions, I propose now
to give in the following chapter a succinct review of their history
from the time they first came into prominence down to their settlement
at the close of Lord Elgin's administration in Canada.



For a long period in the history of Canada the development of several
provinces was more or less seriously retarded, and the politics of the
country constantly complicated by the existence of troublesome
questions arising out of the lavish grants of public lands by the
French and English governments. The territorial domain of French
Canada was distributed by the king of France, under the inspiration of
Richelieu, with great generosity, on a system of a modified feudal
tenure, which, it was hoped, would strengthen the connection between
the Crown and the dependency by the creation of a colonial
aristocracy, and at the same time stimulate the colonization and
settlement of the valley of the St. Lawrence; but, as we shall see in
the course of the following chapter, despite the wise intentions of
its promoters, the seigniorial tenure gradually became, after the
conquest, more or less burdensome to the _habitants_, and an
impediment rather than an incentive to the agricultural development
and peopling of the province. Even little Prince Edward Island was
troubled with a land question as early as 1767, when it was still
known by the name St. John, given it in the days of French rule.
Sixty-seven townships, containing in the aggregate 1,360,600 English
acres, were conveyed in one day by ballot, with a few reservations to
the Crown, to a number of military men, officials and others, who had
real or supposed claims on the British government. In this wholesale
fashion the island was burdened with a land monopoly which was not
wholly removed until after the union with the Canadian Dominion in
1873. Though some disputes arose in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
between the old and new settlers with respect to the ownership of
lands after the coming of the Loyalists, who received, as elsewhere,
liberal grants of land, they were soon settled, and consequently these
maritime provinces were not for any length of time embarrassed by the
existence of such questions as became important issues in the politics
of Canada. Extravagant grants were also given to the United Empire
Loyalists who settled on the banks of the St. Lawrence and Niagara
rivers in Upper Canada, as some compensation for the great sacrifices
they had made for the Crown during the American revolution. Large
tracts of this property were sold either by the Loyalists or their
heirs, and passed into the hands of speculators at very insignificant
prices. Lord Durham in his report cites authority to show that not
"one-tenth of the lands granted to United Empire Loyalists had been
occupied by the persons to whom they were granted, and in a great
proportion of cases not occupied at all." The companies which were
also in the course of time organized in Great Britain for the purchase
and sale of lands in Canada, also received extraordinary favours from
the government. Although the Canada Company, which is still in
existence, was an important agency in the settlement of the province
of Upper Canada, its possession of immense tracts--some of them, the
Huron Block, for instance, locked up for years--was for a time a great
public grievance.

But all these land questions sank into utter insignificance compared
with the dispute which arose out of the thirty-sixth clause of the
Constitutional Act of 1791, which provided that there should be
reserved for the maintenance and support of a "Protestant clergy," in
the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, "a quantity of land equal in
value to a seventh part of grants that had been made in the past, or
might be made in the future." Subsequent clauses of the same act made
provision for the erection and endowment of one or more rectories in
every township or parish, "according to the establishment of the
Church of England," and at the same time gave power to the legislature
of the two provinces "to vary or repeal" these enactments of the law
with the important reservation that all bills of such a character
could not receive the royal assent until thirty days after they had
been laid before both Houses of the imperial parliament. Whenever it
was practicable, the lands were reserved under the act among those
already granted to settlers with the intention of creating parishes as
soon as possible in every settled township throughout the province.
However, it was not always possible to carry out this plan, in
consequence of whole townships having been granted _en bloc_ to the
Loyalists in certain districts, especially in those of the Bay of
Quinté, Kingston and Niagara, and it was therefore necessary to carry
out the intention of the law in adjoining townships where no lands of
any extent had been granted to settlers.

The Church of England, at a very early period, claimed, as the only
"Protestant clergy" recognized by English law, the exclusive use of
the lands in question, and Bishop Mountain, who became in 1793
Anglican bishop of Quebec, with a jurisdiction extending over all
Canada, took the first steps to sustain this assertion of exclusive
right. Leases were given to applicants by a clerical corporation
established by the Anglican Church for the express purpose of
administering the reserves. For some years the Anglican claim passed
without special notice, and it is not until 1817 that we see the germ
of the dispute which afterwards so seriously agitated Upper Canada. It
was proposed in the assembly to sell half the lands and devote the
proceeds to secular purposes, but the sudden prorogation of the
legislature by Lieutenant-Governor Gore, prevented any definite action
on the resolutions, although the debate that arose on the subject had
the effect of showing the existence of a marked public grievance. The
feeling at this time in the country was shown in answers given to
circulars sent out by Robert Gourlay, an energetic Scottish busy-body,
to a number of townships, asking an expression of opinion as to the
causes which retarded improvement and the best means of developing the
resources of the province. The answer from Sandwich emphatically set
forth that the reasons of the existing depression were the reserves of
land for the Crown and clergy, "which must for long keep the country a
wilderness, a harbour for wolves, and a hindrance to compact and good
neighbourhood; defects in the system of colonization; too great a
quantity of land in the hands of individuals who do not reside in the
province, and are not assessed for their property." The select
committee of the House of Commons on the civil government of Canada
reported in 1828 that "these reserved lands, as they are at present
distributed over the country, retard more than any other circumstance
the improvement of the colony, lying as they do in detached portions
of each township and intervening between the occupations of actual
settlers, who have no means of cutting roads through the woods and
morasses which thus separate them from their neighbours." It appears,
too, that the quantity of land actually reserved was in excess of that
which appears to have been contemplated by the Constitutional Act. "A
quantity equal to one-seventh of all grants," wrote Lord Durham in his
report of 1839, "would be one-eighth of each township, or of all the
public land. Instead of this proportion, the practice has been ever
since the act passed, and in the clearest violation of its provisions,
to set apart for the clergy in Upper Canada, a seventh of all the
land, which is a quantity equal to a sixth of the land granted.... In
Lower Canada the same violation of the law has taken place, with this
difference--that upon every sale of Crown and clergy reserves, a fresh
reserve for the clergy has been made, equal to a fifth of such
reserves." In that way the public in both provinces was systematically
robbed of a large quantity of land, which, Lord Durham estimated, was
worth about £280,000 at the time he wrote. He acknowledges, however,
that the clergy had no part in "this great misappropriation of the
public property," but that it had arisen "entirely from heedless
misconception, or some other error of the civil government of the
province." All this, however, goes to show the maladministration of
the public lands, and is one of the many reasons the people of the
Canadas had for considering these reserves a public grievance.

When political parties were organized in Upper Canada some years after
the war of 1812-14, which had for a while united all classes and
creeds for the common defence, we see on one side a Tory compact for
the maintenance of the old condition of things, the control of
patronage, and the protection of the interests of the Church of
England; on the other, a combination of Reformers, chiefly composed of
Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, who clamoured for reforms in
government and above all for relief from the dominance of the Anglican
Church, which, with respect to the clergy reserves and other matters,
was seeking a _quasi_ recognition as a state church. As the Puritans
of New England at the commencement of the American Revolution
inveighed against any attempt to establish an Anglican episcopate in
the country as an insidious attack by the monarchy on their civil and
religious liberty--most unjustly, as any impartial historian must now
admit[17]--so in Upper Canada the dissenters made it one of their
strongest grievances that favouritism was shown to the Anglican Church
in the distribution of the public lands and the public patronage, to
the detriment of all other religious bodies in the province. The
bitterness that was evoked on this question had much to do with
bringing about the rebellion of 1837. If the whole question could have
been removed from the arena of political discussion, the Reformers
would have been deprived of one of their most potent agencies to
create a feeling against the "family compact" and the government at
Toronto. But Bishop Strachan, who was a member of both the executive
and legislative councils--in other words, the most influential member
of the "family compact"--could not agree to any compromise which would
conciliate the aggrieved dissenters and at the same time preserve a
large part of the claim made by the Church of England. Such a
compromise in the opinion of this sturdy, obstinate ecclesiastic,
would be nothing else than a sop to his Satanic majesty. It was always
with him a battle _à l'outrance,_ and as we shall soon see, in the end
he suffered the bitterness of defeat.

In these later days when we can review the whole question without any
of the prejudice and passion which embittered the controversy while it
was a burning issue, we can see that the Church of England had strong
historical and legal arguments to justify its claim to the exclusive
use of the clergy reserves. When the Constitutional Act of 1791 was
passed, the only Protestant clergy recognized in British statutes were
those of the Church of England, and, as we shall see later, those of
the established Church of Scotland. The dissenting denominations had
no more a legal status in the constitutional system of England than
the Roman Catholics, and indeed it was very much the same thing in
some respects in the provinces of Canada. So late as 1824 the
legislative council, largely composed of Anglicans, rejected a bill
allowing Methodist ministers to solemnize marriages, and it was not
until 1831 that recognized ministers of all denominations were placed
on an equality with the Anglican clergy in such matters. The
employment of the words "Protestant Clergy" in the act, it was urged
with force, was simply to distinguish the Church of England clergy
from those of the Church of Rome, who, otherwise, would be legally
entitled to participate in the grant.

The loyalists, who founded the province of Upper Canada, established
formally by the Constitutional Act of 1791, were largely composed of
adherents of the Church of England, and it was one of the dearest
objects of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe to place that body on a stable
basis and give it all the influence possible in the state. A
considerable number had also settled in Lower Canada, and received, as
in other parts of British North America, the sympathy and aid of the
parent state. It was the object of the British government to make the
constitution of the Canadas "an image and transcript" as far as
possible of the British system of government. In no better way could
this be done, in the opinion of the framers of the Constitutional Act,
than by creating a titled legislative council;[18] and though this
effort came to naught, it is noteworthy as showing the tendency at
that time of imperial legislation. If such a council could be
established, then it was all important that there should be a
religious body, supported by the state, to surround the political
institutions of the country with the safeguards which a conservative
and aristocratic church like that of England would give. The erection
and endowment of rectories "according to the establishment of the
Church of England"--words of the act to be construed in connection
with the previous clauses--was obviously a part of the original scheme
of 1791 to anglicize Upper Canada and make it as far as possible a
reflex of Anglican England.

It does not appear that at any time there was any such feeling of
dissatisfaction with respect to the reserves in French Canada as
existed throughout Upper Canada, The Protestant clergy in the former
province were relatively few in number, and the Roman Catholic Church,
which dominated the whole country, was quite content with its own
large endowments received from the bounty of the king or private
individuals during the days of French occupation, and did not care to
meddle in a question which in no sense affected it. On the other hand,
in Upper Canada, the arguments used by the Anglican clergy in support
of their claims to the exclusive administration of the reserves were
constantly answered not only in the legislative bodies, but in the
Liberal papers, and by appeals to the imperial government. It was
contended that the phrase "Protestant clergy" used in the
Constitutional Act, was simply intended to distinguish all Protestant
denominations from the Roman Catholic Church, and that, had there been
any intention to give exclusive rights to the Anglican Church, it
would have been expressly so stated in the section reserving the
lands, just as had been done in the sections specially providing for
the erection and endowment of Anglican rectories.

The first successful blow against the claims of the English Church in
Canada was struck by that branch of the Presbyterian Church known in
law as the Established Church of Scotland. It obtained an opinion from
the British law officers in 1819, entirely favourable to its own
participation in the reserves on the ground that it had been fully
recognized as a state church, not only in the act uniting the two
kingdoms of England and Scotland, but in several British statutes
passed later than the Constitutional Act whose doubtful phraseology
had originated the whole controversy. While the law officers admitted
that the provisions of this act might be "extended also to the Church
of Scotland, if there are any such settled in Canada (as appears to
have been admitted in the debate upon the passing of the act)," yet
they expressed the opinion that the clauses in question did not apply
to dissenting ministers, since they thought that "the term 'Protestant
clergy' could apply only to Protestant clergy recognized and
established by law." We shall see a little farther on the truth of the
old adage that "lawyers will differ" and that in 1840, twenty-one
years later than the expression of the opinion just cited, eminent
British jurists appeared to be more favourable to the claims of
denominations other than the Church of Scotland.

Until 1836--the year preceding the rebellion--the excitement with
respect to the reserves had been intensified by the action of Sir John
Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, who, on the eve of his
departure for England, was induced by Bishop Strachan to sign patents
creating and endowing forty-four rectories[19] in Upper Canada,
representing more than 17,000 acres of land in the aggregate or about
486 for each of them. One can say advisedly that this action was most
indiscreet at a time when a wise administrator would have attempted to
allay rather than stimulate public irritation on so serious a
question. Until this time, says Lord Durham, the Anglican clergy had
no exclusive privileges, save such as might spring from their
efficient discharge of their sacred duties, or from the energy,
ability or influence of members of their body--notably Bishop
Strachan, who practically controlled the government in religious and
even secular matters. But, continued Lord Durham, the last public act
of Sir John Colborne made it quite understood that every rector
possessed "all the spiritual and other privileges enjoyed by an
English rector," and that though he might "have no right to levy
tithes" (for even this had been made a question), he was "in all other
respects precisely in the same position as a clergyman of the
established church in England." "This is regarded," added Lord Durham,
"by all other teachers of religion in this country as having at once
degraded them to a position of legal inferiority to the clergy of the
Church of England; and it has been most warmly resented. In the
opinion of many persons, this was the chief predisposing cause of the
recent insurrection, and it is an abiding and unabated cause for

As soon as Sir John Colborne's action was known throughout the
province, public indignation among the opponents of the clergy
reserves and the Church of England took the forms of public meetings
to denounce the issue of the patents, and of memorials to the imperial
government calling into question their legality and praying for their
immediate annulment. An opinion was obtained from the law officers of
the Crown that the action taken by Sir John Colborne was "not valid
and lawful," but it was given on a mere _ex parte_ statement of the
case prepared by the opponents of the rectories; and the same eminent
lawyers subsequently expressed themselves favourably as to the
legality of the patents when they were asked to reconsider the whole
question, which was set forth in a very elaborate report prepared
under the direction of Bishop Strachan. It is convenient to mention
here that this phase of the clergy reserve question again came before
able English counsel at the Equity Bar, when Hincks visited London in
1852. After they had given an opinion unfavourable to the Colborne
patents on the case as submitted to them by the Canadian prime
minister, it was deemed expedient to submit the whole legal question
to the Court of Chancery in Upper Canada, which decided unanimously,
after a full hearing of the case, that the patents were valid. But
this decision was not given until 1856, when the whole matter of the
reserves had been finally adjusted, and the validity of the creation
of the rectories was no longer a burning question in Upper Canada.

When Poulett Thomson came to Canada in the autumn of 1839 as
governor-general, he recognized the necessity of bringing about an
immediate settlement of this very vexatious question, and of
preventing its being made a matter of agitation after the union of the
two provinces. The imperial authorities had already disallowed an act
passed by the legislature of Upper Canada of 1838 to reinvest the
clergy reserves in the Crown, and it became necessary for Lord
Sydenham--to give the governor-general's later title--to propose a
settlement in the shape of a compromise between the various Protestant
bodies interested in the reserves. Lord Sydenham was opposed to the
application of these lands to general education as proposed in several
bills which had passed the assembly, but had been rejected by the
legislative council owing to the dominant influence of Bishop
Strachan. "To such a measure," says Lord Sydenham's biographer,[20]
"he was opposed; first because it would have taken away the only fund
exclusively devoted to purposes of religion, and secondly, because,
even if carried in the provincial legislature, it would evidently not
have obtained the sanction of the imperial parliament. He therefore
entered into personal communication with the leading individuals among
the principal religious communities, and after many interviews,
succeeded in obtaining their support to a measure for the distribution
of the reserves among the religious communities recognized by law, in
proportion to their respective numbers."

Lord Sydenham's efforts to obtain the consent "of leading individuals
among the principal religious communities" did not succeed in
preventing a strong opposition to the measure after it had passed
through the legislature. Dr. Ryerson, a power among the Methodists,
denounced it, after he had at the outset shown an inclination to
support it, and the Bishop of Toronto was also among its most
determined opponents. Lord Sydenham's well-meaning attempt to settle
the question was thwarted at the very outset by the reference of the
bill to English judges, who reported adversely on the ground that the
power "to vary or repeal" given in the Constitutional Act of 1791 was
only prospective, and did not authorize the provincial legislature to
divert the proceeds of the lands already sold from the purpose
originally contemplated in the imperial statute. The judges also
expressed the opinion on this occasion that the words "Protestant
clergy" were large enough to include and did include "other clergy
than those of the Church of Scotland." In their opinion these words
appeared, "both in their natural force and meaning, and still more
from the context of the clauses in which they are found, to be there
used to designate and intend a clergy opposed in doctrine and
discipline to the clergy of the Church of Rome, and rather to aim at
the encouragement of the Protestant religion in opposition to the
Romish Church, than to point exclusively to the clergy of the Church
of England." But as they did not find on the statute book the
acknowledgment by the legislature of any other clergy answering the
description of the law, they could not specify any other except the
Church of Scotland as falling within the imperial statute.

Under these circumstances the imperial government at once passed
through parliament a bill (3 and 4 Vict., c. 78) which re-enacted the
Canadian measure with the modifications rendered necessary by the
judicial opinion just cited. This act put an end to future
reservations, and at the same time recognized the claims of all the
Protestant bodies to a share in the funds derived from the sales of
the lands. It provided for the division of the reserves into two
portions--those sold before the passing of the act and those sold at a
later time. Of the previous sales, the Church of England was to
receive two-thirds and the Church of Scotland one-third. Of future
sales, the Church of England would receive one-third and the Church of
Scotland one-sixth, while the residue could be applied by the
governor-in-council "for purposes of public worship and religious
instruction in Canada," in other words, that it should be divided
among those other religious denominations that might make application
at any time for a share in these particular funds.

This act, however, did not prove to be a settlement of this disturbing
question. If Bishop Strachan had been content with the compromise made
in this act, and had endeavoured to carry out its provisions as soon
as it was passed, the Anglican Church would have obtained positive
advantages which it failed to receive when the question was again
brought into the arena of angry discussion. In 1844 when Henry
Sherwood was solicitor-general in the Draper-Viger Conservative
government he proposed an address to the Crown for the passing of a
new imperial act, authorizing the division of the land itself instead
of the income arising from its sales. His object was to place the
lands, allotted to the Church of England, under the control of the
church societies, which could lease them, or hold them for any length
of time at such prices as they might deem expedient. In the course of
the debate on this proposition, which failed to receive the assent of
the House, Baldwin, Price, and other prominent men expressed regret
that any attempt should be made to disturb the settlement made by the
imperial statute of 1840, which, in their opinion, should be regarded
as final.

A strong feeling now developed in Upper Canada in favour of a repeal
of the imperial act, and the secularization of the reserves. The
Presbyterians--apart from the Church of Scotland--were now influenced
by the Scottish Free Church movement of 1843 and opposed to public
provision for the support of religious denominations. The spirit which
animated them spread to other bodies, and was stimulated by the
uncompromising attitude still assumed by the Anglican bishop, who was
anxious, as Sherwood's effort proved, to obtain advantages for his
church beyond those given it by the act of 1840. When the
LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry was formed, the movement for the
secularization of the reserves among the Upper Canadian Liberals, or
Reformers as many preferred to call their party, became so pronounced
as to demand the serious consideration of the government; but there
was no inclination shown by the French Canadians in the cabinet to
disturb the settlement of 1840, and the serious phases of the
Rebellion Losses Bill kept the whole question for some time in the
background. After the appearance of the Clear Grits in Upper Canadian
politics, with the secularization of the reserves as the principal
plank in their platform, the LaFontaine-Baldwin cabinet felt the
necessity of making a concession to the strong feeling which prevailed
among Upper Canadian Reformers. As they were divided in opinion on the
question and could not make it a part of the ministerial policy,
Price, commissioner of Crown lands, was induced in the session of 1850
to introduce on his sole responsibility an address to the Crown,
praying for the repeal of the imperial act of 1840, and the passage of
another which would authorize the Canadian legislature to dispose of
the reserves as it should deem most expedient, but with the distinct
understanding that, while no particular sect should be considered as
having a vested right in the property, the emoluments derived by
existing incumbents should be guaranteed during their lives. Mr.
Price--the same gentleman who had objected some years previously to
the reopening of the question--showed in the course of his speech the
importance which the reserves had now attained. The number of acres
reserved to this time was 2,395,687, and of sales, under two statutes,
1,072,453. These sales had realized £720,756, of which £373,899 4s.
4d. had been paid, and £346,856 15s. 8d. remained still due. Counting
the interest on the sum paid, a million of pounds represented the
value of the lands already sold, and when they were all disposed of
there would be realized more than two millions of pounds. Price also
pointed out the fact that only a small number of persons had derived
advantages from these reserves. Out of the total population of 723,000
souls in Upper Canada, the Church of England claimed 171,000 and the
Church of Scotland 68,000, or a total of 239,000 persons who received
the lion's share, and left comparatively little to the remaining
population of 484,000 souls. Among the latter the Roman Catholics
counted 123,707 communicants and received only £700 a year; the
Wesleyans, with 90,363 adherents, received even a still more wretched
pittance. Furthermore 269,000 persons were entirely excluded from any
share whatever in the reserves. In the debate on the resolutions for
the address LaFontaine did not consider the imperial act a finality,
and was in favour of having the reserves brought under the control of
the Canadian legislature, but he expressed the opinion most
emphatically that all private rights and endowments conferred under
the authority of imperial legislation should be held inviolate, and so
far as possible, carried into effect. Baldwin's observations were
remarkable for their vagueness. He did not object to endowment for
religious purposes, although he was opposed to any union between
church and state. While he did not consider the act of 1840 as a final
settlement, inasmuch as it did not express the opinion of the Canadian
people, he was not then prepared to commit himself as to the mode in
which the property should he disposed of. Hincks affirmed that there
was no desire on the part of members of the government to evade their
responsibilities on the question, but they were not ready to adopt the
absurd and unconstitutional course that was pressed on them by the
Clear Grits, of attempting to repeal an imperial act by a Canadian

Malcolm Cameron and other radical Reformers advocated the complete
secularization of the reserves, while Cayley, Macdonald, and other
Conservatives, urged that the provisions of the imperial act of 1840
should be carried out to the fullest extent, and that the funds, then
or at a future time at the disposal of the government "for the
purposes of public worship and religious instruction" under the act,
should be apportioned among the various denominations that had not
previously had a share in the reserves. When it came to a division, it
was clear that there was no unanimity on the question among the
ministers and other supporters. Indeed, the summary given above of the
remarks made by LaFontaine, Baldwin, and Hincks, affords conclusive
evidence of the differences of opinion that existed between them and
of their reluctance to express themselves definitely on the subject.
The majority of the French members, Messrs. LaFontaine, Cauchon,
Chabot, Chauveau, LaTerrière and others, voted against the resolution
which affirmed that "no religious denomination can be held to have
such vested interest in the revenue derived from the proceeds of the
said clergy reserves as should prevent further legislation with
reference to the disposal of them, but this House is nevertheless of
opinion that the claims of existing incumbents should be treated in
the most liberal manner." Baldwin and other Reformers supported this
clause, which passed by a majority of two. The address was finally
adopted on a division of forty-six Yeas and twenty-three Nays--"the
minority containing the names of a few Reformers who would not consent
to pledge themselves to grant, for the lives of the existing
incumbents, the stipends on which they had accepted their
charges--some perhaps having come from other countries to fill them
and having possibly thrown up other preferments."[21] The address was
duly forwarded to England by Lord Elgin, with a despatch in which he
explained at some length the position of the whole question. In
accordance with the principle which guided him throughout his
administration of Canadian affairs--to give full scope to the right of
the province to manage its own local concerns--he advised Lord Grey to
repeal the imperial act of 1840 if he wished "to preserve the colony."
Lord Grey admitted that the question was one exclusively affecting the
people of Canada and should be decided by the provincial legislature.
It was the intention of the government, he informed Lord Elgin, to
introduce a bill into parliament for this purpose; but action had to
be deferred until another year when, as it happened unfortunately for
the province, Lord John Russell's ministry was forced to resign, and
was succeeded by a Conservative administration led by the Earl of

The Canadian government soon ascertained from Sir John Pakington, the
new colonial secretary, that the new advisers of Her Majesty were not
"inclined to give their consent and support to any arrangement the
result of which would too probably be the diversion to other purposes
of the only public fund ... which now exists for the support of divine
worship and religious instruction in the colony." It was also
intimated by the secretary of state that the new government was quite
ready to entertain a proposal for reconsidering the mode of
distributing the proceeds of the sales of the reserves, while not
ready to agree to any proposal that might "divert forever from its
sacred object the fund arising from that portion of the public lands
of Canada which, almost from the period of the British conquest of
that province, has been set apart for the religious instruction of the
people." Hincks, who was at that time in England, at once wrote to Sir
John Pakington, in very emphatic terms, that he viewed "with grave
apprehension the prospect of collision between Her Majesty's
government and the parliament of Canada, on a question regarding which
such strong feelings prevailed among the great mass of the
population." The people of Canada were convinced that they were
"better judges than any parties in England of what measures would best
conduce to the peace and welfare of the province." As respects the
proposal "for reconsidering the mode of distributing the income of the
clergy reserves," Hincks had no hesitation in saying that "it would be
received as one for the violation of the most sacred constitutional
rights of the people."

As soon as the Canadian legislature met in 1852, Hincks carried an
address to the Crown, in which it was urged that the question of the
reserves was "one so exclusively affecting the people of Canada that
its decision ought not to be withdrawn from the provincial
legislature, to which it properly belongs to regulate all matters
concerning the domestic interests of the province." The hope was
expressed that Her Majesty's government would lose no time in giving
effect to the promise made by the previous administration and
introduce the legislation necessary "to satisfy the wishes of the
Canadian people." In the debate on this address, Moria, the leader of
the French section of the cabinet, clearly expressed himself in favour
of the secularization of the reserves in accordance with the views
entertained by his Upper Canadian colleagues. It was consequently
clear that the successors of the LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry were
fully pledged to a vigorous policy for the disposal of this vexatious

A few months after Lord Elgin had forwarded this address to the Crown,
the Earl of Derby's administration was defeated in the House of
Commons, and the Aberdeen government was formed towards the close of
1852, with the Duke of Newcastle as secretary of state for the
colonies. One of Sir John Pakington's last official acts was to
prepare a despatch unfavourable to the prayer of the assembly's last
address, but it was never sent to Canada, though brought down to
parliament. At the same time the Canadian people heard of this
despatch they were gratified by the announcement that the new
ministers had decided to reverse the policy of their predecessors and
to meet the wishes of the Canadian legislature. Accordingly, in the
session of 1853, a measure was passed by the imperial parliament to
give full power to the provincial legislature to vary or repeal all or
any part of the act of 1840, and to make all necessary provisions
respecting the clergy reserves or the proceeds derived from the same,
on the express condition that there should be no interference with the
annual stipends or allowances of existing incumbents as long as they
lived. The Hincks-Morin ministry was then urged to bring in at once a
measure disposing finally of the question, in accordance with the
latest imperial act; but, as we have read in a previous chapter, it
came to the opinion after anxious deliberation that the existing
parliament was not competent to deal with so important a question. It
also held that it was a duty to obtain an immediate expression of
opinion from the people, and the election of a House in which the
country would be fully represented in accordance with the legislation
increasing the number of representatives in the assembly.

The various political influences arrayed against Hincks in Upper
Canada led to his defeat, and the formation of the MacNab-Morin
Liberal-Conservative government, which at once took steps to settle
the question forever. John A. Macdonald commenced this new epoch in
his political career by taking charge of the bill for the
secularization of the reserves. It provided for the payment of all
moneys arising from the sales of the reserves into the hands of the
receiver-general, who would apportion them amongst the several
municipalities of the province according to population. All annual
stipends or allowances, charged upon the reserves before the passage
of the imperial act of 1853, were continued during the lives of
existing incumbents, though the latter could commute their stipends or
allowances for their value in money, and in this way create a small
permanent endowment for the advantage of the church to which they

After nearly forty years of continuous agitation, during which the
province of Upper Canada had been convulsed from the Ottawa to Lake
Huron, and political parties had been seriously embarrassed, the
question was at last removed from the sphere of party and religious
controversy. The very politicians who had contended for the rights of
the Anglican clergy were now forced by public opinion and their
political interests to take the final steps for its settlement. Bishop
Strachan's fight during the best years of his life had ended in
thorough discomfiture. As the historian recalls the story of that
fight, he cannot fail to come to the conclusion that the settlement of
1854 relieved the Anglican Church itself of a controversy which, as
long as it existed, created a feeling of deep hostility that seriously
affected its usefulness and progress. Even Lord Elgin was compelled to
write in 1851 "that the tone adopted by the Church of England here has
almost always had the effect of driving from her even those who would
be most disposed to co-operate with her if she would allow them." At
last freed from the political and the religious bitterness which was
so long evoked by the absence of a conciliatory policy on the part of
her leaders, this great church is able peacefully to teach the noble
lessons of her faith and win that respect among all classes which was
not possible under the conditions that brought her into direct
conflict with the great mass of the Canadian people.



The government of Canada in the days of the French régime bore a close
resemblance to that of a province of France. The governor was
generally a noble and a soldier, but while he was invested with large
military and civil authority by the royal instructions, he had ever by
his side a vigilant guardian in the person of the intendant, who
possessed for all practical purposes still more substantial powers,
and was always encouraged to report to the king every matter that
might appear to conflict with the principles of absolute government
laid down by the sovereign. The superior council of Canada possessed
judicial, administrative and legislative powers, but its action was
limited by the decrees and ordinances of the king, and its decisions
were subject to the veto of the royal council of the parent state. The
intendant, generally a man of legal attainments, had the special right
to issue ordinances which had the full effect of law--in the words of
his commission "to order everything as he shall see just and proper."
These ordinances regulated inns and markets, the building and repairs
of churches and presbyteries, the construction of bridges, the
maintenance of roads, and all those matters which could affect the
comfort, the convenience, and the security of the community at large.
While the governmental machinery was thus modelled in a large measure
on that of the provincial administration of France, the territory of
the province was subject to a modified form of the old feudal system
which was so long a dominant condition of the nations of Europe, and
has, down to the present time left its impress on their legal and
civil institutions, not even excepting Great Britain itself. Long
before Jacques Cartier sailed up the River St. Lawrence this system
had gradually been weakened in France under the persistent efforts of
the Capets, who had eventually, out of the ruin of the feudatories,
built up a monarchy which at last centralized all power in the king.
The policy of the Capets had borne its full, legitimate fruit by the
time Louis XIV ascended the throne. The power of the great nobles,
once at the head of practically independent feudatories, had been
effectually broken down, and now, for the most part withdrawn from the
provinces, they ministered only to the ambition of the king, and
contributed to the dissipation and extravagance of a voluptuous court.

But while those features of the ancient feudal system, which were
calculated to give power to the nobles, had been eliminated by the
centralizing influence of the king, the system still continued in the
provinces to govern the relations between the _noblesse_ and the
peasantry who possessed their lands on old feudal conditions regulated
by the customary or civil law. These conditions were, on the whole,
still burdensome. The noble who spent all his time in attendance on
the court at Versailles or other royal palaces could keep his purse
equal to his pleasures only by constant demands on his feudal tenants,
who dared no more refuse to obey his behests than he himself ventured
to flout the royal will.

Deeply engrafted as it still was on the social system of the parent
state, the feudal tenure was naturally transferred to the colony of
New France, but only with such modifications as were suited to the
conditions of a new country. Indeed all the abuses that might hinder
settlement or prevent agricultural development were carefully lopped
off. Canada was given its _seigneurs_, or lords of the manor, who
would pay fealty and homage to the sovereign himself, or to the feudal
superior from whom they directly received their territorial estate,
and they in their turn leased lands to peasants, or tillers of the
soil, who held them on the modified conditions of the tenure of old
France. It was not expedient, and indeed not possible, to transfer a
whole body of nobles to the wilderness of the new world--they were as
a class too wedded to the gay life of France--and all that could be
done was to establish a feudal tenure to promote colonization, and at
the same time possibly create a landed gentry who might be a shadowy
reflection of the French _noblesse_, and could, in particular cases,
receive titles directly from the king himself.

This seigniorial tenure of New France was the most remarkable instance
which the history of North America affords of the successful effort of
European nations to reproduce on this continent the ancient
aristocratic institutions of the old world. In the days when the Dutch
owned the Netherlands, vast estates were partitioned out to certain
"patroons," who held their property on _quasi_ feudal conditions, and
bore a resemblance to the _seigneurs_ of French Canada. This manorial
system was perpetuated under English forms when the territory was
conquered by the English and transformed into the colony of New York,
where it had a chequered existence, and was eventually abolished as
inconsistent with the free conditions of American settlement. In the
proprietary colony of Maryland the Calverts also attempted to
establish a landed aristocracy, and give to the manorial lords certain
rights of jurisdiction over their tenants drawn from the feudal system
of Europe. For Carolina, Shaftesbury and Locke devised a constitution
which provided a territorial nobility, called _landgraves_ and
_caciques_, but it soon became a mere historical curiosity. Even in
the early days of Prince Edward Island, when it was necessary to
mature a plan of colonization, it was gravely proposed to the British
government that the whole island should be divided into "hundreds," as
in England, or into "baronies," as in Ireland, with courts-baron,
lords of manors, courts-leet, all under the direction of a lord
paramount; but while this ambitious aristocratic scheme was not
favourably entertained, the imperial authorities chose one which was
most injurious in its effects on the settlement of this fertile

It was Richelieu who introduced this modified form of the feudal
system into Canada, when he constituted, in 1627, the whole of the
colony as a fief of the great fur-trading company of the Hundred
Associates on the sole condition of its paying fealty and homage to
the Crown. It had the right of establishing seigniories as a part of
its undertaking to bring four thousand colonists to the province and
furnish them with subsistence for three years. Both this company and
its successor, the Company of the West Indies, created a number of
seigniories, but for the most part they were never occupied, and the
king revoked the grants on the ground of non-settlement, when he
resumed possession of the country and made it a royal province. From
that time the system was regulated by the _Coutume de Paris_, by royal
edicts, or by ordinances of the intendant.

The greater part of the soil of Canada was accordingly held _en fief_
or _en seigneurie_. Each grant varied from sixteen _arpents_--an
_arpent_ being about five-sixths of an English acre--by fifty, to ten
leagues by twelve. We meet with other forms of tenure in the partition
of land in the days of the French régime--for instance, _franc aleu
noble_ and _franc aumone_ or _mortmain_, but these were exceptional
grants to charitable, educational, or religious institutions, and were
subject to none of the ordinary obligations of the feudal tenure, but
required, as in the latter case, only the performance of certain
devotional or other duties which fell within their special sphere.
Some grants were also given in _franc aleu roturier_, equivalent to
the English tenure of free and common socage, and were generally made
for special objects.[22]

The _seigneur_, on his accession to the estate, was required to pay
homage to the king, or to his feudal superior from whom he derived his
lands. In case he wished to transfer by sale or otherwise his
seigniory, except in the event of direct natural succession, he had to
pay under the _Coutume de Paris_--which, generally speaking, regulated
such seigniorial grants--a _quint_ or fifth part of the whole purchase
money to his feudal superior, but he was allowed a reduction _(rabat)_
of two-thirds if the money was promptly paid down. In special cases,
land transfers, whether by direct succession or otherwise, were
subject to the rule of _Vixen le_ _français_, which required the
payment of _relief_, or one year's revenue, on all changes of
ownership, or a payment of gold (_une maille d'or_). It was obligatory
on all seigniors to register their grants at Quebec, to concede or
sub-infeudate them under the rule of _jeu de fief_, and settle them
with as little delay as practicable. The Crown also reserved in most
cases its _jura regalia_ or _regalitates_, such as mines and minerals,
lands for military or defensive purposes, oak timber and masts for the
building of the royal ships. It does not, however, appear that
military service was a condition on which the seigniors of Canada held
their grants, as was the case in France under the old feudal tenure.
The king and his representative in his royal province held such powers
in their own hands. The seignior had as little influence in the
government of the country as he had in military affairs. He might be
chosen to the superior council at the royal pleasure, and was bound to
obey the orders of the governor whenever the militia were called out.
The whole province was formed into a militia district, so that in time
of war the inhabitants might be obliged to perform military service
under the royal governor or commander-in-chief of the regular forces.
A captain was appointed for each parish--generally conterminous with a
seigniory--and in some cases there were two or three. These captains
were frequently chosen from the seigniors, many of whom--in the
Richelieu district entirely--were officers of royal regiments, notably
of the Carignan-Salières. The seigniors had, as in France, the right
of dispensing justice, but with the exception of the Seminary of St
Sulpice of Montreal, it was only in very rare instances they exercised
their judicial powers, and then simply in cases of inferior
jurisdiction _(basse justice)_. The superior council and intendant
adjudicated in all matters of civil and criminal importance.

The whole success of the seigniorial system, as a means of settling
the country, depended on the extent to which the seigniors were able
to grant their lands _en censive_ or _en roture_. The _censitaire_ who
held his lands in this way could not himself sub-infeudate. The
grantee _en roture_ was governed by the same rules as the one _en
censive_ except with respect to the descent of lands in cases of
intestacy. All land grants to the _censitaires_--or as they preferred
to call themselves in Canada, _habitants_--were invariably shaped like
a parallelogram, with a narrow frontage on the river varying from two
to three _arpents_, and with a depth from four to eight _arpents_.
These farms, in the course of time assumed the appearance of a
continuous settlement on the river and became known in local
phraseology as _Côtes_--for example, Côte de Neiges, Côte St. Louis,
Côte St. Paul, and many other picturesque villages on the banks of the
St. Lawrence. In the first century of settlement the government
induced the officers and soldiers of the Carignan-Salières regiment to
settle lands along the Richelieu river and to build palisaded villages
for the purposes of defence against the war-like Iroquois; but, in the
rural parts of the province generally, the people appear to have
followed their own convenience with respect to the location of their
farms and dwellings, and chose the banks of the river as affording the
easiest means of intercommunication. The narrow oblong grants, made in
the original settlement of the province, became narrower still as the
original occupants died and their property was divided among the heirs
under the civil law. Consequently at the present day the traveller who
visits French Canada sees the whole country divided into extremely
long and narrow parallelograms each with fences and piles of stones as
boundaries in innumerable cases.

The conditions on which the _censitaire_ held his land from the
seignior were exceedingly easy during the greater part of the French
regime. The _cens et rentes_ which he was expected to pay annually, on
St. Martin's day, as a rule, varied from one to two _sols_ for each
superficial _arpent_, with the addition of a small quantity of corn,
poultry, and some other article produced on the farm, which might be
commuted for cash, at current prices. The _censitaire_ was also
obliged to grind his corn at the seignior's mill (_moulin banal_), and
though the royal authorities at Quebec were very particular in
pressing the fulfilment of this obligation, it does not appear to have
been successfully carried out in the early days of the colony on
account of the inability of the seigniors to purchase the machinery,
or erect buildings suitable for the satisfactory performance of a
service clearly most useful to the people of the rural districts. The
obligation of baking bread in the seigniorial oven was not generally
exacted, and soon became obsolete as the country was settled and each
_habitant_ naturally built his own oven in connection with his home.
The seigniors also claimed the right to a certain amount of statute
labour (_corvée_) from the _habitants_ on their estates, to one fish
out of every dozen caught in seigniorial waters, and to a reservation
of wood and stone for the construction and repairs of the manor house,
mill, and church in the parish or seigniory. In case the _censitaire_
wished to dispose of his holding during his lifetime, it was subject
to the _lods et ventes_, or to a tax of one-twelfth of the purchase
money, which had to be paid to the seignior, who usually as a favour
remitted one-fourth on punctual payment. The most serious restriction
on such sales was the _droit de retraite_, or right of the seignior to
preempt the same property himself within forty days from the date of
the sale.

There was no doubt, at the establishment of the seigniorial tenure, a
disposition to create in Canada, as far as possible, an aristocratic
class akin to the _noblesse_ of old France, who were a social order
quite distinct from the industrial and commercial classes, though they
did not necessarily bear titles. Under the old feudal system the
possession of land brought nobility and a title, but in the modified
seigniorial system of Canada the king could alone confer titular
distinctions. The intention of the system was to induce men of good
social position--like the _gentils-hommes_ or officers of the Carignan
regiment--to settle in the country and become seigniors. However, the
latter were not confined to this class, for the title was rapidly
extended to shopkeepers, farmers, sailors, and even mechanics who had
a little money and were ready to pay for the cheap privilege of
becoming nobles in a small way. Titled seigniors were very rare at any
time in French Canada. In 1671, Des Islets, Talon's seigniory, was
erected into a barony, and subsequently into an earldom (Count
d'Orsainville). Francois Berthelot's seigniory of St. Laurent on the
Island of Orleans was made in 1676 an earldom, and that of Portneuf,
René Robineau's, into a barony. The only title which has come down to
the present time is that of the Baron de Longueuil, which was first
conferred on the distinguished Charles LeMoyne in 1700, and has been
officially recognized by the British government since December, 1880.

The established seigniorial system bore conclusive evidence of the
same paternal spirit which sent shiploads of virtuous young women
(sometimes _marchandises mêlées_) to the St. Lawrence to become wives
of the forlorn Canadian bachelors, gave trousseaux of cattle and
kitchen utensils to the newly wed, and encouraged by bounties the
production of children. The seigniories were the ground on which these
paternal methods of creating a farming community were to be developed,
but despite the wise intentions of the government the whole machinery
was far from realizing the results which might reasonably have been
expected from its operation. The land was easily acquired and cheaply
held, facilities were given for the grinding of grain and the making
of flour; fish and game were quickly taken by the skilful fisherman
and enterprising hunter, and the royal officials generally favoured
the _habitants_ in disputes with the seigniors.

Unlike the large grants made by the British government after the
conquest to loyalists, Protestant clergy, and speculators--grants
calculated to keep large sections of the country in a state of
wildness--the seigniorial estates had to be cultivated and settled
within a reasonable time if they were to be retained by the occupants.
During the French dominion the Crown sequestrated a number of
seigniories for the failure to observe the obligation of cultivation.
As late as 1741 we find an ordinance restoring seventeen estates to
the royal domain, although the Crown was ready to reinstate the former
occupants the moment they showed that they intended to perform their
duty of settlement. But all the care that was taken to encourage
settlement was for a long time without large results, chiefly in
consequence of the nomadic habits of the young men on the seigniories.
The fur trade, from the beginning to the end of French dominion, was a
serious bar to steady industry on the farm. The young _gentilhomme_ as
well as the young _habitant_ loved the free life of the forest and
river better than the monotonous work of the farm. He preferred too
often making love to the impressionable dusky maiden of the wigwam
rather than to the stolid, devout damsel imported for his kind by
priest or nun. A raid on some English post or village had far more
attraction than following the plough or threshing the grain. This
adventurous spirit led the young Frenchman to the western prairies
where the Red and Assiniboine waters mingle, to the foot-hills of the
Rocky Mountains, to the Ohio and Mississippi, and to the Gulf of
Mexico. But while Frenchmen in this way won eternal fame, the
seigniories were too often left in a state of savagery, and even those
_seigneurs_ and _habitants_ who devoted themselves successfully to
pastoral pursuits found themselves in the end harassed by the constant
calls made upon their military services during the years the French
fought to retain the imperial domain they had been the first to
discover and occupy in the great valleys of North America. Still,
despite the difficulties which impeded the practical working of the
seigniorial system, it had on the whole an excellent effect on the
social conditions of the country. It created a friendly and even
parental relation between _seigneur, curé,_ and _habitant_, who on
each estate constituted as it were a seigniorial family, united to
each other by common ties of self-interest and personal affection. If
the system did not create an energetic self-reliant people in the
rural communities, it arose from the fact that it was not associated
with a system of local self-government like that which existed in the
colonies of England. The French king had no desire to see such a
system develop in the colonial dependencies of France. His
governmental system in Canada was a mild despotism intended to create
a people ever ready to obey the decrees and ordinances of royal
officials, over whom the commonality could exercise no control
whatever in such popular elective assemblies as were enjoyed by every
colony of England in North America.

During the French régime the officials of the French government
frequently repressed undue or questionable exactions imposed, or
attempted to be imposed, on the _censitaires_ by greedy or extravagant
seigniors. It was not until the country had been for some time in the
possession of England that abuses became fastened on the tenure, and
retarded the agricultural and industrial development of the province.
The _cens et rentes_ were unduly raised, the _droit de banalité_ was
pressed to the extent that if a _habitant_ went to a better or more
convenient mill than the seignior's, he had to pay tolls to both, the
transfer of property was hampered by the _lods el ventes_ and the
_droit de retraite_, and the claim always made by the seigniors to the
exclusive use of the streams running by or through the seigniories was
a bar to the establishment of industrial enterprise. Questions of law
which arose between the _seigneur_ and _habitant_ and were referred to
the courts were decided in nearly all cases in favour of the former.
In such instances the judges were governed by precedent or by a strict
interpretation of the law, while in the days of French dominion the
intendants were generally influenced by principles of equity in the
disputes that came before them, and by a desire to help the weaker
litigant, the _censitaire_.

It took nearly a century after the conquest before it was possible to
abolish a system which had naturally become so deeply rooted in the
social and economic conditions of the people of French Canada. As the
abuses of the tenure became more obvious, discontent became
widespread, and the politicians after the union were forced at last to
recognize the necessity of a change more in harmony with modern
principles. Measures were first passed better to facilitate the
optional commutation of the tenure of lands _en roture_ into that of
_franc aleu roturier_, but they never achieved any satisfactory
results. LaFontaine did not deny the necessity for a radical change in
the system, but he was too much wedded to the old institutions of his
native province to take the initiative for its entire removal. Mr.
Louis Thomas Drummond, who was attorney-general in both the
Hincks-Morin and MacNab-Morin ministries, is deserving of honourable
mention in Canadian history for the leading part he took in settling
this very perplexing question. I have already shown that his first
attempt in 1853 failed in consequence of the adverse action of the
legislative council, and that no further steps were taken in the matter
until the coming into office of the MacNab or Liberal-Conservative
government in 1854, when he brought a bill into parliament to a large
extent a copy of the first. This bill became law after it had received
some important amendments in the upper House, where there were a number
of representatives of seigniorial interests, now quite reconciled to
the proposed change and prepared to make the best of it. It abolished
all feudal rights and duties in Lower Canada, "whether hearing upon the
_censitaire_ or _seigneur_," and provided for the appointment of
commissioners to enquire into the respective rights of the parties
interested. In order to enable them to come to correct conclusions with
respect to these rights, all questions of law were first submitted to a
seigniorial court composed of the judges of the Queen's Bench and
Superior Court in Lower Canada. The commissioners under this law were
as follows:--

   Messrs. Chabot, H. Judah, S. Lelièvre, L. Archambault, N. Dumas, J.G.
   Turcotte, C. Delagrave, P. Winter, J.G. Lebel, and J.B. Varin.

The judges of the seigniorial court were:--

   Chief Justice Sir Louis H. LaFontaine, president; Judges Bowen,
   Aylwin, Duval, Caron, Day, Smith, Vanfelson, Mondelet, Meredith,
   Short, Morin, and Badgley.

Provision was also made by parliament for securing compensation to the
seigniors for the giving up of all legal rights of which they were
deprived by the decision of the commissioners. It took five years of
enquiry and deliberation before the commissioners were able to complete
their labours, and then it was found necessary to vote other funds to
meet all the expenses entailed by a full settlement of the question.

The result was that all lands previously held _en fief, en arrière
fief, en censive_, or _en roture_, under the old French system, were
henceforth placed on the footing of lands in the other provinces, that
is to say, free and common socage. The seigniors received liberal
remuneration for the abolition of the _lods et ventes, droit de
banalité_, and other rights declared legal by the court. The _cens et
ventes_ had alone to be met as an established rent (_rente
constituée_) by the _habitant_, but even this change was so modified
and arranged as to meet the exigencies of the _censitaires_, the
protection of whose interests was at the basis of the whole law
abolishing this ancient tenure. This radical change cost the country
from first to last over ten million dollars, including a large
indemnity paid to Upper Canada for its proportion of the fund taken
from public revenues of the united provinces to meet the claims of the
seigniors and the expenses of the commission. The money was well spent
in bringing about so thorough a revolution in so peaceable and
conclusive a manner. The _habitants_ of the east were now as free as
the farmers of the west. The seigniors themselves largely benefited by
the capitalization in money of their old rights, and by the
untrammelled possession of land held _en franc aleu roturier_.
Although the seigniorial tenure disappeared from the social system of
French Canada nearly half a century ago, we find enduring memorials of
its existence in such famous names as these:--Nicolet, Verchères,
Lotbinière, Berthier, Rouville, Joliette, Terrebonne, Sillery,
Beaupré, Bellechasse, Portneuf, Chambly, Sorel, Longueuil,
Boucherville, Chateauguay, and many others which recall the seigniors
of the old régime.



In a long letter which he wrote to Earl Grey in August, 1850, Lord
Elgin used these significant words: "To render annexation by violence
impossible, or by any other means improbable as may be, is, as I have
often ventured to repeat, the polar star of my policy." To understand
the full significance of this language it is only necessary to refer
to the history of the difficulties with which the governor-general had
to contend from the first hour he came to the province and began his
efforts to allay the feeling of disaffection then too prevalent
throughout the country--especially among the commercial classes--and
to give encouragement to that loyal sentiment which had been severely
shaken by the indifference or ignorance shown by British statesmen and
people with respect to the conditions and interests of the Canadas. He
was quite conscious that, if the province was to remain a contented
portion of the British empire, it could be best done by giving full
play to the principles of self-government among both nationalities who
had been so long struggling to obtain the application of the
parliamentary system of England in the fullest sense to the operation
of their own internal affairs, and by giving to the industrial and
commercial classes adequate compensation for the great losses which
they had sustained by the sudden abolition of the privileges which
England had so long extended to Canadian products--notably, flour,
wheat and lumber--in the British market.

Lord Elgin knew perfectly well that, while this discontent existed,
the party which favoured annexation would not fail to find sympathy
and encouragement in the neighbouring republic. He recalled the fact
that both Papineau and Mackenzie, after the outbreak of their abortive
rebellion, had many abettors across the border, as the infamous raids
into Canada clearly proved. Many people in the United States, no
doubt, saw some analogy between the grievances of Canadians and those
which had led to the American revolution. "The mass of the American
people," said Lord Durham, "had judged of the quarrel from a distance;
they had been obliged to form their judgment on the apparent grounds
of the controversy; and were thus deceived, as all those are apt to be
who judge under such circumstances, and on such grounds. The contest
bore some resemblance to that great struggle of their own forefathers,
which they regard with the highest pride. Like that, they believed it
to be the contest of a colony against the empire, whose misconduct
alienated their own country; they considered it to be a contest
undertaken by a people professing to seek independence of distant
control, and extension of popular privileges." More than that, the
striking contrast which was presented between Canada and the United
States "in respect to every sign of productive industry, increasing
wealth, and progressive civilization" was considered by the people of
the latter country to be among the results of the absence of a
political system which would give expansion to the energies of the
colonists and make them self-reliant in every sense. Lord Durham's
picture of the condition of things in 1838-9 was very painful to
Canadians, although it was truthful in every particular. "On the
British side of the line," he wrote, "with the exception of a few
favoured spots, where some approach to American prosperity is
apparent, all seems waste and desolate." But it was not only "in the
difference between the larger towns on the two sides" that we could
see "the best evidence of our own inferiority." That "painful and
undeniable truth was most manifest in the country districts through
which the line of national separation passes for one thousand miles."
Mrs. Jameson in her "Winter Studies and Summer Rambles," written only
a year or two before Lord Durham's report, gives an equally
unfavourable comparison between the Canadian and United States sides
of the western country. As she floated on the Detroit river in a
little canoe made of a hollow tree, and saw on one side "a city with
its towers, and spires, and animated population," and on the other "a
little straggling hamlet with all the symptoms of apathy, indolence,
mistrust, hopelessness," she could not help wondering at this
"incredible difference between the two shores," and hoping that some
of the colonial officials across the Atlantic would be soon sent "to
behold and solve the difficulty."

But while Lord Durham was bound to emphasize this unsatisfactory state
of things he had not lost his confidence in the loyalty of the mass of
the Canadian people, notwithstanding the severe strain to which they
had been subject on account of the supineness of the British
government to deal vigorously and promptly with grievances of which
they had so long complained as seriously affecting their connection
with the parent state and the development of their material resources.
It was only necessary, he felt, to remove the causes of discontent to
bring out to the fullest extent the latent affection which the mass of
French and English Canadians had been feeling for British connection
ever since the days when the former obtained guarantees for the
protection of their dearest institutions and the Loyalists of the
American Revolution crossed the frontier for the sake of Crown and
empire. "We must not take every rash expression of disappointment,"
wrote Lord Durham, "as an indication of a settled aversion to the
existing constitution; and my own observation convinces me that the
predominant feeling of all the British population of the North
American colonies is that of devoted attachment to the mother country.
I believe that neither the interests nor the feelings of the people
are incompatible with a colonial government, wisely and popularly
administered." His strong conviction then was that if connection with
Great Britain was to be continuous, if every cause of discontent was
to be removed, if every excuse for interference "by violence on the
part of the United States" was to be taken away, if Canadian
annexationists were no longer to look for sympathy and aid among their
republican neighbours, the Canadian people must be given the full
control of their own internal affairs, while the British government on
their part should cease that constant interference which only
irritated and offended the colony. "It is not by weakening," he said,
"but strengthening the influence of the people on the government; by
confining within much narrower bounds than those hitherto allotted to
it, and not by extending the interference of the imperial authorities
in the details of colonial affairs, that I believe that harmony is to
be restored, where dissension has so long prevailed; and a regularity
and vigour hitherto unknown, introduced into the administration of
these provinces." And he added that if the internal struggle for
complete self-government were renewed "the sympathy from without would
at some time or other re-assume its former strength."

Lord Elgin appeared on the scene at the very time when there was some
reason for a repetition of that very struggle, and a renewal of that
very "sympathy from without" which Lord Durham imagined. The political
irritation, which had been smouldering among the great mass of
Reformers since the days of Lord Metcalfe, was seriously aggravated by
the discontent created by commercial ruin and industrial paralysis
throughout Canada as a natural result of Great Britain's ruthless
fiscal policy. The annexation party once more came to the surface, and
contrasts were again made between Canada and the United States
seriously to the discredit of the imperial state. "The plea of
self-interest," wrote Lord Elgin in 1849, "the most powerful weapon,
perhaps, which the friends of British connection have wielded in times
past, has not only been wrested from my hands but transferred since
1846 to those of the adversary." He then proceeded to contrast the
condition of things on the two sides of the Niagara, only "spanned by
a narrow bridge, which it takes a foot passenger about three minutes
to cross." The inhabitants on the Canadian side were "for the most
part United Empire Loyalists" and differed little in habits or modes
of thought and expression from their neighbours. Wheat, their staple
product, grown on the Canadian side of the line, "fetched at that time
in the market from 9d. to 1s. less than the same article grown on the
other." These people had protested against the Montreal annexation
movement, but Lord Elgin was nevertheless confident that the large
majority firmly believed "that their annexation to the United States
would add one-fourth to the value of the produce of their farms." In
dealing with the causes of discontent Lord Elgin came to exactly the
same conclusion which, as I have just shown, was accepted by Lord
Durham after a close study of the political and material conditions of
the country. He completed the work of which his eminent predecessor
had been able only to formulate the plan. By giving adequate scope to
the practice of responsible government, he was able to remove all
causes for irritation against the British government, and prevent
annexationists from obtaining any sympathy from that body of American
people who were always looking for an excuse for a movement--such a
violent movement as suggested by Lord Elgin in the paragraph given
above--which would force Canada into the states of the union. Having
laid this foundation for a firm and popular government, he proceeded
to remove the commercial embarrassment by giving a stimulus to
Canadian trade by the repeal of the navigation laws, and the adoption
of reciprocity with the United States. The results of his efforts were
soon seen in the confidence which all nationalities and classes of the
Canadian people felt in the working of their system of government, in
the strengthening of the ties between the imperial state and the
dependency, and in the decided stimulus given to the shipping and
trade throughout the provinces of British North America.

I have already in the previous chapters of this book dwelt on the
methods which Lord Elgin so successfully adopted to establish
responsible government in accordance with the wishes of the Canadian
people, and it is now only necessary to refer to his strenuous efforts
during six years to obtain reciprocal trade between Canada and the
United States. It was impossible at the outset of his negotiations to
arouse any active interest among the politicians of the republic as
long as they were unable to see that the proposed treaty would be to
the advantage of their particular party or of the nation at large. No
party in congress was ready to take it up as a political question and
give it that impulse which could be best given by a strong partisan
organization. The Canadian and British governments could not get up a
"lobby" to press the matter in the ways peculiar to professional
politicians, party managers, and great commercial or financial
corporations. Mr. Hincks brought the powers of his persuasive tongue
and ingenious intellect to bear on the politicians at Washington, but
even he with all his commercial acuteness and financial knowledge was
unable to accomplish anything. It was not until Lord Elgin himself
went to the national capital and made use of his diplomatic tact and
amenity of demeanour that a successful result was reached. No
governor-general who ever visited the United States made so deep an
impression on its statesmen and people as was made by Lord Elgin
during this mission to Washington, and also in the course of the
visits he paid to Boston and Portland where he spoke with great effect
on several occasions. He won the confidence and esteem of statesmen
and politicians by his urbanity, dignity, and capacity for business.
He carried away his audiences by his exhibition of a high order of
eloquence, which evoked the admiration of those who had been
accustomed to hear Webster, Everett, Wendell, Philipps, Choate, and
other noted masters of oratory in America.

He spoke at Portland after his success in negotiating the treaty, and
was able to congratulate both Canada and the United States on the
settlement of many questions which had too long alienated peoples who
ought to be on the most friendly terms with each other. He was now
near the close of his Canadian administration and was able to sum up
the results of his labours. The discontent with which the people of
the United States so often sympathized had been brought to an end "by
granting to Canadians what they desired--the great principle of
self-government" "The inhabitants of Canada at this moment," he went
on to say, "exercise as much influence over their own destinies and
government as do the people of the United States. This is the only
cause of misunderstanding that ever existed; and this cannot arise
when the circumstances which made them at variance have ceased to

The treaty was signed on June 5th, 1854, by Lord Elgin on the part of
Great Britain, and by the Honourable W.L. Marcy, secretary of state,
on behalf of the United States, but it did not legally come into force
until it had been formally ratified by the parliament of Great
Britain, the congress of the United States, and the several
legislatures of the British provinces. It exempted from customs duties
on both sides of the line certain articles which were the growth and
produce of the British colonies and of the United States--the
principal being grain, flour, breadstuffs, animals, fresh, smoked, and
salted meats, fish, lumber of all kinds, poultry, cotton, wool, hides,
ores of metal, pitch, tar, ashes, flax, hemp, rice, and unmanufactured
tobacco. The people of the United States and of the British provinces
were given an equal right to navigate the St. Lawrence river, the
Canadian canals and Lake Michigan. No export duty could be levied on
lumber cut in Maine and passing down the St. John or other streams in
New Brunswick. The most important question temporarily settled by the
treaty was the fishery dispute which had been assuming a troublesome
aspect for some years previously. The government at Washington then
began to raise the issue that the three mile limit to which their
fishermen could be confined should follow the sinuosities of the
coasts, including bays; the object being to obtain access to the
valuable mackerel fisheries of the Bay of Chaleurs and other waters
claimed to be exclusively within the territorial jurisdiction of the
maritime provinces. The imperial government generally sustained the
contention of the provinces--a contention practically supported by the
American authorities in the case of Delaware, Chesapeake, and other
bays on the coasts of the United States--that the three mile limit
should be measured from a line drawn from headland to headland of all
bays, harbours, and creeks. In the case of the Bay of Fundy, however,
the imperial government allowed a departure from this general
principle when it was urged by the Washington government that one of
its headlands was in the territory of the United States, and that it
was an arm of the sea rather than a bay. The result was that foreign
fishing vessels were shut out only from the bays on the coasts of Nova
Scotia and New Brunswick within the Bay of Fundy. All these questions
were, however, placed in abeyance, for twelve years, by the Reciprocity
Treaty of 1854, which provided that the inhabitants of the United
States could take fish of any kind, except shell fish, on the sea
coasts, and shores, in the bays, harbours, and creeks of any British
province, without any restriction as to distance, and had also
permission to land on these coasts and shores for the purpose of
drying their nets and curing their fish. The same privileges
were extended to British citizens on the eastern sea coasts and
shores of the United States, north of the 36th parallel of north
latitude--privileges of no practical value to the people of British
North America compared with those they gave up in their own prolific
waters. The farmers of the agricultural west accepted with great
satisfaction a treaty which gave their products free access to
their natural market, but the fishermen and seamen of the maritime
provinces, especially of Nova Scotia, were for some time dissatisfied
with provisions which gave away their most valuable fisheries without
adequate compensation, and at the same time refused them the
privilege--a great advantage to a ship-building, ship-owning
province--of the coasting trade of the United States on the same terms
which were allowed to American and British vessels on the coasts of
British North America. On the whole, however, the treaty eventually
proved of benefit to all the provinces at a time when trade required
just such a stimulus as it gave in the markets of the United States.
The aggregate interchange of commodities between the two countries
rose from an annual average of $14,230,763 in the years previous to
1854 to $33,492,754 gold currency, in the first year of its existence;
to $42,944,754 gold currency, in the second year; to $50,339,770 gold
currency in the third year; and to no less a sum than $84,070,955 at
war prices, in the thirteenth year when it was terminated by the
United States in accordance with the provision, which allowed either
party to bring it to an end after a due notice of twelve months at the
expiration of ten years or of any longer time it might remain in
force. Not only was a large and remunerative trade secured between the
United States and the provinces, but the social and friendly
intercourse of the two countries necessarily increased with the
expansion of commercial relations and the creation of common interests
between them. Old antipathies and misunderstandings disappeared under
the influence of conditions which brought these communities together
and made each of them place a higher estimate on the other's good
qualities. In short, the treaty in all respects fully realized the
expectations of Lord Elgin in working so earnestly to bring it to a
successful conclusion.

However, it pleased the politicians of the United States, in a moment
of temper, to repeal a treaty which, during its existence, gave a
balance in favour of the commercial and industrial interests of the
republic, to the value of over $95,000,000 without taking into account
the value of the provincial fisheries from which the fishermen of New
England annually derived so large a profit. Temper, no doubt, had much
to do with the action of the United States government at a time when
it was irritated by the sympathy extended to the Confederate States by
many persons in the provinces as well as in Great Britain--notably by
Mr. Gladstone himself. No doubt it was thought that the repeal of the
treaty would be a sort of punishment to the people of British North
America. It was even felt--as much was actually said in congress--that
the result of the sudden repeal of the treaty would be the growth of
discontent among those classes in Canada who had begun to depend upon
its continuance, and that sooner or later there would arise a cry for
annexation with a country from which they could derive such large
commercial advantages. Canadians now know that the results have been
very different from those anticipated by statesmen and journalists on
the other side of the border. Instead of starving Canada and forcing
her into annexation, they have, by the repeal of the Reciprocity
Treaty, and by their commercial policy ever since, materially helped
to stimulate her self-reliance, increase her commerce with other
countries, and make her largely a self-sustaining, independent
country. Canadians depend on themselves--on a self-reliant,
enterprising policy of trade--not on the favour or caprice of any
particular nation. They are always quite prepared to have the most
liberal commercial relations with the United States, but at the same
time feel that a reciprocity treaty is no longer absolutely essential
to their prosperity, and cannot under any circumstances have any
particular effect on the political destiny of the Canadian
confederation whose strength and unity are at length so well assured.



Lord Elgin assumed the governor-generalship of Canada on January 30th,
1847, and gave place to Sir Edmund Head on December 19th, 1854. The
address which he received from the Canadian legislature on the eve of
his departure gave full expression to the golden opinions which he had
succeeded in winning from the Canadian people during his able
administration of nearly eight years. The passionate feeling which had
been evoked during the crisis caused by the Rebellion Losses Bill had
gradually given way to a true appreciation of the wisdom of the course
that he had followed under such exceptionally trying circumstances,
and to the general conviction that his strict observance of the true
forms and methods of constitutional government had added strength and
dignity to the political institutions of the country and placed Canada
at last in the position of a semi-independent nation. The charm of his
manner could never fail to captivate those who met him often in social
life, while public men of all parties recognized his capacity for
business, the sincerity of his convictions, and the absence of a
spirit of intrigue in connection with the administration of public
affairs and his relations with political parties. He received
evidences on every side that he had won the confidence and respect and
even affection of all nationalities, classes, and creeds in Canada. In
the very city where he had been maltreated and his life itself
endangered, he received manifestations of approval which were full
compensation for the mental sufferings to which he was subject in that
unhappy period of his life, when he proved so firm, courageous and
far-sighted. In well chosen language--always characteristic of his
public addresses--he spoke of the cordial reception he had met with,
when he arrived a stranger in Montreal, of the beauty of its
surroundings, of the kind attention with which its citizens had on
more than one occasion listened to the advice he gave to their various
associations, of the undaunted courage with which the merchants had
promoted the construction of that great road which was so necessary to
the industrial development of the province, of the patriotic energy
which first gathered together such noble specimens of Canadian
industry from all parts of the country, and had been the means of
making the great World's Fair so serviceable to Canada; and then as he
recalled the pleasing incidents of the past, there came to his mind a
thought of the scenes of 1849, but the sole reference he allowed
himself was this: "And I shall forget--but no, what I might have to
forget is forgotten already, and therefore I cannot tell you what I
shall forget."

The last speech which he delivered in the picturesque city of Quebec
gave such eloquent expression to the feelings with which he left
Canada, is such an admirable example of the oratory with which he so
often charmed large assemblages, that I give it below in full for the
perusal of Canadians of the present day who had not the advantage of
hearing him in the prime of his life.

"I wish I could address you in such strains as I have sometimes
employed on similar occasions--strains suited to a festive meeting;
but I confess I have a weight on my heart and it is not in me to be
merry. For the last time I stand before you in the official character
which I have borne for nearly eight years. For the last time I am
surrounded by a circle of friends with whom I have spent some of the
most pleasant days of my life. For the last time I welcome you as my
guests to this charming residence which I have been in the habit of
calling my home.[23] I did not, I will frankly confess it, know what
it would cost me to break this habit, until the period of my departure
approached, and I began to feel that the great interests which have so
long engrossed my attention and thoughts were passing out of my hands.
I had a hint of what my feelings really were upon this point--a pretty
broad hint too--one lovely morning in June last, when I returned to
Quebec after my temporary absence in England, and landed in the coves
below Spencerwood (because it was Sunday and I did not want to make a
disturbance in the town), and when with the greetings of the old
people in the coves who put their heads out of the windows as I passed
along, and cried 'Welcome home again,' still ringing in my ears, I
mounted the hill and drove through the avenue to the house door, I saw
the drooping trees on the lawn, with every one of which I was so
familiar, clothed in the tenderest green of spring, and the river
beyond, calm and transparent as a mirror, and the ships fixed and
motionless as statues on its surface, and the whole landscape bathed
in that bright Canadian sun which so seldom pierces our murky
atmosphere on the other side of the Atlantic. I began to think that
persons were to be envied who were not forced by the necessities of
their position to quit these engrossing interests and lovely scenes,
for the purpose of proceeding to distant lands, but who are able to
remain among them until they pass to that quiet corner of the garden
of Mount Hermon, which juts into the river and commands a view of the
city, the shipping, Point Levi, the Island of Orleans, and the range
of the Laurentine; so that through the dim watches of that tranquil
night which precedes the dawning of the eternal day, the majestic
citadel of Quebec, with its noble tram of satellite hills, may seem to
rest forever on the sight, and the low murmur of the waters of St.
Lawrence, with the hum of busy life on their surface, to fall
ceaselessly on the ear. I cannot bring myself to believe that the
future has in store for me any interests which will fill the place of
those I am now abandoning. But although I must henceforward be to you
as a stranger, although my official connection with you and your
interests will have become hi a few days matter of history, yet I
trust that through some one channel or other, the tidings of your
prosperity and progress may occasionally reach me; that I may hear
from time to time of the steady growth and development of those
principles of liberty and order, of manly independence in combination
with respect for authority and law, of national life in harmony with
British connection, which it has been my earnest endeavour, to the
extent of my humble means of influence, to implant and to establish. I
trust, too, that I shall hear that this House continues to be what I
have ever sought to render it, a neutral territory, on which persons
of opposite opinions, political and religious, may meet together in
harmony and forget their differences for a season. And I have good
hope that this will be the case for several reasons, and, among
others, for one which I can barely allude to, for it might be an
impertinence in me to dwell upon it But I think that without any
breach of delicacy or decorum I may venture to say that many years
ago, when I was much younger than I am now, and when we stood towards
each other in a relation somewhat different from that which has
recently subsisted between us, I learned to look up to Sir Edmund Head
with respect, as a gentleman of the highest character, the greatest
ability, and the most varied accomplishments and attainments. And now,
ladies and gentlemen, I have only to add the sad word--Farewell. I
drink this bumper to the health of you all, collectively and
individually. I trust that I may hope to leave behind me some who will
look back with feelings of kindly recollection to the period of our
intercourse; some with whom I have been on terms of immediate official
connection, whose worth and talents I have had the best means of
appreciating, and who could bear witness at least, if they please to
do so, to the spirit, intentions, and motives with which I have
administered your affairs; some with whom I have been bound by the
ties of personal regard. And if reciprocity be essential to enmity,
then most assuredly I can leave behind me no enemies. I am aware that
there must be persons in so large a society as this, who think that
they have grievances to complain of, that due consideration has not in
all cases been shown to them. Let them believe me, and they ought to
believe me, for the testimony of a dying man is evidence, even in a
court of justice, let them believe me, then, when I assure them, in
this the last hour of my agony, that no such errors of omission or
commission have been intentional on my part. Farewell, and God bless
you." Before I proceed to review some features of his administration
in Canada, to which it has not been possible to do adequate justice in
previous chapters of this book, I must very briefly refer to the
eminent services which he was able to perform for the empire before he
closed his useful life amid the shadows of the Himalayas. On his
return to England he took his seat in the House of Lords, but he gave
very little attention to politics or legislation. On one occasion,
however, he expressed a serious doubt as to the wisdom of sending to
Canada large bodies of troops, which had come back from the Crimea, on
the ground that such a proceeding might complicate the relations of
the colony with the United States, and at the same time arrest its
progress towards self-independence in all matters affecting its
internal order and security.

This opinion was in unison with the sentiments which he had often
expressed to the secretary of state during his term of office in
America. While he always deprecated any hasty withdrawal of imperial
troops from the dependency as likely at that time to imperil its
connection with the mother country, he believed most thoroughly in
educating Canadians gradually to understand the large measure of
responsibility which attached to self-government. He was of opinion
"that the system of relieving colonists altogether from the duty of
self-defence must be attended with injurious effects upon themselves."
"It checks," he continued, "the growth of national and manly morals.
Men seldom think anything worth preserving for which they are never
asked to make a sacrifice." His view was that, while it was desirable
to remove imperial troops gradually and throw the responsibility of
self-defence largely upon Canada, "the movement in that direction
should be made with due caution." "The present"--he was writing to the
secretary of state in 1848 when Canadian affairs were still in an
unsatisfactory state--"is not a favourable moment for experiments.
British statesmen, even secretaries of state, have got into the habit
lately of talking of the maintenance of the connection between Great
Britain and Canada with so much indifference, that a change of system
in respect to military defence incautiously carried out, might be
presumed by many to argue, on the part of the mother country, a
disposition to prepare the way for separation." And he added three
years later:

     "If these communities are only truly attached to the
     connection and satisfied of its permanence (and as respects
     the latter point, opinions here will be much influenced by
     the tone of statesmen at home), elements of self-defence,
     not moral elements only, but material elements likewise,
     will spring up within them spontaneously as the product of
     movements from within, not of pressure from without. Two
     millions of people in a northern latitude can do a good deal
     in the way of helping themselves, when their hearts are in
     the right place."

Before two decades of years had passed away, the foresight of these
suggestions was clearly shown. Canada had become a part of a British
North American confederation, and with the development of its material
resources, the growth of a national spirit of self-reliance, the new
Dominion, thus formed, was able to relieve the parent state of the
expenses of self-defence, and come to her aid many years later when
her interests were threatened in South Africa. If Canada has been able
to do all this, it has been owing to the growth of that spirit of
self-reliance--of that principle of self-government--which Lord Elgin
did his utmost to encourage. We can then well understand that Lord
Elgin, in 1855, should have contemplated with some apprehension the
prospect of largely increasing the Canadian garrisons at a time when
Canadians were learning steadily and surely to cultivate the national
habit of depending upon their own internal resources in their working
out of the political institutions given them by England after years of
agitation, and even suffering, as the history of the country until
1840 so clearly shows. It is also easy to understand that Lord Elgin
should have regarded the scheme in contemplation as likely to create a
feeling of doubt and suspicion as to the motives of the imperial
government in the minds of the people of the United States. He
recalled naturally his important visit to that country, where he had
given eloquent expression, as the representative of the British Crown,
to his sanguine hopes for the continuous amity of peoples allied to
each other by so many ties of kindred and interest, and had also
succeeded after infinite labour in negotiating a treaty so well
calculated to create a common sympathy between Canada and the
republic, and stimulate that friendly intercourse which would dispel
many national prejudices and antagonisms which had unhappily arisen
between these communities in the past. The people of the United States
might well, he felt, see some inconsistency between such friendly
sentiments and the sending of large military reinforcements to Canada.

In the spring of 1857 Lord Elgin accepted from Lord Palmerston a
delicate mission to China at a very critical time when the affair of
the lorcha "Arrow" had led to a serious rupture between that country
and Great Britain. According to the British statement of the case, in
October, 1856, the Chinese authorities at Canton seized the lorcha
although it was registered as a British vessel, tore down the British
flag from its masthead, and carried away the crew as prisoners. On the
other hand the Chinese claimed that they had arrested the crew, who
were subjects of the emperor, as pirates, that the British ownership
had lapsed some time previously, and that there was no flag flying on
the vessel at the time of its seizure. The British representatives in
China gave no credence to these explanations but demanded not only a
prompt apology but also the fulfilment of "long evaded treaty
obligations." When these peremptory demands were not at once complied
with, the British proceeded in a very summary manner to blow up
Chinese forts, and commit other acts of war, although the Chinese only
offered a passive resistance to these efforts to bring them to terms
of abject submission. Lord Palmerston's government was condemned in
the House of Commons for the violent measures which had been taken in
China, but he refused to submit to a vote made up, as he satirically
described it, "of a fortuitous concourse of atoms," and appealed to
the country, which sustained him. While Lord Elgin was on his way to
China, he heard the news of the great mutiny in India, and received a
letter from Lord Canning, then governor-general, imploring him to send
some assistance from the troops under his direction. He at once sent
"instructions far and wide to turn the transports back and give
Canning the benefit of the troops for the moment." It is impossible,
say his contemporaries, to exaggerate the importance of the aid which
he so promptly gave at the most critical time in the Indian situation.
"Tell Lord Elgin," wrote Sir William Peel, the commander of the famous
Naval Brigade at a later time, "that it was the Chinese expedition
which relieved Lucknow, relieved Cawnpore, and fought the battle of
December 6th." But this patriotic decision delayed somewhat the
execution of Lord Elgin's mission to China. It was nearly four months
after he had despatched the first Chinese contingent to the relief of
the Indian authorities, that another body of troops arrived in China
and he was able to proceed vigorously to execute the objects of his
visit to the East. After a good deal of fighting and bullying, Chinese
commissioners were induced in the summer of 1859 to consent to sign
the Treaty of Tientsin, which gave permission to the Queen of Great
Britain to appoint, if she should see fit, an ambassador who might
reside permanently at Pekin, or visit it occasionally according to the
pleasure of the British government, guaranteed protection to
Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, allowed British subjects to
travel to all parts of the empire, under passports signed by British
consuls, established favourable conditions for the protection of trade
by foreigners, and indemnified the British government for the losses
that had been sustained at Canton and for the expenses of the war.

Lord Elgin then paid an official visit to Japan, where he was well
received and succeeded in negotiating the Treaty of Yeddo, which was a
decided advance on all previous arrangements with that country, and
prepared the way for larger relations between it and England. On his
return to bring the new treaty to a conclusion, he found that the
commissioners who had gone to obtain their emperor's full consent to
its provisions, seemed disposed to call into question some of the
privileges which had been already conceded, and he was consequently
forced to assume that peremptory tone which experience of the Chinese
has shown can alone bring them to understand the full measure of their
responsibilities in negotiations with a European power. However, he
believed he had brought his mission to a successful close, and
returned to England in the spring of 1859.

How little interest was taken in those days in Canadian affairs by
British public men and people, is shown by some comments of Mr.
Waldron on the incidents which signalized Lord Elgin's return from
China. "When he returned in 1854 from the government of Canada," this
writer naively admits, "there were comparatively few persons in
England who knew anything of the great work he had done in the colony.
But his brilliant successes in the East attracted public interest and
gave currency to his reputation." He accepted the position of
postmaster-general in the administration just formed by Lord
Palmerston, and was elected Lord Rector of Glasgow; but he had hardly
commenced to study the details of his office, and enjoy the amenities
of the social life of Great Britain, when he was again called upon by
the government to proceed to the East, where the situation was once
more very critical. The duplicity of the Chinese in their dealings
with foreigners had soon shown itself after his departure from China,
and he was instructed to go back as Ambassador Extraordinary to that
country, where a serious rupture had occurred between the English and
Chinese while an expedition of the former was on its way to Pekin to
obtain the formal ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin. The French
government, which had been a party to that treaty, sent forces to
coöperate with those of Great Britain in obtaining prompt satisfaction
for an attack made by the Chinese troops on the British at the Peilo,
the due ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin, and payment of an
indemnity to the allies for the expenses of their military operations.

The punishment which the Chinese received for their bad faith and
treachery was very complete. Yuen-ming-yuen, the emperor's summer
palace, one of the glories of the empire, was levelled to the ground
as a just retribution for treacherous and criminal acts committed by
the creatures of the emperor at the very moment it was believed that
the negotiations were peacefully terminated. Five days after the
burning of the palace, the treaty was fully ratified between the
emperor's brother and Lord Elgin, and full satisfaction obtained from
the imperial authorities at Pekin for their shameless disregard of
their solemn engagements. The manner in which the British ambassador
discharged the onerous duties of his mission, met with the warm
approval of Her Majesty's government and when he was once more in
England he was offered by the prime minister the governor-generalship
of India.

He accepted this great office with a full sense of the arduous
responsibilities which it entailed upon him, and said good-bye to his
friends with words which showed that he had a foreboding that he might
never see them again--words which proved unhappily to be too true. He
went to the discharge of his duties in India in that spirit of modesty
which was always characteristic of him. "I succeeded," he said, "to a
great man (Lord Canning) and a great war, with a humble task to be
humbly discharged." His task was indeed humble compared with that
which had to be performed by his eminent predecessors, notably by Earl
Canning, who had established important reforms in the land tenure, won
the confidence of the feudatories of the Crown, and reorganized the
whole administration of India after the tremendous upheaval caused by
the mutiny. Lord Elgin, on the other hand, was the first
governor-general appointed directly by the Queen, and was now subject
to the authority of the secretary of state for India. He could
consequently exercise relatively little of the powers and
responsibilities which made previous imperial representatives so
potent in the conduct of Indian affairs. Indeed he had not been long
in India before he was forced by the Indian secretary to reverse Lord
Canning's wise measure for the sale of a fee-simple tenure with all
its political as well as economic advantages. He was able, however, to
carry out loyally the wise and equitable policy of his predecessor
towards the feudatories of England with firmness and dignity and with
good effect for the British government.[24]

In 1863 he decided on making a tour of the northern parts of India
with the object of making himself personally acquainted with the
people and affairs of the empire under his government. It was during
this tour that he held a Durbar or Royal Court at Agra, which was
remarkable even in India for the display of barbaric wealth and the
assemblage of princes of royal descent. After reaching Simla his
peaceful administration of Indian affairs was at last disturbed by the
necessity--one quite clear to him--of repressing an outburst of
certain Nahabee fanatics who dwelt in the upper valley of the Indus.
He came to the conclusion that "the interests both of prudence and
humanity would be best consulted by levelling a speedy and decisive
blow at this embryo conspiracy." Having accordingly made the requisite
arrangements for putting down promptly the trouble on the frontier and
preventing the combination of the Mahommedan inhabitants in those
regions against the government, he left Simla and traversed the upper
valleys of the Beas, the Ravee, and the Chenali with the object of
inspecting the tea plantations of that district and making inquiries
as to the possibility of trade with Ladâk and China. Eventually, after
a wearisome journey through a most picturesque region, he reached
Dhurmsala--"the place of piety"--in the Kangra valley, where appeared
the unmistakable symptoms of the fatal malady which soon caused his

The closing scenes in the life of the statesman have been described in
pathetic terms by his brother-in-law, Dean Stanley.[25] The
intelligence that the illness was mortal "was received with a calmness
and fortitude which never deserted him" through all the scenes which
followed. He displayed "in equal degrees, and with the most unvarying
constancy, two of the grandest elements of human character--unselfish
resignation of himself to the will of God, and thoughtful
consideration down to the smallest particulars, for the interests and
feelings of others, both public and private." When at his own request,
Lady Elgin chose a spot for his grave in the little cemetery which
stands on the bluff above the house where he died, "he gently
expressed pleasure when told of the quiet and beautiful aspect of the
place chosen, with the glorious view of the snowy range towering
above, and the wide prospect of hill and plain below." During this
fatal illness he had the consolation of the constant presence of his
loving wife, whose courageous spirit enabled her to overcome the
weakness of a delicate constitution. He died on November 20th, 1863,
and was buried on the following day beneath the snow-clad

If at any time a Canadian should venture to this quiet station in the
Kangra valley, let his first thought be, not of the sublimity of the
mountains which rise far away, but of the grave where rest the remains
of a statesman whose pure unselfishness, whose fidelity to duty, whose
tender and sympathetic nature, whose love of truth and justice, whose
compassion for the weak, whose trust in God and the teachings of
Christ, are human qualities more worthy of the admiration of us all
than the grandest attributes of nature.

None of the distinguished Canadian statesmen who were members of Lord
Elgin's several administrations from 1847 until 1854, or were then
conspicuous in parliamentary life, now remain to tell us the story of
those eventful years. Mr. Baldwin died five years before, and Sir
Louis Hypolite LaFontaine three months after the decease of the
governor-general of India, and in the roll of their Canadian
contemporaries there are none who have left a fairer record. Mr.
Hincks retired from the legislature of Canada in 1855, when he
accepted the office of governor-in-chief of Barbadoes and the Windward
Islands from Sir William Molesworth, colonial secretary in Lord
Palmerston's government, and for years an eminent advocate of a
liberal colonial policy. This appointment was well received throughout
British North America by Mr. Hincks's friends as well as political
opponents, who recognized the many merits of this able politician and
administrator. It was considered, according to the London _Times_, as
"the inauguration of a totally different system of policy from that
which has been hitherto pursued with regard to our colonies." "It gave
some evidence," continued the same paper, "that the more distinguished
among our fellow-subjects in the colonies may feel that the path of
imperial ambition is henceforth open to them." It was a direct answer
to the appeal which had been so eloquently made on more than one
occasion by the Honourable Joseph Howe[27] of Nova Scotia, to extend
imperial honours and offices to distinguished colonists, and not
reserve them, as was too often the case, for Englishmen of inferior
merit. "This elevation of Mr. Hincks to a governorship," said the
Montreal _Pilot_ at the time, "is the most practicable comment which
can possibly be offered upon the solemn and sorrowful complaints of
Mr. Howe, anent the neglect with which the colonists are treated by
the imperial government. So sudden, complete and noble a disclaimer on
the part of Her Majesty's minister for the colonies must have startled
the delegate from Nova Scotia, and we trust that his turn may not be
far distant." Fifteen years later, Mr. Howe himself became a
lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, and an inmate of the very
government house to which he was not admitted in the stormy days when
he was fighting the battle of responsible government against Lord

Mr. Hincks was subsequently appointed governor of British Guiana, and
at the same time received a Commandership of the Bath as a mark of
"Her Majesty's approval honourably won by very valuable and continued
service in several colonies of the empire." He retired from the
imperial service with a pension in 1869, when his name was included in
the first list of knights which was submitted to the Queen on the
extension of the Order of St. Michael and St. George for the express
purpose of giving adequate recognition to those persons in the
colonies who had rendered distinguished service to the Crown and
empire. During his Canadian administration Lord Elgin had impressed
upon the colonial secretary that it was "very desirable that the
prerogative of the Crown, as the fountain of honour, should be
employed, in so far as this can properly be done, as a means of
attaching the outlying parts of the empire to the throne." Two
principles ought, he thought, "as a general rule to be attended to in
the distribution of imperial honours among colonists." Firstly they
should appear "to emanate directly from the Crown, on the advice, if
you will, of the governors and imperial ministers, but not on the
recommendation of the local executive." Secondly, they "should be
conferred, as much as possible, on the eminent persons who are no
longer engaged actively in political life." The first principle has,
generally speaking, guided the action of the Crown in the distribution
of honours to colonists, though the governors may receive suggestions
from and also consult their prime ministers when the necessity arises.
These honours, too, are no longer conferred only on men actively
engaged in public life, but on others eminent in science, education,
literature, and other vocations of life.[28]

In 1870 Sir Francis Hincks returned to Canadian public life as finance
minister in Sir John Macdonald's government, and held the office until
1873, when he retired altogether from politics. Until the last hours
of his life he continued to show that acuteness of intellect, that
aptitude for public business, that knowledge of finance and commerce,
which made him so influential in public affairs. During his public
career in Canada previous to 1855, he was the subject of bitter
attacks for his political acts, but nowadays impartial history can
admit that, despite his tendency to commit the province to heavy
expenditures, his energy, enterprise and financial ability did good
service to the country at large. He was also attacked as having used
his public position to promote his own pecuniary interests, but he
courted and obtained inquiry into the most serious of such
accusations, and although there appears to have been some carelessness
in his connection with various speculations, and at times an absence
of an adequate sense of his responsibility as a public man, there is
no evidence that he was ever personally corrupt or dishonest. He
devoted the close of his life to the writing of his "Reminiscences,"
and of several essays on questions which were great public issues when
he was so prominent in Canadian politics, and although none of his
most ardent admirers can praise them as literary efforts of a high
order, yet they have an interest so far as they give us some insight
into disputed points of Canada's political history. He died in 1885 of
the dreadful disease small-pox in the city of Montreal, and the
veteran statesman was carried to the grave without those funeral
honours which were due to one who had filled with distinction so many
important positions in the service of Canada and the Crown. All his
contemporaries when he was prime minister also lie in the grave and
have found at last that rest which was not theirs in the busy,
passionate years of their public life. Sir Allan MacNab, who was a
spendthrift to the very last, lies in a quiet spot beneath the shades
of the oaks and elms which adorn the lovely park of Dundurn in
Hamilton, whose people have long since forgotten his weaknesses as a
man, and now only recall his love for the beautiful city with whose
interests he was so long identified, and his eminent services to Crown
and state. George Brown, Hincks's inveterate opponent, continued for
years after the formation of the first Liberal-Conservative
administration, to keep the old province of Canada in a state of
political ferment by his attacks on French Canada and her institutions
until at last he succeeded in making government practically
unworkable, and then suddenly he rose superior to the spirit of
passionate partisanship and racial bitterness which had so long
dominated him, and decided to aid his former opponents in consummating
that federal union which relieved old Canada of her political
embarrassment and sectional strife. His action at that time is his
chief claim to the monument which has been raised in his honour in the
great western city where he was for so many years a political force,
and where the newspaper he established still remains at the head of
Canadian journalism.

The greatest and ablest man among all who were notable in Lord Elgin's
days in Canada, Sir John Alexander Macdonald--the greatest not simply
as a Canadian politician but as one of the builders of the British
empire--lived to become one of Her Majesty's Privy Councillors of
Great Britain, a Grand Cross of the Bath, and prime minister for
twenty-one years of a Canadian confederation which stretches for 3,500
miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. When death at last
forced him from the great position he had so long occupied with
distinction to himself and advantage to Canada, the esteem and
affection in which he was held by the people, whom he had so long
served during a continuous public career of half a century, were shown
by the erection of stately monuments in five of the principal cities
of the Dominion--an honour never before paid to a colonial statesman.
The statues of Sir John Macdonald and Sir Georges Cartier--statues
conceived and executed by the genius of a French Canadian
artist--stand on either side of the noble parliament building where
these statesmen were for years the most conspicuous figures; and as
Canadians of the present generation survey their bronze effigies, let
them not fail to recall those admirable qualities of statesmanship
which distinguished them both--above all their assertion of those
principles of compromise, conciliation and equal rights which have
served to unite the two races in critical times when the tide of
racial and sectional passion and political demagogism has rushed in a
mad torrent against the walls of the national structure which
Canadians have been so steadily and successfully building for so many
years on the continent of North America.



In the foregoing pages I have endeavoured to review--very imperfectly,
I am afraid--all those important events in the political history of
Canada from 1847 to 1854, which have had the most potent influence on
its material, social, and political development. Any one who carefully
studies the conditions of the country during that critical period of
Canadian affairs cannot fail to come to the conclusion that the
gradual elevation of Canada from the depression which was so prevalent
for years in political as well as commercial matters, to a position of
political strength and industrial prosperity, was largely owing to the
success of the principles of self-government which Lord Elgin
initiated and carried out while at the head of the Canadian executive.
These principles have been clearly set forth in his speeches and in
his despatches to the secretary of state for the colonies as well as
in instructive volumes on the colonial policy of Lord John Russell's
administration by Lord Grey, the imperial minister who so wisely
recommended Lord Elgin's appointment as governor-general Briefly
stated these principles are as follows:--

     That it is neither desirable nor possible to carry on the
     government of a province in opposition to the opinion of its

     That a governor-general can have no ministers who do not
     enjoy the full confidence of the popular House, or, in the
     last resort, of the people.

     That the governor-general should not refuse his consent to
     any measure proposed by the ministry unless it is clear that
     it is of such an extreme party character that the assembly
     or people could not approve of it.

     That the governor-general should not identify himself with
     any party but make himself "a mediator and moderator between
     all parties."

That colonial communities should be encouraged to cultivate "a
national and manly tone of political morals," and should look to their
own parliaments for the solution of all problems of provincial
government instead of making constant appeals to the colonial office
or to opinion in the mother country, "always ill-informed, and
therefore credulous, in matters of colonial politics."

That the governor-general should endeavour to impart to these rising
communities the full advantages of British laws, British institutions,
and British freedom, and maintain in this way the connection between
them and the parent state.

We have seen in previous chapters how industriously, patiently, and
discreetly Lord Elgin laboured to carry out these principles in the
administration of his government. In 1849 he risked his own life that
he might give full scope to the principles of responsible government
with respect to the adjustment of a question which should be settled
by the Canadian people themselves without the interference of the
parent state, and on the same ground he impressed on the imperial
government the necessity of giving to the Canadian legislature full
control of the settlement of the clergy reserves. He had no patience
with those who believed that, in allowing the colonists to exercise
their right to self-government in matters exclusively affecting
themselves, there was any risk whatever so far as imperial interests
were concerned. One of his ablest letters was that which he wrote to
Earl Grey as an answer to the unwise utterances of the prime minister,
Lord John Russell, in the course of a speech on the colonies in which,
"amid the plaudits of a full senate, he declared that he looked
forward to the day when the ties which he was endeavouring to render
so easy and mutually advantageous would be severed." Lord Elgin held
it to be "a perfectly unsound and most dangerous theory, that British
colonies could not attain maturity without separation," and in this
connection he quoted the language of Mr. Baldwin to whom he had read
that part of Lord John Russell's speech to which he took such strong
exception. "For myself," said the eminent Canadian, "if the
anticipations therein expressed prove to be well founded, my interest
in public affairs is gone forever. But is it not hard upon us while we
are labouring, through good and evil report, to thwart the designs of
those who would dismember the empire, that our adversaries should be
informed that the difference between them and the prime minister of
England is only one of time? If the British government has really come
to the conclusion that we are a burden to be cast off, whenever a
favourable opportunity offers, surely we ought to be warned." In Lord
Elgin's opinion, based on a thorough study of colonial conditions, if
the Canadian or any other system of government was to be successful,
British statesmen must "renounce the habit of telling the colonies
that the colonial is a provisional existence." They should be taught
to believe that "without severing the bonds which unite them to
England, they may attain the degree of perfection, and of social and
political development to which organized communities of free men have
a right to aspire." The true policy in his judgment was "to throw the
whole weight of responsibility on those who exercise the real power,
for after all, the sense of responsibility is the best security
against the abuse of power; and as respects the connection, to act and
speak on this hypothesis--that there is nothing in it to check the
development of healthy national life in these young communities." He
was "possessed," he used the word advisedly, "with the idea that it
was possible to maintain on the soil of North America, and in the face
of Republican America, British connection and British institutions, if
you give the latter freely and trustingly." The history of Canada from
the day those words were penned down to the beginning of the twentieth
century proves their political wisdom. Under the inspiring influence
of responsible government Canada has developed in 1902, not into an
independent nation, as predicted by Lord John Russell and other
British statesmen after him, but into a confederation of five millions
and a half of people, in which a French Canadian prime minister gives
expression to the dominant idea not only of his own race but of all
nationalities within the Dominion, that the true interest lies not in
the severance but in the continuance of the ties that have so long
bound them to the imperial state.

Lord Elgin in his valuable letters to the imperial authorities, always
impressed on them the fact that the office of a Canadian
governor-general has not by any means been lowered to that of a mere
subscriber of orders-in-council--of a mere official automaton,
speaking and acting by the orders of the prime minister and the
cabinet. On the contrary, he gave it as his experience that in
Jamaica, where there was no responsible government, he had "not half
the power" he had in Canada "with a constitutional and changing
cabinet." With respect to the maintenance of the position and due
influence of the governor, he used language which gives a true
solution of the problem involved in the adaptation of parliamentary
government to the colonial system. "As the imperial government and
parliament gradually withdraw from legislative interference, and from
the exercise of patronage in colonial affairs, the office of governor
tends to become, in the most emphatic sense of the term, the link
which connects the mother country and the colony, and his influence
the means by which harmony of action between the local and imperial
authorities is to be preserved. It is not, however, in my humble
judgment, by evincing an anxious desire to stretch to the utmost
constitutional principles in his favour, but, on the contrary, by the
frank acceptance of the conditions of the parliamentary system, that
this influence can be most surely extended and confirmed. Placed by
his position above the strife of parties--holding office by a tenure
less precarious than the ministers who surround him--having no
political interests to serve but those of the community whose affairs
he is appointed to administer--his opinion cannot fail, when all cause
for suspicion and jealousy is removed, to have great weight in
colonial councils, while he is set at liberty to constitute himself in
an especial manner the patron of those larger and higher
interests--such interests, for example, as those of education, and of
moral and material progress in all its branches--which, unlike the
contests of party, unite instead of dividing the members of the body

As we study the political history of Canada for the fifty years which
have elapsed since Lord Elgin enunciated in his admirable letters to
the imperial government the principles which guided him in his
Canadian administration, we cannot fail to see clearly that
responsible government has brought about the following results, which
are at once a guarantee of efficient home government and of a
harmonious cooperation between the dependency and the central
authority of the empire.

The misunderstandings that so constantly occurred between the
legislative bodies and the imperial authorities, on account of the
latter failing so often to appreciate fully the nature of the
political grievances that agitated the public mind, and on account of
their constant interference in matters which should have been left
exclusively to the control of the people directly interested, have
been entirely removed in conformity with the wise policy of making
Canada a self-governing country in the full sense of the phrase. These
provinces are as a consequence no longer a source of irritation and
danger to the parent state, but, possessing full independence in all
matters of local concern, are now among the chief sources of England's
pride and greatness.

The governor-general instead of being constantly brought into conflict
with the political parties of the country, and made immediately
responsible for the continuance of public grievances, has gained in
dignity and influence since he has been removed from the arena of
public controversy. He now occupies a position in harmony with the
principles that have given additional strength and prestige to the
throne itself. As the legally accredited representative of the
sovereign, as the recognized head of society, he represents what
Bagehot has aptly styled "the dignified part of our constitution,"
which has much value in a country like ours where we fortunately
retain the permanent form of monarchy in harmony with the democratic
machinery of our government. If the governor-general is a man of
parliamentary experience and constitutional knowledge, possessing tact
and judgment, and imbued with the true spirit of his high
vocation--and these high functionaries have been notably so since the
commencement of confederation--he can sensibly influence, in the way
Lord Elgin points out, the course of administration and benefit the
country at critical periods of its history. Standing above all party,
having the unity of the empire at heart, a governor-general can at
times soothe the public mind, and give additional confidence to the
country, when it is threatened with some national calamity, or there
is distrust abroad as to the future. As an imperial officer he has
large responsibilities of which the general public has naturally no
very clear idea, and if it were possible to obtain access to the
confidential and secret despatches which seldom see the light in the
colonial office--certainly not in the lifetime of the men who wrote
them--it would be found how much, for a quarter of a century past, the
colonial department has gained by having had in the Dominion, men, no
longer acting under the influence of personal feeling through being
made personally responsible for the conduct of public affairs, but
actuated simply by a desire to benefit the country over which they
preside, and to bring Canadian interests into union with those of the
empire itself.

The effects on the character of public men and on the body politic
have been for the public advantage. It has brought out the best
qualities of colonial statesmanship, lessened the influence of mere
agitators and demagogues, and taught our public men to rely on
themselves in all crises affecting the welfare and integrity of the
country. Responsible government means self-reliance, the capacity to
govern ourselves, the ability to build up a great nation.

When we review the trials and struggles of the past that we may gain
from them lessons of confidence for the future, let us not forget to
pay a tribute to the men who have laid the foundations of these
communities, still on the threshold of their development, and on whom
the great burden fell; to the French Canadians who, despite the
neglect and indifference of their kings, amid toil and privation, amid
war and famine, built up a province which they have made their own by
their patience and industry, and who should, differ as we may from
them, evoke our respect for their fidelity to the institutions of
their origin, for their appreciation of the advantages of English
self-government, and for their cooperation in all great measures
essential to the unity of the federation; to the Loyalists of last
century who left their homes for the sake of "king and country," and
laid the foundations of prosperous and loyal English communities by
the sea and by the great lakes, and whose descendants have ever stood
true to the principles of the institutions which have made Britain free
and great; to the unknown body of pioneers some of whose names perhaps
still linger on a headland or river or on a neglected gravestone, who
let in the sunlight year by year to the dense forests of these
countries, and built up by their industry the large and thriving
provinces of this Dominion; above all, to the statesmen--Elgin,
Baldwin, LaFontaine, Morin, Howe, and many others--who laid deep and
firm, beneath the political structure of this confederation, those
principles of self-government which give harmony to our constitutional
system and bring out the best qualities of an intelligent people. In
the early times in which they struggled they had to bear much obloquy,
and their errors of judgment have been often severely arraigned at the
bar of public opinion; many of them lived long enough to see how soon
men may pass into oblivion; but we who enjoy the benefit of their
earnest endeavours, now that the voice of the party passion of their
times is hushed, should never forget that, though they are not here to
reap the fruit of their labours, their work survives in the energetic
and hopeful communities which stretch from Cape Breton to Victoria.



In one of Lord Elgin's letters we are told that, when he had as
visitors to government house in 1850, Sir Henry Bulwer, the elder
brother of Lord Lytton, and British minister to the United States, as
well as Sir Edmund Head, his successor in the governorship of Canada,
he availed himself of so favourable an opportunity of reassuring them
on many points of the internal policy of the province on which they
were previously doubtful, and gave them some insight into the position
of men and things on which Englishmen in those days were too ignorant
as a rule. One important point which he impressed upon them--as he
hoped successfully--was this:

     "That the faithful carrying out of the principles of
     constitutional government is a departure from the American
     model, not an approximation to it, and, therefore, a
     departure from republicanism in its only workable shape."

The fact was: "The American system is our old colonial system, with,
in certain cases, the principle of popular election substituted for
that of nomination by the Crown." He was convinced "that the
concession of constitutional government has a tendency to draw the
colonists" towards England and not towards republicanism; "firstly,
because it slakes that thirst for self-government which seizes on all
British communities when they approach maturity; and secondly because
it habituates the colonists to the working of a political mechanism
which is both intrinsically superior to that of the Americans, and
more unlike it than our old colonial system." In short, he felt very
strongly that "when a people have been once thoroughly accustomed to
the working of such a parliamentary system as ours they never will
consent to resort to this irresponsible mechanism."

Since these significant words were written half a century ago,
Canadians have been steadily working out the principles of
parliamentary government as understood and explained by Lord Elgin,
and have had abundant opportunities of contrasting their experiences
with those of their neighbours under a system in many respects the
very reverse of that which has enabled Canada to attain so large a
measure of political freedom and build up such prosperous communities
to the north of the republic, while still remaining in the closest
possible touch with the imperial state. I propose now to close this
book with some comparisons between the respective systems of the two
countries, and to show that in this respect as in others Lord Elgin
proved how deep was his insight into the working of political
institutions, and how thoroughly he had mastered the problem of the
best methods of administering the government of a great colonial
dependency, not solely with a regard to its own domestic interests but
with a view of maintaining the connection with the British Crown, of
which he was so discreet and able a servant.

It is especially important to Canadians to study the development of
the institutions of the United States, with the view of deriving
benefit from their useful experiences, and avoiding the defects that
have grown up under their system. All institutions are more or less on
trial in a country like Canada, which is working out great problems of
political science under decided advantages, since the ground is
relatively new, and the people have before them all the experiences of
the world, especially of England and the United States, in whose
systems Canadians have naturally the deepest interest. The history of
responsible government affords another illustration of a truth which
stands out clear in the history of nations, that those constitutions
which are of a flexible character, the natural growth of the
experiences of centuries, and which have been created by the
necessities and conditions of the times, possess the elements of real
stability, and best ensure the prosperity of a people. The great
source of the strength of the institutions of the United States lies
in the fact that they have worked out their government in accordance
with certain principles, which are essentially English in their
origin, and have been naturally developed since their foundation as
colonial settlements, and whatever weaknesses their system shows have
chiefly arisen from new methods, and from the rigidity of their
constitutional rules of law, which separate too sharply the executive
and the legislative branches of government. Like their neighbours the
Canadian people have based their system on English principles, but
they have at the same time been able to keep pace with the progress of
the unwritten constitution of England, to adapt it to their own
political conditions, and to bring the executive and legislative
authorities to assist and harmonize with one another.

Each country has its "cabinet council," but the one is essentially
different from the other in its character and functions. This term,
the historical student will remember, was first used in the days of
the Stuarts as one of derision and obloquy. It was frequently called
"junto" or "cabal," and during the days of conflict between the
commons and the king it was regarded with great disfavour by the
parliament of England. Its unpopularity arose from the fact that it
did not consist of men in whom parliament had confidence, and its
proceedings were conducted with so much secrecy that it was impossible
to decide upon whom to fix responsibility for any obnoxious measure.
When the constitution of England was brought back to its original
principles, and harmony was restored between the Crown and the
parliament, the cabinet became no longer a term of reproach, but a
position therein was regarded as the highest honour in the country,
and was associated with the efficient administration of public
affairs, since it meant a body of men responsible to parliament for
every act of government.[29] The old executive councils of Canada were
obnoxious to the people for the same reason that the councils of the
Stuarts, and even of George III, with the exception of the régime of
the two Pitts, became unpopular. Not only do we in Canada, in
accordance with our desire to perpetuate the names of English
institutions use the name "cabinet" which was applied to an
institution that gradually grew out of the old privy council of
England, but we have even incorporated in our fundamental law the
older name of "privy council," which itself sprang from the original
"permanent" or "continual" council of the Norman kings. Following
English precedent, the Canadian cabinet or ministry is formed out of
the privy councillors, chosen under the law by the governor-general,
and when they retire from office they still retain the purely honorary
distinction. In the United States the use of the term "cabinet" has
none of the significance it has with us, and if it can be compared at
all to any English institutions it might be to the old cabinets who
acknowledged responsibility to the king, and were only so many heads
of departments in the king's government. As a matter of fact the
comparison would be closer if we said that the administration
resembles the cabinets of the old French kings, or to quote Professor
Bryce, "the group of ministers who surround the Czar or the Sultan, or
who executed the bidding of a Roman emperor like Constantine or
Justinian." Such ministers like the old executive councils of Canada,
"are severally responsible to their master, and are severally called
in to counsel him, but they have not necessarily any relations with
one another, nor any duty or collective action." Not only is the
administration conducted on the principle of responsibility to the
president alone, in this respect the English king in old irresponsible
days, but the legislative department is itself constructed after the
English model as it existed a century ago, and a general system of
government is established, lacking in that unity and elasticity which
are essential to its effective working. On the other hand the Canadian
cabinet is the cabinet of the English system of modern times and is
formed so as to work in harmony with the legislative department, which
is a copy, so far as possible, of the English legislature.

The special advantages of the Canadian or English system of
parliamentary government, compared with congressional government, may
be briefly summed up as follows:--

(1) The governor-general, his cabinet, and the popular branch of the
legislature are governed in Canada, as in England, by a system of
rules, conventions and understandings which enable them to work in
harmony with one another. The Crown, the cabinet, the legislature, and
the people, have respectively certain rights and powers which, when
properly and constitutionally brought into operation, give strength
and elasticity to our system of government. Dismissal of a ministry by
the Crown under conditions of gravity, or resignation of a ministry
defeated in the popular House, bring into play the prerogatives of the
Crown. In all cases there must be a ministry to advise the Crown,
assume responsibility for its acts, and obtain the support of the
people and their representatives in parliament. As a last resort to
bring into harmony the people, the legislature, and the Crown, there
is the exercise of the supreme prerogative of dissolution. A governor,
acting always under the advice of responsible ministers, may, at any
time, generally speaking, grant an appeal to the people to test their
opinion on vital public questions and bring the legislature into
accord with the public mind. In short, the fundamental principle of
popular sovereignty lies at the very basis of the Canadian system.

On the other hand, in the United States, the president and his cabinet
may be in constant conflict with the two Houses of Congress during the
four years of his term of office. His cabinet has no direct influence
with the legislative bodies, inasmuch as they have no seats therein.
The political complexion of Congress does not affect their tenure of
office, since they depend only on the favour and approval of the
executive; dissolution, which is the safety valve of the English or
Canadian system--"in its essence an appeal from the legal to the
political sovereign"--is not practicable under the United States
constitution. In a political crisis the constitution provides no
adequate solution of the difficulty during the presidential term. In
this respect the people of the United States are not sovereign as they
are in Canada under the conditions just briefly stated.

(2) The governor-general is not personally brought into collision with
the legislature by the direct exercise of a veto of its legislative
acts, since the ministry is responsible for all legislation and must
stand or fall by its important measures. The passage of a measure of
which it disapproved as a ministry would mean in the majority of cases
a resignation, and it is not possible to suppose that the governor
would be asked to exercise a prerogative of the Crown which has been
in disuse since the establishment of responsible government and would
now be a revolutionary measure even in Canada.

In the United States there is danger of frequent collision between the
president and the two legislative branches, should a very critical
exercise of the veto, as in President Johnson's time, occur at a time
when the public mind was deeply agitated. The chief magistrate loses
in dignity and influence whenever the legislature overrides the veto,
and congress becomes a despotic master for the time being.

(3) The Canadian minister, having control of the finances and taxes
and of all matters of administration, is directly responsible to
parliament and sooner or later to the people for the manner in which
public functions have been discharged. All important measures are
initiated by the cabinet, and on every question of public interest the
ministers are bound to have a definite policy if they wish to retain
the confidence of the legislature. Even in the case of private
legislation they are also the guardians of the public interests and
are responsible to the parliament and the people for any neglect in

On the other hand in the United States the financial and general
legislation of congress is left to the control of committees, over
which the president and his cabinet have no direct influence, and the
chairman of which may have ambitious objects in direct antagonism to
the men in office.

(4) In the Canadian system the speaker is a functionary who certainly
has his party proclivities, but it is felt that as long as he occupies
the chair all political parties can depend on his justice and
impartiality. Responsible government makes the premier and his
ministers responsible for the constitution of the committees and for
the opinions and decisions that may emanate from them. A government
that would constantly endeavour to shift its responsibilities on
committees, even of its own selection, would soon disappear from the
treasury benches. Responsibility in legislation is accordingly
ensured, financial measures prevented from being made the footballs of
ambitious and irresponsible politicians, and the impartiality and
dignity of the speakership guaranteed by the presence in parliament of
a cabinet having the direction and supervision of business.

On the other hand, in the United States, the speaker of the House of
Representatives becomes, from the very force of circumstances, a
political leader, and the spectacle is presented--in fact from the
time of Henry Clay--so strange to us familiar with English methods, of
decisions given by him with clearly party objects, and of committees
formed by him with purely political aims, as likely as not with a view
to thwart the ambition either of a president who is looking to a
second term or of some prominent member of the cabinet who has
presidential aspirations. And all this lowering of the dignity of the
chair is due to the absence of a responsible minister to lead the
House. The very position which the speaker is forced to take from time
to time--notably in the case of Mr. Reed[30]--is clearly the result of
the defects in the constitutional system of the United States, and is
so much evidence that a responsible party leader is an absolute
necessity in congress. A legislature must be led, and congress has
been attempting to get out of a crucial difficulty by all sorts of
questionable shifts which only show the inherent weakness of the
existing system.

In the absence of any provision for the unity of policy between the
executive and legislative authorities of the United States, it is
impossible for any nation to have a positive guarantee that a treaty
it may negotiate with the former can be ratified. The sovereign of
Great Britain enters into treaties with foreign powers with the advice
and assistance of his constitutional advisers, who are immediately
responsible to parliament for their counsel in such matters. In theory
it is the prerogative of the Crown to make a treaty; in practice it is
that of the ministry. It is not constitutionally imperative to refer
such treaties to parliament for its approval--the consent of the Crown
is sufficient; but it is sometimes done under exceptional
circumstances, as in the case of the cession of Heligoland. In any
event the action of the ministry in the matter is invariably open to
the review of parliament, and the ministry may be censured by an
adverse vote for the advice given to the sovereign, and forced to
retire from office. In the United States the senate must ratify all
treaties by a two-thirds vote, but unless there is a majority in that
House of the same political complexion as the president the treaty may
be refused. No cabinet minister is present, to lead the House, as in
England, and assume all the responsibility of the president's action.
It is almost impossible to suppose that an English ministry would
consent to a treaty that would be unpopular in parliament and the
country. The existence of the government would depend on its action.
In the United States both president and senate have divided
responsibilities. The constitution makes no provision for unity in
such important matters of national obligation.

The great advantages of the English, or Canadian, system lie in the
interest created among all classes of the people by the discussions of
the different legislative bodies. Parliamentary debate involves the
fate of cabinets, and the public mind is consequently led to study all
issues of importance. The people know and feel that they must be
called upon sooner or later to decide between the parties contending
on the floor of the legislature, and consequently are obliged to give
an intelligent consideration to public affairs. Let us see what
Bagehot, ablest of critics, says on this point:--

     "At present there is business in their attention (that is to
     say, of the English or Canadian people). They assist at the
     determining crisis; they assist or help it. Whether the
     government will go out or remain is determined by the debate
     and by the division in parliament And the opinion out of
     doors, the secret pervading disposition of society, has a
     great influence on that division. The nation feels that its
     judgment is important, and it strives to judge. It succeeds
     in deciding because the debates and the discussions give it
     the facts and arguments. But under the presidential
     government the nation has, except at the electing moment, no
     influence; it has not the ballot-box before it; its virtue
     is gone and it must wait till its instant of despotism again
     returns. There are doubtless debates in the legislature, but
     they are prologues without a play. The prize of power is not
     in the gift of the legislature. No presidential country
     needs to form daily delicate opinions, or is helped in
     forming them."

Then when the people do go to the ballot-box, they cannot
intelligently influence the policy of the government. If they vote for
a president, then congress may have a policy quite different from his;
if they vote for members of congress, they cannot change the opinions
of the president. If the president changes his cabinet at any time,
they have nothing to say about it, for its members are not important
as wheels in the legislative machinery. Congress may pass a bill of
which the people express their disapproval at the first opportunity
when they choose a new congress, but still it may remain on the
statute-book because the senate holds views different from the newly
elected House, and cannot be politically changed until after a long
series of legislative elections. As Professor Woodrow Wilson well puts
it in an able essay:--[31]

     "Public opinion has no easy vehicle for its judgments, no
     quick channels for its action. Nothing about the system is
     direct and simple. Authority is perplexingly subdivided and
     distributed, and responsibility has to be hunted down in
     out-of-the-way corners. So that the sum of the whole matter
     is that the means of working for the fruits of good
     government are not readily to be found. The average citizen
     may be excused for esteeming government at best but a
     haphazard affair upon which his vote and all his influence
     can have but little effect. How is his choice of
     representative in congress to affect the policy of the
     country as regards the questions in which he is most
     interested if the man for whom he votes has no chance of
     getting on the standing committee which has virtual charge
     of those questions? How is it to make any difference who is
     chosen president? Has the president any great authority in
     matters of vital policy? It seems a thing of despair to get
     any assurance that any vote he may cast will even in an
     infinitesimal degree affect the essential courses of
     administration. There are so many cooks mixing their
     ingredients in the national broth that it seems hopeless,
     this thing of changing one cook at a time."

Under such a system it cannot be expected that the people will take
the same deep interest in elections and feel as directly responsible
for the character of the government as when they can at one election
and by one verdict decide the fate of a government, whose policy on
great issues must be thoroughly explained to them at the polls. This
method of popular government is more real and substantial than a
system which does not allow the people to influence congressional
legislation and administrative action through a set of men sitting in
congress and having a common policy.

I think it does not require any very elaborate argument to show that
when men feel and know that the ability they show in parliament may be
sooner or later rewarded by a seat on the treasury benches, and that
they will then have a determining voice in the government of the
country, be it dominion or province, they must be stimulated by a
keener interest in public life, a closer watchfulness over legislation
and administration, a greater readiness for discussing all public
questions, and a more studied appreciation of public opinion outside
the legislative halls. Every man in parliament is a premier _in
posse_. While asking my readers to recall what I have already said as
to the effect of responsible government on the public men and people
of Canada, I shall also here refer them to some authorities worthy of
all respect.

Mr. Bagehot says with his usual clearness:--[32]

     "To belong to a debating society adhering to an executive
     (and this is no inapt description of a congress under a
     presidential constitution) is not an object to stir a noble
     ambition, and is a position to encourage idleness. The
     members of a parliament excluded from office can never be
     comparable, much less equal, to those of a parliament not
     excluded from office. The presidential government by its
     nature divides political life into two halves, an executive
     half and a legislative half, and by so dividing it, makes
     neither half worth a man's having--worth his making it a
     continuous career--worthy to absorb, as cabinet government
     absorbs, his whole soul. The statesmen from whom a nation
     chooses under a presidential system are much inferior to
     those from whom it chooses under a cabinet system, while the
     selecting apparatus is also far less discerning."

An American writer, Prof. Denslow,[33] does not hesitate to express
the opinion very emphatically that "as it is, in no country do the
people feel such an overwhelming sense of the littleness of the men in
charge of public affairs" as in the United States. And in another
place he dwells on the fact that "responsible government educates
office-holders into a high and honourable sense of their
accountability to the people," and makes "statesmanship a permanent
pursuit followed by a skilled class of men."

Prof. Woodrow Wilson says that,[34] so far from men being trained to
legislation by congressional government, "independence and ability are
repressed under the tyranny of the rules, and practically the favour
of the popular branch of congress is concentrated in the speaker and a
few--very few--expert parliamentarians." Elsewhere he shows that
"responsibility is spread thin, and no vote or debate can gather it."
As a matter of fact and experience, he comes to the conclusion "the
more power is divided the more irresponsible it becomes and the petty
character of the leadership of each committee contributes towards
making its despotism sure by making its duties interesting."

Professor James Bryee, it will be admitted, is one of the fairest of
critics in his review of the institutions of the United States; but
he, too, comes to the conclusion[35] that the system of congressional
government destroys the unity of the House (of representatives) as a
legislative body; prevents the capacity of the best members from being
brought to bear upon any one piece of legislation, however important;
cramps debate; lessens the cohesion and harmony of legislation; gives
facilities for the exercise of underhand and even corrupt influence;
reduces responsibility; lowers the interest of the nation in the
proceedings of congress.

In another place,[36] after considering the relations between the
executive and the legislature, he expresses his opinion that the
framers of the constitution have "so narrowed the sphere of the
executive as to prevent it from leading the country, or even its own
party in the country." They endeavoured "to make members of congress
independent, but in doing so they deprived them of some of the means
which European legislators enjoy of learning how to administer, of
learning even how to legislate in administrative topics. They
condemned them to be architects without science, critics without
experience, censors without responsibility."

And further on, when discussing the faults of democratic government in
the United States--and Professor Bryce, we must remember, is on the
whole most hopeful of its future--he detects as amongst its
characteristics "a certain commonness of mind and tone, a want of
dignity and elevation in and about the conduct of public affairs, and
insensibility to the nobler aspects and finer responsibilities of
national life." Then he goes on to say[37] that representative and
parliamentary system "provides the means of mitigating the evils to be
feared from ignorance or haste, for it vests the actual conduct of
affairs in a body of specially chosen and presumably qualified men,
who may themselves intrust such of their functions as need peculiar
knowledge or skill to a smaller governing body or bodies selected in
respect of their more eminent fitness. By this method the defects of
democracy are remedied while its strength is retained." The members of
American legislatures, being disjoined from the administrative
offices, "are not chosen for their ability or experience; they are not
much respected or trusted, and finding nothing exceptional expected
from them, they behave as ordinary men."

"If corruption," wrote Judge Story, that astute political student,
"ever silently eats its way into the vitals of this Republic, it will
be because the people are unable to bring responsibility home to the
executive through his chosen ministers."[38]

As I have already stated in the first pages of this chapter, long
before the inherent weaknesses of the American system were pointed out
by the eminent authorities just quoted, Lord Elgin was able, with that
intuitive sagacity which he applied to the study of political
institutions, to see the unsatisfactory working of the clumsy,
irresponsible mechanism of our republican neighbours.

"Mr. Fillmore," he is writing in November, 1850, "stands to his
congress very much in the same relation in which I stood to my
assembly in Jamaica. There is the same absence of effective
responsibility in the conduct of legislation, the same want of
concurrent action between the parts of the political machine. The
whole business of legislation in the American congress, as well as in
the state legislatures, is conducted in the manner in which railway
business was conducted in the House of Commons at a time when it is to
be feared that, notwithstanding the high standard of honour in the
British parliament, there was a good deal of jobbing. For instance,
our reciprocity measure was pressed by us at Washington last session
just as a railway bill in 1845 or 1846 would have been pressed in
parliament There was no government to deal with. The interests of the
union as a whole, distinct from local and sectional interests, had no
organ in the representative bodies; it was all a question of
canvassing this member of congress or the other. It is easy to
perceive that, under such a system, jobbing must become not the
exception but the rule,"--remarks as true in 1901 as in 1850.

It is important also to dwell on the fact that in Canada the
permanency of the tenure of public officials and the introduction of
the secret ballot have been among the results of responsible
government. Through the influence and agency of the same system,
valuable reforms have been made in Canada in the election laws, and
the trial of controverted elections has been taken away from partisan
election committees and given to a judiciary independent of political
influences. In these matters the irresponsible system of the United
States has not been able to effect any needful reforms. Such measures
can be best carried by ministers having the initiation and direction
of legislation and must necessarily be retarded when power is divided
among several authorities having no unity of policy on any question.

Party government undoubtedly has its dangers arising from personal
ambition and unscrupulous partisanship, but as long as men must range
themselves in opposing camps on every subject, there is no other
system practicable by which great questions can be carried and the
working of representative government efficiently conducted. The
framers of the constitution of the United States no doubt thought they
had succeeded in placing the president and his officers above party
when they instituted the method of electing the former by a body of
select electors chosen for that purpose in each state, who were
expected to act irrespective of all political considerations. A
president so selected would probably choose his officers also on the
same basis. The practical results, however, have been to prove that in
every country of popular and representative institutions party
government must prevail. Party elects men to the presidency and to the
floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the election to
those important positions is directed and controlled by a political
machinery far exceeding in its completeness any party organization in
England or in Canada. The party convention is now the all important
portion of the machinery for the election of the president, and the
safeguard provided by the constitution for the choice of the best man
is a mere nullity. One thing is quite certain, that party government
under the direction of a responsible ministry, responsible to
parliament and the people for every act of administration and
legislation, can have far less dangerous tendencies than a party
system which elects an executive not amenable to public opinion for
four years, divides the responsibilities of government among several
authorities, prevents harmony among party leaders, does not give the
executive that control over legislation necessary to efficient
administration of public affairs, and in short offers a direct premium
to conflict among all the authorities of the state--a conflict, not so
much avoided by the checks and balances of the constitution as by the
patience, common sense, prudence, and respect for law which presidents
and their cabinets have as a rule shown at national crises. But we can
clearly see that, while the executive has lost in influence, congress
has gained steadily to an extent never contemplated by the founders of
the constitution, and there are thoughtful men who say that the true
interests of the country have not always been promoted by the change.
Party government in Canada ensures unity of policy, since the premier
of the cabinet becomes the controlling part of the political machinery
of the state; no such thing as unity of policy is possible under a
system which gives the president neither the dignity of a
governor-general, nor the strength of a premier, and splits up
political power among any number of would-be party leaders, who adopt
or defeat measures by private intrigues, make irresponsible
recommendations, and form political combinations for purely selfish

It seems quite clear then that the system of responsible ministers
makes the people more immediately responsible for the efficient
administration of public affairs than is possible in the United
States. The fact of having the president and the members of congress
elected for different terms, and of dividing the responsibilities of
government among these authorities does not allow the people to
exercise that direct influence which is ensured, as the experience of
Canada and of England proves, by making one body of men immediately
responsible to the electors for the conduct of public affairs at
frequently recurring periods, arranged by well understood rules, so as
to ensure a correct expression of public opinion on all important
issues. The committees which assist in governing this country are the
choice of the people's representatives assembled in parliament, and
every four or five years and sometimes even sooner in case of a
crisis, the people have to decide on the wisdom of the choice.

The system has assuredly its drawbacks like all systems of government
that have been devised and worked out by the brain of man. In all
frankness I confess that this review would be incomplete were I not to
refer to certain features of the Canadian system of government which
seem to me on the surface fraught with inherent danger at some time or
other to independent legislative judgment. Any one who has closely
watched the evolution of this system for years past must admit that
there is a dangerous tendency in the Dominion to give the executive--I
mean the ministry as a body--too superior a control over the
legislative authority. When a ministry has in its gift the appointment
not only of the heads of the executive government in the provinces,
that is to say, of the lieutenant-governors, who can be dismissed by
the same power at any moment, but also of the members of the Upper
House of Parliament itself, besides the judiciary and numerous
collectorships and other valuable offices, it is quite obvious that
the element of human ambition and selfishness has abundant room for
operation on the floor of the legislature, and a bold and skilful
cabinet is also able to wield a machinery very potent under a system
of party government. In this respect the House of Representatives may
be less liable to insidious influences than a House of Commons at
critical junctures when individual conscience or independent judgment
appears on the point of asserting itself. The House of Commons may be
made by skilful party management a mere recording or registering body
of an able and determined cabinet. I see less liability to such silent
though potent influences in a system which makes the president and a
house of representatives to a large degree independent of each other,
and leaves his important nominations to office under the control of
the senate, a body which has no analogy whatever with the relatively
weak branch of the Canadian parliament, essentially weak while its
membership depends on the government itself. I admit at once that in
the financial dependence of the provinces on the central federal
authority, in the tenure of the office of the chief magistrates of the
provinces, in the control exercised by the ministry over the highest
legislative body of Canada, that is, highest in point of dignity and
precedence, there are elements of weakness; but at the same time it
must be remembered that, while the influence and power of the Canadian
government may be largely increased by the exercise of its great
patronage in the hypothetical cases I have suggested, its action is
always open to the approval or disapproval of parliament and it has to
meet an opposition face to face. Its acts are open to legislative
criticism, and it may at any moment be forced to retire by public
opinion operating upon the House of Commons.

On the other hand the executive in the United States for four years
may be dominant over congress by skilful management. A strong
executive by means of party wields a power which may be used for
purposes of mere personal ambition, and may by clever management of
the party machine and with the aid of an unscrupulous majority retain
power for a time even when it is not in accord with the true sentiment
of the country; but under a system like that of Canada, where every
defect in the body politic is probed to the bottom in the debates of
parliament, which are given by the public press more fully than is the
practice in the neighbouring republic, the people have a better
opportunity of forming a correct judgment on every matter and giving
an immediate verdict when the proper time comes for an appeal to them,
the sovereign power. Sometimes this judgment is too often influenced
by party prejudices and the real issue is too often obscured by
skilful party management, but this is inevitable under every system of
popular government; and happily, should it come to the worst, there is
always in the country that saving remnant of intelligent, independent
men of whom Matthew Arnold has written, who can come forward and by
their fearless and bold criticism help the people in any crisis when
truth, honour and justice are at stake and the great mass of electors
fail to appreciate the true situation of affairs. But we may have
confidence in the good sense and judgment of the people as a whole
when time is given them to consider the situation of affairs. Should
men in power be unfaithful to their public obligations, they will
eventually be forced by the conditions of public life to yield their
positions to those who merit public confidence. If it should ever
happen in Canada that public opinion has become so low that public men
feel that they can, whenever they choose, divert it to their own
selfish ends by the unscrupulous use of partisan agencies and corrupt
methods, and that the highest motives of public life are forgotten in
a mere scramble for office and power, then thoughtful Canadians might
well despair of the future of their country; but, whatever may be the
blots at times on the surface of the body politic, there is yet no
reason to believe that the public conscience of Canada is weak or
indifferent to character and integrity in active politics. The
instincts of an English people are always in the direction of the pure
administration of justice and the efficient and honest government of
the country, and though it may sometimes happen that unscrupulous
politicians and demagogues will for a while dominate in the party
arena, the time of retribution and purification must come sooner or
later. English methods must prevail in countries governed by an
English people and English institutions.

It is sometimes said that it is vain to expect a high ideal in public
life, that the same principles that apply to social and private life
cannot always be applied to the political arena if party government is
to succeed; but this is the doctrine of the mere party manager, who is
already too influential in Canada as in the United States, and not of
a true patriotic statesman. It is wiser to believe that the nobler the
object the greater the inspiration, and at all events, it is better to
aim high than to sink low. It is all important that the body politic
should be kept pure and that public life should be considered a public
trust. Canada is still young in her political development, and the
fact that her population has been as a rule a steady, fixed
population, free from those dangerous elements which have come into
the United States with such rapidity of late years, has kept her
relatively free from any serious social and political dangers which
have afflicted her neighbours, and to which I believe they themselves,
having inherited English institutions and being imbued with the spirit
of English law, will always in the end rise superior. Great
responsibility, therefore, rests in the first instance upon the people
of Canada, who must select the best and purest among them to serve the
country, and, secondly, upon the men whom the legislature chooses to
discharge the trust of carrying on the government. No system of
government or of laws can of itself make a people virtuous and happy
unless their rulers recognize in the fullest sense their obligations
to the state and exercise their powers with prudence and
unselfishness, and endeavour to elevate and not degrade public opinion
by the insidious acts and methods of the lowest political ethics. A
constitution may be as perfect as human agencies can make it, and yet
be relatively worthless while the large responsibilities and powers
entrusted to the governing body--responsibilities and powers not
embodied in acts of parliament--are forgotten in view of party
triumph, personal ambition, or pecuniary gain. "The laws," says Burke,
"reach but a very little way. Constitute government how you please,
infinitely the greater part of it must depend upon the exercise of the
powers which are left at large to the prudence and uprightness of
ministers of state. Even all the use and potency of the laws depend
upon them. Without them your commonwealth is no better than a scheme
upon paper, and not a living, active, effective organization."


For accounts of the whole career of Lord Elgin see _Letters and
Journals of James, Eighth, Earl of Elgin_, etc., edited by Theodore
Walrond, C.B., with a preface by his brother-in-law, Dean Stanley
(London 2nd. ed., 1873); for China mission, _Narrative of the Earl of
Elgin's Mission to China and Japan_ by Lawrence Oliphant, his private
secretary (Edinburgh, 1869); for the brief Indian administration, _The
Friend of India_ for 1862-63. Consult also article in vol. 8 of
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, 9th ed.; John Charles Dent's _Canadian
Portrait Gallery_ (Toronto, 1880), vol. 2, which also contains a
portrait; W.J. Rattray's _The Scot in British North America_ (Toronto,
1880) vol. 2, pp. 608-641.

For an historical review of Lord Elgin's administration in Canada, see
J.C. Dent's _The Last Forty Years, or Canada since the Union of 1841_
(Toronto, 1881), chapters XXIII-XXXIV inclusive, with a portrait;
Louis P. Turcotte's _Le Canada Sous l'Union_ (Quebec, 1871), chapters
I-IV, inclusive; Sir Francis Hincks's _Reminiscences of His Public
Life_ (Montreal, 1884) with a portrait of the author; Joseph Pope's
_Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, G.C.B._ (Ottawa and
London, 1894), with portraits of the great statesman, vol. 1, chapters
IV-VI inclusive; Lord Grey's _Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's
Administration_ (London, 2nd ed., 1853), vol. 1; Sir C.B. Adderley's
_Review of the Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration,
by Earl Grey, and Subsequent Colonial History_ (London, 1869).

For accounts of the evolution of responsible government in Canada
consult the works by Dent, Turcotte, Rattray, Hincks, Grey and
Adderley, just mentioned; Lord Durham's _Report on the Affairs of
British North America_, submitted to parliament, 1839; Dr. Alpheus
Todd's _Parliamentary Government in The British Colonies_ (2nd ed.
London, 1894); Bourinot's _Manual of the Constitutional History of
Canada_ (Toronto, 1901); his _Canada under British Rule_ (London and
Toronto, 1901), chapters VI-VIII inclusive; _Memoir of the Life of the
Rt. Hon. Lord Sydenham, etc._, by his brother G. Poulett Scrope, M.P.,
(London, 1843), with a portrait of that nobleman; _Life and
Correspondence of Charles Lord Metcalfe_, by J.W. Kaye (London, new
ed., 1858).

For comparisons between the parliamentary government of Great Britain
or Canada, and the congressional system of the United States, see
Walter Bagehot's _English Constitution_ and other political essays
(New York, 1889); Woodrow Wilson's _Congressional Government_ (Boston,
1885); Dr. James Bryce's _American Commonwealth_ (London, 1888);
Bourinot's _Canadian Studies in Comparative Politics_, in _Trans. Roy.
Soc. Can._, vol. VIII, sec. 2 (old ser.), and in separate form
(Montreal, 1891). Other books and essays on the same subject are noted
in a bibliography given in _Trans. Roy. Soc. Can._, vol. XI, old ser.,
sec. 2, as an appendix to an article by Sir J.G. Bourinot on
Parliamentary Government in Canada.

The reader may also profitably consult the interesting series of
sketches (with excellent portraits) of the lives of Sir Francis
Hincks, Sir A. MacNab, Sir L.H. LaFontaine, R. Baldwin, Bishop
Strachan, L.J. Papineau, John Sandfield Macdonald, Antoine A. Dorion,
Sir John A. Macdonald, George Brown, Sir E.P. Taché, P.J.O. Chauveau,
and of other men notable from 1847-1854, in the _Portraits of British
Americans_ (Montreal 1865-67), by J. Fennings Taylor, who was deputy
clerk of the old legislative council, and later of the senate of
Canada, and a contemporary of the eminent men whose careers he briefly
and graphically describes. Consult also Dent's _Canadian Portrait
Gallery_, which has numerous portraits.



Amnesty Act, 91.

Annexation manifesto, 80, 81.

Annexation sentiment, the, caused by lack of prosperity and political
  grievances, 191 f.

Archambault, L., 186.

Aylwin, Hon. I.C., 45, 50, 53, 187.


Badgley, Judge, 187.

  on public interest in politics, 250, 251;
  on the disadvantage of the presidential system, 253, 254.

Bagot, Sir Charles, favourable to French Canadians, 30; 31.

Baldwin, Hon. Robert, 28;
  aims of, 31, 45, 50, 51;
  forms a government with LaFontaine, 52;
  his measure to create the university of Toronto, 93, 94;
  resigns office, 103;
  death of, 104;
  views on the clergy reserves, 160, 162.

Blake, Hon. W.H., 50, 53, 69.

Boulton, John, 123.

Bowen, Judge, 187.

Brown, Hon. George, 110;
  editor of _Globe_, 111;
  raises the cry of French domination, leads the clear Grits, 112;
  enters parliament, 113;
  his power, 114;
  urges representation by population, 117; 125, 137, 138;
  his part in confederation, 225.

Bryce, Rt. Hon. James, on the disadvantages of congressional
  government, 255-257.

Buchanan, Mr., his tribute to Lord Elgin, 123, 124.


Cameron, John Hillyard, 50, 112.

Cameron, Malcolm, 50, 53, 110, 113, 117, 126, 134, 163.

Canada Company, 145.

  early political conditions in, 17-40;
  difficulties connected with responsible government in, 26;
  the principles of responsible government, 228;
  a comparison of her political system with that of the United States,
    241 f.

Canning, Earl, 217.

Caron, Hon. R.E., 43, 53, 109, 113, 126, 187.

Cartier, Georges Étienne, 135, 136, 226.

Cathcart, Lord, succeeds Lord Metcalfe as governor-general, 38.

Cauchon, 126, 164.

Cayley, Hon. W., 140, 163.

Chabot, Hon. J., 126, 141, 164, 186.

Chaderton, 48.

Chauveau, P.J.O., 46, 50, 109, 113, 126, 141, 164.

Christie, David, 110.

Church of England, its claims under the Constitutional Act., 145, 150

Church Presbyterian, its successful contention, 153.

Clergy Reserves, 101, 102, 103, 119, 127;
  secularization of, 142;
  the history of, 143, f.;
  report of select committee on, 147;
  Imperial act passed, 158, 159;
  its repeal urged, 161;
  value of the reserves, 161-162;
  full powers granted the provincial legislature to vary or repeal the
    act of 1840, 167;
  important bill introduced by Sir John A. Macdonald, 168.

Colborne, Sir John,
  his action on the land question, 154;
  the Colborne patents attacked and upheld, 155, 156.

Company of the West Indies, 175.

Craig, Sir James, 1, 19.


Daly, Dominick, 35.

Day, Judge, 187.

Delagrave, C., 187.

Denslow, Prof., 254.

Derby, Lord, his views of colonial development, 121.

Dessaules, 108.

Dorchester, Lord, 1.

Dorion, A.A., 108, 134.

Dorion, J.B.E., 108.

Doutre, R., 108.

Draper, Hon. Mr.,
  forms a ministry, 35;
  retires from the ministry, 43.

Draper-Viger ministry,
  its weakness 44,
  some important measures, 45;
  commission appointed by, 64.

Drummond, L.P., 109, 113, 126, 141;
  his action on the question of seigniorial tenure, 186.

Dumas, N., 186.

Durham, Lord, 2, 14;
  his report, 15, 23, 25;
  compared with Elgin, 15;
  his views on the land question, 144, 145, 148, 154, 155;
  his views on Canada after the rebellion, 191;
  his suggestions of remedy, 192, 193.

Duval, Judge, 187.


Educational Reform, 87-89.

Elgin, Lord,
  his qualities, 3-4;
  conditions in Canada on his arrival, on his departure, birth and
    family descent, 5;
  his parentage, 6;
  his contemporaries at Eton and Oxford, estimate of,
    by Gladstone, 7;
    by his brother, 7-8;
  enters parliament, his political views, 8;
  appointed governor of Jamaica, death of his wife, 9;
  mediates between the colonial office and the Jamaica legislature,
  resigns governorship of Jamaica, returns to England, 13;
  accepts governor-generalship of Canada, marriage with Lady Mary
    Louisa Lambton, 14;
  compared with Lord Durham, 15;
  creates a favourable impression, recognizes the principle of
    responsible government, 41;
  appeals for reimbursement of plague expenses, 48;
  visits Upper Canada, 49;
  comments on LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry, 52-53;
  correspondence with Lord Grey, 55;
  hostility to Papinean, 56;
  on the rights of French Canadians, 55-56;
  his commercial views, 57-60;
  his course on Rebellion Losses bill, 71-78;
  attacked by mob, 74;
  his course sustained by the imperial parliament, 78;
  visits Upper Canada, 79;
  raised to the British peerage, 80;
  his condemnation of annexation manifesto, 81;
  refers to causes of depressions and irritations, 82;
  urges reciprocity with United States, urges repeal of navigation
    laws, 82;
  his views on education, 88-89;
  his views on increased representation, 118-119;
  his views on the Upper House, 120;
  visits England, 123;
  tribute from United States minister, 123-124;
  visits Washington and negotiates reciprocity treaty, 124;
  advises repeal of the imperial act of 1840, 164, 165;
  his efforts against annexation, 189-190, 194, 195;
  his labours for reciprocity, 196;
  visits the United States, 197;
  receives an address on the eve of his departure, 203;
  his reply, 204-205;
  his last speech in Quebec, 205-208;
  returns to England, 209;
  his views on self-defence, 209-212;
  accepts a mission to China, 212;
  his action during the Indian mutiny, 213;
  negotiates the treaty of Tientsin, 214;
  visits Japan officially, 214;
  negotiates the treaty of Yeddo, 214;
  returns to England, 215;
  becomes postmaster-general under Palmerston, 215;
  becomes Lord Rector of Glasgow University, 215;
  returns to China as Ambassador Extraordinary, 215;
  becomes governor-general of India, 216;
  tour in northern India, 218;
  holds Durbar at Agra, 218;
  Uahabee outbreak, 218;
  illness and death, 219;
  views on imperial honours, 222;
  on British connection, 229, 231;
  views on the power of his office, 231-232;
  beneficial results of his policy, 233, 235;
  on the disadvantages of the United States political system, 257,


Feudal System, the, in Canada, 172, f.

Free Trade,
  protest against, from Canada, 39, 45;
  effects of, on Canada, 57-58.

French Canadians,
  resent the Union Act, 23, 24;
  resent portions of Lord Durham's report, 23;
  increase of their influence, 31.


Garneau, 123.

Gavazzi Riots, the, 125.

Gladstone, Rt. Hon. W.E., his opinion of Lord Elgin, 7; 78.

Gore, Lieut.-Governor, 146.

Gourlay, Robert, 147.

Grey, Lord, colonial secretary, 13; 36, 77;
  views on clergy reserves, 165.


Haldimand, Governor, 97.

Head, Sir Francis Bond, 1, 22.

Hincks, Sir Francis, appointed inspector-general, 31; 38, 50, 53, 100,
  views and qualities of 107,
  forms a ministry, 107; 112, 113, 126, 127, 128, 133, 134, 135, 136;
  becomes a member of the Liberal--Conservative ministry, 140, 141;
  views on the clergy reserves, 163, 165, 166, 196;
  appointed governor of Barbadoes and Windward Isles, appointed
  governor of British Guiana, 220, 222;
  receives Commandership of the Bath, 222;
  retirement, 222;
  receives knighthood 222;
  becomes finance minister, 223;
  final retirement, 223;
  his character and closing years, 223-224.

Hincks-Morin, ministry formed, 108;
  its members, 113;
  its chief measures, 114-120;
  reconstructed, 125-126;
  dissolves, 131;
  resigns, 136.

Holmes, 50.

Holton, L.H., 108, 134.

Hopkins, Caleb, 110.

Howe, Joseph,
  his assertion of loyalty, 22, 51, 92, 101;
  on imperial honours and offices, 221;
  appointed lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, 221.

Hudon, Vicar-General, 48.

Hundred Associates, 175.


Immigrants, Irish,
  measures to relieve, 46-47;
  bring plague to Canada, 47-48.

Imperial Act, authorizes increased representation, 122.


Jamaica, Lord Elgin, governor of, 9-13.

Jameson, Mrs., her comparison of Canada and the United States,

Judah, H., 186.


Labrèche, 108.

LaTerrière, 164.

Laflamme, 108.

LaFontaine-Baldwin cabinet, 1842, 31;
  resignation of, 35;
  the second government, its members, 53;
  its importance, 54;
  dissolved, 85;
  some of its important measures, 85-103.

LaFontaine, Hon. Hippolyte,
  and the Union Act, 24;
  aims of, 32, 44, 45, 50;
  forms a government with Baldwin, 52;
  his resolutions, 67-68;
  attack upon his house, 76;
  resigns office, 104;
  becomes chief justice, receives baronetcy, his qualities, 105;
  views on the clergy reserves, 162, 164;
  conservative views on seigniorial tenure, 185; 187.

Lebel, J.G., 187.

Lelièvre, S., 186.

Leslie, Hon. James, 53.

Leslie, John, 110.

Liberal-Conservative Party, the, formed, 137.

Lytton, Lord, his ideal of a governor, 4.


MacDonald, Rt. Hon. Sir John Alexander,
  reveals his great political qualities, 43, 44, 50, 110, 114, 118,
  his argument on the Representation Bill, 132, 137, 139,140,163;
  views on the clergy reserves, 163;
  takes charge of the bill for secularization of the reserves, 168;
  monuments to his memory, 225-226.

Macdonald, John Sandfield, 50;
  his rebuff to Lord Elgin, 127-129, 135.

Mackenzie, William Lyon, 17;
  leader of the radicals, 21; 22, 51;
  returns to Canada, 91;
  his qualities, 91-92; 103, 112, 127.

MacNab, Sir Allan, 31, 50, 51, 68;
  attitude on Rebellion Losses Bill, 75; 110, 137, 139;
  becomes a member of the Liberal-Conservative ministry, 140;
  his coalition ministry, 140; 141, 224.

McDougall, Hon. William, 110.

McGill, 45.

Meredith, Judge, 187.

Merritt, William Hamilton, 50, 97.

Metcalf, Sir Charles,
  succeeds Bagot as governor-general, 32;
  his defects, 32, 33, 37;
  breach with LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry, 34, 35;
  created baron, death of, 37.

Mills, Mayor, dies of plague, 48.

Mondelet, Judge, 187.

Montreal, ceases to be the seat of government, 78.

Morin, A.N., 32, 43, 50, 51, 109, 113, 126, 127, 133, 140, 141;
  favours secularization of the clergy reserves, 166; 187

Morris, Hon. James, 113, 126.

Morrison, Joseph C., 126.


Navigation laws, 38, 45;
  repealed, 83.

Nelson, Wolfred, 22, 50, 91.

Newcastle, Duke of, secretary of state for the colonies, 167.


Ottawa, selected as the seat of government, later as the capital of
  the Dominion, 79.


Pakington, Sir John, adverse to the colonial contention on the clergy
  reserve question, 165, 167.

Palmerston, Lord, 212, 213.

Papineau, Denis B., 35, 44, 66.

Papineau, Louis Joseph, 17;
  aims of, 20, 21; 22;
  influence of, 50, 51; 56, 66, 90, 91, 117;
  his final defeat, 134.

Peel, Sir Robert, 78.

Price, Hon. J.H., 50, 53, 160, 161.

Postal Reform, 85, 86.

Power, Dr., 48.


Railway development,
  under Baldwin and LaFontaine, 99-101;
  under Hincks and Morin, 114-117.

Rebellion Losses Bill,
  history of, 63-78;
  commission appointed by Draper-Viger ministry, 64;
  report of commissioners, 65;
  LaFontaine's resolutions, 67, 68;
  new commission appointed, attacks on the measure, 68;
  passage of measure, 70;
  Lord Elgin's course, 71 f.;
  serious results of, 73, 74; 203.

Reciprocity treaty with United States,
  urged by Lord Elgin, 82;
  treaty ratified, 142;
  signed, 198;
  its provisions, 198-200;
  beneficial results, 201;
  repealed by the United States, 201;
  results of the repeal, 202.

Richards, Hon. W.B., 50, 113, 128.

Richelieu, introduces feudal system into Canada, 175.

Richmond, Duke of, 2.

Robinson, Sir John Beverley, 105.

Rolph, Dr. John, 110, 112, 113, 126, 136.

Ross, Mr. Dunbar, 126, 141.

Ross, Hon. John, 113, 126, 141.

Roy, Mr. 48.

Russell, Lord John, 26;
  supports Metcalfe, 37; 78.

Ryerson, Rev. Egerton,
  defends Sir Charles Metcalfe, 36;
  his educational services, 89, 90;
  opposes Sydenham's measure, 157.


Saint Réal M. Vallières de, 31.

Seigniorial Tenure, 101, 102, 119, 126, 142;
  history of, 171 f.;
  originates in the old feudal system, 171-174;
  introduced by Richelieu into Canada, 175;
  description of the system of tenure, 175 f;
  judicial investigation by commission, 186, 187.

Sherwood, Henry,
  becomes head of ministry, 43;
  defeat of Sherwood cabinet, 50, 68, 159.

Short, Judge, 187.

Sicotte, 126;
  elected speaker, 135, 136.

Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor, 18.

Smith, Henry, 141, 187.

Spence, Hon. R., 140.

Stanley, Lord, 9;
  supports Metcalfe, 37.

Strachan, Bishop,
  established Trinity college, 95;
  refuses compromise on land question, 150, 154, 159;
  meets with defeat, 169.

Sullivan, Hon. R.B., 53.

Sydenham, Lord,
  appointed governor-general to complete the union and establish
    responsible government, 26-29;
  qualities of, 29;
  death of, 30;
  his canal policy, 96-99;
  his action on the land question, 156, 157.


Taché, Hon. E.P., 53, 109, 113, 126.

Trinity College, established, 95.

Turcotte, J.G., 186.


Union Act of 1840,
  its provisions, 22, 23;
  restrictions concerning use of French language removed, 61, 117;
  clauses respecting the Upper House repealed, 120.

United States, comparison of their political system with that of
  Canada, 241, ff.

University of Toronto, created from King's College, 94.


Vanfelson, Judge, 187.

Varin, J.B., 187.

Viger, Hon. L.M., forms a ministry, 35, 53, 66, 108.


Waldron, Mr., 215.

White, Thos., 139.

Winter, P., 187.

Woodrow, Wilson, on the United States system, 252;
  on political irresponsibility, 254, 255.


Young, Hon. John, 113, 126.


[1: He was bitten by a tame fox and died of hydrophobia at Richmond,
in the present county of Carleton, Ontario.]

[2: "Letters and Journals of James, eighth Earl of Elgin, etc." Edited
by Theodore Waldron, C.B. For fuller references to works consulted in
the writing of this short history, see _Bibliographical Notes_ at the
end of this book.]

[3: Lady Elma, who married, in 1864, Thomas John
Howell-Thurlow-Camming Bruce, who was attached to the staff of Lord
Elgin in his later career in China and India, etc., and became Baron
Thurlow on the death of his brother in 1874. See "Debrett's Peerage."]

[4: "The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration," by
Earl Grey, London, 1857. See Vol. I, p. 205.]

[5: The "Life and Correspondence of Charles, Lord Metcalfe," by John
W. Kaye, London, 1858.]

[6: "Reminiscences of his public life," by Sir Francis Hincks,
K.C.M.G., C.B., Montreal, 1884]

[7: See "McMullen's History of Canada," Vol. II (2nd Ed.), p. 201.]

[8: These concluding words of Lord Elgin recall a similar expression
of feeling by Sir Étienne Pascal Taché, "That the last gun that would
be fired for British supremacy in America would be fired by a French

[9: Fifty years after these words were written, debates have taken
place in the House of Commons of the Canadian federation in favour of
an imperial Zollverein, which would give preferential treatment to
Canada's products in British markets. The Conservative party, when led
by Sir Charles Tupper, emphatically declared that "no measure of
preference, which falls short of the complete realization of such a
policy, should be considered final or satisfactory." England, however,
still clings to free trade.]

[10: The father of the Hon. Edward Blake, the eminent constitutional
lawyer, who occupied for many years a notable place in Canadian
politics, and is now (1902) a member of the British House of Commons.]

[11: See her "Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada."
London, 1838.]

[12: "I am inclined," wrote Lord Durham, "to view the insurrectionary
movements which did take place as indicative of no deep-rooted
disaffection, and to believe that almost the entire body of the
reformers of this province sought only by constitutional means to
attain those objects for which they had so long peaceably struggled
before the unhappy troubles occasioned by the violence of a few
unprincipled adventurers and heated enthusiasts."]

[13: For a succinct history of this road see "Eighty Years' Progress
or British North America," Toronto, 1863.]

[14: "Portraits of British Americans," Montreal, 1865, vol. 1., pp.
99-100. See Bourinot's "Parliamentary Procedure," p. 573_n_. The last
occasion on which a Canadian speaker exercised this old privilege was
in 1869, and then Mr. Cockburn made only a very brief reference to the
measures of the session.]

[15: It was not until 1874 when Mr. Alexander Mackenzie was first
minister of a Liberal government that simultaneous polling at a
general election was required by law, but it had existed some years
previously in Nova Scotia.]

[16: See "The Last Forty Years, or Canada Since the Union of 1841," by
John Charles Dent, Toronto, 1881, vol. II., p. 309. Mr. White became
Minister of the Interior in Sir John Macdonald's government (1885-88)
but died suddenly in the midst of a most active and useful
administrative career.]

[17: See remarks of Dr. Kingsford in his "History of Canada" (vol.
VII., pp. 266-273), showing how unjust was the clamour raised by the
enemies of the church in New England when a movement was in progress
for the establishment of a colonial episcopate simply for purposes of
ordination and church government.]

[18: A clause of the act of 1791 provided that the sovereign might, if
he thought fit, annex hereditary titles of honour to the right of
being summoned to the legislative council in either province, but no
titles were ever conferred under the authority of this imperial

[19: Thirteen other patents were left unsigned by the
lieutenant-governor and consequently had no legal force.]

[20: "Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Charles Lord
Sydenham, G.C.B.," edited by his brother G. Poulett-Scrope, M.P.;
London, 1843.]

[21: Sir Francis Hincks's "Reminiscences of his Public Life," p. 283.]

[22: See on these points an excellent article on the feudal system of
Canada in the _Queen's Quarterly_ (Kingston, January, 1899) by Dr. W.
Bennett Munro. Also _Droit de banalité_, by the same, in the report of
the Am. Hist Ass., Washington, for 1899, Vol. I.]

[23: "Spencerwood," the governor's private residence.]

[24: See article on Lord Elgin in "Encyclopædia Britannica" (9th ed.),
Vol. VIII., p. 132.]

[25: In the "North British Review," quoted by Waldron, pp. 458-461.]

[26: Lord Elgin's eldest son (9th Earl) Victor Alexander Brace, who
was born in 1849, at Monklands, near Montreal, was Viceroy of India
1894-9. See Debrett's Peerage, arts. Elgin and Thurton for particulars
of Lord Elgin's family.]

[27: See Mr. Howe's eloquent speeches on the organization of the
empire, in his "Speeches and Public Letters," (Boston, 1859), vol.
II., pp. 175-207.]

[28: See on this subject Todd's "Parliamentary Government in the
British Colonies," pp. 313-329.]

[29: See Todd's "Parliamentary Government in England," vol. II., p.

[30: He was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1895 to

[31: "Congressional Government," pp. 301, 332.]

[32:"The English Constitution," pp. 95, 96.]

[33: In the _International Review_, March, 1877.]

[34: "Congressional Government," p. 94.]

[35: "The American Commonwealth," I., 210 et seq.]

[36: Ibid., pp. 304, 305]

[37: ibid., Chap. 95, vol. III.]

[38: "Commentaries," sec. 869.]

[39: See Story's "Commentaries," sec. 869.]

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