THE LOGICAL start for a story of Confederation is perhaps the dramatic moment when John A. Macdonald and George Brown, political opponents and personal enemies of long standing, met on the floor of the Assembly at Quebec and solemnly shook hands on a pact which had for its immediate object the breaking of the deadlock in the Government of Upper and Lower Canada, but which in reality was a first step toward the main objective—the union of all British colonies in North America. The movement really started there.
It is impossible to say when the idea of a Confederation first received utterance, but it was probably soon after the Declaration of Independence by the American colonies.
From time to time the project was revived. Ambitious Governors wrote letters about it and patriotic Canadians dreamed of a great federation that would permanently bind the scattered Canadian possessions to the British Empire.
Unquestionably there was grave need for Confederation; and this necessity became very pronounced in the early fifties. There was the problem of transportation that could not be adequately solved as long as the provinces remained apart. Postal facilities were slow and unsatisfactory.
Many prominent Canadians favored annexation and received open encouragement in their stand from the British Government itself!
Canada was, as a matter of plain fact, somewhat of a nuisance to the home authorities at this time. Not only was the problem of handling half a dozen more or less immature provinces a vexatious onejaut Canadian interests were continually cropping up to create friction with the United States; and British relations with Uncle Sam were more or less strained at this time without colonial quarrels to add fuel to the flames. It is perhaps not strange that such men as John Bright favored annexaation and that Gladstone, valuing peace with the United States above everything, actually went to the length of suggesting the giving over of Canada as a sop to the American Cerberus. There seemed but two alternatives before the Canadian provinces—Confederation or Annexation. That we chose Confederation was due to the work and the foresight of a number of patriotic and able men; and in the forefront of this group two stand out—John A. Macdonald and George Brown.
BY THE Act of Union of 1841 the two provinces now known as Ontario and Quebec, but then as Upper and Lower Canada, were being ruled together. Parliament sat alternately at Toronto and Quebec and government, and parties were for the most part joint affairs. This arrangement was not proving very satisfactory. Ontario was developing rapidly along industrial lines and with the resultant growth in size, was clambering for representation on a basis of population. The French-Canadians, fearful of their rights if the Ontario Protestants got the upper hand in the House, fought back determinedly on the ground of constitutional privilege. Government came and went, cabinets squabbled and disrupted, members fought each other across the floor of the House with the weapons of verbal vituperation. It was a quarrelsome era in politics.
The two outstanding figures in the turmoil were the two men destined to play such prominent parts in the welding of the Dominion.
JOHN A. MACDONALD was the leader of the Conservative party in Ontario. He was the most accomplished parliamentarian in the annals pf Canadian politics, adroit, suave, tactful, sunny-dispositioned, a believer in the glad hand rather than the mailed fist. Macdonald preferred to make friends rather than enemies, but he was ruthless enough to succeed in the stern and implacable game of politics. Brown in one of his sonorous speeches, declared that Macdonald’s career was “studded all along by the gravestones of his slaughtered colleagues.”
There had always been dislike and open animosity between these twain. Brown was the ' founder and editor of the Toronto Globe and leader of the Liberal wing in Ontario. He was a Scotsman with all the best qualities pf his race; a man of lofty ideal who stood staunchly to them and (showed at his best when the winds of adversity blew. True to type, he was grim, unbending, implacable. He fought the cause of Liberalism with the ardor of a Covenanter, and when he spoke it was with straight swinging blows like the sweep of a claymore. The suavity of Macdonald irritated the dour Brown who read into it only insincerity.
This animosity was fanned into an open flame shortly after the Taché-Macdonald government was first formed in 1856. On the question of separate schools in Ontario, fathered by the Government, Brown fought strongly in opposition. He rose in the Assembly and characterized it as “flat popery,” proceeding to flay Macdonald in a more than usual sweeping measure. Macdonald was stung into a response in like measure. He taunted Brown with irregularities in connection with an investigation in which the latter had figured. Brown’s conduct in that connection was afterwards vindicated, but he never forgave Macdonald.
For years they did not speak.
The long silence remained unbroken up to the time of the Deadlock of 1864. The system of governing the two provinces had been gradually running down like the wheels of an imperfect watch. Inside of three years two general elections were held and four ministries were formed only to go the way of all governments which lack majority support and in 1864, with the defeat of the Taché-Macdonald government, while the House sat at Quebec, the wheels clamped together. It seemed impossible to form a government which could control a majority in the House. The business of Government threatened to stop.
The only solution that foresighted men could see was a confederation of all provinces. George Brown saw the need and he rose to the occasion with a singleness of purpose that shall forever proclaim his greatness. As leader of the Liberal Opposition he could have continued the deadlock in the hope of ultimately emerging from it with a Liberal Government and a majority. Unquestionably this is the course that most party leaders would have pursued. But there was nothing of the opportunist about George Brown. He saw that patriotic ends demanded unity, that Confederation could not be won while warring factions worried the tattered cloak of party government. He determined to sacrifice immediate party aims in favor of a purely patriotic duty.
ON THE evening of Tuesday, June 14, Brown spoke to Alexander Morris and John Henry Pope, two Conservative members with whom he happened to be on a footing of intimacy, and expressed his willingness to help the government solve the difficulty. The two members hurried to Macdonald with the glad news.
The two leaders, who had not spoken for nearly ten years, met next day on the floor of the House. The meeting had been carefully arranged by their lieutenants—one almost said “seconds”—for both men were proud and neither cared to seem the first to proclaim the truce. They rose and advanced to meet each other directly in the centre of the floor. It was as though a line had been drawn between the two parties, beyond which neither man would advance an inch. Public records say little about the meeting except that it occurred at 3 o’clock and that it was an extremely hot day.
Macdonald, quite at his ease, was the first to speak. He asked if Brown had any objection to meeting Alexander Galt and himself the next day to discuss means of overcoming the deadlock.
Brown, unsmiling and cold as granite, replied shortly: “Certainly not.”
That was all. The next day the conference was held at the St. Louis Hotel, Quebec. Owing to the mutual distrust between the two leaders a careful record of the proceedings was kept and so history is well informed on the score of what actually transpired. The matter of a coalition government was discussed and it was agreed that the remedy for existing conditions lay in a measure of federation between the provinces. Negotiations proceeded back and forth for several days. Brown found that the “Rouges” — the Quebec Liberals—would not follow him. He also found that many in his own party, notably Oliver Mowat, believed that the Liberals should not consent to a coalition. Convinced, however, that the step was right, Brown held staunchly to his course and a new government was formed under the premiership of Sir Etienne Taché, with Macdonald and Brown included in the cabinet, the latter as president of the Executive Council.
Brown had sacrificed much. Taché was beyond his prime and it was inevitable that the reins would soon slip into the hands of the adroit Macdonald.
The news of the coalition was received throughout the country with mixed feelings. In the House, where gloom and uncertainty had reigned the announcement created excitement and joy. One French Canadian member, a man of diminutive stature, ran across the floor to where the towering Brown stood and, throwing his arms around the Liberal leader's neck, embraced him exuberantly.
In Ontario the news carried amazement in its wake. Macdonald and Brown in the same government? Liberals, who believed the Conservative leader to be the Mephisto of Canadian politics—a smooth, smiling, dissolute Mephisto and, therefore, to be doubly feared — shook their heads in fear and doubt. Had the spider at last drawn Brown into the web of his urbanity? Would the doughty Liberal be the “noblest victim of them all,” his political gravestone the last to “stud the triumphant path” of the detested Macdonald?
But on second thoughts the self sacrifice of Brown was approved. Men came to see that it was only by united action that a permanent cure could be found for the alarming list of Colonial ills. This, then, was Brown’s great contribution to the cause of Confederation. He sacrificed personal ambition, and to some extent, party considerations to the common weal.
In Quebec the storm raged fiercely. Dorion, the leader of the Rouges, went out on the stump and stirred the Habitants up against it. Cartier, however, who led the Lower Canadian wing of the Conservative party, and who had gone into the coalition cabinet stood staunchly by the program and succeeded in keeping the members from the Lower Province in line.
IN THE meantime down in Nova Scotia Dr. Charles Tupper, Premier of the Legislative body, was working for the same cause. The Nova Scotians had been inclined to favor a union, in the abstract, but had shown a degree of uncertainty and even suspicion, when it came to the discussion of any concrete proposals. They looked upon the people of the more westerly provinces as “Yankees.” Tupper, therefore, was playing a dangerous game in so boldiy espousing the cause, an especially courageous course in view of the fact that he had always hovering in the offing a dangerous enemy in the person of the famous Joe Howe. One of the most brilliant men that Nova Scotia had ever produced was Joe Howe—a politician of the first water, a brilliant speaker, a hard fighter. He was easily regarded as the outstanding figure in the province at this time and his views on so broad a question were bound to influence the electors more than any other factor. Tupper, brilliant, fearless and egotistical, had jostled Howe in his march to power; and there was no love lost between them.
Howe did not, however, declare himself at this stage and Tupper called a conference of provincial representatives to meet at Charlottetown. He invited Howe, but the latter in his capacity as Imperial Commissioner of Deep Sea Fisheries, was unable to be present. Representatives were on hand from all the provinces and some progress was made. This was in September, 1864, and on October 10, the Conference met again in Quebec. Premier Taché took the chair and the historic debates, which led to the formation of the basis on which Confederation was finally formed, began.
IT IS interesting to note how carefully the subject was approached. The delegates knew that they were handling dynamite. The people or class that each group represented had certain interests to be safeguarded, certain privileges to demand or certain restrictions to clamor for. The personal equation also entered strongly. Rivalry ran so sternly that each man knew his opponents would seize upon any phase of the proceedings to attack him later. And so there was much show of generalship and a great deal of jockeying one way and another. And careful steps were taken to preserve an accurate record.
Journalists from London and New York had flocked in to report the proceedings. It was decided at the opening session, however, that the meetings would be private and that nothing would be given out, much to the chagrin of the newspapermen. The scribes presented a strong memorandum on the subject, but the original decision was adhered to. Accordingly the newspaper men loitered about the streets and hotels of Quebec and picked up what news they could from individual delegates. The nearest they got to the actual meetings was the sound of the cheering that sometimes reached them—telling evidence that progress was being made.
IT WAS apparent from the start that the feeling in the Conference was in favor of Confederation as a principle. When it came to a discussion of terms, however, each group was prepared to fight tooth and nail, to demand everything that a suspicious electorate at home deemed necessary, to block progress, even to secede. That the Conference worked its way steadily through each stage, making concessions here and peace offerings there, amending and changing each clause to insure satisfaction, was due to the masterly strategy of the leaders. A number took prominent parts in the fortnight’s debate, including Brown, Tupper, Cartier, Galt and others, but when all is said and done Macdonald held the centre of the stage. It was here that he assumed a mastery of the situation which he never lost from that stage on. Brown may have ' been animated by a fuller spirit of belief in the need for Confederation, but Macdonald, once he became convinced that it was a wise thing to do, carried through the Confederation problem with wonderful diplomacy and finesse. It is more than doubtful if any one else could have accomplished the task. His mind was the finely-tempered blade that cut the knots that men’s greed and jealousy and misunderstanding tied. From the Quebec Conference on Macdonald was in the saddle. The work that George Brown’s grand loyalty to a cause had rendered possible, John A. Macdonald carried through with a skill that only he possessed.
The first problem was that of representation in the proposed Federal House. It was finally, and with comparative ease, settled that the Lower Province (now Quebec) should be made the permanent basis with sixty-five members. The other provinces were to have representation according to population figured on the Quebec basis. Financial arrangements—and a knotty problem this, covering the adjustment of provincial debts— were managed very ably by Alexander Galt and Samuel Leonard Tilley, the latter from New Brunswick; complete accord being reached on these points.
The next point where the debate waxed warm was on the constitution of the Senate, or Upper House, Many delegates favored an elective Senate, but both Brown and Macdonald favored a nominative Upper Chamber, arguing that it should be made to approximate as closely as possible the constitution of the British House of Lords. This view finally prevailed and thus the lines were laid down on which the Red Chamber was constructed. It should be pointed out, however, that the idea of the Fathers of Confederation was to fill the Upper Chamber with equal numbers from each party. Macdonald himself threw this principle into the discard. During his long tenure of office following Confederation he appointed but one Liberal to the Senate! The precedent thus set has been followed since and now Senatorial appointments are admittedly a party prerogative and the toga is meted out along with the other spoils of office.
The proposed constitution was finally embodied in seventy-two resolutions and on October 28 the Conference broke up. The delegates, pledged to the agreement, returned to their respective provinces to fight for ratification.
It soon developed that the hardest part of the task was ahead. The Coalition Government decided to push the issue in the Canadas, and on Feb. 3, 1865, Macdonald introduced the Quebec resolutions. The debate that ensued was a memorable one, complete records of which fortunately have been preserved. In favor of Confederation on the lines laid down in the Resolutions, were Macdonald, Brown, Cartier, Galt and the eloquent D’Arcy McGee, who so soon after died at the hands of an assassin. The most prominent speakers against the proposal were Dorion, the fiery leader of the Rouges, Sandfield Macdonald, Holton and Dunkin. It is interesting to note that among the arguments advanced against the proposal was the suggestion, put forward by Dorion, that the Grand Trunk Railway was behind the scheme.
However, the resolutions finally carried by a vote of 91 to 34. That Upper Canada (now Ontario) was very strongly pro-Confederation was shown by the Upper Canada vote, which went 54 to 8 . Thanks largely to the strength of Cartier the Lower Province also showed a majority by the vote of 37 to 25.
At the close of the session a delegation left for England, consisting of Macdonald, Brown, Cartier and Galt. Macdonald and Brown buried the hatchet completely at this stage and worked together in close accord and with complete outward amity for the good of the cause.
They played euchre together on the boat and appeared together in public after their arrival in England whenever the occasion demanded.
IN THE other colonies, however, things were not going well. On finding how small their representation would be, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland promptly dropped out. In New Brunswick, Tilley, who headed the Government, went to the country on the question and was rather soundly beaten. This was due in some degree at least to the influence of the Lieutenant-Govemor of New Brunswick, who probably feared a loss of prestige under the new arrangement.
In the meantime Tapper had been proceeding cautiously in Nova Scotia. He knew that the people were, to put it mildly, lukewarm. All that was needed to swing them over to active opposition was a leader. Accordingly Tupper kept a wary eye on Joe Howe. The latter said not a word.
Finally Tupper began a series of public meetings to present the Quebec Resolutions, and at the first, held in Halifax, Howe sat on the platform. He contented himself with the role of listener, however, and the meeting on the whole went off well.
The sentiment against Confederation began to grow and mature. Mutterings were heard from all corners of the province. Nova Scotia was being bound and delivered to the larger Western provinces; her future would be restricted, her privileges curtailed; so ran the voice of public opinion. Men wondered why Joe Howe did not declare himself. The Antis seemed to take it for granted that the great Joe would be with them and they waited for him to take the leadership.
Finally one day the Halifax Chronicle, which was edited by William Annand, a prominent Anti, came out with a frontpage broadside headed, “The Botheration Scheme, No. 1.” It proved a sweeping attack on Confederation as laid down in the Quebec Resolutions, written in a grandiloquent, onrushing style that could not be mistaken. Although no signature was appended the voice was the voice of Howe. The Antis rocked with delight. At last the Sphinx had declared himself. Joe Howe was on the warpath.
From that point on the opposition gained momentum and it became apparent that the outward feeling of the people of Nova Scotia was against the Union. Joe Howe continued to pummel the Botheration Scheme with a vigor that increased with each blow. Tupper decided to go slowly.
THE DELEGATION from the Canadas returned from England, having accomplished a great deal in the matter of bringing the Imperial authorities into full sympathy and accord. That things had not gone as expeditiously as had been hoped for, however, was apparent. Lord Monck, the Governor-General, was openly impatient. He hoped to have the consummation of the Union as a culminating point of his vice-regal period and it took all the tact of Macdonald to prevent him from resigning.
Then another complication arose. Sir Etienne Taché, the only man under whom both Macdonald and Brown could serve, died in July of that year. Lord Monck called upon Macdonald to form a government and Brown promptly and emphatically declined to continue in the coalition under his old rival. He was probably justified in this step, even though it threatened to block the progress toward Confederation if it did not defeat the project entirely. The coalition ceased to be a coalition when one party to the agreement was given ascendancy over the other and it was very doubtful if Brown would have been able to carry the support of the Ontario Liberals had he acquiesced. His followers had been restive as it was; they would probably have cut him adrift rather than bow meekly to the rule of the Conservative leader.
Macdonald rose to the occasion manfully. The charge that he was actuated throughout by desire for power only breaks down here. By accepting office and letting Brown go out he stood a chance of gathering enough support around him to retain power. Instead. he declined and proposed to Brown that the previous arrangement remain in force and that they act together under the nominal leadership of Sir Narcisse Belleau. To this suggestion Brown assented and Belleau became premier in succession to Taché.
It soon became apparent, however, that this was not going to . work out well from the standpoint of the Liberals. Belleau was not a strong man comparedwith such giants as Macdonald and Brown and his grasp of the reins was purely nominal. Macdonald was the ruling spirit, the premier in everything but name. Brown felt this but forbore to act. He was waiting patiently for the culmination of the Union negotiations. There can be no doubt that he intended as soon as the great project had been successfully’ negotiated, to break the irksome alliance. His patience wore through, however, when he was ignored in the matter of a conference with Washington for a new Reciprocity Pact, and in December he tendered his resignation.
Brown’s action was loudly applauded by the Liberals of Ontario, but it was characteristic of him that his formal resumption of the role of Opposition leader did not result in an active harassing of the government. He continued as favorable to Confederation as he had ever been. The personal truce with Macdonald ended, however, with a snap. From that time on the Liberal leader fought the astute Conservative with all the old vigor and the Globe enfiladed him every morning. It may be that they dropped back into the old habit of not speaking.
THE YEAR 1866 saw things take a better turn. Prince Edward Island remained out and Newfoundland turned an obdurate ear, but the decision of New Brunswick was reversed. It was hinted to the Lieutenant-Governor that the Imperial authorities did not approve and, like the Vicar of Bray, he experienced a change of heart.
Also about this time the fear of Fenian raids grew and the people of New Brunswick began to think they had made a mistake in electing to tread the lonely furrow. The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Arthur Gordon, took the situation into his own hands in a way that more than offset his previous attitude, although his course seems to have been hardly constitutional. The Premier, Mr. A. J. Smith (afterwards Sir Albert Smith), who had swept in on the Anti-Confederation wave, had a cabinet under him of a very unstable nature. Some of his colleagues wavered, others went over secretly to the Confederation cause. It is even said that Smith himself had a change of heart and intimated as much to the LieutenantGovernor. At the session early in 1866, the latter practically forced the resignation of the Smith government and the issue was again put to the test of a general election. The result was another turnover, this time to the side of Union. On June 21, by a vote of 30 to 8, delegates were appointed to proceed to England and arrange a scheme of Union with the Imperial authorities.
It seems clear that the defeat of Tilley in the first place was due to over-confidence. He brought on the election inadvisedly before the people had had an opportunity to thoroughly digest the proposals. It was a snap verdict, as the subsequent election showed.
THE REVERSAL in New Brunswick helped Dr. Tupper immensely in Nova Scotia. Tupper had a majority in the House to back him up, but the spirit of the country was dangerous. Fomented by Annand and “that pestilent fellow Howe” (to use Macdonald’s words) the country was in a mood that verged dose to revolution.
Early in April, however, an incident occurred that changed the whole course of events. William Miller, member for Richmond, and a supporter of Howe and Annand, rose in the House and suggested that delegates be appointed to treat directly with the Imperial authorities and thus frame a scheme of union independent of the Quebec resolutions. This suggestion, proceeding as it did from an opponent of Tupper, came as a golden opportunity. Tupper, experienced parliamentarian that he was, saw that Miller’s idea had opened the path by which he could steer Nova Scotia into the Union without appearing to run contrary to public opinion. Hé sprang to his feet almost before Miller had resumed his seat and put the suggestion into a motion.
The debate that ensued was a bitter one, but Tupper won out, and on April 10 at midnight the Legislature adopted the motion by a vote of thirty-one to nineteen.
It was afterwards charged that Miller’s part was not an incidental one and that the astute Tupper arranged with him to introduce the suggestion. In later years, when Miller waa a member of the Senate, a libel suit developed on this point against the Halifax Chronicle. Tupper testified that the charge was entirely unfounded; and there the matter rests.
AND SO delegates from Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia began to assemble in London toward the close of the year. On December 4 the first session of the Conference was held in Westminster Palace. Lord Carnarvon was in the chair. The delegates in attendance were Macdonald, Cartier, Galt, Macdougall, Howland and Langevin from Canada ; Tupper, Henry, Ritchie, -McCully and Archibald from Nova Scotia; .Tilley, Johnston, Mitchell, Fisher and Wilmot from New Brunswick ; Brown, of course, had lost his place by resigning. Curiously enough Sir Narcisse Belleau, the nominal Premier of Canada, was not one of the delegates.
THE SUCCESS of the Conference has been generally ascribed to the adroit manner in which Macdonald guided the proceedings. It was no easy task. Each group of delegates was on the qui vive for anything that might appear prejudicial to their particular interests. The Liberals from Upper Canada wanted no deviation from the Quebec resolutions upon which George Brown had set the seal of his approval. The Lower Canadians were sensitive to anything that might tend to restrict their constitutional rights. The Maritime delegates were frankly there to be appeased and reconciled. Any untimely move or unhappy reference might have precipitated a break among any or all of the factions.
Macdonald took the proceedings in hand and carefully guided the cumbersome bark ‘of mutual agreement through the swarming shoals. British statesmen who attended the proceedings went away marvelling at his address and wonderful tact.
The main points of agreement were gradually worked out and in the main the Quebec resolutions were adhered to. An interesting discussion arose on the point of the name to be given the new Confederation. The Maritime members advanced the name Acadia, which would almost certainly have been adopted in the event of a union of the Maritime Provinces only. It was rejected as too local. Other names that found favor were Britannia and New Britain and a host of less likely ones were suggested, such as Columbia, Cabotia and Canadia. Finally, however, the delegates agreed on Canada and it was decided that the Upper and Lower provinces in surrendering •their name would seek new names of their own; and in time Quebec and Ontario were duly adopted.
The next point that arose was with regard to the designation of the Confederation. It was strongly urged that it should be called the “Kingdom of Canada” and, strangely enough, this point was urged by the Canadian delegates themselves, and opposed by the home authorities on the ground that it would give offence to our republican-minded American neighbors!
The matter was settled finally in a rather dramatic way. One member rose suddenly and quoted a verse from Scripture:
"And his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”
The word was seized upon with loud and unanimous acclaim and thus came into existence the happy phrase “Dominion of Canada.”
IT IS not intended here to give a detailed story of the manner in which each constitutional feature was worked out. The first conference ended on Dec. 24, and the sittings were resumed early in January, 1867. In February the completed bill, as agreed to by the Canadian delegates was submitted to the British House. It went through without opposition, almost without any discussion. There was a curious apathy on the part of the Imperial legislators. Quite apparently they attached little importance to the Canadian colonies. On March 29 the bill received the Royal assent, and on May 22 a Royal proclamation set July 1 as the day on which Confederation was to go into effect.
The announcement was received with delight in Upper Canada and with milder enthusiasm in other parts. In Nova Scotia the newspapers came out with their columns draped in black and men began to talk of secession and annexation with the United States.
THE outstanding part that John A. Macdonald had taken in the negotiations was recognized when Lord Monck called upon him to form the first Canadian Federal Government. He had returned to Canada in May, and had set actively about the formation of his government. The first step was to ensure the retention of support from his Liberal lieutenants, Macdougall and Howland. He offered them portfolios in the new cabinet and they accepted, taking the stand that the government should still be regarded as a 'coalition, inasmuch as the work for which the coalition had been formed would not be completed until the new Dominion was safely launched. However, this stand was not accepted by the Liberal party of Ontario and when MacDougall and Howland appeared before a Convention to explain their stand they received a noisy reception.
This convention, which was held in Toronto on June 27 and 28, had been called by George Brown to signalize the fact that the Liberal party had once again resumed active opposition to John A. Macdonald and all his works.
“I understood what degradation it was,” exclaimed Brown, in the course of an impassioneiaddress, “to be compelled to adopt that step by the necessities of the case, by the feeling that the interests of my country were at stake, which alone induced me to ever put my foot into that government; and glad was I when I got out of it!”
From the first, therefore, Macdonald had the active opposition of his old enemy. The cabinet that he finally got together was as follows:
John A. Macdonald. Prime Minister and Minister of Justice; George E. Cartier, Minister of Militia and Defence; S. Leonard Tilley, Minister of Customs; Alexander T. Galt, Minister of Finance; William McDougall, Minister of Public W’orks; W’illiam P. Howland, Minister of Inland Revenue; Adams G. Archibald, Secretary of State for the Provinces; A. J. Fergusson Blair, President of the Privy Council; Peter Mitchell, Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Alexander Campbell. Postmaster-General; Jean C. Chapais, Minister of Agriculture; Hector L. Langevin, Secretary of State of Canada; Edward Kenny, Receiver-General.
THE PART that Charles Tupper played throughout was that of broad statesmanship. Sincerely believing in Confederation he had whipped Nova Scotia into line with courage and resourcefulness. He had been a potent factor through all the conferences. He appeared at his best, however, when the question of the formation of the Dominion Government came up. No one was more entitled to a post than Tupper, but the appointment of Edward Kenny was necessary to give representation to the Irish Catholics and accordingly Kenny went in as second minister from Nova Scotia, Tupper generously stepping aside.
THE FIRST election was fought out from August to September of that year and proved to be a spirited contest. George Brown threw himself into the lists with all his old vigor. The Rouges in Quebec came out against the Government; and down in Nova Scotia Joe Howe and the Antis prepared to fight the Government on the issue of Confederation to the bitter end.
The election in Nova Scotia was a picturesque one as well as bitter and hardfought. William Annand went up to Colchester to contest that seat against the obnoxious Tupper. Joe Howe stumped the province from end to end. He spoke in every riding, wearing, no the chronicles run. a “tasteful grey suit and a tall white hat.” His tall white hat, like the white plume of Henry of Navarre, waved always where the fight was hottest. Howe’s methods were picturesque and such records as have been kept of his speeches show that he employed humor as well as inventive to carry his audience.
On one occasion he lauded the city of London as the real capital for Canadians, adding: “Surely with such a capital as this we need not seek another in the backwoods of Canada! We may be pardoned if we prefer London under the dominion of John Bull to Ottawa under the dominion of Jack Frost!”
THE GOVERNMENT was sustained by large majorities in the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Even George Brown went down to defeat in South Ontario; and he never again sat in the House of Commons. But in Nova Scotia the story was reversed. Joe Howe and the Opposition swept the province, and for the nineteen »eats only one Government supporter—Tupper in Colchester—was returned. Eighteen members went to Ottawa prepared to fight for the repeal of Confederation!
Following the election the Antis decided to send a delegation to London to move for repeal and Howe, Annan, J. C. Troop and H. WT. Smith were selected. They sailed at once and had soon launched an active propaganda in LondonTo counteract the effort, Tppper also went to London and presented the other side of the case.
Tupper soon found that the Imperial authorities were prepared to let matters stand. Accordingly, on the evening of Feb. 4 he called upon Howe at the lodgings of the Anti delegation. He saw the Anti leader alone.
“You are beaten—and you know it,” was the substance of what he told his opponent. Howe, weary from butting up against the hard, cold wall of British governmental indifference, could not gainsay this. Tupper then proceeded, with rare tact, to point out that, where repeal was impossible, the only loyal course was acquiescence. What other course was possible? Howe was too loyal to consider annexation.
Howe went back to his associates, shaken in his determination. He said to the others: “Tupper has been to see me.” One of them asked: “Howe, what have you to do with Tupper?”
Howe sensed suspicion in the query and replied: “I wanted to see his hand. Do not mistrust me. gentleman, I am acting for our best interests as I see things.” Subsequently Howe and Tupper went to visit the Duke of Buckingham and. Ikefore returning Tupper wrote to Macdonald: “Howe will soon be with us.”
THE ANTI deputation returned to Nova Scotia without having accomplished anything. The agitation still went on, but Howe took a less active part It has been asserted by the enemies who afterwards rose up against him that he was then looking for a reward as a result of abjuring the cause of the Antis; but from an outside perspective it seems more certain that he had wearied of what appeared to be a lost cause and had become convinced that loyalty demanded that he bow to the inevitable.
The next step in the winning over of Nova Scotia was the visit of a delegation headed by the Premier (now Sir John). They saw Howe and he arranged a public meeting at which he presided and Sir John spoke. Negotiations by letter between Howe and Macdonald went on for some time afterward and finally all Nova Scotia was dumbfounded by the announcement that Howe was entering the Dominion Government.
Howe elected to stand in the constituency of Hants, and his erstwhile friends, now converted into the bitterest of enemies, prepared to rend him limb from limb. But the old lion roused himself, and after a grand fight won the seat by a majority of 383. It was charged that the Macdonald Government poured money into-the constituency and that as high as four hundred dollars was paid for a vote. The popular story was that it cost sixty thousand dollars to carry Hants for Howe; that, however, is a story that probably arose in the heat of the election. Howe sat for four years in the Cabinet. They were neither happy nor fruitful. He was too brilliant and self-willed to make a good lieutenant and he found that he was overshadowed completely by the lustre of the now firmly-entrenched Sir John A. Macdonald. Howe’s term made a rather unfortunate finish to a brilliant political career; and he was very glad finally to accept the post of LieutenantGovernor of Nova Scotia.
IN THE meantime the Repeal Movement in the province had lost some of its force and it never again assumed sufficient proportions to threaten the solidarity of the new-fledged Dominion.
It remains but to be told that in 1870 the North-West Territories were transferred to the Dominion; that in 1871 the people of British Columbia cast in their lot with the Dominion; and that in 1873 Prince Edward Island decided not to remain out in the cold any longer.
And so the constitution of the Dominion of Canada was completed.