Read CHAPTER III. THE UNION ERA of The Canadian Dominion A Chronicle of our Northern Neighbor , free online book, by Oscar D. Skelton, on ReadCentral.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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