A Brief Overview of Canadian Confederation How Canada came to be…
General Causes of Confederation • Changing British Attitudes: • By the 1860s Britain had redirected its focus regarding the Empire. While still committed to imperial greatness, the emphasis shifted from military strength to trade and profit.
General Causes of Confederation • The U.S. Civil War: - Though Britain claimed neutrality during the American Civil War (1861-1865), in reality they demonstrated implicit sympathy for the Southern Confederacy. As a result, an angry U.S. government concerned Canadian political leaders.
General Causes of Confederation • Trade Issues: - Further emphasizing its focus on trade and profit, Britain ended their policy of providing the colonies with protective tariffs. To make matters worse, the Treaty of Reciprocity with the United States was due for renewal in 1865 and tensions from the Civil War made its continuation unlikely. Thus alternative economic options were required.
General Causes of Confederation • Here Comes the Railway: • The emergence of railways bridged the gap across Canada’s massive geography. Railways brought a sense of inter-connectedness and carried the possibilities of Confederation to the forefront.
Pre-Confederation Politics • Politically, the Province of Canada consisted of two opposing forces, each having an English Canadian and French Canadian component. • Conservatives: * In Canada West, John A. Macdonald’s “Liberal Conservative Party.” * In Canada East, George Etienne Cartier’s parti blue. • Reformers: * In Canada West, George Brown’s Reform Party. * In Canada East, Antoine–Aime Dorion’s parti rouge.
The Major Players • John A. Macdonald:
The Major Players • George-Etienne Cartier:
The Major Players • George Brown:
The Major Players • Antoine–Aime Dorion:
Compromise • In total there were 36 original ‘Fathers of Confederation,’ including the key figures mentioned above. • The Act of Union (1840) had united Upper and Lower Canada, however the push towards a larger nation required great compromise. Upper and Lower Canada, as well as the Maritime provinces, held several misgivings regarding a broad confederation. Yet given their multitude of shared interests, a consensus prevailed to at least explore the possibilities.
The Charlottetown Conference • September 1-9, 1864 • In the spring of 1864, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were contemplating the possibility of Maritime Union. This interest sparked the Charlottetown Conference. • Representatives from Upper and Lower Canada attended the conference, and a conclusion followed that the idea of a British North America union warranted discussion. In fact, further meetings took place in Halifax, Fredericton, and Saint John.
The Charlottetown Conference • In Charlottetown, the Canadian delegation had proposed the foundations for a new country: preservation of ties with Great Britain; residual jurisdiction left to a central authority; a bicameral system including a Lower House with representation by population and an Upper House with representation based on regional, rather than provincial, equality; responsible government at the federal and provincial levels; and the appointment of a governor general by the British Crown.
The Quebec Conference • The next major conference on the road to Canadian Confederation took place in Quebec City, from October 10 – 27, 1864. • The United Canada delegates met with representatives from the three maritime colonies and Newfoundland.
The London Conference • By mid 1866, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had all passed union resolutions. • The London Conference began on December 4, 1866 and produced the text of the British North America Act, as well as the names Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the designation of ‘dominion of Britain.’
The British North America Act • Officially completed on February 11, 1867. The Bill passed through the House of Lords and the House of Commons and received the Royal Assent on March 29, 1867. • Canada official became a unified nation on July 1, 1867.
Order of Confederation • The Canadian provinces and territories joined Confederation in the following order. • Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick -1867, Manitoba, Northwest Territories - 1870, British Columbia – 1871, P.E.I. – 1873, Yukon – 1898, Alberta, Saskatchewan – 1905, Newfoundland – 1949, Nunavut – 1999.
In a Nutshell… • And thus completes a brief overview of Canadian Confederation.