MoboReader > Literature > Canada and the States

   Chapter 1 No.1

Canada and the States By Sir E. W. Watkin Characters: 35140

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

Preliminary-One Reason why I went to the Pacific.

A quarter of a century ago, charged with the temporary oversight of the then great Railway of Canada, I first made the acquaintance of Mr. Tilley, Prime Minister of the Province of New Brunswick, whom I met in a plain little room, more plainly furnished, at Frederickton, in New Brunswick. My business was to ask his co-operation in carrying out the physical union of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and through them Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, with Canada by means of what has since been called the "Intercolonial" Railway. That Railway, projected half a century ago, was part of the great scheme of 1851,-of which the Grand Trunk system from Portland, on the Atlantic, to Richmond; and from Riviere du Loup, by Quebec and Richmond, to Montreal, and then on to Kingston, Toronto, Sarnia, and Detroit-had been completed and opened when I, thus, visited Canada, as Commissioner, in the autumn of 1861. I found Mr. Tilley fully alive to the initial importance of the construction of this arterial Railway-initial, in the sense that, without it, discussions in reference to the fiscal, or the political, federation, or the absolute union, under one Parliament, of all the Provinces was vain. I found, also, that Mr. Tilley had, ardently, embraced the great idea-to be realized some day, distant though that day might be-of a great British nation, planted, for ever, under the Crown, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Certainly, in 1861, this great idea seemed like a mere dream of the uncertain future. Blocked by wide stretches of half-explored country: dependent upon approaches through United States' territory: each Province enforcing its separate, and differing, tariffs, the one against the other, and others, through its separate Custom House; it was not matter of surprise to find a growing gravitation towards the United States, based, alike, on augmenting trade and augmenting prejudices.

Amongst party politicians at home, there was, at this time, of 1861, little adhesion to the idea of a Colonial Empire; and the reader has only to read the reference, made later on, to a published letter of Sir Charles Adderley to Mr. Disraeli in 1862, to see how the pulse of some of the Conservative party was then beating.

There was, however, one bright gleam of hope. That was to be found in the, still remembered, effects of the visit of the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duke of Newcastle, to Canada, and the United States, in 1860.

Entertaining, with no small enthusiasm, and in common, these views of an Anglo-American Empire, Mr. Tilley and I were of the same opinion as to practical modes. We must go "step by step," and the Intercolonial Railway was the first step in the march before us.

In the following pages will be found some record of what followed. Suffice it here to say, that the Railway is made, not on the route I advocated: but it is in course of improvement, so that the shortest iron road from the great harbour of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, to the Pacific may be secured. The vast western country, bigger than Russia in Europe, more or less possessed and ruled over, since the days of Prince Rupert, the first governor, by the "Merchant Adventurers of England trading to Hudson's Bay," has been annexed to Canada, and one country, under one Parliament, is bounded by the two great oceans; and, as a consequence, the "Canadian Pacific Railway" has been made and opened for the commerce of the world.

Mr. Tilley, now Sir Leonard Tilley, is, at the moment, Lieutenant- Governor of New Brunswick, having previously filled the highest offices in the Government of the "Dominion of Canada;" and he has not forgotten the vow he and I exchanged some while after our first acquaintance. That vow was, that we neither of us would die, if we could help it, "until we had looked upon the waters of the Pacific from the windows of a British railway carriage." The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed, completed by the indomitable perseverance of Sir George Stephen, Mr. Van Horne, and their colleagues-sustained as they have been, throughout, by the far-sighted policy and liberal subsidies, granted ungrudgingly, by the Dominion Parliament, under the advice of Sir John A. Macdonald, the Premier. I have, in the past year, fulfilled my vow, by traversing the Canadian Continent from Quebec to Port Moody, Vancouver City, and Victoria, Vancouver's Island, over the 3,100 miles of Railway possessed by the Canadian Pacific Company, and have "looked upon the waters of the Pacific from the windows of a British railway carriage."

My impressions of this grand work will be found in future chapters.

"The Dominion of Canada" now includes the various Provinces of North America, formerly known as Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Vancouver's Island, and the extensive regions of The Hudson's Bay Company, including the new Province of Manitoba, and the North West Territories; in fact, the whole of British North America, except Newfoundland.

This territory stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and (including Newfoundland) is estimated to contain a total area of some four million square miles.

As matter of mere surface, and probably of cultivable area, also, more than half the Northern Continent of America owes allegiance to the Crown and to Queen Victoria. So may it remain. So it will remain if we retain the Imperial instinct. These noble provinces are confederated into a vast dominion, with one common Law, one Custom House, and one "House of Commons"-by a simple Act of the Imperial Parliament, the Confederation Act of 1867, passed while Lord Beaconsfield was Prime Minister and the Duke of Buckingham Colonial Minister. This union was effected quietly, unostentatiously, and in peace; and (circumstances well favouring) by the exertions, influence, and faithfulness to Imperial traditions, of Cartier, John A. Macdonald, John Ross, Howe, Tilley, Galt, Tupper, Van Koughnet, and other provincial statesmen, who forced the Home Government to action and fired their brother colonists with their own enthusiasm.

At home, all honour is due to a great Colonial Minister-the Duke of


Taking up, some years ago, a tuft of grass growing at the foot of one of the grand marble columns of the Parthenon at the Acropolis at Athens, I found a compass mark in the footing, or foundation-a mere scratch in the stone-made, probably, by some architect's assistant, before the Christian era. I make no claim to more than having made a scratch of some sort on the foundation stone of some pillar, or other, of Confederation. And I throw together these pages with no idea of gaining credit for services, gratuitously rendered, over a period of years and under many difficulties, to a cause which I have always had at heart; but with the desire to record some facts of interest which, hereafter, may, probably, be held worthy of being interleaved in some future history of the union of the great American provinces of the British Empire. I have another motive also: I should wish to contribute some information bearing upon any future account of the life of the late Duke of Newcastle. He is dead: and, so far, no one has attempted to write his biography. That may be reserved for another generation. He was the Colonial Minister under whose rule and guidance the foundations of the great measure of Confederation were, undoubtedly, laid; and to him, more than to any minister since Lord Durham, the credit of preserving, as I hope for ever, the rule of her Majesty, and her successors, over the Western Continent ought to attach. For, while the idea of an union, of more or less extent, was suggested in Lord Durham's time-probably by Charles Buller,-and was now and then fondled by other Governors-General, in Canada, and by Colonial Ministers at home-the real, practical measures which led to the creation of one country extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific were due to the far-sighted policy and persuasive influence of the Duke. The Duke was a statesman singularly averse to claiming credit for his own special public services, while ever ready to attribute credit and bestow praise on those around him.

My first interview with the Duke was in January, 1847. He was then Lord Lincoln, and the Conservative candidate for Manchester; in disgrace with his father. His father was the old fashioned nobleman who desired "to do what he liked with his own," and never would rebuild Nottingham Castle, burnt in 1832 by the Radicals. The son had cast in his lot with Sir Robert Peel and free trade. The father was still one of the narrow- minded class to whom reform of any kind was the spectre of "ruin to the country." They were quite honest in the conviction that the people were "born to be governed, and not to govern." They probably saw in the free importation of foreign food the abrogation of rent.

In 1847 Mr. Bright was the candidate for Manchester, whom we of the old Anti-Corn Law League supported. The interview I refer to was actuated by our desire to avoid an undeserved opposition; Lord Lincoln retired, however, owing mainly to other reasons, including that of the intolerance of a body of Churchmen regarding popular education.

A long period of wretched health compelled me for several years to consume what strength I had left in the ordinary routine of daily business. And it was not until 1852 that any further intercourse of any kind took place between us. In that year I published a little book about the United States and Canada, the record of my first visit to North America, in 1851. And, if I recollect rightly, I travelled with the Duke in the spring of 1852, probably between Rugby and Derby, and found him in possession of a copy of this little book, on which he had, faute de mieux, spent half-a-crown at the book stall at Euston. He recognised me; and it was my fault, and not his, that I saw no more of him till 1857, by which time, no doubt, he had forgotten me. Still our conversation in 1852 about America, and especially as to slavery, and the probability of a separation of North and South, will always dwell in my memory. Lord Lincoln had studied De Tocqueville; but he had not, yet, seen America. He had, therefore, at that time many erroneous views, which could only be corrected by the actual and personal opportunity of seeing and measuring, on the spot, the country, which always really means the people. This opportunity was given to him by the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the United States, in 1860. He accompanied the Prince in his capacity of Colonial Minister.

These casual glimpses of Lord Lincoln were followed by an interview between us in 1857. In the meantime, it is true, he had had my name brought before him during his term of office pending the Crimean War Some one had suggested to the Government to send me out to the Crimea to take charge of the Stores Department, at a time when all was confusion and mess, out there, and I was asked to call on the Minister about it. It seemed to me, however, a duty impossible of execution by a civilian, unless the condition of "full powers" were conceded,-and the matter came to nothing.

In 1856 I was the Manager of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. In that year a reckless engine, travelling between Shireoaks and Worksop, threw out some sparks, which set fire to the underwood of one of the Duke's plantations-for he was then Duke-and he wrote to the Chairman of the Railway, the then Earl of Yarborough, in what appeared to me a very haughty manner. I therefore felt bound to defend my chief, and I took up the quarrel. In a note addressed from the Library of the House of Commons, I asked for an interview, which was somewhat stiffly granted. This was the note which led to our interview:-

"CLUMBER, "1 Decr. 1856.


"Instead of placing the enclosed extraordinary production in the hands of my Solicitor, I think it best, in the first instance, to send it to you as Chairman of the M. S. & L. Railway, because I cannot believe that either its tone or its substance can have been authorized by the Directors.

"I am sorry to say this is not the first piece of impertinence which I have had to complain of in reference to the damage done to my woods by the engines of the Company, and neither Mr. Foljambe nor I have had any encouragement to treat the matter in the amicable spirit which we were anxious to evince.

"The demands now made by the aggressors upon the party aggrieved is simply preposterous, and, of course, will be treated as it deserves. We shall next have the Company, or rather, as I hope and believe, the Company's Solicitors, demanding us to cut all our corn within 100 yards of the line before it becomes ripe, and consequently inflammable.

"Your Solicitor knows perfectly well that the Company is by law liable for damage done to woods; and, moreover, that such damage is preventible by proper care on the part of its servants.

"I think the Directors ought to order their Solicitor to write to me and others, to whom so impertinent a letter has been addressed, and beg to withdraw it, with an apology for having sent it.

"I am sorry to trouble you with this matter, because I feel that you ought not to be troubled with business in your present state of health; but as you are still the Chairman, I could not with propriety write to any other person.

"I am, my dear Yarborough,

"Yours very sincerely,



Accordingly, I went to the mansion in Portman Square. I waited some time; but at last in stalked the Duke, looking very awful indeed-so stern and severe-that I could not help smiling, and saying-"The burnt coppice, your Grace." Upon this he laughed, held out his hand, placed me beside him, and we had a very long discussion, not about the fire, but about the colliery he, then, was sinking-against the advice of many of his friends in Sheffield-at Shireoaks; and when he had done with that, we talked, once more, about Canada, the United States, and the Colonies generally.

After this date, I had to see the Duke on business, more and more frequently. The year after the Duke's return from Canada, in 1861, he happened to read an article I had written in a London paper, hereafter given, about opening up the Northern Continent of America by a Railway across to the Pacific, and he spoke of it as embodying the views which he had before expressed, as his own.

In 1854 Mr. Glyn and Mr. Thomas Baring had urged me to undertake a mission to Canada on the business of the Grand Trunk Railway, which mission I had been compelled to decline; and when, in 1860-1, the affairs of that undertaking became dreadfully entangled, the Committee of Shareholders, who reported upon its affairs, invited me to accept the post of "Superintending Commissioner," with full powers. They desired me to take charge of such legislative and other measures as might retrieve the Company's disasters, so far as that might be possible. Before complying with this proposal, I consulted the Duke, and it was mainly under the influence of his warm concurrence that I accepted the mission offered to me. I accepted it in the hope of being able, not merely to serve the objects of the Shareholders of the Grand Trunk, but that at the same time I might be somewhat useful in aiding those measures of physical union contemplated when the Grand Trunk Railway was projected, and which must precede any confederation of interests, such as that happily crowned in 1867 by the creation of the "Dominion of Canada."

I find that my general views were, some time before, epitomized in the following letter. It is true that Mr. Baring, then President of the Grand Trunk, did not, at first, accept my views; but he and Mr. Glyn (the late Lord Wolverton) co-operated afterwards in all ways in the direction those views indicated.

"NORTHENDEN, "13_th November_, 1860.

"Some years ago Mr. Glyn (I think with the assent of Mr. Baring) proposed to me to go out to Canada to conduct a negotiation with the Colonial Government in reference to the Grand Trunk Railway. I was compelled then, from pressure of other business, to refuse what at that time would have been, to me, a very agreeable mission. Since then, I have grown older, and somewhat richer; and not being dependent upon the labour of the day, I should be very chary of increasing the somewhat heavy load of responsibility and anxiety which I still have to bear. It is doubtful, therefore, whether I could bring my mind to undertake so arduous, exceptional-perhaps even doubtful-an engagement as that of the 'restoration to life' of the Grand Trunk Railway.

"This line, both as regards its length, the character of its works, and its alliances with third parties, is both too extensive, and too expensive, for the Canada of to-day; and left, as it is, dependent mainly upon the development of population and industry on its own line, and upon the increase of the traffic of the west, it cannot be expected, for years to come, to emancipate itself thoroughly from the load of obligations connected with it.

"Again, the Colonial Government having really, in spite of all the jobbery and political capital alleged to have been perpetrated and made in connexion with this concern, made great sacrifices in its behalf, is not likely, having got the Railway planted on i

ts own soil, to be ready to give much more assistance to this same undertaking.

"That the discipline and traffic of the line could be easily put upon a sound basis, that that traffic could be vigorously developed, that the expenses, except always those of repair and renewal, could be kept down, and that friendly, and perhaps improving and more beneficial, arrangements could be made with the local government-is matter, to me, of little doubt. Any man thoroughly versed in railways and quite up to business, and especially accustomed to the management of men and the conduct of serious negotiation, could easily accomplish this. But after all, unless I am very much deceived, all this will be insufficient, for many years to come, to satisfy the Shareholders; and I should not advise Mr. Glyn or Mr. Baring to tie their reputations to any man, however able or experienced, if it involved a sort of moral guarantee that the result of his appointment should be any very sudden improvement, of a character likely much to raise the value of the property in the market, which unfortunately is what the Shareholders very naturally look at, as the test of everything.

"To work the Grand Trunk as a gradually improving property would, I repeat, be easy; but to work it so as to produce a great success in a few years can only, in my opinion, be done in one way. That way, to many, would be chimerical; to some, incomprehensible; and possibly I may be looked upon myself as somewhat visionary for even suggesting it. That way, however, to my mind, lies through the extension of railway communication to the Pacific.

"Try for one moment to realize China opened to British commerce: Japan also opened: the new gold fields in our own territory on the extreme west, and California, also within reach: India, our Australian Colonies-all our eastern Empire, in fact, material and moral, and dependent (as at present it too much is) upon an overland communication, through a foreign state.

"Try to realize, again, assuming physical obstacles overcome, a main through Railway, of which the first thousand miles belong to the Grand Trunk Company, from the shores of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific, made just within-as regards the north-western and unexplored district -the corn-growing latitude. The result to this Empire would be beyond calculation; it would be something, in fact, to distinguish the age itself; and the doing of it would make the fortune of the Grand Trunk.

"Assuming also, again I say, that physical obstacles can be overcome, is not the time opportune for making a start? The Prince is just coming home full of glowing notions of the vast territories he has seen: the Duke of Newcastle has been with him-and he is Colonial Minister: there is jealousy and uncertainty on all questions relating to the east, coincident with an enormous development of our eastern relations, making people all anxious, if they could, to get another way across to the Pacific:-the new gold fields on the Frazer River are attracting swarms of emigrants; and the public mind generally is ripe, as it seems to me, for any grand and feasible scheme which could be laid before it.

"To undertake the Grand Trunk with the notion of gradually working out some idea of this kind for it and for Canada, throws an entirely new light upon the whole matter, and as a means to this end doubtless the Canadian Government would co-operate with the Government of this country, and would make large sacrifices for the Grand Trunk in consequence. The enterprise could only be achieved by the co-operation of the two Governments, and by associating with the Railway's enterprise some large land scheme and scheme of emigration."

The visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the Maritime Provinces, in 1860, had evoked the old feeling of loyalty to the mother country, damaged as it had been by Republican vicinity, the entire change of commercial relations brought about by free trade, and sectional conflicts. And the Duke, at once startled by the underlying hostility to Great Britain and to British institutions in the United States -which even the hospitalities of the day barely cloaked-and gratified beyond measure by the outbursts of genuine feeling on the part of the colonists, was most anxious, especially while entrusted with the portfolio of the Colonies, to strengthen and bind together all that was loyal north of the United States boundary.

Walking with Mr. Seward in the streets of Albany, after the day's shouts and ceremonies were over, Mr. Seward said to the Duke, "We really do not want to go to war with you; and we know you dare not go to war with us." To which the Duke replied, "Do not remain under such an error. There is no people under Heaven from whom we should endure so much as from yours; to whom we should make such concessions. You may, while we cannot, forget that we are largely of the same blood. But once touch us in our honour and you will very soon find the bricks of New York and Boston falling about your heads." In relating this to me the Duke added, "I startled Seward a good deal; but he put on a look of incredulity nevertheless. And I do not think they believe we should ever fight them; but we certainly should if the provocation were strong." It will be remarked that this conversation between Seward and the Duke was in 1860. That no one, then, expected a revolution from an anti-slave-state election of President. Still less did the people, of either England or the United States, dream of a divergence, consequent on such an election, to end in a struggle, first for political power, and then following, in providential order, for human freedom. A struggle culminating in the entire subjection of the South, in 1865, after four years' war-a struggle costing a million of lives, untold human misery, and a loss in money, or money's worth, of over a thousand millions sterling.

In our many conversations, I had always ventured to enforce upon the Duke that the passion for territory, for space, would be found at the bottom of all discussion with the United States. Give them territory, not their own, and for a time you would appease them, while, still, the very feast would sharpen their hunger. I reminded the Duke that General Cass had said, "I have an awful swallow ('swaller' was his pronunciation) for territory;" and all Americans have that "awful swallow." The dream of possessing a country extending from the Pole to the Isthmus of Panama, if not to Cape Horn, has been the ambition of the Great Republic-and it is a dangerous ambition for the rest of the world. We have seen its effects in all our treaties. We have always been asked for land. We gave up Michigan after the war of 1812. We gave up that noble piece, the "Aroostook" country, now part of the State of Maine, under the Ashburton Treaty in 1841. We have, again, been shuffled out of our boundary at St. Juan on the Pacific, under an arbitration which really contained its own award. The Reciprocity Treaty was put an end to, in 1866, by the United States, not because the Great West-who may govern the Union if they please-did not want it, but because the Great West was cajoled by the cunning East into believing that a restriction of intercourse between the United States and the British Provinces would, at last, force the subjects of the Queen to seek admission into the Republic. So it was, and is and will be; and the only way to prevent aggression and war was, is, and will be, to "put our foot down." Not to cherish the "peace-in-our-time" policy, or to indulge in the half-hearted language, to which I shall have hereafter to allude-but to combine and strengthen the sections of our Colonial Empire in the West-to give to their people a greater Empire still, a nobler history, and a prouder lot: a lot to last, because based upon institutions which have stood, and will stand, the test of time and trouble. Unfortunately we have had a "little England" party in our country. A Liberal Government, immediately following the Act of Confederation, took every red-coat out of the Dominion of Canada, shipped off, or sold, the very shot and shell to any one, friend or foe, who chose to buy: and the few guns and mortars Canada demanded were charged to her "in account" with the ruth of the miser. If the Duke of Newcastle had been a member of that Cabinet such a miserable policy never could have been put in force; but he was dead. I venture to think that the whole people of England, who knew of the transaction, were ashamed of it. Certainly, I saw, a few years ago, that one member of the very Cabinet which did this thing, repudiated the "little England" policy, as opposed to the best traditions of the Liberal party.

The "little England" party of the past have tried, so far in vain, to alienate these our fellow subjects. But, fortunately for the Empire, while some in the mother country have been indifferent as to whether the Provinces went or stayed, many in the Colonies have been earnest in their desire to escape annexation to the States. The feeling of these patriotic men was well described in December, 1862, by Lord Shaftesbury, at a dinner given to Messrs. Howe, Tilley, Howland and Sicotte, delegates from the Provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He said Canada addressed us in the affecting language of Ruth -"Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to refrain from following after thee"-and he asked, "Whether the world had ever seen such a spectacle as great and growing nations, for such they were, with full and unqualified power to act as they pleased, insisting on devoting their honor, strength, and substance to the support of the common mother; and not only to be called, but to be, sons." And Lord Shaftesbury asked, "Whether any imperial ruler had ever preferred," as he said Canada had, "love to dominion, and reverence to power."

Lord Shaftesbury's sentiments are, I believe, an echo of those of the "great England" party; but, I repeat, "little England" sold the shot and shell, nevertheless.

Whatever this man or that may claim to have done towards building up Confederation, I, who was in good measure behind the scenes throughout, repeat that to the late Duke of Newcastle the main credit of the measure of 1867 was due. While failing health and the Duke's premature decease left to Mr. Cardwell and Mr. W. E. Forster-and afterwards to Lord Carnarvon and the Duke of Buckingham-the completion of the work before the English Parliament, it was he who stood in the gap, and formed and moulded, with a patience and persistence admirable to behold, Cabinet opinion both in England and in the Provinces. At the same time George Etienne Cartier, John A. Macdonald, and John Ross, in Canada; Samuel L. Tilley, in New Brunswick, and, notably, Joseph Howe, in Nova Scotia, stood together for Union like a wall of brass. And these should ever be the most prominent amongst the honoured names of the authors of an Union of the Provinces under the British Crown.

The works, I repeat, to be effected were-first, the physical union of the Maritime Provinces with Canada by means of Intercolonial Railways; and, second, to get out of the way of any unification, the heavy weight and obstruction of the Hudson's Bay Company. The; latter was most difficult, for abundant reasons.

This difficult work rested mainly on my shoulders.

It may be well here to place in contrast the condition of the Provinces in 1861 and of the Confederation in 1886. In 1861 each of the five Provinces had its separate Governor, Parliament, Executive, and system of taxation. To all intents and purposes, and notwithstanding the functions of the Governor-General and the unity flowing from the control of the British Crown-these Provinces, isolated for want of the means of rapid transit, were countries as separate in every relation of business, or of the associations of life, as Belgium and Holland, or Switzerland and Italy. The associations of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were far more intimate with the United States than with Canada; and the whole Maritime Provinces regulated their tariffs, as Canada did in return, from no consideration of developing a trade with each other, or with the Canadas, between whose territory and the ocean these Provinces barred the way. Thus, isolated and divided, it could be no matter of wonder if their separate political discussions narrowed themselves into local, sectional, and selfish controversies; and if, while each possessing in their Legislature men in abundance who deserved the title of sagacious and able statesmen, brilliant orators, far-sighted men of business, their debates often reminded the stranger who listened to them of the squabbles of local town councils. Again, the Great Republic across their borders, with its obvious future, offered with open arms, and especially to the young and ambitious, a noble field, not shut in by winter or divided by separate governments. Thus the gravitation towards aggregation-which seems to be a condition of the progress of modern states-a condition to be intensified as space is diminished by modern discoveries in rapid transit-was, in the case of the Provinces, rather towards the United States than towards each other or the British Empire. Thus there were, in 1860, many causes at work to discourage the idea of Confederation. And it is by no means improbable that the occurrence of the great Civil War destroyed this tendency.

I remember an incident which occurred at a little dinner party which I gave in Montreal, in September, 1861, to the delegates who assembled there, after my visits, in response to the appeal just made to the Governments of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, on the subject of the Intercolonial Railway. It illustrates the personal isolation alluded to above. The Honorable Joseph Howe, then Premier of Nova Scotia, said, "We have been more like foreigners than fellow-subjects; you do not know us, and we do not know you. There are men in this room, who hold the destinies of this half of the Continent in their hands; and yet we never meet, unless by some chance or other, like the visit of the Prince of Wales, we are obliged to meet. I say," he added, "we have done more good by a free talk over this table, to-night, than all the Governors, general and local, could do in a year, if they did nothing' but write despatches. Oh! if you fellows would only now and then dine and drink with us fellows, we would make a great partnership directly." And the great partnership has been made, save only that Newfoundland still remains separate.

In Canada the divisions between the Upper and Lower Provinces were, in 1861, serious, and often acrimonious; for they were religious as well as political. The rapid growth of Upper Canada, overtopping that of the French-speaking and Catholic Lower Province, led to demands to upset the great settlement of 1839, and to substitute for an equal representation, such a redistribution of seats as would have followed the numerical progression of the country. "Representation by population"-shortly called "Rep. by Pop."-was the great cry of the ardent Liberal or "Grit" party, at whose head was George Brown, of the "Toronto Globe"-powerful, obstinate, Scotch, and Protestant, and with Yankee leanings. In fact, the same principles were in difference as those which evolved themselves in blood in the contest between the North and South between 1861 and 1865. The minority desired to preserve the power and independence which an equal share in parliamentary government had given them. The majority, mainly English and Scotch, and largely Protestant and Presbyterian, chafed under what they deemed to be the yoke of a non-progressive people; a people content to live in modest comfort, to follow old customs, and obey old laws; to defer to clerical authority, and to preserve their separate national identity under the secure protection of a strong Empire. Indeed, it is difficult, in 1886, to realise the heat, or to estimate the danger, of the discussion of this question; and more than one "Grit" politician, whom I could name, would be startled if we reminded him of his opinion in 1861,-that the question would be "settled by a civil war" if it "could not be settled peaceably," but that "settled it must be-and soon."

The cure for this dangerous disease was to provide, for all, a bigger country-a country large enough to breed large ideas. There is a career open in the boundless resources of a varied land for every reasonable ambition, and the young men of Canada, which possesses an excellent educational machinery, may now look forward to as noble, if not more noble, an inheritance than their Republican neighbours-an inheritance where there is room for 100,000,000 of people to live in freedom, comfort, and happiness. While progress will have its periodical checks, and periodical inflations, there is no reason to doubt that before the next century ends the "Dominion," if still part of the Empire, will-in numbers-outstrip the present population of the British Islands.

Now, in 1886, all this past antagonism of "Rep. by Pop." is forgotten. Past and gone. A vast country, rapidly augmenting in population and wealth, free from any serious sectional controversy, free, especially, from any idea of separation, bound together under one governing authority, with one tariff and one system of general taxation, has exhibited a capacity for united action, and for self-government and mutual defence, admirable to behold.

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top