Friday 30 June 2017

One Dominion Under the Name of Canada

Participants of the Charlottetown Conference, the first of three sessions negotiating the terms of confederation.

September 1, 1864

By George P. Roberts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This weekend we are celebrating 150 years of Canadian Confederation. On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was created by the British North America Act, which joined Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada (Quebec and Ontario). The terms of the union were negotiated at three conferences: Charlottetown in September 1864, Quebec in October 1864, and London in December 1866. The 36 delegates who attended these three conferences are known as the Fathers of Confederation.

Here in the archives, we have letters from ten of the delegates to Bishop Charbonnel and Archbishop Lynch. If you're a history nerd like we are, you'll love seeing the signatures of some of the men who created Canada!

George Brown was the publisher of The Globe newspaper, and he played a major role in Confederation. He corresponded with Archbishop Lynch on a number of matters. In the letter below, he wrote about placing a Catholic in government.

"I am, my Dear Archbishop, Faithfully Yours, Geo. Brown"

December 21, 1871

L AE12.22
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir George-Étienne Cartier was the co-premier of the United Province of Canada. He was a proponent of federated provinces, promoted railways, and was instrumental in bringing the western provinces into the Dominion. In the letter below, he wrote to Archbishop Lynch against George Brown's politics.

"The most obed. svt., Geo. Et. Cartier"

July 4, 1864

L AH09.25
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt was an entrepreneur and was a representative in the government of Canada pre- and post-confederation. In 1883 Galt invited Archbishop Lynch to his daughter's wedding.

"Believe me, my dear Archbishop, yours very sincerely, A.T. Galt."

June 25, 1883

L AE11.15
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir William Pearce Howland was a businessman and politician who attended the London Conference. He was an ally of Sir John A. Macdonald and was Minister of Internal Revenue in the first government. He wrote to Archbishop Lynch to acknowledge a letter of recommendation.

"Yours Respectfully, W.P. Howland"

December 6, 1864

L AE12.04
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Hector-Louis Langevin was a journalist and politician who advocated for French and Quebec rights in Confederation. He wrote to say that he would do what he could for Archbishop Lynch's protégé.

"I remain, My Lord, Your Lordship's Most Obedient Servant, Hector Langevin."

August 20, 1867

L AH32.171
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir John A. Macdonald was the most important figure in the history of Confederation. He served as Canada's first Prime Minister. He wrote the letter below to ask for Archbishop Lynch's support in influencing Catholic voters and to assure him of his "determination to grant equal justice to all classes and denominations."

"I remain, my dear Lord, Yours vy. faithfully, John A. Macdonald."

June 19, 1861

L AF02.01
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Thomas D'Arcy McGee was a politician and journalist who fought for minority religious rights, especially those of Catholics. In 1856 he wrote to Bishop Charbonnel to express his wishes to raise his children in Ottawa rather than New York, as he thought he would find more religious tolerance in Canada.

"I have the honor to subscribe myself, Your Lordship's Most Obedt. servant, Thos. Darcy McGee."

July 10, 1856

C AH01.01
Bishop Charbonnel Fonds

Sir Oliver Mowat was a lawyer and politician who helped shape the rights of the provinces within Confederation. As Ontario Attorney General, he wrote to Archbishop Lynch about the needs of poor immigrants.

"Yours truly, O Mowat."

January 9, 1883

L AO25.03
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché served with British forces in the War of 1812, after which he became a doctor. He became involved in politics in the 1840s and advocated for the resolutions of the Quebec Conference that became the Constitution. He wrote to Bishop Charbonnel about calculating the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto.

"J'ai l'honneur d'etre, Monseigneur, Votre Grandeur le très-humble & très-obéissant Serviteur, E.P. Taché"

December 7, 1855

C AB11.39
Bishop Charbonnel Fonds

Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley was a pharmacist, New Brunswick politician, and ardent temperance activist. He supported New Brunswick's entry into federation and likely suggested the name "Dominion of Canada." He wrote to Archbishop Lynch to thank him for his support of the temperance movement.

"I am Yours Sincerely, S.L. Tilley."

January 15, 1879

L AE12.78
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

The July 1st, 1867 federation of the four provinces was just the beginning. The United Colony of British Columbia joined in 1871, the Colony of Prince Edward Island joined in 1873 and the Dominion of Newfoundland joined in 1949. In 1870 Rupert's Land was acquired from the Hudson's Bay Company, and from that Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were created that year. In 1898 the Yukon Territory was created from part of the Northwest Territories, as were Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905. Finally, Nunavut was created in 1999.

As we celebrate 150 years of Confederation, let's thank God for keeping our land glorious and free!

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