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1837 and 1838, checked somewhat the flow that was setting in with such force, but the passage of the Union Act immediately restored confidence abroad. The introduction of the new constitution was looked to with great expectancy by the people of both provinces concerned. The chief responsibility fell upon Lord Sydenham, who was a nervous and delicate man. Pursuing a most conciliatory policy, he chose his cabinet from the moderate members of both sides of politics. The champion of the moderate liberals was Robert Baldwin, a man of high character and equable disposition, and whose name has a sweet odor in Canada even to this day. With him was associated as a moderate loyalist Mr., afterwards Chief Justice,
Draper. As a condition of support from the opposite side, Draper was pressed to declare his policy on the question of responsible government. There being only seven of the now discredited Family Compact in a house of eighty-four, Draper temporized.
Lord Sydenham survived but long enough to see the new constitution fairly at work, and passed away amid general regret. His successor lived only two years, but in 1843 came a ruler of the old oligarchic type. This was Governor Metcalfe, who had filled important posts in India and Jamaica. He derided the very theory of responsible govern
ment so dear to the Canadians. LORD SYDENHAM.*
In speaking of the restriction of
his powers, he declared his position to be no better than that of "an Indian governor compelled to rule by means of a Mahommedan ministry and a Mahommedan parliament.” Egerton Ryerson, who had been looked to as an exponent of liberty, was found among Governor Metcalfe's apologists. The governor, having previously differed with the great commoner Robert Baldwin, as to the question of responsibility, brought on a crisis in the autumn of 1843 by making an appointment without the advice of his council. The ministry at once resigned, and suitable successors were only found with difficulty. The governor, however, succeeded in keeping the favor of his superiors in London, who raised him to the peerage, but he had so evidently lost public respect in Canada that he soon after resigned and returned to Britain.
* After a plate in George Poulett Scrope's Life of Charles, Lord Sydenham, 2d ed. (London, 1854).
In the provinces by the sea a similar struggle took place. In Nova Scotia an oligarchy held sway. This was also known as the Family Compact. Against an arbitrary governor, Sir Colin Campbell, who refused to be advised by the assembly, and chose as members of the executive and legislative councils only his own creatures, popular feeling ran high. To both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, after the reception of Lord Durham's report in 1839, had been sent by Lord Russell a despatch containing the new Canadian constitution. Sir John Harvey, governor of New Brunswick, had commended it as worthy of imitation in the maritime provinces. New Brunswick, which had from the first been exclusively loyalist in opinion, rejected this suggestion.
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR JOHN HARVEY.* In Nova Scotia, Sir Colin shamelessly suppressed the despatch. A man of great influence among the people had been for three or four years rising to prominence in the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia. This was Joseph Howe, the son of a United Empire loyalist. In 1840 the Nova Scotian assembly, led by Howe, passed four resolutions upholding the doctrine of responsible government and declaring want of confidence in the executive. The stern soldiergovernor declared his advisers satisfactory to himself, and refused any avice. At length the assembly was compelled to request from Britain he governor's recall. This took place, and Viscount Falkland came as successor. Foot by foot the battle of responsibility was fought, till at length
Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as well, the same principles prevailed those which had been secured in Canada.
The general election of 1844 in Canada, on account of Lord Metcalfe's interfe
terference, resulted in a small majority being returned for the loyalist party, who now sought to adjust themselves to the new conditions. In the next *t year in the assembly came a claim, because for the first time since
rebellion the loyalists were in power. This was for losses incurred by al subjects during the rebellion. An amount of £10,000 was voted for
loyalists of Upper Canada. As was natural, from Lower Canada came asimin milar demand, as there the rebellion had been much more widespread
the destruction of property greater. In fairness this could not be sed, and yet the loyalists of Upper Canada charged that so general had
• From plate i
com plate in Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle's Newfoundland in 1842 (London, 1842). He was sucnely governor of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia.
been the rebellion in Lower Canada that it was but subsidizing the very aggressors in the troubles. At length, most unwillingly, a sum of nearly £10,000, to be met by a special fund, was granted, and this was not one twenty-fifth of the claim. Into this scene of turmoil came as governor one of the greatest administrators Canada has seen, James, Earl of Elgin, married to a daughter of Lord Durham, and of the same political school as his Lordship.
Lord Elgin was possessed with the desire to work out the great scheme proposed by his father-in-law. Completely reversing the policy followed by Lord Metcalfe, the new governor won golden opinions as a constitutional
ruler, and by his affable manner recommended himself to the people. The principle of responsible government being now fully conceded, the LafontaineBaldwin ministry was formed, and this carried out justly the settlement of the rebellion losses in Lower Canada. This gave great offence to the loyalists of Upper Canada, whose rallying cry became, “No pay to rebels !” Great excitement prevailed in Montreal, at which place the assembly was then meeting. The oppositionists, with strange inconsistency, failing in every other expedient,
signed a manifesto in favor of annexation JOSEPH HOWE.*
to the United States. The ministry,
strongly intrenched in the right, as they believed, carried the “Losses Bill.” Then ensued a scene of wild disorder. Lord Elgin's carriage was beset by ruffians as he was returning from assenting to the bill. That evening the parliament-house was sacked, the speaker's chair was occupied by one of the rabble, and in the end the public buildings were burned to the ground. Montreal has never since been the meeting place of parliament. The French-Canadians were now revenged, for the ruffians concerned in the attack were not the “new” but the "old" subjects.
A serious land question next agitated the parliament of United Canada. The settlement of Lower Canada had taken place on the basis of a modified feudal system. A noblesse descended from the old French nobility, or in a few cases ennobled in Canada, owned the land, which was divided into seigniories. For this the “habitants,” or petty farmers, paid certain dues. A system so restrictive and burdensome seems inconsistent with the genius of the new world. Accordingly it became a serious public question how the “censitaires," as the farmers were called, might be relieved. The Hincks ministry, which had proved itself unable to cope with the Clergy Reserve question, failed here also. Many in Upper Canada maintained that it was purely a question with which Lower Canada must deal, but the reply was made that the two provinces were now one, for “ better and for worse.” The loyalist coalition ministry, led by MacNab and Morin, with rare boldness grappled with the question, and by a payment of two and a half millions of dollars relieved the struggling “habitants,” and honorably compensated the seigniors. It was certain to rouse animosities among the English of Upper Canada to have so large a sum spent upon Lower Canada. Now began the cry of French domination, and the politicians urged that such large expenditures for Lower Canada could only arise from undue French influence in the cabinet and in the assembly.
* After a photograph in Fannings Taylor's British Americans, vol. i. His father was a New England loyalist, who became Postmaster General of the Lower Provinces, dying in 1835, the son having been born in Nova Scotia in 1804.
The din of political strife was interrupted by great rejoicings on the part of Canada over the Reciprocity Treaty negotiated at Washington by Lord Elgin and his able minister, Mr. Francis Hincks. This removed restrictions in trade between the two neighboring countries so far as unmanufactured products of the “soil, the forest, the mine, and the sea” were concerned. Not only was the wealth of the two countries thus increased, but the difficult question of the fisheries was, for the eleven years during which the treaty stood, solved.
The fisheries dispute between the United States and the British provinces had begun so early as the treaty of 1783, at which time the New England colonies seem to have claimed the right to fish along the coast given by that treaty to Britain. In the convention of London in 1818, following the Treaty of Ghent, the British commissioners gained the point that no American fisherman should fish within three miles of the British coast, there being a dispute, however, as to the bays along the shore. The Treaty of Reciprocity gave to the two nations free use of all watercourses, canals, and fisheries belonging to both. The lapsing of the treaty in 1865, however, opened all the old questions again, and led to a new line of policy on the part of Canada. The Reciprocity Treaty has always been held by Canada to reflect great honor on Lord Elgin.
About this time came into prominence in Canada the son of a Scottish journalist, who had come to Canada in 1843. This was George Brown, a man of stalwart proportions, immense energy, and great logical and vituperative power as a public speaker. When the union of 1841 had taken place Lower Canada had a preponderance of population, but the representation in the house was only equal to that of Upper Canada. As years rolled on, Upper Canada became the more populous. The politicians, who raised the cry of undue French influence, maintained that this should be met by giving Upper Canada increased representation, and the strong agitation grew up in favor of what was called “representation by population.” The Lower Canadians contended that when the union was formed they had not representation based on numbers, and that the case was similar with Upper
1 Cf. ante, Vol. VII.
Canada now. The defence of their rights brought to the front, as a leader of the French, an ardent and successful lawyer, George Etienne Cartier, who claimed descent from the famous discoverer of Canada. The struggle became exceedingly bitter. Mr. Brown fulminated against the French in the well-known journal, his own creation, the Toronto Globe. Upper Canada, by a double majority in the house, demanded increased representation ; Lower Canada stood upon the constitution. The French feeling,
which had lingered even
lock had come. At this STATUE OF GEORGE BROWN, AT TORONTO.* juncture an act of pathol
ism, rarely exceeded, was seen. The leaders of the opposing political parties — Mr. Brown on the one hand, and Messrs. John A. Macdonald and Cartier on the other — came to an understanding to deliver the country by a combination ministry. This was in 1864, and the country was electrified by the news, and generally overjoyed. The policy of the coalition ministry was to bring in a measure to introduce the union principle into Canada, coupled with such provision as would admit the maritime provinces and the Northwest into the union It was the grand conception of a British North America, “to be connected under a general legislature, based upon the federal principle."
* From a photograph. There is also a likeness in F. Taylor's British Americans (vol. i.).