A. A. Macdonald, “Transcript of Quebec Conference Minutes of 1864” (1908)

Document Information

Date: 1908
By: Andrew Archibald Macdonald
Citation: A. A. Macdonald, “Transcript of Quebec Conference Minutes of 1864” (1908).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Notes: Endnotes are from Charles Dumais, The Quebec Resolutions: Including Several Never-Published Preliminary Drafts by George Brown and John A. Macdonald, and a Collection of all Previously-Published Primary Documents Relating to the Conference (CCF, 2021).



To be observed in Conference of the Provinces of British North America


  1. That in taking the votes on all questions to be decided by this Conference, except questions of order, each Province or Colony, by whatever number of Delegates represented, shall have one vote, and that in voting, Canada be considered as two Provinces.
  2. That free and individual discussion and suggestion be allowed.
  3. That all motions and the discussions and votes thereon be in the first place as if in Committee of the Whole.
  4. That after vote put, no discussion be allowed.
  5. That each Province may retire for consultation after vote put.
  6. That after the scheme is settled in Committee of the Whole, all the resolutions be re-considered as if with Speaker in the Chair.
  7. That just before the breaking up of the Conference, the Minutes be carefully gone over and settled, with the view of determining what is to be submitted to the Imperial and Provincial Governments and what is to be published for general information.

Parliament House, Quebec,
October 10, 1864.


From notes taken at the Quebec Conference held at Quebec, on October 10, 1864. [by A.A. Macdonald]

Monday, October 10th, 1864

On the assemblage of the delegates from all provinces at the Parliament building in Quebec, there were present besides the ministers of the two Upper Provinces: seven delegates from New Brunswick, five from Nova Scotia, seven from Prince Edward Island, and two from Newfoundland.

 It was moved by Colonel Gray, who had been Chairman of the Conference at Charlottetown and seconded by Mr. Tilley that Sir. E. P. Taché should be Chairman and carried unanimously.

Hon. Dr. Tupper then moved that Hon. W.H. Pope, delegate from P. E. I., be appointed secretary which was agreed to. After some discussion as to mode of procedure it was decided that besides the secretary for the whole convention an additional secretary should be appointed for each Province. A certified list of the delegates representing each province was handed in and tabled.

Sir. E. P. Taché, Chairman then addressed the delegates and welcomed them to Quebec. He said that the object of the Conference was to do away with some of the internal hindrances to trade, and to unite the Provinces for mutual defence. Without unity of action and comity of sentiment a great country could not expect to exist. The majority of the people believe if their rights and privileges are left to the local legislatures they will be safe in the liberties guaranteed to them and ratified by solemn treaties even if we do not come to an understanding on the subject of confederation. He hoped that this meeting of the leading statesmen of the British Provinces who are here assembled may be productive of an amount of good that will be beneficial in the highest degree to all the Provinces.

A lengthy discussion followed as to the means of voting on such questions as were to be considered:

  • Were…


… the delegates to vote individually, or should the votes be given by Provinces;

  • should each Province have the same status whether large or small in deciding a question respecting which there were different views;
  • Were the members of the Conference to first express their opinions in the general meeting;
  • Were the senior members to explain what had been already done;

The discussion of these preliminaries having taken up some time. It was finally agreed that:

  • Each Province should have one vote.
  • That free discussion should be allowed.
  • That the delegates from each Province might retire to discuss among themselves any question before voting etc., etc.

It was also decided that the Conference should meet at 11 o’clock a.m. daily and sit continuously until 4 p.m. (fifteen minutes being allowed for a light lunch in the room adjoining.)

Hon. G.-E. Cartier: Then gave an exposition of the first delegation to Charlottetown and what followed until the Conference had reassembled now at Quebec. He said: We thought if the Legislatures of the different Provinces were brought together they would legislate more for the general advantage. The United Provinces have about four and half millions of inhabitants we have therefore the personal element which is essential. Then it is evident that no nation can attain great power without the Maritime element. We must have commercial intercourse with Europe during more than six months of the year. You who live down by the sea have seaports open all the year round and it is better that you should have the benefit of our trade than that a foreign power should have it. We thought that a Federation scheme was the best because these provinces are peopled by different nations and by peoples of different religions. There is the question of a Tariff for the United Provinces. The regulation of postal communication and rates of postage, national works which might be brought before the general…


government without detriment and without offending any party or interest. We have now Customs and Tariffs in the different Provinces all now differing from each other each Province looking out only for its own interest. As to defence we all know the position England has assumed towards us. Separated as we are we can not defend ourselves. Cobden and Bright say what is the use of sending an army to defend Prince Edward Island. It would be a great question if England would send an army or bring the power of Britain to defend any province from invasion. When we bring the country all together all our means would be united to repel an enemy. We would also have the seamen and we would have about 60,000 of them on the St. Lawrence. The position that England has taken now shows that we must be under one system of Government. Our financial interests also demand that we should be united. We all desire that these provinces should be as great as possible. There is always something better to be done something greater to be attained. I would never advocate this Union if I thought we would not thereby perpetrate the power of Queen Victoria in this Province.

Colonel Gray, P. E. I. said: When I spoke of establishing a nationality I only referred to what has been the dream of my life to be one day a citizen of a great nation extending from the Great West to the Atlantic seaboard. He sincerely hoped that the delegates from all the provinces would unite to accomplish this great work. Prince Edward Island was but a small province but it could be to the other Provinces all that the little state of Rhode Island was to the great American union, etc.

Hon. Mr. Carter, Newfoundland. Spoke in favor of the general principal of Federation and its bearing on Newfoundland which was a Commercial Colony possessed of immense wealth in its Fisheries. Many people had made fortunes there and retired to Britain to spend them. He looked to…


Federation as opening up a wide field for enterprise in this Continent and it might be the means of inducing such persons to live here instead of retiring to the old country to spend their fortunes. The debt of the Colony was only £200,000, while the exports are in excess of the imports. The Provincial debentures bearing 5 per cent command a premium. We can supply your navy with seamen for we have a hardy race inured to the dangers of the deep and ready to defend the country when they are required to do so. Our province is larger than either England, Ireland or Scotland and comprises 40,000 square miles.

While I am a member of the administration my co-delegate is a member of the opposition in that Colony but our interests are alike in desiring to do all we can to benefit the Province we come from.

Hon. Mr. Shea, Newfoundland, agreed with Mr. Carter as to the favourable consideration which should be given to the proposed measure. We have the strongest feelings in favor of Confederation and as Newfoundland stands as the key to the Atlantic it is the interest of Canada that we should not be taken hold of by any foreign power. We stand at the entrance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the power which holds the Colony would control the trade of the Gulf by both entrances. Our fisheries employ 30,000 men a hardy and industrious class of men unsurpassed for daring and energy by any other seamen in the world. We have 350 vessels engaged in the seal fishery alone with 14,000 men.

Our imports are about six millions and our exports exceed our imports by nearly a million dollars annually. Our Revenue per head is larger than that of any of the other provinces. Our debt does not amount to more than $900,000. We can raise all the money we want at 4 ½ per cent. Our financial position is better I believe than that of the States of the American Union. A very small portion of our imports come from Canada while a very considerable…


portion come from the United States. Our people have no facilities for trade with Canada, they had to go to the United States. It took a month for a reply to be received to a letter addressed to Canada and the postage was double what it was between Canada and Britain. We looked to Confederation to remedy this state of affairs. We have what Canada requires and we want the class of goods that Canada can supply. We must have steam packets plying regularly between Canada and the Colony and then trade would soon follow that channel.

Hon. Mr. Galt referred to the observations of previous speakers at some length and the benefits which would be conferred upon all the provinces by a uniformity of tariffs, postage, banking, currency, etc, and gave a number of statistics bearing on the subject. The Intercolonial Railway would be the great highway between the Canadas and the Maritime Provinces, if the Union could be accomplished and the road completed. It would be the bond of Union between the East and the West………. [Note [1]] The debt of Canada was somewhat less per head than that of New Brunswick. In Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island the case is different. It is not so much what the debt of a colony is as what the expenditure is per head of the population. Provision must be made for the Local Governments. All the revenue from custom and excise would go to the general government. The expense of the local government would be lessened by the works they have now to provide for being lessened. In Canada it was thought the General Government could contribute towards the wants of the local Governments. The debts and taxation of the Provinces offered no material objection in our view. Many of us are of opinion that direct taxation is what is best but we must not insist on our individual opinions.

Mr. Mitchell, I believe it is desirable as a means of perpetuating British rule in these Colonies. We want a general system of currency and Post office arrangements. We want restrictions…


of trade removed and that we may be united and act with one mind for the defence of our rights. I hope that no peddling policy will be adopted.

Hon. Mr. Coles We must not expect that Prince Edward Island will come into a confederation to be taxed three dollars per head instead of one dollar as at present. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland have the Crown lands and other Revenues which we do not possess in our province. If Prince Edward Island was to give up her excise and customs she would have no revenues left which to carry on the business of the province.

Hon. Mr. Haviland: We are here to throw away our party views and to look on the questions before us in a broader spirit. As a British American I will go heart and soul for a Federal Union of all the Colonies.

[Hon.] Mr. Pope: When the proper time arrives to do so I will show how Prince Edward Island will be effected by withdrawing her general revenues.

[Hon.] Mr. McCully spoke at some length but chiefly as to opinions on Legislative Union which he stated were prevalent in his Province.

Hon. Dr. Tupper thought we should have a fuller exposition from the Canadian Ministry of what was intended at the present time. If it can be shown that the difficulties can be removed I shall be pleased, as it will elevate our Status, improve our social position and enable us to occupy a higher place in the national family……… [Note [2]]

Hon. John A. Macdonald: We all meet here for the purpose of discussing the general principles of a Federal Constitution, leaving it thus open to all parties to express their views freely. Unless the details can be made satisfactory the whole thing must break down.


[Hon.] Mr. Dickie: The question must depend on what the details are to be and it should be more discussed before we give our vote one way to the other.

[Hon.] Mr. Brown thought it inexpedient to have a general debate on one resolution and then afterwards the same to be again gone over.

[Hon.] Dr. Tupper stated the purport of the former Conference at which owning to the statements of gentlemen from Canada it was decided not to report finally until it was known what had been done at the present Conference………… [Note [3]]

After some further discussion it was decided to adjourn until tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Tuesday, October 11th, 1864

Conference opened at 11 a.m.

It was resolved after debate that Mr. H. Bernard should be appointed Executive Secretary to the Conference to keep a record of the official decisions of the Conference.

It was also decided after debate that each Province by whatever number of delegates it was represented should have one vote in deciding all questions except those of order.

  • Free discussion to be allowed;
  • Conference to be in committee of the whole;
  • No discussion allowed after vote taken;
  • Each Province delegation may retire for consultation;
  • Afterwards all resolutions to be with speaker in chair;
  • at close of Conference decision as to publication.

Conference then resumed the consideration of motion in favour of Federal Union as per Resolution and,

Hon. John. A. McDonald said: As we can’t have the same scale of duty throughout…


the various provinces, we must continue with hostile tariffs unless we have the Union which is the only alternative. How is this to be done? Now as to the Constitution of the Legislatures we should have two Chambers, an upper and a lower house. In the upper house equality in numbers should be the basis. In the lower house population should be the basis. Upper Canada had at last census 1,400,000, now it has 1,600,000. Lower Canada had then more than 1,000,000, now 1,200,000. Nova Scotia say 350,000. New Brunswick 260,000. Newfoundland 125,000. Prince Edward Island 85,000. Upper Canada would be taken as one division say with 60 members. Lower Canada 60 members and Acadia and Maritime 20 each.

– The mode of appointment to the Upper House –

Many are in favour of Election and many are in favour of appointment by the crown. My own opinion will be made up on having arguments on both sides of the question as my mind is open on the subject. I may say however that I am favourable to appointments by the Crown. I am after experience in both systems in favour of returning to the old system of nomination by the crown. It is asking too much to require the members of the upper house of each province to extinguish themselves. We have 72 members in the Upper House, 48 elected and balance nominated by the Crown. If a ballot were taken for 20 in the old house to represent in the new house it might answer, or the new house might be elected from the old Upper house. There should be a large property qualification for the Upper house which is then the representative of property. It should be an independent body as far as property goes. First election to be made by the present constituency and afterwards qualification of Electors to be fixed by the general parliament. We must have a strong Central Government with all authority except what is given to the local governments in each Province to avoid the errors of the American Constitution.


Hon. Mr. Dickie enquired what authority we have from the British Government to agitate this question. May we not have those advantages we look for without legislation and administrative arrangements… referred to flour trade.. Taxation in Canada is here on roads and bridges and also for education. There is also Municipal taxation besides the general tax; therefore such a measure must increase taxation very materially in the Maritime Provinces and if Municipal taxes are not included in the Canadian statement it must make taxes more than they really appear to be.

Despatch of 6th July 1862 was read in reply to Mr. Dickie’s question.

Hon. Mr. Galt replied at some length:

There is no doubt but what the free trade between the Provinces might be extended, even as we are, but it could not be done so effectually. I think it necessary to give certain amounts from the general revenue to local wants.

Hon. Mr. McCully addressed the conference in a long speech but his remarks very general.

Hon. Mr. Brown said he differed in many details which he would discuss in other resolutions when they came up. The first resolution was then unanimously agreed to. The second resolution in favor of Federation of the Provinces with general Government and local Government for each of the Canada’s and for the Maritime Provinces in local matters, with provision of admission of N.W.T., B. C. and Vancouver, then submitted by Hon. Mr. Brown who said that the British Government have offered the North West Country to Canada already and that we should open roads into that Country, etc. etc., etc.

Hon. Mr. Archibald approved of the general principles of allowing the increase of territory as contemplated in the resolution… A good deal of general discussion followed when four o’clock having arrived the Conference adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 12th, 1864

Conference assembled at 11 a.m.

A number of communications addressed to the Conference by various societies and individuals inviting the Conference to visit public institutions, etc., and also from the press for reports of the proceedings were read and the minutes of previous meetings were agreed to.

A discussion relative to inviting the Western Territory and British Columbia to unite with the Conference then ensued, and thereupon and owning to other circumstances connected with the delegation, the Canadians adjourned to hold an Executive Council meeting. The delegates from the Maritime Provinces remained and discussed a resolution submitted by Hon. George Brown, that the Lower Provinces be admitted as one, and Upper and Lower Canada as one each.

After considerable debate all the delegates from the Lower Provinces disagreed to this resolution.

Conference adjourned till 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13th, 1864

 Conference met pursuant to adjournment. Minutes of previous meeting adopted.

 Hon. Mr. Brown agreed to withdraw his resolution of the previous day.

Hon. Mr. John A. Macdonald then read several resolutions which the Canadians had prepared to submit as to the Constitution of the Legislature, viz.,

That the Legislative Council consists of 72 members, 24 from Upper Canada, 24 from Lower Canada and 24 from Lower Provinces, to be chosen from the present Councils and appointed by the Crown under great seal of Executive Government and to be for life. Executive Government to be responsible. Local Governments to consist of two branches. The Lieutenant Governor to be appointed under great seal of General Government.


…Mr. Macdonald explained these resolutions in his address to the Conference, and then,

Hon. Mr. Fisher moved that the General and Local Governments shall be formed on the model of the British Constitution as far as possible. A long discussion then ensued as to the propriety of passing such a resolution, which, after several amendments were proposed, resulted in the adoption of the amendment of Mr. Tilley that the word “Local” be struck out of Mr. Fisher’s resolution which was then agreed to as amended.

Hon. John A. Macdonald moved that there be a general Government consisting of a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly. 2nd. That the Council consists of 72 members, 24 for each of the Canada’s and 24 each and the Lower Provinces. A lengthy discussion followed this point and Mr. Tilley moved that the Canada’s have 24 each and the Lower Provinces 32 members or a House of 80 members, and in his remarks stated that these would be appointed, 12 to Nova Scotia, 10 to New Brunswick, 6 to Newfoundland and four to Prince Edward Island. Many of the delegates spoke on this subject and the hour of 4 o’clock ensuing the Conference was adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Friday, October 14th, 1864

Conference met at 11 a.m. and resumed the consideration of the motion respecting Legislative Council.

The members from the Lower Provinces strongly urged their contention for a larger relative representation which the Canadians opposed. Many of the members of the Conference took part in the discussion of this question and many amendments were offered. The Maritime delegates contended that population should not decide the numbers in the Federal Legislative Council. Each Province had its own Constitution under which the smaller Provinces had the same powers as the larger ones and could thus with reason claim the right to a…


fuller quota in the Council than proposed by the Canadians. The only safeguard the small Provinces would possess was in the Council. If numbers in the other House were based on population they should not also decide the representation which the weaker Provinces were to receive in the Upper Chamber, etc., etc.

At 4 o’clock Conference adjourned till 11 A.M. tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 1864.

Conference resumed.

It was resolved that on and after Monday the 21st inst., Conference meet at 10 a.m. and sit till 2 p.m. Meet again at 7:30 p.m. and sit as late as desirable.

The further consideration of representation in the Legislative Council was resumed and the general subject of Federation was discussed in connection with this resolution. The delegates from Prince Edward Island were not satisfied with the number of representatives proposed for their Province.

Hon. Mr. Langevin claimed that Quebec should have an equal number with Upper Canada but did not appear to urge a smaller number than Mr. Tilley proposed for the Lower Provinces.

Note: I think that Hon. Mr. Brown contended for a larger number for Ontario than for Quebec.

Nearly all of the delegates expressed their views at some length but no other notes were taken by the writer of their speeches on this day, as he was engaged in compiling statistics of P.E.I. in Dollars and Cents, and at 2.30 p.m. the Conference adjourned until 10 o’clock a.m. on Monday.

Monday, October 17, 1864.

Conference met at 10 a.m.

The resolution submitted by Mr. Brown on Tuesday last was taken up setting forth that the system of Government should be Federal with Local Governments in each Province and provision…


for admission of the North West Territories, Newfoundland, British Columbia and Vancouver, and further debate following the resolution was adopted and entered on the record.

The adjourned debate on the constitution of the Federal Legislative Council was then resumed.

Hon. A. A. MacDonald said: That he considered each Province should have equal representation in the Federal Upper house and instanced the different States of the union which however diversified in area were each represented by two Senators in the General Government. It was he thought understood at first that while the Lower house should have its number of members based on population, the Upper House should be more representative of the smaller Provinces as it was to be the guardian of their rights and privileges. Each Province now possesses a constitution of its own similar in the case of the smallest to that in the largest Province and equal rights and privileges were accorded to all alike. It was therefore a good reason why the smaller Provinces should claim better representation in the Legislative Council than the resolution provided. The Canadians make no allowance for our present condition. We are not specially desirous of changing it. What are the inducements for us to give up our Constitution! What is Canada conceding to the Lower Provinces! Canada proposes a certain number of Councillors to suit the ideas of its own people and will not admit of any deviation from that proposal. Each Province has now a fixed number of Provincial Legislative Councillors and in a general Council half the number would be a fair representation for each Province. The two Canadas have 72 Legislative Councillors. The Maritime Provinces with Newfoundland have the same number. I suggest that we take the numbers in the present Councils as our basis and allow each Province half that number in…


the Federal Legislative Council. This proposal was not entertained and further debate ensued. It was advocated by some delegates to allow the Crown to add to the number of Legislative Councillors at any future time as they might deem necessary, but this was objected to by the Prince Edward Islanders and some others as it would destroy the equilibrium established between the Provinces and would be difficult to work out satisfactorily.

The resolution that for the purpose of forming a Legislative Council the Federated Provinces shall be considered as consisting of three divisions, 1st Upper Canada, 2nd Lower Canada, and 3rd Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island as the third division with equal representation from each division, was then submitted to vote, and carried; Prince Edward Island delegates dissentient. The resolution fixing the number of Legislative Councillors at 24 for each division was then submitted to vote.

The Hon. Dr. Tupper proposed 24 for each of the Canadas, 10 for Nova Scotia, 9 for New Brunswick and 5 each for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. This after debate was withdrawn.

Hon. Mr. Coles proposed 20 each for the two Canadas, 8 each for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and 4 each for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The after debate was also withdrawn.

Hon. A. A. MacDonald proposed that half the present number in each Province constitute the number in the Federal Legislative Council. The resolution was also withdrawn.

The question on the main motion was then put and Prince Edward Island having retired and consulted decided against it by a majority. The Chairman for P.E.I. announced that decision, and all other Provinces having voted for the resolution it was declared carried.

It being now 2 o’clock Conference adjourned until…


7:30 p.m.

At 7:30 Conference again met and a resolution was moved “that the members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown under the great seal of the General Government and hold offices for life.”

Hon. John A. Macdonald, George Brown, Dr. Tupper and others spoke on his resolution but I have no notes of their addresses.

Hon. Mr. Coles moved, seconded by Hon. A. A. MacDonald “That at the first and all subsequent Elections of members to serve in the Upper House they shall be chosen by a majority of both branches of the Provincial Legislative from such qualified persons as are thirty years of age or upwards. One half of such Council to go out of every four years after the first Election, to be decided by lot in first session.”

Mr. Coles spoke in advocacy of his resolution.

Hon. A. A. MacDonald in seconding it considered that in this way only would the popular opinion of the Province be expressed whereas in appointments made by the Crown such would not be the case and the nominee of the Crown might be the most unpopular person in the Province.

At 12 midnight Conference adjourned till 10 a.m.

Tuesday, October 18th, 1864

 Conference met at 10 o’clock a.m. and resumed the adjourned debate, etc.

“That the members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown under the great seal of the General Government and hold office for life.” The Prince Edward Island delegates withdrew and consulted as to their action. The question was asked: Shall appointment be open to all persons? and on a vote being taken, 5 voted nay, 1 voted yea. It was then asked: Shall appointments be made from present Councillors as far as qualified? Ans. No, by majority, only one voting yea.

On returning to the Conference Chamber the question was put on the main motion and it was carried unanimously…


by Provinces (although individual members in all Provinces did not agree).

The qualifications necessary for eligibility to serve as Legislative Councillors was then considered, and it was proposed to select them by lot from the present Legislative Councils except in Prince Edward Island, this proposition was defeated. It was then proposed to select the Legislative Councillors with due regard to local parties, to be appointed by the General Executive Government on recommendation of the local Executive from present Legislative except as regards Prince Edward Island, this was also lost.

It was proposed that the first selection be made from duly qualified members of the Legislative Council in Canada but in the other provinces to be opened to all who possess the requisite qualifications whether now members of the Legislative Council or not, this was withdrawn.

It was then proposed to select the Legislative Council with due regard to local parties, appointments to be made by the Federal Executive on recommendation of the Local Executive from present Legislative Councils.

At 11.30 the motion for adjournment was carried.

Wednesday, October 19th, 1864

 The Conference met at 10 a.m. Wednesday Oct. 19, and consideration of the adjourned debate resumed on resolution.

That the members of the Legislative Council for the General Government shall in the first instance be selected from the Legislative Councils of the various provinces with the exception of Prince Edward Island, so far as qualified, and debate ensuing the Prince Edward Island delegation retired to consult and on a vote of that province being taken a majority was against the resolution, which was adopted by the vote by provinces in the General Conference.


The resolution that the first Council in the Federal Legislative shall be appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Local Governments with due regard to claims of the opposition was then proposed and after long debate it was adopted.

Hon. Peter Mitchell being called away on his private business got leave of absence for the remainder of the Conference. Conference adjourned at 2 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Conference resumed at 7:30 p.m. Resolution that the basis of representation in the House of Commons shall be population and 194 members viz., Upper Canada, 82, Lower Canada 65, Nova Scotia 19, New Brunswick 15, Newfoundland 8, Prince Edward Island 5, was then put. Debate thereon continued until 10 o’clock when the motion for adjournment was carried for 10 o’clock tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20th, 1864

 Conference met at 10 a.m. Several resolutions respecting sessions of Legislatures and the powers thereof were submitted. Also resolution respecting mode of appointment of Lieutenant Governors and the duration of their holding office led to lengthy debate before they were finally adopted by the Conference.

Note: Major Bernard the Executive Secretary of the Conference has given a fuller and better report of this day’s debates than could be made out from my notes, so I have taken his report for the 20th.

18086-18087[Note [4]]


Friday, October 21, 1864

10 a.m. Financial resolutions from No. 1 to No. 9 on the minutes were discussed by the leading members of the Conference which continued in session without adjournment until 5 o’clock p.m., when the Chamber being required for other purposes the Conference adjourned.

A number of resolutions besides those above mentioned were discussed and several changes made in the original drafts of some of them. There was a very general debate in which the leaders chiefly took part.

Many questions and explanations were required by the other members, and all relating to finance were replied to by Hon. Mr. Galt who has all information on that point in his head and does not often require to refer to the printed statistics, but I have no other notes of the day’s debate, as I was engaged in making up a number of statistical tables along with Hon. Mr. Pope. Conference adjourned until 10 a.m.

Saturday, October 22nd, 1864

Conference reassembled at noon and,

 Hon. Mr. Galt said: It is desirable that all the Provinces should enter the Federation with the same liabilities, and secondly that all should be admitted on just principles so that no claim can hereafter be advanced on account of claims now existing. He then read the resolutions respecting financial arrangements with the Provinces and stated the reasons at length of such an arrangement. He stated that $80,000,000 was the present gross debt of all the Provinces, $25 per head is the aggregate of the debt as nearly as possible. The debt of Canada on the 1st of January last was $65,000,000 = Miscellaneous $64,000, Common School debentures $1,181,000, Indian fund $1,600,000, Capitalization payable to seignorial tenures $2,900,000, Municipal $600,000, Jesuits, etc. in all $4,000,000, Total $75,578,000 is the debt of Canada. Credits on Sinking fund $4,883,000, Common School fund $1,200,000, Cash $2,848,000, Net Liabilities $68,445,953 on 1st of January last. Three fourths of this debt has been…


incurred for public improvements tending to conduct trade from the great west in this direction, 1st by Canals, 2ndly by railways. We have expended 24,908,000 for canals, $29, 302,000 for Railways, about $15,000,000 in the Grand Trunk line is deferred until it realized a certain rate of interest. Great Western Railway $2,500,000, a reference claim of $1,000,000 comes in before us, but it is now paying interest on the Railway debt, Northern Railway $2,300,000, Municipal Loan funds about $9,000,000.

The liabilities of Nova Scotia about $5,000,000
” ” “ New Brunswick 5,700,000
” ” “ Newfoundland 1,000,000
” ” “ Prince Edward Island 250,000
” ” “ Canada 68,445,950
Making a total indebtedness of $80,395,950

$25 per head will represent $63,500,000 for Canada while the debt is $69,000,000. In New Brunswick it will about represent the same proportion; in Nova Scotia also. In Newfoundland the debt is about $8 per head, they will be charged with interest on that and will receive credit for $25 per head. The debt of Prince Edward Island is $3 per head, consequently it will benefit by $22 per head as a subsidy. It is plain the Local Governments cannot exist without a subvention from the General Government, or resorting to direct taxation, a subvention is the best means. The General Government must desire to make the charges for Local Government as light as possible while the local Governments would have an opposite interest. I trust whatever the amount of the subvention may be that it will not be changed hereafter. It should be definitely settled now and not doubled when the population of any Province of any Province doubles.

Hon. Mr. Tilley stated the objections he held against Mr. Galt’s scheme. The Federal Government would take all the public property and proposed and nothing in return for this. Our Railway…


now pays one and a half per cent on the cost of the road or $60,000 over working expenses, wear and tear. Mr. Galt proposed to take this from us and allow us nothing in return. A large part of Canada’s debt arises from interest on its railway debts. I should like to know what the value of your railway debt would be after paying preference bonds. The Great-Western Railway is the only one I look upon as a valuable asset, as it pays the Interest or part of it on its indebtedness. Suppose we construct the line between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick a part of the Intercolonial, will the receipts from it go into the general Revenue and are we to have no benefit from them?

Hon. Mr. Galt: I admit that the question of what future liabilities you incur is one of great importance that we should consider. The whole of the public works are given to the Confederation, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Hon. Messrs. Tilley & Brown, Tilley & Galt discussed this question at length…

Hon. Dr. Tupper said that $20,000,000 of Canada’s debt in the Grand Trunk line is not represented by any assets paid into the public Treasury, while Nova Scotia’s Railways could be sold tomorrow for fifty per cent of cost, etc., etc., etc. Dr. Tupper continued his criticism of the financial aspects of the Lower Provinces and the position they would find themselves in if such proposals were adopted. He spoke at considerable length but the writer had no opportunity to note his remarks, as the other Island delegates had requested him to get up certain statistics respecting their Province, and to convert the Island currency as given in the official returns, which gave only the Island currency, into Dollars and Cents, Canadian currency.

The debate on the forgoing questions was continued by…


Messrs. Galt, Tilley, Archibald, Tupper, McCully, Coles, Chandler, Steeves, Dickey, Henry and nearly all the members of the Conference took part in it. The debate continued until 10 o’clock when the Conference adjourned until Monday, the 24th at 10 a.m., when being met a length discussion followed chiefly on the financial resolutions, for report of some of the speeches I again refer to Major Bernard’s report as given in Appendix vi page 352, Pope’s Sir John Macdonald, a copy hereto annexed.

18091-18095[Note [5]]


Tuesday, October 25th, 1864.

The financial arrangements still formed the chief subject of discussion. Several sets of resolutions on other subjects were submitted and agreed to chiefly those referring to the jurisdiction of the local and general legislatures, the judiciary, etc.

On consideration of the subject of Education it was moved by Hon. Darcy McGee and seconded by Hon. A. A. McDonald.

That it be resolved that all rights and privileges which any denomination now possesses in respect to denominational schools or in educational matters shall be preserved to them by the constitution and shall not be abridged by Legislation.

Note that this may not be the literal wording of the resolution, but such is its import. My note on it being an imperfect draft. This resolution was unanimously adopted.

Conference adjourned until 10 a.m. on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, October 26th, 1864.

Conference met at 10 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Pope submitted a statement of the position in which Prince Edward Island would stand in the financial arrangement proposed if it entered Confederation on those terms, and nearly every member of the Island delegation spoke on this question showing that it was impossible for the Government to be carried on there with such limited income.

Hon. Mr. Coles moved seconded by Hon. A. A. MacDonald, whereas the question of Land tenures in Prince Edward Island is the cause of great discontent and the source of much agitation, and in order to settle the same it is necessary that the lands held by Absentee proprietors should be purchased at a reasonable rate by Government and resold to the tenants and whereas Prince Edward Island has no Crown lands, mines or minerals from which money can be realized to purchase the said propriety lands and it is requisite for the prosperity of the Island that the said land question should…


be settled. Resolved therefore that a sum equal to the interests of the amount necessary to purchase the said lands be paid annually to Prince Edward Island in consideration of this question.

Hon. Mr. Coles in support of his resolution as to the present state of the land question and what the local Government had done in its efforts to have the lands tenures settled. He referred to the general benefits such a measure would have and its effect upon the views of the people on the subject of Confederation.

Hon. A. A. MacDonald said that the only advantage he could see that would accrue to the people of his Province under the proposed Confederation would be to have the lands purchased by the Government. This the local Government might accomplish through time without entering into Confederation but it must take many years to do it. Even if the lands were to be purchased by the general Government and handed over to the local Government to be disposed of to the tenants the funds arising from the sale would not constitute a permanent source of revenue. They would be all disposed of in a few years and the money would be expended for local improvements owing to the necessities of the Province while we would be taxed as much per head as we now pay and have besides to pay our proportion of the Federal taxation the same as all the other Provinces. Our local and Federal taxation would be more than we could bear. We would have to pay our portion of the railway debt without a railroad throughout our Province. It is a matter of indifference to our people whether the Intercolonial Railroad is built at all or not. Being an insular Province and entirely cut off from the mainland by the Ice for nearly half the year we need fear no foreign invasion and being but a mall Province offer no inducements to a foreign invader to make war on us while so many richer Provinces offer more prizes and lie between us and any possible foe.


We are loyal subjects of our gracious Queen and she would not see us out off from protection while we put forth our own efforts to protect our shores. It would require more liberal financial support terms than any yet proposed to induce our people to support a Federal Union if they were to form a portion of it. (He referred to the increased Tariff as compared with present local).

Hon. Mr. Galt said that the duties of Canada will be materially lessened under any circumstances and will be readjusted with reference to the position of all the Provinces and their duties after Confederation.

Conference adjourned at midnight after a number of resolutions had been passed. 

Thursday, October 27th, 1864.

 Conference met at 10 a.m.  A number of resolutions which had been under consideration at previous sessions were adopted this morning and the whole read over. Most of the delegates left early. I was the only Islander at the Conference during these formal proceedings. It was decided to have the resolutions of the Conference printed and submitted to the delegates at Montreal to be authenticated by their signatures and the Conference then adjourned to meet at Montreal tomorrow.

Saturday, October 29th, 1864.

A brief session was held at the St. Louis Hotel on October 29th but the printed report of the Conference resolutions was not ready and an adjournment was agreed upon till arrival at Ottawa.[Note [6]]

[1] This is missing in the original.
[2] Also missing in the original.
[3] Also missing in the original.
[4] On pages 18086 and 18087, A.A. Macdonald quotes verbatim Bernard’s account for the remainder of this day – beginning with Brown’s “As to local Governments…”, see Bernard’s “Report of Discussions”.
[5] For October 24th 1864, A.A. Macdonald quotes verbatim from Bernard discussion in “Report of Discussions”.
[6] Some of the delegates returned to their home province, but others traveled to parts of the Province of Canada. Unfortunately, there is no good single account of what happened after the Quebec conference closed. I have found many private correspondences between the delegates that shed light on what occurred after Quebec, but further work is needed to disentangle this period since it is so far quite different from the standard narrative account for 1864-1865. Future editions of this volume will provide a definitive clarification as to what occurred during this period of time, leading up to the “Confederation Debates” in the Province of Canada, February 1865.

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