Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Michel to the Earl of Carnarvon (12 December 1866)

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Date: 1866-12-12
By: J. Michel
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant-General J. Michel to the Earl of Carnarvon (12 December 1866) in UK, Parliament, Correspondence respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1867).
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No. 26.

COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-General Sir J. MiCHEL to the Right Hon. the Earl of CARNARVON.

(No. 6.)

Montreal, December 12, 1866.
(Received December 28, 1866.)
(Answered, No. 123, January 5, 1867, page 51.)


I HAVE the honour to transmit herewith two Memorials to your Lordship, from the Roman Catholic Bishops of Canada East and Canada West respectively.

I have, &c

(Signed) J. MICHEL.

The Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon,
&c. &c. &c.

Enclosure 1 in No.26.

To the Right Honourable the Earl of CARNARVON, Principal Secretary of State to Her Majesty
for the Colonies.


AT a time when questions upon which the future happiness and prosperity of Canada entirely depend are being discussed, and a Bill is to be introduced into the Imperial Parliament which will affect a thorough change in the constitution and government of this country, we, the undersigned bishops of Upper Canada, consider it our duty to address your Lordship, and to demand respectfully that the interests of the Catholic population of Upper Canada be carefully guarded in the constitution about to be framed for the future government of British America.

During the last session of our Canadian Legislature, a Bill was introduced by one of the members of the present Government, with a view of securing for the Protestant minority of Lower Canada certain rights and privileges in establishing and governing their schools.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of Upper and Lower Canada, being at that time assembled in Montreal, addressed to His Excellency the Governor-General a memorial, in which they declared themselves quite willing to see their Protestant fellow citizens secure in the enjoyment of the perfect freedom in educational matters. They at the same time urges the justice of granting to the minority in Upper Canada the same advantages which were demanded for the Protestant minority of Lower Canada.

This demand, so evidently just met with such violent opposition that the Government was forced to withdraw its proposed measure.

We now learn from the public papers that it is the intention of the Canadian Delegates to bring up this matter in London, and to secure for the Protestant minority of Lower Canada the rights which they sought to give them by the Bill which was introduced during the last session. We know not what it is the intention of the Delegates to do in favor of the Catholic minority in Upper Canada.

We rejoice to think that a matter of such vital importances is to be brought before a tribunal entirely free from all party feeling, where it will be carefully examined, the just claims of all dispassionately discussed, and a settlement arrived at which will giver general satisfaction.

Moreover, we are serious of expressing to your Lordship our high regard for the members of our present Government. We know that they are truly liberal, that they are free from all sectarian animosity, and sincerely desire to do justice to all. We confidently hope that they will not overlook the claims of the Catholic minority in Upper Canada, and that they will obtain for them the same rights and privileges that may be granted to the minority in Lower Canada.

Deeply impressed with the importance of this subject, we beg to leave to bring the matter before your Lordship and to request that the claims of our people may receive consideration.

The Catholics of Canada have ever been ready to concede to all perfect freedom in matters of education. The history of the Colony show that whilst zealously watching over the education of our youth, the Catholic clergy have never, in any way sought to restrict the rights of the Protestants in education of their children, But whilst we cheerfully grant to our Protestant fellow subjects this full liberty of action, we claim for ourselves the same right. We ask nothing but what we are ready and willing to give to others: at the same time we deem it our duty to declare solemnly that neither we nor the people we govern will ever be satisfied with less.

We respectfully desire to call your Lordships Attention to the absolute necessity of avoiding in the new Constitution about to be given the Province of British North America every thing that might create disaffection in the minds of the people and be a foundation for future strife and dissension. It is of the highest importance that in a country like this, where there exists such a diversity of language, nationality, and religion, everything that might give rise to divisions or endanger the peace of society should be sedulously avoided. Now we humbly beg leave to say that by no means whatsoever can lasting peace and prosperity be secured except by giving to all an equal measure of justice, and by placing all, without distinction, on terms of perfect equality But were other […] unfortunately to prevail, were odious dis-intentions to be drawer, were the minority in Lower Canada to be secured in the possession of rights which would be refused to […] minority in Upper Canada, then we might soon expect to [..] the bitter fruits of so unwise and so unjust a policy.

The Catholics of Canada, headed by their bishops and priests have always proved themselves to be loyal subjects of Her Gracious Majesty. We have ever been ready to do all in our power to strengthen the lands which unite us so happily to the British Empire and ensure to us the blessings of the British constitution. What we have […] done we shall continue to do with the same success as long as we are considered as subjects of Her Majesty and are treated as such. Buth should the dishes of some foolish and misguided men be accomplished. Should it become apparent that the Catholic in Canada is not to be put on an equal footing with his Protestant fellow subjects your Lordship must clearly see that our moral power over the feelings of our people would be greatly weakened. In not entirely destroyed, and that under such circumstance, were we even to continue to inculcate lessons of loyalty and obediences, our words would be of no avail, and all our efforts to sustain law and order would be useless.

If we have indulged in these collections it is not, we beg to assure your Lordship from any sentiments of fear or distrust. We are convinced of the fairness and justice of our demands. We place entire confidence in the noble Lord whom our beloved Queen has appointed to watch over the interests of Her subjects in this distant portion of Her vast empire. We confidently hope that the just demands which we make in the name of upwards of [..] who constitute the Catholic minority of Upper Canada will be granted: that equal privileges and equal guarantees will be given to the minorities in Upper and Lower Canada with respect to educational matters, and that peace among all class will be permanently established.

Any your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray

+ JOS, […], Bishop of Ottawa
+ JOHN […], Bishop of Hamilton.
+ ADOLPH, Bishop of Sandwich.
+ […], Bishop of Kingston
+ JOHN JOSEPH LYNCH, Bishop of Toronto

Kingston, November 8th, […]

Enclosure 2 in No. 26.

To the Right Honourable the Earl of CARNARVON, Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for
the Colonies.


The undersigned, the Roman Catholic Bishops of Lower Canada, after having attentively read the memorial addressed to your Lordship by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Upper Canada, deem it their duty to declare in the most solemn manner that they entirely […] in all the demands […] in the memorial, because they consider them to be founded on principles of common justice.

Have ever been ready to concede to all, without exception, the fullest measure of liberty in the matter of education, the undersigned feel that they have the right to demand that their people be put in possession of that same liberty and in the enjoyment of all […] that may be granted to others.

The undersigned are deeply impressed with the conviction that unless the question of education which has been an embarrassment […] and a limited source of discussions and heart burnings among the people, be now finally and permanently settled in the Imperial Government, It will still continue to cause troubles, and will produced in a non-distant future the most deplorable results.

The undersigned therefore unite with the Bishops of Upper Canada in requesting respectfully that your Lordship would give to this grave question all the attention it deserves, and that a clause he inserted in the new Constitution about to be given to these Provinces, assuring to the Catholics of Upper Canada, who for a strong minority in that portion of the Province, all the rights and privileges which may be conceded to the Protestant minority in Lower Canada.

And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray

+ C.F., Bishop of Floa, Administrator of Quebec.
+ Lg., Bishop of Montreal.
+ Thomas. Bishop of Three Rivers.
+ C., Bishop of St. Hyacinthe

Quebec, November 21st, 1866.

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