Despatch from Viscount Monck to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (20 September 1865)

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Date: 1865-09-20
By: Viscount Monck
Citation: Despatch from Viscount Monck to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (20 September 1865) 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. 13.

Copy of a DESPATCH from Viscount MONCK to the Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.

(No. 183.)

                                                                                                            Government House, Quebec, September 20, 1865.

                                                                                                                                                (Received, October 5, 1865.)

SIR,                                                                                                                                              (Answered. No. 147, October 7, 1865, page 46.)

I HAVE the honour to transmit for your information, copies of a correspondence which i have had with the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, on the subject of further guarantees for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, in the event of the Union of the Provinces.

I have, &c.

(Signed)               MONCK.

The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.,

&c.            &c.            &c.

Enclosure 1 in No. 13.


SIR,                                                                                                                                                                               Quebec, September 9, 1865.

I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the recipes of your Despatch (No. 184) of 31st August, respecting the securities which you desire for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway in the event of the union of the British North American Provinces being completed.

In that Despatch you suggest that the Canadian Parliament should request the imperial Government so to frame the imperial Act of Parliament which shall give effect to the union of the Provinces as to secure the construction of the railway.

It appears to me and my Executive Council that this suggestion could only have been made under a misapprehension or in oblivion of what has been already done by the Canadian Parliament in reference to this subject.

I take the liberty of calling your attention to the course adopted with respect to the Intercolonial Railway by the Government and Parliament of this Province.

In the last session of the Canadian Parliment an address was voted by both Houses to Her Majesty, praying “That she would be graciously please to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliment for the purpose of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland in one Government, with provisions based on the accompanying resolutions, which were adopted at a conference of delegates from the said Colonies, held at the city of Quebec on the 10th day of October 1864.”

It is consequently manifest that all the resolutions adopted at the Quebec Conference were incorporated into the address to the Queen, and that Her Majesty was as much requested by the terms of this address to take measures for giving effect to each and all of them as if the request had been embodied in a separate address having distinct reference to each resolution.

I find the 68th resolution of the Quebec Conference expressed in the following terms:—“The general Government shall secure, without delay, the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from Rivere du Loup through New Brunswick to Truro in Nova Scotia.”

It would appear to me therefore that the Canadian Parliment, having already voted an address to the Queen, praying Her Majesty to take measures to secure the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, has done all that lies in its power to give assurance of its desire that the undertaking shall be completed : and I may add that after such a course i think it would be scarcely respectful to her Majesty to repeat the request by a further address.

As an additional evidence of the anxiety of Canadians that there should be no difficulty in the way of completing this works, or delay in the execution of it, I venture to remind you that it appears, from correspondence with the Secretary of State, already on your possession, that when a deputation of the Government of Canada was lately in England, in conference with Her Majesty’s Government, the members of that deputation voluntarily sought and obtained from the Imperial Cabinet a renewal of the engagement that, in the event of the success of the project for uniting the British North American Colonies the guarantee of the Imperial Government for the loan necessary for the construction of the railroad should be afforded.

The correspondence, of which I have furnished you with copies, and of which your present Despatch is an acknowledgment, affords further proof of the sentiments of the Canadian Government on this subject, and their willingness on the part of the Parliment of Canada to acquiesce in ant course which the imperial Government may adopt in order to secure, immediately on the Union of these Provinces, the commencement and prosecution of this important work.

I have, &c.

(Signed)             MONCK.

Lieutenant.-Governor Sir R. G. MacDonnell.

Enclosure 2 in No. 13.

Sir R. G. MACDONNELL to Viscount MONCK.


MY LORD,                                                                                                          Government House, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 31, 1865.

I HAVE the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s Despatch of the 21st inst., enclosing a correspondence between yourself and the Secretary of State, in reference to the construction of the Intercolonial Railway.

That correspondence includes a Despatch from the Right Honourable the. Secretary of State, suggesting that more positive assurances from Canada of her readiness to construct that railroads would be satisfactory to the friends of the Confederation in the maritime Provinces. It also includes a minute of your Excellency’s Council, declaring the importance which they attach to the construction of the Intercolonial Railway.

3. So far as any suggestions from myself may have influenced the Secretary of State to transmit that Despatch. I must frankly say, that my object was to obtain some other security for the completion of the Intercolonial line, than that of the Canadian Government. I need scarcely say that I entirely rely on the good faith of the Canadian Government, and I know not who would question it : nevertheless the Parliament which has promised construction of the line must, in the event of Confederation, cease to exist, and the very member of your Government who repeat their assurances if its necessity may not be in office when the time for action arrives. It is therefore natural that those in the maritime Provinces who attach importance to the Intercolonial Railway should look beyond the existing Canadian Government to secure this leading inducement to Confederation being completed by the future Government and Parliament of the Confederate Provinces.

4. There are those who really desire Union if satisfied that the stipulated inducements will all be made good, and with who the difficulty of attaining any satisfactory assurance of the kind, has hitherto operated as a genuine reason gore opposing a scheme which they would otherwise support. There are also those who urge the difficulty of obtaining the requisite assurance as a pretext to excuse their own read hostility to the measure.

5. It seems to me that to satisfy the just expectations of the former, and deprive the latter of every excuse, is and ought where practicable to be a leading object of the policy of all friends of Confederation. Neither purpose can be attained by any amount of reiterated assurances from the present Canadian Government or Parliament, simply because the present may not be the Executive power in existence when the time arrives for carrying the undertaking into effect.

6. The only power that can be assumed as unalterable, and wholly reliable, as well as equally friendly to all concerned, is the British Government, and if the real wish and intention to the Canadian Ministry and Parliament be that the Intercolonial line shall be undertaken and completed in preference to any public works in Upper Canada or elsewhere, either now projected, or hereafter to be projected, it seems ways to request Her Majesty’s Government to frame the Imperial Act intended to legalise and a body the conditions of Confederation so as to reserve to Imperial authority and Imperial agents if necessary, ample means of completing the undertaking at the expense of the Confederacy. It is not for me to point out the special mode in which this might be accomplished : it is enough that it could be done effectually if earnestly desired.

7. Some such step taken during the present session of the Canadian Parliament would tend greatly to advance the cause of Confederation. Its omission and the impression which as gone abroad of the unwillingness of the Canadian Government to admit that a railway can be a condition of a constitution — though it may be made by Imperial Act as much an essential condition Theron as actual payment of purchase money is essential to the validity of other transactions — has prejudiced and is prejudicing the progress of confederation here and as I believe in New Brunswick also.

8. I would therefore very respectfully suggest that your Lordship might usefully endeavour to impress on your responsible advisors the expediency of early taking such measures as may deprive every one of all pretext for doubting the “[…]” fulfillment of the projected Union. Difficulties which cannot be avoided often […] the wisest and most expedient measures, but this is a difficulty which need last no longer than the Canadian Government and Parliament choose it to remain.

9. Your Lordship will regard this Despatch as expressing not merely my own views, but those of my Ministry.

I have .&c.

His Excellency the Right Hon.                                (Signed )              RICHARD GRAVES MACDONNELL.

Viscount Monck, Governor General,                                                                                                Lieut.. Governor.

&c.           &c.            &c.

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