Edward Whelan, [Quebec Conference] (19 October 1864)

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Date: 1864-10-19
By: Edward Whelan, The Examiner (Charlottetown), Quebec Conference
Citation: Edward Whelan, “Inter-Colonial Union,”The Examiner (31 October 1864).
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Note: Any endnotes come from our recent publication, 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).


(No. 4)


The most important feature in the whole fabric of the Federal Constitution engaged the deliberations of the Conference for the whole of this day, that is— Representation of the several Provinces in the Lower House, or House of Commons as it is to be styled. The principle agreed upon at the Charlottetown Convention was, as I am informed, that population should be the basis of representation. This principle did not appear to be acceptable to the P. E. Island Delegates, owing to the scantiness of population of the Island, and they laboured strenuously and unanimously, I understand, to have their case made an exceptional one. But it was argued that if the principle were departed from in one case, it would afford serious ground for discontent if rigidly enforced with regard to all the rest of the Provinces. I cannot now review the arguments on both sides with which I have been made acquainted, but this I hope to do when the whole framework of the Constitution is ready to be presented to the public, which it is the intention, I believe, of the Conference to do. I can only state now a few bald facts such as come to my knowledge, the same as they do to any other person in Quebec, and such as I find noticed in the Toronto journals. The following has been agreed upon as the scale of representation in the House of Commons. Canada, Upper and Lower, to have 147 members; Nova Scotia, 19; New Brunswick, 15; Newfoundland, 8; and P. E. Island, 5. The Island Delegates wanted to get six representatives; but as a concession to this would disturb the whole principle on which representation was to be based, the Conference did not feel at liberty to agree to it; and the Island Delegates had to content themselves, I understand, with voting against that part of the arrangement. Indeed, I do not see that six would be any more service to them than five in so large a Parliament. But my opinions on this point, with some additional information as to population, &c., will be given in a subsequent letter, when the whole business shall be completed.

A grand Ball was given this evening, expressly in honour of the Delegates, at the splendid residence of Mons. and Madame Tessier. The worthy host is President of the Legislative Council, is a Lawyer of high standing, and is one of the Professors of Law in the Laval University. The party was chiefly French—indeed the only ones of British and Irish origin present were those from the Maritime Provinces. Bad and broken English was much in vogue during the evening when conversation was carried on with the English and Irish, who have all determined upon studying French forthwith. Indeed, the venders of French Dictionaries and Grammars are beginning to find a considerable number of customers amongst the people from the Lower Provinces. I am afraid some of them will go [1] back to their Down East homes, forgetting much of their mother tongue, and talking a strange conglomeration of English and excessively bad French. But one word for Madame Tessier’s gay and brilliant party—the crowd was excessive, I could not compute the number present; but they all seemed to enjoy themselves—the spread in the Supper Room was superb, and the party did not separate until about 3 o’clock on the following morning. I think it would be advisable to be somewhat reticent hereafter regarding the social parties in which the Delegates engage in this stupendously hospitable City, lest it should be supposed they do nothing else but frolic. I will try to do it; but I am afraid I will not succeed.

[1]  This newspaper is now cut-off at and this part of the record is no longer available. I have referred to Waite “Edward Whelan Report From the Quebec Conference”, in The Canadian Historical Review (University of Toronto Press, 1961).  publication for the missing part.

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