Edward Whelan, [Quebec Conference] (29 October 1864)

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Date: 1864-10-29
By: Edward Whelan, The Examiner (Charlottetown), Quebec Conference
Citation: Edward Whelan, “The Basis of Colonial Union,”The Examiner (14 November 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).


The Inter-Colonial Convention closed their labours at Quebec on Thursday, the 27th ult. For ten days previous to the close, they continued their sittings late into each night, in order to dispose of the many important questions pressing upon them, and to meet the engagements entered into on their behalf in the Cities of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. On the afternoon and evening of Thursday all the Maritime Delegates left Quebec for Montreal, in Special Trains provided for their use by the obliging and gentlemanly Managing Director of the Grand Trunk Railway, C.J. Brydges, Esqr.

The Delegates were accompanied by the ladies of their party, and by the Attorney General of Upper Canada, (Hon. Mr. Mcdonald), Leader of the Government, and by the Finance Minister, (Hon. Mr. Galt). Several other members of the Canadian Government, Hon. Mr. Cartier, Attorney General Canada East, Hon. Mr. Langevin, Solicitor General Canada East, Hon. Mr. Cockburn, Solicitor General Canada West, came by steamer from Quebec to Montreal. The Hon. Mr. McGee had been in the latter city two or three days previously, aiding in the preparations for the reception of the Delegates. The whole party were assembled at the St. Lawrence Hall, in Montreal, on an early hour on Friday. That day was exceedingly wet, and the review of the military and volunteers, which was ordered for the occasion, was consequently postponed. Tuesday was occupied, though wet, in visiting some of the public institutions, the Geological Survey, under the management of Sir William Logan, claiming especial attention. […][1] The evening of Friday was devoted to a great Ball in the St. Lawrence. It was, like preceding entertainments in which the Delegates had participated, quite a brilliant affair. The party was, however, far more numerous than those at Quebec. It was believed there were about 1000 persons present, and there would have many more could they have obtained tickets. Sir R. Graves McDonnell, Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia, and his Lady, graced the Ball Room. We cannot find space for a description of the Ball, — let the reader, however, who may be curious on the subject, refer to the accounts of the Quebec affairs of the same kind, and magnify them at least three fold, and he will have some idea of the Montreal display. Richness of apparel, brillianey and costliness of jewels, female beauty (with which the great Province of Canada seems to be overstocked), were all reproduced at the St. Lawrence Hall on a grand scale. But some how or other, the Quebec Balls seemed the most recherche, and they certainly have an abiding place in our memory.

On Saturday morning, the Delegates held an informal meeting—Hon. Mr. Cartier presiding—for the purpose of revising the Minutes of Conference. These minutes had come to Montreal from Quebec in printed slips. They were corrected at the informal meeting above referred to; and, with the exception of a few verbal but unimportant alterations, they are substantially as appear below. The minutes here given contain most of the alterations made at Montreal.

Lest it should be supposed that there is a breach of confidence on the part of the editor of this paper in thus giving undisguised publicity to the proceedings of the Convention, we deem it our duty to state that Mr. Whelan took the advice of the Canadian Ministers on this subject. Mr. Galt, the Finance Minister, was clearly of opinion that the earliest publicity should be given to the result of their deliberations. Mr. Cartier, Attorney General of Canada East, in his admirable speech at Montreal, disclosed as many of the so-called secrets of the convention as he could think of; and Mr. Brown, President of the Council of Canada, “let the cat” more thoroughly “out of the bag” in his speech at the Toronto dinner. The New Brunswick Delegates are just on the eve of doing the same before public meetings of their own constituencies; and, in short, from the publicity which has been given to the proceedings of the Convention, in a hundred different forms, it is now absurd to talk about “secrecy.” Indeed, the less secrecy that is practised, the more likelihood there is of gaining public opinion in favour of the great Confederation scheme. We, therefore give, without hesitation, the rough draught of the report of the Conference which is to be submitted to the several local Legislatures. A corrected copy of this report has, ere this, been placed in the hands of the Governor General for transmission to the Queen. Each member of the Conference will also be furnished with a lithographed copy, containing the latest corrections, and the signatures of all the Delegates as soon as the work can be prepared and sent from Canada. This extended publicity, both present and proximate, puts an end to all secrecy; and the readers of the EXAMINER may rely upon getting the most full and correct information touching every detail of the Convention. We shall now give our readers the Report of the Conference as corrected at Montreal.

[1] There is additional material here but features nothing on the topic of confederation.

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