George Brown Papers, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Resolutions on Indians, Etc. (25-26 October 1864)

Document Information

Date: 1864-10-25 – 1864-10-26
By: George Brown
Citation: George Brown Papers, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Resolutions on Indians, Etc., October 25th-26th, 1864 (MG 24, B 40, Vol. 21, p. 3750).
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Note: The text also contains handwritten notes and other marginalia. Click here to view an explanatory document on how we have transcribed handwritten notes.

3750[Note [1]]



Resolved, —

  1. It shall be competent for the General Legislature to pass laws respecting—
    1. The Indians,[Note [2]]
    2. Ferries between any Province and a Foreign Country or between any two Provinces,
    3. For the regulation and incorporation of Fire and Life Insurance Companies,
    4. Respecting Savings Banks.
  1. It shall also be competent for the General Legislature to pass—

Inspection Laws, and
Laws relating to Quarantine.

  1. The General Government and Legislature shall have all powers necessary or proper for performing the obligations of the Province as part of the British Empire to Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between Great Britain and such Countries.
  1. All Courts, Judges and Officers of the several Provinces shall aid, assist and obey the General Government in the exercise of its rights and powers under this Act, and for such purposes shall be held to be Judges and Officers of the General Government.
  1. The General Government may also, from time to time, establish additional Courts, and appoint other Judges and Officers, when the same shall appear necessary or for the public advantage, in order to the due execution of the laws, rights and obligations of the General Government.
  1. All Bills for appropriating any part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any new Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons or the Local Assembly, as the case may be.
  1. The House of Commons or Legislative Assembly shall not originate or pass any Vote, Resolution, Address or Bill for the appropriation of any part of the Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost to any purpose, not first recommended to the House or Assembly by Message of the Governor General, during the Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address or Bill is passed.
  1. Any Bill of the General Legislature may be reserved in the usual manner for Her Majesty’s Assent, and any Bill of the Local Government [Legislatures] may in like manner be reserved for the consideration of the General Government [Governor General].
  1. Any Bill passed by the General Legislature shall be subject to disallowance by Her Majesty within two years, as in the case of Bills passed by the said Provinces hitherto, and in like manner any Bill passed by a Local Legislature shall be subject to disallowance by the General Government [Governor General] within one year after the passing thereof.


  1. The Judges of the Courts of Admiralty shall be paid by the General Government.
  1. A further [Out of the] sum proportioned to the population of each Province shall be set apart annually out of the General Revenue [as subsidy toward local expenditures] towards the expense of the Judiciary in each Province.
  1. The sum so set appear for each Province shall be applied by the General Government to the payment of the salaries of the Judges of the Superior Courts in such Province; and in the case of any Province the salaries of whose Judges shall not exhaust the sum so set apart for such Province, the balance shall be paid over to the Province towards paying the inferior Judges thereof.
  1. The number of Superior Judges shall not be increased, except by the concurrent action of the General and Local Legislatures.
  1. The Judges of the Superior Courts, in each Province, shall be appointed by the General Government, and their salaries shall be fixed by the General Legislature.
  1. The Lower Canada Judges shall be appointed from the Bar of Lower Canada.
  1. The Judges of the other Provinces may be appointed from the Bar of any of the said Provinces, except Lower Canada.
  1. All Judges of the Superior Courts shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall be removeable only on the address of both Houses of the General Legislature.
  1. The General Legislature shall have power to pass statutes for rendering uniform all or any of the laws relative to property and civil rights in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and for rendering uniform the practice of all or any of the Courts in these Provinces.
  1. The seat of the Local Government in Upper Canada shall be Toronto; of Lower Canada, Quebec; of New Brunswick, Fredericton; of Nova Scotia, Halifax; of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown; and of Newfoundland, St. John’s, subject to any future action of the respective Local Governments in respect thereof.

[1] The first nine resolutions in MG24 B40 3750 (above) were read on October 25th and the tenth resolution was debated on this day but is cut-out on the original. The remainder of the resolutions were read and debated on October 26th (see Bernard’s “Minutes”, pp. 105-108 in this volume). Based on this information, and the amendments made on it, I have tentatively dated MG24 B40 3750 October 25th & 26th 1864. We learn from Bernard’s “Minutes” that there were additional financial resolutions proposed by A.T. Galt on the 26th but there are curiously not featured here (see Bernard’s “Minutes”, p. 107 in this volume). [C.D.]

[2] If MG24 B40 3750 (above) is properly dated October 25th and 26th, the discussion on the division of powers then continued until near the end of the conference. It seems significant that the delegates after determining the local jurisdiction moved onto matters that they desired federal uniformity, and that this focused first on judiciary (with exceptions provided to Quebec) is not surprising but that matters of uniformity included Indigenous peoples (“Indians”) certainly is important.

This latter point is especially significant because the relationship and treatment of indigenous peoples in British North America was decidedly different inside the continent (where an American military presence was found) as opposed to the Maritimes (where the threat of the American military was less felt) (See Peter H. Russell’s Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests (University of Toronto Press, 2017) and my book review in the Canadian Journal of Political Science). Allocating the responsibility of “Indians” to the federal legislature decidedly signaled and ensured a uniform treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada (or we must say uniform mistreatment and injustice). In the imperial correspondences and despatches for 1865-1866, this matter is left very ambiguous and the authority for doing so never explicitly acknowledged or defined. Future editions of this volume will expand greatly on this topic. [C.D.]


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