John A. Macdonald Fonds, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions – Version No. 1, Copy 2 (26 October 1864)

Document Information

Date: 1864-10-26
By: John A. Macdonald
Citation: John A. Macdonald Fonds, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions – Version No. 1, Copy 2, October 26th, 1864 (MG 26 A, Vol. 46, pp. 18164-18168).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Note 1: The transcription still needs to be verified for accuracy.
Note 2: The text also contains handwritten notes and other marginalia. Click here to view an explanatory document on how we have transcribed handwritten notes.
Note 3: Please also note that these drafts will soon be available in book format.




That the best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America will be promoted by a Federal Union under the Crown of Great Britain, provided such Union can be effected on principles just to the several Provinces.

That in the Federation of the British North American Provinces the System of Government best adapted under existing circumstances to protect the diversified interests of the several Provinces and secure efficiency, harmony and permanency in the working of the Union, — would be a general Government charged with matters of common interest to the whole Country, and Local Governments for each of the Canadas and for the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, charged with the control of local matters in their respective sections,– Provision being made for the admission into the Union on equitable terms of Newfoundland, the North-West Territory, British Columbia and Vancouver.

That in framing a Constitution for the General Government, the Conference, with a view to the perpetuation of our connection with the Mother Country, and to the promotion of the best interests of the people of these Provinces, desire to follow the model of the British Constitution, so far as our circumstances will permit.

That there shall be a General Legislature for the Federated Provinces, composed of a Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly.

That for the purpose of forming the Legislative Council, the Federated Provinces shall be considered as consisting of three divisions, 1st. Upper Canada, 2nd. Lower Canada, 3rd. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, with equal representation in the Legislative Council.

That Upper Canada be represented in the Legislative Council by 24 Members, Lower Canada by 24 Members, and the three Maritime Provinces by 24 Members, of which Nova Scotia shall have Ten, New Brunswick, Ten, and Prince Edward Island, Four Members.

That the Colony of Newfoundland having sent a Deputation to this Conference be now invited to inter into the proposed Confederation, with a representation in the Legislative Council of four Members.

That the Members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown under the Great Seal of the General Government, and shall hold Office during Life.

That the Members of the Legislative Council shall be British Subjects by Birth or Naturalization, of the full age of Thirty Years, shall possess a real property qualification of four thousand dollars over and above all incumbrances, and be worth that amount over and above their debts and liabilities.

That the Members of the Legislative Council for the General Government shall in the first instance be selected from the Legislative Councils of the various Provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, so far as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing to serve.

That the Members of the Legislative Council for the General Government shall in the first instance be selected from the Legislative Councils of the various Provinces, (with the exception of Prince Edward Island,) so far as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing to serve.

That the Members of the first Legislative Council in the [following word strikethrough][1] Federal [following word inserted General] Legislature shall be appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the Federal Executive Government, upon the nomination of the respective Local Governments, and that in such nomination, due regard be had to the claims of the Members of the Legislative Council of the opposition in each Province, so as that all political parties be as nearly as possible fairly represented.



That the basis of Representation in the House of Commons, shall be Population, as determined by the Official Census every ten years; and that the number of Members at first shall be 194, distributed as follows:

Upper Canada……………………………82
Lower Canada……………………………65
Nova Scotia………………………………19
New Brunswick………………………….15
and Prince Edward Island………………..5

That each section shall distribute its Representatives in such Electoral Divisions as it deems best.

That until the Official Census of 1871 has been made up, there shall be no change in the number of Representatives from the several sections.

That immediately after the completion of the Census of 1871, and immediately after every Decennial Census thereafter, the Representation from each section shall be re-adjusted on the basis of Population.

That for the purpose of such re-adjustments, Lower Canada shall always be assigned sixty-five members, and each of the other sections shall at each such re-adjustment receive, for the ten years then next succeeding, the number of members to which it will be entitled on the same ratio of representation to population as Lower Canada will enjoy according to the Census then just taken by having sixty-five members.

That no reduction shall be made in the number of Members returned by any section, unless its population shall have decreased relatively to the whole population of the whole Federation, to the extent of five per centum or over.

That in computing at each decennial period, the number of Members to which each section is entitled, no fractional parts shall be considered, unless when exceeding one half the number entitling to a Member, in which case a Member shall be given for each such fractional part.

That the number of Members may at any time be increased by the Federal Parliament, — regard being had to the proportionate rights then existing.

That the Legislature of each Province, shall divide such Province into the proper number of constituencies and define the boundaries of each of them.

That there shall be a session of the Legislative Council and Assembly once at least in every year, so that a period of twelve calendar months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Legislative Council and Assembly in one session and the first sitting of the Legislative Council and Assembly in the next session: And every Legislative Assembly shall continue for five years from the day of the return of the writs choosing the same and no longer, subject nevertheless to be sooner prorogued or dissolved by the Governor.

That until provisions shall otherwise be made by the Legislature of the Federated Provinces, all the Laws which, at the date of the Proclamation constituting such Confederation, are in force in the Provinces respectively relating to the qualification and disqualification of any person to be elected or to sit or vote as a member of the Assembly in the said Provinces respectively — and relating to the qualification or disqualification of voters, and to the oaths to be taken by voters, and to Returning Officers and the powers and duties thereof, — and the proceedings at Elections, — and the period during which such Elections may be continued, and relating to the Trial of Controverted Elections, and the proceedings incident thereto and to the vacating of seats of Members and the issuing and execution of new Writs in case of any seat being vacated otherwise than by a dissolution,– shall respectively be applied to Elections of Members to serve in the Legislative Assembly of the Federated Provinces, for places situate in those Provinces respectively for which such Laws were passed.

That the Executive Authority of Government shall be vested in the Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and be administered according to the well understood principles of the British Constitution by the Sovereign personally or by Representative duly authorized.

That the Sovereign or Representative of the Sovereign shall be Commander in Chief of the Land and Naval Militia Forces.

That with a view of reducing the expenses of the Local Governments, it shall be left to each Province to recommend the reconstruction of its Local Constitution, in such a way as shall be most acceptable to its own Legislature; Provided that in such reconstruction, nothing be contained inconsistent with the Constitution of Federal Government.



That for each of the Provinces, there shall be an Executive Officer, styled the Lieutenant Governor, who shall be appointed by the Governor General in Council, under the Great Seal of the Federated Provinces, during pleasure: such pleasure not to be exercised before the expiration of the first five years, except for cause: such cause to be communicated in writing to the Lieutenant Governor immediately after the exercise of the pleasure as aforesaid, and also by message to both Houses of the General Legislature, within the first week of the first Session afterwards.

That it shall be competent for the General Legislature to make Laws for the peace, welfare and good Government of the Federated Provinces (saving the Sovereignty of England) and especially Laws respecting: —

  1. Trade and Commerce
  2. The imposition or regulation of Duties of Customs on Imports and Exports.
  3. The imposition or regulation of Excise Duties.
  4. All or any other modes or systems of Taxation.
  5. Currency and Coinage.
  6. The Borrowing of Money on the Public Credit
  7. Banking and the issue of paper money.
  8. The law relating to Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes.
  9. Interest.
  10. Legal Tender.
  11. Weights and Measures.
  12. Postal Service.
  13. Bankruptcy and Insolvency Laws.
  14. Beacons, Buoys and Light Houses.
  15. Navigation and Shipping.
  16. Sea Fisheries.
  17. Patents of Invention and Discovery.
  18. Copy Rights.
  19. Telegraphic Communication and the incorporation of Telegraph Companies.
  20. Naturalization and Aliens.
  21. Marriage and Divorce.
  22. The Census.
  23. Militia — Military and Naval Service and Defence.
  24. Immigration.
  25. Agriculture,
  26. The Criminal Law, (except the Constitution of Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction.)
  27. Lines of Steamships or other Ships, Railways and Canal, connecting any two or more of the Provinces together.
  28. [an X is inserted in the left margin] Lines of Steamships between the Federated Provinces and other Countries.

That it shall be competent for the Local Legislatures to make Laws respecting: —

  1. Agriculture.
  2. Education; saving the rights and privileges which the Protestant or Catholic minority in both Canadas may possess as to their Denominational Schools, at the time when the Constitutional Act goes into operation.
  3. Immigration.
  4. The sale and management of Public Lands, excepting Lands belonging to the General Government.
  5. Property and civil rights, excepting those portions thereof assigned to the General Legislature.
  6. Municipal Institutions.
  7. Sea coast and Inland Fisheries.
  8. The establishment, maintenance and management of Penitentiaries, and of Public and Reformatory Prisons.
  9. The establishment, maintenance and management of Hospitals, Asylums, Charities and Eleemosynary Institutions.
  10. Local Works.
  11. The Administration of Justice, and the Constitution, maintenance and organization of the Courts — both Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction.



That it shall be competent for the Local Legislatures to make laws respecting: —

    1. The establishment and tenure of local Offices, and the appointment and payment of local Officers,
    2. Direct Taxation,
    3. Borrowing Money on the credit of the Province,
    4. Shop, Saloon, Tavern, Auctioneer and other licenses,
    5. The Incorporation of private or local Companies, except such as relate to matters assigned to the Federal Legislature,
    6. And generally all matters of a private or local nature,
    7. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the Electoral Districts of the Province for the purposes of Representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the number of representatives to which the Province is entitled in any manner such Legislature may think fit.
    8. The power of respiting, reprieving, commuting and pardoning Prisoners convicted of crimes, and of remitting of sentences in whole or in part, which belongs of right to the Crown, shall be administered by the Lieutenant Governor of each Province in Council, subject to any instructions he may from time to time receive from the General Government, and subject to any provisions that may be made in this behalf by the General Legislature.

That the Local Legislature shall have power to provide for inflicting punishment by fine, penalties, imprisonment or otherwise for the breach of laws passed in relation to any subject within their jurisdiction.

That in regard to those subjects over which jurisdiction belongs to both the General and Local Governments, the laws of the General Government shall control and supersede those made by the Local Government, and the latter shall be void so far as they are repugnant to or inconsistent with the former.

To postpone the consideration of, —

That all lands, mines and minerals vested in Her Majesty in any of the said Provinces for the use of such Province, shall belong to the Local Government of the territory in which the same are so situate; subject to any trusts that may exist in respect to any of such lands or to any interest of other person in respect of the same.

That all sums due from purchasers or lessees of such lands, at the time of the Union, shall also belong to the Local Governments.

  1. It shall be competent for the General Legislature to pass laws respecting ­–
    1. The Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians,
    2. Ferries between any Province and a Foreign Country or between any two Provinces,
    3. Respecting Savings Banks, and
    4. 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 and for such purposes shall be held to be Judges and Officers of the General Government.
  1. The General Legislature may also, from time to time, establish additional Courts, and the General Government thereupon 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 of the General Legislature.
  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 of Assembly by Message of the Governor General, or the Lieutenant Governor, as the case may be, 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 Legislatures may in like manner be reserved for the consideration of the 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 Governor General within one year after the passing thereof.

To postpone the consideration of: —

The North-West Territory, British Columbia and Vancouver shall be admitted into the Union on such terms and conditions as the General Legislature shall deem equitable, and as shall receive the assent of Her Majesty, and in the case of the Province of British Columbia or Vancouver as shall be agreed to by the Legislature of such Province.

That the Judges of the Court of Record in each Province shall be appointed and paid by the General Government, and their salaries shall be fixed by the General Legislature.

That the Judges of the Court of Admiralty now receiving salaries shall be paid by the General Government.

That the Judges of the Superior Courts shalt hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall be removable only on the Address of both Houses of the General Legislature.

That 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 procedure of all or any of the Courts in these Provinces; but not to go into operation in any Province until sanctioned by the Legislature thereof.

That, subject to any future action of the respective Local Governments in respect thereof, the Seat of the Local Government in Upper Canada shall be Toronto; of Lower Canada, Quebec; and the Seats of the Local Governments in the other Provinces shall be as at present.

That the Seat of Government of the Confederate Province shall be Ottawa, subject to the Royal Prerogative.

That no lands or property belonging to the General or Local Government shall be liable to taxation.

  1. That the Confederation shall be vested at the time of the Union with all Cash, Bankers’ Balances, and other Cash Securities of each Province;
  2. That the Confederation shall be vested with the Public Works and Property of each Province — to wit:

Public Harbours;
Light Houses and Piers;
Steamboats, Dredges and Public Vessels;
River and Lake Improvements;
Railroads, Mortgages and other Debts due by Railroad Companies;
Military Roads;
Public Buildings, Custom Houses and Post Offices, except such as may be set aside by the General Government for the use of the Local Legislatures and Governments;
Property transferred by the Imperial Government and known as Ordinance Property; Armories, Drill Sheds, Military Clothing and Munitions of War;

Lands set apart for Public purposes;

  1. The several Provinces shall remain each vested with all Public Property therein, except such as is hereinbefore vested in the Confederation, subject to the right of the Confederation to assume any Lands or Public Property required for Fortifications or the Defence of the Country.

[1] There are two identical copies of this version in the Fonds, but the second copy has only two amendments: this one, and another at [insert page].

Leave a Reply