John A. Macdonald Papers, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Working Draft No. 4 (27 October 1864)

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Date: 1864-10-27
By: John A. Macdonald
Citation: John A. Macdonald, Drafts of the Quebec Resolutions, Working Draft No. 4, October 27th, 1864 (MG 26 A, Vol. 46, pp. 18136-18138).
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[Report of Resolutions adopted at a Conference of Delegates from the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the Colonies of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island held at the city of Quebec, 10 October, 1864, as the Basis of a proposed Confederation of those Provinces and Colonies]

[1.] 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.

[2.] 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.

[3.] 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.

[4.] That the Executive Authority or 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 the Representative of the Sovereign duly authorized.

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

[6.] That there shall be a General Legislature [or Parliament] for the Federated Provinces, composed of a Legislative Council and [a] House of Commons.

[7.] 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, each division with an equal representation in the Legislative Council.

[8.] That Upper Canada [shall] 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.

[9.] That the colony of Newfoundland shall be entitled to enter the proposed Union, with a representation in the Legislative Council of four Members.

[10.] That the North-West Territory, British Columbia and Vancouver shall be admitted into the Union, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament of the Federated Provinces 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.

[11.] 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; if any Legislative Councillor shall, for two consecutive sessions of the Legislature [Parliament], fail to give his attendance in the said Council, his seat shall thereby become vacant.

[12.] 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 continuous real property qualification of four thousand dollars over and above all incumbrances, and shall be and continue worth that sum over and above their debts and liabilities, but in the case of Newfoundland [and Prince Edward Island], the property may be either real or personal.

[13.] That if any question shall arise as to the qualification of a Legislative Councillor, the same shall be determined by the Council.

[14.] That the first selection of the Members of the Legislative Council [except as regards Prince Edward Island] shall be made 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; such Members shall be appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the General Executive Government, upon the nomination of the respective Local Governments, and that in such nomination due regard shall be had to the claims of the Members of the Legislative Council of the opposition in each Province, so that all political parties may as nearly as possible be fairly represented.

[15.] That the Speaker of the Legislative Council (until [unless] otherwise provided by the said Parliament) shall be appointed by the Crown from among the members of the Legislative Council, and shall hold office during pleasure, and shall only be entitled to a casting vote on an equality of votes.

[16.] That each of the twenty-four Legislative Councillors representing Lower Canada in the Legislative Council of the General Legislature, shall be appointed to represent one of the twenty-four Electoral Divisions mentioned in Schedule A of Chapter first of the Consolidated Statutes of Canada, and such Councillor shall reside or possess his qualification in the Division he is appointed to represent.

[17.] 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

[18.] 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.

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

[20.] 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 [last] taken by having sixty-five members.

[21.] 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 Union, to the extent of five per centum or ever.

[22.] 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.

[23.] That the Legislature of each Province, shall prior to the Union divide such Province into the proper number of constituencies, and define the boundaries of each of them.

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

[24.] That the Local Legislature of each Province may afterwards, from time to time, alter the Electoral Districts for the purposes of Representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the representatives to which the Province is entitled in such Local Legislature, in any manner such Legislature may think fit.

[26.] That until provisions are made by the General Parliament, all the Laws which, at the date of the Proclamation constituting the Union, are in force in the Provinces respectively, relating 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 their powers and duties, — and relating to the proceedings at Elections, — and to the period during which such Elections may be continued, and relating to the Trial of Controverted Elections, and the proceedings incident thereto, and [relating] to the vacating of seats of Members and to the issuing and execution of new Writs in case of any seat being vacated otherwise than by a dissolution, — shall respectively apply to Elections of Members to serve in the House of Commons, for places situate in those Provinces respectively.

[27.] That every House of Commons 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.

[28.] That there shall be a Session of the General Parliament once at least in every year, so that a period of twelve calendar months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the General Parliament in one Session, and the first sitting of the General Parliament [thereof] in the next session.


[29.] That the General Government [Parliament] shall have power to make Laws for the peace, welfare and good Government of the Federated Provinces (saving the Sovereignty of England) and especially Laws respecting the following subjects: —

  1. The Public Debt and Property.
  2. The Regulation of Trade and Commerce.
  3. The imposition or regulation of Duties of Customs on Imports and Exports, except on Exports of Timber, Logs, Masts, Spars, Deals, and Sawn Lumber, and of Coal and other Minerals.
  4. The imposition or regulation of Excise Duties.
  5. The raising of money by all or any other modes or systems of Taxation.
  6. The Borrowing of Money on the Public Credit.
  7. Postal Service.
  8. Lines of Steam or other Ships, Railways, Canals and other works, connecting any two or more of the Provinces together or extending beyond the limits of any Province.
  9. Lines of Steamships between the Federated Provinces and other Countries.
  10. Telegraphic Communication and the incorporation of Telegraph Companies.
  11. All such works as shall, although lying wholly within any Province be specially declared by the Acts authorizing them to be for the general advantage.
  12. The Census.
  13. Militia — Military and Naval Service and Defence.
  14. Beacons, Buoys and Light Houses.
  15. Navigation and Shipping.
  16. Quarantine.
  17. Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries.
  18. Ferries between any Province and a Foreign country, or between any two Provinces.
  19. Currency and Coinage.
  20. Banking [Incorporation of Banks] and the issue of paper money.
  21. Savings Banks.
  22. Weights and Measures.
  23. Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes.
  24. Interest.
  25. Legal Tender.
  26. Bankruptcy and Insolvency.
  27. Patents of Invention and Discovery.
  28. Copy Rights.
  29. Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians.
  30. Naturalization and Aliens.
  31. Marriage and Divorce.
  32. The Criminal Law, excepting the Constitution of Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction, but including the procedure o[i]n Criminal matters.
  33. Rendering uniform all or any of the laws relative to property and civil rights in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, [Newfoundland and] Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and for rendering uniform the procedure of all or any of the Courts in these Provinces; but any Statute for this purpose shall have no force or authority in any Province until sanctioned by the Legislature thereof.
  34. The Establishment of a General Court of Appeal for the Federated Provinces.
  35. Immigration.
  36. Agriculture.
  37. And Generally respecting all matters of a general character, not specially and exclusively reserved for the Local Governments and Legislatures.

[30.] That the General Government and Parliament shall have all powers necessary or proper for performing the obligations of the [Federated] Province[s], as part of the British Empire to Foreign Countries arising under Treaties between Great Britain and such Countries.

[31.] That the General Parliament may also, from time to time, establish additional Courts, and the [General] Government may thereupon appoint other Judges and Officers [thereof], when the same shall appear necessary or for the public advantage, in order to the due execution of the laws of Parliament.

[32.] That 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 Courts, Judges and Officers of the General Government.

[33.] That the General Government shall appoint and pay the Judges of the Superior Courts in each Province, and of the County Courts of Upper Canada, and Parliament shall fix their salaries.

[34.] That until the Consolidation of the Laws of Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, the Judges of these Provinces appointed by the General Government shall be selected from their respective Bars.

[35.] [The Judges of the Courts of Lower Canada shall be selected from the Bar of Lower Canada.]

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

[37.] That the Judges of the Superior Courts shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall be removable only on the Address of both Houses of Parliament.


[38.] 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 Parliament, within the first week of the first Session afterwards.

[39.] That the Lieutenant Governor of each Province shall be paid by the General Legislature [Government].

[40.] That in undertaking to pay the salaries of the Lieutenant Governors, the Conference does not desire to prejudice the claim of Prince Edward Island upon the Imperial Government for the amount now paid for the salary of the Lieutenant Governor thereof.

[41.] That the Local Government and Legislature of each Province shall be constructed in such manner as the existing Legislature of such Province shall provide in the Act assenting to the Union.

[42.] That for the Union the Local Legislatures shall have power to alter or amend their constitution from time to time.

[43.] That the Local Legislatures shall have power to make Laws respecting the following subjects:

[1.] Direct taxation, and the imposition of Duties on the Export of Timber, Logs, Masts, Spars, Deals and Sawn Lumber and of Coals and other Minerals.
[2.] Borrowing money on the credit of the Province.
[3.] The establishment and tenure of local Offices, and the appointment and payment of local officers.
[4.] Agriculture.
[5.] Immigration.
[6.] 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 Union goes into operation.
[7.] The sale and management of Public Lands, excepting Lands belonging to the General Government.
[8.] Sea coast and Inland Fisheries.
[9.] The establishment, maintenance and management of Penitentiaries, and of Public and Reformatory Prisons.
[10.] The establishment, maintenance and management of Hospitals, Asylums, Charities, and Eleemosynary Institutions.
[11.] Municipal Institutions.
[12.] Shop, Saloon, Tavern, Auctioneer and other Licences.
[13.] Local Works.
[14.] The Incorporation of private or local Companies, except such as relate to matters assigned to the Federal Legislature [General Parliament].
[15.] Property and civil rights, excepting those portions thereof assigned to the General Legislature [Parliament].
[16.] Inflicting punishment by fine, penalties, imprisonment or otherwise for the breach of laws passed in relation to any subject within their jurisdiction.
[17.] The Administration of Justice, including the Constitution, maintenance and organization of the Courts – both of Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction, and including also the Procedure in Civil matters.
[18.] And generally all matters of a private or local nature [not assigned to the General Parliament].

[44.] The power or respiting, reprieving, commuting and pardoning Prisoners convicted of crimes, and of [commuting and] 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] Parliament.




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

[46.] That both the English and French languages may be employed in the General Legislature [Parliament] and in its proceedings, and in the Local Legislature of Lower Canada, and [also] in the Federal [Courts] and Local [in the] Courts of Lower Canada.

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

[48.] That 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 Local [House of] Assembly, as the case may be.

[49.] That the House of Commons or Legislative [House of] 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.

[50.] That any Bill of the General Legislature [Parliament] 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.

[51.] That any Bill passed by the General Legislature [Parliament] shall be subject to disallowance by Her Majesty within two years, as in the case of Bills passed by the Legislatures of 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.

[52.] That the Seat of Government of the Federated Provinces shall be Ottawa, subject to the Royal Prerogative.

[53.] 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.


[54.] That all [Stocks], Cash, Bankers’ Balances and other Cash Securities [for money belonging to] each Province, at the time of the Union [except as hereinafter mentioned] shall belong to the General Government.

[55.] That the following Public Works and Property of each Province, shall belong to the General Government — to wit:

[1.] Canals;
[2.] Public Harbours;
[3.] Light Houses and Piers;
[4.] Steamboats, Dredges and Public Vessels;
[5.] River and Lake Improvements;
[6.] Railways and Railway Stocks, Mortgages and other debts due by Railway Companies;
[7.] Military Roads;
[8.] Custom Houses, Post Offices and other Public Buildings, except such as may be set aside by the General Government for the use of the Local Legislatures and Governments;
[9.] Property transferred by the Imperial Government and known as Ordnance Property;
[10.] Armories, Drill Sheds, Military Clothing and Munitions or War; and
[11.] Lands set apart for Public purposes.

[56.] That all lands, mines, minerals and royalties vested in Her Majesty in the Provinces of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, for the use of such Provinces, 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 persons in respect of the same.

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

[58.] [All assets connected with such portions of the Public Debt of any Province as are assumed by the Local Governments shall also belong to those Provinces respectively.]

[59.] That the several Provinces shall remain vested with [retain] all other Public Property therein, subject to the right of the Confederation [General Government] to assume any Lands or Public Property required for Fortifications or the Defence of the Country.

[60.] That the General Government shall assume all the Debts and Liabilities of each Province.

[61.] The Debt of Canada not specially assumed by Upper and Lower Canada respectively, shall not exceed at the time of the Union, ………………………………………………………………$ 62,500,000;
Nova Scotia shall enter into the Confederation [Union] with a debt not exceeding,     $8,000,000;
and New Brunswick, with a debt not exceeding………. …………………………..$7,000,000.

[62.] But it shall be expressly provided that in case Nova Scotia or New Brunswick do not incur liabilities beyond those for which their Governments are now bound and which shall make their respective debts at the date of Union less than $8,000,000 and $7,000,000 respectively, they shall then be entitled to benefit by the interest at 5 per cent. on the amount not so incurred, in like manner as in hereinafter provided for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; the foregoing resolution being in no respect intended to limit the powers now given to the respective Governments of those Provinces by Legislative authority, but only to limit the maximum amount of charge to be brought [assumed] by them against the General Government. Provided always that the powers so conferred by the respective Legislatures shall be exercised within five years from this date or the same shall lapse.

[63.] That Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, not having incurred Debts equal to those of the other Provinces, shall be entitled to receive by half-yearly payments in advance from the General Government the Interest at five per cent. on the difference between the actual amount of their respective Debts at the time of the Union, and the average amount of indebtedness per head of the Population of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

[64.] That in consideration of the transfer to the General Legislature [Parliament] of the powers of Taxation, an annual grant in aid of each Province shall be made, equal to an amount of 80 cents per head of the Population, as established by the Census of 1861. The population of Newfoundland being estimated at 130,000. Such aid shall be in full settlement of all future demands upon the General Government for local purposes, and shall be paid half-yearly in advance to each Province.

[65.] That the position of New Brunswick being such as to entail large immediate charges upon her local revenues, it is agreed that for the period of ten years from the time when the Union takes effect, an additional allowance of $63,000 per annum shall be made to that Province. But that so long as the liability of that Province remains under $7,000,000, a deduction equal to the interest on such deficiency shall be made from the $63,000.

[66.] That in consideration of the surrender to the General Government by Newfoundland of all its rights in Mines and Minerals, and of all the ungranted and unoccupied Lands of the Crown, it is agreed that the sum of $150,000 shall each year be paid to that Province, by semi-annual payments. Provided that the Colony [Province] shall retain the right of opening, constructing and controlling Roads and Bridges through any of the said Lands, subject to any Laws which the General Parliament may pass in respect of the same.

[67.] That all engagements that may, before the Union, be entered into with the Imperial Government for the Defence of the Country shall be assumed by the General Government.

[68.] That the General Government shall secure, without delay, the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from Rivière-du-Loup through New Brunswick to Truro in Nova Scotia.

[69.] That the communications with the North-Western Territory, and the improvements required for the development of the Trade of the Great West with the Seaboard, are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federated Provinces, and shall be prosecuted at the earliest possible period that the state of the Finances will permit the Parliament to do so.

[70.] That the Sanction of the Imperial and Local Parliaments shall be sought for the Union of the Provinces, on the principles adopted by the Conference.

[71.] [That Her Majesty the Queen be solicited to determine the Rank and Name of the Federated Provinces shall be.]

[72.] That the proceedings of the Conference, when finally revised, shall be signed by [authenticated by the signatures of] the Delegates, and submitted by each Deputation [Delegation] to its own Government, and the Chairman is authorized to submit a copy to the Governor General for transmission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.[Note [1]]

[1] According to A.A. Macdonald, the last day the delegates tabled resolutions was on October 27th, 1864 (see p. 147 in this volume).

The following amendments and final nomenclature must have been decided on October 27th. It is for this reason that we have dated this draft tentatively October 27th, 1864.

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