Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates [Local Constitutions], 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (19 July 1866)

Document Information

Date: 1866-07-19
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 52-53.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).

Click here to view the rest of the Province of Canada’s Confederation Debates for 1866.


Thursday, July 19, 1866

The House then went into Committee of Supply. […][1] 

On the item of $22,500 for slides and booms “connected with the dissent of timber on the Ottawa and its tributaries,”

George Brown [Oxford South] took very strong exception to it; no Upper Canadian he said, would dare to vote for that item and face his constituents.

William Powell [Carleton] explain that these slides around both sides of the river, both in Upper and in Lower Canada, and he did not think that Legislation was to be stopped because of the objections raised by the member for South Oxford [George Brown].

During the long discussion which ensued, and when Hon. J.S. Macdonald was on his feet.

  • (p. 53)

William Powell [Carleton] asked whether he (J.S. McD.) had not offered to buy these slides provided the Ottawa members would support his government?

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] denied it.

After further discussion,

Alonzo Wright [Ottawa County] stated the circumstances under which the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], when Premier, had led the Ottawa members to believe that his government would assume these slides provided he got the Ottawa members to support it.

George Brown [Oxford South] proceeded to show that works of the kind would belong to the Local Government, when the House rose at 6 o’clock.

The Legislative Assembly adjourned for dinner recess.

After recess,

Alonzo Wright [Ottawa County] rose to a question which affected his personal honor. The hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] had denied the statement made by him, and that he had offered the member for Pontiac [John Poupore] to assume the slides, and take up the question of the improvement of the Ottawa navigation if you would support the Government. He now called upon the member for Pontiac [John Poupore] to say whether his (Mr. Wright’s) statement was correct.

John Poupore [Pontiac] detailed the circumstances of his meeting with the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], when that gentleman was at the head of the Government, and the conversation which transpired between them. The member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] and distinctly said that the Government should take up these questions and settle down, if he supported the Government, but it was absurd to think the Government, would do so well he remained in opposition. Conversation had taken place on two occasions on this subject, and he (Mr. Poupore) had a distinct impression of the offer made by the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]; it was that if you could support the Government the question of the slides would be taken up and disposed of in a way satisfactory to him.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] said the grave charge against the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] had not been substantiated with precision which such an important matter deserved. The times and the circumstances, day and date, should be fully stated.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] declared on his honor, that he had not had any confidential conversation with the member for Pontiac [John Poupore] since the vote of want of confidence in 1863. He had spoken to him before, for he had come to his (Mr. McD.’s) office, but the member for Ottawa [Alonzo Wright] was not then in the House, so that he could not possibly have heard any conversation, such as that he speaks of. That gentleman had only been returned at the following general election, since which time nothing had passed between him and the member for Pontiac [John Poupore].

Alonzo Wright [Ottawa County] stated that the conversation took place shortly after the opening of the session of 1863, when the hon. gentleman wanted votes.

John Poupore [Pontiac] set a conversation on the subject took place in the St. Louis hotel, on Sunday afternoon, and he (Mr. P.) had actually to go away for fear that his own friends might suspect him of deserting them.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West and Minister of Militia]  said the member for Chateaugay [Luther Holton] had not mended the matter by interfering to protect the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]. He regarded the discussion up on such points as unfortunate, and when a misconception arose as to a matter of fact between two hon. gentleman, equally worthy of credence, it was not the duty of others to interfere and provoke an angry discussion on the point. He hoped that now these old cries and personal accusations would be all abandoned, and that members would rise to a higher sense of their responsibility than to deal in these petty recriminations.

Parties had already risen in a great degree since the events which took place in July, 1864[2]. But the honourable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] had not risen; he had clung to the old system of crimination, and had provoked the hon. members for Pontiac [John Poupore] and Ottawa [Alonzo Wright], to make the charge against him which they did. He (Mr. McD.) remembered that the member for Pontiac [John Poupore] had told him a long time ago that this offer had been made to him, and the member for Ottawa [Alonzo Wright] had said that he was present. But what, after all, was it? That the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] regarded that which the government had now undertaken, the assumption of these slides by the Department of Public Works as a commendable course of policy.

The conversation no doubt conveyed the impression to the members for Pontiac [John Poupore] and Ottawa [Alonzo Wright] just as they had stated to this House, but it did not follow that the charge was of the grave character with which the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] invested it.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] replied at considerable length, saying well he thanked the Attorney-General [John A. Macdonald] for the temporary manner he had discussed the matter, but he would take his own way in meeting the charges brought against him. Had been true that he made the offer as stated, then the hon. gentleman would at once have gone to the leader of the opposition, and he would very likely have told them “you did right to refuse; how much did he offer? We will give you more.”

Some Hon. MembersLaughter.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Had he been corrupt enough to make the offer, surely he would have been corrupt enough to have raised high enough to carry it through. He then explained how the Macdonald-Sicotte government[3] had been disappointed in the member for Pontiac [John Poupore]’s vote on the Want of Confidence motion, they having established some claim to his gratitude.

Further discussion took place,

Alonzo Wright [Ottawa County] declaring, amid the laughter of the House, that he and the member for Pontiac [John Poupore] had been obliged to go to church on the Sunday in question as the only way to avoid the member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald].

The House then went into Committee of supply.

The debate on the item for slides and booms was continued for a long time,

Messrs. Brown, Mackenzie and others contending that these slides would belong either to Upper or Lower Canada, after Confederation, and that the government ought not under these circumstances to ask the appropriation.

Messrs. Galt, Morris, and others argued that it would be to the public interest to acquire the slides, that they would properly come under the control of the general government after Confederation, and that if not they might be arranged for in the general settlement which would have to take place between Upper and Lower Canada,

Messrs. Pope and Shanly argued that the public should own the slides in the interest of the lumbering trade of the country.

Aquila Walsh [Norfolk] called attention to the conflict of opinion which had already occurred between the member for South Oxford [George Brown] and the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt], as to the meaning of the Quebec resolutions[4], and hoped that the jurisdiction of the General and Local Governments would be clearly defined. He would support the appropriation without passing judgment upon the point as to which government the slides should belong, because he believed they should be the property of the public.

William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary] explained that though the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], and others, no doubt gave their honest interpretation of the Quebec resolutions, still he could show from these resolutions that all danger of conflict between the governments on appoint such as that under discussion had been very carefully guarded against. He then read from the resolutions to the effect that the Confederate Government would have power to control all local works when considered necessary in the public interest. 

The item was carried.

On the item of $500,000 towards the completion of the Parliamentary and Departmental Buildings.

Jean Chapais [Kamouraska, Commissioner of Public Works] entered into lengthy explanations of the several sums by which the amount was made up. The item was carried after a long discussion.

 The following items were agreed to:

$25,000, for the residence of His Excellency, the Governor-General, at Ottawa; $56,000 towards the completion of the Reformatory Prison at St. Vincent de Paul; $6,000, for the Marine Hospital, Quebec; $5,000, for Prison on Manitoulin Islands; $10,000, for Arbitration and Awards; $5,000, for Survey and Inspections; $50,000 (from the Upper Canada Building Fund), towards the enlargement of the Toronto Lunatic Asylum; $10,000, (from Building and Jury Fund), towards construction of the Quebec Jail; $6,000, towards construction of St. Francis District Jail; $3,200, for the Court-House and Jail at Magdalen Islands; $1,500, for St. Scholastique Court House and Jail; $18,000, to pay balance due on allowance to County Court-Houses; $8,000, (from Normal School Building Fund) for the Government House, Montreal; $40,000, for Rents, Insurances and repairs of Public Buildings; $50,000, for Upper Canada, and $50,000 for Lower Canada Colonisation Roads; $9,000, for completion of the Metapedia Military Road; $10,000, for Monck Military Road.

The Committee then rose and reported

In reply to Luther Holton [Chateauguay],

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] stated that the remaining estimates would be gone through to-morrow, and the Attorney-General West [John A. Macdonald] would proceed with the Militia Bill in the evening.

In reply to George Brown [Oxford South],

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said that neither the Local Constitutions nor the Banking Scheme would be taken up to-morrow.

The House adjourned at 12:10.


[1]      Non-relevant material from the Committee of Supply has been left out. To view the entire original document, see

[2]      The Great Coalition was formed on Jun. 22, 1864 between the Conservative Ministry of Taché-Macdonald and opposition Reformers led by George Brown. For the agreement see “Memorandum—Confidential,” Legislative Assembly (Jun. 22, 1864), pp. 205-206. A series of bi-elections in July 1864 confirmed the appointment of three reform members in cabinet. The purpose of the coalition was to singularly pursue the confederation of the British North American colonies as a permanent solution to the protracted sectional conflicts that had arrested the normal functioning of the Canadian parliament since 1856-1858. If confederation was deemed to be impracticable by the next legislative session, the Ministry would then commit itself to a smaller federative union of the two Canadas, focused on representation by population, and provisions to admit other provinces and territories at a later date. The principal members of the Coalition were Pascal Etienne Taché, John A. Macdonald, George-Etienne Cartier, A.T. Galt, and George Brown.

[3]      Led by John Sandfield Macdonald and Louis-Victor Sicotte (1862-1863).

[4]      The Quebec Resolutions which were agreed to by the Legislative Assembly can be found on Mar. 13, 1865, pp. 1027-1032.

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