Province of Canada, Legislative Council, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (14 August 1865)

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Date: 1865-08-14
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Quebec Daily Mercury
Citation: “Provincial “Parliament. Legislative Council. The Quebec Daily Mercury (15 August 1865).
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Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).


MONDAY, August 14, 1865[1]

Volunteer Militia

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862] then moved to the following effect:—

“That an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, praying that His Excellency will be pleased to cause to be laid before this House a copy of the Militia General Order calling out Volunteers for service in the month of April last, and the instructions to the Officers of such Volunteers in reference to their pay and term of service.”[2]

—The hon gentleman said his object in making this motion was to direct attention on the part of the Government to what he conceived to be a manifest injustice done to the Volunteers lately in active service on the frontier. In the Speech from the Throne[3] the other day, a high compliment had been paid to the Volunteers for the zeal and alacrity with which they had responded to the call of duty, and the uniform good conduct which had marked their stay at the different posts to which they had been assigned.

Now, while he thought the Province had every reason to feel proud of its young defenders and to compliment them when occasion offered, he felt that it would be time enough so to do—and the compliment would have been more acceptable he doubted not—after more substantial justice had been done them in the payment of their just due. Honorable members were aware that in December last, owing to unfortunate circumstances which necessitated the guarding of the frontier, the Government had been obliged to call out a contingent of Volunteers from the active Militia of the Province for the duty.

The term of service of the contingent in question having expired and the circumstances to which he had alluded still continuing, the Government was under the necessity of carrying out another quota about the first of April last. The men forming this quota were engaged on the express understanding that they should be employed for a term of three months from the time of their engagement. Before the end of the three months, however, owing to the disappearance of the circumstances which had necessitated their calling out, the men were recalled and disbanded by the Government.

Now a larger number of these men had obtained leave of absence from their regular employers for the space of three months—others had been engaged in their stead, so that by their recall many of them were thrown out of employment for the remainder of their time on that account. This was, the least to say, a hardship to which they ought not to have been subjected, and he thought the least the Government could do would be to pay them for the full time they had engaged. If the matter had not yet received attention he hoped the Government would not show any unnecessary delay in taking it up and seeing that justice was done to the gallant volunteers.

Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General]—There is no objection on the part of the Government to bring down the papers.

The Speaker was about to put the motion, when,—

Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] again rose and made some additional remarks, which were inaudible in the gallery.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands] said he desired to add a few words to what his hon. friend, Sir. N. F. Belleau, had just stated on the subject. The question had received the most attentive consideration of their late respected colleague, Hon. Sir E. P. Taché, than whom none had more at heart the interests of the Force, nor none more anxious to afford them every just encouragement.

After examination of the Militia General Order, calling them out, Hon. Sir E.P. Taché and the other members of the Government came to the conclusion that they were at liberty to recall the Volunteers, the more so as they, the Government, felt that no wrong was thereby being done to the men, and as they believed, moreover, that their recall at the time, instead of making them suffer any injury, would prove of benefit to a majority of them, being aware at least with regard to some of the companies forming the quota on service, that the men were extremely anxious to return home in time for the hay harvest then about to commence. Though recalled, their pay did not cease, however, from the date of their leaving their several posts, but ran on for some days after their abandonment of active service.

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862]—It continued until they were disbanded.

Alexander Campbell [Cataraqui, elected 1858, Commissioner of Crown Lands]—That is to say some nine or ten days after quitting their posts. The Government desired to treat the volunteers with that consideration which their spirited conduct deserved, but, under all the circumstances, taking into consideration the terms of the order, the possibility of effecting a saving to the Province, and the anxiety of the men to return to their homes, they thought themselves justified in recalling them. There was a saving to the extent of $40,000 or $50,000 effected by the step, and no hardship, as they believed, had been inflicted on the men. The matter, however, would receive attention.

Removal to Ottawa

James Currie [Niagara, elected 1862], pursuant to notice, inquired from the Government whether the Public Departments are to be removed to Ottawa immediately after the present Session? and if not, at what subsequent date such removal will take place?

Narcisse F. Belleau [Canada East, appointed 1852, Premier and Receiver General] answered from a written memorandum in these precise words—

“It is the intention of the Government to transfer the Public Departments to Ottawa as soon as possible after the present Session.”


[1]      Source: “Provincial Parliament,” The Quebec Daily Mercury (Aug. 15, 1865).

[2]      The return to the address was presented to the Legislative Council on Aug. 22, 1865. “Return To an Address of the Honorable the Legislative Assembly, dated 24th August, 1865; for copies of certain Militia General Orders, and Instructions to Officers” [No. 10] in Sessional Papers (1865). The report, however, is not printed. A note accompanies the report that reads, “In accordance with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Printing, the above documents are not printed.”

[3]      Lord Monck, Speech from the Throne, Legislative Council (Aug. 8, 1865), p. D:1.

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