Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Parliamentary Debates [Speech from the Throne] (19 January 1865)

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Date: 1865-01-19
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Journals of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 13-15.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
Note: All footnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).

Speech from the Throne

His Excellency the Right Honorable Charles Stanley, Viscount Monck—Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:  In calling you together to resume the performance of your constitutional duties, I desire to express my thankfulness to a beneficent Providence that I am enabled to congratulate you on the general prosperity and contentment of the people of this Province, and the continuance to us of the inestimable blessing of peace.

Outrages have been committed on the commerce and territory of the United States of America by persons who, after the perpetration of these acts, have, sought refuge on Canadian-soil.

In order to prevent the organization of any such enterprises within this Province, and also to enable me to discharge in an effective manner my duties towards a neighbouring power on terms of friendship with Her Majesty, I have seen fit to organize a system of detective Police on the frontier line of the United States, and with the same design I have called out for permanent duty a portion of the Volunteer Force of the Province.

Similar considerations have suggested the propriety of arming the Executive Government with stronger powers than it now possesses for dealing with persons, who, while availing themselves of the right of asylum which has always been allowed on British soil to political refugees from all foreign countries, may be unmindful of the implied obligations which, by their residence amongst us, they contract to obey our laws and to respect the declared policy of our Sovereign.

A Bill framed for this purpose will be laid before you, and I ask for it your early consideration[1].

I am happy to be able to inform you of the zeal and alacrity displayed by the members of the Volunteer Force when called upon to turn out for active service.

Their conduct shows that the present population of Canada has not degenerated from the manly virtues which characterise the races from which it derives its origin, and that it may be relied on, under all circumstances, to respond to the call of duty, either for the maintenance of internal order, or to repel foreign aggression.

The Commissioners appointed under the provisions of the second chapter of the Consolidated Statutes for Lower Canada to frame a Civil Code, and also a Code of Civil Procedure for Lower Canada, have completed the former part of their duty; the results of their labours shall be laid before you, and I am informed that the Code of Civil Procedure is in a very advanced state.

The completion of the Codification of the Civil Law, in both French and English, cannot fail to be of great benefit to the inhabitants of Lower Canada, by enabling the people of all origins to read, in their own languages, the Civil Law under which they live, and which hitherto has only been accessible in a language which is not the mother tongue of a portion of the people whose civil rights are regulated by it.

Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly: The expenditure rendered necessary by calling out the Volunteers for active service, and which was unforeseen when the Estimates of the current year were agreed to, will necessitate a supplementary vote for that service.

I have desired that an estimate for this purpose shall be laid before you.

I am happy to be in a position to inform you that the financial legislation of last Session has been attended with beneficial results.

The Revenue has largely increased, and there has been a contemporaneous extension of the trade of the Province.

I have directed the Estimates for the next financial year to be laid before you, and you will find that they have been framed with a due attention to economy combined with efficiency.

Honorable Gentlemen and Gentlemen: At the close of the last session of Parliament I informed you that it in was my intention, conjunction with my Ministers, to prepare and submit to you a measure for the solution of the constitutional problem, the discussion of which has for some years agitated this Province.

A careful consideration of the general position of British North America induced the conviction that the circumstances of the times afforded the opportunity not merely for the settlement of a question of Provincial politics, but also for the simultaneous creation of a new Nationality.

Preliminary negotiations were opened by me with the Lieutenant Governors of the other Provinces of British North America, and the result was that a meeting was held at Quebec, in the month of October last, composed of delegates from those Colonies, representing all shades of political party in their several communities, nominated by the Lieutenant Governors of their respective Provinces, who assembled here, with the sanction of the Crown and at my invitation, to confer with the members of the Canadian Ministry on the possibility of effecting a Union of all the Provinces of British North America.

This Conference, after lengthened deliberations, arrived at the conclusion that a Federal Union of these Provinces was feasible and desirable, and the result of its labors is a plan of Constitution for the proposed Union, embodied in a series of resolutions, which, with other papers relating to the subject[2], I have directed to be laid before you.

The general design of a Union, and the particular plan by which it is proposed to carry that intention into effect, have both received the cordial approbation of the Imperial Government.

An Imperial Act of Parliament will be necessary in order to give effect to the contemplated Union of the Colonies, and I have been officially informed by the Secretary of State [Edward Cardwell] that Her Majesty’s Ministers will be prepared to introduce a Bill for that purpose into the Imperial Parliament, so soon as they shall have been notified that the proposal has received the sanction of the Legislatures representing the several Provinces affected by it.

In commending to your attention this subject, the importance of which to yourselves and to your descendants it is impossible to exaggerate, I would claim for it your calm, earnest and impartial consideration.

With the public men of British North America it now rests to decide whether the vast tract of country which they inhabit shall be consolidated into a State, combining within its area all the elements of national greatness, providing for the security of its component parts and contributing to the strength and stability of the Empire; or whether the several Provinces of which it is constituted shall remain in their present fragmentary and isolated condition, comparatively powerless for mutual aid, and incapable of undertaking their proper share of Imperial responsibility.

In the discussion of an issue of such moment, I fervently pray that your minds may be guided to conclusions which shall redound to the honour of our Sovereign, to the welfare of Her subjects, and to your own reputation as Patriots and Statesmen.

His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck] was pleased to retire, and the Legislative Assembly withdrew.


[1]      The bill would become An Act for the Prevention and Repression of Outrage in Violation of the Peace on the Frontier of this Province, and for other Purposes (Province of Canada, 1865). It was passed into law on Feb. 6, 1865.

[2]      The resolutions and correspondence were presented to the Legislative Council on Jan. 27, p. A:4. For more correspondence, see also UK, Correspondence Respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces (1865).


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