Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates [Prorogation], 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (15 August 1866)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 92-94.
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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).
Wednesday, August 15, 1866
Then the Honourable the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly addressed His Excellency the Governor-General [Viscount Monck] as followeth: May it please your Excellency [Viscount Monck],—Immediately upon the opening of the present session, the attention of the Legislature was directed by Your Excellency to the outrages which had been committed upon the soil of Canada by a lawless band of marauders who had crossed the frontier at various points from the neighboring states, and assailed the lives and property of our peaceable citizens.
The formidable aspect of this invasion had compelled Your Excellency, by the advice of your Ministers, to call out for active service a large portion of the Volunteer Militia Force of the Province, and to incur considerable expense in defending the country from aggression. No sooner had we returned from your Excellency’s presence than, with an alacrity and unanimity unprecedented in the history of Parliament, bills were passed through all their stages conferring up on Your Excellency the necessary powers for dealing summarily with all those misguided persons who had been or might be hereafter concerned in the senseless movement which is known by the name of “Fenianism,” and empowering the government to act with the most promptitude in the maintenance of law and order throughout the land.
It is a subject of sincere congratulation and thankfulness, that the loyalty, vigor and foresight which were displayed by the Legislature upon that occasion—and which met with a hearty response and approval from the public at large—have been instrumental in allaying popular excitement, restoring confidence to the community, and frustrating the machinations of the Queen’s enemies in their evil designs against Her Majesty’s colonies on this continent.
In view of the approaching change in the political condition of British North America, our attention has been seriously directed to the formation of the Local Governments of Upper and Lower Canada, to be connected hereafter by a Federative Union with the Maritime Provinces. Resolutions embodying the opinions of the legislature upon this momentous question have been matured, agreed upon, and transmitted to Your Excellency to be forwarded for the consideration of the Imperial Government.
The gradual but decided change of opinion in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on behalf of a closer alliance with Canada, the favour with which the scheme of Confederation has been received by the most eminent statesmen in the mother country, and the cordial satisfaction evinced throughout these provinces at the prospect of political union with those who are already so nearly connected with us by ties of interest and friendly intercourse, agree in encouraging the hope that we are about to enter upon a new era, where in by the favour and blessing of Almighty God, the British Colonies in North America will become a great, powerful and wealthy nation, cleaving the closer to the Parent State, because of the freedom we enjoy under the beneficent rule of our beloved Queen.
Notwithstanding the absorbing interest which has naturally attached to the grave constitutional questions connected with the safety, protection, and future government of the Canadas, the attention of Parliament has been directed to various other measures of minor importance for the improvement of our municipal system, the fostering of native industry, and in general and advancement of our material prosperity. The Code of Civil Procedure for Lower Canada has also received the approval of the legislature, and mature consideration by a select committee of members of the legal profession from that section of the province. The number of bills, both public and private, which have been just submitted for Your Excellency’s sanction, will testify to the zeal and assiduity with which the Legislature has fulfilled its responsible duties during the present session.
I have now the honour to present for Your Excellency’s acceptance a Bill entitled:
An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money required for defraying certain expenses of the Civil Government for the financial year ending on the 13th day of June, 1867, and for other purposes connected with the Public Service.
To this Bill Royal Assent was signed, in the following words:—
In Her Majesty’s name His Excellency the Governor-General thanks Her loyal subjects, accepts their benevolence, and assents to this Bill.
After which His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck] was pleased to reserve the following bill for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure thereon:—
An Act to postpone, for a limited time, the issuing of writs for the next election of members of the Legislative Council.
Assented to 8th June, 1866
An Act to authorise the apprehension and detention until the eighth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, of such persons as shall be suspected of committing acts of hostility or conspiring against Her person and Government.
An Act protect the inhabitants have Lower Canada against lawless aggression from subjects of foreign countries at peace with Her Majesty.
His Excellency the Governor General [Viscount Monck]—Honorable Gentleman of the Legislative Council, Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly: I have much pleasure in releasing you from further attendance in Parliament, and I observe with satisfaction, the large amount of important business, both public and private, which you have transacted during the session.
The completion of the code of Civil Procedure in Lower Canada, is a permanent memorial of the ability and industry of those who devised and carry the project into execution, and cannot fail to be highly advantageous to those who live within that portion of the province.
By the Acts for amending the laws relating to Municipal Institutions, and improving the mode of Assessment in Upper Canada, the municipal system of that Province, already admirable, will be further consolidated an improved.
It must be a source of satisfaction to you to feel that the credit of the Province will be strengthened and her commercial operations will be extended by the changes which have been made in the duties on imports and other financial alterations, tending to reduce the cost of living in Canada.
- (p. 94)
We may confidently expect that the effect of the tariff which you have adopted will be to provide for the public wants without opening new sources of taxation, and to increase the available resources of the country by enlarging the markets for the industry of the people.
The establishment of telegraphic connection between the portions of the dominions of our Queen situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, has been hailed in Canada with feelings of the utmost satisfaction. The success of this great undertaking cannot fail to advance the progress of civilization, to extend the operations of trade and thereby to promote the peace and prosperity of the world at large.
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly: I thank you for the liberal provision you have made for the public service of the current year.
It shall be my object and that of my advisors to administer your grants so as to secure at once economy and efficiency.
I am particularly gratified that you have enabled me to make provision for those who have suffered by the loss of relations, or have been wounded during the late attack on the province.
This act is a just tribute on your part to the patriotism of the men upon whom devolves the defence of the Province, and will prove to the survivors that they do not serve an ungenerous or ungrateful country.
The votes for purposes of public defense are on a scale which will enable the government to improve the efficiency of the volunteers in armament, equipment and drill, and no exertions shall be wanting to apply your grants with effect in each of these particulars.
Honorable Gentleman and Gentlemen: I rejoice that you have completed your part of the plan for the Union of the colonies of British North America, and I shall not fail to transmit to the Secretary of State for the Colonies [Right Hon. Earl of Carnarvon], for presentation to Her Majesty, your address on the subject.
In bringing to a close the last session likely to be held under the Act for the Union of the two Canadas, I congratulate the Parliament which that law called into existence on the retrospect afforded by the events of the last quarter of a century in this province
You can mark during that period, the firm consolidation of your institutions, both political and municipal, the extended settlement of your country—the development of your internal resources and foreign trade—the improvement and simplification of your laws—and, above all, the education which the adoption of the system of responsible government has afforded to your statesman in the well-tried ways of the British Constitution.
The same principles the application of which has been attended with so much advantage in the smaller union, will be the guide of your course in the larger sphere of action on which you are now about to enter, and I fervently pray that the blessings which you have hitherto enjoyed may be given in larger measure to that new nationality of which you will form a part, and the dimensions of which will entitle it to a high place amongst the powers of the world.
The Speaker of the Assembly was accompanied by a small number of members, most of them having previously left the city, and the floor of the Council Chamber presented a beggarly array of empty chairs, not more than seven or eight members of the Council being in their seats. Throughout the proceedings, which lasted about two hours, all the galleries were crowded with spectators.
His Excellency [Viscount Monck] on leaving was loudly cheered by the crowd in the grand hall, and outside the main tower. On his departure a royal salute was fired with admirable regularity, by the Ottawa Field Battery. As at the opening of the session, the Cadets formed a guard of honor in the interior of the building, and the Civil Service Rifles outside.
 The Fenian movement gained strength in North America when British antipathy in the United-States were raised after American politicians blamed “unneutral” British interference during the civil war after it concluded and raids on the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland in the Fall of 1865 angered American immigrated Irish. In America, membership in the Fenian movement swelled late-1865 and it aimed at invading British North American to encourage rebellion and free Ireland from English subjugation. While the movement itself did attempt actual invasions of British North America, these were inefficient and unorganized – compared to “a crowd of seedy theatrical extras, hired by the hour for some battle scene in a play or a film.” The Fenians are mentioned once in the “Confederation Debates” of 1865 by T. D’Arcy McGee on Feb. 9,. 1865 when quoting a passage from Archbishop Connolly’s letter in favor of confederation published in the Halifax Morning Chronicle on Jan. 13, 1865. There Archbishop Connolly wrote:“A cavalry raid or a visit from our Fenian friends on horseback, through the plains of Canada and the fertile valleys of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, may cost more in a single week than Confederation for the next fifty years; and if we are to believe you, where is the security even at the present moment against such a disaster?”