Tag Archives: father of confederation

Thanks to the Celts!

In thе bеgіnnіng, Canada wаѕ a vаѕt piece оf land that had bаrеlу bееn examined. Mаnу of the first explorers wеrе Scots like Dаvіd Mасkеnzіе or Sіmоn Frаѕеr, whо both mарреd оut a large раrt оf our country. A Welshman nаmеd Sіr Thomas Button lеd thе first expedition fоr thе Nоrthwеѕt Pаѕѕаgе in 1612, whіlе Welsh саrtоgrарhеr Dаvіd Thоmрѕоn is rеfеrrеd tо аѕ Cаnаdа’ѕ Greatest Gеоgrарhеr. Aѕ more аnd mоrе ѕеttlеrѕ саmе, іt brought аbоut the Hudson Bау Cоmраnу and thе Nоrth Wеѕt Cоmраnу, both сruсіаl іn mapping оut thе bоundаrіеѕ of Cаnаdа.

Thomas Button

Admiral Sir Thomas Button, after an original oil in possession of G. M. Traheren, Glamorganshire, Wales. Source

Whіlе ѕоmе voluntarily саmе to Cаnаdа fоr a new life аnd орроrtunіtіеѕ, others had lіttlе сhоісе in leaving their homeland and coming here.  Mаnу Irіѕh lеft tо ѕаvе themselves frоm starvation duе to роtаtо famine. Fоr others, rеlіgіоuѕ dіѕрutеѕ wеrе the саuѕе for dераrturе. Whаtеvеr thе rеаѕоn, thousands left hоmе fоr a nеw wоrld. Many ships were оvеrсrоwdеd аnd unѕаnіtаrу, causing mаnу dеаthѕ. Hіt hаrdеѕt bу this were thе Irish; many dіdn’t survive thе journey. Fоr those lucky еnоugh tо аrrіvе ѕаfеlу, their nеw lіvеѕ wеrеn’t еаѕу. Thе fіrѕt settlers had to clear the lаnd аnd рrераrе іt tо grоw fооd аnd tо buіld ѕhеltеr. It was not еаѕу аnd many rеturnеd hоmе. Those соurаgеоuѕ еnоugh to ѕtау mаnаgеd tо buіld a new lіfе. Mаnу new tоwnѕ were сrеаtеd, оftеn nаmеd аftеr thоѕе whо founded them оr in rеflесtіоn оf whеrе thеу came frоm.

Canada bеgаn tо tаkе shape аnd Confederation саmе аbоut іn 1867, wіth Sіr Jоhn A. MасDоnаld, a Scotsman, bесоmіng оur fіrѕt Prime Minister. Irishman Thomas D’Arсу MсGее wаѕ аlѕо a Fаthеr of Cоnfеdеrаtіоn. Aѕ the соuntrу grеw, nеw dеvеlорmеntѕ аnd іnvеntіоnѕ came to lіght. Thе Sсоtѕ gave uѕ standard tіmе (Sir Sandford Fleming), аnd thе RCMP (Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald).  They gаvе us the modern trасtоr (James G. Cockshutt).

Thanks tо thеіr hаrd work and dеtеrmіnаtіоn, thе Scottish, Irish, and Wеlѕh people played a large part of making thіѕ соuntrу whаt іt іѕ tоdау.


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Pile O’Bones?

Timbre-poste du Canada 3 cents 1917

Timbre-poste du Canada 3 cents 1917 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When the provinces of Canada were formed, the openings of some of their legislatures were mildly amusing.  The first legislative assembly in Manitoba opened on March 15, 1871, in the home of A. C. B. Bannatyne because there was no building suitable for the purpose.  Outside the Bannatyne residence there was a ceremonial guard provided by the Ontario Rifles.

The first session of the Alberta Legislature also took place on March 15, but the year was 1906.  It was held in the Thistle skating rink and sessions continued there until a suitable building became available.

British Columbia had the first legislature west of the Great Lakes.  It opened in August 1856.  After using temporary headquarters until 1869, the legislative members moved into buildings which became known as the “bird cages.”  They were made of brick, painted various shades of red and had roofs like pagodas.  An 800-foot bridge had to be built across James Bay to connect them with Government Street in Victoria.

There is an amusing story about the opening of the legislature at Regina in 1905 when Saskatchewan became a province.  Originally, the capital of the Northwest Territories had been at Battleford, but was moved to Pile O’Bones (Regina) when the C.P.R. went through there instead at Battleford.

Among the furniture that had to be shifted was an oak table that had been sent to the capital of the Northwest Territories by the Fathers of Confederation.  It was supposed to have been the table on which the Confederation pact had been signed at Charlottetown.

There was more than a little consternation later when it was learned that Charlottetown still had the original Confederation table.  It was then explained that there had been two tables, one used for the preliminary discussions and the other for the actual signing.  Just which table had been sent to Saskatchewan may be open to argument.  In any case, it became necessary to shorten the table by six feet to provide wood for repairs to it!


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Brown Publishes Toronto’s Globe

George Brown (1818 - 1880), father of Confeder...

George Brown (1818 – 1880), father of Confederation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On March 5, 1844, the first issue of the Globe, edited and published by George Brown, appeared in Toronto.  Brown as a Scot who had emigrated to the States and then moved to Toronto where he became interested in the Reform movement.

As time went by, George Brown and the Globe became John Macdonald‘s sharpest opponents.  Clashes between Macdonald and Brown, who gradually became the leader of the Clear Grit wing of the Reform (Liberals) Party, were often the highlight of parliamentary sessions.  All the same, it was Brown who manoeuvred Macdonald into supporting Confederation.

Although Brown was dead, it was, strangely enough, on the anniversary of the first issue of the Globe, March 5, 1891, that Macdonald turned the tables on it.  His government was facing a general election, and things were going badly for the Conservatives when Macdonald got the break for which he had waited.

Edward Farrer, editor of the Globe, had been persuaded by some Americans to write a private treatise suggesting steps the United States might take to annex Canada.  It was a purely theoretical argument of the type used by debating societies.  Somehow, Macdonald got a copy of it and reread excerpts at a huge election meeting in Toronto, claiming that here was proof of a conspiracy by the Liberals to force Canada into union with the United States.  It was then that he uttered his famous campaign slogan:  “a British subject I was born, a British subject I will die.

Conservative speakers across the country took his cue, waved the Union Jack and shouted , “the old man, the old policy.”  When the votes were counted, an expected Liberal victory had been turned into defeat.  The Macdonald government had won a majority of thirty-one, but its jubilation soon diminished because Sir John died a few weeks later.

To learn about George Brown, I suggest a few sites, such as:

The Globe and Mail’s History;

Scottish Canadian Politicians;

and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

If you’d like to have a book in your hand, you would probably be interested in The Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown


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