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An Abridged History of Canada
Chapter XXXIII.—"Representation by Population"—To 1861


The Queen selects Ottawa as the permanent Capital—The Opposition disapprove her choice—A false move—The Ministry resign, and Mr. Brown forms a Cabinet—He is defeated, and resigns after two days tenure of office—'The Cartier-Macdonald Ministry formed—The "Double-Shuffle"—1858. Parliament meets at Quebec—Mr. Brown's Resolutions in favour of Local Self-government and Joint Authority rejected—Visit of the Prince ok Wales—His royal progress—1860. Outbreak of War of Secession—Retirement of Sir Edmund Walker Head—1861.

A general election took place early in 1858. The new Parliament met in Toronto, February 28th. Among its many new members was Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a former enthusiastic Irish patriot, and partner m the seditious schemes of the insurrectionary leaders, Mitchell and Meagher; now returned as the loyal representative of West Montreal. The country had at length grown tired of the expense and inconvenience of the removal of the seat of government every four years from Quebec to Toronto, or vice vena. The selection of a site for anew capital had been referred for final decision to Her Majesty the Queen. That decision was now given in favour of Ottawa. There was much to commend this choice. The position was remote from the American frontier. It was picturesquely situated on one of the great waterways of the country, which formed the dividing line between the two provinces. It also occupied an important strategic position, and one of great strength arid security in case of invasion. The disappointment, however, of several Canadian cities, which had aspired to the dignity of becoming the capital, caused considerable dissatisfaction. Taking advantage of this feeling, the Opposition brought forward a resolution expressing deep regret at Her Majesty's choice, which was carried by a majority of fourteen. It was a false move, and placed the Opposition in apparent antagonism to the sovereign. The ministry, identifying their cause with hers, promptly resigned, and immediately won a large amount of public sympathy.

Mr. Brown, as leader of the Opposition, was invited by the Governor-General to form a cabinet, and acceded to the request. The new ministry, although containing several gentlemen held in the highest esteem for ability and intelligence,1 failed to command a majority of the House. Many of the members repented their rash vote against the Queen's decision, and, by a division of seventy-one to thirty-one, the ministry was defeated. Mr. Brown requested a dissolution of Parliament, in order that he might appeal to the country; but this His Excellency declined to grant, alleging that the House, being newly elected, must reflect the popular will. The ministry therefore resigned, after a tenure of office of-only two days.

Mr. George E. Cartier, was now invited to construct a cabinet. This, with the aid of Mr. John A. Macdonald, he succeeded in doing.

A clause in the Independence of Parliament Act provided that a minister resigning any office might, within a month, accept another, without going back to his constituents for re-election. Several members of the late Macdonald administration who entered the new cabinet took advantage of this Act by a simple exchange of departmental office. This action was strenuously denounced by the Reform press, under the designation of the "double shuffle." It was, however, on an appeal to the courts, sustained by law; but the obnoxious clause of the Act by which it was rendered valid was shortly after rescinded.

The legislation of the parliamentary session which opened jggg on January 29th embraced several important acts.

One of these referred to the consolidation of the statutes of Upper and Lower Canada, which was at length successfully completed, and proved of immense advantage to all interested in the transaction of legal business. In order to meet the continued deficit in the revenue, the general rate of customs duties was advanced to twenty per cent.; but manufacturers were increasingly favoured by the admission of raw staples free of duty. The seat of government question was finally set at rest by the authorization of the construction of parliament buildings of a magnificent character at the selected capital.

On the 28th of February, the Canadian Legislature assembled in Quebec, to which city it had for the last time removed. The ministry was sustained during the session by large majorities, arid the House adjourned May 19th, to meet three months later, in order to give a fitting welcome to the Prince of Wales. On July 23rd H. M. ship Hero, with an accompanying fleet of man-of-war vessels, bearing the Prince of Wales and suite, reached St. John's, Newfoundland. The progress of the royal party was a continued ovation. After visiting Halifax, St. John, N.B., Fredericton and Charlottetown, they were welcomed to Canada by the Governor-General and a brilliant suite at Gaspe. The royal fleet sailed up the gloomy gorge of the Saguenay, and the thunders of its cannon awoke the immemorial echoes of the lofty cliffs of Capes Trinity and Eternity. The following day the Prince reached the capital, and was profoundly impressed with the magnificent site of the many-ramparted and grand old historic city. While at Montreal the Prince of Wales drove the last rivet of the magnificent Victoria Bridge. Bestriding the rapid current of the St. Lawrence, here nearly two miles wide, on four and twenty massive piers, it is one of the grandest achievements of engineering skill in the world.

At Ottawa, on September the 1st, amid as imposing and picturesque surroundings as any on the continent, was laid the corner stone of the stately pile, worthy of the site, which was to be the home of the legislature of a great dominion. The royal progress through the western peninsula was accompanied by no less cordial exhibitions of loving fealty to the heir of England's crown.

At Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, New York, and Boston, the Prince of Wales received from a foreign nation a warmth of welcome which proved its unforgotten chivalric regard toward the heir of a long line of English kings, and its admiration of his royal mother—as woman, wife and queen, the paragon of sovereigns.

In the United States the war clouds were lowering which were soon to deluge the country in blood. The domination of the slave power at length provoked the firm resistance of the North. Abraham Lincoln was elected as the tribune of the friends of liberty. The South refused to bow to this expression of the popular will. First South Carolina, then other states, seceded from the Union and organized a confederacy based on human slavery. With the close of the year a federal force was besieged in Fort Sumter, guarding Charleston harbour.

The first shot fired on the flag of the Republic reverberated through the nation. North and South rushed to arms. A royal proclamation, issued May 13th, enjoined strict neutrality on all British subjects, and recognized the belligerent rights of the South. Such, however, was Canada's sympathy with the North in this war for human freedom—for such it ultimately proved to be—that before its close fifty thousand of her sons enlisted in the Northern armies, and many laid down their lives in costly sacrifice for what they felt to be a righteous cause. For four long years the tide of war ebbed and flowed over those fair and fertile regions stretching from the valley of the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, carrying sorrow and death into almost every hamlet in the Union, and into many a Canadian home; costing a million of lives and millions of treasure, but, let us thank God, emancipating for ever four millions of slaves.

At home, Canada enjoyed peace and prosperity. The census returns revealed a rapid increase of population. In 1841, that of Upper Canada was 465,375 ; in 1851 it was 952,061 ; in 1861 it had reached 1,396,091. The population of Lower Canada in 1841 was 690,782; in 1851, 890,261 ; and in 1861, 1,110,444. The population of all Canada, it will -be seen, amounted in 1861 to 2,506,755. The rate of increase in the upper province had been so much greater than that of Lower Canada, that it now had an excess of 285,427 over the population of the latter; yet it had only the same parliamentary representation. This practical injustice lent new energy to the Upper Canadian agitation for representation by population. The feeling of jealousy between the two sections of the province led to extravagance of expenditure. Although Upper Canada contributed the larger part of the public revenue, the lower province claimed an equal share from the common treasury. Thus many unremunerative public works were constructed in one province as an offset to an expenditure for necessary constructions in the other.

In the month of October, Sir Edmund Walker Head ceased to be Governor-General of Canada, and returned to Great Britain.


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