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Full text of "The day of Sir John Macdonald : a chronicle of the first prime minister of the Dominion"

JOHN M. KELLY LIBRARY 




Donated by 

The Redemptorists of 
the Toronto Province 

from the Library Collection of 
Holy Redeemer College, Windsor 



University of 
St. Michael's College, Toronto 






HOLY REDEEMER LIBRARY, 
V" 












THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA 
THIRTY-TWO VOLUMES ILLUSTRATED 

Edited by GEORGE M. WRONG and H. H. LANGTON 




THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA 



PART I 

THE FIRST 

EUROPEAN 

VISITORS 



x. THE DAWN OF CANADIAN HISTORY 
By Stephen Leacock. 

2. THE MARINER OF ST MALO 

By Stephen Leacock. 



PART II 

THE RISE 
OF NEW 

FRANCE 



3. THE FOUNDER OF NEW FRANCE 

By Charles W. Colby. 

4. THE JESUIT MISSIONS 

By Thomas Guthrie Marquis. 

5. THE SEIGNEURS OF OLD CANADA 

By William Bennett Munro. 

6. THE GREAT INTENDANT 

By Thomas Chapais. 

7. THE FIGHTING GOVERNOR 

By Charles W. Colby. 



PART III 

THE 

ENGLISH 
INVASION 



8. THE GREAT FORTRESS 

By William Wood. 

9. THE ACADIAN EXILES 

By Arthur G. Doughty. 

10. THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 

By William Wood. 

11. THE WINNING OF CANADA 

By William Wood. 



THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA 



12. THE FATHER OF BRITISH CANADA 

By William Wood. 

13. THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS 

By W. Stewart Wallace. 

14. THE WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES 

By William Wood. 



PART IV 

THE 

BEGINNINGS 
OF BRITISH 

CANADA 



15. THE WAR CHIEF OF THE OTTAWAS 

By Thomas Guthrie Marquis. 

16. THE WAR CHIEF OF THE SIX NATIONS 

By Louis Aubrey Wood. 

17. TECUMSEH: THE LAST GREAT LEADER 

OF HIS PEOPLE 

By Ethel T. Raymond. 



PART V 
THE 

RED MAN 
IN CANADA 



18. THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND' 

ON HUDSON BAY 

By Agnes C. Laut. 

19. PATHFINDERS OF THE GREAr- 

PLAINS 

By Lawrence J. Burpee. 

20. ADVENTURERS OF THE FAR NORTt ? 

By Stephen Leacock. 

21. THE RED RIVER COLONY 

By Louis Aubrey Wood. 

22. PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

By Agnes C. Laut. 

23. THE CARIBOO TRAIL 

By Agnes C. Laut. 



PART VI 
PIONEERS 

OF THE 

NORTH AND 

WEST 



THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA 



24. THE FAMILY COMPACT 

By W. Stewart Wallace. 

25. THE 'PATRIOTES' OF '37 

By Alfred D. DeCelles. 

26. THE TRIBUNE OF NOVA SCOTIA 

By William Lawson Grant. 
OF POPULAR 



PART VII 

THE 
STRUGGLE 

FOR 

POLITICAL 
FREEDOM 



27. THE WINNING 
GOVERNMENT 



By Archibald MacMechan. 



PART VIII 

THE 

GROWTH OF 
NATIONALITY 



28. THE FATHERS OF CONFEDERA- 

TION 

By A. H. U. Colquhoun. 

29. THE DAY OF SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

By Sir Joseph Pope. 

30. THE DAY OF SIR WILFRID LAURIER 

By Oscar D. Skelton. 



PART IX 
NATIONAL 
HIGHWAYS 



31. ALL AFLOAT 

By William Wood. 

32. THE RAILWAY BUILDERS 

By Oscar D. Skelton. 



TORONTO : GLASGOW, BROOK & COMPANY 




THE DAY OF 

SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

BY SIR JOSEPH POPE 



r 



THE DAY OF . 

SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

A Chronicle of the First Prime Minister 
of the Dominion 



BY 



SIR JOSEPH POPE 

K.C.M.G. 




TORONTO 

GLASGOW, BROOK & COMPANY 
1920 



HOLY REDEEMER LIBRARY, WINDSOR 



Copyright in all Countries subscribing to 
the Berne Convention 



PSBSS o* THS HUNTBR-ROSB Co., LIMITED, TORONTO 



PREFATORY NOTE 

Wr.rniN a short time will be celebrated the 
centenary of the birth of the great statesman 
who, half a century ago, laid the foundations 
and, for almost twenty years, guided the 
destinies of the Dominion of Canada. 

Nearly a like period has elapsed since the 
author's Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald was 
published. That work, - appearing as it did 
little more than three years after his death, 
was necessarily subject to many limitations 
and restrictions. As a connected story it 
did not profess to come down later than 
the year 1873, nor has the time yet arrived 
for its continuation and completion on the 
same lines. That task is probably reserved 
for other and freer hands than mine. At 
the same time, it seems desirable that, as 
Sir John Macdonald 's centenary approaches, 
there should be available, in convenient form, 
a short resume of the salient features of his 



viii SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

career, which, without going deeply and at 
length into all the public questions of his 
time, should present a familiar account of 
the man and his work as a whole, as well 
as, in a lesser degree, of those with whom he 
was intimately associated. It is with such 
object that this little book has been written. 

JOSEPH POPE. 

OTTAWA, 1914. 



CONTENTS 

Page 
PREFATORY NOTE . . . . . vii 

I. YOUTH .... .1 

II. MIDDLE LIFE . .40 

III. OLD AGE ':;,' 139 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE . . . .184 

INDEX , . 137 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



StR JOHN MACDONALD CROSSING THE 
ROCKIES OVER THE NEWLY CON- 
STRUCTED CANADIAN PACIFIC RAIL- 
WAY, 1886 . ' . . , Frontispiece 
From a colour drawing; by C. W. Jefferys. 

THE MACDONALD HOMESTEAD AT ADOL- 

PHUSTOWN . . , . . Facing page 4 

From a print in the John Ross Robertson 
Collection, Toronto Public Library. 

JOHN A. MACDONALD IN 1842 ... 12 

From a photograph. 

SIR ALLAN NAPIER MACNAB ... 36 

From a portrait in the John Ross Robertson 
Collection, Toronto Public Library. 

SIR EDMUND WALKER HEAD . . 42 

From the John Ross Robertson Collection, 
Toronto Public Library. 

SIR ETIENNE PASCAL TACH6 . . 70 

From a portrait in the John Ross Robertson 
Collection, Toronto Public Library. 

SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD IN 1872 . ,,96 

From a photograph. 

SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD IN 1883 . . 138 

From a photograph. 



CHAPTER I 

YOUTH 

JOHN ALEXANDER MACDONALD, second son 
of Hugh Macdonald and Helen Shaw, was 
born in Glasgow on January n, 1815. His 
father, originally from Sutherlandshire, re- 
moved in early life to Glasgow, where he 
formed a partnership with one M'Phail, and 
embarked in business as a cotton manu- 
facturer. Subsequently he engaged in the 
manufacture of bandanas, and the style of 
the firm became ' H. Macdonald and Co.* 
The venture did not prove successful, and 
Macdonald resolved to try his fortunes in the 
New World. Accordingly, in the year 1820, 
he embarked for Canada in the good ship 
Earl of Buckinghamshire, and after a voyage 
long and irksome even for those days, landed 
at Quebec and journeyed overland to Kings- 
ton, then and for some years after the most 
considerable town in Upper Canada, boasting 
a population (exclusive of the military) of 
about 2500 souls. 

D.J.M. A 



2 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

At that time the whole population of what 
is now the province of Ontario did not exceed 
120,000, clustered, for the most part, in settle- 
ments along the Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario 
proper, and the vicinity of the Niagara and 
Detroit rivers. The interior of the province 
was covered with the primeval forest, which 
disappeared slowly, and only by dint of pain- 
ful and unceasing toil. The early accounts 
of Kingston bear eloquent testimony to its 
primitive character. In 1815, according to 
a correspondent of the Kingston Gazette, the 
town possessed no footways worthy of the 
name, in consequence of which lack it was, 
during rainy weather, ' scarcely possible to 
move about without being in mud to the 
ankles.' No provision existed for lighting 
the streets ' in the dark of the moon ' ; a fire- 
engine was badly needed, and also the enforce- 
ment of a regulation prohibiting the piling of 
wood in public thoroughfares. 

Communication with the outside world, in 
those early days, was slow, toilsome, and 
sometimes dangerous. The roads were, for 
the most part, Indian paths, somewhat im- 
proved in places, but utterly unsuited, par- 
ticularly in spring and autumn, for the passage 
of heavily laden vehicles. In 1817 a weekly 



YOUTH 3 

stage began running from Kingston to York 
(Toronto), with a fare of eighteen dollars. 
The opening of an overland highway between 
Kingston and Montreal, which could be 
travelled on by horses, was hailed as a great 
boon. Prior to this the journey to Montreal 
had been generally made by water, in an 
enlarged and improved type of bateau known 
as a Durham boat, which had a speed of two 
to three miles an hour. The cost to the 
passenger was one cent and a half a mile, 
including board. 

In the early twenties of the nineteenth 
century the infant province of Upper Canada 
found itself slowly recovering from the effects 
of the War of 1812-14. Major-General Sir 
Peregrine Maitland, the lieutenant-governor, 
together with the Executive and Legislative 
Councils, was largely under the influence of 
the * Family Compact ' of those days. The 
oligarchical and selfish rule of this coterie 
gave rise to much dissatisfaction among the 
people, whose discontent, assiduously fanned 
by agitators like Robert Gourlay, culminated 
in open rebellion in the succeeding decade. 

Such was the condition of things prevailing 
at the time when the future prime minister 
arrived in the town with which he was destined 



4 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

to be in close association for nearly three- 
quarters of a century. 

Hugh Macdonald, after a few years of un- 
satisfactory experience in Kingston, deter- 
mined upon seeking fortune farther west. 
Accordingly he moved up the Bay of Quinte 
to the township of Adolphustown, which had 
been settled about forty years previously by 
a party of United Empire Loyalists under the 
command of one Captain Van Alstine. Here, 
at Hay Bay, Macdonald opened a shop. Sub- 
sequently he moved across the Bay of Quinte 
to a place in the county of Prince Edward, 
known then as the Stone Mills, and after- 
wards as Glenora, where he built a grist-mill. 
This undertaking, however, did not prosper, 
and in 1836 he returned to Kingston, where 
he obtained a post in the Commercial Bank. 
Shortly afterwards he fell into ill health, and 
in 1841 he died. 

Few places in the wide Dominion of Canada 
possess greater charm than the lovely arm of 
Lake Ontario beside whose pleasant waters 
Sir John Macdonald spent the days of his 
early boyhood. The settlements had been 
founded by Loyalists who had left the United 
States rather than join in revolution. The 
lad lived in daily contact with men who had 



YOUTH 5 

given the strongest possible testimony of their 
loyalty, in relinquishing all that was dear to 
them rather than forswear allegiance to their 
king, and it is not surprising that he imbibed, 
in the morning of life, those principles of 
devotion to the crown and to British institu- 
tions which regulated every stage of his sub- 
sequent career. To the last he never forgot 
the Bay of Quinte, and whenever I passed 
through that charming locality in his com- 
pany he would speak with enthusiasm of the 
days when he lived there. He would recall 
some event connected with each neighbour- 
hood, until, between Glasgow and Kingston, 
Adolphustown, Hay Bay, and the Stone Mills, 
it v/as hard to tell what was his native place. 
I told him so one day, and he laughingly 
replied : ' That 's just what the Grits say. 
The Globe has it that I am born in a new place 
every general election ! ' 

When Hugh Macdonald moved from Hay 
Bay to the Stone Mills, his son John, then 
about ten years of age, returned to Kingston 
to pursue his studies. He attended the 
grammar school in that town until he reached 
the age of fifteen, when he began the world 
for himself. Five years at a grammar school 
was all the formal education Sir John Mac- 



6 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

donald ever enjoyed. To reflect upon the 
vast fund of knowledge of all kinds which he 
acquired in after years by his reading, his 
observation, and his experience, is to realize 
to the full the truth of the saying, that a 
man's education often begins with his leaving 
school. He always regretted the disadvan- 
tages of his early life. ' If I had had a 
university education/ I heard him say one 
day, ' I should probably have entered upon 
the path of literature and acquired distinction 
therein.' He did not add, as he might have 
done, that the successful government of 
millions of men, the strengthening of an 
empire, the creation of a great dominion, call 
for the possession and exercise of rarer quali- 
ties than are necessary to the achievement of 
literary fame. 

In 1830 Macdonald, then fifteen years of 
age, entered upon the study of law in the office 
of George Mackenzie of Kingston, a close 
friend of his father, with whom also he lodged. 
In 1832 Mackenzie opened a branch office in 
the neighbouring town of Napanee, to which 
place Macdonald was occasionally sent to look 
after the business. In 1833, by an arrange- 
ment made between Mackenzie and L. P. 
Macpher3on a relative of the Macdonalds 



YOUTH 7 

young Macdonald was sent to Picton, to take 
charge of Macpherson's law-office during his 
absence from Canada. 

On being called to the bar in 1836, Mac- 
donald opened an office in Kingston and 
began the practice of law on his own account. 
In the first year of his profession, there entered 
his office as student a lad destined to become, 
in Ontario, scarcely less eminent than him- 
self. This was Oliver Mowat, the son of 
Macdonald's intimate personal and political 
friend, John Mowat of Kingston. Oliver 
Mowat studied law four years with Macdonald, 
leaving his office in 1840. About the same 
time another youth, likewise destined to 
achieve more than local celebrity as Sir 
Alexander Campbell, applied for admission to 
the office. Few circumstances in the political 
history of Canada have been more dwelt upon 
than this noteworthy association ; few are 
more worthy of remark. A young man, 
barely twenty-one years of age, without any 
special advantages of birth or education, 
opens a law-office in Kingston, at that time 
a place of less than five thousand inhabitants. 
Two lads come to him to study law. The 
three work together for a few years. They 
afterwards go into politics. One drifts away 



8 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

from the other two, who remain closely allied. 
After the lapse of twenty-five years the 
three meet again, at the Executive Council 
Board, members of the same Administration. 
Another twenty-five years roll by, and the 
principal is prime minister of Canada, while 
one of the students is lieutenant-governor of 
the great province of Ontario, the other his 
chief adviser, and all three are decorated by 
Her Majesty for distinguished services to the 
state. 

The times were rough. In Macdonald's 
first case, which was at Picton, he and the 
opposing counsel became involved in an argu- 
ment, which, waxing hotter and hotter, 
culminated in blows. They closed and fought 
in open court, to the scandal of the judge, who 
immediately instructed the crier to enforce 
order. This crier was an old man, personally 
much attached to Macdonald, in whom he 
took a lively interest. In pursuance of his 
duty, however, he was compelled to interfere. 
Moving towards the combatants, and circling 
round them, he shouted in stentorian tones, 
' Order in the court, order in the court ! ' 
adding in a low, but intensely sympathetic 
voice as he passed near his protege, * Hit him, 
John ! ' I have heard Sir John Macdonald 



YOUTH 9 

say that, in many a parliamentary encounter 
of after years, he has seemed to hear, above 
the excitement of the occasion, the voice of the 
old crier whispering in his ear the words of 
encouragement, * Hit him, John ! ' 

In 1837 the rebellion broke out, and 
Macdonald hastened to give his services to 
the cause of law and order. ' I carried my 
musket in '37,' he was wont to say in after 
years. One day he gave me an account of a 
long march his company made, I forget from 
what place, but with Toronto as the objective 
point. ' The day was hot, my feet were 
blistered I was but a weary boy and I 
thought I should have dropped under the 
weight of the flint musket which galled my 
shoulder. But I managed to keep up with my 
companion, a grim old soldier, who seemed 
impervious to fatigue.' 

In 1838 took place the notorious Von 
Shoultz affair, about which much misunder- 
standing exists. The facts are these. During 
the rebellion of 1837-38 a party of Americans 
crossed the border and captured a windmill 
near Prescott, which they held for eight days. 
They were finally dislodged, arrested, and 
tried by court-martial. The quartermaster of 
the insurgents was a man named Gold. He 



io SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

was taken, as was also Von Shoultz, a Polish 
gentleman. Gold had a brother-in-law in 
Kingston, named Ford. Ford was anxious 
that some effort should be made to defend 
his relative. Leading lawyers refused the ser- 
vice. One morning Ford came to Macdonald's 
house before he was up. After much entreaty 
he persuaded Macdonald to undertake the 
defence. There could be practically no de- 
fence, however, and Von Shoultz, Gold, and 
nine others were condemned and hanged. 
Von Shoultz's career had been chequered. 
He was born in Cracow. His father, a major 
in a Cracow regiment, was killed in action 
while fighting for the cause of an independent 
Poland, and on the field of battle his son was 
selected by the corps to fill his father's place. 
He afterwards drifted about Europe until he 
reached Florence, where he taught music for 
a while. There he married an English girl, 
daughter of an Indian officer, General Mac- 
kenzie. Von Shoultz subsequently crossed 
to America, settled in Virginia, took out a 
patent for crystallizing salt, and acquired 
some property. The course of business took 
him to Salina, N.Y., not far from the Canadian 
boundary, where he heard of the rebellion 
going on in Canada. He not unnaturally 



YOUTH ii 

associated the cause of the rebels with that of 
his Polish brethren warring against oppression. 
He had been told that the Canadians were 
serfs, fighting for liberty. Fired with zeal 
for such a cause, he crossed the frontier with a 
company and was captured. He was only 
second in command, the nominal chief being 
a Yankee named Abbey, who tried to run 
away, and who, Von Shoultz declared to 
Macdonald, was a coward. 

Von Shoultz left to Macdonald a hundred 
dollars in his will. ' I wish my executors 
to give Mr John A. Macdonald $100 for his 
kindness to me.' This was in the original 
draft, but Macdonald left it out when reading 
over the will for his signature. Von Shoultz 
observed the omission, and said, * You have 
left that out/ Macdonald replied yes, that 
he would not take it. ' Well/ replied Von 
Shoultz, ' if it cannot be done one way, it 
can another.' So he wrote with his own hand 
a letter of instructions to his executors to pay 
this money over, but Macdonald refused to 
accept it. 

It has been generally stated that it was the 
* eloquent appeal ' on behalf of this unfortu- 
nate man which established Macdonald's re- 
putation at the bar, but this is quite a mistake. 



12 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Macdonald never made any speech in defence 
of Von Shoultz, for two very good reasons. 
First, the Pole pleaded guilty at the outset ; 
and, secondly, the trial was by court-martial, 
on which occasions, in those days, counsel were 
not allowed to address the court on behalf of 
the prisoner. 

This erroneous impression leads me to say 
that a good deal of misapprehension exists re- 
specting the early manhood of Canada's first 
prime minister. He left school, as we have 
seen, at an age when many boys begin their 
studies. He did this in order that he might 
assist in supporting his parents and sisters, 
who, from causes which I have indicated, were 
in need of his help. The responsibility was 
no light one for a lad of fifteen. Life with 
him in those days was a struggle ; and all the 
glamour with which writers seek to invest it, 
who begin their accounts by mysterious allu- 
sions to the mailed barons of his line, is quite 
out of place. His grandfather was a merchant 
in a Highland village. His father served his 
apprenticeship in his grandfather's shop, and 
he himself was compelled to begin the battle 
of life when a mere lad. Sir John Macdonald 
owed nothing to birth or fortune. He did 
not think little of either of them, but it is the 




Age 27 



1842 



YOUTH 13 

simple truth to say that he attained the 
eminent position which he afterwards occupied 
solely by his own exertions. He was proud 
of this fact, and those who thought to flatter 
him by asserting the contrary little knew the 
man. Nor is it true that he leaped at one 
bound into the first rank of the legal pro- 
fession. On the contrary, I believe that his 
progress at the bar, although uniform and 
constant, was not extraordinarily rapid. He 
once told me that he was unfortunate, in the 
beginning of his career, with his criminal 
cases, several of his clients, of whom Von 
Shoultz was one, having been hanged. This 
piece of ill luck was so marked that somebody 
(I think it was William Henry Draper, after- 
wards chief justice) said to him, jokingly, one 
day, * John A., we shall have to make you 
attorney-general, owing to your success in 
securing convictions ! ' 

Macdonald's mother was in many ways a 
remarkable woman. She had great energy 
and strength of will, and it was she, to use his 
own words, who * kept the family together ' 
during their first years in Canada. For her 
he ever cherished a tender regard, and her 
death, which occurred in 1862, was a great 
grief to him. 



14 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

The selection of Kingston by Lord Syden- 
ham in 1840 as the seat of government of 
the united provinces of Canada was a boon 
to the town. Real property advanced in 
price, some handsome buildings were erected, 
apart from those used as public offices, and 
a general improvement in the matter of 
pavements, drains, and other public utili- 
ties became manifest. Meanwhile, however, 
Toronto had far outstripped its sometime 
rival. In 1824 the population of Toronto 
(then York) had been less than 1700, while 
that of Kingston had been about 3000, yet 
in 1848 Toronto counted 23,500 inhabitants 
to Kingston's 8400. Still, Kingston jogged 
along very comfortably, and Macdonald added 
steadily to his reputation and practice. On 
September i, 1843, he formed a partnership 
with his quondam student Alexander Camp- 
bell, who had just been admitted to the bar. 
It was not long before Macdonald became 
prominent as a citizen of Kingston. In 
March 1843 he was elected to the city council 
for what is now a portion of Frontenac 
and Cataraqui wards. But a higher destiny 
awaited him. 

The rebellion which had broken out in 
Lower Canada and spread to the upper pro- 



YOUTH 15 

vince, while the future prime minister was 
quietly applying himself to business, had been 
suppressed. In Upper Canada, indeed, it had 
never assumed a serious character. Its leaders, 
or some of them at any rate, had received the 
reward of their transgressions. Lord Durham 
had come to Canada, charged with the 
arduous duty of ascertaining the cause of the 
grave disorders which afflicted the colony. 
He had executed his difficult task with rare 
skill, but had gone home broken-hearted to 
die, leaving behind him a report which will 
ever remain a monument no less to his powers 
of observation and analysis than to the clear- 
ness and vigour of his literary style.* The 

* The question of the authorship of Lord Durham's Report is 
one which all Canadians have heard debated from their youth 
up. No matter who may have composed the document, it was 
Lord Durham's opinions and principles that it expressed. Lord 
Durham signed it and took responsibility for it, and it very 
naturally and properly goes under his name. But in a review of 
my Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald the Athenaeum (January 12, 
1895) said: 'He, 'the author, repeats at second hand, and with 
the incorrectness of those who do not take the trouble to verify 
their references, that Lord Durham's report on Canada' was 
written by the nobleman whose name it bears. * He could easily 
have ascertained that the author of the report which he com- 
mends was Charles Buller, two paragraphs excepted which 
were contributed by Gibbon Wakefield and R. D. Hanson.' 
Some years later, however, in a review of Mr Stuart Reid's 
book on Lord Durham, the same Athenaeum (November 3, 1906) 
observed : * Mr Reid conclusively disposes of Brougham's malig- 



16 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

union of Upper and Lower Canada, advocated 
by Lord Durham, had taken place. The seat 
of government had been fixed at Kingston, 
and the experiment of a united Canada had 
begun. 

We have seen that Macdonald, at the out- 
break of the rebellion, hastened to place his 
military services at the disposal of the crown. 
On the restoration of law and order we find his 
political sympathies ever on the side of what 
used to be called the governor's party. This 
does not mean that at any time of his career 
he was a member of, or in full sympathy 
with, the high Toryism of the ' Family Com- 
pact/ In those days he does not even seem 
to have classed himself as a Tory.* Like 
many moderate men in the province, Mac- 
donald sided with this party because he 
hated sedition. The members of the ' Family 

nant slander that the matter of Lord Durham's report on Canada 
came from a felon (Wakefield) and the style from a coxcomb 
(Buller). The latter, in his account of the mission, frequently 
alludes to the report, but not a single phrase hints that he was 
the author.' 

* * It is well known, sir, that while I have always been a 
member of what is called the Conservative party, I could never 
have been called a Tory, although there is no man who more 
respects what is called old-fogey Toryism than I do, so long as 
it is based upon principle ' (Speech of Hon. John A. Macdonald 
at St Thomas, 1860). 



YOUTH 17 

Compact ' who stood by the governor were 
devotedly loyal to the crown and to mon- 
archical institutions, while the violent lan- 
guage of some of the Radical party alienated 
many persons who, while they were not 
Tories, were even less disposed to become 
rebels. 

The exacting demands of his Radical ad- 
visers upon the governor-general at this period 
occasionally passed all bounds. One of their 
grievances against Sir Charles Metcalfe was 
that he had ventured to appoint on his per- 
sonal staff a Canadian gentleman bearing the 
distinguished name of deSalaberry, who hap- 
pened to be distasteful to LaFontaine. In 
our day, of course, no minister could dream 
of interfering, even by way of suggestion, 
with a governor-general in the selection of 
his staff. In 1844, when the crisis came, and 
Metcalfe appealed to the people of Canada 
to sustain him, Macdonald sought election 
to the Assembly from Kingston. It was 
his ' firm belief/ he announced at the time, 
' that the prosperity of Canada depends upon 
its permanent connection with the mother 
country ' ; and he was determined to ' resist 
to the utmost any attempt (from whatever 
quarter it may come) which may tend to 

D.J.M. B 



i8 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

weaken that union.' He was elected by a 
large majority. 

In the same year, the year in which Mac- 
donald was first elected to parliament, another 
young Scotsman, likewise to attain great 
prominence in the country, made his debut 
upon the Canadian stage. On March 5, 1844, 
the Toronto Globe began its long and successful 
career under the guidance of George Brown, 
an active and vigorous youth of twenty-five, 
who at once threw himself with great energy 
and conspicuous ability into the political con- 
test that raged round the figure of the governor- 
general. Brown's qualities were such as to 
bring him to the front in any labour in which 
he might engage. Ere long he became one of 
the leaders of the Reform party, a position 
which he maintained down to the date of his 
untimely death at the hands of an assassin in 
1880. Brown did not, however, enter parlia- 
ment for some years after the period we are 
here considering. 

The Conservative party issued from the 
general elections of 1844 with a bare majority 
in the House, which seldom exceeded six and 
sometimes sank to two or three. Early in that 
year the seat of government had been re- 
moved from Kingston to Montreal. The first 



YOUTH 19 

session of the new parliament the parliament 
in which Macdonald had his first seat was 
held in the old Legislative Building which 
occupied what was afterwards the site of St 
Anne's Market. In those days the residential 
quarter was in the neighbourhood of Dalhousie 
Square, the old Donegana Hotel on Notre 
Dame Street being the principal hostelry in 
the city. There it was that the party chiefs 
were wont to forgather. That Macdonald 
speedily attained a leading position in the 
councils of his party is apparent from the fact 
that he had not been two years and a half 
in parliament when the prime minister, the 
Hon. W. H. Draper, wrote him (March 4, 
1847) requesting his presence in Montreal. 
Two months later Macdonald was offered and 
accepted a seat in the Cabinet. 

Almost immediately after Macdonald's 
admission to the Cabinet, Draper retired to 
the bench. He was succeeded by Henry 
Sherwood, a scion of the ' Family Compact/ 
whose term of office was brief. The elections 
came on during the latter part of December, 
and, as was very generally expected,* the 

* * In '47 I was a member of the Canadian Government, and 
we went to a general election knowing well that we should be 
defeated' (Sir John A. Macdonald to the Hon. P. C. Hill, dated 
Ottawa, October 7, 1867). 



20 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Sherwood Administration went down to defeat. 
In Lower Canada the Government did not 
carry a single French-Canadian constituency, 
and in Upper Canada they failed of a majority, 
taking only twenty seats out of forty-two. 
In accordance with the more decorous practice 
of those days, the Ministry, instead of accept- 
ing their defeat at the hands of the press, met 
parliament like men, and awaited the vote of 
want of confidence from the people's repre- 
sentatives. This was not long in coming ; 
whereupon they resigned, and the Reform 
leaders Baldwin and LaFontaine reigned in 
their stead. 

The events of the next few years afford a 
striking example of the mutability of political 
life. Though this second Baldwin-LaFon- 
taine Administration was elected to power by 
a large majority though it commanded more 
than five votes in the Assembly to every two 
of the Opposition yet within three years 
both leaders had withdrawn from public life, 
and Baldwin himself had sustained a personal 
defeat at the polls. The Liberal Government, 
reconstituted under Sir Francis Hincks, man- 
aged to retain office for three years more ; but 
it was crippled throughout its whole term by 
the most bitter internecine feuds, and it fell 



YOUTH 21 

at length before the assaults of those who had 
been elected to support it. The measure 
responsible more than any other for the 
excited and bitter feeling which prevailed 
was the Rebellion Losses Bill. There is 
reason to believe that the members of the 
Government, or at any rate the Upper- 
Canadian ministers, were not at any time 
united in their support of the Bill. But the 
French vehemently insisted on it, and the 
Ministry, dependent as it was on the Lower- 
Canadian vote for its existence, had no choice. 
The Bill provided, as the title indicates, for 
compensation out of the public treasury to 
those persons in Lower Canada who had 
suffered loss of property during the rebellion. 
It was not proposed to make a distinction 
between loyalists and rebels, further than by 
the insertion of a provision that no person 
who had actually been convicted of treason, 
or who had been transported to Bermuda, 
should share in the indemnity. Now, a large 
number of the people of Lower Canada had 
been more or less concerned in the rebellion, 
but not one-tenth of them had been arrested, 
and only a small minority of those arrested 
had been brought to trial. It is therefore 
easy to see that the proposal was calculated 



22 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

to produce a bitter feeling among those who 
looked upon rebellion as the most grievous 
of crimes. It was, they argued, simply putting 
a premium on treason. The measure was 
fiercely resisted by the Opposition, and called 
forth a lively and acrimonious debate. Among 
its strongest opponents was Macdonald. Ac- 
cording to his custom, he listened patiently to 
the arguments for and against the measure, 
and did not make his speech until towards 
the close of the debate. 

Despite the protests of the Opposition, the 
Bill passed its third reading in the House of 
Assembly on March 9, 1849, by a vote of 
forty-seven to eighteen. Outside the walls 
of parliament the clamour grew fiercer every 
hour. Meetings were held all over Upper 
Canada and in Montreal, and petitions to 
Lord Elgin, the governor-general, poured in 
thick and fast, praying that the obnoxious 
measure might not become law. In Toronto 
some disturbances took place, during which 
the houses of Baldwin, Blake, and other 
prominent Liberals were attacked, and the 
Reform leaders were burned in effigy. 

The Government, which all along seems to 
have underrated public feeling, was so un- 
fortunate as to incur the suspicion of deliber- 



YOUTH 23 

ately going out of its way to inflame popular 
resentment. It was considered expedient, for 
commercial reasons, to bring into operation 
immediately a customs law, and the Ministry 
took the unwise course of advising the 
governor-general to assent to the Rebellion 
Losses Bill at the same time. Accordingly, 
on April 25, Lord Elgin proceeded to the 
Parliament Buildings and gave the royal 
assent to these and other bills. Not a sus- 
picion of the governor's intention had got 
abroad until the morning of the eventful day. 
His action was looked upon as a defiance 
of public sentiment ; the popular mind was 
already violently excited, and consequences 
of the direst kind followed. His Excellency, 
when returning to his residence, * Monklands,' 
was grossly insulted, his carriage was almost 
shattered by stones, and he himself narrowly 
escaped bodily injury at the hands of the 
infuriated populace. A public meeting was 
held that evening on the Champs de Mars, 
and resolutions were adopted praying Her 
Majesty to recall Lord Elgin. But no mere 
passing of resolutions would suffice the fiercer 
spirits of that meeting. The cry arose ' To 
the Parliament Buildings ! ' and soon the 
lurid flames mounting on the night air told 



24 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

the horror-stricken people of Montreal that 
anarchy was in their midst. The whole build- 
ing, including the legislative libraries, which 
contained many rare and priceless records of 
the colony, was destroyed in a few minutes. 

This abominable outrage called for the 
severest censure, not merely on the rioters, 
but also on the authorities, who took few steps 
to avert the calamity. An eyewitness stated 
that half a dozen men could have extinguished 
the fire, which owed its origin to lighted balls 
of paper thrown about the chamber by the 
rioters ; but there does not seem to have 
been even a policeman on the ground. Four 
days afterwards the Government, still dis- 
regarding public sentiment, brought the gover- 
nor-general to town to receive an address 
voted to him by the Assembly. The occasion 
was the signal for another disturbance. Stones 
were thrown at Lord Elgin's carriage ; and 
missiles of a more offensive character were 
directed with such correctness of aim that 
the ubiquitous reporter of the day described 
the back of the governor's carriage as * pre- 
senting an awful sight.' Various societies, 
notably St Andrew's Society of Montreal, 
passed resolutions removing Lord Elgin from 
the presidency or patronage of their organiza- 



YOUTH 25 

tions ; some of them formally expelled him. 
On the other hand, he received many addresses 
from various parts of the country expressive 
of confidence and esteem. Sir Allan MacNab 
and William Cayley repaired to England to 
protest, on behalf of the Opposition, against 
the governor's course. They were closely 
followed by Francis Hincks, representing the 
Government. The matter duly came up in 
the Imperial parliament. In the House of 
Commons the Bill was vigorously attacked 
by Gladstone, who shared the view of the 
Canadian Opposition that it was a measure 
for the rewarding of rebels. It was defended by 
Lord John Russell, and Lord Elgin's course in 
following the advice of his ministers was ulti- 
mately approved by the home government. 

As in many another case, the expectation 
proved worse than the reality. The com- 
mission appointed by the Government under 
the Rebellion Losses Act was composed of 
moderate men, who had the wisdom to refuse 
compensation to many claimants on the ground 
of their having been implicated in the re- 
bellion, although never convicted by any court. 
Had it been understood that the restricted 
interpretation which the commission gave the 
Bill would be applied, it is possible that this 



26 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

disgraceful episode in the history of Canada 
would not have to be told. 

An inevitable consequence of this lament- 
able occurrence was the removal of the seat of 
government from Montreal. The Administra- 
tion felt that, in view of what had taken 
place, it would be folly to expose the Govern- 
ment and parliament to a repetition of these 
outrages. This resolve gave rise to innumer- 
able jealousies on the part of the several cities 
which aspired to the honour of having the 
legislature in their midst. Macdonald was 
early on the look-out, and, at the conclusion of 
his speech on the disturbances, in the course of 
which he severely censured the Ministry for 
its neglect to take ordinary precautions to 
avert what it should have known was by no 
means an unlikely contingency, he moved that 
the seat of government be restored to Kings- 
ton a motion which was defeated by a large 
majority, as was a similar proposal in favour 
of Bytown (Ottawa). It was finally deter- 
mined to adopt- the ambulatory system of 
having the capital alternately at Quebec and 
Toronto, a system which prevailed until the 
removal to Ottawa in 1865.* 

* The dates of the first meetings of the Executive Council, 
held at the various seats of government, from the Union in 



YOUTH 27 

The historic Annexation manifesto of 1849 
was an outcome of the excitement produced 
by the Rebellion Losses Act. Several hun- 
dreds of the leading citizens of Montreal, 
despairing of the future of a country which 
could tolerate such legislation as they had 
recently witnessed, affixed their names to a 
document advocating a friendly and peace- 
able separation from British connection as a 
prelude to union with the United States. 
Men subsequently known as Sir John Rose, 
Sir John Caldwell Abbott, Sir Francis Johnson, 
Sir David Macpherson, together with such 
well-known citizens as the Redpaths, the 
Molsons, the Torrances, and the Workmans, 
were among the number. 

Macdonald, referring in later years to this 
Annexation manifesto, observed : 

Our fellows lost their heads. I was 
pressed to sign it, but refused and advo- 
cated the formation of the British America 
League as a more sensible procedure. 
From all parts of Upper Canada, and from 
. the British section of Lower Canada, and 

1841 till 1867, are as follows : at Kingston, June n, 1841 ; at 
Montreal, July i, 1844; at Toronto, November 13, 1849; at 
Quebec, October 22, 1851 ; at Toronto, November 9, 1855 ; 
at Quebec, October 21, 1859; at Ottawa, November 28, 1865. 



28 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

from the British inhabitants of Montreal, 
representatives were chosen. They met 
at Kingston for the purpose of considering 
the great danger to which the constitution 
of Canada was exposed. A safety-valve 
was found. Our first resolution was that 
we were resolved to maintain inviolate 
the connection with the mother country. 
The second proposition was that the true 
solution of the difficulty lay in the con- 
federation of all the provinces. The third 
resolution was that we should attempt to 
form in such confederation, or in Canada 
before Confederation, a commercial national 
policy. The effects of the formation of 
the British America League were marvel- 
lous. Under its influence the annexation 
sentiment disappeared, the feeling of irri- 
tation died away, and the principles which 
were laid down by the British America 
League in 1850 are the lines on which 
the Conservative-Liberal party has moved 
ever since. 

The carrying of the Rebellion Losses Bill 
was the high-water mark of the LaFontaine- 
Baldwin Administration. In the following 
session symptoms of disintegration began to 



YOUTH 29 

appear. Grown bold by success, the advanced 
section of the Upper - Canadian Radicals 
pressed for the immediate secularization of 
the Clergy Reserves * by a process scarcely 
distinguishable from confiscation. To this 
demand the Government was not prepared 
to agree, and in consequence there was 
much disaffection in the Reform ranks. This 
had its counterpart in Lower Canada, where 
Louis Joseph Papineau and his Parti Rouge 
clamoured for various impracticable consti- 
tutional changes, including a general appli- 
cation of the elective principle, a republican 
form of government, and, ultimately, annexa- 
tion to the United States. 

To add to the difficulties of the situation, 
George Brown, in the columns of the Globe, 
which up to this time was supposed to re- 
flect the views of the Government, began a 
furious onslaught against Roman Catholicism 
in general and on the French Canadians in 
particular. This fatuous course could not 
fail to prove embarrassing to a Ministry which 
drew its main support from Lower Canada. 

* That is, that the land set apart by the Constitutional Act of 
1791 'for the support and maintenance of a Protestant Clergy,' 
amounting to one-seventh of all the lands granted, should be 
taken over by the Government and thrown open for settlement. 



30 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

It was the time of the ' Papal Aggression ' in 
England. Ant i- Catholicism was in the air, 
and found a congenial exponent in George 
Brown, whose vehement and intolerant nature 
espoused the new crusade with enthusiasm. 
It is difficult for any one living in our day to 
conceive of the leading organ of a great 
political party writing thus of a people who 
at that time numbered very nearly one-half 
the population of Canada, and from whose 
ranks the parliamentary supporters of its 
own political party were largely drawn : 

It would give us great pleasure to think 
that the French Canadians were really 
hearty coadjutors of the Upper-Canadian 
Reformers, but all the indications point 
the other way, and it appears hoping 
against hope to anticipate still ; their race, 
their religion, their habits, their ignorance, 
are all against it, and their recent con- 
duct is in harmony with these.* 

The Ministry could not be expected to stand 
this sort of thing indefinitely. They were 

* Globe, 1851. For further instances see Globe, February 9 
and December 14, 1853 ; February 9, 18, 22 and November 5, 
1856 ; August 7 and December 23, 1857. 



YOUTH 31 

compelled to disavow the Globe, and so to 
widen the breach between them and Brown. 

In 1851 Baldwin and LaFontaine retired 
from public life. A new Administration was 
formed from the same party under the 
leadership of Hincks and Morin, and in the 
general elections that followed George Brown 
was returned to parliament for Kent. The 
new Ministry, however, found no more favour 
at the hands of Brown than did its prede- 
cessor. Nor was Brown content to confine 
his attacks to the floor of the House. He 
wrote and published in the Globe a series 
of open letters addressed to Hincks, charging 
him with having paltered away his Liberal 
principles for the sake of French -Canadian 
support. To such lengths did Brown carry 
his opposition, that in the general elections of 
1854 we find him, together with the extreme 
Liberals, known as Rouges, in Lower Canada, 
openly supporting the Conservative leaders 
against the Government. 

While Brown was thus helping on the 
disruption of his party, his future great rival, 
by a very different line of conduct, was laying 
broad and deep the foundations of a policy 
tending to ameliorate the racial and religious 
differences unfortunately existing between 



32 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Upper and Lower Canada.* To a man of Mac- 
donald's large and generous mind the fierce 
intolerance of Brown must have been in itself 
most distasteful. At the same time, there is 
no doubt that George Brown's anti-Catholic, 
anti-French crusade, while but one factor 
among several in contributing to the downfall 
of the Baldwin and Hincks Governments, 
became in after years, when directed against 
successive Liberal-Conservative Administra- 
tions, the most formidable obstacle against 
which Macdonald had to contend. 

The result of the Globe's propaganda 
amounted to this, that for twenty years the 
Conservative leader found himself in a large 
minority in his own province of Upper Canada, 
and dependent upon Lower Canada for support 
truly an unsatisfactory state of affairs to 
himself personally, and one most inimical to 
the welfare of the country. It was not 
pleasant for a public man to be condemned, 
election after election, to fight a losing battle 

* * To all Conservatives who cherish the memory of Sir John 
Macdonald we bring the reminder that no leader ever opposed 
so sternly the attempt to divide this community on racial or 
religious lines' (Globe, November 10, 1900). 

The Globe's latter-day estimate of Sir John Macdonald recalls 
the late Tom Reid's definition of a statesman 'a successful 
politician who is dead.' 



YOUTH 33 

in his home province, where he was best known, 
and to be obliged to carry his measures by the 
vote of his allies of another province. It is 
therefore not to be wondered at that Sir John 
Macdonald in his reminiscent moods some- 
times alluded to these days, thus : 

Had I but consented to take the popular 
side in Upper Canada, I could have ridden 
the Protestant horse much better than 
George Brown, and could have had an over- 
whelming majority. But I willingly sacri- 
ficed my own popularity for the good of 
the country, and did equal justice to all 
men.* 

Scattered throughout his correspondence are 
several references of a similar tenor. I do 
not believe, however, that the temptation 
ever seriously assailed him. Indeed, we find 
that at every step in his career, when the 
opportunity presented itself for showing 
sympathy with the French Canadians in their 
struggle for the maintenance of their just 
rights, he invariably espoused their cause, not 
then a popular one. At the union of Upper 
and Lower Canada in 1841 there seems to have 
been a general disposition to hasten the 

* To a friend, dated Ottawa, April 20, 1869. 
IKJ.M. C 



34 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

absorption of the French-Canadian people, 
so confidently predicted by Lord Durham. 
That nobleman declared with the utmost 
frankness that, in his opinion, the French 
Canadians were destined speedily to lose their 
distinctive nationality by becoming merged 
in the Anglo-Saxon communities surrounding 
them, and he conceived that nothing would 
conduce so effectually to this result as the 
union of Upper and Lower Canada. His suc- 
cessor, Lord Sydenham, evidently shared 
these views upon the subject, for his Cabinet 
did not contain a single French Canadian. 
In furtherance of this policy it was provided 
in the Union Act (1840) that all the proceed- 
ings of parliament should be printed in the 
English language only. At that time the 
French Canadians numbered more than one- 
half the people of Canada, and the great 
majority of them knew no other language than 
French. No wonder that this provision was 
felt by them to be a hardship, or that it tended 
to embitter them and to increase their hostility 
to the Union. Macdonald had not sat in 
parliament a month before the Government 
of which he was a supporter proposed and 
carried in the House of Assembly a resolution 
providing for the removal of this restriction. 



YOUTH 35 

During the ensuing two years the same Govern- 
ment opened negotiations (which came to 
nothing at the time) with certain leaders 
among the French Canadians looking towards 
political co-operation, and similar though 
equally fruitless overtures were made to them 
during the weeks following Macdonald's ad- 
mission into the Draper Cabinet. This policy 
Macdonald had deliberately adopted and 
carried with him into Opposition. 

In a letter outlining the political campaign 
of 1854, he says in so many words : 

My belief is that there must be a material 
alteration in the character of the new 
House. I believe also that there must 
be a change of Ministry after the election, 
and, from my friendly relations with the 
French, I am inclined to believe my assist- 
ance would be sought.* 

Meanwhile the cleavage in the Reform ranks 
was daily becoming wider. Indeed, as has 
been said, the Radical section of the Upper- 
Canadian representation, known as the Clear 
Grit party, were frequently to be found voting 
with the Conservative Opposition, with whom 
they had nothing in common save dislike and 

* See Pope's Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. i, p. 103. 



36 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

distrust of the Government. The result of 
the elections of 1854 showed that no one of 
the three parties the Ministerialists, the 
Opposition, or the Clear Grits and Lower- 
Canadian Rouges combined had an inde- 
pendent majority. Upon one point, however, 
the two last-named groups were equally 
determined, namely, the defeat of the Govern- 
ment. This they promptly effected by a 
junction of forces. The leader of the regular 
Opposition, Sir Allan MacNab, was ' sent for.' 
But his following did not exceed forty, while 
the defeated party numbered fifty-five, and 
the extreme Radicals about thirty-five. It 
was obvious that no Ministry could be formed 
exclusively from one party ; it was equally 
clear that the government of the country 
must be carried on. In these circumstances 
Sir Allan resolved upon trying his hand at 
forming a new Government. He first offered 
Macdonald the attorney-generalship for Upper 
Canada, and, availing himself of his young 
ally's * friendly relations with the French,' 
entered into negotiations with A. N. Morin, 
the leader of the Lower- Canadian wing of the 
late Cabinet. Morin consented to serve in 
the new Ministry. The followers of MacNab 
and Morin together formed a majority of the 




SIR ALLAN NAPIER MACNAB 

From a portrait in the John Ross Robertson Collection, 
Toronto Public Library 



YOUTH 37 

House. The French leader, however, was 
most anxious that his late allies in Upper 
Canada Sir Francis Hincks and his friends 
should be parties to the coalition. Hincks, 
while not seeing his way to join the new 
Administration, expressed his approval of 
the arrangements, and promised his support 
on the understanding that two of his political 
friends from Upper Canada should have Seats 
in the new Government. This proposal was 
accepted by MacNab, and John Ross (son-in- 
law of Baldwin) and Thomas Spence were 
chosen. The basis of the coalition was an 
agreement to carry out the principal measures 
foreshadowed in the speech from the throne 
including the abolition of the Seigneurial 
Tenure * and the secularization of the Clergy 
Reserves. 

Such was the beginning of the great Liberal- 
Conservative party which almost constantly 
from 1854 to 1896 controlled the destinies of 
Canada. Its history has singularly borne out 
the contention of its founders, that in uniting 
as they did at a time when their co-operation 
was essential to the conduct of affairs, they 

* The seigneurial system was a survival of the French 
regime. The reader is referred to The Seigneurs of Old Canada 
by Professor Munro in the present Series. 



38 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

acted in the best interests of the country. 
For a long time there had not been any real 
sympathy between the French Liberal leaders, 
LaFontaine and Morin, and the Liberals of 
Upper Canada. After the echoes of the 
rebellion had died away these French Liberals 
became in reality the Conservatives of Lower 
Canada. The Globe repeatedly declared this. 
Their junction with MacNab and Macdonald 
was therefore a fusion rather than a coali- 
tion. The latter word more correctly describes 
the union between the Conservatives and 
the Moderate Reformers of Upper Canada. 
It was, however, a coalition abundantly justi- 
fied by circumstances. The principal charge 
brought against the Conservative party at 
the time was that in pledging themselves to 
secularize the Clergy Reserves they were 
guilty of an abandonment of principle. But 
in 1854 this had ceased to be a party question. 
The progress of events had rendered it in- 
evitable that these lands should be made 
available for settlement ; and since this had 
to come, it was better that the change should 
be brought about by men who had already 
striven to preserve the rights of property 
acquired under the Clergy Reserve grants, 
rather than by those whose policy was little 






YOUTH 



39 



short of spoliation. The propriety and reason- 
ableness of all this was very generally recog- 
nized at the time, not merely by the sup- 
porters of MacNab and Macdonald, but also 
by their political opponents. A. A. Dorion, 
the Rouge leader, considered the alliance 
quite natural. Robert Baldwin and Francis 
Hincks both publicly defended it, and their 
course did much to cement the union between 
the Conservatives and those who, forty years 
after the events here set down, were known 
to the older members of the community as 
* Baldwin Reformers.' 



CHAPTER II 

MIDDLE LIFE 

THE Liberal- Conservative Government formed 
in 1854 was destined to a long and successful 
career, though not without the usual inevitable 
changes. Very shortly after its accession to 
power, Lord Elgin, whose term of office had 
expired, was- succeeded by Sir Edmund Head. 
The new governor-general was a man of rare 
scholastic attainments. During the previous 
seven years he had occupied the position of 
lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, and 
he was to administer, for a like period, the 
public affairs of Canada acceptably and well. 
One thing, however, greatly interfered with 
his popularity and lessened his usefulness. 
A story was spread abroad that Sir Edmund 
Head had called the French Canadians ' an 
inferior race/ This, though it was not true, 
was often reiterated ; and the French Cana- 
dians persisted in believing that Sir Edmund 
had made the remark even after an explana- 
tion of what he really did say. 

40 



MIDDLE LIFE 41 

Early in 1855 Morin retired to the bench. 
His place in the Cabinet was filled by George 
Etienne Cartier, member for Vercheres in the 
Assembly. Cartier had begun his political 
career in 1848 as a supporter of LaFontaine, 
but he was one of those who followed Morin 
in his alliance with the Conservatives. Now, 
on the withdrawal of his chief, he succeeded, 
in effect, to the leadership of the French- 
Canadian wing of the Government. The 
corresponding position from the English pro- 
vince was held by John A. Maedonald, for it 
was no secret at the time that Sir Allan Mac- 
Nab, the titular leader, had seen his best 
days, and leaned heavily upon his friend the 
attorney-general for Upper Canada. 

Under these circumstances were brought 
together the two men who for the ensuing 
eighteen years governed the country almost 
without intermission. During the whole of 
this long period they were, with but one 
trivial misunderstanding, intimate personal 
friends. That Sir John Maedonald enter- 
tained the warmest feelings of unbroken 
regard for his colleague, I know, for he told 
me so many times ; and Carrier's correspond- 
ence plainly indicates that these sentiments 
were fully reciprocated. 



42 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Sir George Cartier was a man who devoted 
his whole life to the public service of his 
country. He was truthful, honest, and sin- 
cere, and commanded the respect and confi- 
dence of all with whom he came in contact. 
Had it not been for Sir George Cartier, it is 
doubtful whether the Dominion of Canada 
would exist to-day. He it was who faced 
at its inception the not unnatural French- 
Canadian distrust of the measure. It was 
his magnificent courage and resistless energy 
which triumphed over all opposition. Con- 
federation was not the work of any one person. 
Macdonald, Brown, Tupper each played his 
indispensable part ; but assuredly not the 
least important share in the accomplishment 
of that great undertaking is to be ascribed to 
George Etienne Cartier. 

Other public men of the period claim our 
brief attention. Sir Allan MacNab, the leader 
of the -Conservative party, had had a long 
and diversified experience. He was born at 
Niagara in 1798, and at an early age took up 
the profession of arms. When the Americans 
attacked Toronto in 1813, Allan MacNab, 
then a boy at school, was one of a number 
selected to carry a musket. He afterwards 
entered the Navy and was rated as a midship- 




SIR EDMUND WALKER HEAD 
From the John Ross Robertson Collection, Toronto Public Library 



MIDDLE LIFE 43 

man on board Sir James Yeo's ship on the 
Great Lakes. MacNab subsequently joined 
the looth Regiment under Colonel Murray, 
and was engaged in the storming of Niagara. 
He was a member and speaker of the old House 
of Assembly of Upper Canada, and in 1841 
was elected to the first parliament under the 
new Union. For sixteen years he continued 
to represent Hamilton, serving during a 
portion of the time as speaker of the Assembly. 
In 1860 he was elected a member of the 
Legislative Council, and was chosen speaker 
of that body a few months prior to his death 
in 1862. In 1854, as we have seen, he was 
called upon, as the recognized leader of the Op- 
position, to form the new Ministry. He thus 
became prime minister, an event that caused 
some grumbling on the part of younger spirits 
who thought Sir Allan rather a * back num- 
ber.' It has been charged against Sir John 
Macdonald that he at the time intrigued to 
accomplish his old chief's overthrow, but there 
is not a particle of truth in the statement. 
When forming his plans for the general elec- 
tions of 1854, Macdonald thus wrote : 

You say truly that we are a good deal 
hampered with ' old blood.' Sir Allan 



44 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

will not be in our way, however. He is 
very reasonable, and requires only that we 
should not in his ' sere and yellow leaf ' 
offer him the indignity of casting him 
aside. This I would never assent to, for 
. I cannot forget his services in days gone 
by.* 

Sir Allan was a Tory of the ' Family Compact ' 
school, which with changed conditions was 
fast becoming an anachronism. He was at 
the same time a loyal and faithful public 
servant. 

MacNab retired from the premiership in 
1856 and was' succeeded by Colonel (after- 
wards Sir) Etienne Tache, who had held 
Cabinet office continuously since 1848. Tache 
was a more moderate man than Sir Allan, 
without his ambition or intractability ; but 
he does not appear to have been distinguished 
by any particular aptitude for public life, 
and the prominence he attained was in large 
measure the result of circumstance. He was, 
however, generally regarded as a safe man 
with no* private interests to serve, and he was 
quite content to allow Macdonald and Cartier 
a free hand in the direction of public affairs. 

* See Pope's Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. i, p. 103. 



MIDDLE LIFE 45 

Under their united guidance much was ac- 
complished. During the first session after 
the formation of the Liberal - Conservative 
party the two great questions which had long 
distracted the united province of Canada 
the Clergy Reserves and the Seigneurial 
Tenure were settled on terms which were 
accounted satisfactory by all moderate and 
reasonable men. Both the measures which 
the Government introduced to adjust these 
matters were opposed at every stage by 
Brown, Dorion, and other professed champions 
of the popular will.* Brown, who had never 
forgotten the failure of the Conservative 
leaders to open negotiations with him on the 
defeat of the Hincks Government, vented his 
wrath alternately on the new Ministry and 
on the Roman Catholic Church, assailing 
both with amazing violence. Despite this 
unrestrained vehemence, impulsiveness, and 
lack of discretion, George Brown's great 
ability and intellectual power made him a for- 
midable opponent, as the ministers learned 
to their cost. 

*" Dorion voted for the third reading; of the Seigneurial Tenure 
Bill and against that relating to the Clergy Reserves. Brown 
voted against the third reading of both measures, and the Clear 
Grits and Rouges as a body did all in their power to impede the 
passage of both bills. 



46 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Meanwhile, as the different groups settled 
into their places, political parties in the 
legislature became more clearly defined. The 
French- Canadian ministerialists soon ceased 
to be regarded as anything but Conservatives ; 
and while many of the Upper-Canadian sup- 
porters of the Government long continued to 
be known as ' Baldwin Reformers,' the line of 
separation between them and their Conserva- 
tive allies grew fainter every day. It was 
inevitable that this should be so. Baldwin 
himself had disappeared. Hincks had left the 
country. John Ross, the leading member of 
the Liberal wing of the coalition, had resigned 
from the Cabinet. So it came to pass, after 
the withdrawal of Sir Allan MacNab, that 
many quondam Liberals grew to realize that 
there was no longer any reason why they 
should not unite under the leadership of the 
man who inspired equally the confidence and 
the regard of the whole party. 

All this was gall and wormwood to Brown, 
who pursued Macdonald with a malignity 
which has no parallel in our happier times. 
Nor, it must be confessed, did Macdonald fail 
to retort. Though not a resentful person, 
nor one who could not control his feelings, 
he never disguised his personal antipathy 



MIDDLE LIFE 47 

towards the man who had persistently and for 
many years misrepresented and traduced him. 
On one occasion Macdonald was moved to 
bring certain accusations against Brown's 
personal character. These, however, he failed 
to establish to the satisfaction of the special 
committee of parliament appointed to try 
the charge. This was the only time, as far 
as I know, when Brown got the better of his 
rival. 

While the Liberal-Conservative forces were 
being consolidated under Macdonald and 
Cartier, a similar process was taking place in 
the Reform ranks under Dorion and Brown. 
Dorion was a distinguished member of the 
Montreal bar and a courtly and polished 
gentleman of unblemished reputation. He 
had become the leading member of the Parti 
Rouge on Papineau's retirement in 1854, and 
was now the chief of the few French Radicals 
in the Assembly. In like manner Brown 
assumed the leadership of the Clear Grits, the 
Radicals of Upper Canada. 

While the politicians were thus busy, 
Canada continued to develop, if not at the 
rate to which we are accustomed in these later 
days, still at a fair pace. In 1851 the popula- 
tion of Upper Canada had been 952,000 and 



48 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

that of Lower Canada 890,000. Of the cities 
Montreal boasted 58,000, Quebec 42,000, 
Toronto 31,000, and Kingston 12,000. By 
1 86 1 these figures had grown to 1,396,000 for 
Upper Canada, i, 111,000 for Lower Canada, 
and the cities had correspondingly increased. 
Montreal had now 90,000 people, Quebec 
51,000, Toronto 45,000, and Kingston 14,000. 
The total revenue of Canada in 1855 amounted 
to $4,870,000, not half that of the single 
province of Ontario to-day, and the expendi- 
ture to $4,780,000. 

Much had already been spent on the im- 
provement of inland navigation, and the early 
fifties saw the beginning of a great advance 
in railway construction. The Intercolonial 
Railway to connect the Maritime Provinces 
with Canada was projected as early as in 1846, 
though inability to agree upon the route 
delayed construction many years. In 1853 
the Grand Trunk was opened from Montreal 
to Portland in Maine. The Great Western 
(now a portion of the Grand Trunk system), 
running between the Niagara and Detroit 
rivers, was opened during the following year ; 
and 1855 witnessed the completion of the 
Grand Trunk from Montreal to Brockville, 
and the Great Western from Toronto to 



MIDDLE LIFE 49 

Hamilton. The Detroit river at that time 
marked the western limit of settlement in 
Canada. North and west stretched a vast 
lone land about which scarcely anything was 
known. The spirit of enterprise, however, 
was stirring. The expiry of certain trading 
privileges granted to the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany in 1838 offered the occasion for an in- 
quiry by a committee of the Imperial House 
of Commons into the claims of the company 
to the immense region associated with its 
name. The Canadian Government accepted 
an invitation to be represented at this in- 
vestigation, and in the early part of the year 
1857 dispatched to England Chief Justice 
Draper as commissioner. The committee, 
which included such eminent persons as Lord 
John Russell, Lord Derby, and Mr Gladstone, 
reported to the effect that terms should be 
agreed upon between the company and the 
Imperial and Canadian governments, in order 
that the territory might be made available 
for settlement ; but no further steps were 
then taken. The question was not to be 
settled until some years later. 

About the same time certain adventurous 
spirits approached the Canadian Government 
with a suggestion to build a railway across 

D.J.M. D 



50 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

the prairies and through the Rocky mountains 
to the Pacific ocean. From Sir John Mac- 
donald's papers it appears that a proposal 
of this nature was made to him in the early 
part of 1858. There is a letter addressed to 
Macdonald, dated at Kingston in January of 
that year, and signed 'Walter R. Jones.' In 
the light of subsequent events this letter is 
interesting. The writer suggests that the 
time has arrived to organize a company to 
build a railway ' through British American 
territory to the Pacific.' It would be some 
years, of course, before such a company could 
actually begin the work of construction ; 
therefore action should begin at once. No- 
thing will be gained by delay, the writer 
points out ; and if Canada does not seize the 
golden opportunity, it is probable that the 
United States will be first in the field with 
such a railway, ' as they are fully alive to the 
great benefit it would be to them, not only 
locally, but as a highway from Europe to 
China, India, and Australia/ This would 
greatly lessen the value of a Canadian and 
British railway, and would cause the enter- 
prise to ' be delayed or entirely abandoned/ 
Thus Canada would lose, not only the through 
traffic and business of the railway, but also the 



MIDDLE LIFE 51 

opportunity to open up the Great West to 
settlers, ' which of itself would be a great boon 
to Canada/ 

The letter proceeds to say that, as the claims 
of the Hudson's Bay Company to the lands of 
the West are shortly to be extinguished, the 
railway company could secure the grant of a 
harbour on Vancouver Island and the privilege 
of ' working the coal mines there ' ; also, ' a 
grant of land along the proposed line of rail- 
way.' A subsidy should be obtained from the 
Imperial Government for ' a line of steamers 
from Vancouver Island to China, India, and 
Australia.' If the Canadian people would 
take up the matter with spirit and buy largely 
of the stock, and if the subject were laid before 
the merchants of London, ' there would be no 
difficulty in raising the required capital, say 
15,000,000.' There can be no doubt that the 
line would pay. Any one looking at a map 
of the world can see that it would afford the 
shortest route between Europe and the East. 
The writer thinks that it would be well to 
start the nucleus of a company immediately 
so as to apply for a charter at the next session 
of the Canadian parliament. * Of course,' he 
adds, ' in my humble circumstances it would 
be the height of folly to think of attempting 



52 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

to organize or connect myself with such a vast 
undertaking unless I could get the coun- 
tenance and support of some one in high 
standing/ Macdonald, however, deemed the 
proposal premature until the claims of the 
Hudson's Bay Company were disposed of. 
He was destined to carry it out many years 
later. 

The question as to the seat of government 
proved in those days extremely troublesome, 
promising to vie with the now happily re- 
moved Clergy Reserves question, in frequently 
recurring to cause difficulty. The incon- 
venience of the ambulatory system under 
which the legislature sat alternately four years 
at Quebec and four years at Toronto was ac- 
knowledged by everybody, but it seemed 
impossible to agree upon any one place for 
the capital. Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, and 
Kingston all aspired to the honour, and the 
sectional jealousies among the supporters of 
the Ministry afforded periodical opportunities 
to the Opposition, of which they did not fail 
to take advantage. One ministerial crisis 
arising out of this dispute acquired exceptional 
prominence by reason of the fact that it led 
to what is known in Canadian history as the 
' Double Shuffle.' 






MIDDLE LIFE 53 

In the session of 1857 * ne Ministry proposed 
to submit the question to the personal decision 
of the queen, and introduced resolutions in the 
Assembly praying that Her Majesty would be 
graciously pleased to exercise the royal pre- 
rogative by the selection of some one place as 
the permanent capital of Canada. This re- 
ference to Her Majesty was fiercely opposed 
by the Clear Grits as being a tacit acknow- 
ledgment of Canada's unfitness to exercise 
that responsible government for which she 
had contended so long. The Globe, in a series 
of articles, denounced the ' very idea as de- 
gradation.' The motion was nevertheless 
carried by a substantial majority, and the 
address went home accordingly. 

The harvest of 1857 proved a failure, and 
in the autumn of that year Canada passed 
through one of the most severe periods of 
financial depression with which she has ever 
been afflicted. The period between 1854 
and 1856 saw great commercial activity. 
Vast sums of money had been spent in con- 
structing railways. This outlay, three bounti- 
ful harvests, and the abnormally high prices 
of farm products caused by the Crimean 
War, combined to make a period of almost 
unexampled prosperity a prosperity more 



54 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

apparent than real. The usual reaction fol- 
lowed. Peace in Europe, coinciding with a bad 
harvest in Canada, produced the inevitable 
result. Every class and interest felt the 
strain. Nor did the Ministry escape. It was 
at this gloomy period that Colonel Tache, 
weary of office, relinquished the cares of state, 
and Macdonald became first minister. Two 
days after the new Ministry had taken office 
parliament was dissolved and writs were issued 
for a general election. The main issues in 
this contest, both forced by George Brown, 
were ' Representation by Population ' and 
' Non - sectarian Schools ' otherwise No 
Popery. These cries told with much effect 
in Upper Canada. ' Rep. by Pop./ as it was 
familiarly called, had long been a favourite 
policy with Brown and the Globe. By the 
Union Act of 1840 the representation of 
Upper and Lower Canada in the Assembly 
was fixed at eighty-four, forty-two from each 
province. At that time Lower Canada had 
the advantage of population, and consequently 
a smaller representation than that to which 
it would have been entitled on the basis of 
numbers. But the French Canadians were 
content to abide by the compact, and on that 
score there was peace. As soon, however, as 



MIDDLE LIFE 55 

the influx of settlers into Upper Canada 
turned the scale, the Globe began to agitate 
for a revision of the agreement. In the session 
of 1853 Brown condemned the system of 
equal representation, and moved that the 
representation of the people in parliament 
should be based upon population, without 
regard to any line of separation between Upper 
and Lower Canada. On this he was defeated, 
but with rare pertinacity he stuck to his guns, 
and urged his views upon the Assembly at 
every opportune and inopportune moment. 
The Macdonald-Cartier Government opposed 
the principle of representation by population 
because it was not in accord with the Union 
Act. That Act was a distinct bargain be- 
tween Upper Canada and Lower Canada, and 
could not be altered without the consent of 
both. On the school question Macdonald 
took the ground that the clause granting 
separate schools to Roman Catholics was in 
the Common School Act long before he became 
a member of the government having been 
placed there by Robert Baldwin and that 
it would be unfair and unjust arbitrarily to 
take the privilege away. Moreover, he argued, 
on the authority of Egerton Ryerson, a Pro- 
testant clergyman and superintendent of 



56 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

schools for Upper Canada, that the offending 
clause injured nobody, but, on the contrary, 
' widens the basis of the common school 
system/ 

This might be good logic, and inherently 
fair and just. All the same, the Globe con- 
ducted its campaign with such telling effect 
that three ministers lost their seats in the 
general elections of 1857, and the Clear Grits 
came out of the campaign in Upper Canada 
with a majority of six or eight. 

In Lower Canada there was a different 
result. The appeals to sectional and religious 
prejudice, which wrought havoc in the ranks 
of the ministerial supporters in the upper 
province, had a contrary effect among the 
Rouges. Their alliance with the Clear Grit 
party wellnigh brought their complete over- 
throw. Dorion himself was elected, but his 
namesake J. B. E. Dorion, commonly known 
as Venfant terrible, was unsuccessful, as also 
was Luther H. Holton, the leading English- 
speaking Liberal of the province. Other 
prominent Rouges such as Papin, Doutre, 
Fournier, and Letellier were given abundant 
leisure to deplore the fanaticism of George 
Brown. Cartier had the satisfaction of com- 
ing to the assistance of his colleague with 






MIDDLE LIFE 57 

almost the whole representation of Lower 
Canada at his back. 

This brings us to the historic incident of 
the ' Double Shuffle.' Shortly after the elec- 
tions it became known that Her Majesty, in 
response to the request of the legislature, had 
chosen Ottawa as the seat of government. 
The announcement was somewhat prema- 
turely made and gave rise to a good deal of 
dissatisfaction. This manifested itself when 
parliament met. In the early days of the 
session of 1858 a motion was carried in the 
Assembly to the effect that ' in the opinion 
of this House, the city of Ottawa ought not 
to be the permanent seat of government 
of this province.* Thereupon the Ministry 
promptly resigned, construing the vote as a 
slight upon Her Majesty, who had been asked 
to make the selection. The governor-general 
then sent for Brown and invited him to form 
a new Administration. What followed affords 
an admirable illustration of the character of 
George Brown. Though in an undoubted 
minority in a House fresh from the people, 
with Lower Canada almost unitedly opposed 
to him, Brown accepted the invitation of the 
governor-general. His only hope could have 
lain in a dissolution, and Sir Edmund Head 



58 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

gave him to understand at the outset, both ver- 
bally and in writing, that on this he must not 
count. There are several examples in British 
political history, notably that of Lord Derby 
in 1858 and Disraeli in 1873, where statesmen 
in opposition, feeling that the occasion was 
not ripe for their purposes, have refused to 
take advantage of the defeat of the Ministry 
to which they were opposed. George Brown 
was not so constituted. Without attempting 
to weigh the chances of being able to main- 
tain himself in power for a single week, he 
eagerly grasped the prize. Two days after his 
summons he and his colleagues were sworn 
into office and had assumed the functions of 
advisers of the crown. How accurately does 
this headlong impetuosity bear out Sir John 
Macdonald's estimate of the man ! * 

The inevitable happened, and that speedily. 
Within a few hours the Assembly passed a 
vote of want of confidence in the new Ministry, 
and Brown and his colleagues, having been 
refused a dissolution, were compelled to resign. 
The governor-general sent for A. T. Gait, then 

* 'The great reason why I have always been able to beat 
Brown is that I have been able to look a little ahead, while 
he could on no occasion forgo the temptation of a temporary 
triumph' (Sir John A. Macdonald to M. C. Cameron, dated 
Ottawa, January 3, 1872). 



MIDDLE LIFE 59 

the able and popular member of the House 
from Sherbrooke in Lower Canada. But Gait 
declined the honour. The formation of a 
new Administration was then entrusted to 
Cartier, who, with the assistance of Mac- 
donald, soon accomplished the task. Thus 
came into power the former Macdonald- 
Cartier Government, under the changed name 
of the Cartier-Macdonald Government, with 
personnel very slightly altered. Even this 
did not fill up the cup of Brown's humilia- 
tion. By their acceptance of office he and 
his colleagues had vacated their seats in the 
Assembly, and so found themselves outside the 
legislature for the remainder of the session. 
Those members of the Cartier-Macdonald 
Government, on the contrary, who had been 
members of the Macdonald-Cartier Govern- 
ment, did not vacate their seats by reason of 
their resumption of office. The Independence 
of Parliament Act of 1857 provided that 

whenever any person holding the office 
of Receiver General, Inspector General, 
Secretary of the Province, Commissioner 
of Crown Lands, Attorney General, 
Solicitor General, Commissioner of Public 
Works, Speaker of the Legislative Council, 



6o SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

President of Committees of the Executive 
Council, Minister of Agriculture, or Post- 
master General, and being at the same 
time a member of the Legislative Assembly 
or an elected member of the Legislative 
Council, shall resign his office, and within 
one month after his resignation accept 
any other of the said offices, he shall not 
thereby vacate his seat in the said Assem- 
bly or Council. 

These words are clear. Any member of a 
government could resign his office and accept 
another within one month without vacating 
his seat in parliament. Thirty days had not 
elapsed since Macdonald had held the port- 
folio of attorney-general. There was, there- 
fore, no legal necessity for his taking the sense 
of his constituents on resuming it. Elections 
no more in 1858 than now were run for the 
fun of the thing. One technical objection 
alone stood in the way. The Act says that 
if any member resign office, and within one 
month after his resignation accept any other 
of the said offices, he shall not thereby vacate 
his seat in the Assembly. It says nothing 
about the effect of accepting anew the office 
just demitted, though it seems only reasonable 



MIDDLE LIFE 61 

to infer that, if the acceptance of a new office 
by a minister did not call for a fresh appeal to 
his constituents, a fortiori neither would the 
mere resumption of an office whose acceptance 
they had already approved. In the judgment 
of Macdonald and several of his colleagues 
there was no legal impediment to the direct 
resumption of their former offices, but a dif- 
ference of opinion existed on the point, and, 
in order to keep clearly within the law, the 
ministers first accepted portfolios other than 
those formerly held by them. Thus, Cartier 
was first sworn in as inspector-general and 
Macdonald as postmaster-general. On the 
following day they resigned these portfolios 
and were appointed respectively to their old 
offices of attorney-general East and attor- 
ney-general West. Their colleagues in the 
Macdonald- Car tier Government underwent a 
similar experience. 

The ' Double Shuffle ' proved a source of 
acute dissatisfaction to Brown and his friends. 
The ministers were accused by them of having 
perverted an Act of Parliament to a sense it 
was never intended to bear. Their action in 
swearing to discharge duties which they never 
intended to perform was characterized as little 
short of perjury. They were, however, sus- 



62 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

tained both by parliament and in the courts. 
Thirteen years later, no less a personage than 
Gladstone gave to the proceeding the sanction 
of his great authority. In order to qualify 
Sir Robert Collier, his attorney-general, for a 
seat on the Judicial Committee of the Privy 
Council, appointments to which were re- 
stricted to judges, he nominated him a justice 
of the Court of Common Pleas, in which Sir 
Robert took his seat, sat for a few days, re- 
signed, and went on the Judicial Committee.* 
The year 1858 saw the beginnings of a 
movement in the direction of Confederation. 
At an early period in the session Gait raised 
the question in an interesting speech. When 
he joined the Ministry, as inspector-general 
(finance minister), he again brought it forward. 
During recess a delegation consisting of Cartier, 
Gait, and John Ross proceeded to England 
with the object of discussing the subject with 
Her Majesty's government. 

* Gladstone stoutly defended the propriety of his course, 
which had the assent of his whole Cabinet, and also the approval 
of such great legal authorities as Lords Selborne and Hatherley. 
This case of Sir Robert Collier is almost exactly on all fours 
with the * Double Shuffle.' Gladstone did a similar thing- a few 
months later in the appointment of the Rev. Mr Harvey to the 
Rectory of Ewelme. See Morley's Life of Gladstone, vol. ii, 
pp. 382-7. For further explanation of the * Double Shuffle,' 
see Pope's Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. i, pp. 198-205. 



MIDDLE LIFE 63 

The ranks of the Reform Opposition at 
this time included D'Arcy M'Gee, William 
M'Dougall, and many other strong debaters, 
among them John Sandfield Macdonald, who 
had sat continuously in the Assembly since 
the Union for Glengarry until the general 
elections of 1857, and then for Cornwall. At 
first he had been a Conservative, but he drifted 
into the Liberal ranks and remained there 
until after Confederation, despite periodic 
differences with George Brown. He opposed 
the Confederation movement. But we must 
not anticipate his career further than to say 
that his political attitude was at all times 
extremely difficult to define. That he him- 
self would not demur to this estimate may be 
inferred from the fact that he was wont to 
describe himself, in his younger days, as a 
' political Ishmaelite.' Though born and bred 
a Roman Catholic, he was not commonly re- 
garded as an eminently devout member of that 
Church, of which he used laughingly to call 
himself 'an outside pillar.' The truth is that 
John Sandfield Macdonald was too impatient 
of restraint and too tenacious of his own 
opinions to submit to any authority. In no 
sense could he be called a party man. 

Another member of the Opposition was the 



64 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

young man we have already met as a student 
in Macdonald's law-office, afterwards Sir 
Oliver Mowat, prime minister of Ontario. 
Mowat was of a type very different to Sandfield 
Macdonald. He had been a consistent Re- 
former from his youth up. After a heated 
struggle, he had been elected to parliament 
for the South Riding of Ontario, in the general 
elections of 1857, over the receiver-general 
J. C. Morrison. On this occasion the electors 
were assured that the alternative presented to 
them was to vote for ' Mowat and the Queen ' 
or ' Morrison and the Pope/ Mowat at once 
took a prominent position in the Liberal ranks, 
and formed one of George Brown's ' Short 
Administration/ 

Among those who first entered parliament 
at the general elections of 1857 were Hector 
Langevin and John Rose. The former was 
selected to move the vote of want of con- 
fidence in the short-lived Brown-Dorion Ad- 
ministration. Rose at that time was a young 
and comparatively unknown lawyer of Mon- 
treal, in whom Macdonald had detected signs 
of great promise. Earlier in the same year 
he had accompanied Macdonald on an official 
mission to England. This was the beginning 
of a close personal friendship between the two 



MIDDLE LIFE 65 

men, which lasted for more than thirty years 
arid had no little bearing on Rose's future. 
On returning from England Macdonald ap- 
pointed him solicitor - general for Lower 
Canada. In the ensuing election Rose stood 
for Montreal, against no less a personage than 
Luther H. Holton, and was elected. He was 
destined to fill the office of Finance minister 
of Canada, to become a baronet, an Imperial 
Privy Councillor, and a close friend of His 
Majesty King Edward VII, then Prince of 
Wales. It was believed that still higher 
marks of distinction were to be conferred upon 
him, when he died in 1888. It was said that 
Sir John Rose owed much of his success to 
the cleverness and charm of his wife. I have 
often heard Sir John Macdonald speak of 
her as a brilliant and delightful woman of the 
world, devoted at all times to her husband 
and his interests. This lady was originally 
Miss Charlotte Temple of Vermont. Before 
becoming the wife of John Rose she had been 
married and widowed. There had been a 
tragic event in her life. This was related to 
me by Sir John Macdonald substantially as I 
set it down here. 

About the year 1840 there resided in 
Montreal a Mr and Mrs Robert Sweeny, well- 

D.J.M. E 



66 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

known and popular society people. Among 
the military officers stationed there was 
Major Henry J. Warde of the ist Royals, a 
friend of the Sweenys. One day an anony- 
mous intimation was received by Mr Sweeny 
to the effect that Major Warde was too atten- 
tive to his wife. Shortly afterwards the 
Sweenys gave a dinner, in the course of which 
a note, addressed to Mrs Sweeny, and a 
bouquet were brought in. Sweeny, whose 
suspicions had become thoroughly aroused, 
demanded to see the note. Mrs Sweeny 
refused, whereupon he took it from her by 
force. The party broke up in confusion. 
Sweeny rushed to the officers* mess, where 
Warde was dining. As he bounded up the 
stairs, the officers, recognizing his step, called 
to him to join them in a glass of wine. He 
entered the room, and going up to Warde then 
and there publicly insulted him. The in- 
evitable duel took place next morning, and at 
the first shot Major Warde fell dead. Sweeny 
had to flee the country. He escaped to St 
Albans, Vermont, where he died, it was said, 
of remorse a few months later. What must 
have added poignancy to his sufferings was 
the statement, afterwards made, that the 
whole affair was a malicious plot, and that 



MIDDLE LIFE 67 

the fatal missive which caused all the trouble 
was a forgery. Afterwards Mrs Sweeny re- 
turned to Montreal, where she went into 
lodgings. About the same time a raw Scot- 
tish lad, who had been teaching school in 
the county of Huntingdon, came to Montreal 
to study law. There he met Mrs Sweeny, 
with whom he fell in love, and they were 
married. This was John Rose, and Mrs 
Sweeny as Lady Rose lived to adorn the 
society of the chief Canadian cities and after- 
wards of London until her death in 1883. 

The parliamentary record of the years 
immediately succeeding 1858 is not particu- 
larly interesting. George Brown continued 
to fight for representation by population with 
undiminished vigour, and although both he 
and his Lower -Canadian colleague, Dorion, 
were defeated in the general elections of 1861, 
he was gaining ground. The antagonism 
between Upper and Lower Canada yearly 
became more tense, and there were signs of 
the approach of that deadlock which was still 
in the future. 

An agreeable occurrence of the year 1860 
was the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada. 
The occasion served to bring a truce to the 
political warfare which was being waged with 



68 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

incredible bitterness for twelve months in 
the year. The Government provided for the 
entertainment of its royal guest and made 
John Rose master of the ceremonies. It is 
probable that out of this circumstance grew the 
royal friendship with which Sir John Rose was 
honoured in after years. 

The year 1862 witnessed the defeat of the 
Cartier-Macdonald Government. The immedi- 
ate cause was a Militia Bill. The American 
Civil War, and more particularly the Trent 
affair of November 1861, drew the attention 
of those in authority to the inadequate means 
of defence in Canada. In December a general 
order was issued calling upon the volunteer 
force to hold themselves in readiness for active 
service. The civil administration of the militia 
was placed in charge of Macdonald, and in 
January 1862 a commission was appointed 
with the following instructions : 

ist. To report a plan for the better organiza- 
tion of the department of Adjutant-General of 
Militia. 

2nd. To investigate and report upon the 
best means of organizing the militia, and pro- 
viding an efficient and economical system for 
the defence of the province. 

3rd. To prepare a bill or bills on the above 



MIDDLE LIFE 69 

subjects, to be submitted to parliament at 
its next session. 

The commission performed its duties with 
dispatch, and on April 25 Macdonald presented 
to parliament the fruit of its labours in the 
form of a bill to promote the more efficient 
organization of the militia of Canada. On the 
motion for the second reading he spoke at 
length concerning the reasons which made 
this legislation necessary. The measure had 
been carefully thought out, and was well 
adapted to the requirements of the time. It 
entailed, however, the expenditure of a large 
sum of money, and on this ground was un- 
popular with a certain number of Cartier's 
followers. On May 20 the vote on the 
second reading, which was taken without de- 
bate, resulted in the rejection of the bill by a 
majority of seven. This defeat was entirely 
due to defection among the Lower Canadians. 
Of the Upper-Canadian members the Govern- 
ment had a majority of seven votes. 

Cartier was succeeded as prime minister 
by John Sandfield Macdonald, whose ally 
from Lower Canada was L. V. Sicotte. Sand- 
field Macdonald, a steadfast opponent of the 
proposal of representation by population, was, 
of course, eminently distasteful to George 



70 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Brown. To the Rouges this presented no 
difficulty. Dorion and his friends took office 
in the new Government. The double-majority 
principle was laid down as a binding rule. 
Its purport was that no Ministry should be 
held to possess the confidence of parliament 
unless it could command a majority from 
both the French and the English sections of 
Canada. The rule speedily proved unworkable 
in practice. The Macdonald-Sicotte Govern- 
ment was not of long duration. It had many 
difficulties to contend with. A reconstruc- 
tion of the Cabinet in May 1863 was followed 
by a general election. This, however, did 
not improve matters for the Government. 
The parties in the new House were almost 
equally divided. The Ministry lingered on a 
few months, and, without waiting for a formal 
vote of no confidence, at last resigned on 
March 21, 1864. 

The Liberal-Conservatives came back to 
office, though not to power, under Sir Etienne 
Tache, who had received the honour of knight- 
hood since last we heard of him. In less than 
three months his Government met defeat by 
a majority of two votes in the Assembly. 
Thus within three years four Ministries had 
been defeated, and two general elections had 




SIR ETIENNE PASCAL TACHE 

From a portrait in the John Ross Robertson Collection, 
Toronto Public Library 



MIDDLE LIFE 71 

failed to break the deadlock which threatened 
to make government impossible in Canada. 

The man responsible above all others for 
this deplorable state of things was he who for 
years past had not ceased in the columns of 
his paper and from his place in parliament to 
set one section of Canada against the other ; 
who laboured to stir up racial and religious 
strife ; who habitually gave to the people of 
Upper Canada a distorted view of the national 
characteristics and the religious belief of their 
fellow-countrymen in Lower Canada. The 
result was that the Union formed only twenty- 
three years before, the Union about which 
such high hopes had been entertained, was on 
the point of breaking up. The actual impasse 
which had now been reached seems to have 
opened George Brown's eyes to the effects of 
his course, and to have convinced him that 
the time had arrived when a cessation of the 
old feuds was absolutely necessary to the 
carrying on of the queen's government in 
Canada. Impelled by a sense of patriotism 
and, we may well believe, at the expense of 
his personal feelings, he now joined hands with 
Macdonald and Cartier for the purpose of 
carrying the great scheme of Confederation. 
This, and this alone, promised deliverance 



72 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

from the unhappy deadlock that impeded 
the progress of the co.untry. 

Since there is promised a separate account 
of the great work of Confederation in another 
volume of the present Series, I do not propose 
to do more here than allude to it briefly. 
It is known that immediately after the defeat 
of the Tache-Macdonald government in June 
1864, Brown said to several supporters of 
the Administration, among them Alexander 
Morris and John Henry Pope, that the pre- 
sent crisis should be utilized to settle for ever 
the constitutional difficulties between Upper 
and Lower Canada. He assured them of 
his willingness to co-operate for this end. 
Macdonald quickly responded to the overture, 
and the next day he and Gait met Brown in 
the St Louis Hotel, Quebec. It is worthy of 
note that at this interview Macdonald and 
Gait proposed, as a remedy for existing ills, a 
federal union of all the British North- American 
provinces. Brown, on the other hand, while 
theoretically commending the idea, did not 
regard it as within the region of practical 
politics, but viewed its adoption as ' uncertain 
and remote/ His remedy was * Parliament- 
ary Reform, based on population, without 
regard to a separating line between Upper 



MIDDLE LIFE 73 

and Lower Canada/ This was simply his old 
friend ' Representation by Population ' under 
another name. When assured that it would 
be impossible to carry such a measure, Brown 
agreed that the Government should negotiate 
for a confederation of all the provinces. If 
this failed, they should then introduce the 
federal principle for Canada alone, while pro- 
viding for the future incorporation of the 
Maritime Provinces and the North-West. 
On this understanding Brown, with two 
Reform colleagues, Oliver Mowat and William 
M'Dougall, entered the Cabinet. The mem- 
bers of the reorganized Government lost no 
time in applying themselves to the great 
object of the coalition. It so happened that, 
while Canadian statesmen were thus con- 
sidering the question of a union of British 
North America, the thoughts of public men 
in the provinces by the Atlantic Nova 
Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward 
Island were turned in the direction of a 
union of these provinces. A convention was 
about to meet at Charlottetown to discuss the 
subject. The Canadian Government deter- 
mined to take advantage of this opportunity, 
and eight members of the Ministry repaired to 
Charlottetown, where they were hospitably 



74 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

received and were invited by the conference 
to express their views. They unfolded the 
benefits to be derived from the larger scheme 
with such effect that the conference agreed to 
adjourn and to reassemble at Quebec. The 
Quebec Conference met on October 10, 1864, 
and continued in session until the 28th of the 
same month. The deliberations resulted in 
seventy-two resolutions. These were adopted 
by the Canadian legislature at its next session, 
and formed the basis of the deliberations of 
the conference which assembled in the West- 
minster Palace Hotel, London, on December 4, 
1866, under the presidency of Macdonald, for 
the purpose of drafting the British North 
America Act. These several steps, however, 
were not reached without the overcoming of 
many obstacles. The Rouge party led by 
Dorion was hostile to the whole project, as 
were Sandfield Macdonald and a few Upper- 
Canadian Reformers. The people of New 
Brunswick pronounced against the scheme at 
the polls before the question had been laid 
before their legislature. The legislature of 
Prince Edward Island emphatically declined 
a union ' which it believed would prove 
politically, commercially, and financially dis- 
astrous to the rights and interests of its 




MIDDLE LIFE 

people.' George Brown quan 
colleagues and left the Cabinel 
after experienced a renewal of 
opposition.* Negotiations regan 
city with the United States engage 
attention of the Ministry during the early 
part of the year 1866. Scarcely had they been 
disposed of when a series of Fenian attacks 
along the Canadian frontier caused much con- 
cern, and added largely to the cares of 
Macdonald, who as minister of Militia Affairs 
was at that time responsible for the defence 
of the country. His labours were incessant, 
his responsibility heavy, and his discourage- 
ments not a few ; but with inflexible deter- 
mination and rare patience he eventually 
surmounted all the difficulties, and on July i, 
1867, witnessed the birth of the new Dominion. 
From that time forth the responsibilities of 
his position, though greatly enlarged, were 
more easily borne. The sense of dependence 
on one province for support was no longer felt. 

* If any one should doubt the ferocity of Brown's attacks on 
the Ministry, and especially upon Sir John A. Macdonald, let 
him turn up the Globe files for that period more particularly the 
issue of September 5, 1866, which contained an attack so violent 
as to call forth a protest from so staunch an opponent of the 
Conservative leader as Alexander Mackenzie. I commend also 
to the curious the Globe of April 30, 1870. 



7 6 

Tii 



SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

XThe enlargement of the arena and the in- 
qlu?ion of many new men of marked ability 
into Canadian public life tended to assuage 
somewhat the old-time bitterness of political 
strife. Perhaps more than all, the unifica- 
tion of the office of prime minister came as 
an unspeakable relief. From 1841 to 1867 
the office of first minister was what might 
be called in commission, that is to say, there 
was a prime minister for each section of 
Canada. If an Upper Canadian were called 
upon to form a Ministry, his chief colleague 
from Lower Canada shared with him much of 
the authority, and also a good deal of the 
prestige and honour, of the office. Were a 
Lower Canadian summoned, his principal 
Upper-Canadian colleague was associated with 
him in the leadership of the Government. 
Thus Canada had the administrations of 
Baldwin-LaFontaine, Hincks-Morin, Tache- 
Macdonald, Macdonald-Cartier, Cartier-Mac- 
donald, and others. This dual authority was 
perhaps necessary at the time, but it had 
been attended by many inconveniences, and 
the confederation of the provinces afforded a 
fitting opportunity to bring it to an end. The 
governor-general, Lord Monck, when confiding 
the duty of forming the first Dominion Cabinet 
to Macdonald, addressed him in these terms : 



MIDDLE LIFE 77 

In authorizing you to undertake the 
duty of forming an administration for the 
Dominion of Canada, I desire to express 
my strong opinion that, in future, it shall 
be distinctly understood that the position 
of First Minister shall be held by one 
person, who shall be responsible to the 
Governor General for the appointment of 
the other Ministers, and that the system 
of dual First Ministers, which has hitherto 
prevailed, shall be put an end to. I think 
this is of importance, not only with re- 
ference to the maintenance of satisfactory 
relations between the Governor General 
and his Cabinet, but also with a view to 
the complete consolidation of the Union 
which we have brought about.* 

On the first Dominion Day, Lord Monck 
announced that John A. Macdonald had been 
created a Knight Commander of the Bath, 
and that Cartier, Gait, Tilley, Tupper, 
Rowland, and M'Dougall had been made 
Companions of the same order. Cartier and 
Gait considered this recognition of their 
services inadequate and declined to receive 
the decoration. A good deal of feeling was 
aroused in Lower Canada among the French 

* From the Viscount Monck to Mr John A. Macdonald, dated 
London, May 24, 1867. 



78 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Canadians at what was looked upon as a 
slight to the representative man of their race. 
Cartier himself appears to have taken the 
matter momentarily to heart, and is said to 
have shown a disposition to attach some blame 
to Macdonald, who, of course, had nothing 
whatever to do with it. It was this circum- 
stance that gave rise to the stories, echoes of 
which are heard even to-day, of dissensions 
between Macdonald and Cartier. In the first 
flush of his natural disappointment Cartier 
may have made use of some hasty expressions, 
and thus lent colour to a report which had no 
serious foundation. There never was any real 
breach between the two men. In order to 
allay the soreness, Lord Monck obtained per- 
mission to offer Cartier a baronetcy if Sir John 
Macdonald was agreeable. Sir John Mac- 
donald at once replied that he would be only 
too glad to see his colleague thus honoured. 
Gait was made a K.C.M.G. at the same time, 
and thus the affair was brought to a happy 
termination. This is the whole story. It 
may be mentioned, as illustrating the sim- 
plicity of life during the period, that when 
Sir George Cartier was created a baronet, he 
had to borrow on his personal note the money 
to pay the necessary fees. 



MIDDLE LIFE 79 

The general elections that came off shortly 
after the formation of the Dominion went 
decisively in favour of the Government 
except in Nova Scotia. There it was other- 
wise. A violent and unreasoning opposition, 
led by Joseph Howe, swept all before it. Of 
the Conservative candidates in Nova Scotia, 
Sir Charles Tupper, then Dr Tupper, was 
the only one who carried his constituency. 
The remaining eighteen, including Adams 
Archibald, the secretary of state for the 
provinces, suffered defeat. It speaks not a 
little for Charles Tupper's influence in his 
native province that at the next general 
elections (in 1872) these figures were reversed, 
the Conservatives carrying twenty out of 
twenty-one seats. Macdonald and Tupper 
first met at the Confederation negotiations in 
1864. They were attracted to each other at 
first sight, and formed an offensive and de- 
fensive alliance which was terminated only by 
Macdonald 's death twenty-seven years later. 

No single event in Sir John Macdonald's 
career affords a more admirable illustration 
of his strategic ability, delicate finesse, and 
subtle power over men than his negotiations 
with Joseph Howe. Howe's opposition to 
Confederation was of no ordinary kind. He 



8o SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

had long been a conspicuous figure in Nova 
Scotia, and was passionately devoted to the 
interests of the province. He was incom- 
parably the greatest natural orator that 
British North America has ever produced. 
With the enthusiastic support of the whole 
province he proceeded to England, shortly 
after Confederation, and there, with all his 
great ability and eloquence, he strove for re- 
peal. His efforts proved unavailing. Tupper 
was in England at the same time, not to argue 
the case for the Dominion, but to afford the 
Imperial authorities full information upon 
the subject. He and Howe returned on the 
same steamer. A few weeks later Macdonald, 
Cartier, and certain of their colleagues paid 
a visit to Halifax, where, as Macdonald 
naively records, they were received by the 
members of the local government with ' suf- 
ficient courtesy.' A most interesting cor- 
respondence afterwards took place between 
Macdonald and Howe, with the result that 
early in the year 1869 Howe entered the 
Dominion Cabinet as president of the Privy 
Council. He remained there four years, and 
then retired to become the lieutenant-governor 
of Nova Scotia, in which office he died shortly 
afterwards. 



MIDDLE LIFE 81 

The first session of the Dominion parlia- 
ment was saddened by the assassination of 
Thomas D'Arcy M'Gee, one of the most 
gifted and charming of men, within a stone's 
throw of the House of Commons. An Irish- 
man by birth, M'Gee in early life attached 
himself to the Young Ireland party. He took 
part in the insurrection of Smith O'Brien, and 
in consequence was obliged to flee the country. 
After some years spent in the United States, 
he settled in Montreal, where he started a 
newspaper. He speedily became a favourite 
with the Irishmen of that city, and by their 
influence he was returned to parliament in 
1857. True to the national instinct, M'Gee 
began his political career as an opponent of 
the Government. In 1862 he accepted a 
portfolio under John Sandfield Macdonald, 
but he was dropped on the reconstruction of 
the Cabinet in 1863, and then passed under the 
influence of John A. Macdonald. The two 
speedily became, not merely political, but per- 
sonal friends. From 1864 to 1866 they were 
colleagues in the Tache- Macdonald Adminis- 
tration. In 1865 M'Gee visited Ireland, and 
while there made a speech in which he un- 
sparingly denounced Fenianism, and besought 
his countrymen to shun all connection with 

D.J.M. F 



82 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

that odious conspiracy. From that hour he 
was a marked man. M'Gee was shot from 
behind his back while he was entering his 
lodgings in Ottawa, in the early morning of 
April 7, 1868. Several persons were arrested 
for complicity in the murder. One of them, 
Thomas Whalen, was found guilty and was 
executed on February n, 1869. 

Shortly before the meeting of the first 
session of the first parliament of the Dominion, 
Sir Alexander Gait, the minister of Finance, 
suddenly resigned his portfolio and left the 
Government. His action is supposed to have 
been in some way connected with the failure 
of the Commercial Bank, which occurred about 
that time, but no one who knew Sir Alexander 
Gait would waste time in seeking to account 
for his actions, which often could only be 
accounted for by his constitutional incon- 
stancy. In saying this I do not for a moment 
wish to ascribe any sordid or unworthy 
motive to Gait, who was a man of large and 
generous mind and of high honour. He was, 
however, never a party man. He could not 
be brought to understand the necessity for 
deferring sometimes to his leader. That spirit 
of subordination without which all party 
government becomes impossible was foreign 



MIDDLE LIFE 83 

to his nature. By some impracticable persons 
this may be regarded as a virtue. At any 
rate, in Gait's case it was a fact. As Sir John 
Macdonald once said of him, * Gait is as un- 
stable as water, and never can be depended 
upon to be of the same mind for forty-eight 
hours together. 7 

Gait was succeeded as minister of Finance 
by Sir John Rose. Two years later Rose gave 
up his portfolio to take up residence in London 
as a member of the banking firm of Morton, 
Rose and Company. Circumstances rendered 
it necessary that, to maintain the arrangement 
entered into with Brown in 1864, Rose's 
successor should be an old-time Ontario 
Liberal, and no suitable man possessing that 
qualification happened to be available. But 
while Sir John Macdonald was casting about 
for a new colleague, Sir Francis Hincks re- 
appeared on the scene. In the interval of 
fifteen years which had elapsed since Hincks 
left Canada he had been governor of various 
of the West India Islands, and had returned 
with a record of honourable service and the 
decoration of Knight Commander of St 
Michael and St George. Scarcely had Sir 
Francis set foot in Canada when Macdonald 
resolved that he should succeed Sir John Rose. 



84 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

The offer was made and promptly accepted, 
and on October 9, 1869, Sir Francis Hincks 
was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed 
minister of Finance. A great storm followed. 
The Globe outdid itself in denunciation of Sir 
John Macdonald, of Sir Francis Hincks, and 
of everybody in the most remote way 
connected with the appointment. Richard 
(afterwards Sir Richard) Cartwright, hitherto 
a traditional Tory, took umbrage at the 
appointment of Hincks, and notified Sir 
John Macdonald no longer to count upon his 
support, though he did not then finally 
leave the Conservative party. Sir Alexander 
Gait also announced his withdrawal from 
the party, and there was dissatisfaction in 
other quarters. Respecting Gait's defection 
Sir John Macdonald wrote : 

Gait came out, I am glad to say, formally 
in opposition and relieved me of the diffi- 
culty connected with him. His warm 
alliance with the Lower Canadian French 
rendered it necessary for me to put up 
with a good deal, as you know. But he 
is now finally dead as a Canadian politician. 
The correspondence between Cartier and 
himself, in which he comes squarely out 



MIDDLE LIFE 85 

for independence, has rung his death-knell, 
and I shall take precious good care to keep 
him where he is. He lias seduced Cart- 
wright away, and I have found out how it 
was managed. Cartwright and he formed 
at the Club last session a sort of mutual 
admiration society, and they agreed that 
they were the two men fit to govern 
Canada. Gait rubbed it in pretty strong, 
as I have occasion to know that he told 
him that I ought to have selected him 
(Cartwright) as your successor.* 

Despite Sir John's jaunty attitude at the 
time, the appointment of Sir Francis Hincks 
could not be said to have fulfilled expecta- 
tions. While it disappointed Tory ambitions, 
it failed to strengthen the Reform section sup- 
porting the Administration. Moreover, I infer 
from Sir John's confidential letters of the time 
that Sir Francis was not quite the square peg 
for the square hole. 

Hincks [wrote Sir John to his friend 
Rose in January 1872] is as suggestive as 
ever in financial matters, but his rashness 
(always, as you know, the defect of his 
character) seems to increase with his years, 

* To Sir John Rose, dated Ottawa, February 23, 1870. 



86 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

and, strange to say, he is quite a stranger 
to the popular opinion of Canada as it is. 
His Canada is the Canada of 1850. For all 
that he is a worthy good fellow and has 
been successful in finance. 

Upon the whole, I am inclined to view the 
taking up of Sir Francis Hincks in 1869 as 
one of Sir John Macdonald's very few mistakes. 
I do not go as far as to say he would have done 
better to have chosen Sir Richard Cartwright, 
who was only thirty-three years of age at 
the time, and who, as the president of the 
Commercial Bank, which had failed only two 
years before, was just then an impossibility.* 
Moreover, to be quite just to Sir Richard 
Cartwright, I must say that I have never seen 
evidence to satisfy me that he expected to 
succeed Sir John Rose. There is nothing in 
his letters preserved by Sir John Macdonald 
to establish this. They disclose his opposition 
to Hincks, but he nowhere says that he wanted 

* Not the smallest reflection upon Sir Richard Cartwright's 
personal honour is sought to be conveyed here. Sir John Mac<- 
donald himself had been connected with the same institutipn for 
many years as shareholder, director, and solicitor, and its failure 
did not compromise either of them. At the same time, it is obvious 
that to appoint as Finance minister the president of a bank which 
had recently closed its doors (no matter for what cause) would 
be to invite criticism of the most caustic kind. 






MIDDLE LIFE 87 

the position for himself. It is true that in 
the heat of debate Sir John more than once 
implied something of the kind, and I am not 
aware that Sir Richard ever denied the 
allegation, though it is quite possible he may 
have done so. There is little doubt, however, 
that the selection of Sir Francis Hincks 
caused Sir Richard Cartwright to abandon 
Sir John Macdonald. He did not leave all 
at once. As late as the campaign which pre- 
ceded the general elections of 1872 he called 
himself an ' Independent/ and the Globe 
contemptuously classed him, in respect of cer- 
tain votes he had given in parliament which 
happened to be distasteful to Brown, as * a 
Tory and a corruptionist.' But from 1870 
his name not infrequently appears in the 
division list of the House of Commons among 
the Opposition. 

The taking over of the North- West from 
the Hudson's Bay Company a troubled 
chapter in the early history of the Dominion 
caused Sir John Macdonald a great deal of 
concern. Looking back after the event, it 
would seem that the difficulties experienced 
had their origin in three main causes : first, 
the neglect of the Hudson's Bay Company 
to prepare the settlers for the great change 



88 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

involved in the transfer of the government 
of that vast region to Canada ; secondly, the 
lack of conciliation, tact, and prudence on 
the part of the Canadian surveyors who were 
sent into the country in the summer of 1869 ; 
and, thirdly, the injudicious course pursued 
by M'Dougall, who was sent to the North- 
West as lieutenant-governor in anticipation of 
the actual transfer to Canada. The Ottawa 
authorities appear to have omitted no step 
which their scanty knowledge of that distant 
region might have suggested. In September 
1868 a delegation, consisting of Cartier and 
M'Dougall, had visited England, and, after a 
series of untoward events and much negotia- 
tion, had arrived at an arrangement under 
which the Hudson's Bay Company agreed, in 
consideration of the sum of 300,000, to sur- 
render all their interest in the North- West to 
the crown, with the reservation to the Com- 
pany of one-twentieth of the fertile belt and 
of 45,000 acres adjacent to its trading posts. 
In the following September (1869) William 
M'Dougall was appointed lieutenant-governor, 
but prior to that date Joseph Howe, the 
secretary of state for the provinces, went to 
Fort Garry in order to prepare the way for 
the new governor. Howe found the people 






MIDDLE LIFE 89 

largely uninformed as to the true position of 
affairs, but he added that by * frank and cour- 
teous explanation ' he had cleared the air a 
good deal, and that the future would depend 
upon M'DougalPs tact, temper, and discre- 
tion. What happened is well known the bad 
handling of the situation by M'Dougall, the 
insurrection of the half-breeds under Louis 
Riel, the murder of Thomas Scott and I 
shall not allude to these events further than 
to say that they gave Sir John Macdonald 
the occasion of meeting, for the first time, the 
future Lord Strathcona. It happened in this 
way. When news of the outbreak on the 
Red River reached Ottawa, George Stephen 
between whom and Sir John Macdonald there 
existed a warm friendship even then wrote 
to Sir John to say that he thought he knew a 
man well qualified to act as a peacemaker at 
Fort Garry if he would undertake the mission. 
This was Donald A. Smith, chief factor of the 
Hudson's Bay Company in Montreal. Armed 
with a letter of introduction to Macdonald 
from Stephen, Smith went to Ottawa. I give 
three brief extracts from Sir John's corre- 
spondence of the time. 

I was very glad to see Mr Smith, who 



90 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

seems a clever man ; at the same time 
I am exceedingly disappointed at the 
apparent helplessness of the Hudson's Bay 
authorities. Mr Smith has nothing to 
suggest, and they seem to have been utterly 
neglectful at Red River of their duty in 
preparing the people for the change.* 

Your friend Donald A. Smith is rather 
lucky. He will go up there on an im- 
portant mission, will succeed beyond a 
doubt, and get a good deal of praise 
therefor.f 

Smith left this morning with full powers 
and instructions. He seemed to think 
that he would be able to do good there. 
It would never have done for Colonel 
Wolseley to have gone with him. Smith 
goes to carry the olive branch, and were it 
known at Red River that he was accom- 
panied by an officer high in rank in the 
military service, he would be looked upon 
as having the olive branch in one hand and 
a revolver in the other.| 

* From Sir John Macdonald to George Stephen, dated Ottawa, 
December i, 1869. 

t From the same to the same, dated Ottawa, December 9, 1869. 
? From the same to the same, dated Ottawa, December 13, 1869. 



MIDDLE LIFE 91 

Smith's mission, however, did not prove 
effective, and it became necessary later to 
send Colonel (afterwards Lord) Wolseley with 
a military expedition to the Red River. It 
may not be generally known that after the 
troubles were over, Colonel Wolseley intimated 
his willingness to accept the position of 
lieutenant-governor of the newly created pro- 
vince of Manitoba. The appointment of a 
military man to the civil office of lieutenant- 
governor was not, however, considered ex- 
pedient just then, and, fortunately for the 
future viscount, he was passed over in favour 
of Adams Archibald. 

Shortly after these events Sir John Mac- 
donald, overcome by the fatigues and re- 
sponsibilities of his office, fell ill, and for 
several months in the summer of 1870 the 
duties of the first minister were discharged by 
Sir George Cartier. Scarcely had Sir John 
resumed his tasks when he was appointed a 
member of the Joint High Commission 
named to adjust all differences between Great 
Britain and the United States which re- 
sulted in the Treaty of Washington, 1871. In 
another volume I have related,* mainly in his 
own words, the story of his strenuous fight 
* Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. ii, pp. 85-140. 



92 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

for Canadian interests on that memorable 
occasion. Few more interesting diplomatic 
memoirs were ever penned than the pages 
in which Macdonald recounts from day to day 
his efforts to discharge his duties to the 
Empire as Her Majesty 's plenipotentiary, and 
at the same time to protect and defend the 
special interests of Canada. That he upheld 
Imperial interests was never questioned, but 
he was accused by some of his political 
opponents at the time of having done so at 
the expense of Canada. It was alleged that 
he had sacrificed the fisheries to enable Her 
Majesty's government to come to terms with 
the United States. In this, as in many other 
matters, time has amply vindicated his 
course. 

The treaty in regard to which he had 
apprehensions received the sanction of the 
Canadian House of Commons by a vote of 
more than two to one. At the ensuing general 
election the province of Nova Scotia the 
home of Canadian fishermen ratified Mac- 
donald's policy by returning twenty mem- 
bers out of twenty-one in its support. It 
is clear that he had not sacrificed Canadian 
interests, for wheii the Fishery Articles were 
terminated in 1885, it was not by desire of 



MIDDLE LIFE 93 

Great Britain or of Canada, but by the action 
of the United States. 

The summer of 1871 was marked by the 
admission of British Columbia into the Con- 
federation. By the terms of this union 
Canada was pledged to construct a railway 
to the Pacific within ten years. This was 
strenuously objected to by the parliamentary 
Opposition. It was an obligation, the Liberals 
said, that would press with crushing severity 
upon the people of Canada. They argued 
that in contracting to build the road in ten 
years the Government had committed Canada 
to an undertaking greatly beyond its re- 
sources ; indeed, to a physical impossibility. 

In December of the same year the Govern- 
ment in Ontario led by Sandfield Macdonald 
was defeated in the legislature and compelled 
to resign. An Administration, determinedly 
hostile to the Ottawa Government, was formed 
at Toronto under Edward Blake. The On- 
tario Orangemen were filled with anger at 
the brutal murder of Thomas Scott by Louis 
Riel at Fort Garry and the failure of the 
Government at Ottawa to seize the murderer. 
The anti-confederate feeling was still strong 
in Nova Scotia. There was dissatisfaction 
over the appointment of Sir Francis Hincks. 



94 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

In many quarters the Washington Treaty was 
unpopular. All this hostility Macdonald had 
to face, as well as the strenuous opposition 
of the Liberal party. It was under these 
untoward circumstances that Sir John Mac- 
donald advised the dissolution of the House 
of Commons and appealed to the people in 
the summer of 1872. His feelings on the eve 
of the battle are thus expressed in a letter to 
Sir John Rose : 

I am, as you may fancy, exceedingly 
desirous of carrying the election again ; 
not with any personal object, because I 
am weary of the whole thing, but Con- 
federation is only yet in the gristle, and 
it will require five years more before it 
hardens into bone. 

It is only by the exercise of constant pru- 
dence and moderation that we have been 
able to prevent the discordant elements 
from ending in a blow-up. If good Con- 
stitutional men are returned, I think that 
at the end of five years the Dominion may 
be considered safe from being prejudiced 
by any internal dissension.* 

* From Sir John Macdonald to Sir John Rose, dated Ottawa, 
March 5, 1872. 



MIDDLE LIFE 95 

The fight in Ontario proved very severe, as 
may be gathered from his subsequent account : 

I had to fight a stern and up-hill battle 
in Ontario, and had I not taken regularly 
to the stump, a thing that I have never 
done before, we should have been com- 
pletely routed. The chief ground of attack 
on the Government was the Washington 
Treaty, and our submitting to Gladstone's 
resolve not to press the Fenian claims. 
Added to this, of course, were all the sins 
of omission and commission that gather 
round an administration of so many years' 
duration as ours. 

I never worked so hard before, and never 
shall do so again ; but I felt it to be 
necessary this time. I did not want a 
verdict against the treaty from the country, 
and besides, I sincerely believe that the 
advent of the Opposition, as it is now con- 
stituted, to power would greatly damage 
the future of Confederation. That Opposi- 
tion has much deteriorated since you left 
Canada. Poor Sandfield is gone ; Brown 
is out of public life, or rather out of Parlia- 
ment ; Blake, who is a gentleman by birth 
and education, has broken down in health ; 



96 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Dorion has all but retired from public life, 
and was elected against his will and in his 
absence ; and the rest, with one or two 
exceptions, are a very inferior lot.* 

In spite of Sir John's efforts the Government 
lost ground heavily. Sir Francis Hincks 
suffered defeat in South Brant, and Sir 
George Cartier in East Montreal. What Sir 
Richard Cartwright used to call ' the shreds 
and patches of the Dominion ' the Maritime 
Provinces and British Columbia did very 
well for the Conservatives, but, taking it alto- 
gether, it was plain that the Government had 
sustained a severe check. 

The Opposition, alive to their improved 
chances, assembled in full force at the session 
of 1873, under the leadership of Alexander 
Mackenzie. In order to render more effective 
service to his party at Ottawa, Edward Blake 
resigned office as prime minister of Ontario in 
favour of Oliver Mowat. All along he had held 
a seat in the House of Commons, for those 
were days of dual representation, when there 
was nothing to prevent a man from sitting 
in both a provincial House and the House 
of Commons. This several leading men did. 

* To the Viscount Monck, dated Ottawa, October n, 1872. 




Age 57 



MIDDLE LIFE 97 

It will be readily understood, however, that 
the office of prime minister of Ontario would 
materially interfere with the duties of a lead- 
ing member of the Opposition at Ottawa. 
With large reinforcements and a feeling of 
confidence, the Opposition gathered for the 
fray, determined, if possible, to compass the 
overthrow of the Macdonald Government. 
Fortune favoured the design, for in the session 
of 1873 occurred what has come to be com- 
monly known as the ' Pacific Scandal.' 

Briefly stated, the charge involved in the 
Pacific Scandal was this : that the Govern- 
ment had corruptly granted to Sir Hugh Allan 
and his associates the charter for the building 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway, in considera- 
tion of a large sum of money supplied by him 
for election purposes. In a letter addressed 
to Lord Dufferin, which has been before the 
public for twenty years, Sir John Macdonald 
completely answered this accusation.* 

* For the full text of this letter see Pope's Memoirs of Sir John 
Macdonald, vol. ii, pp. 174-89. In it Macdonald points out : 

1. That Canada was under bonds to construct a railway from 
(say) Montreal to the Pacific. 

2. That the House of Commons in the session of 1871, during 
his absence in Washington, carried a resolution, at the instiga- 
tion of the Opposition, obliging the Government to build the road 
through the agency of an incorporated company. 

3. That two rival companies one under Sir Hugh Allan in 

D.J.M. G 



98 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

In the light of all that has happened in the 
last forty years, it is difficult to repress a 
smile when reading the impassioned invectives 
poured out upon Sir John Macdonald by his 
political opponents of that day in connection 
with the Pacific Scandal. According to them 
he had basely betrayed his country, selling 
her honour for filthy lucre ; he had shamefully 
prostituted his office ; he was a great criminal 
for whose punishment justice cried aloud, and 
much more to the same effect. Yet every one 
who dispassionately considers the affair to- 
day in its true perspective sees quite plainly 
that, however indiscreetly he acted in his re- 
Montreal, and the other under Mr David Macpherson in Toronto 
were formed with the object of securing the charter. 

4. That the Government, with a view to removing the great 
sectional jealousies which had developed between the provinces 
of Ontario and Quebec, in relation to this matter, endeavoured 
to secure the amalgamation of these two companies. 

5. That while these negotiations were going forward, the 
general elections of 1872 came on, and, among others, Sir Hugh 
Allan, as he had done previously for many years, subscribed 
largely to the Conservative election fund. 

6. That Sir Hugh Allan was told before he subscribed a 
farthing that his railway company would not get the privilege 
of building the railway. He was informed that the work would 
only be entrusted to an amalgamated company, under the terms 
of the Act passed in parliament ; that such amalgamation would 
be effected on terms fair to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, 
as agreed upon between the representatives of the two rival 
companies, and that such amalgamation would take place only 
after the elections. 



MIDDLE LIFE 99 

lations with Sir Hugh Allan, Sir John's sole 
thought was for the advantage of Canada. 
In the face of great difficulties he had carried 
Confederation, had pacified Nova Scotia, had 
brought Manitoba, British Columbia, and 
Prince Edward Island into the Union ; and 
in order that this Union should abide, he was 
putting forth all his energies for the con- 
struction of the great link that was to hold the 
distant provinces together. 

In all these matters he had to encounter 
at every step the rancorous opposition of his 
political adversaries. It is, therefore, not 
surprising that he attached much importance 
to the general elections of 1872. He had no 
personal ambitions unfulfilled he was weary 
of it all but he entertained a profound 

7. That under the powers vested in them by the Act, the 
Government issued a royal charter in which they gave the pre- 
ponderance of interest to the province of Ontario, according to 
population. They gave a fair representation to every one of the 
other provinces, and of the thirteen shareholders and directors 
of which the company was composed, only one was the nominee 
or the special choice of Sir Hugh Allan. The others were 
elected without the slightest reference to him ; some of them 
against his most strenuous opposition, and they included three 
of the incorporators of the Ontario company, two of whom had 
been directors in that company. In that charter there were no 
advantages given, nor could they be given, by the Government. 
Parliament had decided what the subsidy in money and land 
should be, and that was given and no more. 



ioo SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

conviction that to confide the destinies of 
Canada to men who, among other things, were 
opposing the building of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway by every means in their power, 
would be to undo the great work to which he 
had set his hand and to disrupt the Con- 
federation. ' With five years more/ he writes, 
' I thought we might safely consider that the 
gristle had hardened into bone, and that the 
Union had been thoroughly cemented.' And 
so we find him, though far from strong, throw- 
ing himself with vigour into the elections of 
1872, and, his colleagues being everywhere hard 
pressed, himself doing much that might better 
have been confided to others. Every oneknows, 
to use the expression of the late Israel Tarte, 
that ' elections are not made with prayers.' 
Every one knows, and it is mere hypocrisy to 
disclaim the knowledge, that there are elec- 
tion funds in both parties, to which wealthy 
friends of the respective parties are invited to 
contribute. Sir John's mistake was in asking 
favours of a man who at that time was seek- 
ing advantages from the Government. No 
matter how sure he might be of his own recti- 
tude, it was setting a dangerous precedent for a 
weaker man, who might be placed in his posi- 
tion, to follow. No doubt, too, he would have 



MIDDLE LIFE 101 

clone better not to have mixed himself up with 
money matters at all, though in acting as he 
did he only followed the usual practice. In 
that day the leaders of political parties in 
Canada personally solicited campaign funds.* 
Macdonald took contributions from the rich 
men of his party among others from Sir 
Hugh Allan to fight that party's battles. 
But there was no barter. Sir Hugh Allan was, 
of course, playing his own game. His motive 
is quite apparent. He wanted to build the 
Pacific Railway, and was naturally interested 
in preventing the accession to power of men 
opposed to the whole scheme as premature 
and beyond the resources of the country. 

What seems plain now was not so apparent 
forty years ago. The current set in strongly 

* At that very time George Brown was writing thus to a 
leading banker in Toronto : 

TORONTO, August 15, 1872. 

MY DEAR SIR, The fight goes bravely on. ... We have 
expended our strength in aiding outlying counties and helping 
our city candidates. But a big push has to be made on Saturday 
and Monday for the East and West divisions. . . . We there- 
fore make our grand stand on Saturday. There are but half a 
dozen people that can come down handsomely, and we have 
done all we possibly can do, and we have to ask a few outsiders 
to aid us. Will you be one ? I have been urged to write you, 
and comply accordingly. Things look well all over the Pro- 
vince. . . . Things look bright in Quebec. Faithfully yours, 

GEO. BROWN. 



102 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

against the Ministry. As Mr S. H. Blake 
would say, ' There was the sound of a going in 
the tops of the mulberry trees.' There was a 
general feeling that the days of the Govern- 
ment were numbered. The country was ripe 
for a change. The Conservatives had been in 
office for nearly ten years consecutively, and 
people were beginning to get a little tired of 
them. Men began to think that it was time 
to give the other side a chance. Long periods 
of exclusion from office of the representatives 
of nearly one-half the community is not good 
for the Opposition, for the state, nor for the 
dominant party itself. Sir John Macdonald, 
at a later period, seems to have recognized 
this, for one of his letters, written to a friend 
on the eve of the contest of 1887, contains the 
significant words, ' the Government is too old/ 
It was not as old as was his Government at 
its resignation in 1873. However that may 
be, amid shrieks of ' corruption ' the Adminis- 
tration of Sir John Macdonald bowed to 
public opinion, and the Liberals at last got 
their chance. 

In the general elections, which took place 
in the month of January 1874, the newly 
formed Mackenzie Government swept the 
country, returning with a majority of seventy- 



MIDDLE LIFE 103 

five or upwards. Among the new members 
was Mr (now Sir Wilfrid) Laurier. 

Alexander Mackenzie, the prime minister, 
like his predecessor, was a Scotsman by birth. 
Like Sir John Macdonald, too, he had emi- 
grated to Canada at an early age and had 
settled first at Kingston, subsequently re- 
moving to Sarnia. In 1861 he entered parlia- 
ment as member for Lambton, and took rank 
from the first as a strong and effective debater 
on the side of the Opposition. In office he 
proved a capable administrator of unimpeach- 
able integrity, with a remarkable capacity 
for labour. It could not be said of him, how- 
ever, that he possessed the essential qualities 
of a leader. Not only was he destitute of 
that mysterious personal attribute known as 
' magnetism,' but he was disposed to be 
arbitrary and dictatorial. His political sup- 
porters respected and perhaps feared him, 
but it cannot be said that he was popular 
among them. 

Goldwin Smith was once driving a newly 
arrived English friend through the streets 
of Toronto at the time Mackenzie was in 
the zenith of his power. When passing 
Mackenzie's house he remarked the fact. 
* And who is Mr Mackenzie ? ' inquired the 



104 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

friend. ' Mr Mackenzie/ replied Goldwin 
Smith, ' was a stonemason ; he is a stone- 
mason still. 9 

This, of course, was not fair. Mackenzie, 
despite his narrowness, rigidity, faults of 
manner, and perhaps of temper, was an able 
man. No fairer was Goldwin Smith's cynical 
observation that the alliance between Mac- 
donald and Brown in 1864 was ' as brief and 
perfidious as a harlot's love ' ; but nobody 
at any rate, no Canadian public man 
ever looked for fairness from Goldwin Smith, 
whose idea of independence seemed to consist 
of being alternately unjust to each side. 
Both sayings, however, are extremely clever, 
and both had sufficient truth about them to 
give point at once to the author's male- 
volence and to his wit. 

A man of very different mould from that 
of the Liberal leader was his nominal follower 
Edward Blake, one of the rarest minds that 
have adorned the bar of Canada or of any 
other country. Blake was not merely a great 
equity lawyer ; he was, as well, a distin- 
guished authority on the principles of govern- 
ment. Viewed as intellectual performances, his 
speeches in the Canadian House of Commons 
have never been surpassed. But to his great 



MIDDLE LIFE 105 

gifts were joined great weaknesses, among 
which may be set down an abnormal sensitive- 
ness. He was peculiarly susceptible to the 
daily annoyances which beset a public man. 
So marked was this infirmity that men with- 
out a tithe of his ability, but with a better 
adjusted nervous system, would sometimes 
presume to torment him just for the fun of the 
thing. While he was minister of Justice, poli- 
tical exigencies compelled Mackenzie to take 
into his Cabinet a man who, by reason of his 
unsavoury political record, was eminently dis- 
tasteful to Blake. This man knew perfectly 
well that the great lawyer was not proud of 
the association, but being as thick-skinned as 
Blake was sensitive, he rather enjoyed his 
colleague's discomfort. He was known to 
go into Blake's office on a short winter's 
afternoon, and, standing with his back to the 
fire in a free and easy attitude as though 
perfectly at home, to say, ' Well, mon cher 
collegue y (here Blake would visibly writhe, to 
the equally apparent delight of the intruder), 
* I have called for you to come for a walk with 
me.' ' My good sir,' Blake would tartly 
reply, ' I have work here that will keep me for 
the next two hours.' ' But it will be dark 
then/ objected the caller. * Well, my good 



106 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

sir,' was the retort, c we can walk in the dark, I 
suppose ' which Blake would naturally much 
prefer. Edward Blake's outward bearing was 
cold and unsympathetic. He was often re- 
pellent to those desiring to be his friends. 
Intimates he appeared to have none: he 
would not allow people to be intimate with 
him. He would hardly even, when leader of 
the Opposition, accept the co-operation of his 
supporters or allow them a share in his labours. 
So exacting was his standard that he felt no 
one would do the work as well as himself, and 
any one who proffered assistance was likely to 
get a snub for his pains. Whenever he spoke 
in the House of Commons, he so exhausted 
his subject that there was nothing left for his 
followers to say an impolitic course for a 
leader. Yet it was impossible, such is the 
compelling power of genius, to withhold 
admiration for that lonely and impressive 
figure whose external bearing spoke so plainly 
of the intellectual force within. I had the 
honour of only a slight personal acquaintance 
with Blake, yet I never recall his memory 
without a tinge of sadness that so gifted a 
man should not have accomplished more in the 
way of constructive statesmanship. Before 
the age of forty he was prime minister of 



MIDDLE LIFE 107 

Ontario, but within a twelvemonth he gave 
it up to devote his attention to federal politics. 
When the Liberal party succeeded to power 
in 1873, men thought that Blake's opportunity 
had at last arrived, and it was learned with 
surprise that he had not taken a portfolio in 
the new Administration. He had, however, 
a seat in the Cabinet, but this he resigned 
within three months. In 1875 he re-entered 
the Cabinet as minister of Justice. But, 
beyond writing a few masterly dispatches on 
the pardoning power and obtaining certain 
modifications in the governor-generaPs in- 
structions in that regard, he does not appear 
to have accomplished much during his tenure 
of office. The bill establishing the Supreme 
Court, passed about this time, was the work 
primarily of Sir John Macdonald, and was 
piloted through the House of Commons by 
Telesphore Fournier, Blake's immediate pre- 
decessor in the department of Justice. Early 
in 1878 Blake again left the Cabinet, and he 
was not even in the country during the elec- 
tions of that year which overwhelmed his 
late colleagues. He became leader of the Op- 
position after the retirement of Mackenzie in 
1880, but resigned the post after his failure 
to carry the elections of 1887, He afterwards 



io8 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

went to Great Britain, and became a Nation- 
alist member from Ireland of the House of 
Commons. For fifteen years his great talents 
lay obscured at Westminster in the shadows 
of Parnell and Redmond. Broken in health, 
he finally returned to his native country ; but 
it was only to die. 

But if Blake 's mind was not of the construc- 
tive order, his critical and analytical faculties 
were highly developed. Always effective, often 
trenchant, sometimes cruel, his powers of 
sarcasm and invective were unrivalled. Once, 
when a former minister of Inland Revenue, 
not remarkable for his knowledge of the 
affairs of his department, had proposed a 
resolution to the effect that a barrel should 
no longer be considered a measure of capa- 
city, Blake offered an amendment to the 
effect that ' in future the office of Cabinet 
minister be no longer considered a measure 
of capacity ! ' Again, in one of his orations 
against the building of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway, he prefaced a minute and exhaus- 
tive narration of events connected with the 
enterprise in these words : * Mr Speaker, on 
the first of April a fitting day in the year 
1871, . . .' That was his estimate of the 
project as late as the early eighties. 



MIDDLE LIFE 109 

During Blake's period of office an old and 
faithful official of his department, who rather 
prided himself upon his discrimination in the 
use of words, wrote on a file of papers, ' Re- 
ferred to the Minister for his instructions.' 
When this came before Blake, he wrote under- 
neath the memorandum : ' My officers do not 
refer matters to me ; they submit them. E.B.' 
It is due to Blake to say that, when leaving 
the department, he called for this file and 
expunged these words with his own hand. 

Sometimes, however, he was in lighter vein, 
and, indeed, I have known him to betray a 
transient gleam of humour. One day a letter, 
the envelope addressed to Blake, was left at 
' Earnscliffe,' Macdonald's Ottawa residence. 
The letter inside, however, as appeared later, 
was addressed to Sir John Macdonald. Igno- 
rant, of course, of this fact, Macdonald sent it 
to Blake, who returned it with this note : 

COBOURG, June 2&th t 1889. 

MY DEAR SIR, Thanks for the mysteri- 
ous package, which, however, I return, 
perceiving that in this, as in some other 
cases, if I have a better title to the shell, 
you have the better title to the oyster. 

It is a curious example of the workings 



no SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

of the mind and of the phraseology of a 
deaf mute. It is a sad sort of letter, and I 
intend to write to Jones to enquire if any- 
thing can be done for the poor creature. 
Yours faithfully, 

EDWARD BLAKE. 

Here we get a glimpse of the really kind and 
generous heart that beat under the chilling 
exterior of Edward Blake. 

In the year 1875 there occurred in Montreal 
an event which caused a good deal of ill-feeling 
between the English and French sections of 
the population throughout the province of 
Quebec. This was the epilogue of the famous 
Guibord case. Joseph Guibord was a mem- 
ber of a society known as V Institut Cana- 
dien. In 1858 the Roman Catholic bishop of 
Montreal issued a pastoral letter exhorting 
the members of this institute to purge their 
library of certain works regarded as immoral, 
and decreeing several penalties, including 
deprivation of the sacraments and refusal of 
ecclesiastical burial, in the event of disobedi- 
ence. The library committee returned a reply 
to the effect that they were the judges of 
the morality of their books, and, further, that 
there were no immoral works in their library. 



MIDDLE LIFE m 

The matter appears to have lain dormant for 
some years. In 1865 several members of the 
Institute, including Guibord, appealed to 
Rome against the action of the bishop, but 
in vain. Shortly afterwards Guibord died, 
and as he had adhered to his membership in 
the Institute despite the bishop's mandement, 
ecclesiastical burial was refused. His widow 
had recourse to the law, and ultimately the 
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council 
ordered the burial of Guibord's remains in 
the Roman Catholic cemetery. The reasons 
upon which this judgment is based are that 
the Church of Rome in the province of Quebec, 
while lacking some of the features of an estab- 
lished church, differs materially before the 
law from voluntary religious bodies ; that 
certain privileges, such as the right to collect 
tithes, secured to it by law, beget correspond- 
ing obligations towards the laity. One obliga- 
tion is to give ecclesiastical sepulchre to its 
members. The proceedings against Guibord 
had been legally insufficient to deprive him 
of this right ; he had not been excommuni- 
cated personally and by name, but merely lay 
under a general excommunication. 

The first attempts of Guibord's friends to 
bury the body in accordance with this 



fi2 y SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

decision were frustrated by force ; but on 
November 16, 1875, under a strong military 
escort, the remains of Joseph Guibord were 
finally laid to rest in the Cote des Neiges 
cemetery, in the presence of a sullen assem- 
blage. This forcible, albeit legal, proceeding 
was deeply felt by many who needed not to 
take lessons in loyalty to the Queen from the 
members of the Institut Canadien, but who 
could not see why the Church of Rome should 
be debarred the right, supposed to appertain 
to every society, of determining its own con- 
ditions of membership, nor understand why 
the friends of a man should seek on his behalf, 
after his death, the ministrations of that 
Church whose teachings, during his lifetime, 
he had voluntarily despised. 

The Liberal Government came to power in 
1873 at a time of commercial depression ex- 
tending over the whole continent. Canada 
suffered severely ; and so did the Ministry. 
Business was bad, the revenues fell off, em- 
ployment became scarce. It was during this 
period that the Conservative Opposition be- 
gan the advocacy of what was called * The 
National Policy ' a system of modified 
protection which it was hoped would both 
stimulate the industries of the country and 



MIDDLE LIFE 113 

provide a sufficient revenue. Protection was 
no new policy with Sir John Macdonald. As 
long before as in 1846 he had advocated it 
from his place in parliament. In 1850 he 
belonged to an association which had as one 
of its aims a ' commercial national policy/ In 
1858 he was joint-leader of a Government 
whose finance minister (Gait) announced pro- 
tection to native industries as its policy. In 
1 86 1 he at various times and places expounded 
and developed this policy. Lastly, on the 
eve of the general elections of 1872, he wrote 
to the present Lord Mount Stephen : 

At the hustings in Western Canada 
[Ontario] and in all the constituencies 
except Toronto, the battle will be between 
free trade and a national policy. ... It 
is really astonishing the feeling that has 
grown up in the West [he is referring to 
Western Ontario] in favour of encourage- 
ment of home manufactures. 

In 1876 the time was opportune for promoting 
this policy. Trade was depressed, manu- 
factures languished, and the Canadian people 
as producers only of raw material were fast 
becoming hewers of wood and drawers of 
water for their more opulent neighbours in 

D.J.M. H 



H4 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

the United States. On March 10 of that year 
Sir John Macdonald propounded to the House 
of Commons his scheme for improving the 
commerce of the country. His proposals 
were contemptuously received by the Govern- 
ment. The prime minister, while admitting the 
serious character of the depression then pre- 
vailing, attributed the cause wholly to cir- 
cumstances beyond their control, and denied 
the power of any government to remove it by 
legislation. They would have nothing to do 
with protection, which Mackenzie ridiculed 
as an attempt to relieve distress by imposing 
additional taxation. 

* Sir John thought differently. If he had 
done nothing else, his ' National Policy ' cam- 
paign would have stamped him as a leader 
of men. In the words of a political opponent 
of the time, ' he constructed with consummate 
skill the engine which destroyed the Mackenzie 
Administration. From the very first he saw 
what a tactician would do with Protection, 
and in so masterly a manner did he cover his 
troops with that rampart, that it was im- 
possible for the Liberals to turn their flank/ 
His political picnics in 1876 and 1877, and 
the enthusiasm he everywhere aroused, were 
long remembered, and are not forgotten to 



MIDDLE LIFE 115 

this day by older men. ' Everywhere crowds 
gathered to his support, and the country im- 
patiently waited the opportunity to restore 
him to his old position at the head of affairs. 
At length the fateful day arrived, and on 
September 17, 1878, the people of Canada 
declared by an overwhelming majority for 
' John A.' and protection. / In the preceding 
July Sir John had ventured a prophecy of the 
result something, by the way, he was ex- 
tremely chary of doing. ' If we do well we 
shall have a majority of sixty, if badly, thirty.' 
He had eighty-six. 

It was observed that as far as possible 
the new ministers in the Cabinet formed by 
Macdonald were taken from the ranks of his 
old colleagues, from those who had suffered 
with him on account of the ' Pacific Scandal.' 
Sir George Cartier was dead, but Tilley and 
Tapper, Langevin, Pope, Campbell, Aikins, 
O'Connor, and others of the * Old Guard V not 
hitherto of Cabinet rank, became members of 
the new Administration, which was destined 
to last for thirteen years. 

Lord Dufferin's term of office as governor- 
general was about to expire. One of his last 
acts before leaving Canada was to send for 
Macdonald to form the new Ministry. Sir 



n6 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

John's relations with Lord Dufferin had always 
been pleasant, though I think he considered 
the governor-general a bit of a humbug. 
Speaking to me one day of men's liking for 
flattery, Sir John said that ' almost anybody 
will take almost any amount of it,' but he 
thought that Lord Dufferin transgressed even 
those wide limits. ' He laid it on with a 
trowel.' Sir John added that Lord Dufferin 
was proud of his classical acquirements. He 
once delivered an address in Greek at the 
University of Toronto. A newspaper sub- 
sequently spoke of ' His Excellency's perfect 
command of the language.' ' I wonder who 
told the reporter that,' said a colleague to the 
chief. ' I did,' replied Sir John. ' But you 
do not know Greek.' ' No,' replied Sir John, 
4 but I know men.' 

Lord Dufferin's successor in the office of 
governor-general was the Duke of Argyll, at 
that time Marquess of Lome, who spent five 
interesting and, as the duke himself said more 
than once, pleasant years in the Dominion. 
The personal relations between him and the 
prime minister were always of the most agree- 
able description. The story, published in Sir 
Richard Cartwright's Reminiscences, that Sir 
John Macdonald was guilty on one occasion 



MIDDLE LIFE 117 

of rudeness to his royal consort the Princess 
Louise is without a particle of foundation. It 
was categorically denied by Her Royal High- 
ness, and characterized as ' rubbish ' by the 
duke in a cable to the Montreal Star. I have 
now arrived at the stage in this narrative 
when I have personal knowledge of every- 
thing upon which I write. I was Sir John 
Macdonald's private secretary during the 
latter half of Lord Lome's term of office, 
and I positively assert that the relations 
between Government House and Earnscliffe 
were of the most friendly character during the 
whole period. Had there been the slightest 
truth in the story, it is incredible that such 
relations should have existed. 
^The policy of protection which Sir John 
had offered to the people in 1878 was brought 
into effect during the session of 1879. So 
completely was his promise fulfilled that the 
Liberal leader, Mackenzie, declared that Sir 
John had ' gone the whole hog.' George 
Brown made a similar admission.* Sir John 
Macdonald, it may be said, always carried out 
his promises. I never knew him to fail./ He 
was guarded in making them, but if he gave 
an unconditional promise he was sure to im- 

* Senate Debates, 1879, p. 565. 



n8 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

plement it, no matter at what inconvenience 
to himself. / I have seen this illustrated again 
and again.' The late Sir Richard Cartwright 
no very friendly witness observed in recent 
times, in his own characteristic fashion : ' I 
will say this for that old scoundrel John A, 
Macdonald, that if he once^gaye youjiis word, 
you could rely upon it.* 

Sir John had not been long in power when 
death removed the most implacable of his foes. 
On May 9, 1880, died George Brown, struck 
down in his office by the bullet of an assassin. 
This shocking occurrence, which was due to 
the act of a discharged printer, had no relation 
to public affairs. 

^ The fiscal policy having been settled, Sir 
John Macdonald again turned his attention 
to the problem of a railway to the Pacific. 
The Liberal Government, on the ground that 
the agreement with British Columbia to build 
the road within ten years was impossible of 
fulfilment, had not considered Canada bound 
by it, but had decided to build the railway, 
not by means of a private company, but as a 
government work, and to construct it gradually 
in sections as the progress of settlement and 
the state of the public treasury might warrant. 
Sir John Macdonald rejected this piecemeal 



MIDDLE LIFE 119 

policy, and resolved to carry out the original 
scheme of a great national highway across the 
continent, to be built as rapidly as possible 
so as to open up quickly the resources of the 
Great West. 

In the summer of 1880, accompanied by 
three of his colleagues Tupper, Pope, and 
Macpherson Macdonald visited England for 
the purpose of inducing capitalists to take 
hold of the enterprise. After much negotia- 
tion they were successful, and on September 
14, 1880, an agreement for the construction 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway was signed 
in London. The company was to receive 
$25,000,000 and 25,000,000 acres of land in 
alternate blocks on each side of the railway 
running from Winnipeg to Jasper House at 
the Rockies. The line was to be completed 
by May i, 1891, and the company was to 
deposit one million dollars as evidencing its 
ability to carry out the bargain. The con- 
tract was finally executed at Ottawa on 
October 21, 1880. Parliament was then sum- 
moned in order to ratify what the Government 
had done. 

The contract was fiercely opposed. The 
Opposition denounced the terms as extrava- 
gant, as beyond the resources of the country, 



120 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

and as certain to involve financial disaster. 
Blake affirmed that the road would never pay 
for the grease for the wheels of the engines 
that would pass over it, and appealed to 
his fellow-members not to throw the hard- 
earned money of the people of Canada ' down 
the gorges of British Columbia.' A rival 
company was hurriedly got up which offered 
to build the railway on much more moderate 
terms. The bona fides of this opposition 
company or * syndicate ' was much doubted, 
and, in any event, the proposal came too late. 
The Government was bound to stand by its 
bargain, which was defended with great power 
by Sir John Macdonald, Sir Charles Tupper, 
and others. At length, by a vote of 128 to 
49, the House of Commons ratified the con- 
tract, which passed the Senate a few days 
later, and became incorporated in an Act of 
Parliament assented to on February 15, 1881. 
Then began a period of railway construction 
hitherto unparalleled. At the date of the 
signing of the contract the only portions of 
the main line built were 152 miles from Fort 
William westward (the track was laid, but the 
line was not completed) and 112 miles from 
Keewatin to Selkirk that is 264 miles. Mac- 
kenzie had declared the building of the road 



MIDDLE LIFE 121 

within ten years to be a physical impossibility 
for Canada. He even went so far as to affirm 
that the whole resources of the British Empire 
could not construct the railway in ten years.* 
As a matter of fact, it was built by Canada 
in less than five years. On November 7, 
1885, Donald Smith drove the last spike 
at Craigellachie, twenty-eight miles west of 
Revelstoke, British Columbia ; and on the 
24th of the following July, just fifteen years 
(including the five lost years of the Mackenzie 
regime) after the engagement with British 
Columbia was made, Sir John Macdonald 

* ' I now refer to the diplomatic blunder committed in under- 
taking solemn engagements that the entire resources of the 
Empire could not possibly implement. . . . You will see how 
unlikely it was that that road, with all the power of man and 
all the money of Europe, could have been completed in 1881* 
(Mackenzie at Sarnia, October u, 1875). 

Even after the completion of the C.P.R. the Globe mocked at 
the enterprise in this fashion : * The iron band of Confederation 
has been completed. . . . The salubrious Rocky and Selkirk 
ranges may now become a summer resort for the fashionable 
and crowded populations situated between Cal lander and Rat 
Portage. In short, the Canadian Pacific Railway has been 
opened. . . . For our own part, we have not the slightest doubt 
that the C.P.R. will be no less effective than the N.P. in creat- 
ing wealth for Canada. . . . This will be amply proved by 
the spectacle of a railway 2500 miles long operated on the 
strength of a traffic with about 150,000 people. Such a thing 
was never tried before, and is unlikely ever to be tried again* 
(Globe, July 13, 1886). 



122 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

arrived at Port Moody in the car in which he 
had left Ottawa a few days before. 

This marvellous feat was not accomplished 
without great exertions, much anxiety, and 
the exercise of the highest arts of statesman- 
ship. The opposition to the granting of the 
charter had been so keen, the arguments 
against the whole scheme had been so power- 
fully set forth, that the company found they 
could not sell their lands, nor obtain, in any 
other way, the money needed to carry forward 
the work. The Government was obliged to 
come to the rescue, and, in the session of 1884, 
to grant a loan of $22,500,000 to the company. 
On December i, 1883, Sir John Macdonald sent 
this telegram to Sir Charles Tupper, who only 
a few months before had gone over to London 
to fill the position of high commissioner : 
c Pacific in trouble, you should be here. 1 
Next morning the characteristic reply was 
received : ' Sailing on Thursday/ Sir Charles 
was as good as his word. With admirable 
courage, energy, and resolution he fought the 
measure of relief through parliament, and for 
a time at least all was well. But only for a 
time. Early in the year 1885 we find Mr 
Stephen, the president of the company, writing 
Sir John Macdonald : 



MIDDLE LIFE 123 

[There is] imminent danger of sudden 
crisis unless we can find means to meet 
pressing demands. ... It is clear as noon- 
day, Sir John, that unless you yourself 
say what is to be done, nothing but 
disaster will result. The question is too 
big for some of our friends, and nothing 
but your own authority and influence can 
carry anything that will accomplish the 
object. ... I endeavoured to impress 
upon him again [the finance minister] 
that the object of the present application 
to the Government is to save the life of 
the Company. . . . 

I do hope something will be done to-day 
that will have the effect of saving the 
life of the Company. I stayed over here 
[Ottawa] to-day in case I might be wanted. 
It is impossible for me to carry on this 
struggle for life, in which I have now been 
for over four months constantly engaged, 
any longer. Although I have done my 
best to save the life and the honour of the 
Company, I cannot help feeling that I have 
failed to impress the Government with a 
full sense of the extreme urgency of the 
necessities of the Company, and yet I do 
not know anything further that I can say 



124 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

or do to enable the Government to realize 
the extreme gravity of the position in 
which the Company is now placed. If the 
Company is allowed once to go to the 
wall, the remedial measures proposed will 
be useless because too late. I shall be 
within reach if wanted. Mr Pope, your 
secretary, knows where to find me. 

The following is part of a telegram from 
the general manager to the president : 

Have no means paying wages, pay car 
can't be sent out, and unless we get imme- 
diate relief we must stop. Please inform 
Premier and Finance Minister. Do not be 
surprised, or blame me, if an immediate 
and most serious catastrophe happens. 

The application referred to was for a further 
loan of $5,000,000. The request was ill re- 
ceived by the Cabinet. Ministers were de- 
cidedly averse to any further assistance out of 
the public treasury. The prime minister was 
told that it could not be done. On the other 
hand, if it were not done, irretrievable disaster 
stared Canada in the face. For if the Cana- 
dian Pacific Railway went down, what of the 
future of the North- West ? what of the credit 



\ 



MIDDLE LIFE 125 

of Canada itself ? This was perhaps the sup- 
reme moment of Sir John Macdonald's career. 
With a divided Cabinet, an unwilling following, 
and a hostile Opposition, it is no wonder that 
even his iron resolution shrank from going 
to parliament with this fresh proposal, which 
seemed an absolute confirmation of the pro- 
phecies of his opponents. He had, I believe, 
almost if not altogether, made up his mind 
that further assistance was impossible. But 
he looked once again, and appreciated the her- 
culean efforts that his friends George Stephen 
and Donald Smith were making to avert the 
ruin of the great enterprise, apparently totter- 
ing to its fall. He realized what such a fall 
would mean to his country, to his party, and 
to himself ; and, summoning all his courage, 
he called a final Cabinet council and placed 
the issue fully before his colleagues. The 
master spirit prevailed.* One minister with- 
drew his resignation, and he with other 

* 'You don't, I think, give sufficient weight to the troubles 
and difficulties which beset the Government, and you have ex- 
aggerated our power forgetting that we have a strong opposi- 
tion and a watchful press which charge us with being mere tools 
of the C.P.R., and not knowing that more than once we were 
deserted by our own parliamentary friends in caucus, and that 
it was only my individual power over them that enabled us on 
more than one occasion to come to your relief (Sir John 
M acdonald to Sir George Stephen, dated August i, 1890). 



126 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

ministers abandoned their opposition. The 
ministerial supporters in parliament, cheered 
and encouraged by the indomitable spirit of 
their chief, voted the $5,000,000, and the road 
was carried forward to completion. From that 
day all went well. Both loans were speedily 
repaid by the company ; and the Canadian 
Pacific Railway, to-day the greatest trans- 
portation system in the world, was launched. 
It is the infelicity of statesmen that one 
difficulty is no sooner overcome than another 
arises to take its place. And so it now hap- 
pened. In 1885 Louis Riel led an armed 
rebellion of half-breeds on the banks of the 
Saskatchewan, as fifteen years earlier he had 
led one on the banks of the Red River. The 
causes were similar. The half-breeds were 
alarmed at the incoming of new life, and could 
not get from the Government a title to the 
lands they occupied that they regarded as 
secure. The rebellion was quickly crushed 
and Riel was taken prisoner. This opened 
up a fresh chapter of embarrassments for the 
Ministry. From the first there could be no 
doubt as to the course which should be pur- 
sued with regard to the unfortunate man. 
His offences of fifteen years before had been 
suffered to pass into oblivion. Even his great 



MIDDLE LIFE 127 

crime the atrocious murder of Thomas Scott 
had gone unwhipped of justice. His sub- 
sequent effrontery in offering himself for 
election and attempting to take his seat in 
parliament had been visited with no greater 
punishment than expulsion from the House of 
Commons. Now he had suddenly emerged 
from his obscurity in the United States to lead 
the half-breeds along the Saskatchewan river 
in an armed revolt against the Government. 
At the same time and this was incomparably 
his worst offence he had deliberately incited 
the Indians to murder and pillage. He had 
caused much bloodshed, the expenditure of 
large sums of money, and the disturbance of an 
extensive region of the North- West. 

Riel had been caught red-handed. What- 
ever excuses might be put forward, on be- 
half of his unfortunate dupes, that the 
Government had refused to heed their just 
demands, it is certain that Riel himself could 
plead no such excuses, for he was not at 
the time even a resident of the country. 
But, unfortunately, his case gave the oppor- 
tunity of making political capital against the 
Government. Since he was of French origin 
the way was open for an appeal to racial 
passions. The French- Canadian habitant, re- 



128 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

calling the rebellion of 1837-38, saw in Riel an- 
other Papineau. A wretched malefactor, thus 
elevated to the rank of a patriot, became a 
martyr in the eyes of many of his compatriots. 
Sir John Macdonald fully realized the dan- 
ger of the situation, but from the first he was 
resolved, whatever the political outcome, that 
if proved a culprit Riel should not a second 
time escape. There should be a fair trial and 
no more clemency, but rigorous justice, for the 
man who had added new crimes to the murder 
of Scott fifteen years earlier. Four able 
lawyers, including Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, the 
present chief justice of Canada, were assigned 
to Kiel's defence. The trial opened at Regina 
on July 20, 1885, and on August I Riel was 
found guilty of high treason and sentenced to 
be hanged on September 18. In deference to 
those who professed to doubt Riel's sanity, a 
stay of execution was granted. Sir John 
Macdonald sent to Regina two medical men, 
who, with the surgeon of the North- West 
Mounted Police, were instructed to examine 
into RiePs mental condition. They reported 
that, except in regard to certain religious 
matters on which he appeared to hold eccentric 
and foolish views, he was quite able to dis- 
tinguish between right and wrong and that he 



MIDDLE LIFE 129 

was entirely responsible for his actions. On 
November 16, 1885, Riel paid upon the scaffold 
the last penalty for his crimes. 

During Kiel's imprisonment Sir John Mac- 
donald received from him several letters. 
From various other quarters he was informed 
of the blasphemies, outrages, and murders of 
which Riel had been guilty. There were many 
petitions, some for justice, others for mercy, 
chiefly from people living in the eastern pro- 
vinces. These, however, counted for little, 
since for the most part they merely repre- 
sented the political or racial sympathies of the 
writers. But there are among Macdonald's 
papers some original statements in respect to 
Riel of the highest importance, from those of 
his fellow-countrymen who best knew him. 
The Catholic missionaries living in the districts 
specially affected by the rebellion St Lau- 
rent, Batoche, and Duck Lake in a collec- 
tive letter dated March 12, 1885, denounced in 
the strongest language ' the miscreant Louis 
David Riel ' who had led astray their people. 
The venerable bishop of St Albert, while plead- 
ing for RiePs dupes, had no word of pity for 
the ' miserable individual ' himself. Under 
date July n, 1885, the bishop writes thus to 
Sir John Macdonald : 

D.J.M. T 



I 3 o SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

These poor half breeds would never have 
taken up arms against the Government 
had not a miscreant of their own nation 
[Kiel], profiting by their discontent, excited 
them thereto. He gained their confidence 
by a false and hypocritical piety, and 
having drawn them from the beneficent 
influence of their clergy, he brought them 
to look upon himself as a prophet, a man 
inspired by God and specially charged with 
a mission in their favour, and forced them 
to take up arms. 

t 

RiePs own letters disclose no appreciation on 
his part of the enormity of his offences, or of 
the grave peril in which he stood. The whole 
collection produces a most unfavourable im- 
pression of the man, and one rises from its 
examination with a wish that those who were 
wont to proclaim Riel a patriot and hero could 
see for themselves what manner of man he 
really was. The papers will ultimately find 
their resting-place in the Dominion Archives 
and will become available to future historians. 
The political effect of the execution of Riel 
was quite in accordance with Sir John Mac- 
donald's expectations. In the province of 
Quebec the greatest excitement prevailed. 



MIDDLE LIFE 131 

At many meetings the prime minister and his 
French-Canadian colleagues were burned in 
effigy. Sir John had postponed an intended 
visit to England until after the execution. 
So intense was the popular feeling, that when 
the time came for sailing he thought it prudent 
to avoid Montreal and Quebec and to board his 
ship at Rimouski. This circumstance afforded 
material to the editor of the Mail, Mr Ed- 
ward Farrer, for an amusing article, bearing 
the alliterative title, ' The Murderer 's Midnight 
Mizzle, or the Ruffian's Race for Rimouski.' 

All this happened in November. In the 
preceding January Sir John had taken part 
at Montreal in a magnificent demonstration 
to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of his 
entrance into public life. If ever a public 
man enjoyed the acclaim of the populace, the 
Conservative chieftain did so on that occasion. 
If my memory serves me rightly, the crowd 
took the horses out of his carriage and drew 
him in triumph from the place of meeting to 
his hotel. Not quite ten months later, when 
slipping almost secretly past Montreal, Mac- 
donald alluded to this as an apt illustration of 
the fickleness of public opinion. The immedi- 
ate consequence of this popular frenzy in 
Quebec was the defeat of the Conservative 



132 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Government of the province, the rise of 
Honore Mercier, the Liberal leader, to power, 
and the loss of many Conservative seats in the 
subsequent Dominion elections. Indeed, Sir 
John Macdonald never recovered his ground 
in the province of Quebec. RiePs execution 
wrought organic political changes which are 
visible to this day. 

The parliamentary opponents of the Govern- 
ment were naturally not slow to take advan- 
tage of the situation, but their first move was 
frustrated by Sir John Macdonald in a manner 
worthy to rank as a piece of political strategy 
with the ' Double Shuffle ' itself. At the first 
available moment after the meeting of par- 
liament in February 1886, the member for 
Montmagny * moved this resolution : * That 
this House feels it its duty to express its deep 
regret that the sentence of death passed upon 
Louis Riel convicted of high treason was 
allowed to be carried into execution/ Scarcely 
were the words out of his mouth before Sir 
Hector Langevin rose, anticipating Blake, the 
leader of the Opposition, by a fraction of a 
second, and moved the ' previous question/ 

* This was the Hon. P. Landry, the present speaker (19x5) of 
the Senate. He was a fast friend and supporter of Macdonald, 
but he disapproved of the execution of Riel. 



MIDDLE LIFE 133 

thus shutting off all amendments, and com- 
pelling a vote to be taken on the resolution 
as it stood. The Opposition had naturally 
counted upon having an opportunity to pre- 
sent an amendment so framed as to censure 
the Government for maladministration, with- 
out categorically condemning the execution 
itself. In this design, however, they were 
frustrated. Blake was completely outgener- 
alled, and as Sir Hector had been fortunate 
enough to catch the speaker's eye first, there 
was no help for it. Blake himself, his French- 
Canadian supporters, and some others, voted 
for the condemnation of the Government, but 
for some of the most prominent members of the 
Opposition this was an impossibility. Many 
prominent Liberals including Mackenzie, 
Cartwright, Mulock, Paterson, Sutherland, 
Fisher, and Davies supported the Ministry 
against their own leader. By a vote of 146 
to 52 the House rejected Landry's motion. 

Another important question of the time was 
the adoption of an Act for the Dominion 
making a uniform qualification of voters. The 
British North America Act laid down that, 
until the parliament of Canada otherwise 
provided, the provincial laws relating to the 
qualification to vote at elections should apply 



134 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

to elections for members of the House of 
Commons. Since 1867 parliament had gone 
on using the provincial lists of voters, but for 
some years Sir John Macdonald had chafed 
under this anomaly. It seemed to him 
obvious that the parliament of Canada should 
determine its own electorate, and that the 
franchise should, as far as possible, be uniform 
throughout the Dominion. The system in 
vogue, under which members of the House of 
Commons were elected under half a dozen 
different systems, over which parliament had 
no control, was in his opinion not merely 
abnormal, but derogatory to the dignity of the 
superior body. In defence of this system the 
practice in the United States was sometimes 
pointed to, but in this matter there was no 
real analogy between Canada and the United 
States. The American Union is in reality a 
federation of sovereign states, of which Con- 
gress is the creation. This being the case, it 
is not incongruous that these states should 
retain control over congressional elections. 
But the Canadian provinces are not sovereign ; 
on the contrary, they are, in a real sense, 
subordinate to the central government. 

Sir John Macdonald had also observed, with 
ever-growing concern, a disposition on the 



MIDDLE LIFE 135 

part of some of the provincial legislatures to 
amend their electoral franchises in a demo- 
cratic direction. Now, the necessity of a pro- 
perty qualification for the right to vote was 
ever a first principle with him the central 
dogma of his political faith. He said with 
much energy that no man who favoured man- 
hood suffrage without a property qualification 
had a right to call himself a Conservative. 
Once, when Sir John was dwelling on his 
favourite doctrine in the House of Commons, a 
member interrupted him to know if he might 
ask a question. ' Certainly,' replied Sir John. 
' Well,' said the member, ' many years ago, 
during the gold fever, I went out to California, 
and while there working in the diggings I 
acquired an interest in a donkey. Under it I 
voted. Before the next election came round 
the donkey died, and then I had no vote. . . . 
Who voted on the first election, I or the 
donkey ? ' It was on the tip of Sir John's 
tongue to retort that it didn't much matter 
which, but he forbore, and merely joined in 
the general laughter. 

In conformity with these views Sir John 
Macdonald introduced his Electoral Franchise 
Bill in 1883, not with the object of carrying 
it through parliament that session, but merely 



136 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

for the purpose of placing it before the 
members. The same thing happened in 
1884. But in 1885 the Bill was introduced 
in earnest. It provided, as far as practicable, 
for a uniform qualification of voters through- 
out the Dominion based on property, and 
also for the registration of voters by revising 
officers to be appointed by the federal Govern- 
ment. The measure encountered a desperate 
resistance from the Opposition. For the first 
time in the parliament of the Dominion there 
was organized obstruction. On one occasion 
the House of Commons sat from Thursday 
afternoon until Saturday midnight, and al- 
though this record has since been beaten, it 
was felt at the time to be a most trying ex- 
perience. Obstruction was naked and un- 
ashamed. Members read long passages from 
The Pilgrim's Progress, or Robinson Crusoe, 
or any other work that happened to appeal to 
them. One day the passage is hopelessly 
buried in Hansard and I cannot find it, but 
I remember the occasion very vividly Sir 
John rose at the opening of the day's proceed- 
ings and addressed a few grave and measured 
words to the Opposition. Starting with the 
remark that he could only suppose their ex- 
traordinary and unparalleled conduct to be 
the outcome of a misapprehension as to ' my 



MIDDLE LIFE 137 

supposed infirmities and my advancing years/ 
he told them that they were vastly mistaken if 
they supposed they could tire him out by such 
methods. He declared that as long as he, and 
those who acted with him, enjoyed the confid- 
ence of the people, they did not intend to resign 
their functions into the hands of the minority. 
He begged them, in conclusion, to reflect upon 
the unwisdom of their course, * lest what has 
begun as a farce may end in a tragedy/ 

These serious words did not appear to 
produce any immediate effect, and the debates 
dragged on through the hot summer months. 
In the end, however, patience and firmness 
prevailed, and the Franchise Act reached the 
statute-book, where it remained until it was 
repealed twelve years later by the Government 
of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The apprehensions 
of the Opposition with regard to the revising 
officers were not realized. In Ontario these 
positions were offered to the county court 
judges, or to the junior judges, and were 
accepted by nearly all of them. In the pro- 
vince of Quebec, where there are no county 
court judges, such appointments were not 
possible ; but the law provided that where the 
returning officer was not a judge, he must be a 
barrister or notary of not less than five years' 
standing, and an appeal in all cases lay from 



I 3 8 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

him to a judge. Sir John Macdonald carefully 
supervised these appointments, which in the 
great majority of cases were quite unexcep- 
tionable. The administration of the Act was 
no doubt expensive. This was the strongest 
criticism heard against it ; but in the opinion 
of the Government of that day it was essential 
to the idea of a united Dominion that the 
parliament of Canada should determine and 
control the conditions of acquiring the right 
to vote for members of its own House of 
Commons. 

I should not omit to state that Sir John 
professed himself a believer in the extension 
of the franchise to single women. Apparently 
he considered that his advocacy of a property 
qualification required this. I have heard him 
say, too, that women, as a whole, were con- 
servative, and he considered that their ad- 
mission to the vote would tend to strengthen 
the defences against the irruption of an un- 
bridled democracy. Whether these views 
would have stood the test afforded by the 
present-day militant suffragettes, I am un- 
able to say ; for from Sir John Macdonald 
the knowledge that there might be something 
even more disastrous than an unrestrained 
male democracy was mercifully withheld. 




Age 68 



CHAPTER III 

OLD AGE 

' WITH the Canadian Pacific Railway finished, 
and my Franchise Bill become law, I feel that 
I have done my work and can now sing my 
Nunc dimittis.' 

So wrote Sir John Macdonald to Lord 
Carnarvon shortly after the close of the 
arduous parliamentary session of 1885. There 
can be little doubt that these words expressed 
his inmost sentiments at the time. He had 
passed the allotted span of threescore years 
and ten, had * sounded all the depths and 
shoals of honour/ and was beginning to look 
forward to a brief period of freedom from the 
cares of state before he should be too old to 
enjoy it. His great work was done. The 
scattered colonies had been united into a 
vast Dominion. The great North- West and 
the Pacific province had been added and 
Canada now extended from ocean to ocean, 
its several provinces joined together by iron 

139 



140 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

bands. The reader of these pages can form 
some idea of the difficulties, of the labours, 
the anxieties, and the discouragements en- 
countered in the execution of this giant task ; 
and also of the marvellous courage, patience, 
and endurance which sustained the master 
builder throughout, and eventually enabled 
him to triumph over all opposition. Small 
wonder that Sir John Macdonald, with the 
consciousness of duty faithfully performed, 
sometimes in later life yearned for that rest 
which he was fated never to enjoy. 

Party considerations forbade it. Mac- 
donald 's political friends could not reconcile 
themselves to his retirement, and he, in turn, 
could not make up his mind to abandon them. 
They declared that his withdrawal meant the 
certain disintegration and consequent defeat 
of the great party which he had built up, 
the party whose destinies he had so long 
guided. There were, moreover, at this par- 
ticular time special reasons which rendered 
his controlling hand more than ever necessary. 
It was no secret that the French-Canadian 
ministers, Langevin, Caron, and Chapleau, 
were far from showing that spirit of mutual 
trust and confidence which is supposed to 
exist among members of the same Ministry. 



OLD AGE 141 

Sir Hector Langevin, the senior of the trium- 
virate, had been the lieutenant of Cartier, but, 
in this instance, the mantle of Elijah had not 
fallen upon his successor. In my experience 
I never met a man who more neatly fulfilled 
Bismarck's cynical description of Lord Salis- 
bury * a lath painted to look like iron/ He 
was a good departmental officer but he was 
nothing more. The moment Sir John Mac- 
donald's support was taken away, he fell. 
Yet Sir John stood by him against the attacks 
of his opponents, and generally sided with him 
in his differences with his colleagues. 

During a holiday of 1888 Sir John said 
to me one day at Dalhousie, N.B., where he 
was spending the summer : ' George Stephen 
keeps pressing me to retire, and I think I 
shall. My only difficulty is about my suc- 
cessor.' ' Whom do you think of as such ? ' 
I asked. * Oh,' replied he, ' Langevin ; there 
is no one else.' * ' Well,' I remarked, * I 
have a candidate one who lives on the border 
line between the two provinces, speaks both 
languages with facility, and is equally at home 

* It was commonly understood at this time that Sir Charles 
Tupper, whose name would naturally first occur in this con- 
nection, preferred to remain in England as high commissioner, 
and, consequently, was not in the running. 



142 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

in Quebec and Ontario/ ' Who is he ? ' 'Mr 
Abbott,' I replied. 'John Abbott,' said Sir 
John incredulously. ' Why, he hasn't a single 
qualification for the office. Thompson/ he 
went on, ' is very able and a fine fellow, but 
Ontario would never endure his turning 
Catholic. No, I see no one but Langevin.' 
Yet it was Abbott after all. When asked why 
he thought so much of Langevin, the reply 
was at once forthcoming: ' He has always 
been true to me.' The same thing might 
have been said of Sir Adolphe Caron, ever a 
faithful supporter, and from his youth up, 
equally in prosperity and adversity, a close 
personal friend of the old chief ; but "Sir John 
thought that Caron sometimes allowed his 
personal feelings to obscure his judgment, or, 
as he expressed it, ' Caron is too much in- 
fluenced by his hates a fatal mistake in a 
public man, who should have no resentments.' 
Sir Adolphe Chapleau, with all his attractive- 
ness and charm, Sir John never quite trusted. 
The relations between these three French- 
Canadian ministers were hard to define. I 
frankly confess that, with all my opportunities, 
I could never master the intricacies of Lower- 
Canadian politics in those days. In the be- 
ginning it seemed to be a case of Langevin and 



OLD AGE 143 

Caron against Chapleau ; later it sometimes 
looked as though Langevin and Chapleau were 
making common cause against Caron ; per- 
haps most often it resembled a triangular duel. 
There was absolutely no difference between 
those three men in respect of public policy, 
but the personal jealousy and suspicion with 
which they regarded one another was amusing. 

4 Langevin/ said Sir John, ' on his way 
down to Quebec, cannot stop off for lunch at 
Montreal, but Chapleau writes me that he is 
interfering in his district, and if he leaves his 
house in Quebec for a walk down John Street, 
Caron wires in cypher that a breach in the 
party is imminent/ Langevin, on his part, 
was equally vigilant to resent the encroach- 
ments, real or supposed, of his colleagues upon 
his domain, and altogether Sir John had no 
pleasant time keeping the peace among them. 

In the English section of the Cabinet three 
vacancies had recently taken place. Immedi- 
ately after the close of the session of 1885 
considerations of health compelled Sir David 
Macpherson to give up the portfolio of the 
Interior. This in no sense interfered with the 
personal and political friendship which had 
long existed between him and his leader. Sir 
David, albeit over cautious and deliberate in 



144 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

his methods, was a man of good judgment, 
and wholly animated by a desire for the public 
good. His administrative record suffered 
from his delays in settling the grievances of 
the half-breeds of the North-West. This had 
afforded Riel the pretext for the second rising, 
but how far responsibility in this matter 
properly attached to Macpherson, I am not 
prepared to say. 

Sir David Macpherson was succeeded in the 
office of minister of the Interior by Thomas 
White, a well-known Conservative journalist 
of Montreal, where he and his brother Richard 
conducted the Montreal Gazette. For many 
years White had been a faithful exponent of 
Conservative principles in the press. In his 
efforts to enter parliament he had been 
singularly unfortunate. In 1867 he had been 
defeated in South Wentworth by three votes ; 
in 1874 in Prescott by six votes ; in 1875 in 
Montreal West by seven votes ; and in the 
following year in the same constituency by 
fifty votes. Finally, he was elected in 1878 
for the then existing electoral division of 
Cardwell, in the province of Ontario. Seven 
years later he became a colleague of the 
chieftain whose cause he had so long and so 
effectively promoted. To the great grief of 



OLD AGE 145 

Sir John Macdonald, White died within three 
years of taking office. Few statesmen of so 
great merit have experienced such persistent 
ill fortune. Had he lived, he might not im- 
probably have become prime minister of 
Canada. 

In the autumn of 1885 the minister of 
Finance, Sir Leonard Tilley, resigned to be- 
come lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick. 
In another volume I have alluded to his close 
friendship with Sir John Macdonald. If 
White was an unlucky politician, assuredly 
the same cannot be said of Sir Leonard Tilley. 
In 1867 he gave up the office of prime minister 
of New Brunswick to enter the Dominion 
Cabinet ; he remained minister until a few 
days before the downfall of 1873, when he 
was appointed lieutenant-governor of New 
Brunswick. This post he held throughout 
the period when the Conservatives were in 
opposition (1873 to 1878). Upon the return 
of the party to power in 1878, Tilley, having 
just completed his term as lieutenant-governor, 
became minister of Finance. After holding 
this office for seven years, he slipped back 
again into the post of lieutenant-governor of 
New Brunswick. Sir Leonard's place in the 
Cabinet was taken by Mr (now Sir) George E. 

D.J.M. K 



146 SIR JOHN MACDONALD , 

Foster, whose signal ability was thus recog- 
nized thirty years ago by Sir John Macdonald. 
In May 1884 Sir Charles Tupper relin- 
quished the portfolio of Railways and Canals 
in order to devote himself exclusively to 
the office of high commissioner for Canada 
in London, to which he had been appointed 
a year before. It is unnecessary to say 
that the withdrawal of Sir Charles from the 
Cabinet, in which he had so long exercised a 
commanding influence, proved a serious loss. 
Indeed, as the sequel shows, his presence 
became so necessary that he had to return. 
Sir John Macdonald's choice of a successor 
from Nova Scotia fell upon Mr Justice (after- 
wards Sir John) Thompson, a brilliant man, 
who will never be appreciated at his true 
worth because his term of office was too 
short. The selection was at variance with 
Sir John's expressed views on the inexpedi- 
ency of judges leaving the bench to return 
to political life, but it proved singularly happy, 
and in time Thompson became prime minister. 
' Thompson/ observed Macdonald, ' has just 
two faults. He is a little too fond of satire, 
and a little too much of a Nova Scotian.' It 
cannot be denied that, in spite of Thompson's 
great ability, his point of view remained pro- 



OLD AGE 147 

vincial to the end. In his heart of hearts 
Nova Scotia rather than Canada ever held 
first place. No more upright man ever 
breathed. He had a fierce intolerance of the 
slightest departure from absolute rectitude. 
The case of a chief clerk in the Civil Service, 
who had committed serious irregularities in 
connection with the public funds, once came 
up before the Cabinet. Thompson, always 
severe in such matters, considered that the 
gravity of the offence called for dismissal, but 
to this Macdonald would not consent, hold- 
ing that reduction in rank to a first-class 
clerkship, with corresponding loss of salary, 
would be sufficient punishment. It was sel- 
dom that Macdonald, in the ordinary course 
of administration, interposed his paramount 
authority as first minister, but, though the 
Council as a whole rather inclined towards 
Thompson's view, Macdonald insisted that the 
more merciful punishment should be imposed. 
Thompson was angry, but said nothing more 
at the time. Not long afterwards a third- 
class railway mail clerk, with a salary of $500 
a year, got into similar trouble. * What shall 
be done with this man ? ' asked Macdonald 
at the Council Board. There was a moment's 
pause, which was broken by the bland sugges- 



148 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

tion from Thompson that, ' following pre- . 
cedent, he be made a first-class clerk.' 

Thompson had a caustic wit. A certain 
inventor of Toronto, who had devised an in- 
genious means for safeguarding level railway 
crossings, had long bombarded Sir John 
Macdonald with applications for Government 
patronage. When Sir John became minister 
of Railways in 1889, the inventor thought 
that his day had at last arrived. He went 
post-haste to Ottawa, obtained the requisite 
permission, and installed his models in a room 
belonging to the Railway department. One 
day Macdonald and Thompson happened to 
come along the corridor going to Macdonald's 
office. The inventor, who had been lying in 
wait, pressed them to step aside for a minute 
and inspect his models. Sir John, seeing no 
escape, said to his companion, c Come along, 
Thompson, and let us see what this fellow 's 
got to show us.' Thompson hated mechanical 
contrivances, but there was no way out of it, 
so he followed the chief. The delighted in- 
ventor felt that he had at last realized his 
desire, and was in great form. He volubly 
descanted on the frequent loss of life at level 
crossings and proceeded to show his devices 
for lessening such dangers. The day was 



OLD AGE 149 

piping hot and he had taken off his coat, 
He rushed round the table and touched bells 
here and there, which caused gates to close 
and open, semaphores to drop, and all sorts 
of things to happen. As the ministers took 
their leave, Macdonald said to his companion, 
' Well, Thompson, what do you think of that 
chap ? ' 'I think/ replied Thompson with 
great energy, ' that he deserves to be killed 
on a level crossing. 1 

Once, while Lord Aberdeen was governor- 
general, Sir John Thompson was dining at 
Government House on an evening in June 
when the mosquitoes were unusually trouble- 
some. Lady Aberdeen suggested the shutting 
of the windows. * Oh ! thank you,' replied 
Sir John, * pray don't trouble ; I think they 
are all in now ! ' 

Sir Alexander Campbell was from youth 
intimately connected with Sir John Macdonald 
as a fellow-citizen of Kingston, as law 
student and subsequently as partner in a 
legal firm, as a colleague for many years in 
the government of the old province of Canada 
and afterwards in that of the Dominion. Yet 
the two were never kindred spirits. Sir 
Alexander Campbell was a Tory aristocrat, 
a veritable grand seigneur, of dignified bearing 



150 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

and courtly mien. He made an excellent 
minister of Justice, but he lacked that bon- 
homie which so endeared Sir John Macdonald 
to the multitude. I do not think that Sir 
John's pre-eminence in that direction ever 
gave Sir Alexander much concern. My im- 
pression is that he regarded the multitude as 
an assemblage of more or less uninteresting 
persons, necessary only at election times ; 
and if Sir John could succeed in obtaining 
their votes, he was quite welcome to any 
incidental advantages that he might extract 
from the process. It was alleged by Sir 
Richard Cartwright that in the year 1864 a 
movement was started in the Conservative 
party with the object of supplanting Mac- 
donald and putting Campbell in his place, 
and that Sir John never forgave Campbell 
for his part in this affair. Something of the 
kind was talked about at the date mentioned, 
but the movement proved a complete fiasco, 
and it is not at all clear that Campbell was 
a consenting party to it. I doubt too the 
correctness of Sir Richard's inference, for, 
leaving the 1864 incident out of account, 
there never was the slightest political division 
between '"he two men. At the time of the 
Pacific Scandal, Campbell behaved exceed- 



OLD AGE 151 

ingly well to his chief. Yet, speaking of the 
period within my own knowledge that is to 
say, during the last ten years of Macdonald's 
life while ever externally friends, the two 
in their personal relations were antipathetic. 
This may in part be ascribed to Campbell's 
dignified love of ease and disinclination to 
join in the rough-and-tumble of party politics. 
When elections were to be fought (I speak only 
of my own time) Campbell, if he did not find 
that he had business elsewhere, was disposed 
to look on in a patronizing sort of way. He 
seldom took off his coat or even his gloves in 
the fight, but he always turned up when the 
victory was won. Sir John resented this. 
Yet assuredly Campbell had some merits, or 
Macdonald would not have kept him in suc- 
cessive Cabinets. Sir Alexander was an ideal 
leader of the Senate, and this qualification 
alone rendered him of much value. He was, 
moreover, par excellence the aristocrat of the 
Cabinet, and such a type of public man is rare 
in Canada. 

The antithesis of Sir Alexander Campbell 
was John Henry Pope, sometime minister of 
Agriculture and later of Railways and Canals. 
Pope was a man of small education and less 
culture, but of great natural ability, and was 



152 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

gifted with remarkable political sagacity. 
Macdonald used to say that Pope could have 
been anything he desired had he only received 
a good education in his youth. He added 
that he had never known Pope's judgment to 
be at fault. In times of stress and difficulty 
Pope was the colleague of whom he first sought 
advice and counsel, and upon whose rough 
good sense he implicitly relied. Pope died two 
years before his chief, who never ceased to 
mourn his loss. 

Another self-made colleague of the same 
stamp was Mr Frank Smith of Toronto. Mr 
Smith was a member of the Cabinet from 
1882 to 1891, during which long period his 
keen business sagacity and sound common 
sense were ever at his chief 's disposal. 

Sir Mackenzie Bowell, * the best Minister of 
Customs I ever had/ was another old-time 
friend and colleague for whom Sir John enter- 
tained a high regard and respect. Sir Mac- 
kenzie's chief claims to prominence are of 
a date subsequent to the day of Sir John 
Macdonald and therefore do not fall within 
the compass of this work ; but he is one who 
in serene old age remains a connecting link 
with those stirring times. 

The pre-eminence of Sir Charles Tupper 



OLD AGE 153 

must not lead me to forget that his son 
had the honour of being one of Sir John's 
colleagues in the old chieftain's latter years. 
Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper became a Cabinet 
minister at thirty- two, the same age as that 
at which the youthful John A. Macdonald 
had entered the Cabinet of Draper, forty-one 
years before. During the years in which the 
younger Tupper held the office of minister 
of Marine and Fisheries he made an envi- 
able record as an efficient and courageous 
administrator. I fancy Sir John used some- 
times to think that he was perhaps more 
particular about the administration of pat- 
ronage in his own department than in those 
of his colleagues. One day, shortly after 
Mr Tupper (as he was then) had become a 
minister, he sent a letter from some applicant 
for office over to Sir John with the request 
that if possible he would do something for 
the writer. Sir John took the letter, folded 
it, endorsed it, < Dear Charlie, skin your own 
skunks. Yours always, J. A. M.D.,' and sent 
it back to the new minister; as much as to 
say, ' Now that you have a department of 
your own, look after these people yourself/ 

Mr John Costigan was a member of Sir John 
Macdonald's Cabinet from 1882 till 1891. 



154 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Shortly after the appearance of my Memoirs 
of Sir John Macdonald, Mr Costigan publicly 
stated that I had made a mistake in saying 
that Macdonald had not been in favour of 
Home Rule for Ireland. Goldwin Smith de- 
clared, indeed, that Sir John Macdonald had 
no settled convictions upon Home Rule, but 
was ever ready to propitiate the Irish vote 
by any sacrifice of principle that might be 
required. That Sir John reduced the original 
Home Rule resolutions before the Dominion 
parliament in 1882 and 1886 to mere ex- 
pressions of contingent hope, such (to use 
Goldwin Smith's own words) ' as any Unionist 
might have subscribed/ * and that Macdonald 
voted against Mr Curran's substantive resolu- 
tion in favour of Home Rule in 1887, when 
he could not modify it, was as well known 
to Goldwin Smith as to Mr Costigan. In 
addition, Goldwin Smith possessed indubit- 
able evidence, at first hand, of Sir John Mac- 
donald^ sentiments on the subject of Home 
Rule. During the political campaign of 1886-87 
Goldwin Smith said some hard things of Sir 
John and the Conservative party. He was 
at the same time attacking Gladstone very 
bitterly on his Home Rule policy. Some 

* Letter to The Times, September i, 1886. 



OLD AGE 155 

weeks after the Canadian elections were over, 
Sir John Macdonald visited Toronto, and 
stayed at the Queen's Hotel. Among the 
visitors on the day of his arrival was Goldwin 
Smith, who, as he entered the room, murmured 
something about the doubtful propriety of 
making a social call upon one whom he felt it 
his duty to oppose in the recent contest. Sir 
John Macdonald held out both hands saying, 
' My dear sir, I forgive you everything for 
your splendid defence of the Empire/ alluding 
to his attacks on Home Rule. This remark 
and the conversation which ensued made quite 
clear where Sir John Macdonald stood on the 
question of Home Rule a position which he 
never compromised by any word or act. To 
assert the contrary implies a charge of oppor- 
tunism ; but Goldwin Smith himself, when 
calmly analysing Macdonald 's character six- 
teen years after his death, deliberately asserted 
that ' if he [Sir John] was partisan, he was not 
opportunist.' * Goldwin Smith knew right 
well that Sir John Macdonald was just as 
resolutely opposed as he was himself to the 
establishment of a separate parliament in 
Dublin with an executive responsible thereto. 
On the evening of the day just mentioned 

* Weekly Sun, April 17, 1907. 



156 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Macdonald dined with Goldwin Smith. As we 
drove to ' The Grange ' Sir John asked me if 
I had ever been there before. I had not. 
1 Well/ said he, ' you are going to a very in- 
teresting house with a charming host, but 
notice Mr Smith's habit of interlarding his 
otherwise agreeable conversation with tire- 
some references to the nobility. Why, to 
hear him talk, you would imagine he never 
consorted in England with anybody under the 
rank of an earl.' Later that evening, as we 
went to the station to take our train, Sir John 
said, ' Did you observe what I told you ? 
That 's why Dizzy in Lothair called him a 
social parasite. Strange that so brilliant a 
man, who needs no adventitious aids, should 
manifest such a weakness.' 

In the autumn of 1886 Sir John Macdonald, 
accompanied by four of his colleagues Chap- 
leau, White, Thompson, and Foster made a 
tour of the province of Ontario, towards the 
close of which he wrote thus to Sir Charles 
Tupper : 

I am on my way back to Ottawa after a 
successful tour in Western Ontario. We 
have made a very good impression, and I 
think will hold our own in the Province. 



OLD AGE 157 

We have, however, lost nearly the whole 
of the Catholic vote by the course of 
the Mail, and this course has had a pre- 
judicial effect not only in Ontario but 
throughout the Dominion, and has there- 
fore introduced a great element of un- 
certainty in a good many constituencies. 

In Nova Scotia the outlook is bad, and 
the only hope of our holding our own there 
is your immediate return and vigorous 
action. It may be necessary that you 
should, even if only for a time, return to 
the Cabinet. M'Lelan, I know, would 
readily make way for you. Now, the re- 
sponsibility on you is very great, for should 
any disaster arise because of your not 
coming out, the whole blame will be thrown 
upon you. 

I see that Anglin is now starring it in 
Nova Scotia. I send you an extract from 
a condensed report of his remarks which 
appeared in the Montreal Gazette. This is 
a taking programme for the Maritime 
Provinces and has to be met, and no one 
can do it but yourself. But enough of 
Dominion politics. 

I cannot in conclusion too strongly press 
upon you the absolute necessity of your 



158 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

coming out at once, and do not like to 
contemplate the evil consequences of your 
declining to do so. 

I shall cable you the time for holding 
our election the moment it is settled. 

That the general elections of 1887 were 
fought with exceeding bitterness may be in- 
ferred from a paragraph in a leading Canadian 
newspaper of the day : 

Now W. M. Tweed [the criminal ' boss ' 
in New York] was an abler scoundrel than 
is Sir John Macdonald. He was more 
courageous, if possible more unscrupulous, 
and more crafty, and he had himself, as 
he thought, impregnably entrenched. Yet 
in a few short months he was in a prison 
cell deserted and despised by all who had 
lived upon his wickedness and there he 
died. 

This of course is a mere exhibition of 
partisan rage and spite. It contains no single 
word or phrase in the smallest degree applic- 
able to Sir John Macdonald, who, far from 
being dishonest, was ever scrupulously fair 
and just in all his dealings, both public and 
private. This, I am persuaded, is now well 



OLD AGE 159 

understood. What is not so well known is 
that he disliked extravagance of any kind. 
He was, it is true, a man of bold conceptions, 
and when convinced that a large policy was in 
the interest of the country, he never hesitated 
at its cost. Thus he purchased the North- 
West, built the Canadian Pacific Railway, 
and spent millions on canals. But in the 
ordinary course of affairs he was prudent, even 
economical, and as careful of public money 
as of his own. At the close of a long life he 
spoke of the very modest competence he had 
provided for his family as having been * pain- 
fully and laboriously saved. ' 

If Sir John's critic, quoted above, meant 
to convey the idea that in 1887 Sir John 
thought himself firmly entrenched in power, 
he was far from the mark. For Sir John went 
into the elections of 1887 believing that he 
would be defeated. The Riel movement in 
the province of Quebec had assumed formid- 
able proportions, and the fatuous course of 
former Conservative allies, Dalton McCarthy 
and the Mail newspaper, in raising an anti- 
French and anti-Catholic cry threatened 
disaster in Ontario. The friendly provincial 
Government in Quebec had been over- 
thrown in October 1886, and in the following 



160 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

December Oliver Mowat, in the hope of 
strengthening the hands of Blake, then leading 
the Ottawa Opposition, suddenly dissolved 
the Ontario legislature. Mowat was success- 
ful in his own appeal. But, strange to say, 
the local triumph probably injured rather 
than aided Blake. At least such was Sir 
John's opinion. He held that his attitude 
on the Home Rule question had alienated a 
goodly proportion of the Irish vote which 
usually went with him, and that these people, 
having taken the edge off their resentment by 
voting Liberal in the provincial elections, 
felt free to return to their political allegiance 
when the Dominion elections came on two 
months later. This sounds far-fetched, but 
it was the opinion of a man who had been 
studying political elections in Ontario all his 
long life. At any rate, Sir John Macdonald 
carried fifty-four out of ninety-two seats in 
Ontario ; and Edward Blake was so dis- 
couraged by the result that on the meeting of 
the new parliament he resigned the leader- 
ship of the Opposition in favour of Mr 
Laurier. 

Of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his subsequent 
career it does not devolve upon me to speak. 
I will only say that if his predecessors in the 



OLD AGE 161 

leadership of the Liberal party, for one cause 
or another, failed to realize the hopes of their 
political followers, he amply made up for their 
shortcomings by achieving signal success. 
Fortune, no doubt, was kinder to him than 
to them, but, apart from all other questions, 
Sir Wilfrid's personal qualities had no small 
influence in bringing about his party triumphs. 
Alike in Opposition and in power, his unfail- 
ing tact, old-fashioned courtesy, conciliatory 
methods, urbanity, moderation, and unvary- 
ing good temper evoked the sympathy of 
thousands whom Blake's coldly intellectual 
feats failed to attract and Mackenzie's rigidity 
of demeanour served only to repel. Simul- 
taneously with Mr Laurier's advent to the 
leadership of the Opposition in 1887, a 
moderating influence began to be felt in the 
House of Commons, which gradually affected 
the whole tone of political life in Canada, until 
the old-time bitterness of party strife in a 
large measure passed away. 

About a month before Sir John Macdonald 
died Mr Laurier came to his office in the House 
of Commons to discuss some question of 
adjournment. When he had gone, the chief 
said to me, ' Nice chap that. If I were 
twenty years younger, he 'd be my colleague.' 

D.J.M. L 



162 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

' Perhaps he may be yet, sir,' I remarked. 
Sir John shook his head. ' Too old/ said 
he, * too old,' and passed into the inner 
room. 

I must not omit an amusing incident which 
happened in the autumn of 1888. During 
the summer of that year Honore Mercier, the 
Liberal prime minister of Quebec, had called 
upon Sir John at the Inch Arran hotel at 
Dalhousie, New Brunswick. It was the first 
time they had met, and Mercier, who showed 
a disposition to be friendly, asked Sir John if 
he would give him an interview with himself 
and his colleagues at Ottawa in order to dis- 
cuss some financial questions ' outstanding 
between the Dominion and the province. Sir 
John promised to do so, and when he returned 
to town fixed a day for the meeting. In the 
preceding July the Quebec legislature had 
passed the once famous Jesuits' Estates Act. 
This Act was then before Sir John's Cabinet 
and he was under strong pressure to disallow 
it. While Sir John had no love for Mercier 
or his Government, and while he thought the 
preamble of the Jesuits' Estates Act, with its 
ostentatious references to the Pope, highly 
objectionable, he had no doubt that the Act 
was wholly within the competence of the 



OLD AGE 163 

Quebec legislature and was not a subject for 
disallowance. Obviously Quebec could do 
what it liked with its own money. Sir John 
was having much trouble at the time with 
several of the provincial legislatures, which 
were showing a disposition to encroach upon 
the federal domain. It was necessary that 
he should walk warily, lest he should put 
himself in the wrong by interfering with 
legislation clearly within the power of pro- 
vincial legislatures. He was persuaded that 
the obnoxious phrases in the preamble of 
the Jesuits' Estates Act had been inserted 
with the express object of tempting him to an 
arbitrary and unjust exercise of power which 
would react disastrously upon him, not only 
in Quebec, but also in Ontario, Manitoba, and 
elsewhere. It was all too palpable, and, as he 
used to say, ' in vain is the net spread in the 
sight of any bird.' 

Mercier's visit, however, had no relation to 
this matter, but had been arranged for the 
discussion of purely financial matters with Sir 
John and his colleagues. The appointed morn- 
ing arrived, and Mercier, frock-coated and 
very formal and precise, was shown into Sir 
John's office. A meeting of Council had been 
called for the occasion, and while the members 



164 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

were gathering the two leaders exchanged a 
few remarks of a purely conventional char- 
acter. At length, when all was ready, Sir 
John rose and, with a stiff bow and * Will you 
follow me, sir ? ' led the way along the hall 
towards the council chamber, with Mercier 
close behind him. As they turned into the 
corridor leading to the chamber, Mercier, 
feeling some constraint and wishing to make 
a little conversation, said, half jokingly, ' Sir 
John, I wish you would tell us whether you 
are going to disallow our Jesuits* Estates Act 
or. not.' Suddenly the old man unbent, his eyes 
brightened, his features grew mobile, as he 
half looked back over his shoulder and said in 
a stage whisper, ' Do you take me for a damn 
fool ? ' In a second it was all over, his figure 
again became erect, all trace of expression 
died out of his face, and with measured pace 
and serious mien the two men passed into the 
council chamber. 

My recollections of the day of Sir John 
Macdonald are chiefly connected with official, 
as distinct from parliamentary, life. At the 
same time I recall many amusing incidents 
which took place in the House of Commons. 
Of all the members of that assembly I thought 
Sir Richard Cartwright the most accomplished 



OLD AGE 165 

debater. He was perhaps the only member 
of the House who could afford to have his 
words taken down and printed exactly as 
he spoke them. Uniformly a kind and con- 
siderate minister towards his subordinates, 
his attitude towards his opponents in parlia- 
ment was ferocious, though perhaps this 
ferocity was often more simulated than real. 
One illustration of his savage humour occurs 
to me. About the year 1883 a life of Sir 
John Macdonald appeared written by a certain 
John Edmund Collins. Sir John did not 
know the author, nor had he any connection 
with the book. It was merely a well-ordered 
presentation of facts already known, and did 
not profess to be anything more. Some of the 
government departments bought copies and 
the title appeared in the public accounts, 
which came before parliament. This gave 
Sir Richard one of those opportunities to 
attack Sir John of which he never failed to 
take advantage. After saying some disagree- 
able things, he concluded thus : ' Hoy/ever, 
Mr Speaker, I am bound to say that I think it 
quite fit that a gentleman who in his day has 
done justice to so many John Collinses, should 
at last have a John Collins to do justice to 
him.' To the uninitiated it may be explained 



166 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

that ' John Collins ' is the name of a rather 
potent beverage. 

This pointed allusion to Sir John's convivial 
habits leads me to say, in all candour, that his 
failings in this regard were greatly exaggerated. 
There is no doubt that at one time in an age 
when almost everybody drank wine freely 
he was no exception to the general rule. This 
was particularly true of the period of his 
widowerhood, between 1857 and 1867, when 
his lapses were such as occasionally to inter- 
fere with his public duties. But certainly 
during the last ten years of his life (and pro- 
bably for a longei^ period) his habits were most 
temperate. His principal beverages were milk 
and at dinner a glass of claret. I rarely knew 
him to touch spirits, and if he did so now and 
then, it was in great moderation. 

Sir John Macdonald never seems to have 
felt towards Sir Richard Cartwright the degree 
of bitterness that marked Cartwright 's pursuit 
of him. I do not pretend to say that he liked 
him, but he was always fair. This letter to an 
over-zealous supporter may perhaps serve as 
an illustration. 

OTTAWA, 2Sth March 1891. 

DEAR SIR, I have yours of the 23rd 
instant informing me that Sir Richard 



OLD AGE 167 

Cartwright is going to Kingston to inquire 
into some matters with regard to the Pro- 
vincial penitentiary. He has a right to 
do so as a member of Parliament, nor do 
I think that any impediment should be 
thrown in his way. If there be any irregu- 
larities committed in the penitentiary, 
there are no reasons why they should be 
hidden, and the parties committing irregu- 
larities properly dealt with. I am, dear 
sir, yours very truly, 

JOHN A. MACDONALD. 

No sketch of the House of Commons of those 
days, however brief, should omit mention of 
Alonzo Wright, the * King of the Gatineau,' 
as he was commonly known. Wright was a 
genial, whole-souled plutocrat of the old 
school. He represented the county of Ottawa, 
and resided on the banks of the Gatineau 
river, where his hospitable doors were ever 
open to his many friends. He was an old- 
fashioned Tory, but never took politics very 
seriously. Sometimes, indeed, he showed 
symptoms of independence, but, as Sir John 
used laughingly to say, ' while Alonzo's 
speeches are sometimes wrong, his vote is 
always right.' Sir John, of course, was quite 



i68 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

satisfied with this arrangement. Once a year, 
to the great entertainment of the House, 
Wright would make a characteristic speech, 
felicitously phrased and brimful of humour. 
One of these harangues in particular remains 
in my recollection. Like all good-natured 
members residing near the capital, ' Alonzo ' 
was much plagued by office-seekers of all 
classes. Among these was a certain Madame 
Laplante of Hull, whose aspirations did not 
rise above a charwoman's place. She was un- 
usually persistent. One day, as the * King ' 
was driving over the Sappers Bridge, he saw a 
woman in front of his horses waving her arms 
wildly as a signal to stop. He pulled up, 
and saw that it was Madame Laplante. Being 
rather hazy as to her present fortunes, he 
ventured to express the hope that she liked 
the position which he had been so fortunate 
as to obtain for her. Madame Laplante, with 
sobs, said that she was still without work. 
At this the ' King ' feigned unbounded in- 
dignation. The rest must be told in his own 
words. 

* Impossible,' I made answer. ' It can- 
not be.' Upon receiving renewed assur- 
ances that so it was, my resolution was 



OLD AGE 169 

taken in an instant. Turning my carriage 
I bade the weeping woman enter, and drove 
at once to the Public Departments. Brush- 
ing aside the minions who sought to arrest 
our progress, I strode unannounced into 
the Ministerial presence. * Sir/ said I, 
' I have come to you as a suitor for the 
last time. You may remember that you 
promised me that this worthy woman 
should be employed forthwith. I learn 
to-day that that promise, like many others 
you have made me, is still unfulfilled. 
There is a time when patience ceases to be 
a virtue. Sir, my resolution is taken. I 
am as good a party man as lives, but there 
is something that I value more than my 
party, and that is my self-respect. This 
afternoon my resignation shall be in the 
hands of the Speaker, and I shall then be 
free to state publicly the sentiments I 
entertain towards all violators of their 
word, and by the aid of this victim of 
duplicity, to expose your perfidious treat- 
ment of one of your hitherto most faithful 
supporters. ' My arguments, my entreaties, 
my threats prevailed, and Madame La- 
plante that day entered the service of her 
country, which she continues to adorn ! 



170 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

Many delightful stories are told of Mac- 
donald's ally, Lord Strathcona. I have room 
for only two. A seedy-looking person named 
M* Donald once called at the high commis- 
sioner's office in London. When asked the 
nature of his business, he replied that he was 
in straitened circumstances, and that when 
Lord Strathcona, as young Donald Smith, had 
left Forres in Scotland for America, he had 
been driven to the port whence he sailed by 
his present visitor's father. When the secre- 
tary had duly informed Lord Strathcona 
of this, word was given to admit McDonald. 
Presently the bell rang, and the secretary 
appeared. ' Make out a cheque for 5 in 
favour of Mr M* Donald,' said Lord Strath- 
cona. This was done, and M* Donald went 
on his way rejoicing. In a month or so he 
turned up again ; the same thing happened, 
and again he departed with a five-pound 
cheque. This went on for several months ; 
but M* Donald came once too often. On the 
occasion of his last visit Lord Strathcona did 
not happen to be in a complaisant mood. 
When M'Donald was announced he said to the 
secretary : ' Tell him I '11 not see him. And 
as for Mr McDonald's father having driven 
me from Forres when I went to America, 



OLD AGE 171 

it is not true, sir ! / walked, sir ! ' the last 
three words with tremendous emphasis. 

During one of Donald Smith's election con- 
tests in Manitoba he felt some uneasiness as 
to the probable course of a knot of half-breeds 
in his constituency, but was assured by his 
election agent that these people were being 
4 looked after,' and that he need not have any 
apprehension in regard to them. This agent 
belonged to a class of westerners noted for the 
vigour rather than for the correctness of their 
language. Smith himself, as is well known, 
was always most proper in this respect. 
Now, it so happened that in the last hours of 
the campaign the half-breeds who were the 
objects of his solicitude were beguiled by the 
enemy, and that they voted against Smith, 
who lost the election. He felt this defeat 
very keenly, and so did his agent, who had to 
bear the additional mortification of having 
unintentionally misled his principal. When 
the results of the polling were announced, 
the agent relieved his feelings by denouncing 
the delinquent half-breeds in true Hudson's 
Bay style, and at every opprobrious and 
profane epithet Smith was heard to murmur 
with sympathetic approval, ' Are they not, 
Mr ? are they not ? are they not ? ' 



172 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

During the period between 1887 and 1891 
the Opposition developed the policy of unre- 
stricted reciprocity with the United States, 
which they made the chief feature of their 
policy in the general elections of the latter 
year. Sir John Macdonald opposed this 
policy with all the energy at his command. 
He held that it would inevitably lead to the 
absorption of Canada by the United States, 
though he did not believe that this was the 
desire or the intention of its chief promoters. 
Sir John feared too that the cry would prove 
seductive. In the hope of arresting the move- 
ment before it had more fully advanced, he 
dissolved parliament prematurely and ap- 
pealed to the people in mid-winter. In this 
resolve he was perhaps influenced by a grow- 
ing consciousness of his failing physical 
strength. He was less pessimistic as to the 
result of the election than in 1887, yet he 
considered his chances of success not more 
than even. As on previous occasions, he had 
recourse to Sir Charles Tupper, to whom he 
cabled on January 21, 1891 : * Your presence 
during election contest in Maritime Provinces 
essential to encourage our friends. Please 
come. Answer.' 

The old war-horse, who doubtless had 



OLD AGE 173 

scented the battle from afar, was not slow in 
responding to his leader's appeal. The con- 
test was severe, and on Sir John's part was 
fought almost single-handed. His Ontario 
colleagues were too busy in defending their 
own seats to render him much assistance in 
the province at large. It was on this occasion 
that he issued his famous manifesto to the 
people of Canada containing the well-known 
phrase : ' A British subject I was born, a 
British subject I will die.' In this manifesto 
he earnestly exhorted the electors to reject a 
policy which, he was persuaded, would imperil 
their British allegiance. The people who had 
so often sustained him in the past responded 
to his fervent appeal, and again he was 
victorious. Nor had he to wait long for a 
signal confirmation of his estimate of the 
policy of his opponents. On the day after 
the polling Edward Blake published a letter 
to his constituents in West Durham, unspar- 
ingly condemning unrestricted reciprocity as 
tending towards annexation to the United 
States ' a precursor of political Union ' of 
which he was unable to approve, and in conse- 
quence of which he retired from public life. 

Macdonald had won, but it was his last 
triumph. The wheel had gone full circle. 



174 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

and he, who in the flush of youth had begun 
his political career with the announcement 
of his firm resolve to resist, from whatever 
quarter it might come, any attempt which 
might tend to weaken the union between 
Canada and the mother country, fittingly 
closed it forty-seven years later by an appeal 
to the people of the Dominion to aid him in 
his last effort ' for the unity of the Empire 
and the preservation of our commercial and 
political freedom/ He won, but the effort 
proved too great for his waning vitality, and 
within three months of his victory he passed 
away. 

In The Times of September i, 1903, Dr 
L. S. (now Sir Starr) Jameson published this 
letter from Cecil Rhodes to Sir John Mac- 
donald : 

CAPE TOWN, 8th May 1891. 

DEAR SIR, I wished to write and con- 
gratulate you on winning the elections in 
Canada. I read your manifesto and I 
could understand the issue. If I might 
express a wish, it would be that we could 
meet before our stern fate claims us. I 
might write pages, but I feel I know you 
and your politics as if we had been friends 
for years. The whole thing lies in the 



OLD AGE 175 

question, Can we invent some tie with our 
mother country that will prevent separa- 
tion ? It must be a practical one, for 
future generations will not be born in 
England. The curse is that English poli- 
ticians cannot see the future. They think 
they will always be the manufacturing 
mart of the world, but do not under- 
stand what protection coupled with re- 
ciprocal relations means. I have taken 
the liberty of writing to you ; if you honour 
me with an answer I will write again. 
Yours, C. J. RHODES. 

PS. You might not know who I am, 
so I will say I am the Prime Minister of 
this Colony that is the Cape Colony. 

Sir John Macdonald never received this 
letter. It was written in South Africa in 
May, and Sir John died on June 6. 

Sir John Macdonald's resemblance to Lord 
Beaconsfield has often been remarked. That 
it must have been striking is evident from Sir 
Charles Dilke's comment : 

The first time I saw Sir John Macdonald 
was shortly after Lord Beaconsfield's death 
and as the clock struck midnight. I was 



176 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

starting from Huston station, and there 
appeared at the step of the railway 
carriage, in Privy Councillor's uniform 
(the right to wear which is confined to so 
small a number of persons that one ex- 
pects to know by sight those who wear it), 
a figure precisely similar to that of the late 
Conservative leader, and it required, in- 
deed, a severe exercise of presence of mind 
to remember that there had been a City 
banquet from which the apparition must 
be coming, and rapidly to arrive by a pro- 
cess of exhaustion at the knowledge that 
this twin brother of that Lord Beaconsfield 
whom shortly before I had seen in the sick 
room, which he was not to leave, must be 
the Prime Minister of Canada.* 

At an evening reception in London, Sir 
John, who was standing a little apart, saw a 
lady attract another's attention, saying in 
an earnest whisper, ' You say you have never 
seen Lord Beaconsfield. There he is,' point- 
ing to Sir John. 

Sir John Macdonald's underlying and con- 
trolling thought was ever for the British 
Empire. That Canada should exist separate 

* Problems of Greater Britain, p. 44. 



OLD AGE 177 

and apart from England was a contingency 
he never contemplated. The bare mention of 
such a possibility always evoked his strongest 
condemnation as being fatal to the realization 
of a united Empire, which was the dominant 
aspiration of his life.* To see Canada, Aus- 
tralia, and South Africa united by ties of 
loyalty, affection, and material interest ; to 
see them ranged round the mother country as 
a protection and a defence to see the dear 
land of England secure, to see her strong in 
every quarter of the globe, mistress of the 
seas, ' with the waves rolling about her feet, 

* * Some few fools at Montreal are talking about Independence, 
which is another name for Annexation. The latter cry, how- 
ever, is unpopular from its disloyalty, and the Annexationists 
have changed their note and speak of the Dominion being changed 
into an independent but friendly kingdom. This is simply non- 
sense. British America must belong either to the American or 
British System of Government* (Sir John Macdonald to the 
Hon. R. W. W. Carrall, dated Ottawa, September 29, 1869). 

' A cardinal point in our policy is connection with England. I 
have no patience with those men who talk as if the time must 
come when we must separate from England. I see no necessity 
for it. I see no necessity for such a culmination, and the discus- 
sion or the mention of it and the suggestion of it to the people 
can only be mischievous* (Liberal-Conservative Hand Booh, 1876, 
pp. 22-3). 

' As to Independence to talk of Independence is to use Mr 
Disraeli's happy phrase " veiled treason." It is Annexation in 
disguise, and I am certain that if we were severed from England, 
and were now standing alone with our four millions of people, 

D.J.M. M 



178 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

happy in her children and her children blessed 
in her* such was Sir John Macdonald's 
dearest wish. As his devoted wife has most 
truly written of him : 

Through all the fever, the struggles, the 
battles, hopes and fears, disappointments 
and successes, joys and sorrows, anxieties 
and rewards of those long busy years, this 
fixed idea of an united Empire was his 
guiding star and inspiration. I, who can 
speak with something like authority on 
this point, declare that I do not think any 
man's mind could be more fully possessed 

the consequence would be that before five years we should be 
absorbed into the United States ' (ibid., p. 24). 

' The solid substantial advantage of being able to obtain money 
on better terms than we could on our own credit alone is not the 
only benefit this guarantee will confer upon us ; for it will put 
a finish to the hopes of all dreamers or speculators who desire or 
believe in the alienation and separation of the colonies from the 
mother country. That is a more incalculable benefit than the 
mere advantage of England's guarantee of our financial stability, 
great and important as that is' (Debates, House of Commons, 
1872, p. 339). 

* Gentlemen, we want no independence in this country, except 
the independence we have at this moment' (Report of the 
Demonstration in Honour of the Fortieth Anniversary of Sir John A. 
Macdonald's Entrance into Public Life. Toronto, 1885, p. 103). 

* Those who disliked the colonial connection spoke of it as 
a chain, but it was a golden chain, and he for one, was glad to 
wear the fetters' (Debates, House of Commons, 1875, p. 981). 



OLD AGE 179 

of an overwhelming strong principle than 
was this man's mind of this principle. It 
was the * Empire ' and ' England's pre- 
cedent ' always, in things great and small 
from the pattern of a ceremony, or the 
spelling of a word, to the shaping of 
laws and the modelling of a constitution. 
With a courage at once fierce and gentle, 
generally in the face of tremendous op- 
position, often against dangerous odds, 
he carried measure after measure in the 
Canadian Parliament, each measure a 
stone in the edifice of empire which he so 
passionately believed in and was so proud 
to help build and rear.* 

A parliamentary federation of the Empire 
he considered impracticable. He did not be- 
lieve that the people of Canada or of any 
other dependency of Great Britain would 
ever consent to be taxed by a central body 
sitting outside its borders, nor did he relish 
the idea that the mother of parliaments at 
Westminster should be subordinated to any 
federal legislature, no matter how dignified 
and important it might be. He believed in 
allowing Canada's relations with the mother 

* Montreal Gazette, October 25, 1897. 



i8o SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

country to remain as they are. To use his own 
words, spoken within a year or so of his death : 

I am satisfied that the vast majority of 
the people of Canada are in favour of the 
continuance and perpetuation of the con- 
nection between the Dominion and the 
mother country. There is nothing to gain 
and everything to lose by separation. I 
believe that if any party or person were to 
announce or declare such a thing, whether 
by annexation with the neighbouring 
country, the great republic to the south 
of us, or by declaring for independence, I 
believe that the people of Canada would 
say ' No.' We are content, we are pros- 
perous, we have prospered under the flag of 
England ; and I say that it would be un- 
wise, that we should be lunatics, to change 
the certain present happiness for the un- 
certain chances of the future. I always 
remember, when this occurs* to me, the 
Italian epitaph : ' I was well, I would be 
better, and here I am.' We are well, we 
know, all are well, and I am satisfied that 
the majority of the people of Canada are 
of the same opinion which I now venture 
to express here. ... I say that it would 



OLD AGE 181 

bring ruin and misfortune, any separation 
from the United Kingdom. I believe that 
is the feeling of the present Parliament 
of Canada, and I am certain that any party, 
or the supposed party, making an appeal 
to the people of Canada, or any persons 
attempting to form a party on the principle 
of separation from England, no matter 
whether they should propose to walk alone, 
or join another country, I believe that the 
people of Canada would rise almost to a 
man and say, ' No, we will do as our fathers 
have done. We are content, and our 
children are content, to live under the flag 
of Great Britain.' * 

Macdonald did not believe in forcing the 
pace. He looked for a preferential trade 
arrangement with the United Kingdom, and 
the establishment of a common system of 
defence. In all other respects he desired the 
maintenance of the status quo, being content 
to leave the rest to the future. So much for 
the Imperial relations. That in all matters 
relating to its internal affairs Canada should 
continue to possess the fullest rights of self- 
government, including exclusive powers of 

* Pope's Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. ii, pp. 220-1. 



182 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

taxation, he considered as an indispensable 
condition to its well-being. 

Nearly twenty-three years have passed 
since Sir John Macdonald died, and to-day 
his figure looms even larger in the public mind 
than on that never-to-be-forgotten June even- 
ing when the tolling bells announced to the 
people of Ottawa the passing of his great 
spirit. When one takes into account all that 
he had to contend against poverty, in- 
different health, the specific weakness to which 
I have alluded, the virulence of opponents, 
the faint-heartedness of friends and reflects 
upon what he accomplished, one asks what 
was the secret of his marvellous success ? 
The answer must be that it was ' in the large 
composition of the man ' ; in his boundless 
courage, patience, perseverance ; and, above 
all, in his wonderful knowledge of human 
nature his power of entering into the hearts 
and minds of those about him and of binding 
them to his service. His life is a great example 
and incentive to young Canadians. Sir John 
Macdonald began the world at fifteen, with 
but a grammar-school education; and, pos- 
sessing neither means nor influence of any 
kind, rose by his own exertions to a high place 



OLD AGE 183 

on the roll of British statesmen ; laboured to 
build up, under the flag of England, a nation 
on this continent ; and died full of years and 
honours, amid the nation's tears. 

Looking o'er the noblest of our time, 

Who climbed those heights it takes an age to climb) 

I marked not one revealing to mankind 

A sweeter nature or a stronger mind. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

THE following works, dealing in whole or in part 
with the day of Sir John Macdonald, may be con- 
sulted : Sir Joseph Pope's Memoirs of the Right 
Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald (two 
vols. : London, Edward Arnold, 1894) > Sir John 
Willison's Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Liberal 
Party (two vols. : Toronto, Morang, 1903) ; George 
R. Parkin's John A. Macdonald (Toronto, Morang, 
1908) ; Dent's The Last Forty Years, or Canada 
since the Union of 1841 (Toronto, 1881) ; Castell 
Hopkins's Life and Work of Sir John Thompson 
(Toronto, 1895); Sir Richard Cartwright's Re- 
miniscences (Toronto, Briggs, 1913) ; Sir Joseph 
Pope's pamphlet, Sir John Macdonald Vindicated 
(Toronto, 1913) ; Buckingham and Ross, The 
Honourable Alexander Mackenzie: His Life and 
Times (Toronto, 1892) ; Lewis's George Brown 
(Toronto, Morang, 1906); Sir Charles Tupper's 
Recollections of Sixty Years in Canada (London, 
Cassell, 1914). 

Consult also the writings of W. L. Grant, J. L. 
Morison, Edward Kylie, George M. Wrong, John 
Lewis, Sir Joseph Pope, and O. D. Skelton in 
Canada and its Provinces, vols. v, vi, and ix. 

184 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 185 

For biographical sketches of Robert Baldwin, 
George Brown, Sir Alexander Campbell, Sir 
George Cartier, Sir Antoine Dorion, Sir Alexander 
Gait, Sir Francis Hincks, Sir Louis LaFontaine, 
John Sandfield Macdonald, Sir Allan MacNab, Sir 
E. P. Tache", Sir John Rose, and other prominent 
persons connected with this narrative, see Taylor, 
Portraits of British Americans (Montreal, 1865-67) ; 
Dent, The Canadian Portrait Gallery (Toronto, 
1880) ; and The Dictionary of National Biography 
(London, 1903). 



INDEX 



Abbott, John, a colleague of Sir 
John Macdonald : subscribes 
to Annexation manifesto, 27 ; 
prime minister, 142. 

Aberdeen, Lord, governor- 
general, 149. 

Allan, Sir Hugh, and the 
Pacific Scandal, 97 and note, 
99, 101. 

Annexation manifesto of 1849, 
some subscribers to, 27. 

Archibald, Adams, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 79 ; 
lieutenant-governor of Mani- 
toba, 91. 

Argyll, Duke of, and Sir John 
Macdonald, 116-17. 

Assembly. See Parliament. 

'Baldwin Reformers,' their 
union with the Conservatives, 
38, 39, 46. 

Baldwin, Robert, with La- 
Fontaine in power, 20, 28 ; 
burned in effigy, 22 ; defends 
the Liberal - Conservative 
alliance, 39, 46 ; the Common 
School Act, 55 ; retires from 
public life, 20, 31. 

Beaconsfield, Lord, and Sir 
John Macdonald, 175-6. See 
Disraeli. 

Blake, Edward, 22; prime 
minister of Ontario, 93; re- 
signs in order to assist his 



party in the House of Com- 
mons, 96 ; minister of Justice, 
107, 109 ; his opposition to 
the building of the C.P.R., 
120 ; is out-generalled on the 
Riel resolution, 132-3; re- 
signs Liberal leadership, 160 ; 
retires from public life, 173 ; 
his career and character, 95, 
104-10. 

Bo well, Mackenzie, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 152. 

British Columbia, its admission 
into Confederation, 93, 96, 
118-21. 

British America League, the, 
resolutions of, 27-8. 

British North America Act, the, 
74 ; and the qualification of 
voters, 133. 

Brown, George, founds the 
'Globe/ 18; stirs up racial 
and religious strife between 
Upper and Lower Canada, 
29-31, 32, 7i; his antagon- 
ism towards Macdonald, 32 
and note, 33, 46-7, 95, 117; 
opposes Seigneurial Tenure 
and Clergy Reserves Bills, 
45 and note; leader of the 
Clear Grits, 47 ; his policy of 
Rep. by Pop., 54-5, 67, 69, 
72 ; his Short Administration 
in 1858 and humiliation, 57-8, 
59 ; his opinion of the Double 

187 



i88 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 



Shuffle, 61 ; joins hands with 
Macdonald and Cartier to 
carry through the scheme of 
Confederation, 42, 71-3, 83; 
joins the Tache- Macdonald 
Cabinet, 73, 104; quarrels 
with his colleagues and re- 
sumes his ferocious attacks 
on the Government, 75 and 
note ; out of Parliament, 95 ; 
his letter soliciting cam- 
paign funds, 101 n. ; his 
assassination, 18, 118. 

Campbell, Sir Alexander, a 
colleague of Sir John Mac- 
donald : studies law under 
Macdonald, 7-8 ; becomes a 
partner, 14 ; the aristocrat 
. of Macdonald's Cabinet, 115, 
149-51. 

Canada, and the Hudson's Bay 
Company, 49, 88 ; financial 
depression in 1857, 53? ti 16 
visit of the Prince of Wales 
(Edward VII), 67-8; the 
position of prime minister, 
76-7; the transfer of the 
North- West, 88 ; the Treaty 
of Washington, 91-3, 94 ; the 
terms of union with British 
Columbia, 93 ; the building of 
the C.P.R., 49-5?, 97-iQi, 
118-21 ; the Franchise Act of 
1885, 135-8 ; reciprocity with 
United States, 172, 173 ; con- 
tent to live under the flag of 
Great Britain, 179-81. 

Canadian Pacific Railway, the, 
first mooted, 49-52 ; the Paci- 
fic Scandal, 97 and note, 
100 ; the building of, 118- 
126. 

Caron, Sir Adolphe, a colleague 



of Sir John Macdonald, 140, 

142-3- 

Cartier, Sir George Etienne, a 
colleague of Sir John Mac- 
donald: leader of French- 
Canadian wing of Liberal- 
Conservative governmental, 
44-5, 47, 57, 96, "5 ; his work 
on behalf of Confederation, 
42, 62, 78, 80; the Double 
Shuffle, 59-62; his relations 
with Macdonald, 78, 91 ; 
negotiates for the transfer of 
the North-West, 88. 

Cartwright, Sir Richard, 87, 
96 ; takes umbrage at Mac- 
donald's appointment of 
Hincks as finance minister, 
84, 85, 86 and note, 87 ; his 
relations with Macdonald, 
116, ii8 ? 150, 165-7; a most 
accomplished debater, 164-5. 

Cayley, William, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 25. 

Chapleau, Adolphe, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 140, 
142-3, 156. 

Clear Grits, the, press for the 
secularization of the Clergy 
Reserves, 29 ; combine with 
the Conservatives in the de- 
feat of the Government, 35, 
36 ; combine with the Rouges, 
47 ; protest against the choice 
of a capital being left to Her 
Majesty, 53; their success 
with Rep. by Pop.' and * No 
Popery' in Upper Canada, 



54-6- 

Cler 



ergy Reserves question, the, 
29 and note, 37, 38, 45. 
Collins, John Edmund, his book 
on Sir John Macdonald, 165- 
166. 



INDEX 



189 



Commercial Bank, failure of 

the, 82, 86 and note. 
Common School Act, the, 55. 
Confederation, the scheme of, 

62, 7i-4, 75, 7.6- 

Conservatives, join with Lower 
Canadian Liberals in 1854, 
becoming the Liberal-Con- 
servative party, 36-9, 102; 
defection among-, 69; their 
National Policy, 112. See 
Parliament. 

Costigan, John, and Mac- 
donald's Home Rule views, 
153-4- 

Derby, Lord, 49, 58. 

Dilke, Sir Charles, on Sir John 
Macdonald's resemblance to 
Lord Beaconsfield, 175-6. 

Disraeli, Benjamin, 58; on 
Goldwin Smith, 156. See 
Beaconsfield. 

Dominion of Canada. See 
Canada. 

Dorion, A. A., the Rouge leader, 
39-40, 47, 56, 67, 96; his 
alliance with Brown, 45 and 
note ; in the Macdonald-Si- 
cotte Cabinet, 69-70; hostile 
to Confederation, 74. 

Dorion, J. B. E., Tenfant ter- 
rible, '56- 

Double Shuffle episode, the, 52, 
57 59-62. 

Draper, W. H., and Macdon- 
ald, 13; from prime minister 
to chief justice, 19 ; Canadian 
commissioner in the Hudson's 
Bay Company investigation, 

Dufferin, Lord, and the Pacific 
Scandal, 97 and note; and 
Macdonald, 115-16. 



Durham, Lord, his Report on 
the state of Canada, 15, 34 ; 
the question of its authorship, 
15 n. 

Elgin, Lord, his troubles in con- 
nection wijbh the Rebellion 
Losses Bill, 22, 23, 24, 25. 

Family Compact, the, 3, 16-17, 
44. 

Farrer, Edward, his amusing 
article on Sir John Macdon- 
ald, 131. 

Fitzpatrick, Sir Charles, chief 
justice, 128. 

Foster, George E., a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 145-6, 
156. 

Fournier, Telesphore, 56 ; min- 
ister of Justice, 107. 

Franchise Act of 1885, the, 133- 
138. 

French Canadians, their hos- 
tility to the Union Act, 34- 
35 ; and Sir Edmund Head, 
40 ; and Rep. by Pop., 54 ; 
and the execution of Riel, 127, 
130-2. 

Gait, Sir A. T., a colleague of 
Sir John Macdonald : sent 
for in 1858, 58-9 ; his work on 
behalf of Confederation, 62, 
72-3, 78 ; resigns portfolio of 
Finance, 82, 1 13 ; his char- 
acter, 82-3, 84-5. 

Gladstone, W. JE., attacks the 
Rebellion Losses Bill, 25 ; his 
case of a ' Double Shuffle,' 62 
and note ; and the Fenian 
claims, 95 ; and Home Rule, 
154- 



190 



SIR JOHN MACDONALD 



Gourlay, Robert, and the Fam- 
ily Compact, 3. 

Grandin, Bishop of St Albert, 
denounces Louis Riel, 129-30. 

Grand Trunk Railway, open- 
ing of, 48. 

Great Western Railway, open- 
ing of, 48. 

Guibord, Joseph, the famous 
case of, 1 10-12. 

Head, Sir Edmund, governor- 
general, 40; the Double 
Shuffle episode, 57-62. 

Hincks, Sir Francis, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 25 ; 
with Morin in power, 20, 31 ; 
defends the Liberal-Conser- 
vative alliance, 37, 39 ; leaves 
the country, 46; becomes 
finance minister under Mac- 
donald on his return, 83-4, 93, 
96 ; his character, 85-6. 

Holton, Luther H., 56, 65. 

House of Commons. See Par- 
liament. 

Howe, Joseph, a colleague of 
Sir John Macdonald : his op- 
position to Confederation, 79 ; 
enters the Dominion Cabinet, 
79-80 ; his work in connection 
with the transfer of the North- 
West, 88-9 ; lieutenant-gover- 
nor of Nova Scotia, 80. 

Hudson's Bay Company, and 
the transfer of the North- 
West, 49, 51, 87-8. 

Independence of Parliament 
Act of 1857, the, 59-60. 

'Institut Canadien, L',' the 
members' attitude towards 
the pastoral letter of 1858, 

1 10-12. 



Intercolonial 
jected, 48. 



Railway pro- 



Jameson, Sir Starr, and Cecil 
Rhodes, 174. 

Jesuits' Estates Act, an amus- 
ing incident in connection 
with the, 162-4. 

Jones, Walter R., his letter pro- 
posing a railway to the Paci- 
fic, 50-2. 

Kingston, the principal town in 
Upper Canada in 1815, i, 2, 
4 ; as the seat of government, 
14, 16, 27 n., 52; its population 
compared, 14, 48. 

LaFontaine, Sir Louis H., 
leader of French Canadians 
in Liberal Government, 17, 
20, 28 ; burned in effigy, 22 ; 
withdraws from public life, 
20, 31, 38. 

Liberal-Conservative party, be- 
ginning of, 36-9, 40 ; its pro- 
gramme, 28. 

Landry, P., speaker of the 
Senate, 132-3. 

Langevin, Sir Hector, a col- 
league of Sir John Macdonald, 
64, 115, 132-3, 140-3. 

Laurier, Wilfrid, enters Parlia- 
ment, 103; Liberal leader, 
137 ; his personality, 160-1. 

Liberal party, the, its opposi- 
tion to the building of the 
C.P.R., 93, 97 n., 98-9, 100, 
118, 119-21 and note ; its 
strength in 1872, 96-7, 102; 
and the Riel resolution, 132- 
133 ; its organized obstruction 
to Macdonald's Franchise 
Bill, 136-7 ; its policy of un- 






INDEX 



191 



restricted reciprocity with 
United States, 172. See 
Baldwin Reformers and Clear 
Grits. 

Lower Canada, its development 
between 1851 and 1861, 47-8 ; 
and Rep. by Pop. and Non- 
sectarian Schools, 54, 56. 

M'Carthy, Dalton, his fatuous 
course in 1887, 159. 

Macdonald, Sir John, his birth 
and parentage, i, 12-13; boy- 
hood and schooldays, 3-6 ; 
called to the bar and opens a 
law-office in Kingston, 6-7, 
14; 'Hit him, John,' 8-9; 
shoulders a musket in 1837, 9, 
15, 16 ; acts as counsel in the 
Von Shoultz affair, 9-12, 13 ; 
elected to the city council of 
Kingston, 14 ; his politics, 16 
and note, 22 ; elected to As- 
sembly, 17 ; enters Draper's 
Cabinet, 19 and note; favours 
Kingston as the seat of gov- 
ernment, 26 ; refuses to sign 
the Annexation manifesto and 
advocates the formation of 
the British America League, 
27-8; his policy tending to 
ameliorate the racial and re- 
ligious differences existing 
between Upper and Lower 
Canada, 31-2 and note, 33-5 ; 
attorney-general, 36, 38, 39, 
107 ; his connection with 
Cartier, 41, 44-5, 47, 78 ; and 
Sir Allan MacNab, 41, 43-4; 
his relations with Brown, 33, 
46-7, 58 n., 71, 72-3, 104; 
prime minister, 54; opposes 
non-sectarian schools, 55-6; 
the * Double Shuffle ' episode, 



59-62; and Sir John Rose, 
64-5 ; defeated on his Militia 
Bill, 68-9, 75 ; his work on 
behalf of Confederation, 42, 
7*, 72-3, 74, 75, 99, *oo ; forms 
the first Dominion Adminis- 
tration and is created K. C. B. , 
76-7 ; and Sir Charles Tup- 
per, 79, 156-8 ; and Joseph 
Howe, 79-80, and D'Arcy 
M'Gee, 81 ; on Gait, 83; on 
Gait and Cartwright's de- 
fection, 84-5, 86-7, 166; on 
his appointment of Hincks as 
finance minister, 83-4, 85-6 ; 
his troubles over the trans- 
fer of the North- West, 87-8 ; 
and Donald A. Smith, 89-90, 
170 ; member of the Joint High 
Commission which resulted 
in the Treaty of Washington, 
91-2 ; his troubles on the eve 
of the elections of 1872, 93-4, 
100 ; his account of the con- 
tests in Ontario, 95-6; the 
Pacific Scandal, 97-101 ; and 
Edward Blake, 109 ; his Na- 
tional Policy, 112-14, 117; his 
opinion of Lord Dufferin, 115- 
116; his relations with the 
Duke of Argyll, 116-17; his 
great work in connection with 
the building of the C.P.R., 
50-2, 118-26, 139; the trial 
and execution of Louis Riel, 
and the political effect, 127- 
133 ; his experience of the 
fickleness of public opinion, 
130-1 ; his political strategy, 
132-3 ; his desire for a uniform 
franchise system, 133-4 ; and 
the necessity of a property 
qualification for the right to 
vote, 134-5; his Franchise 



192 SIR JOHN MACDONALD 



Act, 135-8, 139 ; a believer in 
the extension of the franchise 
to single women, 138 ; on his 
relations with Langevin, Ca- 
ron, and Chapleau, 140-3 ; and 
his difficulty about his suc- 
cessor, 141 ; and Sir John 
Thompson, 146-9 ; and: Sir 
Alexander Campbell, and Sir 
Oliver Mowat, 7-8, 149-51 ; 
mourns J. H. Pope's loss, 
151-2 ; his reply to Sir C. H. 
Tupper, 153 ; against Irish 
Home Rule, 154-5; onGoldwin 
Smith, 154-6 ; on Sir Wilfrid 
Laurier, 161 ; an amusing 
interlude with Honor6 Mer- 
cier, 162-4 5 a pointed allusion 
to his supposed convivial 
habits, 165-6; on Alonzo 
Wright, the 'King,' 167; op- 
posed to unrestricted reci- 
procity with United States, 
172 ; his famous manifesto 
of 1891, 173-4; and Cecil 
Rhodes, 174-5; his resem- 
blance to Lord Beaconsfield, 
175-6; his Imperialism, 17, 
92, 154-5, 174, 176-82; his 
character, 12-13, I 39>-40 158- 
X 59 I 7 8 -9> 182-3 > his death, 

Macdonald, John Sandfield, a 
'political Ishmaelite,' 63; in 
power with L. V. Sicotte, 69- 
70, 81 ; opposed to Confedera- 
tion, 74; prime minister of 
Ontario, 93, 95. 

M'Dougall, William, a col- 
league of Sir John Macdonald, 
63 ; his work on behalf of Con- 
federation, 73, 77 ; lieutenant- 
governor of the North- West, 
88,89. 



M'Gee, Thomas D'Arcy, a col- 
league of Sir John Macdonald, 
63, 8 1 ; his career and assassi- 
nation, 8 1 -2. 

Mackenzie, Alexander, leader 
of Liberals, 96, 114, 117, 120- 
I2i ; prime minister, 103, 105 ; 
his career and character, 103- 
104, 133. 

MacNab, Sir Allan, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 25 ; 
prime minister, 36-7, 41 ; his 
career, 42-4. 

Macpherson, Sir David, a col- 
league of Sir John Macdonald, 
27, 98 n., 119 ; minister of In- 
terior, 143-4. 

Maitland, Sir Peregrine, lieu- 
tenant-governor, 3. 

Mercier, H on ore, prime minis- 
ter of Quebec, 132 ; his inter- 
view with Sir John Macdon- 
ald, 162-4. 

Metcalfe, Sir Charles, gover- 
nor-general, 17. 

Militia, commission on, 68-9. 

Moderate Reformers. See 
Baldwin Reformers. 

Monck, Lord, and the first Do- 
minion Cabinet, 76-7 ; and 
the first Dominion Day hon- 
ours, 77-8. 

Montreal, the seat of govern- 
ment, 18-19, 26, 27 n., 52 ; its 
population, 48; the riots in 
connection with the Rebellion 
Losses Bill, 22, 23-6. 

Morin, A. N., a colleague of 
Sir John Macdonald : leader 
of French-Canadian wing of 
Liberal Government, 31 ; and 
of Liberal-Conservatives, 36- 
39 ; retires to the bench, 
41. 



INDEX 



193 



Morris, Alexander, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonalci, 72. 

Mount Stephen, Lord, 113, 141 ; 
introduces Donald A. Smith to 
Macdonald, 89, 90 ; president 
of the C. P. R., 122, 125 ; his 
letter to Sir John Macdonald, 
123-4 ; a . nd the reply, 125 n. 

Mowat, Sir Oliver, studies law 
under Macdonald, 7-8 ; in 
Brown's Short Administra- 
tion, 64 ; his work on behalf 
of Confederation, 73; prime 
minister of Ontario, 96, 160. 

National Policy, the, 112-14, 
117. 

New Brunswick, and Confed- 
eration, 73, 74, 96. 

North- West, its transfer, 87-91. 

North- West Rebellion, the, 126- 
127, 129. 

Nova Scotia, and Confedera- 
tion, 73, 79, 93 ; ratifies Mac- 
donald's policy in connection 
with the Treaty of Washing- 
ton, 92, 96. 

Ontario, its population and con- 
dition in 1815, 2, 3. 

Ottawa, chosen as the capital 
city of Canada, 26 and note, 
53, 57- 

Pacific Scandal episode, the, 97- 
101. 

Papineau, L. J., leader of the 
Rouges, 29. 

Parliament, and the Rebellion 
Losses Bill, 20-6, 28 ; the se- 
lection of the capital, 53, 57 ; 
the Double Shuffle, 59-62; 
Conservatives defeated on 
Militia Bill, 68-9; the double 

D.J.M. 



majority principle laid down, 
70 ; Liberals defeated on 
the National Policy, 113-15, 
117; the building- of the 
C.P.R., 119-21, 122, 125 and 
note ; the Electoral Franchise 
Act, 135-8 ; a moderating in- 
fluence begins to be felt, 161. 

Pope, J. H., a colleague of Sir 
John Macdonald, 72, 115, 
118 ; his political sagacity, 
151-2. 

Prince Edward Island, and 
Confederation, 73, 74, 96. 

Quebec, as a seat of government, 
26, 27 n., 52 ; its population in 
1861, 48 ; Confederation con- 
ference in, 74 ; effect of Riel's 
execution on, 130-2, 159 ; and 
the Jesuits' Estates Act, 162-3. 

Radicals of Upper Canada, 
See Clear Grits. 

Rebellion Losses Act, the 
troubles and disturbances in 
connection with, 21-6. 

Red River insurrection, the, 89, 
90. 

Rhodes, Cecil, his letter to Sir 
John Macdonald, 174-5. 

Riel, Louis, leader of the Red 
River insurrection, 89, 93 ; 
and the North- West Rebel- 
lion, 126-7, 129-30; his trial 
and execution, 128-9 ar -d its 
political effect, 130-3, 159. 

Rose, Sir John, a colleague cf 
Sir John Macdonald: sub- 
scribes to Annexation mani- 
festo, 27 ; a close friend of 
Edward VII, 64-5, 67, 68 ; 
finance minister, 83; takes 
up residence in London, 83. 



194 



SIR JOHN MACDONALD 



Rose, Lady, the tragic event in 
her life, 65-7. 

Ross, John, a colleague of Sir 
John Macdonald : joins the 
MacNab-Morin Cabinet, 37 ; 
resigns, 46; and Confedera- 
tion, 62. 

Rouge party, its programme, 
29 ; its alliance with the Clear 
Grits, 31, 35, 36, 47, 69-70 ; 



35, 36, 
to Co: 



74- 



Russell, Lord John, defends the 
Rebellion Losses Bill, 25 ; in 
the Hudson's Bay Company 
investigation, 49. 

Ryerson, Rev. Egerton, super- 
intendent of Schools, 55-6. 

St Andrews Society of Mont- | 

real, 24. 

School question, the, 54, 55. 
Scott, Thomas, his murder at 

Fort Garry, 89, 93, 127. 
Seigneurial Tenure, abolition 

of, 37 and note, 45. 
Sherwood, Henry, a colleague 

of Sir John Macdonald, 19-20. 
Sicotte, L. V., leader of French- 
Canadian wing of Liberal 

Government, 69-70. 
Smith, Donald A. See Strath- 

cona, Lord. 
Smith, Frank, a colleague of 

Sir John Macdonald, 152. 
Smith, Goldwin, two examples 

of his malevolence and wit, 

103-4 J an d Sir John Macdon- 

ald's Imperialism, 154-6. 
Spence, Thomas, a colleague of 

Sir John Macdonald, 37. 
Stephen, George. See Mount i 

Stephen, Lord. 
Strathcona, Lord, his first j 



meeting with Sir John Mac- 
donald, 89-90 ; his mission to 
Red River Colony, 91; and 
the C.P.R., 121, 125 ; two 
anecdotes concerning, 170-1. 

Sweeny, Robert, the tragedy 
of, 65-7. 

Sydenham, Lord, governor- 
general, 14, 34. 



Thon 



Tache, Sir Etienne, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 44, 
14. 70. 

ompson, Sir John, acolleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 142, 
146, 156 ; his character, 146-9. 

Tilley, Sir Leonard, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 77, 
115 ; his continuous spell of 
office, 145. 

Toronto, a comparison in popu- 
lation, 14, 48 ; as a seat of 
government, 26, 27 n., 52. 

Tupper, Sir Charles, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald : his 
work on behalf of Confedera- 
tion, 42, 77, 79 ; his influence 
in Nova Scotia and his rela- 
tions with Macdonald, 79-80, 
115, 156-8, 172-3; his interest 
in the C.P.R., 119, 120, 122 ; 
high commissioner in Lon- 
don, 141 n., 146. 

Tupper, C. H., a colleague of 
Sir John Macdonald, 153. 

Union Act of 1840, the, 34-5, 54, 

United Empire Loyalist settle- 
ments in Ontario, 4-5. 

United States, and reciprocity 
with Canada, 75, 113-14, 172, 
173; and the Treaty of 



INDEX 



195 



Washington, 91-3 ; the fran- | 
chise system in, 134. 
Upper Canada, development of 
between 1851 and 1861, 47-8. 

Von Shoultz, his career and 
court-martial, 9-12. 

Warde, Major H. J., killed in 
a duel, 66. 



White, Thomas, a colleague 
of Sir John Macdonald, 144, 
156 ; an unlucky politician, 

I44-5- 

Wolseley, Colonel, quells the 
Red River insurrection, 90, 

Wright, Alonzo, the King of 
the Gatineau,' a characteristic 
speech, 167-9. 



THE CHRONICLES OF CANADA 

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton 
of the University of Toronto 

A series of thirty-two freshly-written narratives for 
popular reading, designed to set forth, in historic con- 
tinuity, the principal events and movements in Canada, 
from the Norse Voyages to the Railway Builders. 

PART I. THE FIRST EUROPEAN VISITORS 

1. The Dawn of Canadian History 

A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada 

BY STEPHEN LEACOCK 

2. The Mariner of St Malo 

A Chronicle of the Voyages of Jacques Cartier 
BY STEPHEN LEACOCK 

PART II. THE RISE OF NEW FRANCE 

3. The Founder of New France 

A Chronicle of Champlain 

BY CHARLES W. COLBY 

4. The Jesuit Missions 

A Chronicle of the Cross in the Wilderness 

BY THOMAS GUTHRIE MARQUIS 

5. The Seigneurs of Old Canada 

A Chronicle of New- World Feudalism 

BY WILLIAM BENNETT MUNRO 

6. The Great Intendant 

A Chronicle of Jean Talon 

BY THOMAS CHAPAIS 

7. The Fighting Governor 

A Chronicle of Frontenac 

BY CHARLES W. COLBY 



The Chronicles of Canada 

PART III. THE ENGLISH INVASION 

8. The Great Fortress 

A Chronicle of Louisbourg 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

9. The Acadian Exiles 

A Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline 

BY ARTHUR G. DOUGHTY 

10. The Passing of New France 

A Chronicle of Montcalm 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

11. The Winning of Canada 

A Chronicle of Wolfe 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

PART IV. THE BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH CANADA 

12. The Father of British Canada 

A Chronicle of Carleton 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

13. The United Empire Loyalists 

A Chronicle of the Great Migration 

BY W. STEWART WALLACE 

14. The War with the United States 

A Chronicle of 1812 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

PART V. THE RED MAN IN CANADA 

15. The War Chief of the Ottawas 

A Chronicle of the Pontiac War 

BY THOMAS GUTHRIE MARQUIS 

16. The War Chief of the Six Nations 

A Chronicle of Joseph Brant 

BY LOUIS AUBREY WOOD 

17. Tecumseh 

A Chronicle of the last Great Leader of his People 
BY ETHEL T. RAYMOND 



The Chronicles of Canada 

PART VI. PIONEERS OF THE NORTH AND WEST 

1 8. The 'Adventurers of England ' on Hudson 

Bay 

A Chronicle of the Fur Trade in the North 
BY AGNES C. LAUT 

19. Pathfinders of the Great Plains 

A Chronicle of La V6rendrye and his Sons 

BY LAWRENCE J. BURPEE 

20. Adventurers of the Far North 

A Chronicle of the Arctic Seas 

BY STEPHEN LEACOCK 

21. The Red River Colony 

A Chronicle of the Beginnings of Manitoba 

BY LOUIS AUBREY WOOD 

22. Pioneers of the Pacific Coast 

A Chronicle of Sea Rovers and Fur Hunters 
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23. The Cariboo Trail 

A Chronicle of the Gold-fields of British Columbia 
BY AGNES C. LAUT 

PART VII. THE STRUGGLE FOR POLITICAL FREEDOM 

24. The Family Compact 

A Chronicle of the Rebellion in Upper Canada 

BY W. STEWART WALLACE 

25. The Patriotes of '37 

A Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lower Canada 

BY ALFRED D. DECELLES 

26. The Tribune of Nova Scotia 

A Chronicle of Joseph Howe 

BY WILLIAM LAWSON GRANT 

27. The Winning of Popular Government 

A Chronicle of the Union of 1841 

BY ARCHIBALD MACMECHAN 



The Chronicles of Canada 

PART VIII. THE GROWTH OF NATIONALITY 

28. The Fathers of Confederation 

A Chronicle of the Birth of the Dominion 

BY A. H. U. COLQUHOUN 

29. The Day of Sir John Macdonald 

A Chronicle of the Early Years of the Dominion 
BY SIR JOSEPH POPE 

30. The Day o/ Sir Wilfrid Laurier 

A Chronicle of Our Own Times 

BY OSCAR D. SKELTON 

PART IX. NATIONAL HIGHWAYS 

31. All Afloat 

A Chronicle of Craft and Waterways 

BY WILLIAM WOOD 

32. The Railway Builders 

A Chronicle of Overland Highways 

BY OSCAR D. SKELTON 



Published by 

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PC 162 .C47 v.29 

SMC 

Pope, Joseph, 1854-1926. 

The day of Sir John 

flacdonald : a chronicle 
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