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HIST 261 Jan 8 2014.docx

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Eric Strikwerda

HIST 261 Jan 8 2014 The Road to Confederation Confederation From Without Recap: By the 1860’s Britain wanted to downsize its empire as the administrative and defensive upkeep was becoming more expensive and feeling of Britain and its resources being spread to thinly. Confederation of British North America (hereafter BNA) would be a cheaper alternative for Britain while still sort of retaining a foothold in North America(hereafter NA) especially in terms of defense. Confederation also offered the opportunity for the British Parliament to rid itself of any BNA issues. The American Civil War however while it did keep the Americans busy resulted in a highly armed southern neighbour for the BNA and the British were fearful of loosing their foothold in NA if the just ‘turned the Canadas and Maritimes loose.’ It was also noted that a united Canada would require an intercontinental railway in order to effectively trade across the continent but also to defend it as a railway would allow for they speedy movement of troops. th The North West Region/Territory had from the 17 century been effectively controlled and governed by the Hudson’s Bay Company (hereafter HBC), however the region that would become Ontario was seeking to acquire for further colonization as land was running out in Ontario for new settlers. The Story of the British North America Act In September of 1864 the Charlottetown Conference (hereafter CC) was held, where New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia (hereafter respectively known as NB, PEI, and NS) met to consider joining together to for what could be called a Mini-Canada. This Conference was crashed by representative members of the government of the United Canada(s), where they proposed to have all of the BNA join together and eventually form a continental Canada. The original members of the CC agreed that a BNA union should be considered and scheduled for another meeting in the October of 1864 to be held in Québec. The Québec Conference attendees included George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald and Mr. Brown who favored a strong central government, using the American Civil War as an example as to what happens without one. It was therefore proposed that provincial powers would be limited to local matters. The Atlantic colonies and Canada East (of United Canada) were wary and suspicious of having a strong central government governed by a House of Commons based upon representation by population for various reasons. Therefore they proposed the idea of the 3 Sectors (what would become the Senate), one sector for the Atlantic colonies, one for the area that would become Québec and one for the area to become Ontario. To pass any legislation sent to it from the House of Commons the Sectors (Senate) would need a 2/3 vote in favour. This would limit the power of the highly developed area that would become Ontario. The people of Québec’s concerns were to defend their distinct culture (French Catholic vs the Rest of the BNA which was mostly English Protestants) against extinction. NB and NS’s delegate to the Québec Conference insists that the new government of Canada would construct an inter-colonial railway in order to connect the Maritimes to the rest of the country, which would also as some form of insurance against marginalization. In addition to this the new government would also have to take over the existing railroad debts. This conference concluded with the scheduling of the London (UK) Conference to be held in 1866 where the final details would be worked out. At the London Conference 1866 it was decided that the federal government would have specific po
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