Canadian Confederation Essay

3819 words - 15 pages


In the year of 1867 the nation we know as Canada came into being. The Confederation in this year only came about after things had been overcome. Many political and economic pressures were exerted on the colonies and a federal union of the colonies seemed to be the most practical method of dealing with these pressures and conflicts. While Confederation was a solution to many of the problems, it was not a popular one for all the colonies involved. In the Maritime colonies views differed widely on the topic. Some were doubtful, some were pleased, others were annoyed and many were hopeful for a prosperous future.1
It was the initiative of the Maritime Provinces that first created the concept of union. Leaders of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia had been discussing the possibility of a Maritime union for many years. Lieutenant Governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon and Leonard Tilley of New Brunswick, Premier Charles Tupper of Nova Scotia and Colonel Gray and W.H Pope of Prince Edward Island were all advocates of the concept of maritime union for solutions to the problems which they were encountering.2
Trade was important to the Maritimes. Up to 1846 Britain had provided the British North American colonies with a market for their goods, but then began a policy of free trade. Because there were no tariffs placed on any country the colonies lost a sure market for their goods. Many colonists were concerned that some might consider union with the United States and the British North American colonies was brisk with large amounts of lumber and grain being imported by the U.S. When the Americans ended the Reciprocity Treaty in 1865, many Maritimers became uneasy about the economic future. It became apparent that in order to develop thriving trade; new economic links would have to be developed. 3
George Coles, a persistent politician, insisted that Prince Edward Island was not being provided with strong leadership, Gray was forced to drop the topic of Confederation. To the Islanders, a government dominated by Upper and Lower had little appeal. A colony as small as Prince Edward Island would have very few representatives in a federal government. They were not prepared to pay taxes to build an Intercolonial Railway, which could not run on their island. Islanders also opposed Confederation over the issue of absentee landlords. Their dislike of the landlords in Britain, they felt, would only be replaced by the dislike of landlords in Britain, they felt, would only be replaced by a dislike of a dislike of landlords in Ottawa. By 1865 Prince Edward Island had turned down the Confederation plan.
The people of Newfoundland were no more enthusiastic about the idea of a large Union. Newfoundland had always maintained close ties with Britain, having more in common with them than the people in Western Canada. Although the pro-Confederation people argued that financial benefits for the struggling fisheries would result, most Newfoundlanders could not...

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