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Title: The Day of Sir Wilfrid Laurier
       A Chronicle of Our Own Time

Author: Oscar D. Skelton

Release Date: January 21, 2010 [EBook #31041]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Al Haines

SIR WILFRID LAURIER 'IN ACTION' After an instantaneous photograph taken during an address in the open air at Sorel, 1911

After an instantaneous photograph taken during an address
in the open air at Sorel, 1911


A Chronicle of Our Own Times




Copyright in all Countries subscribing to the Berne Convention



In conformity with its title, this volume, save for the earlier chapters, is history rather than biography, is of the day, more than of the man. The aim has been to review the more significant events and tendencies in the recent political life of Canada. In a later and larger work it is hoped to present a more personal and intimate biography of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.




IV.   IN OPPOSITION, 1878-1887 53
  INDEX 333



     After an instantaneous photograph taken during an address
    in the open air at Sorel, 1911.
     From a photograph.
Facing page 12
     From photographs.
"         36
         From photographs by Topley.
"         48
     From photographs by Topley.
"         64
     From a photograph.
"         90
         From a photograph by Topley.
"       128
     From photographs.
"    168-9
     From a photograph by Montminy, Quebec.
"       194
     From a photograph.
"       294




Early days at St Lin—Seven years of college—Student at law—Arthabaska days

Wilfrid Laurier was born at St Lin, Quebec, on November 20, 1841. His ancestral roots were sunk deep in Canadian soil. For six generations Quebec had been the home of Laurier after Laurier. His kinsmen traced their origin to Anjou, a province that ever bred shrewd and thrifty men. The family name was originally Cottineau. In a marriage covenant entered into at Montreal in 1666 the first representative of the family in Canada is styled 'Francois Cottineau dit Champlauriet.' Evidently some ancestral field or garden of lauriers or oleanders gave the descriptive title which in time, as was common, became the sole family name. The Lauriers came to Canada shortly after Louis XIV took the colony under his royal wing in 1663, in the first era of real settlement, and hewed out homes for themselves in the forest, first on the island of Jesus, at the mouth of the {2} Ottawa, and later in the parish of Lachenaie, on the north bank of the same river, where they grew in numbers until Lauriers, with Rochons and Matthieus, made up nearly all the parish.

Charles Laurier, grandfather of Wilfrid Laurier, was a man of strong character and marked ability. In face of many difficulties he mastered mathematics and became a self-taught land surveyor, so that he was able to make the surveys of the great Pangman seigneury at Lachenaie. Early in the nineteenth century he settled his son Carolus on a farm just hewn out of the forest, near the little village of St Lin, a frontier settlement nestling at the foot of the Laurentian hills north of Montreal. He himself continued to reside at Lachenaie until far on in years, when he went to live with his son at St Lin.

Carolus Laurier followed in his father's footsteps, surveying and farming by turns as opportunity offered. He had not his father's rugged individuality, but his handsome figure, his alert wit, and his amiable and generous nature made him a welcome guest through all the French and Scottish settlements in the north country. That he had something of his father's progressiveness {3} is shown by the fact that he was the first farmer in the neighbourhood to set up a threshing machine in his barn, to take the place of the old-time flail. It was his liberal views that gave the first bent to his son's sympathies; and he was, as we shall see, progressive enough to give the brilliant lad the education needed for professional success, and far-seeing and broad-minded enough to realize how great an asset a thorough knowledge of English speech and English ways would be.

Yet it was rather to his mother that Wilfrid Laurier, like so many other notable men, owed his abilities and his temperament. Marcelle Martineau, kin to the mother of the poet Fréchette, was a woman of much strength of character, of fine mind and artistic talents. She lived only five years after her son was born, but in those few years she had so knit herself into his being that the warm and tender memory of her never faded from his impressionable mind. The only other child of this marriage, a daughter, Malvina, died in infancy. Carolus Laurier married again, his second wife being Adeline Ethier. She was much attached to his children and they to her. Of this second marriage three sons were born: {4} Ubalde, who became a physician and died at Arthabaska in 1898; Charlemagne, a merchant in St Lin and later member for the county at Ottawa, who lived until 1907; and Henri, the prothonotary at Arthabaska, who passed away in 1906. Carolus Laurier himself lived on in his little village home forty years after the birth of his eldest son, and his wife lived nearly twenty years longer.

It was a quiet, strength-shaping country home in which the future statesman's boyhood was cast. The little village was off the beaten track of travel; not yet had the railway joined it to the river front. There were few distractions to excite or dissipate youthful energies. Roaming amid the brooding silence of the hills, fishing for trout, hunting partridges and rabbits, and joining in the simple village games, the boy took his boyish pleasures and built for his manhood's calm and power. His home had an intellectual atmosphere quite out of the ordinary, and it enjoyed a full measure of that grace or native courtesy which is not least among Quebec's contributions to the common Canadian stock.

He had his first schooling in the elementary parish school of St Lin, where the boys learned their A-B-C, their two-times-two, and their {5} catechism. Then his father determined to give him a broader outlook by enabling him to see something of the way of life and to learn the tongue of his English-speaking compatriots. Some eight miles west of St Lin on the Achigan river lay the village of New Glasgow. It had been settled about 1820 by Scottish Protestants belonging to various British regiments. Carolus Laurier had carried on surveys there, knew the people well, and was thoroughly at home with them. The affinity so often noted between Scottish and French has doubtless more than a mere historical basis. At any rate, son, like father, soon found a place in the intimate life of the Murrays, the Guthries, the Macleans, the Bennetts and other families of the settlement. His experience was further varied by boarding for a time in the home of an Irish Catholic family named Kirk. Later, he lived with the Murrays, and often helped behind the counter in John Murray's general store.

The school which he attended for two years, 1852-53 and 1853-54, was a mixed school, for both boys and girls, taught by a rapidly shifting succession of schoolmasters, often of very unconventional training. In the first session the school came to an abrupt close in April, {6} owing to the sudden departure of Thompson, the teacher in charge. A man of much greater ability, Sandy Maclean, took his place the following term. He had read widely, and was almost as fond of poetry as of his glass. His young French pupil, who was picking up English in the playground and in the home as well as in the school, long cherished the memory of the man who first opened to him a vista of the great treasures of English letters.

The experience, though brief, had a lasting effect. Perhaps the English speech became rusty in the years of college life that followed at L'Assomption, but the understanding, and the tolerance and goodwill which understanding brings, were destined to abide for life. It was not without reason that the ruling motive of the young schoolboy's future career was to be the awakening of sympathy and harmony between the two races. It would be fortunate for Canada if more experiments like that which Carolus Laurier tried were even to-day to be attempted, not only by French but by English families.

In September 1854, when well on in his thirteenth year, Wilfrid Laurier returned to the normal path prescribed for the keener boys of the province. He entered the college {7} or secondary school of L'Assomption, maintained by secular priests, and the chief seat of education in the country north of Montreal. The course was a thorough one, extending through seven closely filled years. It followed the customary classical lines, laying chief stress on Latin, and next on French literature. Greek was taught less thoroughly; a still briefer study of English, mathematics, scholastic philosophy, history, and geography completed the course. Judged by its fruits, it was a training admirably adapted, in the hands of good teachers such as the fathers at L'Assomption were, to give men destined for the learned professions a good grounding, to impart to them a glimpse of culture, a sympathy with the world beyond, a bent to eloquence and literary style. It was perhaps not so well adapted to train men for success in business; perhaps this literary and classical training is largely responsible for the fact that until of late the French-speaking youth of Quebec have not taken the place in commercial and industrial life that their numbers and ability warrant.

The life at L'Assomption was one of strict discipline. The boys rose at 5.30, and every hour until evening had its task, or was assigned {8} for mealtime or playtime. Once a week, on Wednesday afternoon, came a glorious half-day excursion to the country. There was ample provision for play. But the young student from St Lin was little able to take part in rough and ready sports. His health was extremely delicate, and violent exertion was forbidden. His recreations took other forms. The work of the course of study itself appealed to him, particularly the glories of the literatures of Rome and France and England. While somewhat reserved and retiring, he took delight in vying with his companions in debate and in forming a circle of chosen spirits to discuss, with all the courage and fervour of youth, the questions of their little world, or the echoes that reached them of the political tempests without. Occasionally the outer world came to the little village. Assize courts were held twice a year, and more rarely assemblées contradictoires were held in which fiery politicians roundly denounced each other. The appeal was strong to the boys of keener mind and political yearnings; and well disciplined as he usually was, young Laurier more than once broke bounds to hear the eloquence of advocate or candidate, well content to bear the punishment that followed. {9} Though reserved, he was not in the least afraid to express strong convictions and to defend them when challenged. He entered L'Assomption with the bias towards Liberalism which his father's inclinations and his own training and reading had developed. A youth of less sturdy temper would, however, soon have lost this bias. The atmosphere of L'Assomption was intensely conservative, and both priests and fellow-pupils were inclined to give short shrift to the dangerous radicalism of the brilliant young student from St Lin. A debating society had been formed, largely at his insistence. One of the subjects debated was the audacious theme, 'Resolved, that in the interests of Canada the French Kings should have permitted Huguenots to settle here.' Wilfrid Laurier took the affirmative and urged his points strongly, but the scandalized préfet d'études intervened, and there was no more debating at L'Assomption. The boy stuck to his Liberal guns, and soon triumphed over prejudices, becoming easily the most popular as he was the most distinguished student of his day, and the recognized orator and writer of addresses for state occasions.

Of the twenty-six students who entered L'Assomption in his year, only nine graduated. {10} Of these, five entered the priesthood. Sympathetic as Wilfrid Laurier was in many ways with the Church of his fathers, he did not feel called to its professional service. He had long since made up his mind as to his future career, and in 1861, when scarcely twenty, he went to Montreal to study law.

By this time the paternal purse was lean, for the demands of a growing family and his own generous disposition helped to reduce the surveyor's means, which never had been too abundant. The young student, thrown on his own resources, secured a post in the law office of Laflamme and Laflamme which enabled him to undertake the law course in M'Gill University. Rodolphe Laflamme, the head of the firm, one of the leaders of the bar in Montreal, was active in the interests of the radical wing of the Liberal party, known as the Rouges.

The lectures in M'Gill were given in English. Thanks to his experience at New Glasgow and his later reading, the young student found little difficulty in following them. Harder to understand at first were the Latin phrases in Mr, afterwards Judge, Torrance's lectures on Roman law, for at that time the absurd English pronunciation of Latin was {11} the universal rule among English-speaking scholars. Most helpful were the lectures of Carter in criminal law, admirably prepared and well delivered. J. J. C. Abbott, a sound and eminent practitioner, and a future prime minister of Canada, taught commercial law. Laflamme had charge of civil law. Young Laurier made the most of the opportunities offered. While carrying on the routine work of the office, joining in the political and social activities of his circle, and reading widely in both French and English, he succeeded admirably in his law studies. H. L. Desaulniers, a brilliant student whose career came to an untimely close, and H. Welsh, shared with him the honours of the class. In other classes at the same time were Melbourne Tait, C. P. Davidson, and J. J. Curran, all destined to high judicial rank. The young student's success was crowned by his being chosen to give the valedictory. His address, while having somewhat of the flowery rhetoric of youth, was a remarkably broad and sane statement of policy: the need of racial harmony, the true meaning of liberty, the call for straightforward justice, and the lawyer's part in all these objects, were discussed with prophetic eloquence.


But even the most eloquent of valedictories is not a very marketable commodity. It was necessary to get rapidly to work to earn a living. Full of high hopes, he joined with two of his classmates in October 1864 to organize the firm of Laurier, Archambault and Desaulniers. The partners hung out their shingle in Montreal. But clients were slow in coming, for the city was honeycombed with established offices. The young partners found difficulty in tiding over the waiting time, and so in the following April the firm was dissolved and Wilfrid Laurier became a partner of Médéric Lanctot, one of the most brilliant and impetuous writers and speakers of a time when brilliancy and passion seem to have been scattered with lavish hand, a man of amazing energy and resource, but fated by his unbalanced judgment utterly to wreck his own career. Lanctot was too busy at this time with the political campaign he was carrying on in the press and on the platform against Cartier's Confederation policy to look after his clients, and the office work fell mainly to his junior partner. It was a curiously assorted partnership: Lanctot with his headlong and reckless passion, Laurier with his cool, discriminating moderation: but it lasted a year. {13} During this time Mr Laurier was in but not of the group of eager spirits who made Lanctot's office their headquarters. His moderate temperament and his ill-health kept him from joining in the revels of some and the political dissipations of others. 'I seem to see Laurier as he was at that time,' wrote his close friend, L. O. David, 'ill, sad, his air grave, indifferent to all the turmoil raised around him; he passed through the midst of it like a shadow and seemed to say to us, "Brother, we all must die."'[1]


From a photograph

In fact, Mr Laurier's health was the source of very serious concern. Lung trouble had developed, with violent hemorrhages, threatening a speedy end to his career unless a change came. Just at this time the chief of his party and his most respected friend, Antoine Dorion, suggested that he should go to the new settlement of Arthabaskaville in the Eastern Townships, to practise law and to edit Le Défricheur, hitherto published at L'Avenir and controlled by Dorion's younger brother Eric, who had recently died. Largely in the hope that the country life would restore his health, he agreed, and late in 1866 left Montreal for the backwoods village.


The founder of Le Défricheur, Eric Dorion, nicknamed L'Enfant Terrible for his energy and fearlessness, was not the least able or least attractive member of a remarkable family. He had been one of the original members of the Rouge party and, as editor of L'Avenir, a vehement exponent of the principles of that party, but had later sobered down, determined to devote himself to constructive work. He had taken an active part in a colonization campaign and had both preached and practised improved farming methods. He had founded the village of L'Avenir in Durham township, had built a church for the settlers there to show that his quarrel was with ecclesiastical pretensions, not with religion, and for a dozen years had proved a sound and stimulating influence in the growing settlement.

When Mr Laurier decided to open his law office in Arthabaskaville, the seat of the newly formed judicial district of Arthabaska, he moved Le Défricheur to the same village. Lack of capital and poor health hampered his newspaper activities, and, as will be seen later, the journal incurred the displeasure of the religious authorities of the district. Its light lasted barely six months and then flickered {15} out. This left the young lawyer free to devote himself to his practice, which grew rapidly from the beginning, for the district was fast filling up with settlers. The court went on circuit to Danville and Drummondville and Inverness, and soon, both at home and in these neighbouring towns, no lawyer was more popular or more successful. The neighbouring counties contained many Scottish, Irish, and English settlers, who were soon enrolled in the ranks of the young advocate's staunch supporters. The tilting in the court, the preparation of briefs, the endeavour to straighten out tangles in the affairs of helpless clients, all the interests of a lawyer deeply absorbed in his profession, made these early years among the happiest of his career. Arthabaska was, even then, no mean centre of intellectual and artistic life, and a close and congenial circle of friends more than made up for the lost attractions of the metropolis.

But neither work nor social intercourse filled all the young lawyer's nights and days. It was in this period that he laid the foundation of his wide knowledge of the history and the literature of Canada and of the two countries from which Canada has sprung. Bossuet and Molière, Hugo and Racine, Burke {16} and Sheridan, Macaulay and Bright, Shakespeare and Burns, all were equally devoured. Perhaps because of his grandfather's association with the Pangman seigneury (the property of the fur trader Peter Pangman), his interest was early turned to the great fur trade of Canada, and he delved deep into its records. The life and words of Lincoln provided another study of perpetual interest. Though Montreal was intensely Southern in sympathy during the Civil War, Mr Laurier, from his days as a student, had been strongly attracted by the rugged personality of the Union leader, and had pierced below caricature and calumny to the tender strength, the magnanimous patience, of the man. A large niche in his growing library was therefore devoted to memoirs of Lincoln and his period.

Congenial work, loyal friends, the company of the great spirits of the past—these were much, but not all. The crowning happiness came with his marriage, May 13, 1868, to Miss Zoë Lafontaine of Montreal. To both, the marriage brought ideal companionship and fulfilment. To the husband especially it brought a watchfulness that at last conquered the illness that had threatened, a devotion which never flagged—for Lady Laurier is still {17} to-day much more a 'Laurierite' than is Sir Wilfrid—and a stimulus that never permitted contentment with second best.

The years of preparation were nearly over. The call to wider service was soon to come. The new Dominion, and not least Quebec, faced many difficult political problems. Aiding in their solution, the young lawyer in the quiet village of Arthabaska was to find full scope for all the strength of brain and all the poise and balance of temper which the years had brought him.

[1] Mes Contemporains, p. 85.




Parties in flux—Church and state—The war on the Institute—Le Défricheur

The year 1841, when Wilfrid Laurier was born, was the year of the Union of Upper and Lower Canada as a single province. There followed, as he came to manhood, a time of intense political activity, of bitter party and personal rivalry, of constant shift in the lines of political groups and parties. The stage was being set and many of the players were being trained for the greater drama which was to open with Confederation.

Canadian political parties had originally been formed on the plain issue whether or not the majority of the people were to be allowed to rule. In Upper Canada the governing party, known as the 'Family Compact,' composed chiefly of representatives of the Crown and men who had inherited position or caste from their Loyalist fathers, had been attacked by a motley and shifting opposition, sober Whig and fiery Radical, newcomers from Britain or from the States, and {19} native-born, united mainly by their common antagonism to clique rule. In Lower Canada the same contest, on account of the monopoly of administration held by the English-speaking minority, dubbed 'Bureaucrats' or the 'Chateau Clique,' had taken on the aspect of a racial struggle.

When at last self-government in essentials had been won, the old dividing lines began to melt away. All but a small knot of Tory irreconcilables now agreed that the majority must rule, and that this would neither smash the Empire nor make an end of order and justice in the province itself. But who were to unite to form that majority, and what was to be their platform? In the Reform party there had been many men of essentially conservative mind, men such as John Redmond before the winning of Irish Home Rule, who on one point had been forced into hostility to an order of society with which, on other points, they were in almost complete sympathy. Particularly in Quebec, as John A. Macdonald was quick to see, there were many such, quite ready to rally to authority now that opportunity was open to all. Other factors hastened the breakdown of the old groupings. Economic interests came to the fore. In the {20} discussion of canal and railway projects, banking and currency, trade and tariffs, new personal, class, or sectional interests arose. Once, too, that the machinery of responsible government had been installed, differences in political aptitude, in tactics and ideals, developed, and personal rivalries sharpened.

As a result of this unsettling and readjustment, a new party developed in the early fifties, composed of the moderate sections of both the older parties, and calling itself Liberal-Conservative. It took over the policy of the Reformers, on self-government, on the clergy reserves, on seigneurial tenure. The old Tory party dwindled and its platform disappeared. Yet a strong Opposition is essential to the proper working of the British system of parliamentary government; if it did not exist, it would have to be created. No artificial effort, however, was now needed to produce it. A Liberalism or a Liberal-Conservatism which stood still as time marched by soon ceased to be true Liberalism; and new groups sprang up, eager to press forward at a swifter pace.

In Canada West the 'Clear Grit' party, founded by Radicals such as John Rolph, Peter Perry, and William M'Dougall, and later {21} under the leadership of George Brown, declared war to the knife on all forms of special privilege. Denominational privilege, whether the claim of Anglicans to clergy reserves, or of Roman Catholics to separate schools in Canada West and to ecclesiastical supremacy above the civil law in Canada East; class privilege, like the claim of the seigneurs to feudal dues and powers; sectional privilege, such as it was asserted Canada East enjoyed in having half the members in the Union parliament though her population had ceased to be anything like half—all these Brown attacked with tremendous energy, if not always with fairness and judgment.

In Canada East the Rouges carried on a similar but far more hopeless fight. The brilliant group of young men who formed the nucleus of this party, Dorion, Doutre, Daoust, Papin, Fournier, Laberge, Letellier, Laflamme, Geoffrion, found a stimulus in the struggle which democratic Europe was waging in 1848, and a leader in Papineau. The great agitator had come back from exile in Paris to find a country that knew not Joseph, to find former lieutenants who now thought they could lead, and a province where the majority had wearied of the old cries of New France and were {22} suspicious of the new doctrines of Old France. He threw himself into violent but futile opposition to LaFontaine and rallied these fiery young crusaders about him. In L'Avenir, and later in Le Pays, they tilted against real and imaginary ogres, and the hustings of Quebec rang with their eloquence. Their demands were most sweeping and heterogeneous. They called for a vigorous policy of colonization and of instruction and experiment in agriculture; for simplification of judicial procedure and the forms of government; for the election, on the American plan, of administrative as well as legislative authorities; for annual parliaments; for increased powers of local government; for universal suffrage; for the abolition of clergy reserves, seigneurial tenure, and church tithes; and for the repeal of the Union. They joined the disgruntled Tories of their province in demanding, for very different reasons, annexation to the United States. Many of these demands have been approved, some have been disapproved, by time. Right or wrong, they were too advanced for their day and place. The country as a whole wanted, and doubtless needed, a period of noncontentious politics, of recuperation after long agitation, of constructive {23} administration, and this the Liberal-Conservative majority was for the time better able to give, even though corruption was soon to vitiate its powers for good.

The alliance of the Rouges with the 'Clear Grits,' who were ever denouncing French Canada's 'special privileges,' was a great source of weakness to them in their own province. It was, however, the hostility of a section of the Catholic hierarchy which was most effective in keeping these agitators long in a powerless minority. In the early days of the party this hostility was not unwarranted. Many of the young crusaders had definitely left the fold of the Church to criticize it from without, to demand the abolition of the Pope's temporal power in Europe and of the Church's tithing privileges in Canada, and to express heterodox doubts on matters of doctrine. This period soon passed, and the radical leaders confined themselves to demanding freedom of thought and expression and political activity; but the conflict went on. Almost inevitably the conflict was waged in both the political and the religious field. Where the chief question at issue was the relation of church and state, it was difficult to keep politics out of religion or religion out of politics. It was {24} to be one of the signal services of Wilfrid Laurier, in his speech on Political Liberalism, to make clear the dividing line.

The conflict in Canada was in large part an echo of European struggles. In the past Canada had taken little notice of world-movements. The Reform agitation in Upper Canada had been, indeed, influenced by the struggle for parliamentary reform in Great Britain; but the French-speaking half of Canada, carefully sheltered in the quiet St Lawrence valley, a bit of seventeenth-century Normandy and Brittany preserved to the nineteenth, had known little and cared less for the storms without. But now questions were raised which were world-questions, and in the endeavour to adjust satisfactorily the relations of church and state both ultramontanes and liberals became involved in the quarrels which were rending France and Italy, and Canada felt the influence of the European stream of thought or passion. When in 1868 five hundred young Canadians, enrolled as Papal Zouaves, sailed from Quebec to Rome, to support with their bayonets the tottering temporal power of the Pope, it was made clear that the moving forces of Europe had taken firm hold on the mind and heart of Quebec.


In Old France there had been much strife of Pope and King. The Pope had claimed authority over the Church in France, and the right to intervene in all state matters which touched morals or religion. King after king had sought to build up a national or Gallican Church, with the king at its head, controlled by its own bishops or by royal or parliamentary authority. Then had come the Revolution, making war on all privilege, overturning at once king and noble and prelate who had proved faithless to their high tasks. But in the nineteenth century, after the storm had spent itself, the Church, purified of internal enemies, had risen to her former position.

Within the Church itself widely different views were urged as to the attitude to be taken towards the new world that was rising on the ruins of the old order, towards the Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity and other ideas of '89. One wing called for relentless hostility, for an alliance of altar and throne to set up authority once more on its pedestal and to oppose at once the anarchy of democratic rule and the scepticism of free-thought. This ultramontane attitude—this looking 'beyond the mountains' to a supreme authority in Rome to give stability in a shifting {26} world—found able and aggressive exponents. De Maistre denied the right of individual judgment in politics any more than in religion, insisting on the divine source of kingly power and the duty of the Pope to oversee the exercise of this power. Lamennais brought De Maistre's opinions into practical politics, and insisted with burning eloquence on the need for the submission of all mankind to the Pope, the 'living tradition of mankind,' through whom alone individual reason receives the truth. Veuillot continued the crusade with unpitying logic and unquenchable zeal. In this era the disputes turned most significantly on control of press and school, for, as the revolution progressed, it gave the masses political power and made control of the means of shaping popular opinion as important as control of feudal fiefs or episcopal allegiance had been in earlier days. Opposed to this school stood men like Montalembert, Lacordaire, and Bishop Dupanloup—men who clung to the old Gallican liberties, or who wished to make peace with liberalism, to set up a Catholic liberalism, frankly accepting the new order, the right of the people to rule themselves, and seeking to show that by liberty of thought and discussion the true interests of {27} the Church would be advanced and its power be broadest based. Now one wing, now the other won, but in the main the current flowed strongly towards ultramontanism. Pius IX, liberal in sympathies up to 1848, completely reversed his position after that date. In the Syllabus which he issued in 1864 he gave no quarter to modern tendencies. The doctrines that 'every man is free to embrace the religion which his reason assures him to be true,' that 'in certain Catholic countries immigrant non-Catholics should have the free exercise of their religion,' and that 'the Roman Pontiff can and ought to be reconciled with progress, liberalism, and modern civism,' he explicitly condemned as false and heretical.

In Canada these successive conflicts had found many echoes. During the French régime Gallican principles of the power of the king over the Church had been frequently asserted; governor or intendant had, in a few notable instances, endeavoured to bridle the Church authorities. When the English came, the Church lost its place as the state church, but it consolidated its power, and soon was freer from intervention than it had been under the Most Christian King of France. During the French Revolution Canada was kept {28} isolated from contact with France, but after the Restoration, with ultramontanism in the ascendant, intercourse was favoured; and the most thoroughgoing principles of clerical supremacy, with the most militant methods of controversy, found lodgment here. In both private and public life, among clergy as well as laity, each of the opposing tendencies was stoutly championed.

When Wilfrid Laurier went to Montreal in 1861, the leaders of the Liberal or Rouge party had sobered down from the fiery radicalism of their youth, and were content to leave the authorities of the Church alone. But leading authorities of the Church remained suspicious of that party. Bishop Bourget of Montreal, one of the most pious and energetic of ecclesiastics, firm to the point of obstinacy, seemed determined to crush it out. And though many eminent churchmen held out for a broader and more tolerant policy, the ultramontanes, by reason of their crusading zeal, steadily gained the ascendancy.

The issues raised in Quebec were manifold. Among them were the right of private judgment, the authority of canon law in the province, civil or ecclesiastical control over marriage, clerical immunity from the {29} jurisdiction of civil courts, and the degree of intervention which was permissible to the clergy in elections.

The first question, that of the right of private judgment, concerned the future leader of Canadian Liberalism and became acute in connection with the Institut Canadien of Montreal. This was a literary and scientific society, founded in 1844 by some members of the same group who later organized the Rouge party. It supplied the want of a public library and reading-room in Montreal, and a hundred branches sprang up throughout the province. The Institut soon fell under the suspicion of a section of the clergy. It was declared by Bishop Bourget that immoral or heretical books which had been put on the Index were contained in the library. Rival societies were founded under the auspices of the Church and many of the members of the Institut were induced to secede.

Nevertheless young Laurier joined the Institut shortly after coming to Montreal. In 1863 he was one of a committee of four who endeavoured in vain to induce Bishop Bourget to specify what books were under the ban, and in 1865 and 1866 he was a vice-president of the society. Like his associates, he was {30} placed in a difficult position by the bishop's unyielding attitude, for he did not wish to quarrel with his Church. So far as he was concerned, however, his removal to Arthabaskaville in 1866 ended the episode.

The remaining members of the Institut struggled on until 1868, when they published a Year-Book containing an address by Mr L. A. Dessaules, president of the Institut, commending toleration.[1] A nice question of interpretation followed. Mr Dessaules asserted that he meant to urge personal toleration and good-will. Bishop Bourget contended that the address meant dogmatic toleration or indifference, the attitude that one creed was as good as another. In spite of an appeal to Rome by Joseph Doutre the work was placed on the Index, and the announcement followed that members who persisted in adhering to the Institut would be refused the sacraments of the Church. After this blow the Institut {31} dwindled away and in time disappeared entirely.

Meanwhile Mr Laurier's weekly newspaper at Arthabaskaville, Le Défricheur, had come under the ban of Bishop Laflèche of Three Rivers, in whose diocese the little village lay. Subscribers refused to take their copies from the postmaster, or quietly called at the office to announce that, in spite of their personal sympathy, they were too much afraid of the curés—or of their own wives—to continue their subscriptions. The editor warmly protested against the arbitrary action, which threatened at once to throttle his freedom of speech and to wipe out his saved and borrowed capital. But the forces arrayed against him were too strong, and some six months after the first number under his management appeared, Le Défricheur went the way of many other Liberal journals in Quebec. It was not likely that Mr Laurier's growing law practice would have long permitted him to edit the paper, but at the moment the blow was none the less felt.

[1] 'Is it not permissible,' Mr Dessaules asked, 'when Protestants and Catholics are placed side by side in a country, in a city, for them to join in the pursuit of knowledge? ... What is toleration? It is reciprocal indulgence, sympathy, Christian charity.... It is fraternity, the spirit, of religion well understood.... It is at bottom humility, the idea that others are not worthless, that others are as good as ourselves.... Intolerance is pride; it is the idea that we are better than others; it is egotism, the idea that we owe others nothing.'




In the Provincial Legislature—In federal politics—The Mackenzie government—The Riel question—Protection or free trade—The Catholic programme—Catholic liberalism—The clergy in politics—Political liberalism—In the administration

Less than five years had passed after Wilfrid Laurier came to Arthabaskaville, a boyish, unknown lawyer-editor, when he was chosen by an overwhelming majority as member for Drummond-Arthabaska in the provincial legislature. His firmly based Liberalism, his power as a speaker, his widespread popularity, had very early marked him out as the logical candidate of his party. On many grounds he was prepared to listen to the urging of his friends. His interest in politics was only second, if second it was, to his interest in his profession. The ambition to hold a place in parliament was one which appealed to practically every able young lawyer of his time in Quebec, and, thanks to the short sessions of the provincial assembly and the nearness of Arthabaska to Quebec, membership in the legislature would not greatly interfere with his work at home. Yet his health was still {33} precarious, and it was with much hesitation and reluctance that he finally consented to stand for the county in 1871, at the second general election since Confederation. Though ill throughout the campaign, he was able to make a few speeches, and the loyal support of his friends did the rest. His opponent, Edward Hemming, a barrister of Drummondville, had been the previous member for the riding. At the close of the polls—those were still the days of open voting—it was found that, while the Liberal party in the province was once more badly defeated, Wilfrid Laurier had won his seat by over one thousand majority.

When the legislature met at Quebec in November, there was a lively interest on both sides of the chamber in the young man of thirty who had scored such a notable victory. At that time the legislature had an unusually large number of men of first rank in eloquence and parliamentary ability, including Cartier, Chapleau, Cauchon, Holton, and Irvine. All these except Chapleau were also members of the House of Commons, since at that time no law forbade dual representation, and the standards were relatively high. The Government under Chauveau, the prime minister, {34} was too firmly entrenched to be shaken by any assaults from the Opposition leader, Henri Joly de Lotbinière, and his scanty following. In the criticism, however, the member for Arthabaska took a notable part. He did not speak often, but when he did his remarks were fresh and constructive. In the debate on the Address he scored the Government for its backward educational policy, urged active steps to check the exodus of French Canadians to the mills of New England, praised the ideals of British Liberalism, and called for a truce in racial and religious quarrels. In a later speech he presented the keenest constitutional criticism yet made of the system of dual representation, showing that it tended to bring the provinces too completely within the orbit of the central power and confuse local with federal issues. Three years later, it may be noted, the system was abolished.

The vigour and yet moderation of these first efforts, so aptly phrased and so admirably fitted to the peculiar requirements of parliamentary speaking, the grace and flair of the orator, gave the member for Arthabaska at a stroke high rank in the party. He was very soon urged to seek the wider opportunities of federal politics. Ottawa, it was clear, would {35} make much greater demands upon his time than Quebec, yet his health was now improving. Accordingly he determined to make the change, and in the general federal elections of 1874 he was returned for Drummond-Arthabaska by a majority of two hundred and thirty-eight.

In 1874 the Liberal Government at Ottawa, under Alexander Mackenzie, seemed assured of a long term of office. It had been given an overwhelming majority in the election just concluded; its leaders were able and aggressive; and the Opposition was still crushed by the indignation which followed on the exposure of the Pacific Scandal.

Yet there were many weaknesses in its situation, which time was to make clear. The Government's forces were not closely united: the only bond holding together several of the groups which made up the majority was that of common opposition to the late administration. Many stragglers on the flanks were waylaid and brought back into their old camp by that arch-strategist, Sir John Macdonald. The question of leadership was not fully determined. In Ontario Edward Blake divided allegiance with {36} Alexander Mackenzie, and Blake's inability to make up his mind definitely to serve under Mackenzie greatly weakened the party. In Quebec the situation was even more serious. Dorion was the man whose constructive ability, admirable temper, and long years of fighting against heavy odds marked him out as chief, but family and health considerations determined him to retire to the quieter if not less heavy labours of the bench. Fournier soon followed. Laflamme, in whose office Laurier had studied, was hardly a man of sufficient weight. Holton, leader of the small group of English Liberals in Quebec, was also in very poor health. To fill the gap Mackenzie summoned Joseph Cauchon, a former Conservative who had left his party on the Pacific Scandal; a man of great ability, active in the campaign for Confederation, but weakened by an unfortunate record of corruption in earlier days, a record which his Liberal opponents of those days had painted in startling and unforgettable colours.



2. SIR JOHN ABBOTT, 1891-92
5. SIR JOHN MACDONALD, 1867-73, 1878-91

These difficulties were, however, not insuperable; and doubtless the party would have drilled into working cohesion under definitely acknowledged leaders, had it not been for two more serious sources of {37} weakness. The first of these was the commercial depression which fell upon Canada, in common with the rest of the world, in 1873, and made it possible for an Opposition, itself most courageous in promises, to hold the Government responsible for all the country's ills. The other was Mr Mackenzie's high-minded but mistaken idea of his duty. Somewhat lacking in imagination though he was, Alexander Mackenzie had in him the stuff out of which party leaders are made. He was a man of vigour and ability, a hard-hitting debater, a thoroughgoing democrat, and he had a well-earned reputation for downright frankness and unswerving honesty which could easily have rallied the country's trust and affection. But while prime minister he gave to the details of departmental administration the care and thought and time which should have gone in part to his other duties as leader in constructive policy and chieftain of the party. He failed to keep in touch with public opinion, and so was caught unawares.

In spite of these drawbacks the Mackenzie administration left a notable record. It passed the law which introduced voting by ballot and required all elections, in a general contest, to be held on one day. It brought {38} forth the Scott Act, which proved a useful if not a final measure of temperance reform. It established the Royal Military College and the Supreme Court of Canada. It pushed the Pacific Railway forward steadily, if somewhat slowly, as a government work. Had the stars been favourable, the Government might well have thought itself secure on its record of legislative progress and administrative efficiency.

The questions which roused most debate both in parliament and in the country were the Riel Amnesty, the National Policy, and, in Quebec, the perennial issue of the relations of church and state. These may be noted in turn, particularly in so far as Mr Laurier took part in the discussions.

For nearly twenty years the Riel question in its various phases bedevilled Canadian politics and set race against race and province against province. Had it been only the resistance offered by the Red River settlers to Canadian authority which was in question in the seventies, time would soon have brought understanding and forgetfulness. That the half-breed settlers had just grievances, that the Canadian authorities bungled badly their first experiment in national expansion, all {39} would have admitted. But the shooting in cold blood of Thomas Scott, an Orangeman of Ontario, by the order of Louis Riel, lit fires of passion that would not easily die. And politicians fanned the flames for party ends. Neither party was guiltless. At the outset in Ontario the Liberals played to the Orange gallery, while in Quebec they appealed to French prejudices. Sir John Macdonald could attack Blake for frightening Riel out of the country and beyond the reach of justice, by offers of reward for his arrest, at the very time that Macdonald himself was paying Riel out of the secret service funds to keep away from Canada.

During the Mackenzie administration the question twice gave rise to full-dress debates. Early in 1874 Mackenzie Bowell moved that Riel, who had been elected a member for Provencher, should be expelled from the House; Holton moved an amendment that action be deferred until the committee, then inquiring into the whole matter, reported; while Mousseau demanded immediate and unconditional amnesty. In the debate that followed Mr Laurier made his first parliamentary speech in English. He supported Holton's amendment, while making it clear {40} that in his view of the evidence the country had been pledged to amnesty by the action of the former Government. It was a forceful and well-reasoned argument, in both its felicitous phrasing and its moderate tone an appropriate introduction to the parliamentary career which was just beginning. Again in 1875, when Mr Mackenzie moved that full amnesty be given to all concerned in the rebellion save Riel, Lepine, and O'Donoghue, and that the former two be pardoned, subject to five years' banishment, Mr Laurier defended this reasonable compromise against both the Quebec extremists who demanded immediate pardon and the Ontario opponents of any clemency whatever.

Protection was an even more fertile topic of debate in these and following years. It was only recently that it had become a party issue. Both parties had hitherto been content with the compromise of 'tariff for revenue, with incidental protection,' though in the ranks of both were advocates of out-and-out protection. In Ontario the Canada First movement, which looked to Blake as its leader, had strong protectionist leanings, and in Quebec the Parti National, under which name the Rouges had been reorganized and made {41} ultra-respectable, were of the same tendency. But Mackenzie was a staunch free-trader, while the Liberals from the maritime provinces were opposed to any increase in the tariff on the many things they consumed but did not produce. Accordingly, after much hesitation, the Liberals in 1876 declined to raise the tariff beyond the existing average of seventeen and a half per cent. At once the Conservatives, who, it was alleged, had been prepared to advocate freer trade, came out for protection. On this question Laurier was more in agreement with Blake than with Mackenzie. In early years he had been influenced by Papineau's crusade for protection, and believed that in the existing crisis an increase in the tariff to twenty per cent would aid the revenue and would avert a demand for more extreme duties. Time proved, however, that the appetites of protectionists could not so easily be appeased; and all wings of the party presently found themselves in harmony, in resisting the proposals to set up extremely high barriers.

But it was on the vexed question of the relations of church and state, and particularly of the Catholic hierarchy and the Liberal party in Quebec, that Mr Laurier gave the most distinctive service. This question had become {42} more acute than ever. In 1870 the ultramontane element in the Roman Catholic Church had won a sweeping victory by inducing a majority of the Vatican Council to promulgate the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. There followed a wave of ultramontane activity throughout the world, and not least in Quebec. Bishop Bourget's hands were strengthened by Bishop Laflèche of Three Rivers, and by other prelates and priests of perhaps less relentless temper; while a cohort of journalists, in Le Nouveau Monde, La Vérité, Le Journal de Trois Rivières, and other papers, devoted themselves whole-heartedly to the ultramontane cause. On the other hand, Archbishop Baillargeon of Quebec and his successor, Archbishop Taschereau, the priests of the Quebec Seminary and of Laval University, and the Sulpicians at Montreal, were disposed to live at peace. They would all have denied sympathy either with Gallicanism or with Catholic Liberalism, but they were men of tolerance and breadth of sympathy, very doubtful whether such militant activity would advance the permanent interests of their Church.

There broke out a violent struggle between the two political parties in 1871, with the issue {43} of the Catholic Programme. This famous document was a manifesto prepared by a group of editors and lawyers, who, in their own words, 'belonged heart and soul to the ultramontane school'—Trudel, Desjardins, M'Leod, Renault, Beausoleil, and others—and was drawn up by A. B. Routhier, then a lawyer in Kamouraska. It sought to lay down a policy to govern all good Catholics in the coming elections. The doctrine of the separation of church and state, the document declared, was impious and absurd. On the contrary, the authorities of the state, and the electors who chose them, must act in perfect accord with the teachings of the Church, and endeavour to safeguard its interests by making such changes in the laws as the bishops might demand. To secure this end the Conservative party must be supported. When two Conservatives or two Liberals were running, the one who accepted the Programme was to be elected; where a Conservative and a Liberal were opposed, the former would be supported; if it happened that a Conservative who opposed the Programme was running against a Liberal who accepted it, 'the situation would be more delicate'—and Catholics should not vote at all.


This frank declaration of war on the Liberal party, this attempt to throw the solid Catholic vote to the Conservatives, at once aroused violent controversy. Bishops Bourget and Laflèche announced that they approved the manifesto in every point, while Archbishop Taschereau and the bishops of St Hyacinthe and Rimouski declared that it had not their authorization.

The Liberal party was sorely pressed. In the emergency some of its moderate members determined to throw off the incubus of their anti-clerical traditions by reorganizing and renaming the party. So in 1871 Louis Jetté and other leading Quebec Liberals undertook to secure a fresh start by organizing the Parti National, and the result of the following elections gave some ground for hope. 'This evolution of the Liberal party,' declared Bishop Laflèche later in a memorial to the Cardinals of the Sacred Congregation, 'had the success expected from it; it made a number of dupes not only among our good Catholics but even in the ranks of the clergy, who had hitherto been united against the Liberal party.... It is from this development that there dates the division in the ranks of the clergy on the question of politics.'


But this prudent step did not avert the wrath of the now dominant ultramontane section. In 1873 a brief pastoral was issued by all the bishops condemning Catholic Liberalism in vague but sweeping terms. Two years later another joint pastoral, that of September 22, 1875, went into the whole question elaborately. Catholic Liberalism, that subtle serpent, was again denounced. The right of the clergy to intervene in politics was again upheld, whether in neutral matters in which they, like all other citizens, should have a voice, or in matters affecting faith or morals or the interests of the Church. In the latter case the clergy should declare with authority that to vote in this or that way is a sin, exposing the offender to the penalties of the Church. In a letter issued a year later Archbishop Taschereau modified these pretensions, but the assault went on. Regarding the identity of the Catholic Liberals in question both pastorals were silent, but not silent were many of the clergy who interpreted them to their flocks. The cap fitted the Liberal party and its chiefs, they averred, and good Catholics must govern themselves accordingly.

This determined attempt of a section of the {46} clergy to use the influence they possessed as spiritual guides to crush one political party aroused the most moderate sections of the Liberals to counter-attacks. The election law of Canada, copied from that of England, forbade the use of undue influence in elections, and undue influence had been said to include use by ecclesiastics of their powers to excite superstitious fears or pious hopes. Baron Fitzgerald had declared in the Mayo case in Ireland, in 1857, that the priest must not use threats of punishment here or hereafter, must not threaten to withhold the sacraments or denounce voting for any particular candidate as a sin. The Liberals of Quebec had no desire to deny the priest the same rights as other citizens enjoyed, of taking part in the discussion of any political question whatever, and using all the powers of persuasion to secure this end. But, they insisted, for a priest to threaten eternal punishment was as much a case of undue influence as for an employer to threaten to dismiss a workman if he would not vote for a certain candidate, and as just a ground for voiding an election. The matter was pressed to a decision in appeals against candidates returned in two federal by-elections, in Chambly and Charlevoix, and {47} in one provincial election, in Bonaventure. In these instances the proof of open partisanship and open use of ecclesiastical pressure was overwhelming. 'The candidate who spoke last Sunday,' declared one priest in Chambly, 'called himself a moderate Liberal. As Catholics you cannot vote for him; you cannot vote for a Liberal, nor for a moderate Liberal, for moderate is only another term for liar.' 'The Church has condemned Liberalism, and to vote against the direction of the bishops would be sin,' declared another. 'The sky of heaven is bleu, the fire of hell is rouge,' another more pointedly urged. 'I was afraid,' one witness testified, 'that if I voted for Tremblay I should be damned.' In defence it was urged that, in the first place, the civil courts had no authority over ecclesiastics, at least for acts done in their spiritual capacity, and, in the second place, that the Church had a right to defend its interests against attack, and that in using to this end all the powers at its disposal it was employing no undue influence. Judge Routhier, the author of the Catholic Programme, upheld these contentions in the first trial of the Charlevoix case, but the Supreme Court, in judgments delivered by Mr Justice Taschereau, brother of {48} the Archbishop, and by Mr Justice Ritchie, denied the existence of any clerical immunity from civil jurisdiction, and found that the threats which had been made from the pulpit constituted undue influence of the clearest kind. Accordingly they voided the election. Their action met with violent protests from some of the bishops, who, when Judge Casault in the Bonaventure case followed this precedent, sought, but in vain, to have him removed by the Sacred Congregation from his chair in the law faculty of Laval. But in spite of protests the lesson had been learned, and the sturdy fight of the Liberals of Quebec for the most elementary rights of a free people had its effect.



1. VISCOUNT MONCK, 1867-68
2. LORD LISGAR, 1868-72
3. EARL OF DUFFERIN, 1872-78
4. MARQUIS OF LORNE, 1878-83
6. LORD STANLEY, 1888-93
7. EARL OF ABERDEEN, 1893-98
8. EARL OF MINTO, 1898-1904
9. EARL GREY, 1904-11

It was when matters were at this acute stage that Wilfrid Laurier came forward to do for his province and his country a service which could be accomplished only by a man of rarely balanced judgment, of firm grasp of essential principles, of wide reading and familiarity with the political ideals of other lands, and, above all, of matchless courage. Rarely, if ever, has there been delivered in Canada a speech of such momentous importance, or one so firmly based on the first principles with which Canadian statesmen too rarely concern {49} themselves, as that which he addressed to Le Club Canadien, a group of young Liberals, in Quebec City in June 1877.

The subject of the address was Political Liberalism. The speaker cleared away many misunderstandings. Liberalism did not mean Catholic Liberalism; it had nothing to do with opinions on religion. Nor did it mean Liberalism of the type still prevalent on the continent of Europe, revolutionary, semi-socialist, openly anti-clerical; the type which had been given brief currency by the young men of twenty who thirty years before had lent the Liberal party an undeserved reputation for anti-clericalism. No, the Liberals of Canada found their models and their inspiration in the Liberalism of England, in the men who had fought the battles of orderly freedom and responsible self-government against privilege and selfish interest. As to the Church, no true Liberal wished to deny its officers the right which every citizen enjoyed of taking a part in his country's politics; they had opposed, and would continue to oppose, every attempt of politicians in clerical garb to crush freedom of speech by spiritual terrorism. The right of ecclesiastical interference in politics ceased where it encroached upon {50} the elector's independence. Any attempt to found a Catholic party was not only a crime against the country but was bound to injure the Church itself; it would lead inevitably to the formation of a Protestant party among the majority. On individual freedom alone could a sound national political system be built up, just as on colonial freedom alone had it been possible to build up a lasting imperial system.

The speech was received with enthusiasm throughout the country. Its renunciation at once of anti-clericalism and of ultramontanism, its moderation and its fearlessness, rallied Liberalism to its true standard and marked out clearly the lines within which party and priest alike should act in the interests of church and of country. It was a master-stroke both for freedom and for harmony.

We are to-day sometimes prone to overlook the services of those who in England or in Canada fought for us the battles of political freedom. We tend to forget the services of the political leaders of the thirties and forties who won freedom from class and racial domination, the services of the leaders of the sixties and seventies who won freedom of thought and speech against heavy odds. It has taken a European war to make us realize {51} how precious are those liberties, how many great peoples are still without them, and the height of our debt of gratitude alike to those who won them for us in the past, and to those who preserve them for us in the present.

A few months after this historic address Wilfrid Laurier entered the Mackenzie Cabinet as minister of Inland Revenue. He had been thought eligible for ministerial rank ever since his first entry into the House, and might have had a portfolio in 1876 had it not been that he objected to serve along with Cauchon. The appointment of Cauchon as lieutenant-governor of Manitoba now having cleared the way, Mr Laurier accepted the office and appealed to his constituents for re-election. The tide of opinion had latterly been running strong against the Government, but the great personal popularity of the new minister was deemed an assurance of victory. The Conservatives, however, threw themselves strenuously into the fight, and, much to their own surprise, won the seat by a majority of twenty-nine. The result was due in part to the over-confidence and inactivity of the Liberals, but on the whole it was the handwriting on the wall—a token of the prevailing {52} sentiment against the Government which was shortly to sweep all before it. Another seat was speedily found for the new minister, in Quebec East, and he entered upon a brief year's tenure of office. Though under no illusion as to the failing strength of the Government in the country, he loyally did his best both in the administration of his department and in the campaigning for the party until the débâcle came in 1878.



IN OPPOSITION, 1878-1887

The party leadership—Tariff and railway—Dominion and province—The second Riel rebellion

In the general election of September 1878 the Liberal party suffered not merely defeat but utter and overwhelming rout, as unexpected and disastrous as a tropical earthquake. Only five years before, Mackenzie had been swept into power on a wave of moral indignation. The Conservative leaders had appeared hopelessly discredited, and the rank and file dispirited. Now a wave of economic despair swept the Liberals out of power. Their majority of two to one in 1873 was reversed by a Conservative majority of over two to one in 1878. The defeat was not local: every province except New Brunswick went against Mackenzie. Edward Blake, Richard Cartwright, Alfred G. Jones, and other stalwarts lost their seats, and though Sir John Macdonald suffered the same fate in Kingston, and though seats were soon found for the fallen leaders, the blow greatly damaged the prestige of the Liberal party.


Mackenzie was stunned. To the last he had been confident of victory. In spite of the warnings of Charlton, Cartwright, Laurier, and others, he had underestimated the impression which the campaign for protection, with its lavish promises of work and prosperity for all, made even in old Liberal strongholds. He could not believe that the people of Canada would take up the heresies and fallacies which the people of Great Britain had discarded a generation earlier. He would not believe that they were prepared to send back to power men found guilty of corruption only five years before. For these illusions he paid the penalty, in bitter regrets, in loss of touch with the party, in broken health, and at last, in April 1880, in resignation of the leadership. Alexander Mackenzie had deserved well of Canada and of his party; but, apparently, both wanted more than the dauntless courage and the unyielding and stainless honour which were all he had to give them.

There was only one possible successor. Edward Blake had for many years been the choice of a large section of the party in Ontario, and he now became leader by unanimous vote. The new chief was a man of great intellectual capacity, of constructive {55} vision, of untiring thoroughness and industry. He stood easily at the head of the bar in Canada. His short term of office as prime minister of Ontario had given proof of political sagacity and administrative power. He, if any one, it seemed, could retrieve the shattered fortunes of the Liberal party.

Mr Laurier's position as first lieutenant for Quebec was now unquestioned. It was not a wholly enviable post. The Liberal representation from Quebec had fallen to twenty. There were few able men in the ranks. The Dorions were gone. Soon to go too were Holton and Huntington, the English leaders who formed the connecting link between the Liberals of Ontario and the French-speaking Liberals of Quebec. In the Eastern Townships John Henry Pope, that shrewdest and most pugnacious of Conservative politicians, was perfecting the organization which later made him the uncrowned king of several counties. True, Sir George Cartier, who for nearly forty years had dominated Quebec politics, was gone, but Langevin, his successor in the Conservative party, though not a strong man himself, had the clergy behind him; and Chapleau, who entered federal politics in 1882, brought a fiery eloquence to his party's aid. It was {56} clear that the young Liberal leader would have no easy task in winning his province.

Yet he was not content with provincial aims. Each year saw him more widely recognized as a man not of Quebec merely but of all Canada. The issues which arose in these trying years were such as to test to the utmost men's power to rise above local and sectional prejudices and see Canada's interest steadily and see it whole. Mr Laurier did not speak often in these early years, but when he did speak it was with increasing power and recognition. And in the councils of his party the soundness of his judgment became more fully appreciated as each of the great issues of the eighties developed.

The chief of these issues were: the Tariff, the Pacific Railway, Provincial Rights, and the troubles which arose out of the second Riel Rebellion. These may now be summarily reviewed.

Victorious on the issue of protection, the Government more than lived up to its promises in the first tariffs framed. 'Tell us how much protection you want,' Sir John Macdonald had promised the manufacturers, 'and we shall give you what you need.' And whether it {57} was cotton or sugar or furniture, needs and wants were judged to lie not far apart. Purely revenue duties on goods that continued to come in freely, purely protective duties on goods which were practically shut out, and duties which served both ends in some degree, all were advanced.

The Liberals, ex officio, that is, being out of office, opposed these increases one and all. Neither Blake nor Laurier, however, was an out-and-out free-trader like Mackenzie. Mackenzie had received his point of view from his British upbringing; his colleagues had been brought up on a continent where protection ruled. Blake, after a session or two, seemed content to accept the country's verdict and criticized chiefly the details of the N.P., as the National Policy of Protection to Native Industries was affectionately called by its supporters. Laurier, while admitting that in theory it was possible to aid infant industries by tariff pap, criticized the indiscriminate and excessive rates of the new tariff, and the unfair burden it imposed upon the poorer citizens by its high specific rates on cheap goods. But in 1880, after a night of seven years, prosperity dawned in America. The revival of business in the United States {58} proved as contagious in Canada as had been its slackening in the early seventies. The Canadian people gave the credit for the improvement in health to the well-advertised patent medicine they had taken just before the change set in; and for some years all criticisms of the N.P. were fated to fall on deaf ears.

Then came the contract for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the tariff question was shelved. Both parties were committed to build the road to the coast. Both had wavered between public and private construction. But the Macdonald Government had now decided upon pushing the road through with all speed, regardless as to whether current revenues sufficed to build it, while the Opposition advocated a policy of gradual construction within the country's means, concurrent with a close and steady settlement of the western plains. The Government's first plan of building the road out of the proceeds of the sale of a hundred million acres of prairie lands proved a flat failure. Then in 1880 a contract for its construction and operation was made with the famous Canadian Pacific Syndicate, in which the leading figures were a group of Canadians who {59} had just reaped a fortune out of the reconstruction of a bankrupt Minnesota railway—George Stephen, Richard B. Angus, James J. Hill, and in the background, Donald A. Smith.[1]

Under Blake's leadership instant and determined attack was made upon the bargain, in parliament, in the press, and on the platform. Blake himself moved against it a resolution of over a hundred clauses, which, as usual, exhausted the subject and left little for his lieutenants to say. Mr Laurier particularly criticized the large land-grant and the exemption from taxation. Had the policy of gradual construction been adopted, he contended, it would not have been necessary to take a leap in the dark and give the syndicate the power of a monopoly in the western country: 'there might have been fewer millionaires in this country, but there would have been many more happy and contented homes.'

The Government was, however, committed, and a party majority ratified the contract. After events justified both the policy of the Government and, to some extent, the criticism of the Opposition. Great national interests were at stake. Nothing short of an {60} all-Canadian railway could bind together the far-flung Dominion. But the building of this railway, and still more its operation, would be a task to daunt all but the most fearless, and to those who undertook it generous terms were a necessity. In their clear understanding and courageous grasp of the facts, and in their persistent support of the company through all the dark days until the railway was completed, Macdonald and Tupper and Pope deserved well of their country. Yet it is equally clear now that in many points the criticism of the Opposition was well founded. The land-grant was of least value when most needed—in the early years. The freedom of the company to select land where they pleased gave them a mortgage on the West and power to deter possible rival roads. The exemption from taxation of the company's lands for twenty years after the issue of the patents, and of its capital stock and equipment for ever, threw unfair burdens upon the straggling settlers. Still more threatening to national unity was the monopoly clause, guaranteeing the company for twenty years against the chartering, either by the Dominion or by any province afterwards established, of any road enabling United States railways to tap western traffic.


The issue was decided, as to any immediate effects, by the success of the Conservatives in the general elections of 1882. The country wanted the road, and as usual was not disposed to read too closely the fine print in the contract. But the matter did not end there. Each party had been led by attack and counterattack to take a stronger stand of defence or opposition than was reasonable. For another ten years the Canadian Pacific Railway remained, if not an issue in politics, itself an active participant in politics. And its great weight thrown against the Liberal party turned the scales more than once.

In every federal state the adjustment of the powers of the central and of the local authorities gives occasion for much friction and difference of opinion. In Canada this adjustment, though never-ending, perhaps reached its climax in the eighties, when question after question as to the rights of the provinces came up for discussion.

We are apt to forget how recent a development the modern federal state is. Save for certain Latin-American countries, nominally federal, the Dominion of Canada is the third oldest of such states; the United States and {62} Switzerland alone are of longer standing. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the North German Federation were formed in the same fateful year, 1867. There were, therefore, few models before the framers of the constitution of Canada, and the marvel is that they planned so wisely and so enduringly.

In determining what powers should be assigned to the Dominion and what to the provinces, the Fathers of Confederation were led, by the object-lesson which the Civil War in the United States afforded, to give the central government more authority. To the Dominion they assigned several fields of legislation which in the Republic fell to the respective states; and the Dominion was made residuary legatee of powers not specified. The central government, too, was given a right of veto over all provincial laws and empowered to appoint the lieutenant-governors of the provinces. Had Sir John Macdonald had his way, centralization would have gone much further, for he would have abolished the provincial governments entirely and set up a single parliament for the whole country. Fortunately Cartier and Brown prevented that unwieldy experiment from being tried.

Experience has shown that the central {63} government should have full authority to deal with foreign affairs so far as they can be differentiated, and should have a wide measure of control over commerce and industry, which more and more are nation-wide in scope. But, this secured, it has been found equally essential that the provinces should be given wide power and responsibility. Fortunately Canada has only nine provinces, as against forty-eight states in the United States, so that authority is less divided here than in the Republic. In a country covering half a continent, with great diversity of climate and resources and industrial development, centralization of all power would mean the neglect of local needs and the disregard of local differences. Particularly where, as in Canada, thirty per cent of the people differ in race and language and creed from the majority, and are concentrated mainly in a single province, the need for local autonomy as the surest means of harmony is abundantly clear.

It was in Quebec that the first issue as to provincial rights arose. The Mackenzie Government in 1876 had appointed Luc Letellier de St Just, one of their most steadfast supporters, lieutenant-governor of that province. It was not long before political and {64} personal antagonism strained to the breaking point the relations between the Liberal Letellier and his Conservative ministers at Quebec. The neglect of the premier, M. de Boucherville, to consult Letellier before introducing some railway legislation proved the last straw, and in March 1878 Boucherville was dismissed and Henri Joly de Lotbinière was called upon to form a Cabinet. This sudden rupture raised a storm of protest in Quebec, of which the echoes soon reached Ottawa. Sir John Macdonald, then leader of the Opposition, moved a vote of censure upon Letellier, which was defeated on a party vote. A year later, after the change of government at Ottawa, a Quebec ministerialist again moved in the House of Commons the resolution of censure.




The Liberal leaders at Ottawa were inclined to agree that Letellier had been too sensitive about his dignity as governor, and Sir John Macdonald on his part would have preferred to let the matter rest, since the elections in the province had upheld Joly, had not his Quebec supporters demanded their pound of flesh. But the constitutional issue was clear, and on this the Liberals rested their case. It was for the people of Quebec, they contended, to {65} decide whether or not the lieutenant-governor had violated their liberties. If the lieutenant-governor could find ministers with a legislative majority behind them to uphold his action, there was nothing more to be said: the doctrine of ministerial responsibility covered all his acts. And this support he had found; for the Joly Government, on appealing to the people, had turned a minority of twenty into a majority of one. 'The people of the province of Quebec,' declared Mr Laurier in the Commons, 'who alone are interested in this question, have decided that in their opinion, whether that be right or wrong, the act of Mr Letellier was just and constitutional.... You say No. What are you here for if you say No? If your policy had been supported by the people of Quebec, you would not now be seeking vengeance at the hands of this House.' But logic was in vain. The vote of censure carried, and Macdonald recommended to the governor-general, the Marquis of Lorne, that Letellier should be dismissed. Here again a nice question of responsibility arose. First the question had been whether the lieutenant-governor was to be guided by provincial ministers or by the federal government which appointed him. Now the problem {66} was whether the governor-general should be guided by his advisers in Canada, or by the British Government which had appointed him. With the assent of the Canadian Cabinet the question was referred to the Colonial Office. Mackenzie's protest against this colonial-minded appeal was in vain, but the upshot proved satisfactory to him. The colonial secretary replied that the lieutenant-governor was undoubtedly responsible to the governor-general for any act, and that equally undoubtedly the governor-general must act upon the advice, in this as in other matters, of his responsible ministers. The governor-general suggested reconsideration, but the Macdonald Cabinet was obdurate and Letellier was dismissed. Fortunately the precedent thus set has not been followed. The principle is now established that a lieutenant-governor may be dismissed only when he cannot find provincial ministers willing and able to support him.

The later constitutional issues were chiefly disputes between the Dominion and the province of Ontario. They were not merely differences of opinion on abstract constitutional points. They were in large part struggles for power and patronage between two very shrewd practical politicians, Sir John {67} Macdonald and his one-time law-student at Kingston, Oliver Mowat, for many years premier of Ontario.

First came a struggle as to the western boundary of Ontario. The dividing line between the old province of Canada and the territories purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company had never been determined After ten years of negotiations a commission, consisting of one representative of the Dominion and one of Ontario together with the British ambassador at Washington, gave a unanimous award in 1878, an award which the Dominion refused to carry into effect. Other provinces were involved. The Dominion had presented Manitoba with much of the territory in dispute, and the conflict as to jurisdiction between that province and Ontario nearly led to bloodshed; while Quebec was stirred up to protest against the enlargement of Ontario, which would make Ontario, it was said, the preponderant power in the Dominion. Mr Laurier inveighed against what he termed the dishonourable course of the Dominion Government. When negotiating with the Hudson's Bay Company for its lands, it had contended that the old province of Canada extended far west and north, but now it took {68} precisely the opposite stand. As for Quebec's interest, he continued: 'I do not fear the appeal that will be made against me in my own province. This award is binding on both parties and should be carried out in good faith. The consideration that the great province of Ontario may be made greater, I altogether lay aside as unfair, unfriendly, and unjust.' The Government, however, persisted in rejecting the award, and forced an appeal to the Privy Council, only to have Ontario's claim fully substantiated, and the total area of the province confirmed as more than double what Sir John Macdonald would have allowed it.

The next issue put to the test the power of the Dominion to veto provincial laws. It was, in form, merely a dispute between two lumbermen, M'Laren and Caldwell, as to whether the one higher up on the stream could use, upon paying tolls, timber-slides built by the other lower down. But, as Edward Blake declared in 1886, this was 'of all the controversies between the Dominion and the provinces, by far the most important from the constitutional point of view, for it involved the principle which must regulate the use by the Dominion Government of the power of disallowing provincial legislation.' When in 1881 a court of {69} justice in Ontario held that the lumberman on the lower reaches could prevent the one higher up from floating down his logs, Mowat had an act passed providing that all persons possessed, and were thereby declared always to have possessed, the right denied by this judgment. This measure was at once disallowed by the Dominion Government. Then the Privy Council upheld the contention of the Ontario Government as to what the law had been even before the act was passed; and, when in 1884 the provincial legislature again passed the same act, the Dominion conceded the point. Thereafter the veto power has been used only when Dominion or Imperial interests were concerned, or when a statute was claimed to be beyond the power of the province to pass. The wisdom or justice of measures affecting only the local interests of the citizens of a province has been left to the judgment of its own people to determine.

The regulation of the liquor traffic provided the next battle-ground. In 1876 Ontario had passed the Crooks Act, which took the power of granting licences from the municipalities and gave it to provincial commissioners. Two years later the Dominion parliament passed the Scott Act, giving counties power to {70} prohibit the sale of liquor within their limits. The constitutionality of this act was upheld in 1882 in the Russell case, and Sir John Macdonald concluded that if the Dominion had power to pass the Scott Act, the province had not the power to pass the Crooks Act. 'If I carry the country,' he declared at a public meeting in 1882, 'as I will do, I will tell Mr Mowat, that little tyrant who has attempted to control public opinion by getting hold of every office from that of a Division Court bailiff to a tavern-keeper, that I will get a bill passed at Ottawa returning to the municipalities the power taken from them by the Licence Act.' At the next session the M'Carthy Act was passed, providing, not for municipal control, but for control by federal commissioners. Here again the highest courts held in 1883 and 1884 that the Ontario measure was within the power of the province, but that the M'Carthy Act was beyond that of the Dominion. Once more 'the little tyrant' had scored!

The Dominion Franchise Act of 1885 was the last important measure which need be noted in this connection. By the British North America Act the Dominion was to adopt the provincial franchise lists for its elections {71} until parliament should order otherwise. Sir John Macdonald decided, after eighteen years' use of the provincial lists and six half-hearted attempts to change this situation, that the Dominion should set up its own standard, in order both to secure uniformity and to preserve the property qualifications which Ontario and the other provinces were throwing overboard. The Opposition contended that this was an attack upon provincial rights. The argument was weak; there could be no doubt of the constitutional power of the Dominion in this matter. Better founded were the attacks of the Opposition upon specific clauses of the measure, such as the proposal to enfranchise Indians living upon government reserves and under government control, and the proposal to put the revision of the lists in the hands of partisan revising barristers rather than of judges. The 'Conservatives' proposed, but did not press the point, to give single women the franchise, and the 'Liberals' opposed it. After months of obstruction the proposal to enfranchise the western Indians was dropped,[2] an appeal to {72} judges was provided for the revision of the lists, and the income and property standards were reduced. Inconsistently, in some provinces a variation from the general standards was permitted. The Franchise Act of 1885 remained in force until after the coming of the Liberals to power in 1896, when it was repealed without regret on either side.

Suddenly the scene shifted, and, instead of the dry and bloodless court battles of constitutional lawyers, the fire and passion of armed rebellion and bitter racial feud held the Canadian stage. The rebellion itself was an {73} affair of but a few brief weeks, but the fires lighted on the Saskatchewan swept through the whole Dominion, and for years the smoke of Duck Lake and Batoche disturbed the public life of Canada.

Long years before the Great West was more than a name to any but a handful in older Canada, hardy French voyageurs and Scottish adventurers had pushed their canoes or driven their Red River carts to the foot of the Rockies and beyond. They had mated with Indian women, and when in 1870 the Dominion came into possession of the great hunting preserve of the Hudson's Bay Company, many of their half-breed children dwelt on the plains. The coming of the railway, the flocking in of settlers, and the rapid dwindling of the vast herds of buffalo which had provided the chief support of the half-breeds, made their nomadic life no longer possible. The economic difficulties of making the needed readjustment, of settling down to quiet farm activities, were heightened by the political difficulties due to the setting up of the new Dominion authority. Then it was on the banks of the Red River that these half-breeds, known as Métis, had risen under the firebrand Riel in armed revolt against the incoming régime. Now, in 1885, {74} it was on the North and South Saskatchewan. There numerous groups of the Métis had made their settlements. And when the Canadian authorities came in to survey the land, to build railways, and to organize government, these people sought to have their rights and privileges accorded them. In Manitoba, after the insurrection of 1870, the dual claims of the old half-breed settlers had been recognized. As part Indian, they had been given scrip for 160 acres each, to extinguish the Indian title to the land, and as part white men, they were each allowed to homestead 160 acres like any other settler. The Métis in the North-West Territories now asked for the same privileges. They wanted also to have their holdings left as they were, long narrow strips of land facing the river front, like the settlements on the St Lawrence, with the houses sociably near in one long village street, rather than to have their land cut up into rectangular, isolated farms under the survey system which the Canadian Government had borrowed from the United States.

The requests were reasonable. Perhaps a narrow logic could have shown inconsistency in the demand to be considered both white and Indian at once, but the Manitoba Act had {75} set a precedent. Only a few thousand acres were at stake, in a boundless land where the Government stood ready to set aside a hundred million acres for a railway. The expediency of winning the goodwill of the half-breeds was apparent to Canadians on the spot, especially now that the Indians, over whom the Métis had great influence, were also becoming restless because of the disappearance of the buffalo and the swarming in of settlers.

Yet the situation was never adequately faced. The Mackenzie Government, in 1877, on the petition of a hundred and fifty Scottish half-breeds at Prince Albert, agreed, where settlement had been effected on the narrow frontage system, to conform the surveys in harmony with this plan, and the Scottish holdings were so confirmed. Two years later the Macdonald Government passed an act authorizing the giving of scrip to the half-breeds of the North-West on the same terms as it had been given to those in Manitoba. So far so good. Then came year upon year of neglect, of clerkly procrastination, and of half-concessions. The French half-breeds passed resolution after resolution, sent to Ottawa petition after petition and delegation after delegation, but in vain. The Government {76} forgot the act which it had itself passed in 1879. Nor were the half-breeds themselves the only petitioners. Time and again Father André and other missionaries urged their claims. Some of the Government's own land agents on the spot urged them. Charles Mair of Prince Albert, one of the first of Ontario's settlers in the West, appeared at Ottawa four times before the outbreak, to try to waken the Government to the seriousness of the situation.[3] The North-West Council sent strong memorials backing the requests of the Métis. And still, though some of the grievances were redressed, in piecemeal fashion, no attempt was made to grapple adequately with the difficult questions presented by the meeting {77} of two stages of civilization, to understand the disputes, the real wrongs, the baseless fears. When in 1883 Blake in the House of Commons called for papers, none were brought down for two years; when in 1884 Cameron called for a committee of investigation, the reply was that there was nothing to investigate.

What was the cause of this neglect? At bottom, the Government's ignorance of the West. There was not in the Cabinet a man who knew its conditions and needs. The Métis were two thousand miles away, and they had no votes, for the North-West Territories were not then represented at Ottawa. For five years Sir John Macdonald himself had acted as minister of the Interior. In taking over the cares of a busy department, added to the office of prime minister, he made the mistake that Mackenzie had made. But while Mackenzie put in ten to fourteen hours a day at departmental routine, at the expense of his duties as leader, Macdonald did his work as leader at the expense of his department. 'Old To-Morrow' solved many a problem wisely by leaving it to time to solve, but some problems proved the more serious for every year's delay. Late in 1883 Sir John gave up {78} the portfolio, but his successor, Sir David Macpherson, effected little change. Late in 1885 Thomas White, an energetic and sympathetic administrator, became minister, but the mischief was then already done.

In its defence the Government urged that no half-breed had actually been dispossessed of his river-front claim, and that many who were demanding scrip had already received land in Manitoba. It contended further that the agitation of the half-breeds was fanned by white settlers in Prince Albert, eager to speculate in scrip, and hinted darkly at mysterious forces and personages in the background, in Canada and elsewhere. No attempt was made, however, to prove the truth of these latter charges or to bring the guilty to justice. Doubtless the grievances were not so great as to justify rebellion; the less excuse, then, for not curing what was curable. Doubtless, also, this was not the first time nor the last that a government lacked energy or vision, and had it not been for the other factor in the situation, Louis Riel, no heavy penalty might have followed. But unfortunately, luck or Nemesis, the other factor was very much to the fore.

Wearied of unending delay, the Métis looked {79} again to Riel, then living in exile in Montana. He was the one half-breed with any measure of book-education and knowledge of the vague world beyond the Lakes. Early in the summer of 1884 James Isbester, Gabriel Dumont, Moise Ouellette, and Michel Dumas trudged seven hundred miles to Montana, and laid their case before him. He needed little urging. The call appealed strongly to his erratic ambition. His term of banishment had expired, and he hastened to the Saskatchewan to organize the Métis. Still the Government did not stir, though it knew the reckless daring of Riel and the influence he wielded. Riel at once set to work to fan the discontent into flame. Though the English-speaking half-breeds drew back, he soon gained remarkable ascendancy over his French-speaking compatriots. He preached a new religion, with himself as prophet, threatened to dethrone the Pope, and denounced the local priests who resisted his campaign. He held meeting after meeting, drew up an extravagant Bill of Rights, and endeavoured to enlist the support of the Indian tribes. Still all the Government did was to send, in January 1885, a commission to take the census of the half-breeds, preparatory to settling their claims. Yet, {80} speaking in the House of Commons, on March 26, 1885, Sir John Macdonald made it clear that the half-breeds could not get both Indian scrip and white man's homestead. On the very day that this refusal was reiterated the first shot had been fired at Duck Lake, where a superior force of insurgents under Riel and Dumont routed a party of Mounted Police and volunteers, killing twelve, and seized the supplies in the government post. Open rebellion had come for a second time.

Now at last the Government acted with energy. On the 6th of April, ten days after Duck Lake, instructions were telegraphed from Ottawa to give the half-breeds the scrip they had sought, and to allow occupants to acquire title by possession. At the same time troops were hastily mobilized and speeded west over the broken stretches of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The young volunteers faced danger and hardship like veterans. In spite of the skilful tactics of Riel's lieutenant, Gabriel Dumont, a born general, the volunteers soon crushed the half-breeds and prevented the much more serious danger of an Indian uprising from going far.

Once the back of the revolt was broken, the storm broke out in Eastern Canada. In one {81} way the rebellion had made for national unity. Nova Scotia and Ontario and the West had thrilled in common suspense and common endeavour. But this gain was much more than offset by the bitter antagonism which developed between Ontario and Quebec, an antagonism which for a time threatened to wreck the Dominion. The two provinces saw different sides of the shield. Ontario saw the murderer of Thomas Scott—an Ontario man and an Orangeman—a second time stirring up revolt, and cried for summary punishment. Quebec saw the grievances which had stirred the men of French blood to rebel. Riel was tried in Regina in September, and found guilty of treason, with a recommendation to mercy. The Queen's Bench of Manitoba confirmed the verdict, and the Government, in spite of many protests, refused to grant a pardon or to commute the sentence to imprisonment. On the 16th of November 1885 Riel's chequered existence ended on the scaffold at Regina.

Now the storm raged with renewed fury. The Liberal party all held the Government responsible for the outbreak, but were not a unit in condemning the execution of Riel. By clever tactics the Government took advantage of this divergence. Early in the session {82} of 1886 a Quebec Conservative, Auguste Philippe Landry, moved a resolution condemning the execution. The Liberals had intended to shift the discussion to the record of the Government, but before they could propose an amendment, the minister of Public Works, Hector Langevin, moved the previous question, thus barring any further motion. Forced to vote on Landry's resolution, most of the Ontario Liberals, including Mackenzie and Cartwright, sided with the Government; Blake and Laurier took the other side.

The crisis brought Wilfrid Laurier to the front. Hitherto he had been considered, especially in Ontario, as a man of brilliant promise, but not yet of the stature of veterans like Blake and Mackenzie and Cartwright. But now an occasion had come which summoned all his latent powers, and henceforth his place in the first rank was unquestioned. It was an issue peculiarly fitted to bring out his deepest feelings, his passion for liberty and straightforward justice, his keen realization of the need of harmony between French and English, a harmony that must be rooted in sympathy and understanding. He had faced a hostile Quebec, and was to face it again, in defence of the rights of the English-speaking {83} provinces. Now he faced a hostile Ontario, and told Toronto exactly what he told Montreal. In the great meeting of protest which was held in the Champ de Mars in Montreal on the Sunday after Riel's execution, Mr Laurier took a leading part, and a year later he spoke before a great audience in Toronto and pressed home the case against the Government—that 'the half-breeds were denied for long years right and justice, rights which were admitted as soon as they were asked by bullets.'

But it was in the House of Commons that he rose to the full height of the theme and of his powers. Seconding Blake's indictment of the Government in July 1885, and replying to Sir John Macdonald, he analysed mercilessly the long record of neglect. Then, replying to the contention that the grievances were petty and that Riel alone was to blame, he made a pointed contrast:

Few men have there been anywhere who have wielded greater sway over their fellow countrymen than did Mr Papineau at a certain time in the history of Lower Canada, and no man ever lived who had been more profusely endowed by nature to be the idol of a nation. A man of commanding presence, of majestic countenance, of impassioned eloquence, of {84} unblemished character, of pure, disinterested patriotism, for years he held over the hearts of his fellow countrymen almost unbounded sway, and even to this day the mention of his name will arouse throughout the length and breadth of Lower Canada a thrill of enthusiasm in the breasts of all, men or women, old or young. What was the secret of that great power he held at one time? Was it simply his eloquence, his commanding intellect, his pure patriotism? No doubt they all contributed, but the main cause of his authority over his fellow countrymen was this, that at that time his fellow countrymen were an oppressed race, and he was the champion of their cause. But when the day of relief came, the influence of Mr Papineau, however great it might have been and however great it still remained, ceased to be paramount. When eventually the Union Act was carried, Papineau violently assailed it, showed all its defects, deficiencies and dangers, and yet he could not rouse his followers and the people to agitate for the repeal of that Act. What was the reason? The conditions were no more the same. Imperfect as was the Union Act, it still gave a measure of freedom and justice to the people, and men who once at the mere sound of Mr Papineau's voice would have gladly courted death on battle-field or scaffold, then stood silent and irresponsive, though he asked from them nothing more than a constitutional agitation for a repeal of the Union Act. Conditions were no more the same. Tyranny and oppression had made rebels of the people of Lower Canada, while justice and freedom made {85} them the true and loyal subjects which they have been ever since. And now to tell us that Louis Riel, simply by his influence, could bring those men from peace to war, to tell us that they had no grievances, to tell us that they were brought into a state of rebellion either through pure malice or through imbecile adherence to an adventurer, is an insult to the intelligence of the people at large, and an unjust aspersion on the people of the Saskatchewan.

When the debate on the Landry motion came on in the following session, Laurier and Blake again shared the honours, along with the new minister of Justice, John S. D. Thompson, who spoke forcefully for the Government. Mr Laurier's speech on this occasion was perhaps the greatest of his career, and made a profound impression. He was called upon to speak unexpectedly, late at night, through the tactics of the Government in not putting up a speaker. Two dull speeches had nearly emptied the House. No one rose to follow, and the speaker had asked whether the question should be put, when Mr Laurier rose. The House filled quickly, and for two hours he held it breathless, so that not a sound but the orator's ringing voice and the ticking of the clock could be heard in the chamber. When he sat down, the opinion of {86} the House was unanimous that this was one of the rare occasions of a parliamentary lifetime. Thomas White generously voiced the feeling of the Government benches when he declared: 'I think it is a matter of common pride to us that any man in Canada can make, on the floor of parliament, such a speech as we listened to last night.' Edward Blake declared the speech was 'the crowning proof of French domination. My honourable friend, not content with having for a long time in his own tongue borne away the palm of parliamentary eloquence, has invaded ours, and in that field has pronounced a speech, which, in my humble judgment, merits this compliment, because it is the truth, that it was the finest parliamentary speech ever pronounced in the parliament of Canada since Confederation.'

Blake and Laurier differed in their view of the tactics to be followed by the Opposition. Mr Blake wished to throw the chief emphasis upon the question of Riel's insanity, leaving aside the thorny question of the division of responsibility. Mr Laurier wanted to go further. While equally convinced that Riel was insane, he thought that the main effort of the Opposition should be to divert attention from Riel's sorry figure and concentrate it on {87} the question of the Government's neglect. Accordingly in this speech Mr Laurier reviewed once more the conduct of the Government, arraigning it unsparingly for its common share in the guilt of the rebellion. He denied that the people of Quebec were demanding that no French Canadian should be punished, guilty or not guilty. As for Riel, who shared with the Government the responsibility for the blood and sufferings of the revolt, he urged, with Blake, that it was impossible to consider him sane and accountable for his actions. 'Sir,' he declared, 'I am not one of those who look upon Louis Riel as a hero. Nature had endowed him with many brilliant qualities, but nature had denied him that supreme quality without which all other qualities, however brilliant, are of no avail. Nature had denied him a well-balanced mind. At his worst he was a fit subject for an asylum, at his best he was a religious and political monomaniac.' True, some of the Government's experts had reported that, while insane on religious questions, Riel was otherwise accountable for his actions, but other experts had held him insane without qualification. In any event, the same experts for the Government had declared that Riel's secretary, an {88} English half-breed, William Jackson, was insane on religious questions, and dazed at times, but that 'his actions were not uncontrollable'; yet Quebec bitterly reflected that one of these men had been acquitted, sent to an asylum and then allowed to escape, while the other was sent to the gallows. 'Jackson is free to-day, and Riel is in his grave.'[4]

On wider grounds the Government should have stood for clemency. Who was right in the United States after the Civil War—President Johnson, who wished to try Lee for treason, or General Grant, who insisted that he be not touched? Twenty years after, the unity of North and South proves unmistakably Grant's far-seeing wisdom. 'We cannot make a nation of this new country by shedding blood,' Mr Laurier concluded. 'Our prisons are full of men, who, despairing of getting justice by peace, sought it by war, who, despairing of ever being treated like freemen, {89} took their lives in their hands rather than be treated as slaves. They have suffered greatly, they are suffering still, yet their sacrifice will not be without reward.... They are in durance to-day, but the rights for which they were fighting have been acknowledged. We have not the report of the commission yet, but we know that more than two thousand claims so long denied have at last been granted. And more—still more: we have it in the Speech from the Throne that at last representation is to be granted to those Territories. This side of the House long sought, but sought in vain, to obtain that measure of justice. It could not come then, but it came after the war; it came as the last conquest of that insurrection. And again I say that "their country has conquered with their martyrdom," and if we look at that one fact alone there was cause sufficient, independent of all other, to extend mercy to the one who is dead and to those who live.'

In parliament, for all the eloquence of Laurier and Blake, the Government had its way. In the country the controversy raged in more serious fashion. In Quebec Honoré Mercier, the brilliant, tempestuous leader of the Liberals, carried on a violent agitation, {90} and in January 1887 rode the whirlwind into power. Wild and bitter words were many in the contest, and they found more than an answer in Ontario, where the leading ministerial organ, the Mail, declared it better to 'smash Confederation into its original fragments' rather than yield to French dictation.

HONORÉ MERCIER From a photograph

From a photograph

The general elections, held in February 1887, proved that in Ontario the guilt of Riel was more to the fore than the misdeeds of the Government, and the Conservatives lost only two seats. On the other hand, the Liberals gained less in Quebec in the Dominion contest, where the Riel question was a legitimate issue, than in the provincial contest, where it properly had no place. The influence of the Church, though now transferred to Mercier in provincial politics, remained on the side of Sir John Macdonald in Dominion politics. Counting on the Liberal side the former Conservatives who had deserted the Government, the returns showed the province about equally divided; but after it was seen that Sir John was again in power, several of the wanderers returned to his fold, influenced by his personal ascendancy or by the loaves and fishes of patronage and office.

[1] See The Railway Builders, chap. viii.

[2] Indians in the eastern provinces, however, were given a vote. This gave rise to one of the most artful, yet amusingly simple, electioneering documents on record. In the Haldimand, Ontario, election of 1891 the Conservative candidate, Dr W. H. Montague, afterwards minister of Agriculture, had the following circular distributed on the Indian Reserve, with the royal coat of arms at the top:


To the Indians: The Queen has always loved her dear loyal subjects, the Indians. She wants them to be good men and women, and she wants them to live on the land that they have, and she expects in a little while, if her great chief John A. gets into government again, to be very kind to the Indians and to make them very happy. She wants them to go and vote and all to vote for Dr Montague, who is the Queen's agent. He is their friend, and by voting for him every one of the Indians will please


Liberal (or rather Conservative) supplies of fire-water effectively backed up this touching appeal of 'the Queen.'

[3] Mair made his last appeal but one in April 1884. Finding it impossible to rouse the Government, he returned to Prince Albert and brought his family back to Ontario, out of the way of the inevitable rebellion. A final visit to Ottawa in December was equally futile. Of the April attempt Lieut.-Colonel George T. Denison writes: 'When he returned to Toronto from Ottawa he told me most positively that there would be a rebellion, that the officials were absolutely indifferent and immovable, and I could not help laughing at the picture he gave me of Sir David Macpherson, a very large, handsome, erect man of six feet four inches, getting up, leaving his room, and walking away down the corridor, while Mair, a short stout man, had almost to run alongside of him, as he made his final appeal to preserve the peace and prevent bloodshed.'—Soldiering in Canada, p. 263.

[4] 'When one considers the mass of testimony pointing to Riel's mental defect—paranoia—the undoubted history of insanity from boyhood, with the recurring paroxysms of intense excitement, he wonders that there could have been the slightest discussion regarding it.'—'A Critical Study of the Case of Louis Riel,' Queen's Quarterly, April-July, 1905, by C. K. Clarke, M.D., Superintendent of Rockwood Asylum (now Superintendent, Toronto General Hospital).




Dark days—Sectional discontent—Railway monopoly—Exodus and stagnation

The outcome of the elections was an intense disappointment to Edward Blake. His health, too, was failing, and this increased his despondency. He decided to give over to other hands the leadership of his party. Early in June 1887, two months after the new parliament assembled, he definitely and firmly refused to hold the post longer.

Who was to succeed him? For the moment the leadership was put into commission, a committee of eight being nominated to tide matters over. The Ontario Liberals had always been the backbone of the party, and among them Sir Richard Cartwright and David Mills stood pre-eminent in experience and ability. Yet it was neither of these veterans whom Mr Blake recommended to the party 'caucus' as his successor, but Wilfrid Laurier; and on the motion of Sir Richard Cartwright, seconded by Mr Mills, Mr Laurier was unanimously chosen as the new chieftain.


It was with much difficulty that Mr Laurier was induced to accept the leadership. On both personal and political grounds he hesitated. He had his share of ambition, but he had never looked for more than success in his profession and a place in politics below the highest. It was not that he underestimated the greatness of the honour; on the contrary, it was his high sense of the responsibilities of the post that gave him pause. He was not of strong physique, and he knew that the work meant ceaseless strain and pressure. Though his profession now gave him an ample income, he was not a rich man, and much if not most of his law practice would have to be abandoned if he became leader;[1] and parliament had not yet awakened to the need of paying the leader of the Opposition a salary.

On political grounds he was still more in doubt. Would Canada, would the one-time party of George Brown, welcome a leader from the minority? The fires of sectional passion were still raging. In Ontario he would be opposed as a French Canadian and a Catholic, the resolute opponent of the Government on the Riel question. And though it might be {93} urged that the pendulum was swinging toward the Liberals in Quebec, while in Ontario they were making little ground, the irony of the situation was such that in Quebec he was regarded with suspicion, if not with open hostility, by the most powerful and aggressive leaders of the Church.

Yet the place he had won in parliament and in the party was undeniable. His colleagues believed that he had the ability to lead them out of the wilderness, and for their faith he accepted. At first he insisted that his acceptance should be tentative, for the session only; but by the time the session ended the party would not be denied, and his definite succession to the leadership was announced.

The Canada of 1887, in which Wilfrid Laurier thus came to high and responsible position, was a Canada very different from the land of promise familiar to young Canadians of the present generation. It was a Canada seething with restlessness and discontent. The high hopes of the Fathers of Confederation had turned to ashes. On every hand men were saying that federation had failed, that the new nation of their dream had remained a dream.


At Confederation men had hoped that the Dominion would take high place in the Empire and among the nations of the world. Yet, twenty years later, Canada remained unappreciated and unknown. In Great Britain she was considered a colony which had ceased to fulfil the principal functions of the traditional colony, and which would probably some day go the way of all colonies: in the meantime the country was simply ignored, alike in official and in private circles. In the United States, in those quarters where Canada was given a thought at all, curious misconceptions existed of her subordination to Great Britain, of her hopelessly Arctic climate, and of her inevitable drift into the arms of the Republic. Elsewhere abroad, Canada was an Ultima Thule, a barren land of ice and snow, about as interesting and important as Kamchatka and Tierra del Fuego, and other outlying odds and ends of the earth which one came across in the atlas but never thought of otherwise.

Twenty years earlier glowing pictures had been painted of the new heights of honour and of usefulness which the new Dominion would afford its statesmen. The hard reality was the Canada of gerrymanders and political {95} trickery, of Red Parlor funds and electoral bribery. The canker affected not one party alone, as the fall of Mercier was soon to show. The whole political life of the country to sank low and stagnant levels, for it appeared that the people had openly condoned corruption in high places, and that lavish promises and the 'glad hand' were a surer road to success than honest and efficient administration.

Sectional discontent prevailed. That the federation would be smashed 'into its original fragments' seemed not beyond possibility. We have seen that a racial and religious feud rent Ontario and Quebec. Nova Scotia strained at the leash. Her people had never forgotten nor forgiven the way in which they had been forced into Confederation. 'Better terms' had failed to bribe them into fellowship. A high tariff restricted their liberty in buying, and the home markets promised in compensation had not developed. In the preceding year the provincial legislature had expressed the prevalent discontent by flatly demanding the repeal of the union.

Manitoba chafed under a thirty-five per cent tariff on farm implements, and complained of the retention by the Dominion of the vacant lands in the province. And her {96} grievances in respect to transportation would not down. The Canadian Pacific Railway had given the much desired connection with the East and had brought tens of thousands of settlers to the province, but it had not brought abiding prosperity or content. The through rate on wheat from Winnipeg to Montreal was ten cents a bushel more than from St Paul to New York, an equal distance; and, from the farm to Liverpool, the Minnesota farmer had fifteen cents a bushel the advantage of his Manitoba neighbour. Local rates were still heavier. 'Coal and lumber and general merchandise cost from two to four times as much to ship as for equal distances in the eastern provinces.'[2]

Why not bring in competition? Because the Dominion Government blocked the way by its veto power. In the contract with the Canadian Pacific Syndicate a clause provided that for twenty years the Dominion would not authorize a competing road between the company's main line and the United States border running south or southeast or within fifteen miles of the boundary; it was provided also that in the formation of any new provinces to {97} the west such provinces should be required to observe the same restriction. It was urged by the railway authorities that foreign investors had demanded a monopoly as the price of capital, and that without the assurance of such a monopoly the costly link to the north of Lake Superior could never have been built. The terms of the contract did not bar Manitoba from chartering railways: the Dominion had indeed no power to forbid it in advance, and it was explicitly stated by Sir John Macdonald at the time that Manitoba was not affected. Yet when Manitoba sought to charter one railway after another, the Dominion disallowed every act and repeatedly declared that it would use its veto power to compel Manitoba to trade with the East and by the Canadian Pacific Railway. A more effective means of stirring up ill-feeling between East and West and of discouraging immigration to the prairies could hardly have been devised.

Against these conditions Manitoba protested as one man. The Winnipeg Board of Trade denounced the policy of 'crushing and trampling upon one hundred thousand struggling pioneers of this prairie province to secure a purely imaginary financial gain to one soulless corporation.' Every Conservative candidate {98} for the House of Commons in the province pledged himself to vote for a motion of want of confidence if the Macdonald Government persisted in its course. The Conservative administration of the province was overthrown because it did not go fast or far enough in the fight. At last, in 1888, Ottawa gave way and bought off the Canadian Pacific by a guarantee of bonds for new extensions. After some further negotiations the Northern Pacific was brought into Canada; and if this did not work all the miracles of cheap rates that had been expected, Manitoba at least knew now that her ills were those which had been imposed by nature and geography and not by her sister provinces.

It was not only in Manitoba that economic depression prevailed, though nowhere else were the grievances so concrete and so irritating. Throughout the Dominion the brief gleam of prosperity which dawned with the eighties had vanished. After the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway stagnation was everywhere the rule. Foreign trade, which had reached a total of $217,000,000 in 1873, was only $230,000,000 in 1883 and $247,000,000 in 1893; these were, however, years of falling prices. Bank discounts, the {99} number of tons of freight moved, and other records of general business activity showed creeping progress and sometimes actual falling back. Homestead entries had risen to nearly seventy-five hundred in 1882, when the construction of the Canadian Pacific was bringing on the first western boom, but a great part of these had been cancelled, and up to the middle nineties entries averaged fewer than three thousand a year in the whole vast West.

The movement of population bore the same melancholy witness. Even the West, Manitoba and the North-West Territories, grew only from 180,000 in 1881 in 250,000 in 1891, whereas Dakota alone grew from 135,000 to 510,000 in the same period. The Dominion as a whole increased at less than half the rate of the United States, and Sir Richard Cartwright had little difficulty in establishing the alarming fact that in recent years one out of every four of the native-born of Canada had been compelled to seek a home in the Republic, and that three out of every four immigrants to Canada had followed the same well-beaten trail. There were in 1890 more than one-third as many people of Canadian birth and descent in the United States as in Canada itself. Never in the world's history, save in {100} the case of crowded, famine-stricken, misgoverned Ireland, had there been such a leakage of the brain and brawn of any country.

Perhaps no incident reveals more clearly the stagnation and lack of constructive courage of this period than the break-down of the negotiations carried on in 1895 for the entrance of Newfoundland, then still more nearly bankrupt, into Confederation, because of the unwillingness of the Canadian Government to meet the financial terms Newfoundland demanded. For the sake of a difference of fifty thousand dollars a year the chance to round out the Dominion was let slip, perhaps never to recur. Ten years later fifty thousand a year looked small. To each generation the defects of its qualities; in one prudence degenerates into parsimony, in another courage runs wild in extravagance.

[1] After 1887 he rarely, and after 1892 never, appeared in court.

[2] Plain Facts regarding the Disallowance of Manitoba Railway Charters, by the Winnipeg Board of Trade.




Canada and the States—The fisheries dispute—Political union—Commercial union—Unrestricted reciprocity—Jesuits' estates—Unrestricted reciprocity

For desperate ills, desperate remedies. It is little wonder that policies looking to revolutionary change in political or commercial relations now came to take strong hold on the public mind. To many it appeared that the experiment in Canadian nationality had failed. Why not, then, frankly admit the failure and seek full political incorporation with either of the great centres of the English-speaking people, of whose political prestige and commercial success there was no question? Annexation to the United States, Imperial Federation, with a central parliament in the United Kingdom, each found a small but earnest company of supporters. Or, if the mass of the people shrank from one and held the other an impracticable dream, why not seek the closest possible commercial tie with either nation? Thus Commercial Union, or a zollverein between Canada and the United {102} States, and Imperial Preferential Trade, or a zollverein between Canada and the United Kingdom and the other parts of the British Empire, came into discussion. What British and American conditions and opinion met these Canadian movements, and what changes were made in the programmes first urged, may next be reviewed. Canadian relations with the United States will be noted first.

In the decade from 1886 to 1896, when the Venezuela episode opened a valve for the steam to blow off, the relations between Canada and the United States were continuously at high tension. It was an era of friction and pinpricks, of bluster and retaliation. The United States was not in a conciliatory mood. It was growing in wealth and numbers and power, in unprecedented ways. Its people were one and all intensely proud of their country and satisfied with themselves. The muckraker had not yet lifted his voice in the land. The millionaire was still an object of pride and emulation, Exhibit A in the display of American superiority over all creation. No foreign danger threatened, no foreign responsibility restrained the provincial swagger. In short, the United States was 'feeling its oats.'


Towards Great Britain it was specially prone to take an aggressive attitude. Still fresh was the memory of 1776 and 1812, fed by text-book rhetoric and thrown into relief by the absence of other foes. Still rankled the hostility of the official classes of Great Britain during the Civil War and Tory attacks upon American manners and American democracy. Irish-Americans in millions cherished a natural if sometimes foolishly directed hatred against the country that had misgoverned Erin and made it lose half its people. The rejection of Home Rule by the House of Commons in 1886, confirmed by the results of the general elections which followed, intensified this feeling. Canada, the nearest British territory, had to bear much of this ill-will, though she had no share of responsibility for its creation, just as she had borne the brunt of invasion in wars which were none of her making.

There were, however, other sources of trouble for which Canada was more directly responsible. She had followed the example of the United States in setting up a high tariff wall. Inevitably the adoption of protection by both countries led to friction. The spirit of which it was born and which in turn it {104} nourished, the belief that one country found its gain in another's loss, made for jealousy, and the rankling sense on Canada's part that her policy had not succeeded made the feeling the sorer.

But the immediate occasion of the most serious difficulty was the revival of the northeastern fisheries dispute. The century-long conflict as to the privileges of American fishermen in Canadian and Newfoundland waters, under the Treaty of 1783 and the Convention of 1818, had been set at rest during the era of Reciprocity (1854-66) by opening Canadian fishing-grounds to Americans, practically in return for free admission of Canadian natural products to the United States. Then once more, by the Treaty of Washington in 1871, access to the inshore fisheries was bartered for free admission of fish and fish-oil plus a money compensation to be determined by a commission. The commission met at Halifax in 1877, Sir A. T. Galt representing Canada, and the award was set at $5,500,000 for the twelve years during which the treaty was to last. The United States condemned the award with much heat, and took occasion to abrogate the clause of the treaty on the earliest date for which notice could be given, July 1, 1885. {105} For that season the fishing privileges were extended, but with the next year the whole dispute revived. The Canadian authorities insisted on restricting American fishermen rigidly to the letter of treaty privileges as Canada interpreted them. American fishing vessels were not only barred from fishing within the three-mile limit but were forbidden to enter a Canadian port to ship cargoes or for any other purpose, save for shelter, wood, water, or repairs. Several American boats were seized and condemned; and Canadian fishery cruisers patrolled the coasts, incessantly active. A storm of genuine if not informed indignation broke out in the United States. The action of the Canadian authorities was denounced as unneighbourly and their insistence on the letter of ancient treaties as pettifogging; and, with more justice, it was declared that the Canadian Government used the fishing privileges as a lever, or rather a club, to force the opening of the United States markets to all Canadian products.

President Cleveland sought a friendly solution by the appointment of a joint commission. Congress, more bellicose, passed unanimously (1887) a Retaliatory Act, empowering the president, if satisfied that American vessels {106} were illegally or vexatiously harassed or restricted, to close the ports and waters of the United States against the vessels and products of any part of British North America. The president declined to fire this blunderbuss, and arranged for the commission on which Joseph Chamberlain, Sir Lionel Sackville-West, and Sir Charles Tupper were the British representatives. The draft treaty which the commission framed failed to pass the United States Senate, but a modus vivendi was arranged permitting American vessels port privileges upon payment of a licence fee. This, together with more considerate conduct on both sides, eased the tension.

Once Congress had taken the drastic step of threatening complete non-intercourse With Canada, a reaction set in, and many Americans began to consider whether some more pacific and thoroughgoing solution could not be found. Two were suggested, political union and commercial union.

The political union of the two democracies of the continent has always found advocates. In the United States many believed it was 'manifest destiny' that some day the Stars and Stripes should float from Panama to the Pole. At times Canadians here and there {107} had echoed this belief. It seemed to them better to be annexed at one stroke than to be annexed piecemeal by exodus, at the rate of fifty or a hundred thousand Canadians a year. In St John and Halifax, in Montreal and Toronto, and on the Detroit border, a few voices now called for this remedy, which promised to give commercial prosperity and political security instead of commercial depression and sectional, racial, and religious strife. Yet they remained voices crying in the wilderness. As in 1849, when men of high rank in the Conservative party—notably three,[1] who are known in history as colleagues of Sir John Macdonald and one of them as prime minister of Canada—had joined with Quebec Rouges in prescribing the same remedy for Canada's ills, so now, in the late eighties, the deep instinct of the overwhelming mass of the people revolted from a step which meant renouncing the memories of the past and the hopes of the future. Imperial and national sentiment both fought against it. It was in vain that Goldwin Smith gave his life to the cause, preaching the example of the union between Scotland and England. It {108} was in vain that British statesmen had shown themselves not averse to the idea. In 1869, when Senator Sumner proposed the cession of Canada in settlement of the Alabama claims, and Hamilton Fish, the American secretary of state, declared to the British ambassador that 'our claims were too large to be settled pecuniarily and sounded him about Canada,' the ambassador had replied that 'England did not wish to keep Canada, but could not part with it without the consent of the population.'[2] Wanted or not, the people of Canada had determined to stay in the Empire; and did stay until different counsels reigned in London. Even in cold-blooded and objective logic, Canada's refusal to merge her destinies with the Republic could be justified as best for the world, in that it made possible in North America two experiments in democracy; possible, too, the transformation of the British Empire into the most remarkable and hopeful of political combinations. But it was not such reasoned logic that prompted Canadians. They were moved by deeper instincts, prejudices, passions, hopes, loyalties. And in face of their practically solid opposition the solution of the 'Canadian Question' had to {109} be sought elsewhere than in political union with the United States.

Commercial union, or a zollverein between Canada and the United States, involved absolute free trade between the two countries, common excise rates, a common customs tariff on the seaboard, and the pooling and dividing according to population of the revenue. This was not a new proposal; it had been suggested time and again in both countries, from its advocacy by Ira Gould of Montreal in 1852 down to its advocacy by Wharton Barker of Philadelphia—a strong opponent of reciprocity—in 1886. But now, for the first time, the conjuncture of political and economic conditions on both sides of the line ensured it serious attention; and, for the first time, in Erastus Wiman, one of the many Canadians who had won fortune in the United States, the movement found an enthusiastic and unflagging leader. In 1887 Congressman Butterworth introduced a bill providing for free entrance of all Canadian products into the United States whenever Canada permitted the free entrance of all American products, and received a notable measure of support. In Ontario, under the leadership of Erastus Wiman and Goldwin Smith and Valencay {110} Fuller, the latter a leading stock breeder, the movement won remarkably quick and widespread recognition: in a few months it had been endorsed by over forty Farmers' Institutes and rejected by only three. Much of this success was due to the powerful and persistent advocacy of leading Toronto and Montreal newspapers. Needless to say, the movement met with instant and vigorous opposition from the majority of the manufacturers and from the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The movement had begun entirely outside the ordinary party lines, but its strength soon compelled the party leaders to take a stand for or against it. Neither party endorsed it, though both went far towards it. The Conservatives had long been in favour of a measure of free trade with the United States. The National Policy had been adopted partly in the hope that 'reciprocity in tariffs' would compel the United States to assent to 'reciprocity in trade,' and many who, like Goldwin Smith, had voted for protection in 1878, now called upon the Government to follow its own logic. But commercial union, with its discrimination against Great Britain and its joint tariffs made at Washington, did not appeal to Sir John Macdonald and his {111} following. They were, however, prepared to go far. More than half the time of the Fisheries Commission of 1887, which sat for three months, was spent on tariff matters; and Sir Charles Tupper made the most thoroughgoing offer of free trade with the United States ever made by any Canadian Government—'an unrestricted offer of reciprocity.' Congress, however, would not consent to discuss trade under pressure of fishery threats, and no terms were made.

The Liberal party was equally uncertain as to its policy. It was much more strongly in favour of freer trade than its opponents, and being in opposition, would be more likely to take up a policy opposed to the status quo. Sir Richard Cartwright in October 1887 came out clearly in favour of commercial union. What of the new leader of the party?

Mr Laurier's first public address after his election to the leadership was given at Somerset, Quebec, in August 1887. After reviewing the deplorable discontent which pervaded the Dominion, due mainly to the Government's policy, he referred to the trade issue. The restriction policy practised for a decade had led to a reaction, he declared, 'which has not stopped within moderate {112} bounds; on the contrary, it has gone to extremes, and at this very hour the great majority of the farmers of Ontario are clamoring for commercial union with the United States.... For my part, I am not ready to declare that commercial union is an acceptable idea.' The root of the commercial union movement, he continued, was the desire for reciprocity with the United States in some form, and to that policy the Liberal party had always been, and still remained, favourable.

In the following session the Liberal party made clear its position on the question. It definitely rejected by a large majority the proposal for commercial union. Adopting a suggestion of Mr J. D. Edgar, it advocated reopening negotiations with Washington to secure full and unrestricted reciprocity of trade. Under this policy, if carried to its full extent, all the products of each country would enter the other free, but each would continue in control of its own tariff, and the customhouses along the border would also remain. Sir Richard Cartwright opened the debate with a vivid summary of the backward and distracted condition of Canada, and of the commercial advantages of free access to the large, wealthy, and convenient market to the south. {113} He concluded with a strong appeal to Canada to act as a link between Great Britain and the United States, and thus secure for the mother country the ally she needed in her dangerous isolation. Mr Laurier followed some days later. He emphasized the need of wider markets, of a population of consumers that would permit large-scaled industry to develop, and contended that any manufacturing industries which deserved to survive would thrive in the larger field. The same terms could not be offered England, for England had not a tariff in which to make reciprocal reductions. Canada would not always be a colony; what she wanted, however, was not political independence, but commercial independence. The opponents of the proposal had appealed to the country's fears; he appealed to its courage, and exhorted all to press onward till the goal should be reached.

In parliament the discussion led to little result. The Government took its stand against unrestricted reciprocity, on the ground that it would kill infant manufacturing industries and lead to political absorption in the Republic, and the division followed party lines. Meanwhile in the country interest slackened, for the time. In the presidential {114} campaign of 1888 the Republicans, by a narrow margin, won on a high-tariff platform, so that reciprocity seemed out of the question. In Canada itself a new issue had arisen. Once more race and religion set Quebec and Ontario in fierce antagonism.

The Jesuits, or members of the Society of Jesus, do not now for the first time appear in the history of Canada. In the days of New France they had been its most intrepid explorers, its most undaunted missionaries. 'Not a cape was turned, not a river was entered,' declares Bancroft, 'but a Jesuit led the way.' With splendid heroism they suffered for the greater glory of God the unspeakable horrors of Indian torture and martyrdom. But in the Old World their abounding zeal often led them into conflict with the civil authorities, and they became unpopular, alike in Catholic and in Protestant countries. So it happened that 'for the peace of the Church' the Pope suppressed the Society in 1773, and it remained dormant for forty years. After the Conquest of Canada it was decreed that the Jesuits then in the country should be permitted to remain and die there, but that they must not add to their {115} numbers, and that their estates should be confiscated to the Crown. Lord Amherst, the British commander-in-chief, made an unsuccessful attempt to have these estates granted to himself; but in the Crown's possession they remained, and fell to the province of Quebec at Confederation. This settlement had never been accepted. The bishops contended that the Jesuits' estates should have been returned to the Church, and the Jesuits, who had come back to Canada in 1842, asserted their own rights to their ancient lands. Thus the thorny question as to what disposition should be made of these lands baffled the provincial authorities until 1888, when Honoré Mercier, himself a pupil of the Jesuits, and now a most aggressively faithful son of the Church, grappled with the problem, and passed an act embodying a compromise which had been found acceptable by all parties concerned. The sum of $400,000 was to be paid in satisfaction of all claims, to be divided among the Jesuits, the Church authorities, and Laval University, in proportions to be determined by the Pope. At the same time $60,000 was voted to Protestant schools to satisfy their demands.

In Quebec the measure was accepted with little discussion. All the Protestant members {116} in the legislature voted for it. But in Ontario the heather was soon on fire. It was not merely that the dispossessed Jesuits, whom some Protestants regarded as the very symbol and quintessence of clerical intrigue, were thus compensated by the state, but that the sanction of the Pope had been invoked to give effect to an act of a British legislature. The Protestant war-chiefs, D'Alton M'Carthy, Colonel O'Brien, and John Charlton, took up the tomahawk, and called on the Dominion Government to disallow the act. But Sir John Macdonald declined to intervene. A resolution in the House of Commons calling for disallowance was defeated by 188 to 13, the minority being chiefly Conservatives from Ontario.

In opposing the resolution Mr Laurier congratulated the Government on its tardy conversion from the vicious doctrine of centralization. The revolt of its followers from Ontario was the inevitable retribution due to a party which had pandered to religious prejudices in both provinces—due to 'that party with a rigid Protestant face turning towards the west and a devout Catholic face turning towards the east'; and which at the same time had proclaimed the right to disallow any provincial {117} act. He did not, however, base his position solely on the plea of provincial rights. In itself the legislation was just and expedient, a reasonable compromise between seriously conflicting claims. Nor would he listen to those who called upon the Liberals to emulate the Liberals of continental Europe in their anti-clerical campaigns. He preferred to take tolerant Britain as his model rather than intolerant France or Germany. Once more he declared, as he had declared in Quebec twelve years before, that he was a Liberal of the English school, not of the French.

Outvoted in parliament, the champions of militant Protestantism found strong support in the country. An Equal Rights Association was formed to resist the danger of Catholic domination which many believed imminent. It had less influence in the politics of the Dominion than in the politics of Ontario, where Oliver Mowat was solemnly accused of having conspired with Honoré Mercier to raise the Jesuits to power. It contained many able and sincere men, yet its influence soon ceased. By 1894 its place was taken by the Protestant Protective Association, or P.P.A., a boycotting organization imported from the United States, which had a deservedly short {118} life. But, while the fires burned low in the East, the torch had been passed on to the far West—from D'Alton M'Carthy to Joseph Martin. Of the conflagration which ensued we shall learn in a later chapter.

Men will sometimes pray, or may try to prevent others from praying as they list; but they must always eat. The pendulum of public interest swung back to trade relations with the United States. Depression still pervaded farming and manufacturing centres alike, though the abandonment of the policy of federal coercion had lessened political discontent. The return of the Republicans to power in 1888, it has been seen, appeared to put freer trade relations out of the question. The M'Kinley tariff of 1890 slammed the door in Canada's face, for in order to delude the American farmer into believing that protection was in his interest, this tariff imposed high and often prohibitive duties on farm products.

Should Canada retaliate, or make still another effort at a reasonable arrangement with its unneighbourly neighbour? The possibility of adjustment was not as remote as might have seemed probable. After all, reciprocity is as much a protective as a {119} free-trade doctrine, since, as usually interpreted, it implies that the reduction in duties is a detriment to the country making it, only to be balanced by the greater privilege secured at the expense of the other's home market. James G. Blaine, secretary of state in President Harrison's Cabinet, was strongly in favour of reciprocity, particularly with Latin-American countries. In the same session which saw the passing of the M'Kinley Act, the House of Representatives agreed to the Hitt resolution, providing that whenever it should be certified that Canada was ready to negotiate for a complete or partial removal of all duties, the president should appoint three commissioners to meet the Canadian representatives, and report their findings.

This was the position of affairs when, early in 1891, Sir John Macdonald suddenly decided to dissolve parliament, in spite of an explicit promise to the contrary made a short time before. With the dissolution came an adroit attempt to cut the ground from under the feet of the Liberal party. It was asserted that, on the initiative of the United States, negotiations had been undertaken to settle all outstanding disputes, and to renew the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, 'with the modifications {120} required by the altered circumstances of both countries and with the extensions deemed by the Commission to be in the interests of Canada and the United States.' This announcement greatly strengthened the Government's position. Since the United States had taken the initiative there was likelihood of a successful outcome. Many who favoured reciprocity but felt doubtful as to the political outcome of the more sweeping proposals of the Opposition were thus led to favour the Government.

The announcement proved too audacious. Secretary Blaine indignantly denied that the United States had initiated the negotiations, and Sir Charles Tupper so admitted after the elections. Mr Blaine further made it plain that no treaty confined to natural products would be entertained. In the face of this statement the Government executed another sharp turn, and appealed to anti-American sentiment and protected interests, denouncing vigorously the Opposition's policy as sure to lead to ruin, annexation, and—the climax—direct taxation. Sir John Macdonald issued a skilful address to the electors, and the cry of 'the old flag, the old man, and the old policy' appealed to noble feelings and to deplorable prejudice alike.


In his address to the Canadian people Mr Laurier arraigned the National Policy for its utter failure to bring the prosperity so lavishly promised. Reciprocal freedom of trade with the United States would give the larger market which had become indispensable. The commercial advantages of such a plan were so clear that they were not disputed, it was attacked entirely on other grounds. The charge that it would involve discrimination against Great Britain could not have much weight in the mouths of men whose object was to prevent the importation of English manufactures. If it did involve discrimination, if the interests of Canada and the motherland clashed, he would stand by his native land. But that discrimination was involved he did not admit. It was not essential to assimilate the Canadian to the American tariff: 'Should the concessions demanded from the people of Canada involve consequences injurious to their sense of honour or duty, either to themselves or to the motherland, the people of Canada would not have reciprocity at such a price.' Direct taxation might be averted by retrenchment and revision of custom schedules. The charge that unrestricted reciprocity would lead to annexation was an unworthy appeal to {122} passion and prejudice, and, if it meant anything, meant that it would 'make the people so prosperous that, not satisfied with a commercial alliance, they would forthwith vote for political absorption in the American Republic.'

The Government's appeal to the flag was greatly aided by some letters and pamphlets of Mr Farrer and Congressman Hitt and other leaders in the commercial union movement, which were made public and which gave colour to the cry that unrestricted reciprocity was only a first step towards annexation. It was in vain that Oliver Mowat and Alexander Mackenzie, the latter now soon to pass from the scene, voiced the deep-lying sentiments of the Liberal party in favour of British connection, and indignantly denied that it was at stake in the reciprocity issue. Sir John Macdonald's last appeal rallied many a wandering follower on grounds of personal loyalty, the campaign funds of the party were great beyond precedent, and the railway and manufacturing and banking interests of the country outweighed and outmanoeuvred the farmers. The Government was returned by a majority of thirty. In Ontario it had only four seats to the good and had a minority {123} of the popular vote, while in Quebec the Liberals at last secured a bare majority. The other provinces, however, stood by the party in power, and gave the Government another lease of life for five years.

The smoke of battle had not cleared when a remarkable letter from Edward Blake, the late leader of the Liberal party, was published. It was a curiously inconclusive document. It began with a scathing indictment of the Conservative policy and its outcome: 'Its real tendency has been towards disintegration and annexation.... It has left us with a smaller population, a scanty immigration, and a North-West empty still; with enormous additions to our public debt and yearly charge, an extravagant system of expenditure and an unjust tariff, with restricted markets whether to buy or to sell.... It has left us with lowered standards of public virtue and a death-like apathy in public opinion, with racial, religious, and provincial animosities rather inflamed than soothed.... It has left us with our hands tied, our future compromised.' A preference in the English market was out of the question. Unrestricted free trade with the United States would bring prosperity, give men, money, and {124} markets. Yet it would involve assimilation of tariffs and thus become identical with commercial union. 'Political Union,' he added in a cryptic postscript, 'though becoming our probable, is by no means our ideal, or as yet our inevitable, future.'

Mr Blake had persistently withheld his aid and advice from the leaders of the party since his resignation. His action now was resented as a stab in the back, and the implication that the Liberal policy was identical with commercial union was stoutly denied. If, as Mr Laurier had made clear in his electoral address, negotiations proved that reciprocal arrangements could not be made except on such terms, they would not be made at all. Yet the letter had undoubted force, and materially aided the Government in the by-elections.

The Government formally carried out its undertaking to open negotiations with the United States. Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John Thompson, and George E. Foster went to Washington and conferred with Secretary Blaine. But the negotiators were too far apart to come to terms, and the proposals were not seriously pressed. Later, when the tide of reaction brought the Democrats back to power in 1892, the Conservatives made no {125} attempt to renew negotiations; and later still, when the Liberals came to power in Canada, the Republicans were back in office on a platform of sky-high protection.

Meanwhile, the increase of exports of farm products to Great Britain promised the larger markets sought, and made admission to the United States of less pressing importance. When, in 1893, the Liberal party met in national convention at Ottawa, limited reciprocity, 'including a well-considered list of manufactured articles,' was endorsed, but it was subordinated as part of a general demand for a lower tariff, now again prominent in the party programme.

[1] Sir Alexander T. Galt, Sir John Rose, and Sir John Abbott.

[2] Memoir of Sumner, vol. iv, p. 409.




The secret of empire—The old colonial system—Partner nations—Achieving self-government—Building up the partnership—The High Commissioner—New foreign problems—First colonial conference—Political federation—Inter-imperial defence—Inter-imperial trade

When Canada's problems seemed too great for her to solve unaided, many had looked to Washington for relief, in ways which have been reviewed. Others looked to London. The relations between Canada and the other parts of the Empire did not become the central issue in any political campaign. Until late in the period now under survey they aroused little systematic public discussion. There were few acute episodes to crystallize the filial sentiment for the motherland which existed in the country. Yet throughout these years that readjustment in the relations between the colonies and the mother country, which is perhaps the most significant political development of the century, was steadily proceeding. Steadily and surely, if for the most part unconsciously, the transformation of the Empire went on, until in the following period it became a fact and a problem which none could {127} blink, and the central theme in public interest and political activity.

The story of this transformation, of how the little isles in the North Sea ventured and blundered into world-wide empire; of how at first they endeavoured to rule this vast domain in the approved fashion, for the power and profit of the motherland; of how this policy was slowly abandoned because unprofitable and impossible; of how, when this change took place, most men looked to the ending of a connection which no longer paid; of how acquired momentum and inherited obligations on the one side and instinctive loyalty on the other prevented this result; of how the new lands across the sea grew in numbers and strength and national spirit and, withal, in the determination to work out a permanent partnership on the new basis of equality—this is the most wonderful story political annals have to tell. The British Empire of to-day, tested in fire and not found wanting, is the paradox and miracle of political achievement, full of hope for the future of the rest of the world. In shaping the policy which made the continuance and growth and adjustment of the Empire possible, Canadian statesmen of both parties played a leading part. That {128} long story cannot here be told, but a few of the significant steps must be recalled, to make clear the development of yesterday and to-day.

In the expansion of Europe over all the five continents and the seven seas which has marked the past five centuries, the Englishman found a roomy place in the sun. By luck or pluck, by trusted honesty or sublime assurance, and with little aid from his government, he soon outdistanced Frenchman and Dutchman, Spaniard and Portuguese, in the area and richness of the regions over which his flag floated and in which his trading-posts or his settlements were established. This empire was ruled, as other colonial domains were ruled, to advance the power and the profit of the motherland. The colonies and dependencies were plantations, estates beyond the seas, to be acquired and guarded for the gain of the mother country. They were encouraged by bounty and preference to grow what the mother country needed, and were compelled by parliamentary edict to give the mother country a monopoly of their markets for all she made. Great Britain never applied these doctrines with the systematic rigour of the Spaniard of the seventeenth century or the German of the twentieth, but monopoly of {129} the direct trade with the colonies, and the political subordination of the colonies to secure this end, were nevertheless the cardinal doctrines of imperial policy.

SIR WILFRID LAURIER From a photograph by Topley

From a photograph by Topley

Slowly this old colonial system broke down. It became impossible to keep in political subjection millions of men across the seas of the same vigorous race. This the American Revolution drove home and the Canadian insurrections of 1837 again made unmistakable. In the views of most men it came to appear unprofitable, even if possible. Gradually the ideas of Adam Smith and Pitt and Huskisson, of Cobden and Bright and Peel, took possession of the English mind. Trade monopolies, it now was held, hampered more than they helped, even if costless. But when maintained at heavy expense, at cost of fortification and diplomatic struggle and war, they became worse than useless, a drag on the development of both colony and mother country. So the fetters which impeded trade and navigation were discarded.

There followed, from the forties onward, a period of drift, of waiting for the coming separation. When the trade monopoly which was the object of empire ceased, most men in Britain reasoned that the end of the Empire, {130} in so far as it included colonies settled by white men, could not be far distant. Yet the end did not come. Though Radical politicians and publicists urged 'cutting the last link of connection'; though Conservative statesmen damned 'the wretched colonies' as 'millstones about our necks'; though under-secretaries said farewell to one 'last' governor-general after another and the London Times bade Canadians 'take up your freedom, your days of apprenticeship are over'; in spite of all, the colonies lingered within the fold. Some dim racial instinct, the force of momentum, or the grip of inherited obligations, kept them together until gradually the times changed and the stage was set for another scene.

Alike in the motherland and in the colonies men had stumbled upon the secret of empire—freedom. Expecting the end to come soon, the governing powers in London had ruled with a light rein, consenting to one colonial demand after another for self-government. In these years of salutary neglect the twofold roots of imperial connection had a chance to grow. The colonies rose to national consciousness, and yet, in very truth because of their freedom, and the absence of the {131} friction a centralizing policy would have entailed, they retained their affection and their sympathy for the land of their ancestors. Thus the way was prepared for the equal partnership which it has been the task of these later years to work out.

Two lines of development were equally essential. It was necessary to secure complete freedom for the colonies, to abolish the old relation of ascendancy and subordination, and it was necessary to develop new ties and new instruments of co-operation. Nowhere in early years do we find a more nearly adequate recognition of this twofold task than in the prophetic words of Sir John Macdonald: 'England, instead of looking upon us as a merely dependent colony, will have in us a friendly nation, a subordinate but still a powerful people, to stand by her in North America in peace as in war. The people of Australia will be such another subordinate nation.... She will be able to look to the subordinate nations in alliance with her and owing allegiance to the same sovereign, who will assist in enabling her to meet again the whole world in arms as she has done before.'[1] It was Sir John also who urged that the new {132} union should be called the 'Kingdom of Canada,' a name which the British authorities rejected, ostensibly out of fear of offending the republican sensibilities of the United States. Had that name been chosen, the equality of the status of Canada would have been recognized much sooner, for names are themselves arguments powerful with wayfaring men. Both in act and in word the Conservative chieftain oftentimes lapsed from this statesmanlike view into the prevalent colonialism; but he did much to make his vision a reality, for it was Macdonald who, with the aid of political friend and political opponent, laid the foundations upon which the statesmen of the new generation have built an enduring fabric.

The first task, the assertion of the autonomy of the Dominions, had been largely achieved. So far as it concerned domestic affairs, practically all Canadians accepted the principle for which Liberals had fought alone in the earlier days. In the thirties a British colonial secretary, replying to Howe's demand for responsible government, had declared that 'to any such demand Her Majesty's Government must oppose a respectful but at the same time a firm declaration that it is inconsistent with a {133} due adherence to the essential distinction between a metropolitan and a colonial government, and it is therefore inadmissible,' and a Canadian Tory Legislative Council had echoed that 'the adoption of the plan must lead to the overthrow of the great colonial Empire of England.' But now, since Elgin's day (1849), responsible government, self-government in domestic affairs, had been an unquestioned fact, a part of the heritage of which all Canadians, irrespective of party, were equally proud.

In foreign affairs, too, some progress had been made. Foreign affairs in modern times are largely commercial affairs. In part such questions are regulated by laws passed by each country independently, in part by joint treaty. Complete autonomy as to the first mode was early maintained by Galt and Macdonald. In 1859 Galt affirmed the right to tax even British goods, 'the right of the Canadian legislature to adjust the taxation of the people in the way they deemed best, even if it should unfortunately happen to meet the disapproval of the Imperial Ministry.' And twenty years later, in spite of British protests, Sir John Macdonald went further in his National Policy, and taxed British goods still {134} higher to encourage production at home. The tariff of 1879 was the last nail in the coffin of the old colonial system. Here was a colony which not only did not grant British manufacturers a monopoly, but actually sought to exclude from its markets any British wares it could itself produce.

Self-government in the regulation of foreign commercial affairs, so far as treaties were essential to effect it, came more slowly, and with much hesitation and misgiving.

Negative freedom was achieved first. After 1877 Canada ceased to be bound by commercial treaties made by the United Kingdom unless it expressly desired to be included. As to treaties made before that date, the restrictions lasted longer. Most of these treaties bound Canada to give to the country concerned the same tariff and other privileges given to any other foreign power, and Canada in return was given corresponding privileges. Two went further. Treaties made in the sixties with Belgium and Germany—history discovers strange bedfellows—bound all British colonies to give to these countries the same tariff privileges granted to Great Britain or to sister colonies. In 1891 the Canadian parliament sent a unanimous address to {135} Her Majesty praying for the denunciation of these treaties, but in vain. It was not until the Laurier administration had forced the issue six years later that the request was granted.

Positive freedom, a share in the making of treaties affecting Canada, came still more gradually. When in 1870 Galt and Huntington pressed for treaty-making powers, Macdonald opposed, urging the great advantages of British aid in negotiation. A year later, however, Macdonald gave expression to his changed view of the value of that aid. As one of the five British commissioners who negotiated the Washington Treaty (1871), he declared that his colleagues had 'only one thing in their minds—that is, to go home to England with a treaty in their pockets, settling everything, no matter at what cost to Canada.' In 1874 George Brown went to Washington as one of the two British commissioners in the abortive reciprocity negotiations of that year. In 1879 the Macdonald Government made Galt ambassador at large to negotiate treaties in Europe, but he was hampered by being compelled to 'filter' his proposals through the various resident British ambassadors. When in 1882 Blake moved in the House of {136} Commons a resolution in favour of direct treaty-making powers, Sir John Macdonald opposed it as meaning separation and independence, ending his speech with the declaration, 'A British subject I was born, a British subject I hope to die.' Yet action moved faster than the philosophy of action. In 1883 Sir Charles Tupper signed the protocols of the Cable Conference in Paris on Canada's behalf; and at Madrid, in 1887 and 1889, the same doughty statesman represented Canada in the conduct of important negotiations. It was in 1891, only nine years after Sir John Macdonald's reply to Blake foreboding separation and independence, that the House of Commons and Senate of Canada, praying for the abrogation of the Belgian and German treaties, unanimously declared that 'the self-governing colonies are recognized as possessing the right to define their respective fiscal relations to all foreign nations.'

The first task had been practically achieved; freedom had been won; but it still remained to rise through freedom to co-operation, to use the newly won powers to work out a lasting partnership between the free states of the Empire. This was the harder task. There was no precedent to follow. Centralized {137} empires there had been; colonies there had been which had grown into independent states. But of an empire which was not an empire, of colonies which had achieved self-government only to turn to closer union with the parent state, the world had as yet no instance.

It had not even a model in idea, a theory of how it should be done. Such a forecast as that already quoted from Sir John Macdonald[2] came as near as might be, but this long remained a peroration and no more. No man and no school divined absolutely the present fact and theory of empire. It has worked out of the march and pressure of events, aided by the clash of the oppositions which it has reconciled.

In the eighties and nineties four possible futures for the Dominion were discussed. The first was the continuance of the colonial status, the second Annexation, the third Independence, and the fourth Imperial Federation. Colonialism had only inertia in its favour. Annexation ran counter both to filial sentiment and to national hopes, but its discussion served to show the desperate need of change and forced the advocates of other ideals to set forth their creeds. Independence meant {138} the complete severing of the ties which bound Canada to the rest of the Empire. Imperial Federation proposed to set up in London a new authority with representatives from all the white Dominions and with power to tax and bind. Each played its needed part. The advocates of Imperial Federation did much to prevent a drift towards Annexation which might otherwise have set in. The advocates of Independence expressed the national aspirations which must be satisfied in any solution that would be enduring. The resultant of these forces was of a character none had precisely anticipated. Empire and Independence were reconciled.

In this period the two most important steps towards co-operation were the appointment of a Canadian High Commissioner in London and the beginning of the Colonial Conferences.

The first step was taken on the initiative of the Macdonald Government in 1879. It was found necessary to appoint a Canadian representative in London both to act as ambassador at large in dealing with European states, and to serve as a link between the Canadian and British Governments. The latter purpose was especially significant. In the days of {139} colonial subordination the governor-general had served as the only needed link. His duty was to govern the colony in accordance with the interest and policy of the mother country, and in carrying that out he was responsible to the British Government. Now he was becoming the representative, not of the British Government, but of the king, who was king of Canada as well as of the United Kingdom, and, like the king, he governed by the advice of the responsible ministers in the land where he resided. This change in the governor-general's status marked the ending of the old colonial relationship. The appointment of a commissioner to represent to one free government the wishes of another free government was one of the first steps in building up the new relationship.

The initiative in the second step came from the United Kingdom. A change was now apparent in the attitude of many Englishmen upon imperial questions. The present value of the colonies, their possible greater value in the future, and the need of all the help that could be had from them, were coming to be the leading articles in the creed of many fervent thinkers. The Imperial Federation League, founded in London in 1884, gave {140} vigorous expression to these views; and its Canadian branch, formed at Montreal in the next year, to be followed by local branches from sea to sea, exercised a strong influence on the current of Canadian thought.

The new desire to bind the colonies closer was largely due to the revival of protection and of imperialism both in the United Kingdom and in foreign countries. Alike in trade and in defence, colonial aid was by many coming to be felt essential. Abroad, protection was in the ascendant. Cobden's prophecy of the world following Britain's example in free trade had not been fulfilled. France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, the United States, were rearing higher tariffs, threatening to shut out British goods. Even Canada and Victoria had done likewise. Moreover, France and Germany and the United States were becoming formidable rivals to Britain, as they turned more and more from farming to manufacturing. It was little wonder that a section of English opinion began to sigh for protected markets, for retaliatory tariffs to force down bars abroad, and for a revival of the old preference or monopoly in the markets of the colonies.

Defence, too, assumed a more anxious {141} aspect. The nations of Europe were entering on a mad scramble for empire, for colonial possessions overseas. Russia pushed steadily westward to the Pacific and south to the gates of India. France sought territory in Africa and in Asia, Germany in Africa and the Pacific, Italy in Africa. Nationalism had gone to seed in imperialism. Long prevented by internal dissensions from competing with England in the acquisition of territory, the nations of Europe, now that national consolidation had been largely effected, turned to follow her example. England could not logically object to their desire for territory or to their plans for larger navies. Her Palmerstons and Disraelis had boasted of the might of the empire on which the sun never set; her Froudes and Seeleys were singing the glories of the 'expansion of England'; the man in the street felt the manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon to rule the 'lesser breeds'; while the American Mahan had made clear the importance of sea-power and had pointed the means to the end so glorified. None the less the rivalry was felt uncomfortable, the more so as these nations did not follow Britain's free-trade policy in their new possessions, and sometimes manifested a lack of {142} scruple which boded ill for future peace. And so from some quarters in Britain came the demand for colonial contributions to the Army and Navy, or failing that, for some form of imperial federation which would set up a central parliament with power to tax and to control.

In August 1886 an influential deputation from the Imperial Federation League waited upon the prime minister, Lord Salisbury, and asked him to summon a conference of all the colonies to discuss the idea of setting up a federal council as a first step towards centralizing authority. The prime minister expressed his doubt as to the wisdom of discussing political changes which, if possible, were so only in the distant future. Believing, however, that there were other subjects ripe for discussion, he took the momentous step, and called the first Colonial Conference.

Every self-governing colony and several crown colonies sent representatives. Canada sent Sir Alexander Campbell, lieutenant-governor of Ontario, and Mr, later Sir Sandford, Fleming, the apostle of an All-Red Pacific cable. Lord Salisbury, in opening the proceedings, referred to the three lines upon which progress might be made. The German {143} Empire evidently suggested the ideas which he and others had in mind. A political federation, like that of Germany, to conduct 'all our imperial affairs from one centre,' could not be created for the present. But Germany had had two preliminary forms of union, both of which might be possible, a zollverein or customs union, not yet practicable, and a kriegsverein, or union for purposes of mutual defence, which was feasible, and was the real and important business before the Conference.

In the weeks of discussion which followed the Canadian delegates took little part except upon the question of the cable which was at Sandford Fleming's heart. Australia agreed to make a contribution towards the cost of a British squadron in Australasian waters, and Cape Colony agreed to provide some local defence at Table Bay. Sir Alexander Campbell referred to the agreement of 1865 as still in force, denied that the naval defence of Canada had proved burdensome to Britain, talked vaguely of setting up a naval school or training a reserve, and offered nothing more. The Conference did not discuss political federation and touched only lightly on preferential trade. As the first of a series, and for its {144} revelation of the obstacles to proposals for Germanizing the British Empire, it proved more important than for any positive achievements.

In the stand thus taken the Canadian delegates adequately reflected the feeling both of the general public and of the leaders of both parties in Canada at that time, alike as to political defence and trade relations.

As for political relations, the only proposal for change came from the Imperial Federationists. The idea had some notable advocates in Canada—Grant, Parkin, Denison, M'Carthy and others. But many of them advocated it simply because it was the only theory of closer imperial relations then in the field. At first it was too hazily pictured to make clear the extent to which the Canadian and other parliaments would be subordinated to the proposed new central parliament. When faced with a concrete plan, few Canadians were eager to give up control of their destinies to a parliament in which they would have only one-tenth of the representation. The responsible politicians did not at any time endorse the scheme. Sir John Macdonald, as a practical man, saw at once a fatal objection {145} in the sacrifice of Canadian self-government which it involved.[3] Some of the members of the Imperial Federation League urged with plausibility that political federation would bring the colonies new power in the shape of control over foreign policy, rather than take old powers away, but Macdonald much doubted the reality of the control it would give. Nevertheless the Imperial Federation League and its branches did useful educational work. Owing to differences of opinion among its members it was dissolved in 1893, but was revived and reorganized two years later as the British Empire League.

Nor was Canada greatly interested in questions of defence. In the sixties and seventies, it is true, the larger colonies had agreed, with some reluctance, to assume the increasing share of the burdens of defence made necessary by the increasing control of their own affairs. {146} Gradually the British troops stationed in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (save for a small garrison force at Halifax) had been withdrawn, and their places taken by local militia. But as yet it was understood that the responsibilities of the colonies were secondary and local. As a result of long discussion, the British House of Commons in 1862 unanimously resolved that 'colonies exercising the right of self-government ought to undertake the main responsibility of providing for their own internal order and security and ought to assist in their own external defence.' The duty of the United Kingdom to undertake the general defence of the Empire was equally understood; the Committee on Colonial Defence (1860), whose report led to the adoption of this resolution, agreed that since 'the Imperial Government has the control of peace and war, it is therefore in honour and duty {147} called upon to assist the Colonists in providing against the consequences of its policy,'—a position affirmed by Mr Cardwell's dispatch of June 17, 1865.

Given the fact and theory of political relationship as they existed in this period, this compromise was the natural result. Under the old colonial system the empire was Britain's, governed for its real or fancied gain, and imperial defence was merely the debit side of colonial trade monopoly. The myth that Britain had carried on her wars and her diplomacy for the sake of the colonies, which therefore owed her gratitude, had not yet been invented. True, the day had passed when Britain derived profit, or believed she derived profit, from the political control of the white empire, yet the habits of thought begot by those conditions still persisted. If profit had vanished, prestige remained. The Englishman who regarded the colonies as 'our possessions' was quite as prepared to foot the bill for the defence of the Empire which gave him the right to swagger through Europe, as he was to maintain a country estate which yielded no income other than the social standing it gave him with his county neighbours. As yet, therefore, there was no thought in official {148} quarters that Canada should take part in oversea wars or assume a share of the burden of naval preparation. When an English society proposed in 1895 that Canada should contribute money to a central navy and share in its control, Sir Charles Tupper attacked the suggestion as 'an insidious, mischievous, and senseless proposal.' He urged that, if Canada were independent, 'England, instead of being able to reduce her army by a man or her navy by a ship, would be compelled to increase both, to maintain her present power and influence.' He quoted the London Times to the effect that the maritime defence of the colonies was only a by-product of that naval supremacy which was vital to England's very existence as a nation, and cost not a penny extra, for which reason the control of the fleet must always remain unconditionally in the hands of the responsible government of the United Kingdom.[4] Sir Charles, too, was wont to stress the strategic importance of the Canadian Pacific Railway as Canada's contribution to the defence of the Empire. His arguments had much force, but they were obviously the product of a time of transition, {149} uneasy answers to the promptings of the slow-rising spirit of nationhood.

Action, or inaction, corresponded to words. In 1885, when Britain was waging war in the Soudan, New South Wales offered to raise and equip a regiment. The secretary for war at once spread the news of this offer through the other colonies. Sir John Macdonald's only reply was to offer to sanction the raising of troops in Canada, the whole cost to fall on Great Britain. The offer was declined with thanks. A company of voyageurs, largely French-Canadian, however, was recruited in Canada, at Britain's expense, and did good service in the rapids of the Nile. Sir John Macdonald did not, of course, proclaim Canada's neutrality in this war, any more than Hincks and MacNab had done in the Crimean War, when hired German troops garrisoned Dover and Shorncliffe. Canada simply took no part in either war.

But, if political federation and inter-imperial defence thus fell on deaf ears in Canada, the question of trade relations received more serious attention. In urging the Pacific cable and a service of fast steamships on each ocean, Sandford Fleming had hit upon the line along which progress eventually was to be made. {150} Tariff preferences, inter-imperial reciprocity, began to be discussed. As early as 1879 Sir John Macdonald, on finding in England much dissatisfaction over his high taxation of British imports, proposed to give British goods a preference if the United Kingdom would give Canada a preference in return. Thus, on the ruins of the old colonial system imposed by the mother country's edict, would be built a new colonial system based on free negotiation between equal states. In view of Britain's rooted adherence to free trade, nothing, of course, came of the proposal. Ten years later there was in England some discussion of protection or 'fair trade,' and in Canada, during the elections of 1891, the idea of an imperial zollverein was rhetorically mooted as an alternative to reciprocity with the United States. Three years later still (1894) the second Colonial Conference met at Ottawa, on the invitation of the Dominion Government. The object was to arrange treaties of reciprocity in trade between the various colonies, to serve until such time as the mother country should renounce her free-trade errors. There were many forceful and eloquent speeches, notably one by Mr, now Sir George, Foster, and a resolution was {151} passed in favour of an Imperial Customs Union. But, save for a limited arrangement with New Zealand in 1895, no definite result followed.

The policy of the Liberal Opposition in Canada in respect to inter-imperial trade may be briefly stated. Mr Laurier's first speech, as leader of the party, at Somerset, in 1887, has already been mentioned. There he declared that if commercial union with Great Britain were feasible, he would favour it. But he had more hope of commercial union with other British colonies, which had protective tariffs. Two years later, speaking at Toronto, he referred to the obvious difficulties in the way of commercial union with Britain itself. 'I would favour with all my soul,' he said, 'a more close commercial alliance of Canada with Great Britain. But, sir, if there is any man who believes that any such an alliance between Canada and Great Britain can be formed upon any other basis than that of free trade, which prevails in England, that man is a Rip Van Winkle, who has been sleeping not only for the last seven but for the last forty-four years. The British people will not to-day go back upon the policy of free trade, and Canada is not in a position at the moment, {152} with the large revenue which she has to collect, to adopt any other tariff than a revenue tariff at best.' That free trade among all the British communities would some day be to their advantage, and that it would come in time, he stated elsewhere, but added that it could not for many years be a practical issue.

A notable step forward was taken in 1892. Hitherto Liberal and Conservative alike had been considering the trade question chiefly from the standpoint of the producer, seeking fresh markets by offering in return concessions in the Canadian tariff. Now the Liberals, and the M'Carthy wing of the Conservatives, began to speak of the consumer's interests. The reduction of the tariff would be more important as a relief to the consumer than as a means of buying markets abroad for the producer. Instead of waiting for the distant day when Great Britain should set up a tariff and give Canada reciprocal preference, the Liberals now pressed for giving an immediate and unconditional preference on British goods. A resolution to this effect, moved in the House of Commons by Mr, now Sir Louis, Davies, was voted down by the Conservative majority, but it was to bear notable fruit later.

[1] Confederation Debates, p. 44.

[2] See p. 131.

[3] 'During the last few years of his life, when asked if he were an Imperial Federationist, he would reply somewhat after this fashion: "That depends on what you mean by Imperial Federation. I am, of course, in favour of any feasible scheme that will bring about a closer union between the various portions of the Empire, but I have not yet seen any plan worked out by which this can be done. The proposal that there should be a parliamentary federation of the Empire I regard as impracticable. I greatly doubt that England would agree that the parliament which has sat during so many centuries at Westminster, should be made subsidiary to a federal legislature. But, however that might be, I am quite sure that Canada would never consent to be taxed by a central body sitting at London, in which she would have practically no voice; for her proportionate number of members in such an assembly would amount to little more than an honorary representation. That form of Imperial Federation is an idle dream. So also, in my judgment, is the proposal to establish a uniform tariff throughout the Empire. No colony would ever surrender its right to control its fiscal policy."'—Pope, Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, vol. ii, p. 213.

[4] Address on Canada and her Relations with the Mother Country. Newcastle-on-Tyne, November 21, 1895.




Abbott and Thompson—Tariff reform—Manitoba school question

The strain of a winter campaign proved too great for Sir John Macdonald's weakened frame. On June 6, 1891, died the statesman who so long had guided the destinies of Canada. All Canada felt the loss. No one else voiced the common judgment with such discrimination and generosity as did the leader of the Opposition. Speaking in parliament a few days later, Mr Laurier declared:

Sir John Macdonald now belongs to the ages, and it can be said with certainty that the career which has just been closed is one of the most remarkable careers of this century.... I think it can be asserted that, for the supreme art of governing men, Sir John Macdonald was gifted as few men in any land or any age were gifted—gifted with the highest of all qualities, qualities which would have made him famous wherever exercised, and which would have shone all the more conspicuously the larger the theatre. The fact that he could congregate together elements the most heterogeneous and blend them into {154} one compact party, and to the end of his life keep them steadily under his hand, is perhaps altogether unprecedented. The fact that during all those years he retained unimpaired not only the confidence but the devotion, the ardent devotion and affection of his party, is evidence that besides those higher qualities of statesmanship to which we were daily witnesses, he was also endowed with those inner, subtle, undefinable graces of soul which win and keep the hearts of men.

As to his statesmanship, it is written in the history of Canada.... Although my political views compel me to say that in my judgment his actions were not always the best that could have been taken in the interests of Canada, although my conscience compels me to say that of late he has imputed to his opponents motives which I must say in my heart he has misconceived, yet I am only too glad here to sink these differences, and to remember only the great services he has performed for our country—to remember that his actions always displayed great originality of view, unbounded fertility of resource, a high level of intellectual conception, and, above all, a far-reaching vision beyond the event of the day, and still higher, permeating the whole, a broad patriotism—a devotion to Canada's welfare, Canada's advancement, and Canada's glory.

Sir John Macdonald had been prime minister of the Dominion for twenty of its twenty-four years. In the next five years the Conservative party had four different leaders {155} and the Dominion four prime ministers. The first was Sir John Abbott, who had lived down the memory of his early views in favour of Annexation and had become 'the confidential family lawyer of his party.' A little over a year later, ill-health compelled him to resign in favour of Sir John Thompson, an able and honest administrator, who grew in breadth of view with experience and responsibility.

All Abbott's astuteness and Thompson's rigid uprightness were soon required to deal with the revelations of rotten politics which presently claimed the country's attention. It had long been believed that the department of Public Works, under Sir Hector Langevin, was a source of widespread corruption, but it was not until Israel Tarte, a member of the House of Commons and a bleu of the bleus, made charges to that effect during the session of 1891, that the full measure of the evil was understood. In the investigations and trials which followed it was made clear that huge sums had been extracted from contractors in the service of the Government and used in wholesale bribery. These revelations, as a London newspaper remarked, 'made Tammany smell sweet.'

But the public indignation at these proofs {156} of the sinister side of the Government's long hold on power was weakened by similar charges brought and proved against the Liberal Government of Quebec, under Honoré Mercier. The lieutenant-governor summarily dismissed Mercier, the Church set its face sternly against his ministry, which it had erstwhile approved, and the people of the province voted him out of power (1892). The effect on the public mind of this corruption at Ottawa and Quebec was an apathy, a lowered standard of political morality, since it gave point to the common saying that 'one set of politicians is as bad as another,' by which good men excuse their unpatriotic indifference to public affairs.

The Conservative party, and the whole Dominion, suffered a further loss in 1894, when Sir John Thompson died suddenly at Windsor Castle. Sir Mackenzie Bowell was chosen as his successor.

Meanwhile the fortunes and the spirit of the Liberal party rose steadily. Mr Laurier's position as leader strengthened as each year gave proof of his steadfast character, his courage, and his political sagacity. He gave his time and energy wholly to the work of the party. During these years he addressed {157} hundreds of meetings in Quebec and Ontario, and made tours to the maritime provinces and through the West to the Pacific.

The convention of Liberals from all ends of the Dominion, which met at Ottawa in 1893, had given fresh vigour to the party. At that convention, as has already been noted, emphasis was placed upon the need of lowering the tariff. It was urged that the tariff should be made to rest as lightly as possible upon the necessaries of life, and that freer trade should be sought with all the world, and particularly with Great Britain and the United States.

It was about this time, too, that D'Alton M'Carthy, who was mellowing in religious matters and growing more radical on other issues, voiced a demand for a reduction of customs burdens and for the adoption of maximum and minimum schedules, the minimum rates to be given Great Britain and British colonies and foreign countries which offered equivalent terms, and the maximum rates to be applied to countries like the United States which maintained prohibitive tariffs against Canadian products. The Patrons of Industry, an organization of farmers which for a few years had much power {158} in Ontario, also demanded tariff reform. Even the Government went a little with public opinion and lopped away a few 'mouldering branches' in 1894. Thus the tariff remained an issue during the last five years of the Conservative régime.

A more burning question, however, was the revival of the old contest over provincial rights and denominational privileges. This was the offspring of the Equal Rights agitation, which had spread to Manitoba. In August 1889 Joseph Martin, a member of the Manitoba Cabinet, following D'Alton M'Carthy at a public meeting, announced that his government would establish a non-sectarian system of education. A few months later this was done.

When Manitoba entered Confederation, in 1870, there had been no state-supported system of education. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Presbyterians maintained denominational schools, supported by fees and church grants. The settlers were about equally divided between Catholics and Protestants. The Manitoba Act, Manitoba's constitutional charter, gave the new province in most respects the same powers as the older provinces. The province was given control of {159} education, subject, first, to the provision that no law should be passed prejudicially affecting any right or privilege, with respect to denominational schools, which any class of persons had by law or practice at the union, and subject, secondly, to an appeal to the federal authorities from any provincial act or decision affecting the rights of any minority, Protestant or Catholic. In 1871 a school system much like that of Quebec was set up. Protestant schools and Catholic schools were established, and each was granted half the provincial appropriation. Later, as the Protestant population grew relatively larger, the amount was divided in proportions corresponding to the number of pupils in each class of schools. Now, in 1890, this system was completely swept away and replaced by a single system of state-supported schools. At first it had been the intention to make them entirely secular, but in the end provision was made for some non-denominational religious teaching. Any Catholic who did not wish to send his children to such a school would be compelled to pay for the support of a school of his own, besides paying taxes for the general school system.

The Catholics, first under Archbishop {160} Taché's firm but moderate guidance, and later under Archbishop Langevin's crusading leadership, demanded redress. The provincial authorities would not change their policy. It was thought that the constitution provided ample protection for a religious minority deprived of its rights. The provision was three-fold. First, the Dominion Government might disallow the offending act. But the Dominion Government saw fit not to exercise this right, preferring to leave the matter to the courts, if possible. Secondly, there was the provision of the Manitoba Act forbidding the province to take away any rights as to denominational schools possessed by any class of persons at the union. Test cases were brought and elaborately argued in the courts. The Supreme Court held that the privilege of paying only for one's own denominational schools existed at the union, and had been infringed. The Privy Council reversed this judgment, holding that Catholics were still free to support schools of their own, and that this was the only privilege which they had before possessed.

There was still a third string to the bow—the appeal to the governor-general in council, the Dominion Government, to pass remedial {161} legislation. Here again the Supreme Court and the Privy Council differed. The Supreme Court held, but not unanimously, that no right of federal intervention existed; but the Privy Council maintained, as the last word in the case, that the Dominion had power to intervene.

This decision put the question squarely before the Bowell Government. It was a difficult situation. An administration drawing its chief strength from Ontario, and headed by a prominent Orangeman, was called upon by the Catholic authorities to use its powers to compel a determined province to change its policy or, in default, to pass a federal law restoring the minority's privileges. But Bowell and his colleagues soon made their decision. Early in 1895 the province was ordered in uncompromising terms to restore to the minority its former rights and privileges. The legislature declined, on the ground that the old system was inefficient and disruptive, and urged the federal authorities to investigate school conditions in Manitoba, past and present, before taking the fatal step of coercion. But, after a commission had failed to induce the province to yield, the Bowell Government announced that at the next parliamentary {162} session (1896) a Remedial Bill would be introduced and passed.

On the eve of the meeting of parliament for this last historic session came the startling news that seven of the members of Sir Mackenzie Bowell's Cabinet, chief among them being Mr Foster and Sir Hibbert Tupper, had revolted against their leader. The revolters urged the supreme need of forming the strongest possible administration in the crisis, and to that end demanded the resignation of the prime minister. Bowell bitterly denounced the 'nest of traitors,' and sought to form a Cabinet without their aid, but the strikers picketed every possible candidate. Finally a compromise was reached by which the bolters were to return under Bowell's leadership for the session and Sir Charles Tupper was to take command at its close.

Meanwhile Mr Laurier had been obliged to face the same difficult issue. He was a sincere Catholic. He sympathized with the desire of his fellow-religionists for schools in which their faith would be cherished, and believed that at the creation of the province all parties had understood that such schools were assured. He knew, too, the power of the Church in Quebec, and the fierceness of the storm that {163} would beat upon him if he opposed its will. Yet he kept a close grip on fact. He saw clearly that any attempt by the Dominion to set up a separate school system, which would have to be operated by a sullen and hostile province, was doomed to failure. He condemned the Government's bludgeoning policy and urged investigation and conciliation by minor amendments. Further than this, in the earlier stages of the agitation, he would not go. In spite of entreaties and threats and taunts from the opposite camps, he remained, like Wellington, 'within the lines of Torres Vedras.'

At the session of 1896 the Government introduced its Remedial Bill, providing for the organization and maintenance of distinctly separate schools in Manitoba. The Catholic authorities accepted the bill as in full compliance with their demands, and bent all their energies to secure its adoption. A mandement was issued by all the bishops urging electors to support only candidates who would pledge themselves to restore separate schools. And in January Mr Laurier received a letter written by Father Lacombe in the name of the bishops and published in the newspapers throughout Canada. This letter besought the Liberal leader to support the bill, and warned him that {164} 'if, which may God not grant, you do not believe it to be your duty to accede to our just demands, and if the government which is anxious to give us the promised law is beaten and overthrown while persisting in its policy to the end, I inform you with regret that the episcopacy, like one man, united to the clergy, will rise to support those who may have fallen to defend us.'

Mr Laurier met the challenge squarely. In one of his strongest speeches he reviewed the whole tangled issue. He admitted the legal power of Canada to pass and enforce the bill, but denied that the judgment of the Privy Council made such action automatically necessary. It was still the Government's duty to investigate and seek a compromise, not to force through a bill framed in darkness and obstinacy. The minority itself would be more effectually and more permanently benefited by amendments made voluntarily by the province as the result of reasonable compromise. Then he turned to the threats of ecclesiastical hostility:

Not many weeks ago I was told from high quarters in the Church to which I belong, that unless I supported the School Bill which was then being prepared by the government, and which we have now before us, {165} I would incur the hostility of a great and powerful body. Sir, this is too grave a phase of this question for me to pass it by in silence. I have only this to say, that even though I have threats held over me, coming, as I am told, from high dignitaries in the Church to which I belong, no word of bitterness shall ever pass my lips as against that Church. I respect it and I love it. Sir, I am not of that school which has been long dominant in France and other countries of Continental Europe, which refuses ecclesiastics the privilege of having a voice in public affairs. No, I am a Liberal of the English school, which has all along claimed that it is the privilege of all subjects, whether high or low, whether rich or poor, whether ecclesiastic or layman, to participate in the administration of public affairs, to discuss, to influence, to persuade, to convince, but which has always denied, even to the highest, the right to dictate even to the lowest. I am here representing not Roman Catholics alone but Protestants as well, and I must give an account of my stewardship to all classes. Here am I, a Roman Catholic of French extraction, entrusted with the confidence of the men who sit around me, with great and important duties under our constitutional system of government. Am I to be told—I, occupying such a position—that I am to be dictated to as to the course I am to take in this House by reasons that can appeal to the consciences of my fellow-Catholic members, but which do not appeal as well to the consciences of my Protestant colleagues? No! So long as I have a seat in this House, so long {166} as I occupy the position I do now, whenever it shall become my duty to take a stand upon any question whatever, that stand I will take, not from the point of view of Roman Catholicism, not from the point of view of Protestantism, but from a point of view which can appeal to the consciences of all men, irrespective of their particular faith, upon grounds which can be occupied by all men who love justice, freedom, and toleration.

Mr Laurier concluded by moving, not an equivocal amendment, as had been expected by the Government, but the six months' hoist, or straight negative. A few Catholic Liberals supported the Government, but the party as a whole, aided by a strong band of erstwhile ministerialists, obstructed the measure so vigorously that the Government was compelled to abandon it, in view of the hastening end of the legal term of parliament. Sir Charles Tupper dissolved parliament, reorganized his Cabinet, and carried the question to the country.

A strenuous campaign followed. Mr Laurier took, in Ontario and Quebec alike, the firm, moderate position he had taken in the House of Commons. The issue, in his view, was not whether the constitutional rights of the Catholics of Manitoba had been violated; {167} for he believed that they had been. The issue was, Could these rights be restored by coercion? The Conservatives and the Church said Yes. True to his political faith, Mr Laurier said No. Up and down the province of Quebec he was denounced by the ultramontane leaders. Here was sheer, stark Liberalism of the brand the Church had condemned. Bishop Laflèche declared that no Catholic could without sin vote for the chief of a party who had formulated publicly such an error, and Archbishop Langevin called upon every true son of the Church to stand by those who stood by it. In Ontario and the other English-speaking provinces, on the contrary, the welkin rang with denunciations of hierarchical presumption. Sir Charles Tupper fought with the wonderful vigour and fearlessness that had always marked him, but fought in vain. His forces, disorganized by internal strife, weakened by long years of office, weighted down by an impossible policy, were no match for the Liberals, strong in their leader and in a cause which stirred the enthusiasm of a united party. The election resulted in a decisive victory for the Liberals. Strange to say, Manitoba went with the Conservatives and Ontario gave the Liberals only {168} forty-four out of ninety-two seats, though seven fell to independents opposed to the Remedial Bill, while Quebec gave forty-eight seats out of its sixty-five to the party which its spiritual leaders had denounced.




The school settlement—The new tariff

The long night of opposition was over. The critics were to be given the opportunity to do constructive work. Under the leader who had served so fitting an apprenticeship they were to guide the political destinies of Canada for over fifteen years. These were to be years of change and progress, years which would bridge the gulf between the stagnant colony of yesterday and the progressive nation of to-day.

The Liberal Government formed by Mr. Laurier in 1896.

The Liberal Government formed by Mr. Laurier in 1896.

Mr Laurier gathered round him the ablest group of administrators ever united in a single Canadian Ministry. To augment his already powerful parliamentary following he called from the provincial administrations four of the strongest men[1] and took them into his Cabinet. The prime minister himself, warned by the experiences of Mackenzie and Macdonald, did not burden himself with a department, but wisely decided to save his strength {170} and time for the general oversight and guidance of the Government.

The first task of the new Ministry was to seek a peaceful settlement of the Manitoba school question. A compromise was {171} doubtless facilitated by the fact that the same party now ruled both in Ottawa and in Winnipeg. The province would not restore the system of state-aided separate schools, but amendments to the provincial law were effected which removed the more serious grievances of the minority. Provision was made for religious teaching in the last half-hour of the school day, when authorized by the trustees or requested by the parents of a specified minimum of pupils. Any religious denomination might provide such teaching, upon days to be arranged. Where the attendance of Roman Catholic children reached twenty-five in rural and forty in urban schools, a Catholic teacher should be engaged upon petition, and equally a non-Catholic teacher should be engaged for a Protestant minority similarly situated. Where ten pupils spoke French or any other language than English as their native tongue, bi-lingual teaching should be provided. In the ordinary work of the school the children were not to be divided on denominational lines, and the schools were to remain public schools in every sense.

The settlement was accepted generally in the country as a reasonable ending of the strife—as the best that could be done in the {172} circumstances. Edward Blake, counsel for the Catholic minority, declared it more advantageous than any legislation which could have been secured by coercion. Speaking in the House of Commons (March 1897) in defence of the settlement, Mr Laurier again declared his doctrine, 'that the smallest measure of conciliation was far preferable to any measure of coercion.' The settlement, he continued, was not as advantageous to the minority as he would have desired; 'still, after six long years of agitation, when the passions of men had been roused to the highest pitch, it was not possible to obtain more, nor for the Government of Manitoba to concede more, under present circumstances.'

By the Catholic authorities, however, the compromise was not accepted. They denounced it as sanctioning a system of mixed and neutral schools which the Church had condemned, and as sacrificing to fanaticism the sacred rights of the minority. Archbishop Langevin vigorously attacked the settlement and all the parties to it, and some of his brother ecclesiastics in Quebec agreed with him. Voters in by-elections were told that they had to choose between Christ and Satan, between bishop and erring politician. The {173} leading Liberal newspaper of Quebec City, L'Electeur, was formally interdicted—every son of the Church was forbidden to subscribe to it, sell it, or read it, 'under penalty of grievous sin and denial of the sacraments.' So the war went on, until finally a number of Catholic Liberals, in their private capacity, appealed to Rome, and a papal envoy, Mgr Merry del Val, came to Canada to look into the matter. This step brought to an end a campaign as dangerous to the permanent welfare of the Church itself as it was to political freedom and to national unity.

The other issue which had figured in the general elections was the tariff. At the approach of power the fiscal policy of the Liberals had moderated, and it was to moderate still further under the mellowing and conservative influences of power itself. The Liberal platform of 1893 had declared war to the knife upon protection. In 1896, however, it was made plain that changes would not be effected hastily or without regard to established interests. In correspondence with Mr G. H. Bertram of Toronto, published before the election, Mr Laurier stated that absolute free trade was out of the question, and that the policy of his party was a revenue tariff, {174} which would bring stability and permanence, and would be more satisfactory in the end to all manufacturers except monopolists. He added prophetically that 'the advent of the Liberals to power would place political parties in Canada in the same position as political parties in England, who have no tariff issue distracting the country every general election.'

The new Government lost no time in grappling with the problem. A tariff commission was appointed which sat at different centres and heard the views of representative citizens. Then in April 1897 Mr Fielding brought down the new tariff. It was at once recognized as a well-considered measure, an honest and a long first step in redeeming platform promises. In the revision of the old tariff beneficent changes were effected, such as abolition of the duties on binder twine, barbed wire, and Indian corn, substantial reductions on flour and sugar, the substitution of ad valorem for specific duties, and a provision for reducing the duty on goods controlled by trusts or combines. The duties on iron and steel were reduced, but increased bounties were given on their production in Canada. More important, however, than such specific changes was the adoption of the principle of a minimum and maximum tariff. {175} A flat reduction of twelve and a half per cent, to be increased later to twenty-five per cent, on all goods except wines and liquors, was granted to countries which on the whole admitted Canadian products on terms as favourable as Canada offered. This, although not so nominated in the bond, amounted in intention to the British preference which the Liberal party had urged as early as 1892, for, except New South Wales and possibly one or two low-tariff states like Holland, Great Britain was believed to be the only country entitled to the minimum rate. But the Belgian and German treaties, already mentioned,[2] by which Great Britain had bound her colonies, stood in the way. While those treaties remained in force, so the law-officers of the Crown advised, Germany and Belgium would be entitled to the lower rates, and automatically France, Spain, and other favoured nations. It Canada was to be free to carry out her policy of tariff reform and imperial consolidation, it became essential to end the treaties in question. Sir Charles Tupper, now leading the Opposition, declared that this could not be done.

[1] These were: Sir Oliver Mowat, William Stevens Fielding, Andrew G. Blair—prime ministers respectively of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick—and Clifford Sifton, attorney-general of Manitoba, who joined the Ottawa Ministry a few months later.

Mr Laurier's administration was formed as follows:

Prime Minister and President of the Council, WILFRID LAURIER.

Minister of Finance, WILLIAM S. FIELDING, of Nova Scotia.

Minister of Justice, SIR OLIVER MOWAT, of Ontario.

Minister of Trade and Commerce, SIR RICHARD CARTWRIGHT, of Ontario.

Secretary of State, RICHARD W. SCOTT, of Ontario.

Minister of Public Works, J. ISRAEL TARTE, of Quebec.

Minister of Railways and Canals, ANDREW G. BLAIR, of New Brunswick.

Postmaster-General, WILLIAM MULOCK, of Ontario.

Minister of Agriculture, SYDNEY A. FISHER, of Quebec.

Minister of Marine and Fisheries, LOUIS H. DAVIES, of Prince Edward Island.

Minister of Militia and Defence, FREDERICK W. BORDEN, of Nova Scotia.

Minister of the Interior, CLIFFORD SIFTON, of Manitoba.

Minister of Customs, WILLIAM PATERSON, of Ontario.

Minister of Inland Revenue, H. G. JOLY DE LOTBINIÈRE, of Quebec.

Ministers without Portfolio          (     CHRISTOPHE A. GEOFFRION,
(     RICHARD R. DOBELL, of Quebec.

Solicitor-General, CHARLES FITZPATRICK, of Quebec.

[2] See p. 134.




Laurier in England—Laurier in France—The South African War—The elections of 1900—The conference of 1902—The Alaskan boundary

In 1837 a young girl of eighteen had come to the British throne. Many had wished her well, but few had dreamed that, as the best beloved of British sovereigns, she would prove an essential factor in a great imperial movement which was to mark the close of her reign. The extraordinary length of that reign, her homely virtues, and her statesmanlike prudence had made her Queen indeed in all her vast domains and the one common, personal rallying-point for all her people. The year 1897 marked the sixtieth anniversary of her reign, her Diamond Jubilee, which the whole Empire now planned to celebrate in fitting fashion.

The prime minister sailed for England early in June, accompanied by Madame Laurier. It was his first voyage across the Atlantic. It can be imagined with what interest he looked forward to seeing both the land from {177} which he had imbibed his political ideals and the land from which his ancestors had come to New France more than two centuries before. But his interest and his mission were more than personal. He had great tasks to perform. The most immediate purpose was to secure the denunciation or revision of the Belgian and German treaties. He was to sit in the third Colonial Conference which had been summoned for the occasion and in which all the self-governing colonies were to be represented. There it would be his mission to interpret to his colleagues from overseas the new imperial and national ideals which were taking shape in Canada. To the general public he desired to make better known the vast opportunities Canada had to offer both for the venturing settler and for the trader who stayed at home. Perhaps less purposed, but, as it proved, no less successful, was a desire to bring together more closely the land of his allegiance and the land of his ancestry.

From the landing in Liverpool in June until the sailing from Londonderry in August, the Canadian prime minister passed through a ceaseless whirl of engagements, official conferences and gorgeous state ceremonies, public dinners and country-house week-ends. He {178} made many notable speeches; but, more than any words, his dignified bearing and courtly address, the subtle note of distinction that marked his least phrase or gesture—with the striking proof which he gave, as the French-Canadian ruler of the greatest of the colonies, of the wisdom, the imperial secret, which Britain alone of nations had learned—made him beyond question the lion of the hour. The world, and not least Britain herself, realized with wonder, in the pageant of the Jubilee ceremonies, how great and how united the Empire was; and, at this moment, when all eyes were focussed upon London, the prime minister of Canada seemed to embody the new spirit and the new relationship. The press rang with Canada's praises. 'For the first time in my experience,' declared a shrewd American observer, 'England and the English are regarding the Dominion with affectionate enthusiasm.' When the tumult and the shouting died and the Captains and the Kings departed, Sir Wilfrid Laurier[1] had a proud accounting to give his people.


The Belgian and German treaties, so long a stumbling-block in the path of closer imperial trade relations, were at last denounced. The definite, concrete offer of the Canadian preference proved effective, for it was given freely, in no huckstering spirit, with no demand for any equivalent or that Britain should reverse her whole fiscal system for the benefit of a small fraction of her trade.

The Colonial Conference was an important incident of the Jubilee year. Mr Chamberlain, the new colonial secretary, made the chief address and laid before the members the proposals for discussion. He suggested the desirability of setting up an Imperial Council, with more than advisory power, and bound 'to develop into something still greater.' But, as only the prime ministers of New Zealand and Tasmania gave any sympathy, the suggestion was not pressed. He spoke in laudatory terms of the contribution of the Australasian colonies towards the British navy, and invited the other colonies to make similar offers. As to trade relations, the colonial ministers decided to consider whether they could follow Canada's example of a free preference. No definite step by Great Britain towards zollverein or protection and preference was suggested. Fruitful {180} discussion took place on Asiatic immigration, the Pacific cable, and imperial penny postage. All these discussions, though without immediate results, served to outline the problems which were to face the Colonial Conference in the future—after the Boer War had given a new turn and a new insistence to these problems. It was not until then, and not until Australia spoke with one voice rather than with six, that the Colonial Conference was to come into its own as an established body for inter-imperial discussion.

Outside the Conference there was much discussion of imperial relations. It was for the most part vague and rhetorical, but it showed clearly the new-born interest which was stirring wide circles in the United Kingdom. As yet Imperial Federation was the only scheme for closer union which had been at all clearly formulated, and, though it had been discredited by the failure of its advocates to find and agree upon any feasible plan, its phraseology still held the field. Sir Wilfrid himself sometimes expressed his vision in its formulas. In a striking passage in his first speech at Liverpool he pictured Macaulay's New Zealander coming not to gaze upon the ruins of St Paul's but to knock for {181} admission upon the doors of Westminster. Yet even these earlier speeches forecast the newer conception of the Empire as a partnership of equal states. 'A colony,' he described Canada, 'yet a nation—words never before in the history of the world associated together.' Making a dramatic contrast between the rebellion and discontent which marked the beginning of the Queen's reign in Canada, and the willing and unquestioned allegiance which marked it now, he showed that the secret lay in the ever-wider freedom and self-government which had been claimed and granted.

From London Sir Wilfrid passed to Paris. It was before the days of the entente cordiale. In Egypt, in Soudan, in Siam, in Newfoundland, the interests of Britain and those of France were clashing, and there was much talk of age-long rivalry and inevitable war. The reports which had reached Paris of the strong expressions, uttered by a son of New France, of attachment and loyalty to the Empire and the Queen had made still more bitter the memories of the 'few acres of snow' lost in 1763. There was much wonder as to what Laurier would say on French soil. His message there was the same. The French Canadians, he said, had not forgotten the {182} France of their ancestors: they cherished its memories and its glories. 'In passing through this city, beautiful above all cities, I have noted upon many a public building the proud device that the armies of the Republic carried through Europe—Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Very well: all that there is of worth in that device, we possess to-day in Canada. We have liberty absolute, complete, liberty for our religion, our language, for all the institutions which our ancestors brought from France and which we regard as a sacred heritage.... If, on becoming subjects of the British Crown, we have been able to keep our ancient rights and even acquire new ones, upon the other hand we have undertaken obligations which, descended as we are from a chivalrous race, we recognize in full and hold ourselves in honour bound to proclaim. May I be permitted to make a personal reference? I am told that here in France there are people surprised at the attachment that I feel for the Crown of England and which I do not conceal. Here that is called loyalisme. (For my part, may I say in passing, I do not like that newly coined expression, loyalisme: I much prefer to keep to the good old French word loyauté.) And certainly, if there is one thing that the story {183} of France has taught me to regard as an attribute of the French race, it is loyalty, it is the heart's memory. I recall, gentlemen, those fine lines which Victor Hugo applied to himself, as explaining the inspiration of his life:

Fidèle au double sang qu'ont versé dans ma veine,
Mon père vieux soldat, ma mère vendéenne.

That double fidelity to ideas and aspirations, quite distinct, is our glory in Canada. We are faithful to the great nation which gave us life, and we are faithful to the great nation which has given us liberty!'

A little later to a brilliant gathering he uttered a prophetic wish: 'It may be that here in France the memories of the ancient struggles between France and England have lost nothing of their bitterness, but as for us, Canadians of whatever origin, the days we hold glorious are the days when the colours of France and of England, the tricolor and the cross of St George, waved together in triumph on the banks of Alma, on the heights of Inkerman, on the ramparts of Sebastopol. Times change; other alliances are made, but may it be permitted to a son of France who is at the same time a British subject, to salute those glorious days with a regret which will {184} perhaps find an echo in every generous mind on either side the Channel.' Long cheering followed these words. Echo, indeed, they have found in these later days of new battlefields, of a nobler cause and of bravery no less than of old.

At last this close-pressed summer was over, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier returned to a country that for a brief time knew no party. Every Canadian felt that his country stood higher than before in the world's regard, and the welcome given to the prime minister on his return fittingly marked that nation-wide feeling. Canada's hour at last was come.

In 1899 the outbreak of the war with the Boer republics gave occasion for a new step in Canada's national and imperial development. By instituting the British preference Canada had made a distinct advance towards closer union along the line of trade. Now, by sharing for the first time in an imperial war overseas, the Dominion made an equally momentous advance along the line of closer union for defence.

The conflict in South Africa had been brewing for years. Over and above the racial antagonism between Boer and Briton there was the strife unavoidable between a primitive, {185} pastoral people and a cosmopolitan, gold-seeking host. The Transvaal burgher feared that, if the newcomers were admitted freely to the franchise, he and all things that he cherished would be swamped. The Outlander was equally determined to have the dominant voice in the country in which he was rapidly gaining the majority. And what with corruption rife in the little oligarchy that surrounded Paul Kruger at Pretoria; what with the Anglo-German-Jewish mining magnates of Johannesburg in control of a subsidized press; what with Rhodes and Jameson dreaming of a solid British South Africa and fanatical Doppers dreaming of the day when the last rooinek would be shipped from Table Bay, and with the Kaiser in a telegraphing mood—there was no lack of tinder for a conflagration. Even so, the war might have been averted, for there were signs of growth among the Boers of a more reasonable party under Joubert and Botha. But, whatever might have been, Paul Kruger's obstinacy and Joseph Chamberlain's firmness collided; and when, on October 9, 1899, Kruger issued his ultimatum, demanding that Great Britain should withdraw her troops from the Transvaal frontier and submit the dispute to arbitration, the die was cast.


What of Canada? She had never before taken part in war beyond the American continent. Yet no sooner was the ultimatum launched than offers of service from individuals and military units began to pour into Ottawa, and press and public to demand that a Canadian contingent should be sent. It was a startling change from the day when Sir John Macdonald had declined to take any step towards equipping a Canadian contingent for the Soudan. It was not because Canada was deeply convinced that in the Boer War Britain's cause was more just than in the Egyptian War. The vast majority, indeed, believed that the cause was just, that Britain was fighting to free a population suffering under intolerable tyranny. When neutral opinion the world over condemned Britain's policy, Mr Balfour urged in its defence that the colonies believed in its justice. True; not because, in Canada, at least, there was at the outset any real knowledge of the tangled issue, but simply because of the reputation which British statesmen had acquired in the past for probity and fairness. Nor was it that Canada believed the Empire's existence to be at stake. Many a time leaders of both parties had spoken fervently of coming to {187} Britain's aid if ever she should be in serious straits. But few, if any, in Canada believed this to be such an occasion. In the phrase of a fervent Canadian imperialist, it seemed as if a hundred-ton hammer was being used to crush a hazel-nut. Faith in the greatness of Britain's naval and military might was strong, and, even more than in Britain, public opinion in Canada anticipated a 'promenade to Pretoria,' and was only afraid that the fighting would be all over before our men arrived. It was just another of Britain's 'little wars.'

The real source of the demand that Canada should now take a part lay in the new-born imperial and national consciousness. The crisis served to precipitate the emotions and opinions which had been vaguely floating in the Canadian mind. The Jubilee festivities and the British preference had increased imperial sentiment; and, with returning prosperity and rapid growth, national pride was getting the better of colonial dependence. A curious element in this pride was the sense of rivalry with the United States, which had just won more or less glory in a little war with Spain. All these sentiments, fanned by vigorous newspaper appeal, led to the wish to {188} do something tangible to show that the day of passive loyalty was over and the day of responsible partnership had begun.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was faced with a difficult problem. He had not expected war. 'I had hoped to the last,' he said later, 'that there would be no war ... that the Uitlanders would get their rights from Mr Kruger's Government, not by the use of force but simply by the means of reason applied to the case.' Now he was suddenly called upon to decide one of the most momentous issues that had ever confronted the Canadian people. He had to decide it in the midst of a rising tide of popular enthusiasm in the English-speaking provinces. Equally he had to take into account the lukewarmness or hostility of Quebec. The majority of French Canadians stood where their English-speaking fellow-citizens had stood ten or twenty years before. They were passively loyal, content to be a protected colony. The instinctive sympathies of many would be for the Boer minority rather than for the English Outlanders in the Transvaal. We may read the prime minister's thoughts on this aspect of the problem from his own words, addressed to an audience in Toronto:


Blood is thicker than water, and the issue may not appeal to my fellow-countrymen of French origin as it appealed to you.... Still we are British subjects, and claim the rights of British subjects, and we assume all the responsibilities this entails. There are men foolish enough, there are men unpatriotic enough, to blame us and to say that I should have rushed on and taken no precautions to guide public opinion in my own province. That is not my way of governing the country. I told you a moment ago that I would not swim with the current, that I would endeavour to guide the current, and on this occasion I tried to do so.

Moreover, parliament was not in session, and British precedent required the consent of parliament for waging war.

In an interview given on the 3rd of October, a week before the war broke out, Sir Wilfrid denied a report that the Government had already decided to send a contingent, and stated that it could not do so without parliament's consent. On the same day a dispatch was received from Mr Chamberlain expressing thanks for individual offers of service, and stating that four units of one hundred and twenty-five men each would gladly be accepted, to be equipped and sent to Africa at their own or Canada's cost, and thereafter to be maintained by the Imperial Government. {190} Ten days later, three days after the declaration of war, the Government at Ottawa issued an order-in-council providing for a contingent of one thousand men.[2]

The decision once made, the Government lost no time in equipping and dispatching the contingent. On the 30th of October the troops sailed from Quebec. A week later the Government offered a second contingent. Already it was becoming clear that there would be no 'Christmas dinner in Pretoria.' Mafeking, Kimberley, and Ladysmith were besieged, and the British were retiring in Natal. Six weeks passed before the British Government accepted. This time the Canadian authorities decided to send a regiment of Mounted Rifles and three batteries of artillery. Later a battalion of infantry was raised to garrison Halifax and thus release the Leinster regiment for the front, {191} while Lord Strathcona provided the funds to send the Strathcona Horse. In the last year of the war five regiments of Mounted Rifles and a Constabulary Force, which saw active service, were recruited. All told, over seven thousand Canadians went to South Africa.

The course of the war was followed with intense interest in Canada. Alike in the anxious days of December, the black week of Stormberg, Magersfontein, and Tugela, and in the joyful reaction of the relief of Kimberley and Ladysmith and Mafeking and the victory of Paardeberg, Canadians felt themselves a part of the moving scene. Perhaps the part taken by their own small force was seen out of perspective; but with all due discount for the patriotic exaggeration of Canadian newspaper correspondents and for the generosity of Lord Roberts's high-flown praise, the people of Canada believed that they had good reason to feel more than proud of their representatives on the veldts of Africa. After Zand River and Doornkop, Paardeberg and Mafeking, it was plain that the Canadian soldier could hold his own on the field of battle. In the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, replying to an attack made by Mr Bourassa:

When we heard that our volunteers had justified fully the confidence placed in them, that they had {192} charged like veterans, that their conduct was heroic and had won for them the encomiums of the Commander-in-Chief and the unstinted admiration of their comrades, who had faced death upon a hundred battlefields in all parts of the world, is there a man whose bosom did not swell with pride, the noblest of all pride, that pride of pure patriotism, the pride of the consciousness of our rising strength, the pride of the consciousness that on that day it had been revealed to the world that a new power had arisen in the west? Nor is that all. The work of union and harmony between the chief races of this country is not yet complete.... But there is no bond of union so strong as the bond created by common dangers faced in common. To-day there are men in South Africa representing the two branches of the Canadian family, fighting side by side for the honour of Canada. Already some of them have fallen, giving to the country the last full measure of devotion. Their remains have been laid in the same grave, there to lie to the end of time in that last fraternal embrace. Can we not hope, I ask my honourable friend himself [Mr Bourassa], that in that grave shall be buried the last vestiges of our former antagonism? If such shall be the result, if we can indulge that hope, if we can believe that in that grave shall be buried our contentions, the sending of the contingent will be the greatest service ever rendered Canada since Confederation.

Meanwhile another war, much less honourable than that on the plains of Africa, was {193} being waged against the Government on the hustings of Canada. The general elections of 1900 gave countless opportunities for the unscrupulous and reckless appeals to racial prejudice and for the charges of disloyalty which have unfortunately marked so many Canadian political contests. Sir Wilfrid Laurier had to face the attacks of extremists in both Quebec and Ontario. In Ontario he was denounced for hesitating to send the first contingent, and particularly for retaining in his Cabinet Mr Tarte, who was reported to have made anti-imperial speeches in Paris. Blissfully unaware that before the next general election they would be lauding the same Tarte to the skies, the chiefs of the Opposition made their war-cry for Ontario, 'Shall Tarte rule?' Concurrently in Quebec the prime minister was denounced for sending the contingent at all, both by Conservatives and by one of the ablest of his former followers, Henri Bourassa, who had broken with his leader on this issue and on other more personal grounds. Even the veteran leader of the Opposition, Sir Charles Tupper, played a double rôle. 'Sir Wilfrid Laurier is too English for me,' he declared in Quebec, and inveighed against the prime minister, whom he characterized as {194} an advocate of imperialism. But at Toronto, some time later, he strove to explain away these words and to convince his hearers that Sir Wilfrid was 'not half British enough.'

Nevertheless, when polling day came in November, the Government was sustained by an enlarged majority. In Ontario it lost fourteen seats, but it gained in the maritime provinces, while Quebec still further increased its overwhelming contingent of Liberals in the House of Commons. The country as a whole evidently approved the Government's policy in the war, and was not unmindful of the long-sought prosperity which was coming under a vigorous administration at Ottawa.

Sir Charles Tupper, now over eighty, but still aggressive and full of enthusiasm, decided to give up the leadership of the Conservative party. He was succeeded by a fellow Nova Scotian, Mr Robert Laird Borden of Halifax. The new leader had been only four years in parliament, but his ability and straightforwardness had won instant recognition. Few changes had occurred in the ranks of the 'Ministry of all the Talents' of 1896. Sir Oliver Mowat and Sir Henri Joly de Lotbinière had retired to lieutenant-governorships, and their places had been taken respectively {195} by Mr David Mills and Mr M. E. Bernier. The permanence of this Ministry was in strong contrast to the incessant changes which had marked the last Liberal Cabinet, that of 1873-78.

SIR ROBERT BORDEN From a photograph by Montminy, Quebec

From a photograph by Montminy, Quebec

The questions of imperial relationship raised by the Boer War lent especial interest to the Colonial Conference of 1902. Again the formal occasion for inviting the representatives of the Dominions to Great Britain was a royal ceremony. Good Queen Victoria had died in 1901, and the coronation of Edward the Seventh was to take place in June. The sudden illness of the king postponed the festivities, but the meetings of the Conference went on as arranged.

The United Kingdom was represented by Mr Chamberlain, Lord Selborne, and Mr Brodrick. Sir Edmund Barton and Sir John Forrest represented Australia, now a single Commonwealth. To speak for the smaller colonies appeared their respective prime ministers—Mr Richard Seddon for New Zealand, Sir Gordon Sprigg for Cape Colony, Sir Albert Hime for Natal, and Sir Robert Bond for Newfoundland. Sir Wilfrid Laurier represented Canada. He was accompanied {196} by Mr Fielding, Sir Frederick Borden, Sir William Mulock, and Mr Paterson. The sessions were more formal than on previous occasions. Only the prime ministers of the Dominions spoke, except when questions arose affecting the special department of one of the other ministers. The earlier conferences had been in a sense preparatory, and the issues raised had not been pressed. Now the dramatic pressure of events and the masterful eagerness of Mr Chamberlain alike gave to the meetings a much more serious aspect.

English imperialists were intensely interested and intensely hopeful. 'I cannot conceal from myself,' declared Mr Chamberlain in his opening address, 'that very great anticipations have been formed as to the results which may accrue from our meeting.' The enthusiasm of Canadian and Australian and New Zealander for the cause of the mother country in the war had led many to believe that the time was ripe for a great stride toward the centralization of the Empire. The policy of autonomy as the basis of union was attacked as obsolete. According to the new imperialism, the control of the Empire should be centralized, should be vested in the British Government, or in an Imperial Council or {197} parliament sitting at London, in which numbers and the overwhelming force of environment and social pressure would give Great Britain unquestioned dominance. Mr Chamberlain himself shared these hopes and these limitations. He was, indeed, more popular in the colonies than any other British statesman, because he had recognized more fully than any other their strength and the value of their support. Yet he, too, laboured under the delusion that Australia and Canada were simply England beyond the seas. He not only looked at imperial questions from the point of view of one who was an Englishman first and last, but expected to find Australians and Canadians doing the same.

These expectations were destined to be rudely shattered. The new imperialism did not give scope for the aspirations of the Dominions. Its apostles had failed to recognize that if the war had stimulated imperial sentiment in the Dominions it had also stimulated national consciousness. The spectacular entry upon the world's stage involved in sending troops half-way across the globe, the bravery and the steadfastness the troops had displayed, had sent a thrill of pride through every Dominion. The achievement {198} of federation in Australia and the new-found prosperity of Canada gave added impetus to the national feeling. And, as a cross-current, opposed alike to the rising nationalism and to any kind of imperialism, there was still the old colonialism, the survival of ways of thought bred of the days when Englishmen regarded the colonies as 'our possessions' and colonials acquiesced. These three currents, colonialism, nationalism, and imperialism, ran strong in Australian and Canadian life, and none of them could be disregarded. A free imperialism, consonant with and allied to national ambitions, the Dominions would have, had indeed already, but the idea of Mr Chamberlain and his followers, which contravened both the new nationalism and the old colonialism, could not prevail.

As before, the chief subjects dealt with by the Conference fell into three fields—political relations, commercial relations, and defence.

In opening the Conference Mr Chamberlain declared that the problem of future political relations had been simplified by the federation of the Australian colonies and the coming closer union of South Africa. The next step would be the federation of the Empire, which he believed was within the limits of {199} possibility. This might come by sending colonial representatives to the existing House of Commons at Westminster, but perhaps a more practical proposal would be the creation of a real Council of the Empire, which in the first instance might be merely advisory but in time would have executive and perhaps legislative powers. Elsewhere Mr Chamberlain had made more clear the extent of the power which he hoped this central council would in time acquire: he had defined it as 'a new government with large powers of taxation and legislation over countries separated by thousands of miles.'

The appeal met with little response. The prime ministers seemed in no haste to abandon the policy by which they had already acquired powers so many and so wide. No resolution was moved in the direction Mr Chamberlain urged. Instead, a step was taken towards making the Conference itself a more organic body by providing that it should meet at intervals not exceeding four years. The vital difference between the Conference and the Imperial Council which Mr Chamberlain desired, was that the Council when full-fledged should be an independent government exercising direct control over all parts of the Empire, {200} and with a dominating representation from the United Kingdom; whereas the Conference was simply a meeting of governments in which all the countries met on an equal footing, with no power to bind any Dominion or to influence its action otherwise than by interchange of information and opinion.

As to defence, a determined attempt was made to induce the colonies to contribute to the support of the British army and navy. Mr Chamberlain submitted a memorandum showing that the United Kingdom spent annually for military and naval purposes 29s 3d per head—while Canada spent 2s, New Zealand 3s 4d, and Australia 4s—and urged that it was inconsistent with the dignity of nationhood that the Dominions should thus leave the mother country to bear the whole or almost the whole cost of defence. He trusted that no demands would be made which would appear excessive, and that something would be done to recognize effectually the obligation of all to contribute to the common weal. Lord Selborne for the Admiralty followed by urging contributions of money as well as of men to the navy. And Mr Brodrick for the War Office proposed that one-fourth of the existing colonial militias should be specially trained {201} and earmarked for service overseas in case of war.

These suggestions met with a limited measure of success. Cape Colony agreed to grant £50,000 a year and Natal £35,000 to the maintenance of the navy, while Australia[3] and New Zealand increased their grants for the maintenance of the Australasian squadron respectively to £200,000 and £60,000 a year. Canada declined to make any grant or promise of the kind desired. Her representatives stated that their objections arose, not so much from the expense involved, as from a belief that acceptance of the proposals would entail an important departure from the principles of colonial self-government, which had proved so great a factor in the promotion of imperial unity. They recognized, however, the need of making provision for defence in proportion to the increasing wealth and population of the country. They were prepared, in the development of their own militia system, to take upon Canada the services formerly borne by the Imperial Government, and would consider the {202} possibility of organizing a naval reserve on the coasts.

Mr Brodrick's proposal to have a special body of troops earmarked for imperial service was endorsed by the small states, New Zealand, the Cape, and Natal, but strongly rejected by the nation-states, Australia and Canada. The latter countries were of the opinion 'that the best course to pursue was to endeavour to raise the standard of training for the general body of their forces, leaving it to the colony, when the need arose, to determine how and to what extent it should render assistance.... To establish a special force, set apart for general imperial service, and practically under the absolute control of the Imperial Government, was objectionable in principle, as derogating from the powers of self-government enjoyed by them, and would be calculated to impede the general improvement in training and organization of their defence forces.'

Thus, so far as the Dominions had awakened to the need of greater outlay for defence, they desired to make that outlay as they made all other expenditure, under the direction and control of their own Governments. It may be asked, Why then did not Canada, in the succeeding decade, make better progress along {203} this line? The reasons were many. One was the engrossment in the tremendous task of opening up and subduing vast continental wildernesses, a task more costly than outside opinion often realized, a task which rose to such proportions that the per capita burden of taxation on the Canadian became decidedly greater than that borne by the Englishman for navy, army, social reform, and all other expenditure. Then, too, there was the old colonialism, the habits of thought acquired under different conditions, which, by force of momentum, persisted after these conditions had passed away. Though Canada had ceased to be a 'possession' and was emerging into nationhood, she awoke but slowly to the idea of taking up her own burden of defence. There was the lack of any pressing danger. The British navy was still unchallenged in its supremacy. Canada had only one near neighbour; and with that neighbour war was fast becoming unthinkable. In fact, the United States was regarded by some as being as much a protection in case of German or Japanese attack as a menace in itself, though doubtless most Canadians, if put to the test, would have refused to accept such patronizing protection as that afforded by the Monroe Doctrine; the {204} day had not yet come, however, when the similar refusal of the South American states to be taken under any eagle's wing, however benevolent, was to lead to the transformation of that relationship into a self-respecting quasi-alliance of pan-American republics. There was the view strongly advanced by Sir Charles Tupper and others, that if Canada were independent the United Kingdom would require not a ship the less to protect its world-wide trade. True; and few Canadians saw the equal truth that in such a case Canada would require many a ship the more. And if it seemed probable, or even as certain as reasoning from the experience of others could make it, that an independent Canada would have been involved in wars of her own, it was also certain, as an actual fact, that through her connection with Britain she had been involved in wars that were not her own. All such ideas and forces not only ran counter to Mr Chamberlain's new imperialism, but set a stumbling-block in the path of any rapid progress in defence upon national lines. The unwillingness of the British authorities to sanction Dominion fleets equally blocked progress along the most promising path.

As to commercial relations, Mr Chamberlain {205} stated that his ideal was 'free trade within the Empire,' presumably with a common customs tariff against all foreign countries. This proposal met with no support. None of the colonies was prepared to open its markets to the manufacturers of the United Kingdom. For the present, protection was their universal policy. It was recommended, however, that those colonies which had not done so should follow Canada's example in giving a preference to British goods, and that the United Kingdom should in turn grant a preference to the colonies by exemption from or reduction of duties then or thereafter imposed. Mr Chamberlain belittled the value of the preference already given by Canada. The Canadian ministers had no difficulty in showing the unfairness of his conclusion. The preference, which had been increased to thirty-three and a third per cent, and made to apply specifically to Great Britain and to such other parts of the Empire as would reciprocate, had not only arrested the previous steady decline in imports from Great Britain, but had led to a substantial growth in these imports. Canada would agree, however, to go further, and grant some increased preference if Britain would reciprocate. These proposals for reciprocal {206} preference turned upon the fact that, as a war revenue measure, the British Government had recently imposed a duty of a shilling a quarter upon wheat. A few months later the tax was abolished, and reciprocal preference again became merely an academic topic.

Canada, still leading the way in the matter of commercial relations, secured the passing of a resolution favouring cheap postage rates on newspapers and periodicals between different parts of the Empire. Already in 1898, Canada had lowered the rates on letters to any part of the Empire from five to two cents per half-ounce, and her example had been widely followed.

For the much cry there was little wool. Neither in trade nor in political relations had Mr Chamberlain's proposals received any encouragement, and in defence matters only small and precarious advance had been made towards centralization. Mr Chamberlain did not conceal his disappointment. In Sir Wilfrid Laurier he had met a man of equally strong purposes and beliefs, equally adroit in argument, and much better informed than himself in the lessons of the Empire's past and in the public opinion overseas on questions of the day. He was plainly inclined to attribute {207} the policy of the Canadian prime minister to his French descent. Divining this, Sir Wilfrid suggested that he should invite the other Canadian ministers to a private conference. Mr Chamberlain accepted the suggestion with alacrity; a dinner was arranged; and hours of discussion followed. To his surprise Mr Chamberlain soon found that the four responsible Canadian ministers of the Crown, all of British stock, two of Nova Scotia and two of Ontario, took precisely the same stand that their French-Canadian leader had maintained. They were as loyal to the king as any son of England, and were all determined to retain Canada's connection with the Empire. But, as Canadians first, they believed, as did Mr Chamberlain himself, that the Empire, like charity, began at home. The outcome was that the colonial secretary perceived the hopelessness of endeavour along the lines of political or military centralization, and henceforth concentrated upon commerce. The Chamberlain policy of imperial preferential trade, which eventually took shape as a campaign for protection, was a direct result of the Conference of 1902.

It is not without interest to note that the policy of the Canadian prime minister as to {208} political and defence relations was not once called in question by the leader of the Opposition when parliament next met. Sir Wilfrid Laurier had faithfully voiced the prevailing will of the people of Canada, whether they willed aright or erringly.

We must now turn to see what relations existed during these years between Canada and the neighbouring land which Canadians knew so well. In 1896, when the Liberal Government took office, there still remained the disputes which had long made difficult friendly intercourse with this neighbour; and as yet there seemed few grounds for hope that they could be discussed in an amicable temper. In the same year the Republicans came again to power, and presently their new tariff out-M'Kinleyed the M'Kinley Act of 1890, raising the duties, which the Democrats had lowered, to a higher level than formerly. Little had yet occurred to change the provincial bumptiousness of the American attitude towards other nations—though there had been a reaction in the country from President Cleveland's fulminations of 1895 on the Venezuelan question—or to arouse towards Great Britain or Canada the deeper feelings of friendship {209} which common tongue and common blood should have inspired. Moreover, the special difficulty that faces all negotiations with the United States, the division of power between President and Congress, remained in full intensity, for President M'Kinley made the scrupulous observance of the constitutional limits of his authority the first article in his political creed. In Canada a still rankling antagonism bred of the Venezuelan episode made the situation all the worse. Yet the many issues outstanding between the two countries made negotiation imperative.

A Joint High Commission was appointed, which opened its sessions at Quebec in August 1898. Lord Herschell, representing the United Kingdom, acted as chairman. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Richard Cartwright, Sir Louis Davies, and John Charlton represented Canada. Sir James Winter sat for Newfoundland and Senator Fairbanks, Senator Gray, Congressman Dingley, General Foster, Mr Kasson, and Mr Coolidge for the United States. The Commission sat at Quebec until October and adjourned to meet at Washington in November. There it continued its sessions and approached a solution of most of the difficulties. It seemed possible to give {210} permanence to the existing unstable arrangements for shipping goods through in bond, to abolish the unneighbourly alien labour laws, to provide that Canadian sealers should give up their rights in Bering Sea for a money payment, and to arrange for a measure of reciprocity in natural products and in a limited list of manufactures. But the question of the Alaskan boundary proved insoluble, and the Commission broke up in February 1899.

Step by step the long and often uncertain border between Canada and the United States proper had been defined and accepted. Only the boundary between Canada and Alaska remained in dispute. There was a difference of opinion as to the meaning of certain words in the treaty of 1825 which defined, or purported to define, the boundary between British and Russian America on the Pacific. That treaty gave Russia a panhandle strip of coast half-way down what is now British Columbia; and, when the United States bought Alaska in 1867, the purchase of course included this strip of coast. As British Columbia grew, the disadvantage of this barrier became seriously felt, and repeated attempts were made to have the boundary defined and, if possible, a port awarded to Canada. The discovery of gold {211} in the Klondike in 1896 made this all the more urgent. The treaty of 1825 provided that north of Portland Channel the boundary should follow the summit of the mountains parallel to the coast, and where these mountains proved to be more than ten marine leagues from the coast, the line was to be drawn parallel to the windings of the coast at ten leagues' distance. Canada contended for an interpretation of this wording which would give her a harbour at the head of one of the fiords which ran far inland, while the United States, following the usual international doctrine that a disadvantage to your neighbour must be an advantage to yourself, insisted that its spite fence should be as high and as gateless as possible.

The main point of difference between the two countries was as to the way of settling the dispute. The United States proposed a commission of three representatives from each side. Given a desire for fair dealing, such a commission is perhaps most satisfactory, at least for a permanent body, as the experience of the Waterways Commission has since shown. But for a temporary purpose, and in the spirit which then existed, the Canadian negotiators knew too well that such a board {212} could reach a decision only by the weakening of one of the British members. They urged, therefore, that a board of three arbitrators should be appointed, one of them an international jurist of repute who should act as umpire. This was the course which the United States had insisted upon in the case of Venezuela, but what was sauce for the Venezuelan goose was not sauce for the Alaskan gander. The United States asserted that the Canadian case had been trumped up in view of the Klondike discoveries, and would not accept any medium of settlement which did not make it certain beforehand that, right or wrong, the claim of Canada would be rejected.

The deadlock in this issue proved hopeless, and the Commission's labours ended without definite result upon any point for the time. Yet the months of conference had done good in giving the statesmen of each country a better idea of the views and problems of the other, and had contributed not a little to the final solution or the final forgetting that the problems existed. Later, during Mr, now Lord, Bryce's term of office as ambassador at Washington, most of the provisional arrangements agreed upon were taken up and embodied in separate agreements, accepted by {213} both countries. When the new era of neighbourliness dawned, a few years later, some of the difficulties which had long loomed large and boding ceased to have any more importance than the yard or two of land once in dispute between farmers who have since realized the folly of line-fence lawsuits.

After the adjournment of the Joint High Commission in 1899 the two countries agreed upon a temporary Alaskan boundary-line for purposes of administration, and it was not until early in 1903 that a treaty for the settlement of the dispute was arranged between Great Britain and the United States and accepted by Canada.

By this treaty the American proposal of a commission of three members from each side was adopted. The Canadian Government agreed to this plan with the greatest reluctance, urging to the last that arbitration with an outside umpire was preferable. Seemingly, however, fairness was secured by a clause in the treaty which provided that the members should be 'impartial jurists of repute, who shall consider judicially the questions submitted to them, and each of whom shall first subscribe an oath that he will impartially consider the arguments and evidence {214} submitted to the tribunal and will decide thereupon according to his true judgment.' Further, the United States now agreed to abandon its former position, that in any case territory then settled by Americans should not be given up. That the United States risked nothing by withdrawing this safeguard became clear when the American commissioners were named—Elihu Root, a member of President Roosevelt's Cabinet, which had declined to make any concession, Senator Lodge, who had only a few months before declared the Canadian contention a manufactured and baseless claim, and Senator Turner from Washington, the state which was eager to retain a monopoly of the Klondike trade. Undoubtedly these were able men, but not impartial jurists. In the words of an American newspaper, 'the chances of convincing them of the rightfulness of Canada's claim are about the same as the prospect of a thaw in Hades.'

The Dominion Government at once protested against these appointments. The British Government expressed surprise, but held that it would be useless to protest, and suggested that it was best to follow this example and appoint British representatives {215} of a similar type. Canada, however, declined the suggestion, and carried out her part honourably by nominating as arbitrators, to sit with the lord chief justice of England, Lord Alverstone, Mr Justice Armour of the Canadian Supreme Court, and Sir Louis Jetté, formerly a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec. Later, on the death of Mr Justice Armour, Mr (now Sir Allen) Aylesworth, K.C., was appointed in his place.

The case was admirably presented by both sides, and all the evidence clearly marshalled. Late in October the decision of the tribunal was announced. A majority, consisting of Lord Alverstone and the three American members, had decided substantially in favour of the United States. Sir Louis Jetté and Mr Aylesworth declined to sign the award, and declared it in part a 'grotesque travesty of justice.'

In Canada the decision met with a storm of disapproval which was much misunderstood abroad, in Great Britain and still more in the United States. It was not the petulant outburst of a disappointed litigant. Canada would have acquiesced without murmur if satisfied that her claims had been disproved on judicial grounds. But of this essential {216} point she was not satisfied, and the feeling ran that once more Canadian interests had been sacrificed on the altar of American friendship. The deep underlying anti-American prejudice now ran counter to pro-British sentiment, rather than, as usual, in the same direction. Had Mr Aylesworth, on his return, given a lead, a formidable movement for separation from Great Britain would undoubtedly have resulted. But while repeating strongly, in a speech before the Toronto Canadian Club, his criticism of the award, and making it clear that the trouble lay in Lord Alverstone's idea that somehow he was intended to act as umpire between Canada and the United States, Mr Aylesworth concluded by urging the value to Canada of British connection; and the sober second thought of the country echoed his eloquent exhortation. While Canada had shown unmistakably at the Colonial Conference that the Chamberlain imperialists would have to reckon with the strong and rising tide of national feeling, she showed now that, strong as was this tide, it was destined to find scope and outlet within the bounds of the Empire. Now imperial sentiment, now national aspirations, might be uppermost, but consciously or unconsciously {217} the great mass of Canadians held to an idea that embraced and reconciled both, the conception of the Empire as a free but indissoluble league of equal nation-states.

When the terms of the treaty were first announced Mr Borden declared that it should have been made subject to ratification by the Canadian parliament. After the award Sir Wilfrid Laurier went further, contending that the lesson was that Canada should have independent treaty-making power. 'It is important,' he said, 'that we should ask the British parliament for more extensive powers, so that if ever we have to deal with matters of a similar nature again, we shall deal with them in our own way, in our own fashion, according to the best light we have.' The demand was not pressed. The change desired, at least in respect to the United States, did come in fact a few years later, though, as usual in British countries, much of the old forms remained.

[1] Shortly after arriving in England Mr Laurier had been made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. Though on personal grounds sincerely reluctant to accept such honours, he had bowed to circumstance and the wishes of his friends.

[2] The reason for the Government's action was clearly stated by Mr David Mills, minister of Justice, as follows: 'There were two things that presented themselves to the minds of the administration. One was to call parliament together and obtain its sanction for a proposition to send troops to South Africa. The other was to await such a development of public opinion as would justify them in undertaking to send the contingent ... the general sanction of the political sovereignty of this country from which parliament derives its existence. Now there was such an expression of opinion in this country as to justify the government in the course which they took.'—Senate Debate, February 6, 1900.

[3] The Australian representatives afterwards met with much difficulty in securing the consent of the Commonwealth parliament to this arrangement. A majority of the members who took part in the debate expressed the opinion that an Australian navy must sooner or later take the place of direct contributions.




The opening of the west—Railway expansion—State aids to production—New provinces and old cries—Party fortunes

We have seen that in the early years of the Laurier régime Canada attained a new international status and came to play no small part in the affairs of the Empire. No less notable in the succeeding years was the remarkable industrial expansion at home, the sunrise of prosperity which followed the long night of depression. This expansion touched every corner of the far-flung Dominion, and was based on the exploitation of resources and possibilities of the most varied kind. Yet the central fact, the development which caused and conditioned all the rest, was the settlement of the great western plains.

For years 'Canada's unequalled western heritage' had given many an after-dinner speaker a peroration, but it had given very few new settlers a living. The Conservative Government had achieved one great task of constructive patriotism, in providing for the {219} building of a railway across the vast wilderness to the Pacific. Over thirty million acres of the choicest lands of the West had been given to this and other railways to encourage settlement. A liberal homestead policy had been adopted. And still the settlers came not, or if they came they did not stay. Barely three thousand homestead entries a year were made in the early nineties. By 1896 the number had fallen to eighteen hundred. Canadians themselves seemed to have lost faith in the West, for in this year the applicants for homesteads included only five hundred and seventy settlers from the older Canada. The stock of the railway which had been built with such national effort had fallen to fifty. West of Lake Superior, after thirty years of Confederation, there were little more than three hundred thousand people, of whom nearly one-third were Indians. And, in the phrase of a western Conservative newspaper, 'the trails from Manitoba to the States were worn bare and brown by the waggon wheels of departing settlers.'

In the remarkable development of the West which now began, and which profoundly changed the whole outlook and temper of Canadian life, there were some general factors {220} with which statesmen or business men had nothing to do. The prices of farm products began to rise the world over, due in part to the swing of population in every land from country to city, and in part to the flooding supplies of new gold. The lessening of the supply of fertile free lands in the United States gave new value to Canada's untouched acres. Yet these factors alone would not have wrought the transformation. In the past, when Canada's West called in vain, low prices had not prevented millions of settlers swarming to the farms of the United States. Even of the Canadians who had migrated to the Republic, half, contrary to the general impression, had gone on the land. Nor was Canada now the only country which had vacant spaces to fill. Australia and the Argentine and the limitless plains of Siberia could absorb millions of settlers. In the United States itself the 'Great American desert' was being redeemed, while American railways still had millions of western acres to sell. Canada had the goods, indeed, but they needed to be advertised.

The new ministers at Ottawa rose to the occasion. They were not content to be 'merely flies on the wheel,' in Sir Richard {221} Cartwright's unlucky phrase of 1876. They adopted a vigorous and many-sided policy for the development of the West and of all Canada. The preferential tariff and the prime minister's European tour admirably prepared the way. The British people now regarded Canada with lively interest, and for the first time the people of the Continent began to realize the potentialities of this new northern land. The general impression thus created was followed up by more specific measures, aiming to bring in men and capital, to extend and cheapen transportation, and to facilitate production.

The call for settlers came first. Never has there been so systematic, thorough, and successful a campaign for immigrants as that which was launched and directed by the minister of the Interior, Mr, now Sir Clifford, Sifton. He knew the needs and the possibilities of the West at first hand. He brought to his office a businesslike efficiency and a constructive imagination only too rare at Ottawa. Through Continental Europe, through the United States, through the United Kingdom, with an enthusiasm unparalleled and an insistence which would not be denied, he sent forth the summons for men and women and {222} children to come and people the great plains of the Canadian West.

It was from Continental Europe that the first notable accessions came. Western Europe, which in earlier decades had sent its swarms across the sea, now had few emigrants to give. Falling birth-rates, industrial development, or governments' desire to keep at home as much food for powder as might be, had slackened the outward flow. But the east held uncounted millions whom state oppression or economic leanness urged forth. From Russia the Doukhobors or Spirit-Wrestlers, eager to escape from the military service their Quakerlike creed forbade, turned to Canada, and by 1899 over seven thousand of these people were settled in the West. Austrian Poland sent forth each year some four to six thousand Ruthenians, more familiarly known as Galicians. Both contingents brought their problems, but they brought also notable contributions to the western melting-pot. Their clannishness, their differing social ideals, the influence of religious leaders who sought to keep them a people apart, created political and educational difficulties of undoubted seriousness. But they turned to farm production, not to selling real {223} estate, and in a few years many came to appreciate and follow Canadian ways, for good or for ill. And if Doukhobor communistic practices or religious frenzy had their drawbacks, they served to balance the unrestrained individualism and the materialism of other sections of the community, and to add vast potentialities of idealism to the nation's store.

Much more significant, however, was the influx of American settlers, which reached a great height soon afterwards. Mr Sifton knew that no settlers could be had anywhere with more enterprise, capital, and practical experience of western needs than the farmers of the western and mid-western states. As these states became settled, many farmers who desired larger scope for their energy or farms for their growing sons were in the mood to listen to tales of pastures new. Among these Americans, then, the minister prepared to spread his glad tidings of the Canadian plains. Agents were appointed for each likely state, with sub-agents who were paid a commission for every settler who came. The land of promise was pictured in attractive, compelling booklets, and in advertisements inserted in seven or eight thousand farm and weekly papers. All inquiries were {224} systematically followed up. In co-operation with the railways, free trips were arranged for parties of farmers and for press associations, to give the personal touch needed to vitalize the campaign. State and county fairs were utilized to keep Canada to the fore. Every assistance was given to make it easy for the settler to transport his effects and to select his new home.

As a result of these aggressive efforts, the ranks of incoming Americans, negligible in the earlier years, rose to astounding proportions—from seven hundred in 1897 to fifteen thousand in 1900 and one hundred thousand in 1911. This influx had a decisive effect on the West. It was not only what these well-to-do, progressive settlers achieved themselves that counted, but the effect of their example upon others. Every American who preferred Canada to his own land persuaded an Englishman or a Scotsman that the star of empire was passing to the north.

Backed by this convincing argument, Mr Sifton now turned to the United Kingdom. For many years his predecessors had directed their chief efforts to this field. Early in the eighties a large influx of British and Irish immigrants had come, but most of them had quickly passed to the United States. In the {225} nineties scarcely ten thousand a year crossed from the crowded British Isles to Canada, while the United States secured thirty or forty thousand. Now conditions were soon reversed. The immigration campaign was lifted out of the routine and dry rot into which it had fallen. Advertisements of a kind new to British readers were inserted in the press, the schools were filled with attractive literature, and patriotic and philanthropic agencies were brought into service. Typical of this activity was the erection of a great arch of wheat in the Strand, London, during the Coronation ceremonies of 1902. Its visible munificence and its modest mottoes, 'Canada the granary of the Empire' and 'Canada offers 160 acres free to every man,' carried a telling message to millions. From nine or ten thousand in the nineties British immigration into Canada rose to fifty thousand in 1904 and over a hundred and twenty thousand in 1911. Australia soon followed Canada's example, with the result that whereas in 1900 only one of every three emigrants who left the British Isles remained under the flag, a dozen years later the proportions had grown to four out of every five. This was empire-building of the most practical kind.


This incoming of English-speaking peoples also brought its problems. The Americans contributed largely to the rise of the 'subdivision expert,' though in this matter of land speculation the native sons soon bettered their instructors. The British immigrants at first included too many who had been assisted by charitable societies, and always they flocked more to the towns than to the land. Yet these immigrants were in the main the best of new citizens.

During the fifteen years of Liberal administration (1896-1911) the total immigration to Canada exceeded two millions. Of this total about thirty-eight per cent came from the British Isles, twenty-six from Continental Europe, and thirty-four from the United States. This increase was not all net. There was a constant ebb as well as flow, many returning to their native land, whether to enjoy the fortune they had gained or to lament that the golden pavements they had heard of were nowhere to be seen. The exodus of native-born to the United States did not wholly cease, though it fell off notably and was far more than offset by the northward flow. After all deductions, the population of Canada during this period grew from barely over five to seven {227} and a quarter millions, showing a rate of increase for the last decade (1901-11) unequalled elsewhere in the world.

Closely connected with the immigration campaign was the Government's land policy. The old system of giving free homesteads to all comers was continued, but with a simplified procedure, lower fees, and greater privileges to the settler. No more land was tied up in railway grants, and in 1908 the odd sections, previously reserved for railway grants and sales, were opened to homesteaders. The pre-emption regulations were revised for the semi-arid districts where a hundred and sixty acres was too small a unit. Sales of farm lands to colonization companies and of timber limits were continued, with occasional excessive gains to speculators, which the Opposition vigorously denounced. Yet the homesteader remained the chief figure in the opening of the West. The entries, as we have seen, were eighteen hundred in 1896. They were forty-four thousand in 1911. Areas of land princely in their vastness were thus given away. Each year the Dominion granted free land exceeding in area and in richness coveted territories for whose possession European nations stood ready to set the world at war. In 1908, for {228} example, a Wales was given away; in 1909, five Prince Edward Islands; while in 1910 and 1911, what with homesteads, pre-emptions, and veteran grants, a Belgium, a Holland, a Luxemburg and a Montenegro passed from the state to the settler.[1]

After and with the settler came the capitalist. The vast expansion of these years was made possible by borrowing on a scale which neither credit nor ambition had ever before made possible. Especially from Britain the millions poured in as soon as Canadians themselves had given evidence of the land's limitless possibilities. The yearly borrowings from the mother country, made chiefly by national and local governments and by the railways, rose to a hundred and fifty millions. French, Dutch, Belgian, and German investors followed. American capitalists bought few bonds but invested freely in mines, timber limits, and land companies, and set up many factories. By the end of the period foreign capitalists held a mortgage of about two and a half billions on Canada, but in most cases {229} the money had been well applied, and the resources of the country more than correspondingly developed.

The railways were the chief bidders for this vast inflow of new capital. It was distinctly a railway era. The railway made possible the rapid settlement of the West, and the growth of settlement in turn called for still new roads. In the fifteen years following 1896 nearly ten thousand miles were built, two miles a day, year in and year out, and the three years following saw another five thousand miles completed. Two great transcontinentals were constructed. Branch lines innumerable were flung out, crowded sections were double-tracked, grades were lowered, curves straightened, vast terminals built, steamship connections formed, and equipment doubled and trebled.

In this expansion the state, as ever in Canada, took a leading share. The Dominion Government extended the Intercolonial to Montreal and began a road from the prairies to Hudson Bay, while the Ontario Government built and operated a road opening up New Ontario. The federal policy of aid to private companies was continued, with amendments. No more land-grants were given, and {230} when cash subsidies were bestowed, the companies so aided were required to carry free government mails, materials and men, up to three per cent on the subsidy. The transcontinentals were specially favoured. The Grand Trunk system was given large guarantees and cash subsidies for its westward expansion, and the Government itself constructed the National Transcontinental to ensure the opening up of the north, and to prevent the traffic of the west being carried to United States rather than to Canadian Atlantic ports. The Canadian Northern was assisted in its prairie construction by both federal and provincial guarantees. The Laurier Government aided the dubious project of building a third line north of Lake Superior, but refused to take any share in the responsibility or cost of building the much more expensive and premature section through the Rockies. The Borden Government and the province of British Columbia, however, gave the aid desired for this latter venture. Another important development was the establishment, in 1903, with the happiest results, of the Dominion Railway Commission, to mediate between railway and shipper or traveller.


The railway policy of this period is still matter for dispute. On the economic side, it is clear that the greater part of the construction was essential in order to open up the West, with all that this implied for both West and East. Yet there were many evils to set against this gain—the stimulus to unhealthy speculation, the excessive building in settled districts, the construction of roads ahead of immediate needs or possible traffic. The fact is that the railway policy was part and parcel of the whole business policy of the period, the outcome of the same new-born optimism which induced many a municipality to build pavements and sewers before the population warranted, or manufacturers to extend their plants too rapidly, or banks to open branches that did not pay. Progress comes in zigzag fashion; now one need is stressed, now another. To each time its own task, to each the defects of its qualities. And if in the reaction from unexampled prosperity some of the expansion seemed to have come before its time, most Canadians were confident of what the future would bring, and did not regret that in Canada's growing time leaders and people persevered in putting through great and for the most part needful works {232} which only courage could suggest and only prosperity could achieve.

On the political side, also, there were entries on both sides of the ledger. Campaign-fund contributions and political intrigue were the chief debit entries. Yet there were heavy credit entries which should not be forgotten. No other country has made the effort and the sacrifice Canada has made to bind its far-distant and isolated provinces in links of steel. The Intercolonial made the union of east and centre a reality, the Canadian Pacific bound east and centre and west, and the National Transcontinental added the north to the Dominion, gave the needed breadth to the perilously narrow fringe of settlement that lined the United States border. The national ends which Sir John Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier steadfastly held in view were so great and vital as to warrant risk, to compel faith, to justify courage.

In Canada the state, without much discussion as to the theory involved, has endeavoured to foster production in countless ways. The encouragement and sifting of immigration and the building or aiding of railways and canals are perhaps the most important {233} single forms this stimulus has taken; but they are far from the only ones. Farmer, miner, fisherman, manufacturer, artisan, all have been aided by policies more or less effective.

Under previous administrations the department of agriculture had done good work and had raised the standard of farm production. That work was now extended and re-vitalized. For the first time a farmer, Mr Sydney A. Fisher, took charge of the department. Better farming and better marketing alike were sought. On experimental farms and in laboratories, studies were carried on as to the best stock or plants, the best fertilizers or the best feeding-stuffs, to suit the varied soils and climates of the wide Dominion. By bulletins and demonstrations farmers were instructed in such matters as the selection of seed, the cool curing of cheese, the improvement of stock, the vigilant guarding against disease in herd and flock. Marketing received equal attention. For the fruit and dairy industries refrigerator-car services and cold-storage facilities on ocean ships were provided. In these and other ways the effort was made to help the Canadian farmer to secure full value for his toil.

The miner received less direct aid. {234} Railways built into mining areas, bounties on lead and petroleum, bounties on iron ore and steel products, laboratory studies in metallurgy, and reduction of the duties on mining machinery, all played a part in the great development of the mines of Canada which marked this era.

None too soon, an important step was taken in 1909 to ensure the perpetuation or the prudent use of the country's natural resources. In the early, lavish days men had believed these resources inexhaustible, or had recklessly ignored the claims of the future in their haste to snatch a fortune to-day. The United States had gone furthest on this path, and was the first to come to its senses. A conference held at Washington, in 1909, attended by representatives of the United States, Canada, Newfoundland, and Mexico—notable also as one of the first instances of Canada's recognition of the fact that she was an American power—recommended the establishment of a conservation commission in each country. Canada was the only country that acted upon the advice. The Conservation Commission was established that very year, with wide duties of investigation and recommendation. Under Sir Clifford Sifton as chairman and Mr {235} James White as secretary it has performed valuable and varied service.

The sea was given thought as well as the land. The fishing bounties already established were continued. Experts were brought from Europe to improve the methods of curing fish. Co-operative cold-storage warehouses for bait were set up, and a fast refrigerator-car service on both coasts brought fish fresh to the interior. Laboratories for the study of marine life and fish hatcheries came into being. Unfortunately, disputes arose as to jurisdiction between Dominion and provinces and between Canada and the United States, and the fisheries did not grow at the rate of other industries.

The manufacturer, however, continued to be the chief object of attention. An increase took place in the service of trade commissioners for Canada in other countries, whose duties are similar to those of a foreign consular service. The bounties on iron and steel production, amounting in all to twenty millions, undoubtedly did much to stimulate that industry. The protective tariff, as we have seen, remained in a modified form. After the notable step of 1897 towards a purely revenue tariff, there came a halt for some years. In fact, it seemed for a time that the pendulum {236} would swing towards still higher duties. In 1902 the manufacturers began a strong campaign in that direction, which was given aggressive support by the minister of Public Works, J. Israel Tarte, often termed by opponents of the Government the 'Master of the Administration.' This breach of ministerial solidarity Sir Wilfrid Laurier met, on his return from the Colonial Conference, by an instant demand for Mr Tarte's resignation. It was made clear that the compromise which had been adopted in 1897 would not be rashly abandoned. Yet the movement for a tariff 'high as Haman's gallows' continued, and produced some effect. It led (1904) to a reduction of the British preference on woollens and to an 'anti-dumping act'—aimed against slaughter or bargain sales by foreign producers—providing for a special duty when articles were sold in Canada for less than the prevailing price in the country of origin. In the same year Mr Fielding foreshadowed the introduction of a minimum and maximum tariff, with the existing duties as the minimum, and with maximum duties to be applied to countries which levied especially high rates on Canadian products. Only the vigorous opposition set up by the farmers of Ontario {237} and the West checked the agitation for still higher duties. The new tariff of 1907 made many careful revisions upward as well as downward, but on the whole the existing level was retained. Below the maximum or general rate, but higher than the British preference, there was set up an intermediate tariff, for bargaining with foreign states. This compromise tariff of 1907 remained in force with little change or strong agitation for change until three years later, when negotiations for reciprocity with the United States once more brought the issue to the front.

The field of social legislation, in which so many radical experiments have been made by other lands, in Canada falls for the most part to the provinces. Within its limited jurisdiction the Laurier Government achieved some notable results. Early in its career it put down sweating and made compulsory the payment of fair wages by government contractors. It set up a department of Labour, making it possible to secure much useful information hitherto inaccessible and to guard workmen's interests in many relations. Late in the Laurier régime a commission was appointed to study the question of technical education, important alike for manufacturer {238} and for artisan. The most distinctive innovation, however, was the Lemieux Act, drawn up by W. L. Mackenzie King, the first deputy minister of Labour. This provided for compulsory investigation into labour disputes in quasi-public industries. It proved a long step towards industrial peace, and was one of the few Canadian legislative experiments which have awakened world-wide interest and investigation.

The growth of the West made it necessary to face the question of granting full provincial powers to the North-West Territories. Originally under the direct rule of the Dominion parliament, step by step they had approached self-government. In 1886 they had been given representation at Ottawa; in 1888 a local legislature was created, with limited powers, later somewhat enlarged; and in 1897 the Executive Council was made responsible to the legislature. Now, with half a million people between Manitoba and British Columbia, the time had come to take the last step. And so in 1905 the Autonomy Bills, establishing the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, were brought before the House of Commons by the prime minister.


There were many controversial issues involved. How many provinces should be created? Two were decided upon, to comprise the area south of the sixtieth parallel; the area to the north was left in the territorial status. What should be the capitals? Provisionally Edmonton and Regina were selected. Should the provinces be given control of crown lands? Notwithstanding some opposition, it was decided to maintain the policy, in force from the first acquisition of the West, of keeping the lands in control of the Dominion, which also had control of immigration. What financial aid should be given? Liberal grants were provided, accepted by all parties as fair and adequate. What legislative powers should the provinces be given, particularly on the subject of education? This proved a thorny question. It provoked a storm of heated controversy which for a brief time recalled the days of the Jesuits' Estates and Manitoba school questions.

A clause in the bills, which Sir Wilfrid Laurier introduced in February 1905, provided: first, that Section 93 of the British North America Act, safeguarding minority privileges, should apply; secondly, to make it clearer what these privileges were, it stipulated that {240} the majority of the ratepayers in any district might establish such schools as they thought fit, and that the minority, whether Protestant or Catholic, might also do so, being in that case liable only for one set of school rates; and thirdly, that legislative appropriations should be divided equitably between public and separate schools.

Three main questions arose. Were separate schools desirable in themselves? Was there any obligation, legal or moral, to establish or maintain them? If so, what form should they take?

Introducing the bills, Sir Wilfrid stated that he 'never could understand what objection there could be to a system of schools wherein, after secular matters had been attended to, the tenets of the religion of Christ, even with the divisions which exist among His followers, are allowed to be taught.' He went on to contrast the schools of Canada, wherein Christian dogmas and morals were taught, with those of the United States, where they were not taught, and to point out the resulting difference in moral standards as witnessed by lynching, murder, and divorce statistics.

The great majority of Catholics and a {241} minority of Protestants, or their ecclesiastical spokesmen, regarded the school as a means of teaching religion as well as secular subjects, and wished secular subjects, where possible, to be taught from a distinctly religious point of view. A small minority were in favour of complete secularization of all schools. The majority of Protestants would probably have favoured some non-denominational recognition of religion in the schools, and would judge denominational teaching by the test of how far this would involve herding the children apart and putting obstacles in the path of educational efficiency and of national unity.

But was parliament free to grant the provinces the liberty to decide the question solely in accord with what the majority might now or hereafter think expedient? On the one hand, it was vigorously contended that it was free, and that any attempt to limit the power of the province was uncalled for, was an attempt to petrify its laws, and to revive the coercion which Sir Wilfrid Laurier himself had denounced and defeated in 1896. The recognition of separate schools in the British North America Act, the critics continued, applied only to the four original provinces, and there was probably no power, and {242} certainly no legal obligation, to extend the principle to the West. On the other hand, it was argued that Section 93 of the British North America Act—introduced at the instance of the Protestant minority of Quebec, and designed to protect the interest of all minorities—morally and legally bound the whole Dominion; that the Manitoba Act of 1870 confirmed the principle that the Dominion could give a new province only such powers as the constitution provided, which meant control over education subject to the minority's privilege; and that parliament, by unanimously establishing separate schools in the North-West Territories in 1875, had still further bound its successors, or at least had shown how the Fathers of Confederation interpreted the constitution.

To many, however, the abstract questions of separate schools and the constitution were less important than the practical question, What kind of schools were to be guaranteed by these bills? Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared that the school system to be continued was that actually in force in the North-West, which had been established under the clause respecting schools of the Dominion Act of 1875, which the present bills repeated word for word. {243} This system worked very satisfactorily. It gave Catholic and Protestant minorities the right to establish separate schools, and to pay taxes only for such schools. In all other respects the school system was uniform; there was only one department of education, one course of study, one set of books, one staff of inspectors. No religious teaching or religious emblems were permitted during school hours; only in the half-hour after the close of school might such teaching be provided. The separate schools were really national schools with the minimum of ecclesiastical control.

It soon became apparent, however, that the schools then existing in the North-West, though based on the Act of 1875, were much less ecclesiastical in character than the act permitted, and less ecclesiastical in fact than the schools which had formerly existed in the territories. In 1884 the Quebec system had been set up, providing for two boards of education, two courses of study, two staffs of inspectors, and separate administrations. But in 1892 this dual system had been abolished by the territorial legislature, and in 1901 the existing system had been definitely established by a series of ordinances. To meet the {244} objections urged, the new bills were amended to make it clear that it was the limited separate school system established in 1901 that was to be continued, and not a complete separate system as authorized in 1875. The bills as originally drafted virtually gave the Church complete control over separate schools, but, as now amended, control over religious education only.

The measure was hotly debated, inside and outside parliament. Particularly in Ontario the original bills were denounced by many Liberals as well as Conservatives as oppressive, reactionary, and a concession to the hierarchy. The West itself was not disturbed, and the Protestants of Quebec acquiesced in the recognition of separate schools. Mr Sifton made the measure the occasion for resigning from the Ministry. The controversy was a great surprise to Sir Wilfrid, who had considered that he was simply carrying out the agreement reached unanimously in 1875. The amendment satisfied all the malcontents of his party in parliament, but the controversy continued outside. The more extreme opponents of separate schools would see no difference between the new clause and the old. Archbishop Langevin strongly denounced the {245} amendment; but the fire soon cooled. Today fewer than one school in a hundred in the two provinces is a separate school.

Throughout this period of rapid growth the Liberal party maintained its place in power. The country was prosperous and content and the party chieftain invincible. The general elections of 1904 turned chiefly on railway issues. The criticisms of the Opposition, many of them well grounded, proved unavailing. The contest ended in a victory for the Government with a majority of sixty seats in the House and of fifty thousand votes in the country. The results presented the usual discrepancies between electoral votes and parliamentary representation. Though the Liberals had only 54,000 votes in Nova Scotia, as against 46,000 for the Conservatives, they captured all the eighteen seats. Prince Edward Island, giving the Liberals a popular majority, returned three Conservatives to one Liberal. Ontario cast 217,000 Conservative and 213,000 Liberal votes and returned forty-eight Conservatives and thirty-eight Liberals. An untoward incident of the elections was the defeat of Mr R. L. Borden in Halifax. The leader of the Opposition had won universal respect, {246} and it was to the satisfaction of opponents as well as followers that another seat was shortly found for him.

In the general elections of four years later (1908) no single issue was dominant. The Opposition alleged 'graft' and corruption, and charged ministers and ex-ministers with breach of the eighth and neighbouring commandments. Government officials, too, they said, were guilty of extravagance and fraud. Timber limits, contracts, land deals, figured in still further scandals. The ministerial forces replied in the usual way, claiming in some cases that there was no ground for the allegations, and in others that they themselves had intervened to put a stop to the practices inherited from previous administrations. They carried the war into Africa by counter-charges against leading members of the Opposition. The air was full of scandals and personalities; but none of the charges were of sufficient magnitude or sufficient certainty to weigh heavily against the prosperity of the country and the personality of the prime minister. The parliamentary majority, however, fell from sixty-two to forty-seven, and the popular majority from fifty to twenty thousand.


The years had brought many changes in the Ministry. Mr Sifton had retired, Mr Tarte's resignation had been accepted, and Mr Fitzpatrick had gone to the Supreme Court. Mr Oliver had succeeded Mr Sifton, Mr Aylesworth had come from a distinguished place at the bar to the portfolio of Justice, Mr Pugsley was in charge of Public Works, Mr Graham had left the leadership of the Ontario Opposition for the portfolio of Railways, Mr Mackenzie King had jumped from the civil service to the Cabinet, and Mr Lemieux and Mr Brodeur were the prime minister's chief colleagues from Quebec. The Opposition benches showed almost as many changes. Of the former Conservative ministers, Mr Foster and Mr Haggart only remained in active service, while Mr Doherty, Mr Ames, and Mr Meighen were among the more notable accessions. Some rumbles of discontent were heard against Mr Borden's leadership, but the party as a whole rallied strongly to him, and his position both in the party and in the country grew increasingly firm.

Through all the changes the prime minister grew in strength and prestige. Each year that passed gave proofs of his masterful leadership. {248} The old cry that he was too weak to rule now gave way to the cry that he was too strong. There was no question that for all his suavity he insisted upon being first minister in fact as well as in form. In Canada he had a hold upon the popular imagination which had been equalled only by Sir John Macdonald, while abroad he was the one Canadian, or in fact the one colonial statesman, known to fame, the outstanding figure of Greater Britain.

[1] It is estimated that 15 per cent of the Scottish, 18 per cent of the English, 19 per cent of the Irish, 27 per cent of the Continental, and 30 per cent of the United States immigrants made entry for homesteads. The proportion of Americans who bought land was in still greater degree much the largest.




Europe and Asia—The United States—Reciprocity

The early years of the Laurier régime brought Canada into the visual range of the outside world. During the middle years the business of the country's internal development overshadowed everything else. Then in the later years the relations of Canada with other countries came to occupy an increasingly important place on the political stage.

At last, Canada's rising star compelled the attention of foreign countries beyond the seas. Some of these countries sent capital, and no Canadian objected. Some sent goods, and manufacturers and producers raised the questions of protection and reciprocal tariff privileges. Others, as we have seen, sent men. Some of these immigrants Canada welcomed indiscriminately, some she took with qualms, while against others she erected high barriers, with half a mind to make them still higher.

First, as to trade and tariffs, which were the {250} chief subjects of discussion with European governments. The original Fielding tariff of 1897 had adopted the minimum and maximum principle, with the intention that a few low-tariff countries should share with Great Britain the advantages of the lower rates. Treaty complications made this impossible, and the lower rates were confined to the Empire. Then in 1907 came the intermediate tariff as a basis for bargaining. The Government turned first to France. Mr Fielding and Mr Brodeur, associated with the British ambassador at Paris, negotiated a treaty, giving France the intermediate and in some cases still lower rates, and receiving advantages in return. The treaty, though made in 1907, was not ratified until 1910. Owing to existing British treaties with most-favoured-nation clauses which bound the colonies, the concessions given France had to be extended to Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and Switzerland. Belgium and Holland, both low-tariff countries, received many of the same concessions, and in the same year (1910) a special convention was made with Italy. All the latter negotiations were carried on direct between the Canadian Government and the foreign consuls-general in Canada. In the {251} agreement with Italy the parties were termed 'the Royal Consul of Italy for Canada, representing the government of the Kingdom of Italy, and the Minister of Finance of Canada, representing His Excellency the Governor-General acting in conjunction with the King's Privy Council for Canada.'

Meanwhile less friendly relations had arisen with Germany. Angry at the action of Canada in giving British goods a preference, Germany in 1899 withdrew her minimum rates on Canadian products, imposing the much higher general rates. The Laurier Government protested that the British preference was a family affair, and that so long as Germany was given the same rates as other foreign countries she had no excuse for retaliation. But this soft answer did not turn away Teutonic wrath; so in 1903 Canada retorted in kind, by levying a surtax of one-third on German goods. The war of tariffs lasted seven years. While it hampered the trade of both countries, German exports were much the hardest hit. Germany took the initiative in seeking a truce, and in 1910 an agreement was reached between Mr Fielding and the German consul-general. Germany dropped her protest against the British preference, and gave the Dominion the {252} minimum rates on the most important dutiable exports in return for, not the intermediate, but the general tariff rates. So ended one of the few instances of successful retaliation in all the chequered annals of tariff history.

Secondly, as to men. This was the issue with Asiatic powers. The opposition to Asiatic immigration, so strong in Australia and South Africa as well as in the United States, prevailed in Western Canada. Working men demanded protection against the too cheap—and too efficient—labour of the Asiatic as validly as manufacturers objected to the importation of the products of European 'pauper labour.' Stronger, perhaps, was the cry for a White Canada based on the difficulty of assimilation and the danger to national unity of huge colonies of Asiatics in the thinly peopled province beyond the mountains.

Chinese navvies first came to Canada to aid in building the government sections of the Canadian Pacific Railway. An immediate outcry followed, and in 1885 a head-tax of $50 was imposed on all Chinese immigrants not of the official, merchant, or scholar classes. During the nineties slightly over two thousand {253} a year paid the price of admission to the Promised Land. Then growing prosperity attracted greater swarms. Doubling the tax in 1901 only slightly checked the flow, but when it was raised to $500 in 1904 the number willing to pay the impost next year fell to eight. But higher wages, or the chance of slipping over the United States border, soon urged many to face even this barrier, and the number paying head-tax rose to sixteen hundred (1910) and later to seven thousand (1913). These rising numbers led British Columbia to demand total exclusion; but, thanks to the diffusion of the Chinese throughout the Dominion, their lack of assertiveness and their employment for the most part in industries which did not compete with union men or the smaller merchants, the agitation did not reach great proportions.

It was otherwise with the newcomers from Japan. Their competition was more serious. Aggressive and enterprising, filled with a due sense of the greatness of Japan, aspiring to not merely menial but controlling posts, they took firmer root in the country than did the migratory Chinaman. At the same time Japan's rising power, her obvious sensitiveness, and her alliance with Great Britain made it {254} expedient to treat her subjects more warily than those of quiescent China. There was practically no Japanese immigration until 1904-5, when three hundred entered. In 1905 the Dominion Government decided to adhere to the Anglo-Japanese treaty in order to secure favourable terms in Japan's market. A clause of this treaty provided for the free entrance of each country's subjects into the other country. When asked by the colonial secretary whether they wished to reserve the right to restrict immigration, as Queensland had done, the Dominion authorities declared that they would accept the treaty as it stood, relying upon semi-official Japanese assurances of willingness to stop the flow in Japan itself. Then suddenly, in 1906 and 1907, a large influx began, amounting to seven thousand in a single year. This immigration, which was prompted by Canadian mining and railway companies acting in co-operation with Japanese societies, came via the Hawaiian Islands. Alarm rose rapidly in British Columbia, and was encouraged by agitators from the United States. The climax came in September 1907, when mobs attacked first the Chinese and later the Japanese quarters in Vancouver, doing much damage for a time, but {255} being at last routed by Banzai-shouting bands of angry Japanese. The Dominion Government at once expressed its regret and in due time compensated the sufferers from the riot. To solve the larger question, Mr Lemieux was sent to Japan as a special envoy. Cordially supported by the British ambassador at Tokio, he succeeded in reaching a very satisfactory agreement. The Japanese Government itself agreed to restrict immigration direct from Japan, and to raise no objection to Canadian prohibition of immigration by way of Hawaii. This method was much more acceptable to Japan's pride than direct Canadian restrictions would have been, and proved equally effective, as the number of Japanese entering Canada averaged only six hundred in the following years. The Dominion Government's course was open to criticism in some points, but its earnest endeavour to safeguard imperial as well as national interests, and the success of Mr Lemieux's diplomacy, were indications that the Dominion was rising to the demands of its new international position. Incidentally it was the Government's unwillingness to agree to complete Japanese exclusion that in 1908 brought the loss of every seat, save one, in British Columbia.


After the Alaskan boundary had been settled, no critical issue arose between the two North American democracies for several years. There were still questions outstanding which in earlier days would have given opportunity for tail-twisting or eagle-plucking politicians to make trouble, but in the new era of neighbourliness which now dawned they were settled amicably or allowed to fall into blessed oblivion.

A remarkable change in the spirit in which the two peoples regarded each other came about in this period. The abandonment by the United States of its traditional policy of isolation, its occupation of the Philippines, its policy of the open door for China, its participation in the Morocco dispute, effected a wonderful transformation in the American attitude towards questions of foreign policy and compelled a diplomacy more responsible and with more of give and take. This led to incidents—such as that in Manila Bay, when a British admiral lined up alongside the American fleet against a threatening German squadron—which made it clear that Great Britain was the one trustworthy friend the United States possessed. The steady growth of democratic feeling in Britain, her daring {257} experiments in social betterment, her sympathetic treatment of the Irish and South African questions, increased the friendliness and the interest which the majority of Americans felt at bottom for what was their motherland. Canada's prosperity awakened respectful interest. A country which fifty or a hundred thousand good Americans every year preferred to their own must be more than the negligible northern fringe it once was thought to be.

Canada reciprocated this more friendly feeling. Prosperity mended her querulous mood and made her too busy to remember the grievances of earlier days. Her international horizon, too, had widened; the United States was no longer the sole foreign power with which she had to deal, though still the most important. Yet this friendlier feeling did not lead to a general desire for freer trade relations. Quite the contrary; confident in her own newly realized resources and in the possibility of finding markets elsewhere, dominated by protectionist sentiment and by the growing cities, Canada became on the whole indifferent to what had once appeared an essential goal. In Sir Wilfrid Laurier's phrase, the pilgrimages from Ottawa to Washington had ceased: {258} the pilgrimages must come, if at all, from Washington to Ottawa.

Washington did come to Ottawa. Notable was the visit of Secretary Root in 1907, to discuss outstanding issues. Notable too, in another direction, was the increased interest of the British ambassador at Washington in Canadian affairs. This was particularly true of Mr Bryce, who made it a point to visit Ottawa every year of his term, and declared that he was really more the Canadian than the British ambassador. His skilful diplomacy and his intimate knowledge of American politics served Canada in good stead, and quieted the demand which had frequently been voiced for a separate Canadian representative at Washington.

Among the fruits of the new friendliness and the more direct diplomatic discussion was the settlement of two long-standing fishery disputes. The much discussed Convention of 1818, in respect to the Atlantic fisheries, was referred to the Hague Tribunal in 1910, where it was finally set at rest. The controversy as to fur-sealing on the Pacific was settled by international agreement in 1911. Less success was met in dealing with the fisheries of the Great Lakes. A comprehensive treaty {259} for the protection and development of these fisheries, drawn up in 1908, was not ratified because of the opposition of some private interests in the United States.

The most significant achievement of these years, however, was a broad provision for the settlement of all disputes as to boundary waters. The pressure for the use of boundary rivers for the development of power, with all the difficult questions arising as to division of the power or obstruction to navigation, made necessary such a provision. In accordance with a suggestion from the United States a temporary Waterways Commission was set up (1905); and in 1910 a treaty was ratified providing for a permanent International Joint Commission, to consist of three Canadians and three Americans. The treaty provided, further, that any matter whatever in dispute between the two countries, quite aside from boundary-water issues, might be referred to the commission for settlement, with the consent on the one hand of the United States Senate, and on the other of the Governor-General in Council—the Dominion Cabinet. Quietly, with little public discussion, the two countries concerned thus took one of the most advanced steps yet made towards {260} the peaceful settlement of all possible sources of conflict.

The revival of the tariff issue was the most spectacular and most important episode in the new relationship. The revival started in the Republic. For some years a steadily growing agitation in favour of reciprocity with Canada had been carried on in the New England and Northwest states. Nothing might have come of the agitation, however, had not the Payne-Aldrich tariff of 1909 compelled official negotiation and opened up the whole broad issue. Under that tariff the system of maximum and minimum schedules was adopted, the maximum designed to serve as a club to compel other nations to yield their lowest rates. The president was directed to enforce these higher duties against all countries which had not agreed by April 1910 to grant the concessions demanded. The proposal partook of the highwayman's methods and ethics even more than is usual in protectionist warfare; and it was with wry faces that one by one the nations with maximum and minimum tariffs consented to give the United States their lower rates. France and Germany were the last of European nations to accept. Canada {261} alone remained. It was admitted that the preference granted other parts of the Empire did not constitute discrimination against the United States, but it was contended that the concessions made to France should be given to the United States.

Canada resented this demand, in view of the fact that the minimum tariff of the United States stood much higher than the maximum of Canada, and it was proposed to retaliate by a surtax on American goods. In the United States there was wide sympathy with this attitude; but under the act the president had no option but to enforce the higher duties if the concessions were not given. Fortunately he was left to decide as to the adequacy of such concessions, and this made agreement possible at the eleventh hour. President Taft proposed a conference at Albany; the Dominion Government accepted, and an agreement was reached on the 30th of March, the last day of grace but one. Canada conceded to the United States its intermediate rates on a few articles of minor importance—china-ware, window-glass, feathers, nuts, prunes, and other goods—and the United States accepted these as equivalent to the French concessions. Then, to complete the comedy, Canada at once made {262} these lower rates part of its general tariff, applying to any country, so that the United States in the end was where it started—enjoying no special concessions whatever. Canada had gone through the motions of making a concession, and that sufficed.

This agreement, however, was only the beginning. President Taft, who recognized too late that he had antagonized the growing low-tariff sentiment in the United States by his support of the Payne-Aldrich tariff, decided to attempt a stroke for freer trade. He proposed a broad revision of trade relations with Canada. In negotiations which began at Ottawa and were concluded at Washington in January 1911, an agreement for a wide measure of reciprocal free trade was effected. It was nearly as broad as the treaty of 1854. Grain, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, live stock, fish, hewn lumber and sawn boards, and many minerals were put on the free list. Meats, flour, coal and other articles free in the earlier agreement were subjected to reduced rates, a limited number of manufactured articles were included, some of them Canadian and some of them American specialties. The agreement was to be effected, not by treaty but by concurrent legislation for an {263} indefinite period. The Canadian Government announced that the same terms would be granted all parts of the British Empire.

After the cabinets, the legislatures. President Taft had great difficulty in securing the consent of Congress. Farmers and fishermen, stand-pat Republicans and anti-administration insurgents, opposed this sudden reversal of a traditional policy. Only by the aid of Democratic votes in a special session of Congress was the measure adopted, late in July. Meanwhile the Opposition in the Canadian parliament, after some initial hesitation, had attacked it with growing force. They resorted to the obstruction which the Liberals had practised in 1896, and compelled the Government to appeal to the country, a week after Congress had accepted the agreement.

After parliament, the people. Apparently the Government anticipated that the bargain would be welcomed by nearly all Canadians. That expectation was not without warrant. It was such a treaty as Canada had sought time and again during the last fifty years, and such as both parties would have accepted without question twenty years before. Every important leader of the Conservative party was on record as favouring such an {264} arrangement. Yet it was received first with hesitation, then more and more freely denounced, and finally overwhelmed.

On the economic issues concerned the advocates of the agreement apparently had a good case. The farmer, the miner, the fisherman stood to gain from it, not so notably as they would have done twenty years before, but yet undoubtedly to gain. It was contended that the United States was itself a rival producer of most of the commodities in question, and that Canada would be exposed to the competition of the British Dominions and the most-favoured nations. These arguments had force, but could not balance the advantages of the arrangement, especially to the western farmer. That this gain would accrue and a large trade north and south be created, to the destruction of trade east and west, was in fact made by the opponents of the treaty the chief corner-stone of their economic argument. It was held, too, that the raw products of farm and sea and forest and mine ought not to be shipped out of the country, but ought to be kept at home as the basis of manufacturing industries. And though the arrangement scarcely touched the manufacturers, the thin end of the wedge argument had much weight {265} with them and their workmen. It would lead, they thought, to a still wider measure of trade freedom which would expose them to the competition of American manufacturers.

But it was the political aspect of the pact that the Conservatives most emphasized. Once more, as in 1891, they declared Canadian nationality and British connection to be at stake. Reciprocity would prove the first long step towards annexation. Such was the intention, they urged, of its American upholders, a claim given some colour by President Taft's maladroit 'parting of the ways' speech and by Speaker Clark's misplacedly humorous remark, 'we are preparing to annex Canada.' And while in Canada there might be as yet few annexationists, the tendency of a vast and intimate trade north and south would be to make many. Where the treasure was, there would the heart be also. The movement for imperial preferential trade, then strong in the United Kingdom, would be for ever defeated if the American offer should be accepted. Canada must not sell her birthright for a mess of Yankee pottage.

The advocates of reciprocity denounced these arguments as the sheerest buncombe. Annexation sentiment in the United States {266} they declared to be rapidly disappearing, and in any case it was Canada's views, not those of the United States, that mattered. Reciprocity from 1854 to 1866 had killed, not fostered, annexation sentiment in Canada. And, if the doubling and trebling of imports from the United States in recent years had not kept national and imperial sentiment from rising to flood-tide, why now should an increase of exports breed disloyalty? Canadian financiers and railway operators were entering into ever closer relations with the United States; why should the farmer be denied the same right? The reciprocity proposed in 1911, unlike the programme of twenty years earlier, did not involve discrimination against Great Britain, but in fact went along with a still greater preference to the mother country. The claim that reciprocity would kill imperial preference was meaningless in face of this actual fact. Moreover, the British tariff reformers proclaimed their intention, if Mr Chamberlain's policy prevailed, of making reciprocity treaties with foreign countries as well as preferential arrangements with the Dominions, so why should not Canada exercise the same freedom?

But elections are not won merely by such {267} debate. The energy with which they are fought, or the weight of the interests vitally concerned, may prove more decisive than argument. And in this contest the Opposition had the far more effective fighting force and made the far stronger appeal. Mr Borden's followers fought with the eager enthusiasm which is bred of long exclusion from office, while the ministerialists—save only the veteran prime minister himself and a small band of his supporters—fought feebly, as if dulled by the satiety which comes of long possession of the loaves and fishes. Outside the party bounds the situation was the same. The western farmers were the only organized and articulate body on the side of reciprocity, while opposed to it were the powerful and well-equipped forces of the manufacturers and the closely allied transportation and financial interests. Through the press and from a thousand platforms these forces appealed to the dominant beliefs and feelings of the people. Quite effective was the appeal founded on the doctrine of protection. In twenty years Canada had become a city-dominated land, and the average city-dweller had come to believe that his interests were bound up with protection—a belief not unnatural in the {268} absence for a decade of any radical discussion of the issue, and not to be overcome at the eleventh hour. But the patriotic appeal was still more effective. Here was a chance to express the accumulated resentment of half a century against the unneighbourly policy of the United States, now suddenly reversed. The chance could safely be seized, for Canada was prosperous beyond all precedent. 'Let well enough alone' was in itself a vote-compelling cry. In fact, 'Laurier prosperity' proved its own Nemesis. Jeshurun Ontario, having waxed fat, kicked. An American philosopher, Artemus Ward, has recorded that his patriotism was so worked up during the Civil War that he consented to send all his wife's relations to the front. Many an Ontario patriot in 1911 was prepared to sacrifice the interests of his fellow-Canadians to prove his independence of the United States. And in Quebec the working arrangement between the Conservatives and Mr Henri Bourassa and his party told heavily against the Government.

The result of the elections, which were held on the 21st of September, was the overwhelming defeat of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Ministry. In Ontario the Liberals saved only thirteen seats out of eighty-six. In the rest of the {269} country they had a majority, but not sufficient to reduce substantially this adverse Ontario vote. The complete returns gave 133 Conservatives to 88 Liberals. As usual, the popular vote was more equally divided than the parliamentary seats, for the Liberals secured 625,000 and the Conservatives 669,000 votes. The Liberal majority of only 5000 in Quebec, 3000 in the maritime provinces, and 20,000 in the prairie provinces was overcome by the Conservative majority of 63,000 in Ontario and 9000 in British Columbia. A fortnight later Sir Wilfrid Laurier tendered his resignation to the governor-general and Mr Borden formed his Government.




Imperial preferential trade—Political relations—Defence

Neither new relations with foreign lands across the sea nor new-old relations with the United States bulked as large in these later years as relations with the other parts of the British Empire. The question of the Empire's future was a constant theme. It was a time of unparalleled progress in each and all the British states. Great Britain's vast strides towards social justice, Canada's growth and economic activity, the similar, if lesser, expansion of Australia and New Zealand, the unification of South Africa, all bespoke the strength and soundness of each of the Five Nations. The steady growth of community of feeling and of practical co-operation in many fields bore witness that progress did not mean disunion.

Yet there were many at home, and in Great Britain and the other lands overseas, who were far from content with the trend of events, who {271} were convinced that the Empire was drifting to eternal smash unless some change in policy should be effected. To some it was Britain's free-trade policy that was the danger; to others it was the steady growth of self-government in the Dominions. Imperial preferential trade, political federation, colonial contributions to a central army and navy, were all vigorously urged as remedies. Not one of these things came to pass in the years under survey, and yet when the testing-time arrived the Empire proved one in heart and soul.

Great Britain's free-trade policy was first called in question. Scarcely ended were the Boer War and the disappointing Conference of 1902 when Mr Chamberlain, fresh from a tour through South Africa, launched his great campaign for imperial preferential trade. Though protection and retaliation later became more important phases of the tariff-reform movement, at the outset it was its imperial side which was emphasized. The colonies and the mother country, it was urged, were certain to drift apart unless bound by links of material interest. Give the colonies a preference on their wheat or wool in Britain, give British {272} manufacturers a real preference in colonial markets, and the Empire would cease to be merely a sentiment.

Once committed to setting up a protective tariff in order to make reductions in favour of such colonies as would reciprocate, Mr Chamberlain and his followers went on to find in it other great advantages. It would aid British agriculture and British industry, would protect both farmer and manufacturer from the competition they were increasingly unable to bear, and would give a weapon for forcing foreign countries to tear down their tariff barriers. The colonial market, the home market, and the foreign market would thus all be gained, and none too soon, if the complete decay of British industry and the triumph of its rivals were to be averted. 'We have reached our highest point,' declared Mr Chamberlain. 'Our fate will be the fate of the empires and the kingdoms of the past.... Sugar has gone, silk has gone, iron is threatened, wool is threatened, cotton will come.... We are no longer first. We are third. We shall be fifth or sixth if things go on as they are at present.... The trade of this country, as measured by the exports to foreign countries and to British possessions, {273} has during the last twenty or thirty years been practically stationary; our export trade to all these foreign countries which have arranged tariffs against us has enormously diminished, and at the same time their exports to us have enormously increased.'

For a time it seemed that the tariff reformers would sweep all before them. Their chief was the most skilful and popular leader of his time. The inevitable growth of other countries in manufacturing had excited the alarm of the British manufacturer, and protectionist sentiment among the landowners, though scotched, had not been killed. The almost universal reign of protection in foreign countries and the other colonies appeared to prove obsolete the doctrines of Cobden and Bright. It seemed that fifty years of unquestioned triumph in England itself had left free trade a traditional dogma, not a living belief. To the poor, tariff reform promised work; to the rich, a shifting of heavy taxation from their shoulders; to the imperialist, the indissoluble empire of his dreams.

Yet the pendulum soon swung against Mr Chamberlain. Investigation showed that his jeremiads were largely unfounded, and gave new life to the principles of free trade. They {274} were shown not to be obsolete dogmas, but reasoned deductions from the actual situation of the United Kingdom. Imperial preference meant a crippling tax on food and on raw materials for no adequate return. The share of colonial markets which British manufacturers did not have, for which they could compete, and which colonial producers did not desire to keep themselves, was very small. Mr Chamberlain was stricken soon after with lingering illness, and of the younger men of capacity who came upon the scene practically all were on the side of free trade. The stars in their courses fought against him, for, from 1903 onward, British trade began to flourish as never, or rarely ever, before. In the elections of 1906, though other issues were also factors in the result, the sweeping victory of the Liberals was mainly a triumph for free trade.

In Canada, also, at the outset, Mr Chamberlain's proposals were widely welcomed. He was personally popular. The majority of Canadians believed in protection. Some of those who did not were ready to recognize the value of a preference in the British market. Yet as the full implications of the proposal became clear, and as the British free-trader made good his case, opinion in Canada became {275} as divided as in Great Britain. It was realized that it was one thing for Canada to give a reduced tariff, leaving the fiscal system protective still, and quite another for Great Britain to abandon entirely her free-trade policy in order to be able to give preferential rates to colonies or to low-tariff foreign states. Canadian manufacturers gave the movement a warm but vague welcome; it soon became clear that Mr Chamberlain was much mistaken in supposing they were prepared to relinquish any corner of the Canadian market to British manufacturers. They declared officially that they would not favour an increase in the British preference even on articles not made in Canada: 'we were not prepared to admit that there was any article that could not at some point in Canada, and in time, be successfully manufactured.'[1] They were, however, fully prepared to give British manufacturers lower rates than American, provided that both rates were high enough. The farmer, who chiefly was to profit, did not appear eager for the boon of a preference in the British market, so far as farm journals and farmers' organizations represented his view. He would be glad {276} to have higher prices for his wheat or stock, but did not want the British workman to pay a halfpenny a loaf to bribe him to remain in the Empire.

To some extent opinion followed party lines. The Conservative party had consistently supported reciprocal preference and opposed the Laurier-Fielding free gift. The Liberals had defended that preference as in itself a benefit to the Canadian consumer, and had deprecated higgling with Great Britain. They would be glad to receive a preference in Great Britain if Britain felt it in her own interest. Convinced believers in self-government for themselves, however, they were willing that the United Kingdom should have the same privilege, and declined to intervene in the British campaign. Mr Borden took the same stand as to intervention; but many of his followers were not hampered by such scruples, and Mr Foster made eloquent speeches in England on Mr Chamberlain's behalf.

The Conference of 1907 was essentially an appendix to the Chamberlain campaign. Imperial preference found vigorous advocates among colonial prime ministers, notably Dr Jameson of the Cape, Mr Ward of New Zealand, and especially Mr Deakin of Australia, {277} whose eloquent appeal was one of the chief features of the Conference. All expressed themselves as not wanting the United Kingdom to set up a protective and preferential system unless convinced it was for her own good; but with more persistence than success they sought to prove that it would be for her good, and especially to show that prices to the English consumer would not be increased, and yet that colonial producers would gain. The representatives for the United Kingdom, ministers in the British Government, fresh from a three-year discussion of the whole issue and backed by the largest parliamentary majority on record, were equally frank in their rebuttal of the arguments advanced and their refusal to lead Britain to commit what they considered commercial suicide. Mr Asquith and Mr Churchill were especially uncompromising; Mr Lloyd George showed more temperamental sympathy with protection in the abstract, but was equally clear that free trade had been proved best for Great Britain beyond question.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the doyen of the Conference, the only member present for a third time. He took a less vigorous part than in the previous meetings, letting the younger {278} lions roar. He had opened the debate by announcing his intention to move again the preference resolutions of 1902, and did so in a brief speech at the close, making his position clear. Canada had given a free preference to British goods deliberately, and had not repented. If it had not done for the British manufacturer all that he would like, more could be done by a system of mutual preference. 'Yet this is a matter,' he continued, 'that is altogether in the hands of the British people, and if they think on the whole that their interests are better served by adhering to their present system than by yielding ever so little, it is a matter for the British electorate. I think the best way of serving the whole is by allowing every part to serve and recognize its own immediate interests.' On his motion the resolutions of 1902—recognizing the value of preferential trade, declaring free trade between the different parts of the Empire impracticable, urging the colonies to follow Canada's example in giving a preference to the United Kingdom, and urging the United Kingdom to consider the expediency of granting a preference to colonial products, either by an exemption from or reduction of duties now or hereafter imposed—were adopted by {279} all the Dominions, the United Kingdom dissenting. Sir Wilfrid laid more stress upon the proposal for an All-Red line of steamers for faster and better service on the Atlantic and on the Pacific, with joint subsidies, urging that the best way to bind the Empire together was to facilitate intercourse. The proposal was received with enthusiasm; yet, though its advocacy was continued by Lord Strathcona and Mr Sifton, little progress was made towards its adoption.

After the Conference of 1907 preferential trade ceased for a time to be a living issue. Social reform, the budget controversy, the struggles with the House of Lords, Home Rule, foreign affairs, in turn took the leading place on the stage. Four years later, at the Conference of 1911, the subject was not even mentioned. The Unionist party was now definitely pledged to protection on manufactures, but the tax on food, essential to effective colonial preferences, had been thrown overboard by a large section of the party. The British farmer was promised land reform instead of protection on foodstuffs. Even Mr Bonar Law, speaking in 1912, declared that he did not wish to impose food duties, and would impose them only if, in a conference {280} to be called, the colonies declared them to be essential. This endeavour to throw on the colonies the onus and responsibility of making the Englishman pay food taxes was denounced on every side, and after much shuffling a compromise was reached to the effect that 'if when a Unionist Government has been returned to power it proves desirable, after consultation with the Dominions, to impose new duties upon any articles of food, in order to secure the most effective system of preference, such duties should not be imposed until they have been submitted to the people of this country at a general election.'

Thus, after ten years of ardent agitation for tariff reform, one great party in the state was as resolutely opposed to the scheme as ever, and, while the other was committed to it, the duty on foodstuffs, once declared essential to save the Empire, was made conditional and given second place to protection of manufacturers. It was by no means improbable that the whirligig of time would once more bring to the front food taxes and imperial preference. Yet as far as the early years of the century went, the years within which Mr Chamberlain declared that the decision had to be made, no step towards preference had {281} been taken by Great Britain, and still the Empire drew closer together instead of drifting apart. As a matter of fact, the empire-binding value of tariff preference was greatly exaggerated by its advocates. The Laurier-Fielding preference was a real bond of imperial unity simply because it was a free-will offering, given from motives of sentiment, not of profit. A system of preferences such as Mr Chamberlain advocated might possibly be a good business arrangement for one or all of the countries concerned, but it could have little force as empire-cement. It would be a matter of cold-blooded bargain, on a par with the similar reciprocal or preferential arrangements which the protectionists proposed to make with foreign countries. There would be nothing exclusive about it.

Good came of the agitation. It compelled a bed-rock consideration of British business and social conditions, and proved that if free trade had made possible the production of great wealth, it had not been enough to ensure its fair distribution. This searching inquest was largely responsible for the great series of democratic and social reforms adopted by the Asquith Government, reforms which gave the United Kingdom the world's leadership in {282} democracy and won fresh sympathy and loyal emulation in the Dominions. In undying words Mr Asquith gave (1909) a definition of Liberalism which awoke immediate sympathy in every Dominion. It expressed in concentrated form ideals which more and more would be the common heritage of all the Empire, particularly in those Dominions, such as Australia and Canada, where all parties are almost equally democratic and progressive:

As regards the Empire, to secure full unity by allowing the greatest diversity and the fullest liberty of self-government in all its parts.

As regards property, to make it secure by divesting it from injustice.

As regards political authority, to make it stable by resting it on the broadest possible basis of popular responsibility.

As regards religion, to remove it from the odium of alliance with political disabilities.

As regards trade, to make it world-wide by opening our own markets here at home to everybody.

And, finally, as regards the liberty of the individual citizen, to make it a reality instead of a sham, by universal education and by an ever-rising standard of humane conditions both in the factory and the home.

We have now to review briefly the discussions which went on during these years in {283} respect to the political relations of the different states of the Empire. Broadly speaking, two schools or tendencies existed. One favoured the retention of the powers of self-government already acquired by the Dominions and the taking up of still further duties, while at the same time aiming at full co-operation and harmony in matters of essential common interest. The other, declaring that the tendency towards self-government had already gone too far and would if continued lead to the disruption of the Empire, advocated setting up some central council or parliament with legislative and executive control over the whole Empire, within limitations more or less wide. One stood for a free alliance and co-operation, the other for organic or federal union and centralization. These two theories of empire did not, in Canada, become party creeds; but, on the whole, Liberals were sympathetic with free alliance, while centralization drew most of its support from Conservative ranks. On some issues, however, there was an approach to unanimity, and on others the division cut across party lines.

In domestic affairs self-government was almost entirely won. Some survivals of the {284} old colonial subordination remained in the formal inability of Canadians to amend their own constitution and in the appeal from the decisions of Canadian courts to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council—limitations which had been wholly or mainly removed in the case of the newer Commonwealth of Australia. But the long-contested control over copyright was finally conceded, and the Hutton and Dundonald incidents led to the clearer recognition that if imperial officers entered the military service of the Dominion they were, precisely as in the United Kingdom, under the control of the responsible civil ministers. The provision that the commander of the militia must be a British officer was dropped in the revision of the Militia Act in 1904. In the words of Mr, now Sir Robert, Borden in 1902, words which became increasingly true as years went by; 'Step by step the colonies have advanced towards the position of virtual independence so far as their internal affairs are concerned, and in all the important instances the claim has been made by Canada, has been resisted at first by the imperial statesmen, and finally has been conceded, and has proved of advantage both to the Mother Country and to the colonies.'


In foreign affairs self-government came more slowly, in the face of greater opposition, but still steadily and surely. Its coming was more imperceptible; in fact, many Canadians continued to believe that they had no voice in the control of foreign policy, and made on this very ground a strong plea either for setting up some central authority in which they would have representation, or else for declining to take any part in imperial wars because they had not and could not have a real voice in imperial policy.

This belief was well founded, so far as concerned part of the field of foreign affairs, but it failed to recognize the striking advance made in other areas. We were like M. Jourdain of Molière's comedy, who was surprised to find that he had been talking prose all his life without knowing it. We had been carrying on a steadily increasing part of our foreign affairs without consciously labelling them as such. For to-day foreign affairs are largely commercial affairs, questions of trade and tariff, of immigration and transportation, of fishery or power or navigation rights. And it is largely with contiguous countries that the most important questions arise. Now, as has been seen from the review of relations with {286} the United States and other foreign countries in an earlier chapter, Canada had come to have all but complete control of such affairs.

In 1909, following Australia's example, Canada established a department of External Affairs for 'the conduct and management of international or intercolonial negotiations, so far as they may appertain to the government of Canada.' In introducing this measure Sir Wilfrid declared: 'All governments have found it necessary to have a department whose only business will be to deal with relations with foreign countries.... We have now reached a standard as a nation which necessitates the establishment of a Department of External Affairs.' On Sir Robert Borden's accession to power one of his first steps was to increase the importance of this department by giving it a minister as well as a deputy, attaching the portfolio to the office of the prime minister. For other purposes special envoys were sent, as when Mr Fielding negotiated trade relations in France and in the United States, or Mr Lemieux arranged a compromise with the government of Japan upon the immigration issue. In these cases the British ambassador was nominally associated with the Canadian envoy. Even this formal {287} limitation was lacking in the case of the conventions effected with France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Italy in 1909-10, by negotiation with their consuls in Ottawa. Finally, in the Waterways Treaty with the United States, the international status of Canada was for the first time formally recognized in the provision that the decision to submit to arbitration matters other than those regarding boundary waters should be made on the one hand by the President and Senate of the United States, and on the other by the Governor-General in Council, the Cabinet of the Dominion.

At the close of this period, then, every phase of our foreign relations so far as they concerned the United States, and an increasingly large share of our foreign relations with other powers, were under Canadian control. It remained true, however, that Canada had no voice in determining peace and war. In other words, it was with Britain's neighbours, rather than with Canada's neighbours, that any serious war was most likely to come. Diplomatic policy and the momentous issue of peace or war in Europe or Asia were determined by the British Cabinet. In this field alone equality was as yet to seek. The {288} consistent upholder of Dominion autonomy contended that here, too, power and responsibility would come in the same measure as military and naval preparation and participation in British wars. Just as Canada secured a voice in her foreign commercial relations as soon as her trade interests and industrial development gave her commercial weight, so a share in the last word of diplomacy might be expected to come almost automatically as Dominion and Commonwealth built up military and naval forces, or took part in oversea wars.

In this conception the Crown became the chief visible link of Empire. Autonomists believed that 'His Majesty's Government' should remain a manifold power. 'We all claim to be His Majesty's Government,' declared Sir Wilfrid at the Conference of 1907. The Government at Sydney was as much His Majesty's as the Government at Westminster. The Canadian Privy Council was as much His Majesty's as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. The tendency in the Dominions had been to magnify the powers of the king, who was equally their king, and to lessen the powers of the parliament elected in the United Kingdom. In fact the Crown became, if the metaphor is not too homely for such great {289} affairs, a siphon which transferred power from His Majesty's Government in the old land to His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions.

It was, however, not enough to have independent control. It was equally necessary, as the other half of the policy of co-operation, to provide means for securing united and effective action. These were provided in many forms. High commissioners and agents-general became increasingly important as ambassadors to London. Departments of External Affairs ensured more constant and systematic intercourse. Special conferences, such as the Naval Conference of 1909 in London, or the several exchanges of visits between the Australian and the New Zealand ministers, kept the different states in touch with each other. But by far the most important agency was the Colonial or Imperial Conference, now a definitely established body, in which Dominions and Kingdom met on equal footing, exchanged views, and received new light on each other's problems. Thus the question of co-operation between the Five Nations became much like the problem which faces any allies, such as those of the Triple Entente, save that in the case of the British Empire the alliance is not transitory and a {290} common king gives a central rallying-point. Nowhere has this free form of unity, as unique in political annals as the British Empire itself, received clearer expression than in the words of Edward Blake in the British House of Commons in 1900:

For many years I for my part have looked to conference, to delegation, to correspondence, to negotiation, to quasi-diplomatic methods, subject always to the action of free parliaments here and elsewhere, as the only feasible way of working the quasi-federal union between the Empire and the sister nations of Canada and Australia. A quarter of a century past I dreamed the dream of imperial parliamentary federation, but many years ago I came to the conclusion that we had passed the turning that could lead to that terminus, if ever, indeed, there was a practicable road. We have too long and too extensively gone on the lines of separate action here and elsewhere to go back now. Never forget—you have the lesson here to-day—that the good will on which you depend is due to local freedom, and would not survive its limitation.

But to many this trend of affairs was far from satisfactory. They urged that Canada should retrace her steps and take the turning that led to imperial parliamentary federation. This agitation was carried on chiefly in private circles and through the press. One organization after another—British Empire League, {291} Pollock Committee, Round Table—undertook earnest and devoted campaigns of education, which, if they did not attain precisely the end sought, at least made towards clearer thinking and against passive colonialism. Occasionally the question was raised in parliament. Typical of such debates was that of March 13, 1905, when Colonel, now General Sir Sam, Hughes moved a resolution in favour of parliamentary federation. Mr Borden refrained from either opposing or approving the motion, but, as did other members of his party, made it a starting-point for a speech in favour of imperial preference. Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared:

I do not think that it would be possible to find in any of the self-governing colonies any desire or any intention to part with any of the powers which they have at the present time. At present we are proud to say and to believe that the relations of the British Empire, within all its parts, are absolutely satisfactory.... It is not in accordance with the traditions of British history, it is not in accordance with the traditions of the Anglo-Saxon race, to make any change in their institutions until these institutions have been proved insufficient or defective in some way.... The British Empire to-day is composed of nations, all bearing allegiance to the same sovereign.

At the Conference of 1907 it was proposed {292} that the Colonial Conference be changed into an Imperial Council. This suggestion met support from various quarters, but was blocked by Sir Wilfrid's firm opposition. He agreed heartily that the Conference should be styled Imperial rather than Colonial, but, backed by all his colleagues, opposed any attempt to turn the Conference into a Council, with independent powers and an overwhelming representation from the United Kingdom. In fact the Conference was established more firmly than ever on a basis of equality. The prime minister of the United Kingdom, rather than the colonial secretary, became the special representative of his country, and the Conference was declared to be 'between His Majesty's Government and His Governments of the self-governing Dominions overseas.'



Left to right—General Louis Botha, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr. Asquith, Sir Joseph Ward

Children standing—Doris Harcourt, Olivia Harcourt

Children seated—Barbara Harcourt, Anthony Asquith

At this Conference, perhaps more significant than anything that was said or done was the presence of General Botha as prime minister of the self-governing colony of the Transvaal. It was only five years since Botha, as commander-in-chief of the Boers who had held out to the last, had laid down his arms. Now he sat in the highest councils of the Empire, saying little, studying his fellow-ministers and the common problems, and impressing all by {293} his strong common sense and his frank loyalty. His presence there was due to the courage and confidence which had been displayed by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. One of the first steps taken by Campbell-Bannerman's Ministry in 1906 had been to grant to the Transvaal full and immediate self-government without any intervening period of half-freedom. The policy had been a bold one. To a German empire-framer it would have appeared incredible folly. The king had remonstrated against it, the leader of the Opposition had termed it dangerous and reckless, Mr Kipling had hurled sonnets against it. But the Government had stood firm, with the result here seen, and with still greater justification to follow. In this and the following Conference General Botha manifested a special regard for his Canadian colleague, like himself a leader from a minority race. Undoubtedly Wilfrid Laurier's example, Canada's example, counted much in making clear to Louis Botha the path which led to loyal and lasting co-operation.

The centralization policy found a new champion at the Conference of 1911.

Sir Joseph Ward, Mr Seddon's successor as prime minister of New Zealand, {294} submitted some months in advance a proposal for an Imperial Council of State advisory to the British Government, and then, having meantime been persuaded to go the whole road, made a speech in favour of a central parliament. The proposal met with still less favour than before. British, Australian, South African, Newfoundland, and Canadian prime ministers joined in pronouncing it unworkable and undesirable. 'The proposal seems to me to be absolutely impracticable,' declared Sir Wilfrid Laurier. 'It is not a practical scheme; our present system of responsible government has not broken down,' agreed Premier Fisher of Australia. 'The creation of some body with centralized authority over the whole Empire would be a step entirely antagonistic to the policy of Great Britain which has been so successful in the past, and which has undoubtedly made the Empire what it is to-day. It is the policy of decentralization which has made the Empire—the power granted to its various peoples to govern themselves,' added Premier Botha of South Africa. 'Any scheme of representation—no matter what you may call it, parliament or council—of the overseas Dominions must [give them] so very small a representation that it would be {295} practically of no value,' said Premier Morris of Newfoundland. Mr Asquith summed up:

We cannot, with the traditions and history of the British Empire behind us, either from the point of view of the United Kingdom, or from the point of view of our self-governing Dominions, assent for a moment to proposals which are so fatal to the very fundamental conditions on which our empire has been built up and carried on.... It would impair, if not altogether destroy, the authority of the United Kingdom in such grave matters as the conduct of foreign policy, the conclusion of treaties, the maintenance of peace, or the declaration of war, and, indeed, all those relations with foreign powers, necessarily of the most delicate character, which are now in the hands of the Imperial Government, subject to its responsibility to the Imperial Parliament. That authority cannot be shared, and the co-existence side by side with the Cabinet of the United Kingdom of this proposed body—it does not matter by what name you call it for the moment—clothed with the functions and the jurisdiction which Sir Joseph Ward proposed to invest it with, would, in our judgment, be absolutely fatal to our present system of responsible government.... So far as the Dominions are concerned, this new machine could impose upon the Dominions by the voice of a body in which they would be in a standing minority (that is part of the case), in a small minority, indeed, a policy of which they might all disapprove, a policy which in most cases would involve expenditure, and an expenditure which would have to {296} be met by the imposition on a dissentient community of taxation by its own government.

Mr Asquith's statement that 'that authority cannot be shared' has sometimes been taken to mean that the United Kingdom could not and would not admit the Dominions to a share in the control of foreign policy. As the context and later action showed, however, it was to sharing control with a new super-parliament that the prime minister of the United Kingdom, in common with the prime ministers of every Dominion except New Zealand, expressed his opposition. Later in the Conference a further, if far from final, step was taken towards sharing control with the Dominions. Upon Mr Fisher's demand that the Dominions should be consulted in international agreements such as the Declaration of London and the conventions of the Hague Conference, it was agreed unanimously that, at further Hague Conferences and elsewhere when time and subject-matter permitted, this would be done. Sir Wilfrid Laurier agreed with this proposal, though stating his view that in such negotiations the United Kingdom should be given a free hand. Some greater share in foreign policy, most nationalists and {297} imperialists alike agreed, the Dominions must possess. The real question was, whether they should seek it through a central body in which they would have a minority representation, and whose functions it was impossible to define without serious infringement of the existing powers of the Dominions, or whether they were to secure it along the line so long pursued, of independence in what was overwhelmingly the prime concern of each separate state, plus co-operation in what was distinctly of common interest.

Hardly had preferential trade as a mooted topic receded into the background when the question of Canada's share in the defence of the Empire came to the front and took on a new urgency and a new interest.

The forces of Canada for land defence had been made much more effective since the twentieth century began. The permanent militia had been largely increased; engineer, medical, army-service, and ordnance corps had been organized or extended; rifle associations and cadet corps had been encouraged; new artillery armament had been provided; reserves of ammunition and equipment had been built up; a central training-camp had {298} been established; the period and discipline of the annual drill had been increased; the administration had been thoroughly reorganized. In 1911 over six times as much was spent upon the militia as in 1896. Though the service was still very far from ideal efficiency, there was no question that it had been greatly improved.

In Canada as in the other Dominions the problem of bringing the military forces into relation with the forces of other parts of the Empire was solved without any sacrifice of the principle of self-government in command or administration. After 1902 little was heard of the proposal to give the British War Office control over a section of the troops of each Dominion. Matters moved rather in the direction of co-operative action. In 1907 it was arranged that each of the larger Dominions should organize a General Staff to act in close touch and to exchange officers with the newly reorganized Imperial General Staff. It followed that equipment and administration became largely uniform. In 1909, and again in 1911, further steps were taken to secure effective co-operation between the General Staffs.

Naval defence proved a harder problem to {299} solve. A beginning was made. The fishery-cruiser service was extended. In 1905 the Dominion took over the garrisons at the naval bases of Halifax and Esquimalt. The minister of Marine, Mr Prefontaine, took some steps towards the organization of a Naval Reserve, but with his death (1905) the movement ceased. The belief in Britain's unquestioned supremacy, a reluctance to enter 'the vortex of European militarism,' the survival of passive colonialism, kept the vast majority of Canadians indifferent. And, though a persistent minority of enthusiasts called on the country to awake, the unwillingness of the British authorities to sanction Dominion action along national lines blocked the most promising path.

By much effort all the self-governing colonies except Canada had been induced to send annual cheques to the Admiralty. But the total amount was negligible, and no permanent results had been achieved. After fifteen years of contribution not a single Australian had been trained as a sailor. At last, opinion in the Commonwealth took decided shape and demanded immediate national action—demanded the creation of a Royal Australian Navy.


Heretofore Canada had blazed the trail that led from colonialism to nationhood. Now Australia took the lead. The reasons were clear. Canada's chief neighbour was the United States—on the whole, not a militarist country—and there was little fear of military aggression. But commercial intercourse with this neighbour, along a frontier of three thousand miles, was close and constant, making it necessary for Canada to take into her own hands the control of commercial relations. Australia had no such overshadowing commercial relations with any power, but had neighbours in the Pacific—the colonies of aggressive European states, first France and later Germany, and the teeming and awakening powers of Asia—which gave urgency to the question of defence. A Commonwealth which ruled a dependency of its own, in Papua, and shared dominion of the world's second greatest island with imperial Germany (nowhere except in this anomalous, precedent-defying British Empire could any one have dreamt of 'the colony of a colony'), could not long remain indifferent to naval defence. For twenty years discussion of the issue had gone on in Australia, clarifying and precipitating opinion. It was no wonder that Canada, which tried to {301} concentrate the same discussion into four or five years, years of great economic pressure, proved more confused in opinion and less unanimous in action.

At the Conference of 1907 the Admiralty modified its former policy and suggested that instead of a money contribution any Dominion might 'provide for local service in the imperial squadrons the smaller vessels that are useful for defence against possible raids or for co-operation with a squadron.' The prime minister of Australia, Mr Deakin, welcomed the proposal as a step forward, but on his return to Australia it was still found impossible to reconcile the national aspirations of the Commonwealth and the desire of the Admiralty to control all ships, however provided, and no definite action followed. Canada for the present remained content, having extended the fishery service and garrisoned with her own troops Halifax and Esquimalt. Both parties in Canada agreed in giving no attention to the question. During the general elections which followed shortly after the Conference of 1907, neither Sir Wilfrid Laurier nor Mr Borden said one word about naval defence. Nothing but a dramatic crisis would rouse the people to give {302} the support necessary to enable either leader to take a decided stand.

The Kaiser provided the crisis. During 1908 and 1909 cries of alarm over the growth of the German navy awoke the United Kingdom and found echoes in Canada. It appeared that Britain's margin of safety was being dangerously lessened, that the Mistress of the Seas had been challenged. The British House of Commons voted eight additional Dreadnoughts and the Admiralty continued to withdraw ships from the ends of the earth and to concentrate the fleet in the North Sea.

Since the eighties international affairs had shown increasing tension. In Europe the struggle for national freedom, which marked the previous era, had in many cases been perverted into an endeavour to impose one nation's will upon another. Not only did France cherish the memory of Alsace-Lorraine; not only did Italy dream of her lost provinces; not only did the Balkan states plot to complete the half-done task of driving out the Turk; but the German Austrian sought to dominate the Magyar and the Magyar the Slav, while Italy swelled with visions of the Eastern Mediterranean once more a Roman {303} lake, and Pan-German and Pan-Slav drew and re-drew the map of Europe to their liking.

But it was not in Europe alone that these nations sought expansion. The belief that empire overseas was necessary to national greatness, and that sea-power was the means to that end, spread through Continental Europe. During the thirty years following 1880 France added three and a half million square miles to her colonial possessions, Germany a million, and Italy a quarter-million. Even the United States was carried away by the current, and Great Britain, already the greatest of colonial powers, picked up nearly four million square miles more. Europe's aggression stirred sleeping Asia, and Japan gave promise of beating her teachers at their own game. This hasty parcelling out of the non-white world brought friction and often threatened war. For years a conflict with Russia was believed inevitable in England. Then France became the inevitable foe. Next Germany took up the rôle. Though felt at fewer points, her rivalry was more serious. A state with the ideals of mediaeval feudalism and the might of a modern industrial nation—with all the wealth and organizing power of industry and science at the disposal {304} of a monarchy based on 'divine right,' and a military aristocracy which moulded and mastered the nation through control of school and press and army—was a constant danger to its neighbours. Germany's aims were more aggressive than those of the western democracies, and its methods were more efficient than those of other European states of no higher ideals. True, the democratic and anti-militarist forces were gaining ground in Germany itself, while elsewhere the folly and waste of militarism were rousing unprecedented efforts towards peace. But no way out was found. It was clearly impossible for one state to disarm while its neighbours armed to the teeth. A few fitful efforts, in which Great Britain took an honourable part, to bring about a concerted halt came to nothing. The world appeared convinced that the only statesmanlike way to avert war was for each state or group of states to make itself stronger than every other state or group. The war of armaments went on unchecked. Europe slept on a powder-mine.

In every Dominion the new sense of peril stirred instant response. If Britain's rivals had counted on the Dominions holding aloof in the hour of her need, or had held their {305} resources negligible, they were speedily awakened. In Australia, in New Zealand, in South Africa, and in Canada, press and parliament voiced the new realization of danger and the new determination to face it more effectively.

At first the prospect in Canada of speedy and harmonious action was of the brightest. Mr Foster gave notice in the House of Commons of a resolution in favour of Canadian naval preparations, and the leaders of both parties met in private conference and agreed upon the general course to be followed. Late in March 1909 Mr Foster moved his resolution and supported it with powerful and kindling eloquence. He dwelt on the burden which Britain bore alone and the urgent need that Canada should take a more adequate part in naval defence. He opposed strongly the policy of a fixed annual contribution. The certainty of constant friction over the amount, the smack of tribute, the radical defect that it meant hiring somebody else to do what Canadians themselves ought to do, the failure of such a plan to strike any roots, were fatal objections. A Canadian Naval Service was the only possible solution, though for himself he would agree to vote a Dreadnought as {306} a preliminary step. Mr Borden emphasized the need of action, and advocated 'a Canadian naval force of our own.' Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared that Canada must realize to the full both the rights and the obligations of a daughter nation by rising to any sacrifice that might be needed to maintain unimpaired the power of the British Empire, essential as it was not only for Canada's safety but for the civilization of the world. As to the form of action, he opposed being stampeded into any spectacular policy inconsistent with the principle of self-government, and closed by moving a series of resolutions, which, with some changes suggested by Mr Borden, were unanimously accepted by the House. The resolutions recognized the duty of Canada to assume larger responsibilities with growth in strength, declared that under existing constitutional relations money payments to the British Treasury would not be the most satisfactory solution, and expressed cordial approval of any expenditure necessary to promote a Canadian Naval Service to co-operate in close relation with the British Navy.

During the summer a special Conference was held in London, attended by ministers from all the Dominions. Mr M'Kenna, while {307} repeating the orthodox Admiralty view that considerations of strategy favoured a single navy, now recognized that other considerations had to be taken into account, and that 'room must be found for the expression of national sentiment.... While laying the foundation of future Dominion navies to be maintained in different parts of the Empire, these forces would contribute immediately and materially to the requirements of Imperial defence.' No wonder that the London Times congratulated Australia and Canada 'on their achievement in having at last educated the Admiralty up to their own point of view.' Unfortunately the convert was soon to backslide, but for the present hearty and ready aid was given in establishing the Dominion naval policy. Australia agreed to form a distinct fleet unit, consisting of a large armoured cruiser, three unarmoured cruisers, six destroyers and three submarines, with auxiliary ships. Canada, not an island like Australia or Great Britain, had two seaboards to protect, ten thousand miles apart. The Canadian representatives, therefore, while agreeing that a second fleet unit in the Pacific would be desirable in the future, requested suggestions, which were given, for the expenditure, first, of {308} an equivalent and, second, of a lesser amount on two squadrons.

When the Canadian parliament met in January 1910 Sir Wilfrid Laurier submitted the Naval Service Bill, which provided for the establishment of fleets according to the plan finally approved by the Admiralty. The ships were to be under the control of the Dominion Government, which might, in case of emergency, place them at the disposal of the Admiralty, summoning parliament to ratify such action. The bill was passed in March. In the autumn the cruiser Niobe (11,000 tons) and the Rainbow (3600 tons), purchased from the Admiralty, reached Canadian waters, where they were to serve as training-ships. Recruiting for these ships was begun and, while not speedy, was reported by the department as satisfactory. The Halifax and Esquimalt dockyards were taken over. Early in 1911 a Naval College was opened at Halifax; and in May tenders were received, ranging from eleven to thirteen millions, from six British and Canadian firms, for the construction, in Canada, of four Bristol cruisers, one Boadicea cruiser, and six destroyers. In June (1911), at the Imperial Conference in London, agreement was reached as to the boundaries {309} of the Australian and Canadian stations. The naval services of the two Dominions were to be 'exclusively under control of their respective governments'; but in time of war any fleet or ships placed at the disposal of the British Government by the Dominion authorities would 'form an integral part of the British fleet and remain under the control of the Admiralty during the continuance of the war.' Training and discipline were to be generally uniform. Dominion ships were to fly the white ensign at the stern as the symbol of the Crown's authority and the distinctive flag of the Dominion at the jack-staff. Then came the reciprocity fight, the blocking of supplies by the Conservatives, and the general elections of September, all intervening before any tender had been finally accepted.

Long before this time, however, the issue had given rise to bitter party controversy. The unanimity of parliament in 1909 had not truly reflected the diversity of public opinion. Mr Borden was not able to carry his party with him. In the English-speaking provinces many Conservatives denounced a Canadian fleet as 'a tinpot navy,' useless, expensive, and separatist, and called for a gift of Dreadnoughts. Mr Borden's lieutenant from Quebec, {310} Mr F. D. Monk, came out strongly against either Canadian navy or contribution, unless approved by popular vote. So, after a loyal attempt to defend the agreement of 1909, Mr Borden found it necessary to change his position. By attacking the Laurier navy as inadequate, and at the same time declaring that no permanent policy should be adopted without an appeal to the people, he endeavoured to keep both wings of his party in line. The opposition in Quebec was strengthened by Mr Henri Bourassa and his following—'Nationalists' in some respects perhaps, but more rightly labelled Colonialists or Provincialists. They dealt a shrewd blow in defeating the Government candidate at a by-election held in November 1910 for Drummond-Arthabaska, Sir Wilfrid's old seat. And, though in all the other provinces the general elections of 1911 were fought on the issue of reciprocity, the navy was made the chief issue in Quebec. Conservatives formed a close working alliance with the Nationalists, who attacked the prime minister as a tool of the English imperialists, and pictured to the habitants the horrors of the marine, of conscription and the press-gang.

A little over a year after his accession to {311} power in 1911, Sir Robert Borden brought down his naval proposals, providing for a gift or loan to Great Britain of three Dreadnoughts to meet the current emergency, and promised to submit later on his permanent policy to the electorate. What that permanent policy would be he did not reveal. It was stated that the Government had not definitely decided against a Canadian navy, but the insistence upon the difficulty of building up a naval organization in Canada, and other remarks, made it appear that some plan of permanent contribution, with a share in the central controlling body, was under contemplation. Sir Wilfrid Laurier vigorously opposed the proposals and adhered to the policy of a Canadian navy. And, not to be outdone in bigness, he now advocated two fleet units. After a prolonged discussion and determined obstruction by the Opposition, the Government introduced the closure and forced the bill through the Commons, only to see it rejected by the Senate on the motion of Sir George Ross, 'that this House is not justified in giving its assent to this bill until it is submitted to the judgment of the country.'

The Government's abrupt change of policy was in part due to the activity of the first {312} lord of the Admiralty, Mr Winston Churchill. Whether moved by his own impetuous temperament or by the advice of others, Mr Churchill threw overboard the M'Kenna memorandum, and endeavoured once more to revive the contribution policy. He was not content with laying before the Canadian prime minister the opinion of experts on the strategic questions involved, and advising on means to reach the desired end, but sought to influence public opinion in the Dominions by word and act. The memoranda sent at Sir Robert Borden's request in January 1913, emphasizing the difficulty of building battleships in Canada—which was not proposed by the Opposition—and the difficulty of helping to man the two Canadian fleet units—though at the same time men were declared to be available for as many as five Dreadnoughts, if contributed—were preceded by pressure on the Malay States to contribute a battleship, and were followed by Mr Churchill's announcement of his intention to establish at Gibraltar an Imperial Squadron composed of Dominion ships, under the Admiralty's control. When Australia suggested that a special Dominion Conference to discuss the matter should be held in Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, {313} the United Kingdom would not consent. It was made emphatically clear that Mr Churchill was in favour of contribution, not as an emergency but as a permanent policy. It was his doubtless well-meant—and invited—intervention in the dispute, ignoring the principles by which imperial harmony had been secured in the past, which more than anything else stirred up resentment in Canada.

The dispute in Canada turned partly on constitutional, and partly on technical, naval considerations. A Canadian navy was opposed by some as tending to separation from the Empire, and by others as involving Canada in a share in war without any corresponding share in foreign policy. It was defended as the logical extension of the policy of self-government, which, in actual practice as opposed to pessimistic prophecy, had proved the enduring basis of imperial union. The considerations involved have been briefly reviewed in an earlier section. It need only be noted here that the constitutional problem was no more acute in December 1912 than in March 1909. Whatever the difficulties, they had been faced and accepted by all the other Dominions. Australia was irretrievably and proudly committed to her {314} own navy—'His Majesty's Royal Australian Navy'; New Zealand announced her dissatisfaction with the original contribution policy; General Botha declared that South Africa would prefer 'a navy of our own.' Not contribution therefore, but local navies, afforded the only basis of uniformity throughout the Empire. Given this attitude on the part of all the Dominions, there was little question that forms would soon follow facts, and each of the Five Nations be given its due place and weight in settling common issues of policy.

On the more technical issues there was equally wide divergence. A Canadian navy was attacked by some as useless even in the long run. Canada could not build up an adequate naval administration in half a century. Inefficiency and jobbery would mark the navy's management. The sea was one and the navy should be one; concentration at the supreme danger point, defence by attack, were the latest maxims of naval strategy. On the other hand, it was urged that what Australia had done Canada could do, and that the German navy itself had been built up in twenty years. The sea was one, but it was tens of thousands of miles in width; {315} the trade routes required protection, and the coasts must be guarded against sudden raids.

Greater stress, however, was laid on the 'short-run' arguments. That there was only one possible enemy, Germany; that war with her in a few years was inevitable; that when it came Great Britain's fleet would be overmatched, or perilously equalled, were the insistent contentions of one party. That the Pacific required watching as well as the North Sea; that relations with Germany, on Sir Edward Grey's testimony, were improving and war unlikely; that if war came in a few years the naval power of Britain, to say nothing of that of France and Russia, would be overwhelming, was the other party's oft-reiterated answer. It was urged, also, that the Canadian Government's belief in the seriousness of the emergency must be judged by its acts, not its words. Had it believed war imminent and the naval situation so dangerous that its three Dreadnoughts were required, it would unquestionably have been too patriotic to think for a moment of any other course but to bring on a general election in 1913 to override the Senate.

That is now ancient history. The outbreak of the Great War threw the Canadian naval {316} question, along with so many greater questions, into the melting pot. The temporary easing of the international situation after 1912 was followed by acute tension again, and this time the restraining forces gave way. The rivalry of Teuton and Slav in the Balkans, where of late the balance had tilted against the Central Powers because of the defeat of their quasi-ally, Turkey, provided the setting. The murder of an Austrian prince by a Servian subject gave the occasion, and Germany set the fatal drama in motion. What part was played in her decision by dreams of world conquest or dread of being hemmed in by ever-stronger foes, what part by the desire of a challenged autocracy to turn the people from internal reform to external policy, will not be certain until the chancelleries of Europe have given up their secrets, if certain then; but, whatever the motive, all the world outside Germany has agreed that had she willed she could have averted the fatal ending of those tense days of July 1914.

When the intervention of the United Kingdom was made inevitable and practically unanimous by the brutal attack on Belgium, Canada never hesitated for a moment as to her attitude. The rights of the immediate issue {317} were clear; the whole world's liberty was plainly at stake; the struggle promised to task, if not to overtask, every resource of the mother country. Sir Robert Borden acted promptly and effectively, and parliament when called in special session unanimously backed his actions. In a few weeks the largest force that had ever crossed the Atlantic sailed to England, and throughout the war ten thousand upon ten thousand followed. The Dominions surprised the world, and not least themselves, by the greatness and effectiveness of the efforts made in the common cause. At first, distance or over-confidence prevented a full grasp of the crisis by the general public, and even by the leaders of opinion; but, as time went on, the sense of the greatness of the issue deepened, resolution hardened, and the only measures of effort were what the crisis called for and what Canada could give.

The country was united as on few occasions. Here and there undigested groups of immigrants from the enemy lands stood out from the common enthusiasm, but gave little overt trouble. In Quebec some, but not all, of the Nationalists opposed Canada's participation in the war, taking either the belated colonial view that it was Britain's part to fight the {318} Empire's wars, or the more logical but inopportune view that Canada should not fight in a war when she had had no part in shaping the policy that went before it. They claimed to stand where practically all Canadians had stood a generation before. They forgot that meanwhile the world, and Canada, had moved forward.

The ordeal of battle put to the test the facts and the theories of empire which had been shaping in the years which have been reviewed. The splendid response of the whole Empire to the call of need proved that it was not the weak and crumbling structure that enemies had hoped and zealous friends had feared. Of their own free will the Dominions and even India poured out their treasures of men and money in measure far beyond what any central authority could have ordained. Freedom was justified of her children, and the British Empire proved its right to exist by its very difference from the Prussian Empire. When General Botha and General Smuts, after crushing with ease a rebellion which under a different imperial policy would have been triumphant, led the army of the Crown in triumph against the German dominions to which it had once been proposed to banish {319} them, they gave a most dramatic proof of the power of the unseen bonds of confidence and liberty.

Yet, as the war proved, the Empire had not yet reached its final stage. Now that the Dominions helped to pay the piper, henceforth they would insist on a share in calling the tune. That the decision as to peace and war must no longer rest solely with the government of Great Britain, however wisely that power had been used in this instance, became the conviction of the many instead of the few. It was still matter for serious debate how that greater voice could be attained, and the conflict between the policy of consultation between existing governments and the policy of creating a new central over-government, which had marked the years before, bade fair to mark the years after the war as well.

The subsidiary question of naval defence had also its after-lights. Those in Canada who had urged the contribution policy had the gloomy satisfaction of seeing their prophecy of speedy war with Germany fulfilled. Those who had urged the policy of a Canadian navy had the more cheerful satisfaction of seeing that the only 'emergency' was that which faced the Kaiser's fleet, bottled up by {320} the vastly superior allied forces. The battle of the Falkland Islands, redeeming the defeat at Coronel, proved the wide range of action of fast cruisers based on European waters, while on the other hand the raids of the Emden proved the need of cruisers for defence on every sea; and the exploits of the Sydney, sister ship of Canada's unbuilt Bristols, ended all talk of tin-pot navies. The lessons of the war as to ships and weapons and strategy were all important for the reconsideration of the question. Still more vital for the decision as to this and weightier matters were the secrets the future held as to the outcome of the war, as to the future alignment of nations, and, above all, as to the possibility of building up some barrier against the madness, the unspeakable sufferings, and the blind, chaotic wastes of war, more adequate than the secret diplomacy, the competitive armaments, and the shifting alliances of the past.

[1] Report of Annual Meeting, Canadian Manufacturers' Association, in Industrial Canada, 1912, p. 334.




The Dominion of Canada's first fifty years have been years of momentous change. The four provinces have grown into nine, covering the whole half-continent. The three million people have grown to eight, and the west of the wandering Indian holds cities greater than the largest of the east at Confederation. From a people overwhelmingly agricultural they have become a people almost equally divided between town and country. The straggling two thousand miles of railways have been multiplied fifteen-fold, forming great transcontinental systems unmatched in the United States. An average wheat crop yields more than ten times the total at Confederation, and the output of the mine has increased at even a more rapid rate. Great manufacturing plants have developed, employing half a million men, and with capital and annual products exceeding a thousand {322} million dollars. Foreign trade has mounted to eight times its height of fifty years ago. The whole financial and commercial structure has become complex and intricate beyond earlier imagining. The changes, even on the material side, have not been all gain. There is many a case of reckless waste of resources to lament, many an instance of half-developed opportunity and even of slipping backwards. With the millionaire came the slum, and the advantages of great corporations were often balanced by the 'frenzied finance' and the unhealthy political influence of those in control. Yet, on the whole, progress, especially in the last twenty years, has been unquestioned and rarely paralleled.

Political has kept pace with economic change. The far-flung Dominion is at last being welded into one, and a Canadian nationality is arising of a distinct character and with conscious unity. The average man thinks of himself no longer as first a citizen of Nova Scotia, Ontario, or Manitoba, an Englishman, a Scotsman, or an Irishman, but as first a Canadian. Provincial and racial jealousy, though not passed away, are less intense and less critical than in the days of old. There is less bitterness in party {323} conflicts, less personal abuse, and more of the broader patriotism. Of jobbery and corruption and low political ideals there are unfortunately no less, but there is more conscious endeavour to grapple with and overthrow these foes. The Dominion has found its place in the family of nations, and has taken its full share in the transforming and upbuilding of the British Empire. Fifty years ago, merely colonies of Britain, looked upon by most men in the mother country as being about to break from the Empire to which they were now profitless, and to the rest of Europe scarcely a name! To-day, sending hundreds of thousands of men across the seas to fight shoulder to shoulder with Britain to maintain the unity of the Empire, the freedom of Europe and the world! History has few more striking transformations than this to show.

Even more striking, but less within the scope of this brief survey, were the changes in the life and thought, in the manners and the social texture of the nation. The growth of luxury and of restless change; the quickening pace of business and the accompanying shortening of the work-day and the work-week; the transformation effected by railway {324} and steamship, by telephone and typewriter, by electric light and skyscraper; the coming of the motor-car, of bridge, and of society columns; the passing of cricket, the rise and fall of lacrosse, the triumph of baseball and hockey and golf and bowling, the professionalizing of nearly all sport; the increasing share of women in industry and education; the constant shift of fashion, the waxing and waning of hats and skirts; the readjustment of theological creeds and the trend towards church unity; the progress of medical science, the widening of university interests, the development of advertising and the transformation of the newspaper;—all these and many more phases of the changing times bulked larger in the daily life of the people than the constitutional and political issues with which statesmen and politicians had to deal and which historians have to describe.

Even in the political and economic change no man and no party had a dominating share. The Canada of to-day is the creation of millions of hands, of the known or unknown few who toiled primarily for their country's advancement, and of the many who sought their own private ends and made national progress as a by-product. Yet if statesmen {325} are, on the one hand, not directly responsible for good harvests or bad, on the other, they are not 'flies on the wheel.' The powers confided to them are great for good or ill. They may hasten or retard material progress, and guide, if they cannot create, the current of national destiny. It is impossible to imagine what different course the Dominion would have taken had there been no Macdonald and no Laurier at the helm.

In Sir Wilfrid Laurier's career four guiding principles, four goals of endeavour, have been steadily kept in view—individual liberty, collective prosperity, racial and religious harmony, and growth to nationhood. The end in view was not always reached. The path followed was not as ruler-straight as the philosopher or the critic would have prescribed. The leader of a party of many shades of opinion, the ruler of a country of widely different interests and prejudices and traditions, must often do not what is ideally best but what is the most practicable approach to the ideal. Yet with rare consistency and steadfast courage these ends were held in view. Ever an opportunist as to means, Wilfrid Laurier has never been an opportunist as to ends.


The historic task of Liberalism—the promotion, by negative and positive means alike, of individual freedom with full opportunity for self-development—has been less urgent in Canada than in many other lands. Civil liberty Canadians inherited from their fathers overseas. Political liberty was the achievement of the generation before the Dominion was formed. Social liberty, the assuring for each man genuine equality of opportunity, has in great measure been ensured by the wide spaces of a virgin continent. What legislation is required to guarantee it further falls for the most part within the scope of the provincial legislatures; though one most important factor in securing equality and keeping open the door of opportunity, the free gift of farm lands to all who will, has been a federal policy. But in one important field, liberty of thought and discussion, the battle has had to be fought in our own day, and has been fought valiantly and well. In standing for the elementary rights of freedom of speech and political action, Sir Wilfrid Laurier braved the wrath of powerful forces in the Church he loved and honoured. He did not deny any church or any churchman the right to take a full part in political discussion. But he {327} did deny any religious teachers the right to brandish for a political purpose the weapons of their spiritual armoury; and he urged the inexpediency, in the Church's own interest, of endeavouring to build up a clerical party.

The promotion of the country's economic welfare has been the chief task of every Canadian Government, and the one most in discussion. A tariff marked by stability and by moderate advances towards freedom of trade, a railway policy reflecting the new-found faith of Canada in its future, an immigration campaign that opened up the West and laid the foundation for mounting prosperity, and for a new place in the world's regard, aid to farmer and fisherman and miner—these were the outstanding features of the Canadian administration after 1896. Mistakes were made, errors of omission and commission, due now to lack of vision, now to over-confidence, but the accounting was not to be feared. 'When I am Premier,' declared Mr Laurier in the early nineties, referring to some dubious statistics used to prove that all was well with the country, 'you will not have to look up figures to find out whether you are prosperous: you will know by feeling in your pockets.'


No need of Canada has been greater, none has lain nearer Sir Wilfrid Laurier's heart, than the lessening of misunderstanding and hostility between the men of the different races and tongues and creeds that make up the Dominion. It is a task which has been the more difficult because not merely was there a difference of races, but one race was of the same blood as the people of the United Kingdom and the other of its hereditary foe. It was always easy for politicians of the baser sort, or for well-meaning but rigid and doctrinaire extremists on either side, to stir up prejudice and passion. It was a statesman's task to endeavour to bridge the gulf, to work for better feeling between Britain and France, to emphasize the future which all Canadians hold in common, to urge the men of each race to seek that knowledge of the other which is the first and longest step towards harmony. In training and temperament Sir Wilfrid Laurier was uniquely fitted for the task of interpreting each race to the other, and though it was a task that was never completed, he had the satisfaction of achieving a marked advance.

The share of Canadian statesmen in working out the unique political achievement which {329} we call the British Empire has not yet been fully recognized. When the history of its upbuilding comes to be written, it may well be that the names of Baldwin and LaFontaine and Howe, of Brown and Galt, of Tupper and Blake, of Macdonald and Laurier, will stand, in this regard, higher than those of Peel and Disraeli, Gladstone and Salisbury, and even Durham and Elgin. Some in England opposed the grant of self-government, believing that it led to separation. Some, reconciled to separation, urged it. Canadians, though not always seeing the path clear, both demanded self-government and trusted it would make union all the firmer. It fell to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's lot to carry out this traditional Canadian policy through an exceptionally critical era of development. He steadfastly asserted Canada's right to full nationhood, and as steadily faced each new responsibility that came with added rights. He often incurred the hostility of ultra-imperialist and of colonialist alike, going too slow for the one and too fast for the other. Many autonomists failed to recognize how manfully and how effectively he had stood at the London Conferences for self-government, until at last practically all the Dominions {330} swung into line. Many imperialists failed to recognize how hard he had struggled to bring Quebec into harmony with the rest of the Dominion on imperial issues and particularly on the naval question. A wise opportunism, that met each issue as it arose and dealt with it in the light of long-held principles, kept the nation advancing steadily and advancing abreast.



The primary sources to which any student of the period covered in this work must refer are too numerous to specify here. Foremost come Hansard and the Sessional Papers. Such autobiographies as those of Sir Richard Cartwright, Reminiscences, Sir George Ross, Getting Into Parliament and After, Sir Charles Tupper, Recollections of Sixty Years in Canada, and Charles Langelier, Souvenirs Politiques, are as few as they are valuable. For the years since 1901 see Castell Hopkins, The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs. This work, now in its fourteenth volume, is a mine of orderly information.

A most complete historical summary of the period is found in Canada and its Provinces. See the various monographs, especially in volumes vi, vii, viii, ix, and x. Indispensable for any survey of the period up to 1900 is Sir John S. Willison's work in two volumes, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Liberal Party, which shows the ripe, balanced judgment and the literary skill of the distinguished Canadian journalist at his best. David's Laurier et son Temps, and his earlier sketch in Mes {332} Contemporains, give brilliant impressionistic portraits of Sir Wilfrid Laurier by an intimate friend. See also Sir Joseph Pope, Memoirs of Sir John Macdonald, and Castell Hopkins, Life and Work of Sir John Thompson.



Abbott, Sir John, 11, 107 n.; prime minister, 155.

Alaskan boundary dispute, the, 210-16.

Alberta, the forming of the province, 238-9; the school question, 239-45.

Alverstone, Lord, 215, 216.

Annexation sentiment in Canada and United States, 101, 137, 138, 265-6.

Asquith, H. H., 277, 281; his definition of Liberalism, 282; and a central parliament, 295-296.

Australia, and imperial defence, 143, 149, 179, 195, 198, 200, 201, 202, 284, 286, 304-5; her navy, 299-300, 312, 313-14.

Aylesworth, Sir Allen, 247; and the Alaskan boundary dispute, 215, 216.

Baillargeon, Archbishop, 42.

Balfour, Arthur, 186.

Barton, Sir Edmund, 195.

Belgium, her trade treaties with Canada, 134-5, 179, 228, 250.

Bernier, M. E., 195.

Bertram, G. H., 173.

Blaine, James G., 119, 120, 124.

Blair, A. G., 169 n., 170 n.

Blake, Edward, 35-6, 39, 40, 53; Liberal Opposition leader, 54-5, 57, 59, 68, 77, 82, 83, 85, 89, 135-6; resigns, 91, 172; his tribute to Laurier, 86; his remarkable letter, 123-4; an empire-builder, 290, 329.

Boer War, Canada's part in, 184-92.

Bond, Sir Robert, 195.

Borden, Sir Frederick, 170 n., 196, 207.

Borden, Sir Robert, leader of Conservative Opposition, 194, 217, 245-6, 247, 276, 284, 291; his naval policy, 306, 309-10, 311, 312, prime minister, 286, 311, 312, 317.

Botha, General, 185, 292; his regard for Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 293; his imperial policy, 294, 314, 318.

Boucherville, M. de, 64.

Bourassa, Henri, and Laurier, 191, 193, 268; leader of 'Nationalists,' 310.

Bourget, Bishop, his aggressive policy, 28, 29, 30, 42, 44.

Bowell, Sir Mackenzie, 39; prime minister, 156, 161-2.

British Columbia, and Asiatic immigration, 252-5.

British Empire League, the, 145.

British Empire: formation and development of, 126-30, 270-271; freedom the secret of, 130, 318; equal partnership in, 130-1, 270; the problem of defence, 143, 146-8, 200-4, 298-320; political relations. 198-200, 282-97; commercial relations, 204-7, 271-81; Canada's share in forming, 206, 328-9; the Crown the chief link of Empire, 288-9; the Great War, 316-20; the question as to decision of peace and war, 319.

Brodeur, L. P., 247, 250.

Brodrick, St John (Viscount Midleton), 195, 200-1, 202.

Brown, George, 21, 62, 135, 329.

Bryce, Lord, his diplomatic services to Canada, 212, 258.

Campbell, Sir Alexander, 142, 143.

Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H., his courageous policy, 293.

Canada: political development between 1841 and 1867, 18-24; Church and State, 24, 27-8; 'Institut Canadien,' 29-31; Ultramontanes and Liberals, 41-50; the tariff question, 57-8, 109-14, 118-19, 124-5, 157-8, 173-5, 235-7, 274-6; provincial rights and the Dominion, 61-72; despondency and stagnation, 93-100; the population question, 99-100, 226-7; her relations with United States, 101-6, 187, 203-4, 208-15, 256, 257-60, 266, 268; the fisheries dispute, 104-6; annexation, 106-109; commercial union, 109-112; unrestricted reciprocity, 112-14, 118-25, 260-8; upholds the imperial connection, 129-130, 216-17, 304-6; from colony to free state, 131-9, 187-8, 197-8, 216-17, 283-8, 290; treaty-making powers, 134-6, 175, 179, 217, 250-2, 285-8; the High Commissioner, 138-139; inter-imperial defence, 143, 146-9, 184, 200, 201, 202-204, 299, 301; imperial federation, 144-5 and note; inter-imperial trade, 150-2, 206; the Boer War, 184-92; cheap postage, 206; the Joint High Commission, 209-10; the Alaskan boundary, 210-17; the settling of the West, 218-227; her land policy, 227-8; industrial and railway development, 228-32; state aids to production, 233-5; Conservation Commission, 234-5; the department of Labour, 237-8; Alberta and Saskatchewan, 238-45; trade relations with foreign powers, 250-2; the Asiatic immigration question, 252-5; International Joint Commission, 259; the department of External Affairs, 286; land defence development, 297-8; the naval problem, 298-9, 305-309, 310, 312-15; the Great War, 316-18, 319; progress since Confederation, 321-4. See Parliament.

Canada First movement, the, 40.

Canadian Pacific Railway, the, 38, 110; the building contract, 58-61, 95-8, 252.

Cape Colony. See Colonial Conferences.

Cartier, Sir George, 33, 55, 62.

Cartwright, Sir Richard, a colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 53, 54, 82, 91, 99-100, 111, 112, 170 n., 209.

Casault, Judge, 48.

Catholic Programme, the, 43-4.

Cauchon, Joseph, 33, 36, 51.

Chamberlain, Joseph, 106; colonial secretary, 179, 185, 189, 195; his policy of centralization, 179, 196-200, 204, 206-7; his ideal of 'free trade within the Empire,' 205, 207; and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 206-207; his tariff-reform campaign, 271-6, 281.

Chapleau, Adolphe, 33, 55.

Charleton, John, 54, 116, 209.

Chauveau, P. J. O., 33.

Churchill, Winston, 277; his naval policy, 312-13.

'Clear Grit' party, the, 20-1, 23.

Cleveland, President, 105-6, 208.

Colonial Conferences: (1886) 142-4; (1894) 150-1; (1897) 179-80; (1902) 195-208; (1907) 276-81, 291-7, 301; (1909) 306-307; (1911) 294-6, 308-9; an important agency of empire, 289; proposal to change name to Imperial Council, 292; Dominions to be consulted in international agreements, 296. See British Empire.

Conservation Commission, the, 234-5.

Conservative party, the, 20, 23; its tariff policy, 56-8, 110-11, 113, 119-20, 157-8, 276. See Parliament.

Crooks Act, the, 69-70.

David, L. O., 13, 331.

Davies, Sir Louis, a colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 152, 170 n., 209.

Deakin, Alfred, 276, 301.

Denison, Lieut.-Colonel G. T., 76 n., 144.

Desaulniers, H. L., 11, 12.

Dessaules, L. A., advocates religious toleration, 30 and n.

Dobell, R. R., 170 n.

Dominion of Canada, 61-3. See Canada.

Dominion Railway Commission, the, 230.

Dorion, Antoine, and Laurier, 13, 21, 36, 55.

Dorion, Eric, 'L'Enfant Terrible,' 13, 14, 55.

Doukhobors, the, 222, 223.

Doutre, Joseph, his appeal to Rome, 30.

Edgar, J. D., 112.

Edward VII, 195.

Election law, 37, 46, 70-2.

Equal Rights Association, the, 117.

Europe, the tariff question in, 140; mad scramble for empire, 141, 303; her interest in Canada, 221, 222, 226, 228, 250; the war of armaments, 302-4, 316; the Great War, 315-20.

Fielding, W. S., a colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 169 n., 170 n., 174, 196, 207, 236-7, 250, 251, 286.

Fish, Hamilton, 108.

Fisher, Andrew, 294, 296.

Fisher, Sydney A., 170 n., 233.

Fitzpatrick, Charles, solicitor-general, 170 n., 247.

Fleming, Sir Sandford, his All-Red route, 142, 143, 149.

Forrest, Sir John, 195.

Foster, Sir George, 124, 150, 162; assists Mr Chamberlain in his tariff-reform campaign, 276; his Canadian Naval Service, 305-6.

Fournier, Telesphore, 21, 36.

France, the conflict between church and state in, 25-7; the tariff, 140; colonial expansion, 141, 302, 303; relations with Britain, 181, 183, 303; and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 181-4.

Franchise Act (1885), the, 70-2.

Fuller, Valencay, 109-10

Galt, Sir A. T., 104, 107 n.; an empire-builder, 133, 135, 329.

Geoffrion, C. A., 21, 170 n.

Germany, 143; her trade relations with Canada, 134-5, 179, 228, 251-2; the tariff question, 140; colonial expansion, 141, 303; challenges British naval supremacy, 302, 303-4; her responsibility for the Great War, 316.

Graham, G. P., 247.

Great Britain, her relations with the United States, 103, 256-7; the development of the Empire, 108, 126-30, 147-8; the tariff question, 140, 150, 151, 265, 266, 271-81; her relations with European nations, 140-2, 181, 183, 303-4; the Boer War, 184-92; the problem of imperial defence, 200-2, 204, 301, 302; the Alaskan boundary, 213, 214, 215, 216; the Canadian West, 224-6; her democratic leadership, 256-7, 281-2, 293; the Great War, 316-20.

Grey, Sir Edward, 315.

Hemming, Edward, 33.

Herschell, Lord, 209.

Hime, Sir Albert, 195.

Hitt, Congressman, 119, 122.

Holton, Luther H., 33, 36, 39, 55.

Howe, Joseph, 132, 329.

Hughes, General Sir Sam, 291.

Huntington, L. S., 55, 135.

Immigration: the campaign for settlers, 218-27; the Asiatic question, 252-5.

Imperial federation, 101, 137-8, 139-42, 144-5, 180, 196-7, 198-9, 294-5; the League, 139-40, 145; First Colonial Conference called, 142; impracticable, 144-5 and note. See British Empire.

Indians, the enfranchisement of, 71-2 and note.

'Institut Canadien,' the, 29-31.

International Joint Commission, the, 259.

Italy, 302; the tariff question, 140; colonial expansion, 141, 303; her agreement with Canada, 250-1.

Jackson, William, 88.

Jameson, Sir L. S., 185, 276.

Japan, her relations with Canada, 253-5; and European aggression, 303.

Jesuits in Canada, the, 114-16.

Jesuits' Estates question, the, 114-17.

Jetté, Sir Louis, 44, 215.

Joly de Lotbinière, Sir Henri, 34, 64; in the Laurier Cabinet, 170 n., 194.

Jones, Alfred G., 53.

Kaiser, the, 185, 302.

King, W. L. Mackenzie, 238, 247.

Lacombe, Father, his threatening letter to Laurier, 163-4.

Laflamme, Rodolphe, 10, 11, 21, 36.

Laflèche, Bishop, and Laurier's newspaper, 31, 42, 44; and the Manitoba school question, 167.

Lanctot, Médéric, in partnership with Laurier, 12.

Landry, A. P., 82, 85.

Langevin, Archbishop, and the school question, 160, 167, 172, 244.

Langevin, Sir Hector, in the Macdonald Cabinet, 55, 82, 155.

Laurier, Sir Wilfrid, his birth and descent, 1-4; schooldays, 4-10; early bias towards Liberalism, 9; his knowledge of French and English literature, 6, 15-16; studies law in Montreal, 10-11; his early partnerships, 12-13; the 'Institut Canadien,' 28-30; edits 'Le Défricheur' and opens a law office in Arthabaskaville, 13-15, 31, 92; his marriage, 16-17; enters the Quebec Assembly, 32-3, 34; his criticism of dual representation, 34; enters the Dominion parliament, 34-5; the Riel question (1874-75), 39-40; a moderate protectionist, 41, 57, 173-4; his address on Political Liberalism, 48-50, 24; enters the Mackenzie Cabinet, 51, 54; leader of French wing of Liberal Opposition, 55-6; his rising popularity, 56, 184; the C.P.R. contract, 59; the Letellier case, 65; the Ontario boundary dispute, 67-8; the Riel episode, 82-9; on Papineau, 83-4; his great speech in the debate on the Landry motion, 85-9; Liberal Opposition leader, 91-3, 156-7; the hostility of the Church, 93, 164-6; advocates unrestricted reciprocity with the United States, 111-13, 121-2, 124; the Jesuits' Estates Act, 116-17; on commercial union with Britain, 151-2; his tribute on the death of Sir John Macdonald, 153-4; the Manitoba school question, 162-7, 172; his answer to the threat of ecclesiastical hostility, 164-6; his electoral campaign of 1896, 166-8; prime minister, 169-70 and note, 236, 247-8, 257, 327; his doctrine of conciliation, 172; 'the lion of the hour' at the Jubilee ceremonies, 176-8, 180-1; G.C.M.G., 178 n.; his conception of Empire, 181, 278-9, 291; his visit to France, 181-4; the Boer War, 188-90 and note, 191-3; Colonial Conferences (1902), 195, 206-8, 236; (1907) 277-9, 288, 292; (1911) 294, 296; his meeting with Chamberlain, 206-7; Joint High Commission, 209; desires treaty-making powers for Canada, 217, 286; the school question in Alberta and Saskatchewan, 239-40, 242, 244; the defeat of his ministry, 268-9; favours imperial preference, 278; opposes the doctrine of centralization, 291-2, 294, 296, 116; favours a Canadian navy, 306, 308, 311; four guiding principles, 325-30, 34, 49-50, 121, 192; his great task, 329-30; a Liberal of the English school, 41, 117, 165; his personality, 3, 4, 6, 8-9, 11, 12, 13, 34, 48, 56, 82-3, 92, 165-6, 178.

Law, A. Bonar, and food taxes, 279-80.

Lemieux Act, the, 238.

Lemieux, Rodolphe, 247; his mission to Japan, 255, 286.

Letellier de St Just, Luc, 21; lieutenant-governor of Quebec, 63-6.

Liberalism, definition of, 282, 326.

Liberal party: leadership in commission, 91; its tariff policy, 41, 111, 112-13, 120, 125, 157, 173-5, 250-2, 276; election anomalies and sphere of influence, 245, 269, 167-8, 194. See Parliament.

Lincoln, Abraham, 16.

Lloyd-George, D., 277.

Lorne, Marquis of, 65-6.

M'Carthy Act, the, 70.

M'Carthy, D'Alton, 116, 144; his tariff policy, 157, 158.

Macdonald, Sir John, 19, 35, 39; his administration, 53, 56, 60, 62, 64-6, 68, 70, 71-2, 77, 90, 97, 110, 116, 119, 149, 150; his contest with Sir Oliver Mowat, 66-7, 70; his tariff policy, 56, 133-4, 150; his political craft, 35, 77, 119-20; an empire-builder, 131-2, 135-6, 144-5 and note, 329; Sir Wilfrid Laurier's tribute, 153-4.

M'Kenna, Reginald, his naval policy, 306-7.

Mackenzie, Alexander, 57, 66, 82, 122; his administration, 35-8, 39, 40, 41, 51-4.

M'Kinley, President, his tariff, 114, 118, 208, 209.

Macpherson, Sir David, 76 n., 78.

Mair, Charles, and the North-West Rebellion, 76 and note.

Manitoba, its boundary dispute, 67-8; the agitation against the C.P.R. monopoly, 95-8; the school question, 158-68, 170-3.

Martin, Joseph, 118, 158.

Mercier, Honoré, his rise and fall, 89-90, 115, 117, 156.

Merry del Val, Mgr, 173.

Métis, the, 72-7, 78-9.

Mills, David, a colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 91, 190 n., 195.

Monk, F. D., 310.

Montague, Dr W. H., his artful appeal, 71-2 and note.

Morris, Sir Edward, 294-5.

Mousseau, Joseph A., 39.

Mowat, Sir Oliver, premier of Ontario, 66-7, 69, 70, 117, 122; in the Laurier Cabinet, 169 n., 170 n.; lieutenant-governor, 194.

Mulock, William, a colleague of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 170 n., 196, 207.

National party, the, 40-1, 310, 317-18; and the Church, 41-8.

National Policy, the, 56-8, 121. See Tariffs.

Newfoundland, and the Dominion, 100, 234; and the Empire, 195, 294-5.

New Zealand, and the Empire, 151, 179, 195, 200, 201, 202, 304-5, 314.

North-West Rebellion, the, 72-80.

O'Brien, Colonel, 116.

Oliver, Frank, 247.

Ontario, the boundary dispute, 67-8; the M'Laren v. Caldwell case, 68-9; liquor traffic regulation, 69-70; the Riel agitation, 81, 83, 90; the tariff question, 109-10, 112; religious controversy in, 116-118, 167-8.

Papineau, L. J., 21-2, 41, 83-4.

Parliament: Liberal (Mackenzie, 1874 Administration, 35-8, 39-40, 51-3, 75; --Conservative (Macdonald, 1878 Administration, 53, 100, 116, 152; status of lieutenant-governor, 63-6; provincial rights, 67-70; Franchise Act of 1885, 71-2; the Riel (North-West) Rebellion, 72-90; the C.P.R. monopoly, 97-8, 218-19; 'the old flag, the old man, and the old policy,' 119-25; (Abbott, Thompson, Bowell, 1891 rotten politics, 155-6; the Manitoba school question, 158-68, 170-3; Liberal (Laurier, 1896 Administration, 168-70, 213, 214, 220-1, 245-6, 254-5, 269; the schools question, 170-3, 239-45; the Boer War, 189-90 and note, 194; Conservation Commission, 234-5; Labour Disputes Act, 237-8; Alberta and Saskatchewan, 238-45; External Affairs, 286, 250-2; the Naval Service Bill, 305-6, 308, 310; reciprocity negotiations with the United States ends in disaster, 261-9; --Conservative (Borden, 1911 Administration, 268-9, 230, 286, 312; the Great War, 316-17. See Canada.

Paterson, William, 170 n., 196, 207.

Patrons of Industry, the, 157-8.

Pope, J. H., 55, 60.

Prefontaine, J. R. F., 299.

Protestant Protective Association, the, 117.

Pugsley, William, 247.

Quebec, the assembly of 1871, 33; the Letellier case, 63-6; the Ontario boundary, 67; the Riel agitation, 81, 83, 89; the Jesuits' Estates Act, 115; the school question, 168, 243.

Reciprocity question, the, 104, 111, 112-14, 119-22, 261-8.

Rhodes, Cecil, 185.

Riel, Louis, 39-40; leader of the North-West Rebellion, 73, 78, 79-80, 81, 85, 87-8 and n.

Riel Rebellions, the, 38-40, 72-80.

Ritchie, Mr Justice, 48.

Roman Catholic Church in Canada, 23-4, 27-8; its hostility to Liberalism, 29-31, 41-8, 90, 167; the schools question, 159-61, 163-4, 167, 172, 240-1, 244-5.

Root, Elihu, 214, 258.

Ross, Sir George, 311.

Rouge party, the, 21-2, 23-4, 28, 40.

Routhier, A. B., 43, 47.

Royal Military College, the, 38.

Russia, 140; and empire, 141, 210, 303.

Sackville-West, Sir Lionel, 106.

Salisbury, Marquis of, 142-3.

Saskatchewan, the province formed, 238-9; the school question, 239-45.

School question, the, 158-68, 170-3, 239-45.

Scott Act, the, 38, 69-70.

Scott, R. W., 170 n.

Seddon, Richard, 195.

Selborne, Lord, 195, 200.

Sifton, Sir Clifford, 170 n., 234, 244, 247, 279; his immigration campaign, 221-2, 223, 224.

Smith, Goldwin, 107, 109, 110.

Smuts, General, 318.

South Africa, 198; the Boer War, 184-92; and imperial defence, 304-5, 314. See Colonial Conferences.

Sprigg, Sir Gordon, 195.

Strathcona, Lord, 59; High Commissioner, 191, 279.

Taché, Archbishop, 160.

Taft, President, 261-3, 265.

Tariffs: in Canada, 56-8, 150, 174-5, 205-7, 235-7, 249-52, 260-8, 274-6; in Europe, 140; in Britain, 150, 205-7, 271-81; in United States, 260-3.

Tarte, J. Israel, 155, 170 n., 193; 'Master of the Administration,' 236, 247.

Taschereau, Archbishop, his moderate policy, 42, 44, 45.

Taschereau, Mr Justice, decides against the Church, 47-8.

Thompson, Sir John, 85, 124; prime minister, 155, 156.

Tupper, Sir Charles, in the Macdonald Cabinet, 60, 106, 111, 120, 124, 136; prime minister, 148, 162, 166, 167; leader of Opposition, 175, 193, 194, 204; an empire-builder, 329.

Tupper, Sir Hibbert, 162.

Turner, Senator, 214.

United States, 62, 63, 99, 209; misconceptions regarding Canada, 94; 'feeling its oats,' 102; relations with Britain, 103, 257; the fisheries dispute, 104-6; political and commercial relations with Canada, 106-9, 109-14, 118-19, 124-5, 208-15, 257-63, 266, 268; the Monroe Doctrine, 203-4; the Joint High Commission, 209-10; the Alaskan boundary, 210-15; the conservation conference, 234; her diplomatic development, 256.

Venezuela episode, the, 102, 208, 209, 212.

Victoria, Queen, 176, 195.

Ward, Sir Joseph, 276, 293-6.

White, James, 235.

White, Thomas, 78; his tribute to Laurier, 86.

Wiman, Erastus, 109.

Winter, Sir James, 209.

Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press

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