The historical Process of Canadian Confederation


London Conference

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LOndon CONference 1866-67

After the ratification of the Maritimes, one more conference remained for the delegates, London. The legislatures of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had given directions to their delegate to try for better terms. However, they had not considered the talents of John A. Macdonald. Macdonald was the master parliamentarian. At the meetings in Quebec, he had dominated, for the most part, the direction of the conversation. Even when he had been defeated by Oliver Mowat concerning the power of the provinces, he mitigated the defeat by overseeing the construction of the provisions. The London Conference proceeded in two stages. First, in December of 1866, the delegates negotiated among themselves working through all 72 resolutions producing a final draft delivered to the Colonial Office on Christmas Day, 1866.

 The second stage occurred with the Colonial Office suspicious of federalism. Many delegates suspected that Macdonald was colluding with the Colonial Office to obtain stronger central powers. Nevertheless, Macdonald supervised the final tense exchanges between the delegates and the British Officials. Redrafting began with the new year in 1867 taking 2 months to complete. By the end of February 1867, the British North America bill went to Parliament with little change in the colonial plan (Moore 213, Creighton, Confederation, 409-424) By February 22, 1867 the bill reached the committee stage and by the 26th it had its third reading and passed the House of Lords On the same day, it was read for the first time in the House of Commons. The next day the five main leaders of confederation - Macdonald, Cartier, Galt, Tilley and Tupper - had the privilege of a private audience with Queen Victoria, who had shown some interest in the bill (Creighton, 428).

 The British North America Act passed the House of Commons on March 8, and received royal assent on March 29, 1867. Thus, by Royal Proclamation on July 1, 1867 the Dominion of Canada would come into existence.

Photograph | Parliament buildings under construction, Ottawa, ON, 1865 | I-16295.0