Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2009

Documents de l’histoire du Québec / Quebec History Documents


Quebec and Confederation



Take Warning by Example

We publish elsewhere reports of speeches made at the dinner given by the Mayor and citizens of Halifax to their recent visitors from Canada. They are not without significance. We have the Lieutenant Governor speaking encouragingly, like Lieut.-Governor Gordon of New Brunswick, about the efforts made to draw these provinces more closely together, and the Admiral, who urged the fostering of a national spirit, without which great nations had become small, with which small nations had become great, closed his speech with the significant phrase, “From the bottom of my heart, I wish your present efforts success.” It is undoubted that all these echo the views entertained by the Imperial Government. The day has long passed when the maxim divide et impera was applied to colonies as the easiest method of keeping them in subjection. The whole policy of the Mother Country now is to make her colonies self-reliant and self-supporting. To that end she must especially desire the union of all colonies that can be conveniently grouped. The United Provinces of Canada and Acadia with a population of 3½ millions acting together as one body under a single government, with a single impulse would be in a different position to protect itself from the present disunited colonies, lacking a common central authority and unaccustomed to act together. Thus united there is a hope for us of an independent future. Disunited there is little or none. Absorption or annexation would be our too manifest destiny. Those who look forward favorably to such an absorption by the republic lying along our border, may well argue for delay now, and a continuance of disunion – as well as those who, to use Mr. McGee’s happy phrase, have, or think they have a vested interest in our continued insignificance, little-minded men dressed up with petty authority and local importance, who would be robbed of their glories in a larger nationality. All who are greatest and most patriotic among our public men are urging on the good work, the narrow minded, the men of red tape and routine stand in the way, as do those who would link our fortunes with those of the Federal States.

But Mr. Howe took occasion to add to his speech another warning to Canada, a warning uttered in private to all of the Canadian visitors with whom he came in contact. “Do not split Canada up again into fragments. To be a Canadian now is to be somebody. To belong to a petty half or fragment of Canada will be no honour. And by this division you will enter the wedge which has just split the great republic asunder. Will you not take warning by her example.” Such is the view of our affairs taken by the great Acadian statesman. Advice from such a source deserves to be heeded. The Toronto Globe, speaking, we suppose, not without the privity of the President of the Council, says that if any union is determined on at Charlottetown it will be a legislative one. This is doubtless the opinion derivable from contact with the leading men of the Acadian Provinces. And we believe that the tendency of public opinion in Canada also since Parliament was prorogued has been decidedly in the same direction. An absolute, complete legislative union is perhaps impossible. We are much inclined to think that it is. But reaping instruction from the pregnant example of our neighbours – Canadians and Acadians alike will infuse as little of federal principle into their union when established as will suffice to meet the absolute necessities of the case.


Source: Montreal Gazette. August 24, 1864, p. 2. Article transcribed by Joelle Krasny; revision by Claude Bélanger

© 2009 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College