Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Edward Gibbon Wakefield


Wakefield , Edward Gibbon (1796-1862), colonial reformer, was born in London, England , on March 20, 1796. He was educated at Westminster and at Edinburgh, and entered the British diplomatic service. In 1826 he was involved in the abduction of an heiress of sixteen years of age, though he was already himself a widower; and he spent as a result three years in Newgate prison. His years in prison led to a sincere study of society, and particularly of the problems of the British Umpire. He became an authority on colonization; and when Lord Durham was appointed high commissioner in Canada, he brought Wakefield with him, though in an unofficial capacity. Parts of Lord Durham's famous Report on the affairs of British North America (London, 1839) were undoubtedly his handiwork. He left Canada in 1839, but returned in 1841; and from 1842 to 1844 he represented Beauharnois in the legislature of united Canada. Under the pseudonym of "A member of the provincial parliament", he published A view of Sir Charles Metcalfe's government of Canada (London, 1844). After this episode, however, he transferred his activities to New Zealand ; and he died in Wellington, New Zealand, on May 16, 1862 . See R. Garnett, Edward Gibbon Wakefield ( London, 1898), Ursilla M. Macdonnell, Gibbon Wakefield and Canada subsequent to the Durham mission (Queen's Quarterly, 1924-5), A. J. Harrop, The amazing career of Edward Gibbon Wakefield (London, 1928), and Irma O'Connor, Edward Gibbon Wakefield (London, 1929).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p. p. 250.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College