Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

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


Gavazzi and the Failing of the Reformist Coalition


[.] A failing ministry is certain to find new occa­sions for discredit, and now chance co-operated with more normal factors.


Gavazzi, an Italian enthusiast, with that unfortunate desire to expose the evils of a church in which he had previously served which has always proved so fruitful a source of trouble, arrived in Canada in June 1853, prepared to expose what his class terms 'the errors of Rome.' The natural consequences followed. First at Quebec and then at Montreal there were furious riots, and at Montreal shots were fired at the crowd. Occasion was at once taken by Brown and his anti-Romanist following to describe the incident as one of 'awful murders' and 'Roman Catholic violence.' When Hincks, for reasons which may only be guessed at, protected the Mayor of Montreal, and did not push forward an inquiry into the facts concerning the order to fire which public opinion attributed to the mayor, he was preparing trouble for himself in Upper Canada ; and, in any case, the relations between Upper Canadian reform and the French party became more strained than ever. In June the government lost its attorney-general, William Buell Richards, and in September its commissioner of Public Works-the former to the bench, the latter because the free trade principles which he professed were violated by the talk in which the ministry now indulged, of retaliation as a means of securing reciprocity with the United States.


The end came in 1854. Broken in their credit with the public, drawn towards violent contradictory policies, on the one hand by moderates and French Canadians, on the other by reformers and anti-church men, blasted with the effective rhetoric of Brown and his newspaper, incapable of quick action in the church question, where nothing but quick action would satisfy the radicals, the party deserved to die, and die it did. It had ceased to be capable of real service to Canada, and the happiest fate must be a quick decease.

Return to the Gavazzi Index Page / Retour à la page d'index sur Gavazzi

Source: Adam SHORTT and Arthur DOUGHTY, eds., Canada and Its Provinces, Vol. V, Toronto, Glasgow, Brook & Company, 1914, p. 72.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College