In the summer of 1866 the Canadian legislature met for the last time under the provisions of the Union Act of 1840, and passed addresses to the Queen, setting forth constitutions for the new provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, afterwards incorporated in the imperial act of union. A conference of delegates from the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada was held in the December of 1866 at the Westminster Palace Hotel in the City of London. The members on behalf of Canada were Messrs Macdonald, Cartier, Galt, McDougall, Langevin, and W.P. Howland (in the place of Mr. Brown); on behalf of Nova Scotia, Messrs Tupper, Henry, McCully, Archibald, and J.W. Ritchie (who took Mr. Dickey’s place); of New Brunswick, Messrs Tilley, Johnson, Mitchell, Fisher, and R.D. Wilmot. The last named, who took the place of Mr. Steeves, was a Loyalist by descent, and afterwards became speaker of the senate and a lieutenant-governor of his native province. Their deliberations led to some changes in the financial provisions of the Quebec plan, made with the view of satisfying the opposition as far as possible in the maritime provinces but without disturbing the fundamental basis to which Canada had already pledged itself in the legislative session of 1865. All the difficulties being now removed the Earl of Carnarvon, then secretary of state for the colonies, submitted to the house of lords on the 17th of February, 1867, a bill intituled, “An act for the union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and the government thereof; and for purposes connected therewith.” It passed the two houses with very little discussion, and the royal assent was given to it on the 29th of March of the same year as “The British North America Act, 1867.” It is interesting to know that in the original draft of the bill the united provinces were called the “Kingdom of Canada,” but when it came eventually before parliament they were designated as the “Dominion of Canada”; and the writer had it from Sir John Macdonald himself that this amendment did not emanate from the colonial delegates but from the imperial ministry, one of whose members was afraid of wounding the susceptibilities of United States statesmen.
During the same session the imperial parliament passed a bill to guarantee a loan of three million pounds sterling for the construction of an intercolonial railway between Quebec and the coast of the maritime provinces—a work recognised as indispensable to the success of the new federation. Her Majesty’s proclamation, giving effect to the Union Act, was issued on the 22nd May, 1867, declaring that “on and after the first of July, 1867, the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, shall form and be one Dominion, under the name of Canada.”
SECTION I—The first parliament of the Dominion of Canada. 1867—1872.