Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

deferring to his old chieftain, Johnstone, whose connection with politics dated back to 1838. Mr. Johnstone resigned from the Government the following year to accept the position of judge in equity and Dr. Tupper succeeded him as Premier. Many changes in the policy of his party had been made during the preceding nine years. Howe, by advocating the proscription of Roman Catholics, aroused bitter sectarian strife throughout the province. Dr. Tupper, on the other hand, by his tolerant views, won hosts of new supporters. Mr. Howe justified himself on the ground that his mission to New York, to raise recruits for the British Army in the Crimea from among expatriated Britishers, had been rendered unsuccessful by the hostile opposition of Irish Americans. On one occasion troops were called out at Halifax to suppress religious riots. The end of the affair was that Mr. Cranston, the British Minister at Washington, was dismissed because of his zeal, or supposed connection with Mr. Howe's alleged breach of international law.

In connection with his championship of the cause of equal rights for all creeds, the following letter, written to Sir Charles Tupper on the announcement of his retirement in 1900 by the Catholic Archbishop of Halifax, bears testimony to the esteem which this policy of toleration secured for him : Archbishop's House, Halifax, N.S.,

Nov. 16th, 1900. DEAR SIR CHARLES,—I have read with regret that you have determined to quit public life. No doubt you have well earned an honourable repose ;

whilst this quite justifies your resolution, it cannot diminish our regret.

The many and great services you have rendered your country during your political life will keep your memory green in the hearts of generations as yet unborn, and will be a more fitting and endurable monument than one of bronze or stone.

It is pleasant to be able to bear testimony not only on my own part, but also on that of my predecessors, to the confidence reposed in your fairmindedness and your desire of dealing justly by all classes and creeds. You began your political career, I rejoice to know, as the champion of equal rights for Catholics; you persevered consistently in that cause; you lost power because of that consistency; but defeat with honour unstained is more glorious than victory purchased by the sacrifice of principle. What many will say after your death, I wish to say while you are alive.

With sincerest best wishes for the health and happiness of Lady Tupper and yourself, I remain, dear Sir Charles,

Yours very truly,

F. C. O'BRIEN, Archbishop of Halifax.

Previous to 1864 the confederation of the British North Americas had been discussed in legislative assemblies, in lectures and newspapers, only, however, in a theoretic and academic manner. As far back as 1838 it was the subject of a conference between representatives of the various provinces and Lord Durham, the Governor-General, at Quebec.

[merged small][ocr errors]

In 1860 Dr. Tupper, then in opposition, was invited to open the Mechanics’ Institute at St. John, N.B. This he did by a lecture on “The Political Condition of British North America,” in which he declared for Confederation unreservedly. In the light of later events parts of this speech were indeed prophetic.* After reviewing the condition of the scattered provinces, he said:

Who could doubt that under these circumstances, with such a federation of the five provinces (to which ultimately the Red River and the Saskatchewan country might be added) as would give us the position due to our extent, resources and intelligent population, untrammelled either by slavery or the ascendancy of any dominant Church ; almost the last country where civil and religious liberty exists, British America, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, would in a few years present to the world a great and powerful organisation; with British institutions, sympathies and feelings ; bound indissolubly to the throne of England by a community of interests, and united to it by the viceroyalty of one of the promising sons of our beloved Queen, whose virtues have enthroned her in the hearts of her subjects in every section of an Empire upon which the sun never sets.

In the session of 1861 Premier Howe, who was an astute politician and keenly alive to the activities of his young rival, submitted a resolution to the Nova Scotia Legislature in favour of Confederation. The resolution was seconded by Dr. Tupper, and was unanimously adopted. This was

[ocr errors]

* The greater part of this lecture is reprinted in Chapter I of this volume.

not the first time that Howe had advocated political union of the Canadian provinces, and his subsequent change of front was all the more unexpected, except to those who discerned the motives that prompted his subsequent erratic course.

To Sir Charles Tupper alone belongs the credit of having initiated the movement that came to fruition by the passage of the North British American Act, after a struggle unparalleled for the bitterness of the feeling it engendered throughout his native province. The records of the Legislature tell in outline the earlier part of the story.

History, which is more just and more accurate than in a former age, has already given the veteran statesman full credit for the mighty part he played in one of the most dramatic constitutional struggles of modern times, and his later achievements in laying broad and deep the foundations of the young Dominion, and thus paving the way for a solidarity of sentiment, crystallising in the shape of a real and practical unity of the Mother Country and the rest of the British Empire. The substantial aid of Canada, New Zealand, and Australia in the South African War, the granting of British preferential trade by the Dominion, the Colonial contributions to Imperial naval defence, form in perspective epoch-making events, in which the course of the movement is plainly discernible.

A grateful people, irrespective of party, now acknowledges the invaluable services Sir Charles Tupper rendered his country, recognises the magnitude of the struggle he engaged in, almost singlehanded, at the outset in overcoming opposition to Confederation in Nova Scotia, and appreciates at

1

its true worth the self-effacement he displayed in stepping aside to permit other men from his native province to enter the Cabinet after he had won the victory. No such difficulties had to be overcome in Ontario and Quebec, because both parties sunk their differences to bring about the union.

Of that galaxy of far-seeing nation builders Sir Charles Tupper, Bart., alone survives. By general assent the “Father of Canada” is everywhere honoured as Canada's Grand Old Man." Gone are his famous colleagues, Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George E. Cartier, the Hon. George Brown, and lesser luminaries who, each in his humble way, had a share in solving the numerous problems that endangered the success of the great political experiment.

Given up by the attending physicians in England in the winter of 1911-12 when suffering from an attack of bronchitis, Sir Charles recovered, only to receive a severe blow a few months later by the death of Lady Tupper, his devoted helpmate for nearly sixty-six years. To her inspiration he has ascribed much of the success of his public career from the day, as a young doctor, he entered the political lists and defeated the Hon. Joseph Howe, Premier and leader of the Liberal party. Home to Nova Scotia he accompanied the remains to the place of interment at Halifax.

Happily the doctors' forebodings were not realised, and under the devoted care of his son, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, and Lady Tupper, the health of the venerable statesman greatly improved. The cool breezes of the Pacific seemed to give him a new lease of life.

1

« ForrigeFortsett »