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parliamentary government it would be necessary for one of their number to proceed to Ottawa and inform the Government there that unless responsible government was assured they would oppose the adoption of the terms altogether, and thus delay Confederation.
Mr. Seelye was selected as the delegate. He succeeded in convincing the Dominion Government that his contention that the province was sufficiently advanced to entitle it to representative institutions was correct. When the terms came back they contained a clause to that effect, and upon those lines the provincial government has ever since been administered.
The provincial Legislative Council, which was partly appointive, passed the terms of union with Canada in January, 1871. It was its last session, giving way in the following year to a Provincial Legislature. The terms of union were embodied in the enactment, which passed the Dominion Parliament, after a four-days' debate, on April ist, 1871. The Confederation Act of 1867 provided all the machinery for admitting Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, the North-West, and British Columbia.
The main provisions upon which the Pacific coast province entered the Union ensured, in the first place, that the Dominion should assume all debts and liabilities of the colony, as well as undertake to build a railway from the head of the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast within ten years, and to commence actual railway construction within two years after the date of the Union. The idea of an all-rail route to Eastern Canada from British
Columbia did not take shape until about 1880, as it was thought that the needs of the situation could be met by providing steamboat communication between the head of the Great Lakes and the settled portions of Ontario.
At that time there did not exist any road worthy of the name of highway across Southern British Columbia to the vast and lonely prairies. It is true that the Hudson Bay Company had its own trails through the northern and central sections of the province, but only for the purpose of packing in supplies or shipping out the fur catch. Of commerce in the ordinary sense there was none. Ordinary communication between British Columbia and Eastern Canada in those days had to be conducted via San Francisco or the Isthmus of Panama, First among the early explorers that crossed the prairies to the coast was Simon Fraser, who reached the mouth of the Fraser River, named after him, in 1808. The next explorers of note to accomplish the same feat were Dr. Cheadle and Lord Milton, M.P. They made the overland trip in 1862–4. During the ensuing ten years the explorers included such well-known men as Mr. (afterwards Sir) Sandford Fleming, Walter Moberley, Prof. Macoun, and Dr. Bell, of the Dominion Geological Survey ; Captain Butler, a British army officer; H. J. Cambie, C. F. Hanington, and T. H. White. Mr. Sandford Fleming, as chief engineer of the proposed transcontinental railway, entered the field seeking for a favourable route as early as 1871. In the following year he made, in the company of the late Principal Grant, of Queen's University, an overland trip between Fort Garry and the Pacific coast.
The Confederation terms, especially the clause agreeing to the construction of the railway, were bitterly opposed by the Liberal party. The Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, leader of the Opposition, denounced the railway project as impracticable and far beyond the resources of the Dominion to carry out successfully. His followers, without exception, declared that it would result in the ruin of the country and adversely criticised the other features, including the provision for awarding a contract to a public chartered company incorporated by the same Act of Parliament. Sir Hugh Allan and his associates, among whom were a number of Americans, were anxious to enter into a contract to build the line from the head of the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast.
Well, as a consequence, we went to the country in 1872, in the first general election since Confederation, charged by the Opposition with undertaking the impossible. In the sharp and bitter campaign which followed the Liberals created a good deal of alarm among the electorate, especially in Ontario and Quebec.
The result was that Sir John A. Macdonald was returned to power by a greatly reduced majority. That he was not defeated was due to the sentiment created in Nova Scotia by bringing the Hon. Joseph Howe into the Government in 1869 and myself in 1870. We carried every seat in the province, Mr. Church, of Lunenberg, being the only independent supporter. Howe and I were elected by acclamation. Those were the days of open voting.
Sir George E. Cartier, the leader of the French