Manitoba Report - Part 1

Part I outlines the general issue and identifies the personalities and processes involved and established the context of contemporary events and attitudes.





for the












Re: Manitoba Metis Federation et al.




A.G. of Manitoba and A.G. of Canada

Part I






The assignment as defined in the contract of December 2002 (p. 21) is:


To report on whether there is any evidence of an intention, surrounding the enactment of s.6 of the Constitution Act, 1871, to constitutionally entrench the land grant provisions of sections 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act, 1870.


In correspondence (6 September 2002), Paul Anderson of the Aboriginal Law Group, Department of Justice, suggested that the matter might usefully be arranged to discuss the following questions:


To what extent, if at all, was there an intention, expressed in section 6 of the Constitution Act, 1871 (the BNA Act, 1871), 34-35 Vic. c. 28, to entrench in the Constitution of Canada, the provisions of ss. 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act, 1870?


Did those responsible for the Imperial Act intend to render the land grant provisions of the Manitoba Act incapable of amendment or repeal by the Canadian Parliament, save by constitutional amendment?


Was the potential impact of the land grant provisions of the Manitoba Act contemplated at all by the framers of the Imperial Act?


Does the historical record shed any light on these questions one way or the other?


To these questions, a further issue should be added to clarify the nature of British intentions:


How did British politicians and commentators interpret the idea of a 'constitution' in 1870-71?


The Legislation The clauses1 referred to are as follows:


The Manitoba Act, 1870 (33 Vic., c. 3 [Parliament of Canada]):


Section 31. And whereas, it is expedient, towards the extinguishment of the Indian Title to the lands in the Province, to appropriate a portion of such ungranted lands, to the extent of one million four hundred thousand acres thereof, for the benefit of the families of the half-breed residents, it is hereby enacted, that, under such regulations to be from time to time made by the Governor General in Council, the Lieutenant-Governor shall select such lots or tracts in such parts of the Province as he may deem expedient, to the extent aforesaid, and divide the same among the children of the half-breed heads of families residing in the Province at the time of the said transfer to Canada, and the same shall be granted to the said children respectively, in such mode and on such conditions as to settlement and otherwise, as the Governor General in Council may from time to time determine.


Section 32. For the quieting of titles, and assuring to the settlers in the Province the peaceable possession of the lands now held by them, it is enacted as follows:(

1.      All grants of land in freehold made by the Hudson's Bay Company up to the eighth day of March, in the year 1869, shall, if required by the owner, be confirmed by grant from the Crown.

2.      All grants of estates less than freehold in land made by the Hudson's Bay Company up to the eighth day of March aforesaid, shall, if required by the owner, be converted into an estate in freehold by grant from the Crown.

3.      All titles by occupancy with the sanction and under the license and authority of the Hudson's Bay Company up to the eighth day of March aforesaid, of land in that part of the Province in which the Indian Title has been extinguished, shall, if required by the owner, be converted into an estate in freehold by grant from the Crown.

4.      All persons in peaceable possession of tracts of land at the time of the transfer to Canada, in those parts of the Province in which the Indian Title has not been extinguished, shall have the right of pre-emption of the same, on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Governor in Council.

5.      The Lieutenant-Governor is hereby authorized, under regulations to be made from time to time by the Governor General in Council, to make all such provisions for ascertaining and adjusting, on fair and equitable terms, the rights of Common, and rights of cutting Hay held and enjoyed by the same settlers in the Province, and for the commutation of the same by grants of land from the Crown.


The British North America Act, 1871 (34 & 35, Vic. c. 28 [Imperial Parliament])


The Preamble states:


Whereas doubts have been entertained respecting the powers of the Parliament of Canada to establish Provinces in territories admitted, or which may hereafter be admitted, into the Dominion of Canada, and to provide for the representation of such provinces in the said Parliament, and it is expedient to remove such doubts, and to vest such powers in the said Parliament: Be it enacted... [etc]


Section 1 is the Short Title. Section 2 gives the Parliament of Canada power to establish new Provinces from the Territories. Section 3 empowers the Parliament of Canada to alter the boundaries of a province subject to the agreement of the legislature concerned. Section 4 gives the Parliament of Canada power to provide for the administration of Territories. Section 5 confirms the validity of two acts previously passed by the Parliament of Canada, the first relating to the temporary administration of Rupert's Land (the Hudson's Bay Company Territories), and the second the Manitoba Act quoted above.


Section 6 (the final section) is as follows:


Except as provided by the third section of this Act, it shall not be competent for the Parliament of Canada to alter the provisions of the last-mentioned Act of the said Parliament in so far as it relates to the Province of Manitoba, or of any other Act hereafter establishing new Provinces in the said Dominion, subject always to the right of the Legislature of the Province of Manitoba to alter from time to time the provisions of any law respecting the qualifications of electors and members of the Legislative Assembly, and to make laws respecting elections in the said province.


Terminology. Several changes in terminology should be noted since the passage of these Acts in 1870-71. The term 'Metis' has replaced the term 'half-breed'. (The 1938 Act passed by the Legislature of Alberta appears to have been the first official use of the term in English.)  The style 'Dominion' was formally dropped in 1947. In 1982, the British North America Act of 1867 and all amending legislation of the same title passed by the Westminster Parliament were adopted as part of patriation and renamed the 'Constitution Acts'. The first two changes have no effect on the substance of the matter under discussion. Any retrospective change to the import of the British North America Acts caused by their renaming (which appears to be without precedent) would lie beyond the remit of this historical report.

The core area of the western territory was referred to as 'the Red River' (sometimes without the direct article) until replaced in 1870 by 'Manitoba' as legal steps were taken towards the creation of the Dominion's fifth province. The wider area was referred to as Rupertsland, the Hudson's Bay Company territories and/or, simply if through various spellings with or without hyphenation, the North-West. Conventional usage called the aboriginal inhabitants 'Indians'. The land grant in the Manitoba Act was expressed in Imperial measurements (1.4 million acres). This is equal to 566,572.23 hectares. Contemporary terms are incorporated in the text of this report where indirect reference is made to sources.

This report does not of course endorse any offensive connotations of such terms. Nor, in using the term 'Provisional Government', does it accept any claims to legitimate authority on the part of insurgent groups at the Red River in 1869-70.


Contexts and Events.  It is not suggested that explanation of intention can be found solely by reference to contemporary events. None the less, it may be helpful briefly to situate the circumstances of 1870-71 in a broader sweep of recent history.

a. Canada. The British North America Act, 1867, united three existing colonies into the Dominion of Canada. With considerable speed, the new Dominion took steps to purchase the title to the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company, including the modern provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 1870-71 negotiations were also undertaken to secure the admission to Confederation of the Pacific slope colony of British Columbia. 2

Two elements may be pointed out in the Canadian context. The first is that, in practical terms, the new Dominion was moving very rapidly and ambitiously. With a population of about four million and a very small bureaucratic base for its government machine, it attempted to incorporate a huge western territory with which it had only tenuous communications. Secondly, the institutions of government in the new Dominion were still exploring the machinery and implied conventions of the British North America Act of 1867. Relations between the Dominion government and the provinces were ambivalent. On the one hand, the Dominion Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, attempted to work in harness with the local government in the largest province, Ontario. On the other, he set out to exploit the Dominion's implied powers of disallowance, so that Ottawa could and did invalidate provincial legislation. 3 Equally, the relationship between Canada and Britain needed time to resolve the inherent ambiguity: legally, the Dominion remained an Imperial dependency, but in practice it had clearly moved into an undefined category somewhere between a colony and a junior satellite. Typical of this was the absence of any agreed procedure, let alone any legislative formula, for the initiation of constitutional amendments. As is well known, the initial moves for the British North America Act of 1871 were made on a government-to-government basis, initiated by the Canadian Executive Council (cabinet). During the drafting process, the Canadian parliament asserted as a general principle its right to be consulted. In this transitional era, British politicians continued to regard themselves as entitled to play some role, and even if necessary to intervene, in the internal affairs of Canada, as Lord Carnarvon (Colonial Secretary, 1874-78) showed in relation to British Columbia. As late as 1885, the British cabinet discussed whether to intervene over the heads of the Canadian government and reprieve Louis Riel from execution. 4

b. The West.  Throughout the winter of 1868-69, there were tough negotiations between the Canadian Government and the Hudson's Bay Company, overseen by the Colonial Office. This Ottawa-London axis led the principal participants to ignore the likely impact of the reported uncertainty about the future of the Red River on the settlers themselves. An agreement was made that, in effect, 'froze' Rupertsland as local affairs stood on March 8 1869, but provided for its formal transfer to Canada on October 1 (late adjusted to December 1). On 21 October 1869, Canada's designated governor of the North West, William McDougall, was prevented from entering the Red River country from the United States by a group calling itself 'Le Comité National des Métis de la Rivière Rouge', of which Louis Riel was a prominent member. On 16 November, this group convened a Convention of Red River settlers. Initially, the Convention demonstrated that the community was politically divided, and more fundamentally, split along lines of religion and language. The Canadian Government, alarmed at reports that the Red River was degenerating into anarchy, telegraphed to London on November 25 refusing to accept the formal transfer until order was restored. Unfortunately, there was no equivalent rapidity of communication between Ottawa and a frustrated William McDougall on the Minnesota border. On December 1, McDougall issued a proclamation announcing the end of Company authority and the transfer of Rupertsland to the Dominion of Canada. He also attempted to authorise Canadian partisans in the Red River to stage a counter-coup. McDougall's unauthorised move had the effect of apparently destroying the old order without being able to install the new. The Convention responded by filling the vacuum of authority. A List of Rights was drawn up on December 4 and a Provisional Government proclaimed four days later.

The extensive negotiations that followed were conducted to some extent in parallel, partly at the Red River, partly in Ottawa and with occasional reference to London. This process, coupled with the desire to reach a political settlement, produced some ambiguity, notably in the subsequent Amnesty Question that bedevilled Canadian politics for much of the eighteen-seventies. In December 1869, the Canadian Government sent three emissaries, Charles de Salaberry, Donald A. Smith and J.B. Thibault, to the Settlement. In February 1870, the Convention of the Red River despatched John Black, J.N. Ritchot and Alfred Scott to Ottawa. Of these, Ritchot, a Catholic priest, was to become the key negotiator. The process also called upon the good offices of the Roman Catholic Archbishop, A.A. Taché, who travelled back from the Vatican Council in Rome, arriving in his archdiocese early in March.

In January 1870, the Canadian government pressed the Colonial Office to agree to the despatch of British troops to the Red River, arguing that this would both show British support for Canada and give the insurgents an honourable way-out of submitting to Imperial rather than Canadian troops. On 4 March, the British government agreed to an expedition, provided that the Canadian government came to terms with the insurgents, the territory was handed over to Canada and the Dominion contributed to the cost. That same day, at the Red River, the Provisional Government shot by firing squad Thomas Scott, an Ontario settler and a member of the Orange Order, who had defied its claimed authority. News of the killing reached Ottawa at about the same time as the delegates, and considerably poisoned the atmosphere, especially in Protestant Ontario. None the less, despite attempts at the prosecution of Ritchot for complicity to murder, a deal was struck that included the admission of the Red Rover to the Dominion as its fifth province (with the Canadian government symbolically rejecting the Provisional Government's choice of 'Assiniboia') and the allocation of 1.4 million acres of land for the children of half-breed heads of families. The Manitoba Bill was introduced into the Canadian Parliament on May 2 1870, and its immediate acceptance (news of which was telegraphed to London) enabled the British government to confirm the despatch of the military expedition as 'a mission of peace'. On 15 July 1870 Manitoba became a province. The expeditionary force encountered unexpected obstacles in its march to the Red River, and did not arrive until 24 August. In order to get the troops back before the onset of winter, withdrawal began five days later.

The new province of Manitoba was granted representation in the Dominion House of Commons and Senate. Although the Manitoba Act had been passed with broad parliamentary support, it was subsequently questioned whether the powers conferred in the British North America Act 1867, 30 Vic. c. 3, (section 146) included changes to parliamentary representation. To settle any doubts, the British government prevailed upon the Westminster parliament to pass the British North America Act, 1871. The form of the Bill was discussed between the Colonial Office and the Canadian Executive Council [cabinet], although in the event Article Six was reshaped in London. After a delay while the Canadian parliament debated the amending process, the Bill which went through all its legislative stages in May and June 1871, largely as a formality. These are the two acts quoted above. The Westminster Act thus constituted a form of 'reverse patriation', by which a piece of Canadian legislation was given the status of a British Act of Parliament.

c. Britain. The passage of the Second Reform Act made the year 1867 a watershed in British politics as well. The sizeable extension of the right to vote to the urban working class did not make Britain a democracy, even within adult male terms, but it was generally regarded then, and since, as giving the decisive shove on the road to full popular participation. The Liberal government, under the leadership of W.E. Gladstone [below] took office in December 1868 after a sweeping electoral victory on the new franchise appeared in its early years to be one of the strongest in modern British history. Powerfully backed by a new concept of electoral mandate, in 1869-71 the Gladstone ministry engaged not merely in a major legislative programme, but in effect changed the entire role of government. The disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1869 signalled a new attitude of State neutrality in matters of religion, while the abolition of the purchase of officers' commissions in 1871, part of a larger reform of the British Army, challenged the social position of the aristocracy. In between, the year 1870 saw the passage of the first Irish Land Act and of the Education Act. The first provided for State intervention between landlord and tenant, the second laid the foundations for a public system of elementary schooling. Thus the precise period of the birth of Manitoba coincided with a crucible of political activity in Britain. The government's ambitious legislative programme has implications for an understanding of the circumstances of their commitment to the British North America Act of 1871. By the parliamentary session of 1870, it was clear that the government's reach exceeded its grasp, and that its programme was both contested and congested. Gladstone's style of party management encouraged the introduction of reforming legislation designed to appeal to the enthusiasms of sections of supporters, but the subsequent dropping of such Bills in the face of opposition and House of Lords obstruction. As a device for ensuring party unity this was of counter-productive. Yet even in its most controversial phases, Parliament regularly passed much minor legislation, much of it perhaps more fittingly handled through administrative regulation. In the circumstances of 1871, no British government would have committed itself to the introduction of clarificatory constitutional legislation for Canada unless it was reasonably sure that any such measure would be wholly uncontroversial.

One aspect of the modernity of Gladstone's ministry was its emphasis on administrative reform within government departments. In the Colonial Office, internal reorganisation aimed at enabling the two most senior bureaucrats, Frederic Rogers and Henry Holland [below], to deal with problem solving. More generally, a new office, of Parliamentary Counsel, was established in 1869 for the drafting of legislation. Previously, individual government departments had farmed out such work to commissioned barristers. Whereas in 1867, the British North America Bill of 1867 had been put into legislative form, in a considerable hurry, by F.S. Reilly of Lincoln's Inn, amidst other pressures of his work at the Bar,[1] the 1871 Act was the result of a more considered discussion involving Holland, Rogers and the Parliamentary Counsel, Henry Thring [below].

d. International and strategic concerns. By 1870, the rapid development of the steamship had challenged previous British confidence that their home island was immune to attack. In 1859, the country had been swept by fears of a sudden French invasion, and the rise of a militaristic Prussia fed subsequent scares. In 1869-70, British garrisons overseas were sharply reduced in order to concentrate the country's relatively small army at home. In particular, the mass mobilisation of men and resources in the American Civil War (1861-65) had drawn attention to the vulnerability of scattered Imperial forces in Canada. In December 1867, Gladstone had privately warned that the British Empire faced 'but one danger. It is the combination of the three names, Ireland, United States and Canada.'[2] Hence his government sought to avoid direct confrontation with Fenian (Irish republican) raiders in British North America, and there was palpable reluctance to send troops to the Red River in 1870. The passage through the Westminster Parliament of the British North America Act of 1871 coincided with the last phases of the Franco-Prussian war and the proclamation of the German Empire.



British Politicians. The reorganisation of the Colonial Office increased its efficiency but did not turn it into a policy-making body. Policy was the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (generally referred to as that of Colonial Secretary). Formally the Colonial Secretary was subject to cabinet control, but the perceived marginality of most colonial questions rendered this a formality. (Thus Gladstone's memorandum of the cabinet meeting of 5 March 1870 included the terse note: 'Red River. L[or]d Granville stated what had been done.')[4] Major issues were generally settled between the Colonial Secretary and the Prime Minister.

As already noted, the Prime Minister was William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), a towering figure who defies simple summary. Gladstone was a seismic personality, capable of both immense intellectual effort and of apparently unstoppable personal energy: he would be 82 when he formed the last of his four governments in 1892.[5] His political career was unusual in its ideological trajectory, since he moved from extreme toryism as a young man to advanced liberalism in middle age. His successive political positions were characterised by a marked religiosity, and he was liable to unsettle both allies and opponents by unexpectedly adopting uncompromising ethical positions on political issues. His path towards a liberal view of the world had been encouraged by his sympathy for small and oppressed nations, shown as early as 1851 in his denunciations of tyrannical misgovernment in Naples. On becoming Prime Minister in 1868, he had declared, in characteristic language, that his 'mission' was to 'pacify Ireland'. His sole intervention in Red River affairs reflected these character traits. Gladstone's ministerial career had included two brief terms at the Colonial Office, in 1834-5 and 1846. He was generally informed on Canadian matters, but not notably sympathetic. In 1848 and 1857 he had criticised the Hudson's Bay Company.

Two men held the office of Colonial Secretary in the period under review. Earl Granville (Granville George Leveson-Gower, 1815-91) could be described as someone born at elder statesman. A member of one of the great Whig (aristocratic liberal) families, Granville held various cabinet offices at intervals between 1851 and 1886. 'I had better make a clean breast of it,' he had jovially told the House of Lords in 1855. ' ... I have relations upon this side of the House, relations upon the cross benches, relations upon the opposite side of the House', and had even suffered 'the unparalleled misfortune' that three of his cousins had served in the previous Conservative administration.[6] He was also leader of the Liberal party in the House of Lords. Since the government was in a perpetual minority in the upper house, Granville was especially closely involved in steering its large and controversial legislative programme on to the statute book. As Colonial Secretary, Granville held a post of considerable prestige (only five cabinet ministers were styled 'Secretaries of State', and two of these, for War and India, were recent creations) but one with relatively minor responsibilities for policy. Frederic Rogers [below] recalled that Granville 'trusted his subordinates in matters of detail'. His successor, Lord Kimberley [below], condemned him as 'singularly ignorant of the details of the questions he has to deal with', but Kimberley was an astringent critic and Rogers asserted that Granville remained in control of key issues.[7] It is likely that he disguised an underlying toughness behind his courtly manner, which made him a necessary link with Queen Victoria who did not like her Prime Minister. Visiting London to negotiate the transfer of the Hudson's Bay Territories, George Cartier was delighted to discover that political insiders nicknamed Granville 'Pussy'.[8] His correspondence with Gladstone shows him operating very sagely as a foil to contain the Prime Minister's enthusiasms, as in their exchange over the Red River.[9]

In July 1870, Granville was transferred to the Foreign Office and replaced by Lord Kimberley (John Wodehouse, 1826-1902). Although described by a colleague as 'extremely able and efficient', Kimberley was thought to be unduly devoted to detail and inclined to engage in overbearing monologues.[10] He had been offered the post of Governor General of Canada in 1861, although this did not denote any special knowledge of, or interest in Canadian affairs. In 1868, he had served for a few months as Governor [i.e. Chairman] of the Hudson's Bay Company. In appointing him, the Company had been well aware that a Liberal government was likely to take office in the near future, and that that Kimberley would move to a seat in the cabinet. The directors 'thought it would be advantageous to the shareholders to have my assistance if only for a few months, as I should become acquainted with the affairs of the Comp[an]y and might be of service in seeing that justice is done to them in their negotiations with Canada and the U[nited] States'.[11] While such an attitude would be scandalous in modern politics, there is no direct evidence that Kimberley was influenced in his handling of Red River affairs by his prior association with the Company (which, in any case, had ceased to be an immediate political player in the Settlement by the time he took over at the Colonial Office. As Governor of the Company, he put his name to a stiff demand of terms for the transfer of the western territories which the then-Conservative government thought excessive. Perhaps his most noteworthy action during his short association with the Company was his letter to the influential London newspaper, The Times, appealing for aid on behalf of the Red River Settlement where the crops had been ravaged by locusts.[12]

When the Colonial Secretary sat in the House of Lords, the position of Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies tended to acquire greater importance than would usually be associated with a junior ministerial post, since the holder had to represent the Department in the elected chamber, the House of Commons, and answer questions there. William Monsell appears in the Colonial Office records as a minister fully in charge of his brief, an assessment confirmed by his promotion to full ministerial office at the end of 1870. He was an unusual figure in British public life in having converted to Catholicism, and at one point defended Taché in Colonial Office minutes against the barely-veiled accusation by Rogers that the Archbishop was another priestly trouble-maker.[13] Monsell was succeeded by Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, who played only a limited role in business relating to Manitoba.

Administrators. The Colonial Office had long been a target for the anger of colonists and the scorn of administrative reformers.[14]  It was probably one of the antiquated government departments satirised by Charles Dickens as the 'Circumlocation Office'; it certainly used red tape to bundle up its documents, and so enriched the English language with an image of bureaucratic inertia. As with many bureaucracies, a distinction could be drawn between apparently mindless routine work undertaken at lower level, and the capacity for handling issues of policy at the top. 'The staff in its lower [sub-] departments is ineffective,' wrote Lord Carnarvon in 1866, adding that 'in its higher branches it is so over-taxed as to be quite unequal to its work'.[15] Styled 'Permanent Under-Secretary' [i.e. Deputy Minister], the civil servant heading the Colonial Office was Sir Frederic Rogers, the product of a brilliant academic career at Oxford, and a trained barrister. A discontented Australian politician complained that the colonies were governed 'by a person named Rogers'.[16] This was an exaggeration, but a grudging tribute to his ability. So, too, was the fact that on his retirement in November 1871, he was made a member of the House of Lords (the equivalent of an outgoing Deputy Minister being named to the Canadian Senate).[17]

Frederic Rogers took an active part in the reorganisation of the Colonial Office in the late eighteen-sixties.[18] One of the most important changes was the appointment of a practising barrister, Henry Holland, as full-time legal adviser in January 1867 (although, it appears, just too late to affect the drafting of the British North America Act of 1867). Thus in dealing with the implications of Canada's Manitoba Act, Rogers and Holland formed an impressive legal duo. In terms of contemporary British politics, it was also helpful that both men were heirs to baronetcies, and so enjoyed the confidence and social eminence to deal with aristocratic politicians. (Holland, for instance, was Granville's guest at Walmer Castle, the country residence that he occupied in his honorific capacity as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.)[19]

The third civil servant involved in the preparation of the British North America Act 1871 was Henry Thring, appointed by Gladstone to the new office of Parliamentary Counsel in 1868. Thring was a brilliant lawyer who had advised government departments for two decades, showing himself capable both of constructing and fully integrating the provisions of hugely complicated legislation and of responding rapidly to crisis. He had also campaigned for clearer and more consistent drafting of parliamentary Bills and, as Parliamentary Counsel, imposed a new and uniform style of his own design. Thring's work did not lack critics, both in Parliament and on the Bench, but is appointment quickly proved to be a landmark in British law-making. 'He thought in bills and clauses,' a biographer wrote, 'and knew by instinct whether suggestions presented to him were capable of legislative expression, and if so how they should be expressed and arranged.'[20] Section 6 of the British North America Act of 1871 is either Thring's work or the outcome of proposals that he accepted. The contrast with the 1867 Act is noteworthy. The former,  a huge piece of legislation, was drafted by a working barrister who was faced with a tight timetable and had to cope with multiple inputs from colonial delegates and British ministers. The 1871 Act was short, based on a clear brief from Canada, evolved over several months and, above all, owed its final form to the input of three expert lawyers. It was hardly surprising that Reilly's 1867 Act contained some ambiguous expressions and missed some obvious implications. Of the 1871 Act, we can assume with some certainty that whatever it said was intended by Holland and Thring.

Six people who effectively shaped the British legislative role in the establishment of Manitoba: Gladstone, Granville and Kimberley from the world of politics; Rogers, Holland and Thring from the legal echelons of the bureaucracy. They shared a number of common characteristics. All six were extremely able intellectually.  At a time when aristocrats normally did not trouble themselves much with higher education, both Granville and Kimberley had taken degrees at Oxford, Granville (like Gladstone and Rogers) achieving First Class Honours. Thring took a First Class degree at Cambridge.

Attitudes to British-Canadian Relations. It is also worthy of note that five of the six took a pessimistic view of the long-term connection between Britain and Canada. Kimberley noted in May 1869 that Gladstone's cabinet was 'very gloomy' about relations with the United States. 'All agreed that we could not defend Canada, & that our aim must be her independence.'[21] Granville too hoped that 'in the course of time and in the most friendly spirit the Dominion should find itself strong enough to proclaim her [sic] independence'.[22] Gladstone encouraged him to sound out the Governor General to encourage any possible moves towards complete severance.[23] Few Canadian politicians were interested, but when Alexander Galt offered to decline a British knighthood the following year on the grounds that he supported complete independence, Granville very publicly applauded his candour and insisted that he keep the honour.[24] Looking back on his time in office, Rogers recalled that he 'had always believed ... that the destiny of our colonies is independence', adding that the role of the Colonial Office was 'to secure that our connexion, while it lasts, shall be profitable to both parties, and our separation, when it comes, as amicable as possible'. In 1871, he described Canada as 'almost a foreign country'.[25] Thring took the notion of colonial independence beyond the merely speculative, characteristically drafting two entirely unofficial pieces of legislation, the first as part of a campaign for reform of the colonial connection in 1850, the second as a pamphlet in 1865. Thring's first venture was an attempt to define the respective spheres of Imperial and colonial responsibility under self-government, a rule-of-thumb task (akin to Sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act 1867) that most British politicians and administrators preferred to dodge. His second contribution, in 1865, though entirely unofficial, was even more remarkable. Arguing that Canadian independence was bound to come about, he proposed that a mechanism be laid down in advance to avoid disagreement over procedure at a juncture in which relations with Britain might well be fraught already. Thring's scheme required two votes by the Canadian Parliament, each with a two-thirds majority, to be carried at an interval of at least three months.[26]

It is impossible to say how far this pessimism about the long-term relationship between Britain and Canada coloured the sincerity of the Imperial guarantee of the Manitoba constitution in the British North America Act of 1871. It is, nonetheless, unlikely that any other stage in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries that an issue in British-Canadian relations would have been handled by a group of policy-makers so unconvinced of the durability of the connection. However, none of the five men quoted seems to have reflected on the constitution of a hypothetically independent Canada. Thring's 1865 bill assumed that the Westminster Parliament might place obligations on the successor state, but in 1865 'Canada' was still the united province now spanning modern Ontario and Quebec. Their political experience formed in a unitary state, the British elite was unaccustomed to thinking in terms of federal-provincial relations. In 1864, Rogers had privately described the Quebec Resolutions, the blueprint for Confederation, as 'rather wanting in neatness and scientific character'. The problem, as he understood it, was that, as it was thought undesirable to legislate specifically for the French-majority province of Lower Canada, 'there is to be a scheme which gives too much to the individual provinces, but leaving it to the British provinces to effect a clear amalgamation by degrees'.[27] In 1869, he reminded Granville that provincial rights in Canada were 'the result of a careful compromise', and were 'very real and within their limits cannot be shuffled aside without unfairness'. Faced with the possibility of Ottawa intervention in the New Brunswick schools dispute in 1873, Kimberley expressed alarm at the implications of the unrestricted use of the power of disallowance. 'If the Dominion Parliament and the Dominion Ministers are to advise the Gov[erno]r Gener[era]l as to all provincial Bills, it would follow that the Dominion Parliament would thus get control of all matters of provincial Legislation, whereas the Confederation Act limited the powers of the Dominion Parliament expressly to certain subjects.'[28] All that can be said on the basis of the records available is that issues relating to long-term Imperial-Canadian and Dominion-provincial relations were not discussed in relation to the British North America Act of 1871. For instance, despite their awareness of the importance of provincial rights, neither Kimberley nor Rogers sought the opinion of the government or legislature of Manitoba on the proposal to reserve the power of amending its provincial constitution to Westminster.

Two other distinguished British personalities made some input into official thinking during this episode. In March 1870, in one of the few Red River matters to come before the cabinet, ministers decided 'to send an agent to Ottawa to watch & if need be guide negotiations'.[29] Their choice fell upon Sir Clinton Murdoch, who had worked as a clerk in the Colonial Office from 1828 to 1847, punctuated by a three-year period as a civil servant in Canada between 1839 and 1842. In 1847, he had moved to the Colonial Land and Emigration Board. The advantage of selecting him was that he was already visiting Canada to study land grant issues. Even so, he did not reach Ottawa until the middle of April, and so was little more than an observer of the denouement of negotiations between the Canadian government and the delegates from the Red River. It is evident that Colonial Office staff valued the information he supplied, although the appointment came too late for him to contribute, in the patronising manner envisaged by the cabinet, in the negotiations between the Red River delegates and the Dominion government. While he thought the land grant concessions demanded on behalf of the Red River to be excessive, Murdoch contributed no specific warnings about the Manitoba legislation. The British government also found itself dealing with Sir Stafford Northcote, finance minister (Chancellor of the Exchequer) in the Conservative cabinet of 1866-68, who was also in Ottawa in the early part of 1870 as representative of the Hudson's Bay Company. Neither Murdoch nor Northcote arrived in Ottawa until April 1870, very late in the negotiations.

Participants in Canada. On the Canadian side, the principal contributor to the shaping of Imperial policy was Sir John A. Macdonald, who was not only Prime Minister but also Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. During the negotiations in London in 1866-67 for the framing of the British North America Act, Rogers had been 'very greatly struck by his power of management and adroitness'.[30] In January 1871, Colonial Office staff considered delaying the forwarding to Ottawa of Holland's draft bill to validate Canada's Manitoba Act since it was rumoured that Macdonald himself would shortly visit London and could be consulted informally first.[31] Macdonald's standing with the British was confirmed by their insistence, even if for tactical reasons (they wanted to buy off the Americans with Canadian concessions), on nominating him as part of the Imperial delegation that negotiated the Treaty of Washington in 1871. The culminating Canadian-British exchanges on the drafting of the British North America Act of 1871 were conducted, after Macdonald's departure for Washington in March, through his deputy, Sir George Cartier. While there was some difference in emphasis between Macdonald's leaning towards centralisation and the understandable insistence of his lieutenant, the spokesman of Quebec, upon the federal nature of the Dominion, it is clear that they were agreed on the question of ensuring the status of Manitoba. Although the office of Canadian High Commissioner was not formally established until 1880, the Canadian government was unofficially represented in London by John Rose, a former Canadian minister who had begun a new career as a banker and was thus well equipped to handle financial business on behalf of the Dominion.[32] A Scot by birth, and a man of some education, 'the Canada Rose' (as he was nicknamed by Granville) moved easily in British official circles.[33] He was Gladstone's first choice to provide Canadian input into the delegation sent to negotiate the Treaty of Washington, but his selection was vetoed by Macdonald on the grounds that he was Canadian neither by birth nor residence.[34]

The only other personality who needs to be mentioned is the Governor General, Sir John Young, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Lisgar in October 1870. No Lisgar private papers are known to have survived, but there is nothing in either the Kimberley Papers or the archives of the Colonial Office to suggest that Lisgar played an active role in the shaping of the British North America Act of 1871, although by nature of his office he was the official channel of communication between the two governments. His first overseas appointment had been to the Ionian Islands, a British protectorate off the coast of Greece. In 1858, he become entangled in controversy with the local nationalist movement and was recalled to London. His replacement was Gladstone, who was temporarily out of political office. It seems that Gladstone did not trust Young's judgement, and this may account for the unusual decision to commission Murdoch as quasi-official observer of the Red River negotiations.[35]

It will be noted that the British government had no representative of its own at the Red River, and accordingly was reliant upon other organisations for first-hand accounts of events. London was well served by the gloomy but sober reports on the deteriorating situation sent by the Hudson's Bay Company governor, William Mactavish, to its headquarters in London, copies of which were promptly forwarded across town from Fenchurch Street to Downing Street. Unfortunately, Mactavish was suffering from advanced tuberculosis, describing himself in his letter of resignation in mid-January 1870 as 'so feeble as to be unfit for business of any kind'.[36] The Colonial Office offered to commission Archbishop Taché as an Imperial Commissioner but Taché wisely concluded that this would undermine trust in him. In passing through London on his way from Rome to Canada in January 1870, he seems to have avoided contact with the Colonial Office altogether.[37] A parallel suggestion, to accompany Taché with a Commissioner from Britain, was rejected by Sir John A. Macdonald in a famously sardonic rebuff: 'to send out an overwashed Englishman, utterly ignorant of the country and full of crotchets [= impractical ideas], as all Englishmen are, would be a mistake'.[38] One useful source of information and advice who was not used was the Anglican bishop, a sensible Scotsman called Robert Machray, who sent a thoughtful analysis of the crisis to the Governor General in March 1870. There seems to be no truth in a tradition at Cambridge University that Machray indirectly advised Lord Granville through a correspondence with a friend, the Reverend J.C.W. Ellis, a fellow member of Sidney Sussex College. According to the story, the two used a cipher based on the Latin grace used in the College dining hall to frustrate any attempt to intercept their letters.[39] There is no traceable evidence that Granville received or was influenced by any channel of communication.


Sources. There are three principal groups or types of sources for British official responses to the Red River troubles: 1. Colonial Office records; 2. private letters and diaries and 3. proceedings in Parliament.

1. Colonial Office records.[40] Partly because these are the most extensive and partly because most of them were generated according to set forms (numbered despatches, filed inter-departmental correspondence), they may give the impression of containing 'the answer' to all enigmas concerning the origin of British policy. William Baillie-Hamilton, who joined the Office in 1864, may have been exaggerating when he looked back on much of its routine work as 'a singularly elaborate waste of time',[41] but it was certainly the case that, as is incumbent upon any government department, the Colonial Office devoted much of its effort to establishing an appropriate paper trail that recorded decisions but not necessarily the thinking behind them. In the case of its most prolific correspondence, communications with colonial governors, it was always necessary to bear in mind the possibility that such despatches might be published, either for the information of the British or Canadian Parliament, and through them of their respective publics. Because of the sensitivity of the colonial relationship, from the eighteen-forties, British ministers and officials had tended to discourage formal communication with Canada through despatches and preferred private correspondence between the Colonial Secretary and the Governor General instead.[42] Correspondence on the Red River was put into 'Confidential Print' for the use of the cabinet, but after receiving a copy, the Governor General warned that some of the material should not be released. The Colonial Office duly noted that the collection would be 'carefully weeded if, and when, published'.[43] Granville deflected one demand for information by condemning 'the unnecessary expense incurred in printing voluminous documents which nobody ever read'.[44] When the time came to introduce the British North America Bill in 1871, Lord Kimberley decided against releasing a further instalment of papers since he could state the reasons for the legislation in a speech.[45] (The resulting speech was extremely brief.)

Confidentiality might be maintained in relation to Colonial Office communications with other government departments, such as the Law Officers of the Crown (the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General) who provided legal opinions on colonial issues, and greater openness regarding motive might perhaps be expected in these sources. Here, however, Baillie-Hamilton was on firmer ground when he wrote that 'anyone who has had any experience of official life knows that a good deal more goes to the success or failure of inter-departmental negotiations than formal official letters'.[46]

Ministers and officials had the opportunity to 'think aloud' on paper through the practice of minuting official papers. Since most documents were circulated around the Office, minuting ought to provide a record of the evolution of thinking on each issue. In practice, there was as much idiosyncratic gossip as constructive discussion. Officials had been in the habit of scribbling their comments on any available space, usually formed by turning down a corner of the document concerned. One of Granville's first reforms was his insistence upon the addition to each document of a separate minute paper, but this did not immediately change the habits of thought, even at the top level. Thus an extensive report from John Rose in response to an enquiry about Canadian policy towards the Red River in March 1870 produced the bald comment from Rogers, 'I don't know that this helps us', followed a few days later by Lord Granville's equally revealing verdict, 'It rather leaves us in a hole'.[47]

All official communication was initially conducted in longhand: only a minority of documents were ever printed. This alone helps to account for the relative absence of reflective position papers: however extensive the Colonial Office archive, it rarely produces the 'smoking gun' of indisputable historical proof. Most official correspondence between London and Ottawa went by sea, normally taking about two weeks to make the journey. Only limited use was made of the transatlantic telegraph, successfully established in 1866. Messages had to be ciphered on despatch and decoded on receipt, and the link was expensive. One early telegram from Ottawa cost £(stg)64, and a few such messages at that cost would soon break a departmental budget. That particular telegram was rendered meaningless by the omission of a crucial word. Macdonald used to complain that Rose's telegrams were incomprehensible as the frugal Scots banker stripped his messages of all but long words.[48] Given the further difficulties in communication between Ottawa and the North-West, and it is not surprising that British policy in the Red River difficulty of 1869-70 was almost entirely reactive.

2. Private Correspondence and Diaries. As noted above, the almost unbroken sequence of private correspondence between individual Colonial Secretaries and Governors General, which spans the period from Lord Elgin's arrival in Canada in 1847 to Lord Monck's departure in 1868, is effectively broken for the following four years by the loss of any personal papers of Lord Lisgar. Lisgar corresponded with Lord Kimberley over the Washington Treaty in 1871, but it does not seem that Kimberley received (or retained) any private documentation from the Governor General that would supplement our understanding of attitudes to the Red River troubles.

Fortunately, some published documentation helps to fill the gap. Gladstone kept an extensive diary. In its original form, this is of limited help to historians since it was primarily a memorandum book, listing people whom he met or with whom he corresponded. However, the published scholarly edition includes much of his private political correspondence, and also his brief memoranda of topics considered at cabinet meetings. In addition, his correspondence with Lord Granville has been published for this period, and there are no fewer that three editions of the correspondence and journals of Lord Kimberley.[49]

3. Proceedings in Parliament. The business of the House of Commons and House of Lords was published, virtually verbatim, in the massive volumes of Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. Unfortunately, colonial affairs were proverbially neglected by Parliament, except in intermittent cases where some British party or ideological issue seemed to intrude. Indeed, Gladstone noted that during its first two years, the Parliament elected in 1868 showed little interest even in the usually more controversial subject of foreign affairs.[50] When that attitude changed with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870, colonial questions retreated still further into the background. When Kimberley tried to set down a marker on defence questions, declaring in the House of Lords that Canada should take primary responsibility for its own security, he feared that his warning would be ignored. 'The tremendous crisis on the Continent naturally causes little attention to be given to colonial matters.'[51]

At this period, there was no formal daily 'Question Time' (Question Period) in either chamber. Questions were indeed posed to ministers, but even under a more relaxed system of procedure, it was acknowledged that issues that might trigger discussion should only be raised after due notice had been given. (There was no formal closure machinery in the House of Commons until 1882 and governments relied to a considerable extent on the good will of MPs to get their business through.) Few politicians in either House were sufficiently interested to raise Red River issues. Perhaps the best informed was R.N. Fowler, a Conservative MP and London banker, who agreed to postpone his planned intervention in February 1870 when William Monsell pleaded the sensitivity of negotiations in Ottawa. In May of that year, he gave a sensible outline of the Red River difficulty, sympathising with the reluctance of the inhabitants to becoming 'the "Colony of a Colony"'. Fowler 'believed that if the feelings of the people of the Red River Settlement had been consulted we should never have heard of the recent disturbances', and felt that it 'was not right to sell them like a drove of cattle'.[52] Sir Harry Verney, brother-in-law of Florence Nightingale, played a friendly role in raising the issue so that the government could report to the Commons. He was an active member of the Royal Geographical Society and presumably this was the course of his interest in the Red River and his emphasis upon its potential for settlement. Other senior parliamentarians also placed questions asking for information, probably by collusion, to give ministers the opportunity to report on developments.[53]

In an age when parliamentarians were notoriously independent, only three set out to make trouble for ministers. In each case, their interventions were more than a little eccentric. Lord Milton was probably unique among both British and Canadian politicians in having not only visited the prairies but co-authored a book about his travels.[54] On May 1870, he twice created scenes in the House of Commons in which wounded vanity played a prominent role. A foe of the Hudson's Bay Company, he began by asking what one minister patronisingly described as 'about the longest Question that had ever been addressed by one Member of Parliament to another'. Under the guise of a question, he produced a fusillade of tenuous arguments that the Company's charter had long been invalid, including, for instance, the complaint that the original Adventurers had failed to discharge a condition to search for the North-West Passage. Two weeks later, he pursued another of his allegations, claiming that the Company had failed to pay a wartime tax imposed in the reign of William III. He was demolished by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Robert Lowe, no mean hand at withering scorn. Lowe asserted that the accounts from King William's reign were too muddled to throw light on the matter one way or the other, pointed out that King William's need for cash was so severe that he had probably insisted on payment, and threw in for good measure that the Treasury was not in the business of collecting back taxes 180 years after they were due.[55] Another MP with an axe to grind was G.H. Whalley, a Liberal in party affiliation if little else. Noted for his belief that the world was threatened by a Jesuit conspiracy, he referred to press reports that the 'disaffection ... had been occasioned by the action of a Roman Catholic priest called Riel ... a person of marked character, and supposed to have been in connection with the Fenians'. Riel had at least started to train as a priest, but the source of Whalley's belief that Thomas Scott held the military rank of Colonel remains obscure. His motivation was perhaps simply a desire to irritate the Roman Catholic Parliamentary Under-Secretary, William Monsell.[56] The intervention of a third critic of the government, the Marquis of Clanricarde, is discussed in Part II, but there would have been no illusion in political circles that his attack was motivated by anything more than well-known antipathy to Gladstone and his ministry.

With such a low level of interest in and awareness of Red River issues, it is not entirely surprising that the British North America Act of 1871 passed through all its parliamentary stages with only the briefest of introductory explanation from Kimberley in the House of Lords. In short, we cannot look to proceedings in Parliament for any profound elucidation of the British government's contribution to the founding of Manitoba in 1870-71.



[1] There are some very short-tempered letters from Reilly to the Colonial Office in the papers of Lord Carnarvon, Colonial Secretary at the time, in London, P[ublic] R[ecord] O[ffice], Carnarvon Papers, PRO 30/6/154, fos 22-27. On February 1 1867, Reilly complained at the failure of the four colonial attorneys-General to keep an appointment with him. 'There are at least two days work yet to be done on the details of the Bill, when I have been supplied with the materials - of course I can't make bricks without clay, to say nothing of straw....' Rogers reported to Carnarvon on December 26 1866 that he had asked Reilly to draft the Bill. He replied that he was 'overwhelmed with Gov[ernmen]t work of various kinds and asked despairingly whether  you wanted it for quite the beginning of the Session'. When pressed, Reilly agreed to produce a draft by mid-January.  (PRO 30/6/154, fo. 204).

[2] Quoted, E.D. Steele, Irish Land and British Politics: Tenant Right & Nationality 1865-1870 (Cambridge, 1974), p. 67.

[3] General biographical information is taken from the British Dictionary of National Biography and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, which are cited only for direct quotations. Also useful is J.C. Sainty, Colonial Office Officials (London, 1976).

[4] H.C.G. Mathew, ed., The Gladstone Diaries with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence (Vol. 7, Oxford, 1982), p. 250. Volumes 7 and 8 (the latter also Oxford, 1982) cover the period under discussion and are cited as Gladstone Diaries, 7 or 8. The diaries themselves are little more than memoranda books, but the published edition includes verbatim transcripts of other correspondence as indicated in the title.

[5] Gladstone is the subject of several hundred biographies. Recent authoritative studies of the period under review include R.T. Shannon, Gladstone: Heroic Minister 1865-1898 (London, 2000 ed.) and H.C.G.Mathew, 'Introduction' to Gladstone Diaries, 7.

[6] Quoted, D. Southgate, The Passing of the Whigs 1832-1886 (London, 1962), pp. 342-43. A two-volume biography by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice (1905) is of little use for this period. Granville's surname was pronounced 'looson-gore' and there was no 'of' in his title of his Earldom.

[7] Brian L. Blakeley, The Colonial Office 1868-1892 (Durham, N.C., 1972), pp. 21-23.

[8] Joseph Pope, ed., Correspondence of Sir John Macdonald (Garden City, N.Y., 1921), p. 91.

[9] Agatha Ramm, ed., The Political Correspondence of Mr Gladstone and Lord Granville 1868-1876 (2 vols, London, Royal Historical Society Camden Third Series, 1952). Cited as Gladstone-Granville Correspondence, by volume.

[10] Blakeley, Colonial Office, pp. 41-43 and see John Powell, 'Introduction' to Powell, Liberal by Principle: The Politics of John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley, 1843-1902 (London, 1996), pp. 1-53. The surname was pronounced 'Woodhouse'.

[11] Angus Hawkins and John Powell, eds, The Journal of John Wodehouse First Earl of Kimberley for 1862-1902 (London, Royal Historical Society, Camden Fifth Series, 1997), p. 217 (3 April 1868). [Cited as Kimberley Journal.]

[12] J.S. Galbraith, The Hudson's Bay Company as an Imperial Factor 1821-1869  (New York, 1977,reprint edition, first published 1977), pp. 419-24. Kimberley's letter to The Times appeared on September 26, 1868. If his Hudson's Bay Company experience gave him some knowledge of the Red River, his awareness of the extent of distress at the Settlement would also probably have encouraged his naturally imperious tendency to make decisions without reference to any wishes of the people themselves.

[13] PRO, CO 42/685, fos 466-68, minute of May 2 1870. The CO 42 series consists of despatches from the Governor General of Canada, minutes and drafts of replies and correspondence with other Departments. The CO 43 series consists of entry books recording copies of such correspondence. CO 42 is numbered by folio, CO 43 by pages. Some papers were filed in the CO 537 series, which appears to have been 'problem-centred'. The basis on which documents were filed is not always clear. In July 1870, officials appear to have lost one of their own Minutes on Red River affairs (CO 42/695, fo. 189). Material in these series from the Public Record Office in London is also available on microfilm in the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa. It is only fair to note that Colonial Office staff worked under conditions that were far from ideal in an antiquated building in Downing Street. The basement had to be pumped out every day. In 1860, the Colonial Secretary of the time had expressed the hope that the building would collapse at night time 'for fall I believe it will'. It was demolished in 1876. Henry L. Hall, The Colonial Office: A History (London, 1937), pp. 48-49, with illustration of the building in frontspiece.

[14] Blakeley, Colonial Office and D.M.L.Farr, The Colonial Office and Canada 1867-1887 (Toronto, 1955).

[15] Quoted, Ged Martin, Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation 1837-1867 (Vancouver, 1995), p. 118.

[16] Dictionary of National Biography. The DNB has been published in two editions, with different pagination.

[17] G.E.Marindin, ed., Letters of Lord Blachford Under Secretary of State for the Colonies 1860-1871 (London, 1896).

[18] Farr, Colonial Office and Canada, pp. 32-41.

[19] The invitation is casually mentioned in CO 42/687, fo. 39 (22 April 1870).

[20] Dictionary of National Biography. Thring was capable of making considerable leaps from intention to legislative form. On seeing the first version of the Irish Land Bill on 10 January 1870, Gladstone wrote: 'The form of Thring's draft is so different from that of the Memorandum of Instructions from the Cabinet that I find it difficult to judge how far it gives effect to them.' (Gladstone Diaries, 7, p. 217.) Section 6 of the British North America Act of 1871 passed through a similar transformation.

[21] Kimberley Journal, p. 234 (8 May 1869).

[22] Quoted, Blakeley, Colonial Office, p. 20.

[23] Farr, Colonial Office and Canada, pp. 281-84.

[24] O.D. Skelton, Life and Times of Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt (ed. G. MacLean, Toronto, 1966), pp. 221-26. A British knighthood had the effect of curbing Galt's support for Canadian independence.

[25] Quoted, Farr, Colonial Office and Canada, p. 39.

[26] H. Thring, Colonial Reform: Provisions Intended as Suggestions for a Colonial Bill (London, 1865). The original is scarce, and the work is best known through a reprint reluctantly allowed by Thring in 1903.

[27] Marindin, ed., Letters of Lord Blachford, pp. 252-53.

[28] Quoted, Farr, Colonial Office and Canada, pp. 112, 115.

[29] Cabinet minute, 19 March 1870, Gladstone Diaries, 7, p. 258.

[30] Marindin, ed., Letters of Lord Blachford, p. 301-2 (recollection of 1885).

[31] CO 42/496, fo. 7 (minute by Holland, 24 January 1871).

[32] M.H. Long, 'Sir John Rose and the Informal Beginnings of the Canadian High Commissionership', Canadian Historical Review, 12 (1931), pp. 23-43.

[33] Granville liked him and entertained him at Walmer Castle. Gladstone-Granville Correspondence, 1, p. 79; Joseph Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Macdonald First Prime Minister of Canada (2 vols, Ottawa, 1894), ii, p. 66.,

[34] Gladstone Diaries, 7, p. 408; Pope, Memoirs of Macdonald, ii, p. 66.

[35] Sir John Young (Lord Lisgar from late 1870) is generally regarded as an ineffective Governor General. An alternative view has recently been argued by Barbara J Messamore in her Edinburgh University PhD dissertation, 'The Governors General of Canada 1847-1878' (2003).

[36] Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 9, p. 531.

[37] Taché called to the Hudson's Bay Company offices, and a note of the discussion there ended up in Colonial Office files. Staff were not sure of the provenance of the document: 'whose notes are they?', asked Rogers. 'It is H[udson's] B[ay] C[ompany] handwriting.' Granville replied that the report had been given to him by Northcote on January 22. CO 42/ 694, fos 35-6. On January 23, Granville decided to send a 'telegram to know whether the Dominion would think it would strengthen Bishop Taché's hands, if he rec[eive]d something like a Royal Commission'. The telegram was sent, in cipher, on January 25. CO 42/694, fo. 49.

[38] Macdonald to Rose, private, 23 February 1870, in Pope, ed., Correspondence of Macdonald, p. 127.

[39] C.W. Scott-Giles, A History of Sidney Sussex College (Canada, 1975), p. 102.

[40] R.B. Pugh, The Records of the Colonial and Dominions Offices (London, 1964).

[41] William Baillie-Hamilton, 'Forty-four Years at the Colonial Office', Nineteenth Century and After, 65, 1909, p.601.

[42] Ged Martin, Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation, pp. 122-24.

[43] CO 42/687, fos 27-28, 33-44. Unusually, the collection presented to Parliament in 1870 included a confidential despatch (Granville to Young, March 23 1870).

[44] Hansard, 202, 4 July 1870, col. 1335.

[45] CO 42/697, fo. 521.

[46] Baillie-Hamilton, 'Forty-four Years', p. 611.

[47] Ged Martin, Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation, p. 119; Blakeley, Colonial Office, p. 23; CO 42/695, fo. 292.

[48] CO 42/661, fos 61-2 (September 1866); Pope, Memoirs of Macdonald, ii, p. 66.

[49] For Gladstone and Granville, see notes 8 and 13 above. For Kimberley, see notes 14 and 15. See also Ethel Drus, ed, A Journal of Events during the Gladstone Ministry 1868-1874 by John First Earl of Kimberley (London: Royal Historical Society, Camden Miscellany, 1958).

[50] Gladstone Diaries, 7, p. 235.

[51] Powell, Liberal by Principle, p. 122 (July 23, 1870).

[52] Hansard, 201, May 20 1870, cols 1088-91.

[53] Hansard, 199, February 10 1870, col. 118. Verney also spoke on May 20. Senior parliamentarians who asked perhaps 'planted' questions included former Colonial Office ministers C.B. Adderley and Lord Lyveden.

[54] Viscount Milton and W.B. Cheadle, The North-West Passage by Land (facsimile ed. Toronto 2001, first published 1865). He Red River is described at pp. 34-46, with a mildly generous reference to the Hudson's Bay Company.

[55] Hansard, 201, cols 327-30 (May 6 1870), cols 1059-63 (May 20, 1870). Viscount Milton sat in the House of Commons as he held only a courtesy title as eldest son of Earl Fitzwilliam.

[56] Hansard, 201, cols 1094-95 (May 20 1870). Whalley also alleged on March 17 'that the Roman Catholic clergy are at the bottom of the trouble'. Hansard, 200, col. 74.

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