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New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

British Columbia (1871)

In British Columbia, the debate about confederation occurred during the economic collapse that followed the Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes [see Fanny BENDIXEN; John CAMERON], and there were fears of annexation to the United States when Washington purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. Any agreement to bring British Columbia into confederation hinged on addressing its public debt and building a transcontinental railway that would link the developing west to the settled east. In Ottawa, the key figure was Sir George-Étienne CARTIER:

“During the spring of 1871, in the absence of John A. Macdonald, who was sick, he obtained the Canadian parliament’s approval for the address seeking the establishment of a sixth Canadian province, in return for the promise that it would be linked with the rest of Canada by a railway through the Rockies. ‘Before very long,’ Cartier exclaimed prophetically, ‘the English traveller who lands at Halifax will be able within five or six days to cover half a continent inhabited by British subjects.’ This became possible in 1885.”

For more on British Columbia’s entry into confederation, consult the biographies in the following lists.

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