Choosing Canada's Capital

Choosing Canada's Capital: Conflict Resolution In a Parliamentary System

David B. Knight
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 419
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80qgn
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  • Book Info
    Choosing Canada's Capital
    Book Description:

    This collection of documents, set in a framework of introductory and explanatory comments, vividly portrays the vexatious issue and the disparate sectional tensions it bared. Expanded analysis, illustrations, new documents and maps are provided in this revised edition.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7371-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. PREFACE TO THE SECOND, EXPANDED EDITION
    (pp. xiii-xvii)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xviii-xx)
    David B. Knight
  8. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-34)

    One of the most contentious locational decisions a state faces is when a new seat-of-government must be selected. Competition for the capital functions is likely to be fiercely contentious for anticipated economic benefits and questions of power and status are at issue. As in any locational dispute, significant subjective expressions of attachments to place will be developed by people in different parts of the state. These attachments to place will influence the way competing locations are viewed. Decisionmakers, especially when chosen to represent particular places (as with elected parliamentarians who represent specific ridings, or constituencies), will be expected by their...

  9. CHAPTER 2 COMPETING CITIES: THE EARLIER YEARS
    (pp. 35-46)

    Prior to the creation of the Province of Canada, the political units of Lower Canada and Upper Canada each had their own seats-of-govemment. In Lower Canada there had been but one capital, Quebec, but in Upper Canada two places, Niagara and York (Toronto), had housed the Government functions at different times. This chapter offers a brief sketch of the pre-union period, focusing on the origins of the urban rivalry in both sections of the country that was later to play such an important role in the seat-of-government issue, and, using primary sources, identifies how inter-city rivalries found expression in the...

  10. CHAPTER 3 THE FIRST COMPROMISE: KINGSTON
    (pp. 47-96)

    Lord John Russell in 1839 first introduced the Canadian union bill to the Parliament in Westminster. The draft of the bill declared that Montreal was to be the capital of the proposed Canadian union. This was objected to by Governor-General Charles Poulett Thomson (who was made Lord Sydenham late in 1840), whose task it was to get Canadians to agree to the union. Thomson recognized that the issue of where to locate the seat-ofgovemment was one of the most sensitive and yet also “one of the most urgent” issues he had to address.¹ He further recognized that acceptance of the...

  11. CHAPTER 4 MONTREAL: THE PARIS OF CANADA
    (pp. 97-128)

    Montreal may have remained as Canada’s capital city until the present day had it not been for cultural and political passions that burst forth in violence in 1849. Because of the burning of the Parliament buildings, the physical abuse of the Governor-General and several politicians by roving mobs, and newspaper tirades against the Governor-General and politicians, there followed the implementation of a perambulating system whereby two cities shared the governmental functions for set periods. A principal ideal to be achieved by the system was better understanding between peoples. In reality, the alternating system was a compromise proposed by groups of...

  12. CHAPTER 5 PERAMBULATION AND FRUSTRATION
    (pp. 129-154)

    The scheme of perambulation—or “the system of rotatory Parliaments”¹ — was instituted upon the removal of the government from Toronto to Quebec in 1851. The Third and Fourth Sessions of the Third Parliament had met in Toronto (in 1850 and 1851) and thereafter, for terms of four years, the seat-of-government was to be alternately in Quebec (in theory, 1851-1855, 1859-1863, etc.) and Toronto (in theory, 1855-1859, 1863-1867, etc.). Alternating the capital functions between these two cities was viewed positively by some Canadians, for politicians and civil servants became better acquainted with other regions, places and peoples. However, the system was...

  13. CHAPTER 6 STALEMATE AND REFERRAL
    (pp. 155-198)

    The 1856 and 1857 sessions of Parliament were marked by great bitterness, much due to the seat-of-government issue (which was discussed at great length) but also because of calls for “representation by population” (whereby Canada West would be given more parliamentary seats than would Canada East, as a result of changes in population size). One observer of the seat-of-government discussions said of the Assembly debaters that they showed “the same narrow-mindedness, the same local selfishness” as in previous years.¹ William Lyon Mackenzie, member for Haldimand, C.W., jested in the House that “the children of Israel travelled 1750 miles in 40...

  14. CHAPTER 7 THE CITY MEMORIALS
    (pp. 199-240)

    Governor-General Sir Edmund Head was the leading figure in the 1857 decision-making process that followed referral to London by the Canadian government, although this was not known in Canada. In 1856, Head had determined that Ottawa should be capital¹ and this belief was transmitted privately to the Colonial Office in writing and orally in 1857. Sir Edmund also asked that memorials from Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec be sent to London laying out the case for each site.

    Private letters with claims for different cities were sent to the Colonial Office by members of the Canadian government even after...

  15. CHAPTER 8 THE DECISION FOR OTTAWA
    (pp. 241-264)

    The city memorials and several other documents were published in a limited edition for use within the Colonial Office, the British Cabinet, and by the Queen.¹ Included in the booklet were the seven city memorials, the Toronto supplement, some official correspondence between Head and Labouchere, the addresses from the Legislative Council and Assembly, an outline of the Assembly’s proceedings in February and March, 1857 — but not the 1856 proceedings — and three confidential documents (none of which were seen by anyone apart from the Colonial Office personnel, the Cabinet, and the Queen, her husband and his secretary). One of the latter...

  16. CHAPTER 9 PARLIAMENT REJECTS OTTAWA
    (pp. 265-284)

    The naming of Ottawa as capital was not universally well received in Canada. The issue had been referred to the Queen as a means for ridding the country of the vexed question, but now it had returned and it was potentially as dangerous as before. Indeed, the Parliament voted against Ottawa, which gave the Macdonald-Cartier government an excuse to resign in protest. As 1857 drew to a close, Canadians wondered when the selection would be made and announced. TheQuebec Mercuryfelt that the delay in making an announcement:

    is highly injurious in every respect. It keeps

    people’s minds in...

  17. CHAPTER 10 CRISIS BEFORE PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS OTTAWA
    (pp. 285-328)

    The drama that followed the Macdonald-Cartier ministry’s resignation over Parliament’s rejection of Ottawa as the seat-of-government was one of considerable constitutional consequence, for it involved the Governor-General, the appointment of a George Brown-A.A. Dorion ministry, a want-of-confidence vote, the re-appointment of the Macdonald and Cartier ministry, and the questionable (at least to reformers) “double shuffle.” Then, after considerable politicking, Ottawa was accepted by a parliamentary vote, but only by a small margin.

    The Governor-General was upset at the decision of the House to accept the Piché motion. He immediately wrote to his superior in the Colonial Office (now Sir Edward...

  18. CHAPTER 11 OTTAWA AS CAPITAL
    (pp. 329-338)

    The phrase “political landscape” can mean several things, including the specific landscape in Ottawa or, at varying scales, the generalized “landscape” of Canada. Ottawa was to become the principal political “centre” of Canada — as the Province of Canada and then, after 1867, as the expanding federal state — but first, the centre-piece of the specific landscape had to be created.

    Three government buildings were to be constructed in Ottawa at a cost of no more than £225,000 (about one million dollars) — the Parliament building and two departmental buildings — and a residence was to be obtained for use by the Governor-General. Despite...

  19. CHAPTER 12 CONCLUSIONS AND REFLECTIONS
    (pp. 339-346)

    Canada eventually got a permanent seat-of-govemment, but only after a divisive 19-year process which entailed the removal of the governmental functions from Kingston to Montreal, then to Toronto before being moved to Quebec, only to be returned to Toronto and, for one final time, back again to Quebec once it was decided that Ottawa would become the permanent capital. The seat-of-government remained in Quebec until the new Parliament buildings were constructed in Ottawa. Once they were ready enough for occupation — they were not completed until several years later — Ottawa became the capital in 1865. The new buildings were used for...

  20. ENDNOTES
    (pp. 347-378)
  21. APPENDIX: RIDINGS IN THE PROVINCE OF CANADA 1841-1854,1854-1867
    (pp. 379-382)
  22. INDEX TO THE DOCUMENTS
    (pp. 383-398)