Canada is actually 176 years old in 2017
Though the Confederation of five provinces took place in 1867, the first Parliament of the Province of Canada was in session from June 15, 1841, until 1843 under the joint premiership of Robert Baldwin and Louis H. Lafontaine. The English and French cultures in North America were first brought together legislatively in one civil state at that time.
Often overlooked, this first form of constitutional monarchy marked the actual beginning of Canada as a civil state. This union led eventually to the incorporation of other British colonies into the Dominion of Canada as well as the formation of provinces from 1867 to 1949. Other northern territories have yet to be formed into Provinces though they may do so eventually. It was not until 1949 that the colony of Newfoundland became the tenth province to enter Confederation.
There had been a gradual coalescence and move to unity in British North America over the preceding century. This movement began, we might say, in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris. Under the treaty which brought an end to the ‘Seven Years War,’ France ceded Quebec along with all other North American claims to the British except for the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.
The first elections for the Legislative Assembly were held in the Province of Canada in April 1841. All sessions of this first parliament were held at Kingston in what was known as Canada West when the two colonies of Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) merged into one Canada.
It was from this beginning that the road to unity was made possible and so we owe a great debt of gratitude to Baldwin and Lafontaine who, in addition to being political allies against the notorious black Protestant Orange Order were personal friends.
Baldwin’s children were educated in Quebec becoming perfectly bi-lingual. One daughter, educated by the Ursuline Nuns, was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
|Robert Baldwin’s statue outside
the Quebec National Assembly
I like to think that Baldwin, a devout Anglican and great advocate of political unity achieved by peaceful means (unlike what happened south of the border), would be sympathetic to the unity of the Church that is being achieved through the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter across Canada.
From small beginnings great oaks grow. A blessed Dominion Day to all.