Canadian Genealogy |Ontario Genealogy | Victoria County | Century of Politics

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Rise of Political Parties

During the period from 1841 to 1855 the elements which make up our modern political parties may be seen in primitive form. For some time there were really five parties in the Assembly, as follows:
(1) a rabid remnant of Family Compact Tories, which burnt itself out in the outrages of 1849;
(2) the moderate Conservative win and Lafontaine;
(4) the "Clear Grit" Reform party of Upper Canada; and
(5) its counter part, the "Parti Rouge" of Lower Canada.

After an election in 1854 none of these parties had a majority in party;
(3) a rather conservative Liberal party represented by Bald-the house and John A. Macdonald, a leading Conservative, was instrumental in bringing about a coalition between the Conservatives and the Conservative Liberals, thus forming the nucleus of what is still known as the Liberal-Conservative party. The "Clear Grits" and "Parti Rouge" were more or less thrown together in the opposition and are the direct ancestors of the straight Liberal party.

Victoria county had been made a separate riding in 1853, and in the election of 1854 returned James Smith (Reformer), a Port Hope barrister, by a heavy majority over Mossom Boyd, (Conservative), the Bobcaygeon lumberman. Smith supported the coalition already referred to and gave such offense to his constituents by so doing that he had to retire from political life.

In the next election, held in 1857, there were actually four candidates in Victoria: A. A. McLaughlin (Liberal) of Mariposa, Samuel Davidson (Liberal) of Mariposa, Robert Lang of Lindsay, and John Cameron (Conservative) a Toronto banker. The latter was elected.

In 1861 James W. Dunsford (Liberal) of Verulam defeated John Cameron. Dunsford was again successful in 1863, when his opponent was the Hon. Sydney Smith (Conservative) of Cobourg.

Circumstances Leading to Confederation

It had become fairly clear by this time that the legislative union of provinces established in 1840 could not last much longer. It was evident that the affairs of two peoples differing so widely could not be efficiently managed by one set of ministers and a single legislature. The bond was too rigid to be natural.

At last, in 1864, the machinery of the Constitution came to a deadlock. Four ministries had been overturned in the course of three years. Neither party could secure more than a nominal and quite unreliable majority of one or two votes.

The leaders from both provinces had too much sense to demand absolute separation. Union was imperative, not only to give sufficient force for the development of the country, but also to consolidate the country .against dangers from without.

A new kind of union, therefore, had somehow to be secured. In 1860, the Ontario Liberal leader, George Brown, had asked the Assembly to declare for "the formation of two or more local governments, to which should be committed all matters of a sectional character, and the erection of some joint authority to dispose of the affairs common to 'all." The idea was rejected then but its time was to come. In 1864 Brown consented to join forces even with John A. Macdonald, to whom he was particularly opposed, to set up a federal system, including the Maritime Provinces.

The Legislatures of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as that of Upper .and Lower Canada, agreed to the scheme drawn up by their delegates and most willingly adopted at their request by the Imperial Parliament; and so, on July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada came into being.

Basis of Confederation

The statutory authority for this union was the British North 158 America Act. For the Dominion as a whole, the government was to consist of a governor-general, a senate of 72 appointed senators, and an elective House of Commons in which Quebec was to be represented by 65 members and the other provinces according to population on a relative basis. The dominant party in the House of Commons was to select certain of its members, subject to the nominal approval of the governor-general, to act as a cabinet or privy council and nominally to direct the various departments of the civil service. The legislative powers of the federal government embraced, among other things, the postal service, the census, regulation of trade and commerce, customs duties, militia and defence, navigation, railways, currency, banks, negotiable paper, patents, copyrights, Indian affairs, immigration, and criminal law.

The four provinces, Ontario (formerly Upper Canada), Quebec (formerly Lower Canada), New Brunswick, .and Nova Scotia, each had separate provincial governments for the administration of local affairs. In Ontario this government consisted of a lieutenant-governor and an elective legislative assembly of 82 members. The jurisdiction of the provincial government included education, public lands and timber, municipal institutions, the solemnization of marriage, liquor licenses, and prisons and hospitals in and for the province.

Federal Politics

Victoria County

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