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Changes in the

The Constitution of 1840 remained unchanged until 1853, Constitu- when, by a vote of two-thirds of the Legislature, the number of representatives was increased from 84 to 130, and the elective franchise was extended.


Changes in Legislative Council.

dated the 5th Feb. 1841 Lord John Russell instructed the Governor-General to call to his Councils "those persons who by their position and character have obtained the general confidence and esteem of the inhabitants of the province," and "only to oppose the wishes of the Assembly when the honour of the Crown or the interest of the Empire are deeply concerned." For some years difficulties arose between the governors and the people as to how the principle of responsible government was to be carried into effect. At length Lord Elgin in 1847 was expressly instructed "to act generally on the advice of the Executive Council and to receive as members of that body those persons who might be pointed out to him as entitled to do so by their possessing the confidence of the Assembly."

Further powers of self government.

In the following year an Imperial Act was passed' empowering the legislature to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council, and a Canadian Act was passed in 18562 making the members elective. The existing members were allowed to retain their seats, 48 elected members were added to the Council, and these elected members were to retain their seats for eight years. British subjects of the age of thirty years and owning real estate of the value of £2000 were eligible for election, and the qualification of electors was made the same as that required in the case of electors of the Assembly.

Control of the civil list was surrendered to Canada in 1847, and of the Post Office in 1849. In the former year

1 17 & 18 Vic. (i) c. 118.

3 10 & 11 Vic. (i) c. 71.

2 19 & 20 Vic. c. 140.

4 12 & 13 Vic. (i) c. 66,

the St Lawrence was freed from the Navigation Laws', and the Colony obtained full power to reduce or repeal duties imposed by Imperial Acts on goods imported into Canada2.


At the time of the Union of 1840 Lower Canada possessed Federathe larger population, but in a short time immigration into Upper Canada gave that province an excess in population of 250,000 over its neighbour. A demand soon arose in Upper Canada for a redistribution of the representation, and "representation in proportion to population" became the important political question of the day. Parties at length became so balanced that from the 21st May, 1862, to the end of June, 1864, there were no less than five different ministries in office3, and the efficient conduct of public business became impossible. In 1864 the maritime provinces began to entertain the idea of a union, and on the defeat of the TachéMacdonald ministry in June of that year overtures were made by the opposition to the Hon. John A. Macdonald which resulted in the formation of a coalition ministry pledged to the adoption of a federal union of all the provinces.


Permission was asked to attend the Conference of the Charlottetown and delegates of the Maritime Conference at Charlottetown, and Quebec delegates on behalf of Canada were also present at the ad- Conjourned Conference held at Quebec. Little difficulty was found in obtaining the adhesion of the legislature to the proposed scheme of confederation: the legislative Council by 45 votes to 15, and the Assembly by 91 votes to 33, adopted the address to Her Majesty praying her to submit an Act to the Imperial Parliament for the union of all the provinces.


In reading the list of Governors of Ontario and Quebec List of it must be remembered that the Governor of the Province nors. of Canada was also Governor-General until the federation:

2 9 & 10 Vic. (i) c. 94.

3 Burinot, p. 40.

1 12 & 13 Vic. (i) c. 29.
4 Debates in the Parliament of Canada on Confederation, Quebec, 1865.

5 See Appendix.

Council formed by Corn

wallis. Courts.

that in 1791 Upper Canada was made a separate province under a governor or administrator: and that in 1840 the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were re-united, only to be separated in 1867.


The province of Nova Scotia and the surrounding territory, including the present provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward's Island, though claimed by England on the ground of the discoveries of Cabot in the 15th century, were ceded to France by the treaty of St Germains in 1632. By the treaty of Utrecht the province was restored to England, but it was not until the year 1749 that any adequate attempt was made at colonization or the introduction of a settled form of government. A scheme for encouraging officers and privates then lately dismissed from the army and navy to settle in the province proved successful, and was carried into effect by the Honourable Edward Cornwallis, who was appointed Governor. On his arrival the new Governor formed a Council, and this Council exercised both legislative and executive functions1.

One of the instructions to the Governor was to establish Courts of Judicature, and after consultation with the Council he erected three courts, (1) a Court of Sessions, (2) a County Court for the whole province, which sat monthly and was invested with all powers of the Courts of King's Bench (except criminal matters), Common Pleas and Court of Exchequer, from which there was an appeal to the General Court, and (3) the General Court, which was a Court of Assize and general gaol delivery, and a Court of Appeal from the County Court, and in which the Governor and Council sat with the Judges.

In 1752 the County Court was transformed into a Court

1 Haliburton's Nova Scotia, 1. p. 140.

of Common Pleas, and in 1754 a Supreme Court was substituted for the General Court.

No formal constitution was conferred on Nova Scotia or on Cape Breton when that island was a separate province. The early constitution of the province is to be found in the commissions issued to successive Governors, in the Royal Instructions accompanying such commissions as modified from time to time by despatches from Secretaries of State, and in the Acts of the Legislature.

ment from

From 1713 to 1758 the government consisted of the Govern Governor or Lieutenant-Governor and a Council, and or- 1713 to dinances were from time to time passed by such Council. In 1758. 1755 Chief Justice Belcher pointed out that the Government Commissions and the Instructions required all laws to be passed with the consent of an Assembly, and that therefore the ordinances of the Lieutenant-Governor and Council had not the force of law. This view was confirmed by the law officers of the Crown in England, and the Lords of Plantations required the Lieutenant-Governor to summon an Assembly after consultation with the Chief Justice.

The following plan for an Assembly was eventually adopted Plan for by the Council after receiving the approval of the Crown:

calling Assembly.

The Assembly to consist of 22 members, 16 to be elected by the Province at large, two by the township of Lunenburg, and four by the township of Halifax. Whenever 50 qualified electors had settled in any district which was erected into a township, such township to elect two members. The qualification for voting at an election or for sitting in the legislature to be, possession in the person's own right of a freehold estate within the district in which he voted or for which he should be elected. No person to be qualified to vote or to be elected who was a popish recusant or who was under the age of 21. Members absent from the province for two months to be liable to have their seats declared vacant by the Governor'.

1 Haliburton, I. p. 209. Can. Sess. Papers, 1883, No. 70, pp. 14-16.

The elections were held, and on the 2nd Oct. 1758 the Assembly met.

On the dissolution of the second Assembly by the death of the King in 1760, the Council altered the distribution of seats, allotting two members to each of four counties and to each of six townships, and giving Halifax four members. The representation was again altered in 1765 by the Governor and Council, the county of Halifax receiving four members, the town of Halifax two members, the other counties two each, and the other townships one each'.

LegisThe Council continued to exercise both executive and lative Council. legislative functions until 1838. In that year the Assembly passed a series of resolutions (afterwards rescinded) in which amongst other things they expressed the view that a separation should be made between the legislative and the executive functions of the Council, similar to that effected in the Canadas in 1791 and in New Brunswick in 1832. The suggestion was adopted by the home Government, and in 1838 Instructions were issued to Earl Durham, the Lieutenant-Governor, to appoint an Executive Council, not exceeding nine in number, and a Legislative Council, not exceeding 15. By the Commission given to Lord Monck3 power was given to extend the number of the Legislative Council to 21.




As regards Cape Breton, which was annexed to Nova Scotia in 1763, the island was included in all the Commissions issued to the Government of Nova Scotia until 1784, when it was made a separate Government, but subordinate to Nova Scotia. Major Desbarres was appointed Lieutenant-Governor, and he was assisted by a Council possess

1 Haliburton, I. p. 244.

2 The Instructions are printed in Can. Sess. Papers, 1883, No. 20, p. 39. 3 Ass. Jour., N. S., 1862, No. 34.

4 See Despatch from Lord Sydney to Governor Parr, Ass. Jour., N. S., 1841, App.

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