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Charlottetown Conference

The Charlottetown Conference was a conference between representatives from the colonies of British North America in 1864, held to discuss Canadian Confederation.

Table of contents
1 The Conference
2 The Delegates
3 External Links

The Conference

The conference was originally planned as a meeting between representatives from the Maritime provinces only: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Great Britain encouraged a political union between these colonies, hoping that they would then become less economically and politically dependent on Britain. However, the Province of Canada (modern Ontario and Quebec) heard news of the planned conference, and asked that the conference be expanded to discuss a union that would also include them.

Coincidentally there was a circus in Charlottetown at the same time, which was much more interesting to the majority of the population. There was no one working at the dock when the delegates arrived, so Prince Edward Island representative William Henry Pope had to handle receptions by himself. The Canadian delegates arrived in their own large steamship, on which they stayed each night as the circus had taken up most of the housing on the island.

The conference began on September 1, 1864, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, with a banquet for all of the delegates. Parties and banquets were in fact held each night after the day's discussions had ended (except for Sunday, September 4, when they did not meet). The representatives from the Province of Canada dominated the conference, overshadowing the concerns of the Maritimes, and laying out the foundations for the union that benefitted them the most. Four of the first five days (excluding Sunday) were spent outlining the Canadian position; the Maritime representatives did not discuss their own plans until September 6 and September 7. Canadian delegate George Brown spent two days discussing the details of the proposed constitution, which would keep Canada within the British Empire, but would not include any of the problems which had led to the American Civil War, which was still raging at the time in the United States.

The Maritimes were convinced that a wider union including the Province of Canada would also be beneficial to them, and that this union could be achieved within a few years, rather than in an undefined period in the future as they had originally planned. The conference concluded on the 7th, but the representatives agreed to meet again the next month in Quebec City (see Quebec Conference). A ball was also held on September 8, after which the delegates returned home.

The Delegates

New Brunswick

Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island

Province of Canada

External Links