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Edward Barron Chandler

Photograph of Edward B. Chandler, circa 1864


Edward B. Chandler, circa 1864

(August 22, 1800 - February 6, 1880)

Born and educated in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Edward Barron Chandler rose to prominence as a legislator in New Brunswick. His career spanned almost 60 years, from his first public appointment in 1823 to his rule as the province's lieutenant-governor during the final years of his life.

Edward Barron Chandler was descended from Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia in 1783. The family occupied important positions in law and politics, and like the Family Compact of Upper Canada, intermarriage with other leading Maritime families solidified the influence of this group during the decades before responsible government. Chandler married Phoebe Millidge in 1822; together they had 11 children.

Chandler studied law in New Brunswick and was admitted to the bar in 1823. Until 1862 he carried out responsibilities as judge of probate and clerk of the peace for Westmorland County, New Brunswick. In 1827 he was elected as the Westmorland representative to the New Brunswick House of Assembly. Though he offered only moderate support for the principles of responsible government, Chandler served as a progressive supporter of the rights of the New Brunswick populace in the face of Colonial Office control over lands, revenue and public appointments. He also argued on behalf of the language and cultural rights of the province's Acadian population.

In 1836 Chandler became a member of New Brunswick's Legislative Council. Later, as a member of the Executive Council between 1843 and 1854, he led a government that included another future Father of Confederation, Charles Fisher. Throughout this period, his government's main concern was railway construction. Together with Joseph Howe, Chandler traveled to Toronto in 1851 to discuss a railway line that would extend from Halifax through New Brunswick to Québec City. Chandler traveled to London in 1852 to promote the plan, but the priorities of the Colonial Office lay elsewhere. Pursuing other options, Chandler instead achieved a vital railway link to the United States. He also nurtured ties with the U.S. by helping to secure the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.

After the defeat of his government later that year, Chandler remained influential in his position with the Legislative Council. In 1864 he represented New Brunswick at the Charlottetown Conference, where he favoured Maritime Union, but remained open to the concept of a united British North America. He was among the delegates at the Québec City and London conferences who wanted residual powers to fall to the provinces under Confederation and he argued against John A. Macdonald's vision of centralized power.

After Confederation, Chandler was offered a seat in the Senate of Canada, but it was not until 1868 that he accepted an appointment as a commissioner of the Intercolonial Railway. In 1878, Chandler succeeded Samuel Leonard Tilley as New Brunswick's lieutenant-governor, his final appointment in a remarkable life as a public figure.


Swift, Michael. -- "Chandler, Edward Barron". -- Dictionary of Canadian biography online [online]. -- [Cited December 13, 2004]. -- Access: