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The Dinner at Quebec

The following article is from:
Saint John Morning Telegraph October 24, 1864, p. 2

Mr. Tilley's Speech

The apartment, better known as Russell's Concert Hall, had been most tastefully decorated for the occasion. Flags were suspended from the balcony at the upper end of the room which was occupied by the band; and the walls were covered with a profusion of bright bunting relieved by wreaths of evergreens placed at intervals. Immediately beneath the gallery appeared the words "Intercolonial Railway" encircled with a tastefully woven garland. At the lower end, painted in corresponding style was the sentence "Welcome to our Guests". Along the wall on one side were the names "Nova Scotia", "Prince Edward's Island". and the other "Canada", "Newfoundland" and "New Brunswick" – all beautifully wreathed. These, with "Union is Strength" and "Ships, Colonies and Commerce", made up the decorations of the room. The tables were very well arranged. Two long tables occupied the sides of the apartment, while in the centre there were three smaller tables. One of these was allotted to the members of the press and was an excellent position both for seeing and hearing.

Sir Richard Mc Donnell, Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia, Hon. Mr. Brown, Hon. Mr. Archibald, M.P.P. of Nova Scotia, and Mr. Huot. M.P.P. for Quebec East, sent letters of apology, being unavoidably prevented from being present.

Mr. Joseph, President of the Board of Trade, occupied the chair. On his right sat Col. the Hon. H. Gray, President of the Executive Council of Prince Edward Island, Hon. Mr. Tilley, Secretary of New Brunswick, and Hon. Sir E. P. Tache, Premier of Canada. On his left was the Hon. Mr. Tupper, Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia, the Hon. Mr. Carter, of Newfoundland, the Hon. J. A. Macdonald, and the Hon. Mr. Gray, of New Brunswick.

The Vice-Chairman, Mr. Scott, had on his right the Hon. Mr. Johnston, Attorney-General of New Brunwsick, the Hon. Mr. Haviland, of P. E. Island, and the Hon. Mr. Steeves, of New Brunswick; and on his left Hon. Mr. Henry, Attorney-General of Nova Scotia, and the Hon. Mr. Galt, Finance Minister of Canada.

Mr. Stevenson had charge of one end of the Vice-Chairman's table, and Mr. Lee of the other. On either hand of the latter sat Hon. Mr. Mitchell, M.L.C. of New Brunswick, Hon. Mr. Langevin, Sol.-Gen. L.C., Mons. A. Gauthier, Consul Gen. of France in Canada, Hon. Mr. Fisher, M.P.P. of New Brunswick, Hon. Mr. Mowatt, Postmaster General of Canada, and Hon. Mr. Gingras M.L.C. for Stadacona Division.

At the smaller tables in the centre of the room Messrs. Grant, Clint, Fry and Dunn presided, and among the guests at these tables were -- Hon. Mr. Mr. McGee, Minister of Agriculture of Canada. Hon. Mr. Coles, M.P.P. of Prince Edward Island, Hon. Mr. Palmer, Attorney General of Prince Edward Island, Hon. Mr. Chandler, M.L.C. of New Brunswick, Hon. Mr. Pope, Colonial Secretary of Prince Edward Island, Hon. Mr. Carling of London, C.W., His Worship the Mayor of Quebec, Baron Falkenberg, Con. Gen of Sweden and Norway.

There were numerous other tables and a host of guests, merchants, lawyers, editors and others. On offering the toast "Our Guests, the Delegates from the Maritime Province," the Chairman an said that --

The merchants of Quebec had reason to feel a legitimate pride that they had here, as their guests, this evening, gentlemen occupying such a high position in the sister provinces, assembled in this city in order to discuss a highly important subject. (Cheers.) And while the merchants of Quebec did not think they were called upon to express an opinion on the question of confederation itself, they all heartily desired some change in our present position -- they desired a through commercial union -- they desired that the unequal and hostile tariffs of the several provinces should disappear. (Cheers.) We wanted one tariff instead of five. We wanted a commercial union in order to bring about closer ties, and we wanted that union under one flag -- the flag of old England. (Loud Cheers.) We wished, too, that this union should be strengthened still further by the iron ties of the Intercolonial railway. (Cheers.) It had long been the habit to call the maritime colonies by the name of the sister provinces; but notwithstanding this appelation [sic] they were strangers to us and we were strangers to them, as was shown them by the diversity of the tariffs. But let us hope that a new era was about dawning upon us, now when we saw the great statesmen of the B. N. American provinces assembled in this city, in this month of Oct. 1864 -- let us hope that if we did not obtain a political union, we should at least have a commercial union. (Cheers.) A vast number of our people were interested in ship building, and he was glad to know that it was a highly important interest among the inhabitants of the Lower Provinces also. Referring to the Reciprocity Treaty, he might say that it was not framed with any particular view to the interests of the eastern section of the Province; but we were as willing to stand by it as others, and when the proper time came we should unite with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island and say that we should also have free trade in shipbuilding. He would now propose the toast of the evening -- "Our Guests, the delegates from the Maritime Provinces" and he spoke the wish of the merchants of Quebec, when he said he trusted the delegates would receive this small compliment to themselves in the same open, cordial, unreserved spirit in which it had been tendered. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Tilley, of New Brunswick, Dr. Tupper, of Nova Scotia, Col. Gray, of P. E. Island, and Mr. Carter, of Newfoundland, responded.


Hon. Mr. Tilley (Secretary of New Brunswick) said the reception of the toast was complimentary to the delegates; but they could not take it all to themselves; it must rather be looked upon as the hearty endorsement of the great subject they were discussing. The delegates from the Lower Provinces were not here seeking this union. They had assembled at Charlottetown a few weeks ago, in order to see whether they could not extend their own family relations, and then Canada intervened, and the consideration of the larger question was the result. He considered it right to make this remark, inasmuch as it had been asserted in certain quarters that the Maritime Provinces, weak and impoverished, were -- endeavouring to attach themselves to Canada, in order to reap the benefits arising from such a union. This was not the case. Look at the immense amount of shipping they owned. He was in a position to state that, for the year 1864 , after paying the interest on all their debts and after providing liberally for roads, bridges, and other public works, they would have a surplus of half of million. (Cheers.) Therefore they were not coming in as paupers -- they were coming to put something into the capital that was worth having -- Next, alluding to the Intercolonial Railway project, he said their feeling on this subject was: "We won't have this union unless you give us the Railway". (Cheers.) It was utterly impossible we could have either a political or commercial union without it. With regard to the latter, he might say that he had at one time believed with others that we could have commercial without political union; he now held with his hon. friend the Premier of Nova Scotia (Mr. Tupper) that it was all but impracticable, as was easily shown by the question of tariffs to which the hon. gentleman had referred. Without going into details, he might say that it was the opinion of the Conference that union was desirable if the details could be satisfactorily arranged. Of course, in making these arrangements we should have to have due regard to the wants, requirements and even in some degree to the prejudices of the people. Even in the Lower Provinces the tariffs acted adversely to each other. He asked them as commercial men, was it desirable that this state of affairs should continue. (Cries of "No." "No.") He saw no other way of obviating those difficulties except by a political union. He would not now refer at say great length to the defence question, inasmuch as he had here the gallant colonel from Prince Edwards Island (Col. Gray.) who had made it his special study. He would however, remark that the anxiety respecting the subject of defence in New Brunswick was not intense among the masses of the people. This was because the population was very small, and the people felt that their individual effort would be useless. But throw the three hundred thousand souls of New Brunswick in with the population of Canada and the other provinces, making a total of four or five millions; and twice as much in the way of a defence contingent might be obtained from New Brunswick; because the people would feel that they were part of a great nation. (Cheers.) If details could be satisfactory arranged it was advisable we should be united in one great Confederation. Look for instance at the example offered by Canada. Since the Union of Canada its population had increased from a little over a million to two millions and a half. He hoped for the best; and with the intelligence of which the Conference was composed, he trusted they would overcome all difficulties; and that they would soon meet in Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa to consummate the union. (Laughter and cheers.)