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Dominion Day

The following article is from:
The Patriot (Prince Edward Island) July 3, 1873

On Tuesday, whether for weal or woe, Prince Edward Island became a province of the Dominion of Canada. At 12 o'clock noon, the Dominion flag was run up on the flag staffs at Government House and the Colonial Building, and a salute of 21 guns was fired from St. George's battery and from H.M.S. Spartan now in port. The Church and City bells also rang out a lively peal, and the Volunteers under review at the City Park, fired a feu de joie. So far as powder and metal could do it there was for a short time a terrible din. But among the people who thronged the streets there was no enthusiasm. A few moments before 12, Mr. Sheriff Watson stepped forward on the balcony of the Colonial Building and read the Union Proclamation. He was accompanied by two ladies and about half a dozen gentlemen. The audience below within hearing consisted of three persons, and even they did not appear to be very attentive. After the reading of the Proclamation was concluded, the gentlemen on the balcony gave a cheer, but the three persons below, -- who, like Tooley street tailors who claimed to be "the people of England," at that moment represented the people of Prince Edward Island, -- responded never a word. Most of the shops in the city were shut, and a good deal of bunting was displayed. H.M.S. Spartan, and some of the merchant shipping in the harbor, were gaily decked with flags. At night the Colonial and new Post Office Buildings were illuminated, and presented a fine appearance. A few sky rockets were also fired off from the top of the latter building about 10 o'clock, with good effect. But the most beautiful sight of the day was the illumination of the Spartan, between 91/2 and 10 o'clock. With her ports all lit up, and various kinds of lights in the rigging, she was really an object worth looking at. Not having the faculty of being at two places at the same time, we did not see the grand Volunteer Review at noon, but we understand it was one of the best which has been held for some time. The Volunteers, after they became Dominion forces, and the review over, were treated to refreshments at the Drill Shed.

About 121/2 p.m., His Honor Lieut. Governor Robinson and staff drove up to the Colonial Building, and proceeded up to the Legislative Council Chamber. There the Colonial Secretary read the commission from the Governor General of Canada, appointing William C.F. Robinson, Esq., Governor of this Island under the Dominion, and also another instrument authorizing Chief Justice Hodgson, and Judges Peters and Hensley to administer to him the oaths of office. This being done with due solemnity, in the presence of the members of the Executive Council, and a very respectable assemblage of citizens, strangers then withdrew, and the members of the Executive Council were sworn in as a Local Government under the Dominion of Canada.

We have already remarked that there did not appear to be any enthusiasm among the people. Probably no effort the Government could have put forth would have made the celebration of Dominion Day a grand success, but we beg to leave to express the opinion the arrangements were very lame indeed. The public were not notified that the Sheriff was to read the union Proclamation in front of the Building at 12 o'clock, consequently no person was there except two or three people who happened to be passing by at the time. Had one of the "able men" been called upon to prepare an oration for the occasion, and due notice thereof given there might have been a crowd on Queen Square to listen to both it and the proclamation. The Volunteers, too, might have been drawn up on the Square until the ceremony was over; but as the review was at one place, and a dry proclamation, which nobody knew of, at another, it was not as much to be wondered at that Mr. Sheriff Watson's audience was slim.

The great majority of the people of the Island, it is pretty evident, have accepted Confederation as a necessity. They did not take up the question con amore, and when the day arrived that the union was a fait accompli, they had not a cheer to give. Many of our citizens look upon last night's illumination as but the complement of the one which took place when the Railway Bill was passed. We have a shrewd suspicion that their view of the case is tolerably correct; but now since Confederation is a fact -- since the Island is now part and parcel of the Dominion, the duty of our people is to make the best of their position. We are now with the Sister Provinces in regard to political institutions; let us perform our part so that we may do more than merely keep pace with them in the march of intelligence and reform.