1864 and 2014: Charlottetown and Quebec City

20 07 2014

This year marks the 150th anniversary of two crucial meetings that led to Confederation in 1867. I’m referring to the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, political scientist Antonia Maioni notes that the while Charlottetown is going into overdrive to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown conference, much less has been done to commemorate the equally important meetings in Quebec City. She writes:

Indeed, this year is historically important because it marks the 150th anniversary of the two conferences that would shape the form and content of what we know as Canada. In PEI, the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 has become a cottage industry: The scene of Sir John A. Macdonald and his Canadian colleagues crashing the Maritime union party with a boatload of champagne is the stuff of legend. And Charlottetown has made sure that those iconic whiskered gentlemen live on and on, with the federal government’s help.

Still, if the devil is in the details, it’s the Quebec Conference of 1864 that should be riveting our attention. Quebec, the capital of the then United Canada, is where the resolutions about the actual constitutional framework were hammered out..,

Which may be why, at least compared to Charlottetown, there is relatively little in the way of celebration in Quebec City to mark this historic date. 

Professor Maioni’s point is basically correct, but I think that she is overlooking the conference on the Quebec Conference that will be taking place at Quebec City’s Museum of Civilization, October 16-18.

I’m going to be presenting on business, capitalism, and resistance to Confederation in the third session.

I’ve pasted the programme below.




First Session: The Legal and Political Context

Janet Ajzenstat
Writing Constitutional Law

Rachel Chagnon
The Founders of Confederation and the B.N.A. Act : their Visions and Models of Constitutionalism

Marc Chevrier
Making a Dominion, or the Completion of a Conquest

Phillip Buckner
Canadian Constitution-Making in the British World


Second Session: The Key Actors

Éric Bédard
The Anguishes of Joseph Édouard Cauchon

Guy Laforest
Georges-Étienne Cartier and the Renaissance of Quebec’s Autonomy

Christopher Moore
A Large Group in a Small Room: Multi-Party Dynamics at the Quebec Conference

Bruce Ryder
The Quebec Resolutions and the Birth of a Quasi-Federal State

Paul Romney
George Brown and Oliver Mowat on the Quebec Resolutions and Confederation : What They Said and What They Meant

Third Session: The Opponents

Louis-Georges Harvey
Confederation and Corruption : The Republican Critique of Canadian Confederation in Quebec

Stéphane Kelly
The Opposition to Federal Union in Lower Canada: Economic Arguments

Speaker to be confirmed


Fourth Session: The Moral Foundations

Robert Vipond
The Quebec Resolutions and the Ideas Left Behind

André Burelle
Perspectives of a Personalist-Communitarian Philosopher on the 1864 Quebec Conference

François Rocher
Opposing the 1864 Confederation Project : some Critiques of the Goals of the Regime


Fifth Session: Assessing the Historiography

Michael Behiels
« Déjà vu all over again » : Revising the English-Language Historiography of Canada’s Confederation Movement, 1865-1867 and beyond

Claude Couture
French-Language Historiography and the Quebec Conference

Anne Trépanier
Imaginations of a Canada in Becoming

Closing Remarks