The politics of the PROVINCE OF CANADA
in the early 1860s were marked by instability and deadlock. The external dangers posed by the American Civil War combined with a legislative impasse to make drastic action necessary. The union of the Canadas had clearly failed, and its political leaders were ready to forget old political feuds to create a new political order. REFORM MOVEMENT
leader George BROWN
proposed that a parliamentary committee with members from all groups investigate how the impasse might be broken. This committee quickly concluded that the best solution was confederation of BRITISH NORTH AMERICA
or the federal union of the Canadas. Brown quickly responded to the report by joining a coalition with the Conservatives with the intention of creating a new union. (It was announced to Parliament on 22 June 1864.) Thus the Great Coalition was formed under the leadership of Brown, George-Étienne CARTIER
and, above all, John A. MACDONALD
. The broadly based coalition was remarkably successful in meeting its major aims: the ending of political deadlock and the creation of a new political entity. It remained largely intact as the government of the Province of Canada until CONFEDERATION
George Brown, newspaperman and politician
George Brown's reformers described themselves as "no dirt, clear grit all the way through" (Courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-26415).
Links to Other Sites
Charlottetown Conference of 1864
This website covers the key issues and events at the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. Also features biographical profiles and an impressive collection of archival photographs and documents. From Library and Archives Canada.