A Liberal, Galt voted against the REBELLION LOSSES BILL and supported the demand for ANNEXATION to the US (1849). In 1858 he introduced a resolution calling for a federal union of all the British North American colonies, and he joined the reconstructed Cartier-Macdonald ministry of DOUBLE SHUFFLE fame that year as finance minister after being promised support for his union proposal. His revenue tariff of 1859, which provided "incidental" protection to Canadian manufacturers, aroused protest from British manufacturers, but Galt argued that without the right to set its own tariffs, a colony did not enjoy self-government.
Galt, a member of the GREAT COALITION Cabinet, attended the QUÉBEC CONFERENCE in 1864 and was a Canadian delegate to England in 1865 and 1866. He resigned from the Cabinet in 1866 when he failed to obtain the education guarantees he had promised to Québec Protestants. After Confederation he joined the first federal Cabinet as minister of finance, but was forced to resign in November 1867 over the failure of the Commercial Bank of Kingston.
He retired from Parliament in 1871, having opposed the Conservatives but being unwilling to support the Liberals. Galt was knighted for his services on the commission to settle the question of American payment for access to Canadian fisheries, as arranged by the Treaty of WASHINGTON. He was the first high commissioner of Canada in London from 1880-83, appointed to promote interest in financing Canadian railways, the buying of Canadian products, and emigration to the Canadian North-West.
While in London, Galt furthered his own plans to develop coal fields that his son Elliott had discovered in southern Alberta while serving as assistant Indian commissioner. With the backing of London businessmen and federal land grants, Galt incorporated the North Western Coal and Navigation Co, and began operations near Lethbridge. The successful business was sold to the CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY in 1910. Truly, "the life of Alexander Galt is a history of Canada in the 19th century."
Author MARGARET E. MCCALLUM
Links to Other Sites
This Library and Archives Canada website profiles Alexander Galt, one of the Fathers of Confederation.
Alexander Tilloch Galt
A profile of Alexander Tilloch Galt. From Library and Archives Canada.
When Coal Was King
The multimedia website “When Coal was King: Coal Mining in Western Canada” explores the history of Alberta’s coal mining industry. Check out the glossary and educational activities. From the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
John A: Birth of a Country
View the entire movie "John A: Birth of a Country", a TV drama that focuses on the pre-Confederation conflict between two pillars of Canadian politics, Sir John A. Macdonald and George Brown. From the CBC website.
Civilizing the West: The Galts and the Development of Western Canada
A synopsis of a book about two entrepreneurs, Alexander Tilloch Galt and his son, Elliott Torrance Galt, who tirelessly promoted the resources and development opportunities in Western Canada. From Memorial University.