Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt
A Liberal, Galt voted against the REBELLION LOSSES BILL and supported the demand for ANNEXATION to the US (1849).
Galt, Sir Alexander TillochSir Alexander Tilloch Galt, politician, promoter (b at London, Eng 6 Sept 1817; d at Montréal 19 Sept 1893). Galt emigrated to Canada in 1835 to work for the British American Land Co, which was opening land for settlement in Québec's Eastern Townships. As he rose in the company, Galt saw the advantages for the area of a railway link to the ocean, and he became president of the ST LAWRENCE AND ATLANTIC RAILROAD in 1849. Galt was no exception to the rule that railway promoters - in search of state subsidies and bond guarantees - often entered politics, and he represented Sherbrooke in the legislature of the PROVINCE OF CANADA (1849-50, 1853-67).
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."