I-7956 | Hon. George Etienne Cartier, Montreal, QC, 1863

Hon. George Etienne Cartier, Montreal, QC, 1863
William Notman (1826-1891)
1863, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
12 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

George-Étienne Cartier was the critical figure in bringing French Canada into Confederation. In the 1850s, he directed the transformation of Lower Canada's landholding, legal, business and school systems. A corporation lawyer, landlord and friend of the powerful, he astutely argued that French Canada would have a prominent place in what he called Canada's new political nationality: "British and French Canadians alike could appreciate and understand their position relative to each other. They were placed like great families beside each other."

Source : Confederation: The Creation of Canada [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    Cartier's commitment to federalism, his alliance with Macdonald and his belief in a new Canadian nationality always made him suspect among French Canadian nationalists and advocates of provincial rights.

  • Where

    Although best known for his political career in Ottawa, Cartier remained a Montrealer with deep roots in the city and the Richelieu Valley.

  • When

    First elected to the Assembly in 1848, Cartier became known as a corporate lawyer for the Grand Trunk Railway and the Seminary of Montreal. He had little sympathy for workers or unions.

  • Who

    George-Étienne Cartier was a strong ally of Macdonald, sharing his conservatism, pragmatism and love of Britain. By the time of the Confederation period, Cartier had left his patriote origins far behind, opting instead for a new sense of Canadian nationality.