M981.207.4 | Sir Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine

Sir Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine
About 1880, 19th century
Ink on paper
12.7 x 9.8 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , portrait (53878) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Faced with the reality of a united Canada and the exile of patriote leaders like Louis-Joseph Papineau, moderate French Canadian nationalists like Lafontaine opted to live with the reality of the Union Act and to seek new ethnic and bicultural alliances with leaders from Upper Canada like Robert Baldwin and, later, John A. Macdonald These alliances formed part of an emerging party system in Canada and fuelled a movement over the next decades toward a federal structure as the best solution for the Canadian dilemma.

Source : The Aftermath of the Rebellions [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    The Rebellion Losses Bill, introduced by Lafontaine, showed the triumph of the principle of responsible government in Canada. However, Lafontaine soon became disenchanted with politics and resigned, only to become Chief Justice at a later date.

  • Where

    In the important election of 1841, La Fontaine ran for a seat in Terrebonne, a county near Montreal. After his defeat, English Canadian reformers found a seat for him in York. In 1842, he established a reform administration in alliance with Robert Baldwin.

  • When

    The 1840s were a critical period in Canadian history. It was La Fontaine who introduced into the Legislative Assembly the famous Rebellion Losses Bill of 1848.

  • Who

    Lafontaine had supported the patriote cause but opposed their call to arms. He became the leader of the French Canadian reformers in 1841 and worked with reform leaders in English Canada.