© McCord Museum
Hon. Antoine-Aimé Dorion, Montreal, QC, 1865
William Notman (1826-1891)
1865, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process
40 x 24 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
From 1854 to 1867, Antoine-Aimé Dorion (1818-1891) led the Parti Rouge, a Canada East (Quebec) reformist party that fought for the protection of Francophone rights and the separation of church and state. While Dorion actually initiated the proposal to federalize Canada East and West in 1856, he opposed the idea of including the Maritime colonies in the union. In 1865, when this photograph was taken, the Great Coalition had brought forward the Quebec Resolutions, a deal that would forge a Confederation between five British North American colonies, if passed in each of their parliaments. Dorion and his Rouges fought against the proposed territorial expansion of the government and the centralization of federal powers, arguing that these acts threatened Francophone institutions and political interests. The following quote is taken from Dorion's arguments during parliamentary debates on the subject:
"The Confederation I advocated was a real confederation, giving the largest powers to the local governments, and merely a delegated authority to the general government - in that respect differing in toto from the one now proposed which gives all the powers to the central government and reserves for the local governments the smallest possible amount of freedom of action. There is nothing besides in what I have ever written or said that can be interpreted as favoring a confederation of all the provinces. This I always opposed..."
-Legislative Assembly, February 16, 1865
In 1865, Dorion fought against the idea of "rep by pop" (representation by population) in the proposed Confederation deal, which he considered as an attempt to assimilate the French in Canada East. He fought for a federal union of Canada East and Canada West where each province would have an equal number of parliamentary representatives.
After a long and successful political career, Dorion retired from politics in 1874 to become the Quebec Chief Justice. He served in this capacity until his death in 1891.
In 1865, the Macdonald-Cartier coalition had dreams of building a nation bound together by a network of railways. Dorion described this as an idea to create a longer border to defend in order that colonies with no mutual trade ties may be joined. Confederation, he concluded, was "another haul at the public purse for the Grand Trunk".
The town of Dorion, Quebec, was named in recognition of Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion's (1818-1891) contribution as a lawyer, politician and Chief Justice of Quebec.