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© McCord Museum
Hon. A. A. Dorion, 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

Keys to History:

Not all of French Canada was in favour of Confederation or a Cartier-like vision of Canada and its "new political nationality." Antoine-Aimé Dorion was a leader of the Rouges, a group that vigorously opposed Confederation. They argued that Quebec would have little autonomy in Confederation and that the Quebec people should be consulted on a decision as momentous as Confederation. Other French Canadian leaders like Dorion saw federalism as a means by which English Canada would increase its hold on Quebec.

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


Dorion's strong voice against Confederation and his call for a plebiscite on the Quebec Resolutions gives him a prominent place in Quebec history.


A Montreal lawyer, Dorion led the Rouges for many years before going to the bench and becoming Chief Justice of Quebec in 1874.


In 1858, Dorion and George Brown led a short-lived ministry. Dorion had a hard time finding allies in English Canada, while his opposition to the Church weakened him in Quebec.


As leader of the Rouges, Antoine-Aimé Dorion had little sympathy for Cartier's federalism or for his alliance with big business. Dorion saw Confederation as illiberal and as a trap for French Canadians.

© Musée McCord Museum