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© McCord Museum
Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, politician, Montreal, QC, 1876
Notman & Sandham
1876, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Alexander Galt, first active in land development in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, came to see the potential of railways to communities like Sherbrooke. He became president of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway, which sought an ice-free ocean terminus. It was Galt who, in 1858, introduced the resolution calling for a federal union of the colonies of British North America. He was also one of the first to promote tariff protection for Canadian industry.

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


Galt shows the link between transportation companies and the Confederation movement. Railways could prosper in Canada only in a stable community and with the support of governments.


The Eastern Townships were critically located between the United States and the seigneurial lowlands of the St. Lawrence River. If access to markets could be achieved by the improvement of transportation facilities, their rich soil, forests, mines and waterways would have great potential.


In 1849, Galt became president of what would become the Grand Trunk Railway, the major trunk route serving the area. He played a key role in Confederation, acting as spokesperson for the English community of the Townships.


Born in London, Galt came to Canada to work for a land company developing property in the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada. He saw the link between land development and rail transportation.

© Musée McCord Museum