Fathers of Confederation

The 36 Fathers of Confederation listed here are those who attended one or more of the three conferences held at Charlottetown, Québec and London. From 1864 to 1867, delegates from British North America met to share their opinions on union and, ultimately, to forge a new country.

Sir John A. Macdonald

Portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1815 - 1891
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Sir John A. Macdonald

John A. Macdonald played a large role in shaping the Québec Resolutions. The Upper Canadian politician was the only one at the conference with a background in constitutional law. Macdonald drafted 50 of the 72 resolutions and his desire for a strong central government was reflected in the document.”

As a leader in bringing about Confederation and his position as Canada’s first prime minister, he has earned an important place in Canadian history.Footnote 1

Sir George-Étienne Cartier

Portrait of Sir George-Étienne Cartier
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1814 - 1873
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Sir George-Étienne Cartier

A lawyer and a politician, George-Étienne Cartier  was one of the strongest supporters of Confederation. He was a reformer and believed in representation proportional to the population. He was one of the most influential participants at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences, and is seen as one of the primary architects of Confederation.  

Sir Charles Tupper

Portrait of Sir Charles Tupper
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1821-1915
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Quebec, London

About Charles Tupper

Sir Charles Tupper led the Maritime delegation and attended all three conferences. Tupper realized early on in his political career that the provinces of British North America would have to work together or be forever seen and treated as dependencies by Britain. On March 28, 1864, now Premier of Nova Scotia, Tupper pushed the province to pass a resolution calling for a conference to discuss Maritime union, which he saw as a preliminary step to a larger confederation with Canada. That very conference would, in fact, realize his dream of a union between his province, Nova Scotia and Canada.

George Brown

Portrait of George Brown
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
 1818 - 1880
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec

About George Brown

George Brown was a proponent of representation by population and a strong promoter of a legislative union in the early 1860s. In 1864, he proposed the Great Coalition to John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, and went on to play a major role at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. He resigned from the coalition in 1865.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee

Portrait of Thomas D’Arcy Mcgee
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1825 - 1868
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec

About Thomas D’Arcy McGee

A journalist and poet as well as a politician, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was a gifted speaker and strong supporter of Confederation.

Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché

Portrait of Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1795 - 1865
Conferences:

Québec

About Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché

Étienne-Paschal Taché had two careers representing two very distinct periods of his life. From 1812 to 1841, he was a physician, and from 1841 to 1865, a politician. Because he died before 1867, his name is often forgotten when speaking of Confederation; however, he chaired the conference that produced the 72 Resolutions that formed the backbone of Canada.

Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt

Portrait of Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1817 - 1893
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt

Alexander Tilloch Galt was one of the most influential politicians of his time. His role was most prominent during the constitutional conferences; he was involved in the issue of economic development and was committed to defending the rights of religious minorities. These things together made him truly one of the Fathers of Confederation.

Edward Whelan

Portrait of Edward Whelan.
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1824 - 1867
Conferences:

Québec

About Edward Whelan

Edward Whelan was a journalist, politician and noted orator. He was one of Prince Edward Island's delegates to the Québec Conference and was the only prominent Liberal supporter of Confederation from the Island.

Robert B. Dickey

Portrait of Robert Barry Dickey
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1811-1903
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Robert B. Dickey

Robert Barry Dickey was a member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Council and a delegate to the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. He was one of 12 Nova Scotians appointed to the federal Senate after Confederation.

Charles Fisher

Portrait of Hon. Charles Fisher, May 1868
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1808 - 1880
Conferences:

Québec, London

About Charles Fisher

Charles Fisher helped bring momentous change to New Brunswick, first as a champion of responsible government and then as a spokesperson for Confederation. Charles Fisher was born and educated in Fredericton. He pursued a career in law and was admitted to the bar in 1831. Fisher practised in Fredericton before entering the political arena in 1834, losing in the York County election. He had better results in 1837, when he was elected to the House of Assembly.

Sir Adams George Archibald

Portrait of Sir Adams George Archibald
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1814 - 1892
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Sir Adams George Archibald

Adams George Archibald was one of Nova Scotia's leading delegates to the three Confederation conferences. He later became the first lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, and a lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. In addition, he was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Historical Society and was active in the expansion of Dalhousie University.

Peter Mitchell

Portrait of Hon. Peter Mitchell, July 1869
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1824 - 1899
Conferences:

Québec, London

About Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell was a determined public figure and a vital supporter of Confederation in New Brunswick. Colleagues and opponents alike respected Mitchell as a skilled communicator and a man of resolute political convictions. However, these same qualities often alienated friends and encouraged foes, and in part overshadowed Mitchell's early achievements.

George Coles

Portrait of George Coles
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1810 - 1875
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Québec

About George Coles

George Coles served as the premier of Prince Edward Island three times between 1851 and 1868. Although initially in favour of union, he changed his views when he felt that the Québec Resolutions were insufficient for the Island's needs.

Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley

Portrait of Hon. Samuel Leonard Tilley, MP, Saint John, N.B., February 1869
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1818-1896
Conferences:

Charlottetown, Quebec, London

About Samuel Leonard Tilley

This pharmacist turned politician was premier of New Brunswick and attended all three conferences. He was a great supporter of confederation, even when the people of New Brunswick were not. In fact, he lost the 1865 election because of his pro-union stance; however public opinion soon turned and he was restored to power in 1866. It has been reported that Tilley suggested using the term "Dominion" of Canada after a passage of scripture: Psalms 72, verse 8: "He shall have Dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." Tilley went on to hold ministerial posts with Sir John A. Macdonald's federal government.

John Hamilton Gray

Portrait of John Hamilton Gray
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1811 - 1887
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About John Hamilton Gray (PEI)

Andrew Archibald Macdonald

Portrait of Andrew Archibald Macdonald
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1829 - 1912
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About Andrew Archibald Macdonald

Edward Palmer

Portrait of Edward Palmer
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1808 - 1889
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About Edward Palmer

William Henry Pope

Portrait of William Henry Pope
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1825 - 1879
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About William Henry Pope

Thomas Heath Haviland

Portrait of Thomas Heath Haviland
Province:
Prince Edward Island
Year of Birth - Death:
1822 - 1895
Conferences:
Québec

About Thomas Heath Haviland

William Alexander Henry

Portrait of William Alexander Henry
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1816 - 1888
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About William Alexander Henry

Jonathan McCully

Portrait of Jonathan McCully
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1809 - 1877
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Jonathan McCully

John Ritchie

Portrait of John Ritchie
Province:
Nova Scotia
Year of Birth - Death:
1808 - 1890
Conferences:
London

About John William Ritchie

Sir Frederick Carter

Portrait of Sir Frederick Carter
Province:
Newfoundland
Year of Birth - Death:
1819 - 1900
Conferences:
Québec

About Sir Frederic Bowker Terrington Carter

Sir Ambrose Shea

Portrait of Sir Ambrose Shea
Province:
Newfoundland
Year of Birth - Death:
1815 - 1905
Conferences:
Québec

About Sir Ambrose Shea

Edward Chandler

Portrait of Edward Chandler
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1800 - 1880
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About Sir Edward Chandler

John Hamilton Gray

Portrait of John Hamilton Gray
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1814 - 1889
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About John Hamilton Gray (NB)

John Mercer Johnson

Portrait of John Mercer Johnson
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1818 - 1868
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About John Mercer Johnson

William Steeves

Portrait of William Steeves
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1814 - 1873
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About William Henry Steeves

Robert Wilmot

Portrait of Robert Wilmot
Province:
New Brunswick
Year of Birth - Death:
1809 - 1891
Conferences:
London

About Robert Duncan Wilmot

Jean-Charles Chapais

Portrait of Jean-Charles Chapais
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1811 - 1885
Conferences:
Québec

About Jean-Charles Chapais

James Cockburn

Portrait of James Cockburn
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1819 - 1883
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About James Cockburn

Sir Alexander Campbell

Portrait of Sir Alexander Campbell
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1822 – 1892
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec

About Sir Alexander Campbell

Sir William Howland

Portrait of Sir William Howland
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1811 - 1907
Conferences:
London

About Sir William Pearce Howland

Sir Hector Langevin

Portrait of Sir Hector Langevin
Province:
Canada East
Year of Birth - Death:
1826 - 1906
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About Sir Hector-Louis Langevin

William McDougall

Portrait of William McDougall
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1822 - 1905
Conferences:
Charlottetown, Québec, London

About William McDougall

Sir Oliver Mowat

Portrait of Sir Oliver Mowat
Province:
Canada West
Year of Birth - Death:
1820 - 1903
Conferences:
Québec, London

About Sir Oliver Mowat

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