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Anti-Confederation Party

Part of a series on the
History of Nova Scotia
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Responsible Government established 1848
‪Chesapeake Affair 1861
Co Op Movement begins 1861
‪Anti-Confederation Party elected 1867
Saxby Gale 1869
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First airplane in the British Commonwealth 1909
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First 'Treaty Day' 1986
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Anti-Confederation was the name used in what is now Atlantic Canada by several parties opposed to Canadian confederation. The Anti-Confederation parties were accordingly opposed by the Confederation Party.[1]


  • Nova Scotia 1
  • Newfoundland 2
  • New Brunswick 3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5
  • References 6

Nova Scotia

Political Cartoon attacking the Anti-Confederation Party

In Nova Scotia, the "Anti-Confederates" were led by Joseph Howe. They attempted to reverse the colony's decision to join Confederation. Confederation was initially highly unpopular in the province. In 1867, the Anti-Confederates won 36 out of 38 seats in the provincial legislature, and formed a government under William Annand (See 24th General Assembly of Nova Scotia). The Anti-Confederation Party was opposed by the Confederation Party of Charles Tupper. Prominent Anti-confederates included the noted shipbuilder William D. Lawrence, Alfred William Savary and the wealthy merchant Enos Collins.

Federally, in the 1867 federal election, the Anti-Confederate party won 18 of Nova Scotia's 19 seats in the Canadian House of Commons. Howe won the federal seat in Hants County, Nova Scotia, while William D. Lawrence won the Hants County provincial seat. Britain, however, refused to allow Nova Scotia to secede.

While many anti-confederationists threatened to secede and join the United States, Howe was a pragmatist and ultimately accepted Confederation as a fact. He was soon persuaded to join the Cabinet of Sir John A. Macdonald, leading to the movement's collapse (1869).


In Newfoundland, the Anti-Confederates, led by businessman Charles Fox Bennett, defeated the government of the pro-Confederation Premier Sir Frederick Carter in 1869, effectively killing Confederation as a saleable proposal for two generations. It wasn't until eighty years after Bennett's victory that Newfoundland finally joined Confederation.

New Brunswick

There was also an Anti-Confederation Party in New Brunswick led by Albert J. Smith, whose coalition of Conservatives and Reformers won the 1865 election. It was, however, soundly defeated in the 1866 election by the Confederation Party led by Peter Mitchell. The legislature that resulted from that election approved Confederation by a margin of 38 to 1.

In the 1867 federal election the Anti-Confederates won five of New Brunswick's fifteen seats in the Canadian House of Commons.

While in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, opponents of confederation were predominantly Liberals and supporters were predominantly Tories, in New Brunswick the debate blurred party lines. Anti-Confederate leader Albert Smith and Confederate Peter Mitchell were both Conservatives, while one of the most prominent leaders of the pro-Confederation forces, Samuel Leonard Tilley, was a Liberal. Tilley later joined the government of Sir John A. Macdonald. Both Anti-Confederate and Confederate forces were mixtures of Tories and Reformers (Liberals).

By 1870, the Confederate and Anti-Confederate parties had dissolved and were replaced by the old Liberal and Tory parties.

See also

External links

  • Anti-Confederation Petition from Nova Scotia, June 1868
  • Reports of meetings held in the province of Nova Scotia, to consider a repeal of the "British North America Act, 1867."(1868)


  1. ^ Beck, J. Murray. (1983) Joseph Howe: The Briton Becomes Canadian 1848–1873. (v.2). Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-0388-9
  • Beck, J. Murray. (1983) Joseph Howe: The Briton Becomes Canadian 1848–1873. (v.2). Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-0388-9
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