OTD: George-Étienne Cartier adopts Confederation as party platform

On today’s date in 1858, George-Étienne Cartier, the newly elected premier of Canada East (present-day Québec), suggested uniting several British North American colonies in Parliament as a major part of his party’s platform.

Cartier served alongside Deputy Premier John A. Macdonald, then the premier of Canada West (present-day Ontario), as the heads of government for the Province of Canada, which became the Dominion of Canada upon Confederation in 1867.

Born in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Qué., Cartier became a lawyer before entering political office in 1848 and rising to the rank of provincial secretary for Canada East. Co-premiering with Macdonald from 1857-62, Cartier was a key influencer of French-Canadian support for Canadian Confederation. With Confederation in 1867, Cartier joined Macdonald’s government as the country’s first minister of militia and defence. In the following decade, he further influenced Canada’s development by drawing western regions into Confederation. He drafted both the Manitoba Act and British Columbia Act as well as the legislative framework for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which continued the country’s advancement.

The coin's obverse features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

The coin’s obverse features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.


In 2015, as part of the lead up to the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a one-ounce silver coin with a face value of $20.

Designed by Canadian artist William Lazos, the coin’s reverse features a portrait of Cartier set within a circular frame. Directly facing the viewer and gazing toward the left of the coin, Cartier is shown in front of the façade of Province House in Charlottetown, in which the 1864 Charlottetown Conference took place. The image of this structure is inspired by 19th-century engravings.

The coin has a weight of 31.39 grams, a diameter of 38 millimetres and a mintage of 8,500 pieces.

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