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From 1867: Confederation will help us grow

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada, so every Sunday we are looking back at editorials from our predecessor newspaper, The Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle, in 1867.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada, so every Sunday we are looking back at editorials from our predecessor newspaper, The Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle, in 1867.
The Colonist had been pushing for annexation by the United States — but when a rival morning newspaper adopted the same stance, the Colonist jumped to the
pro-Confederation side.


The true policy of the confederated government in relation to this colony is to give us what we ardently desire — union — a union for strength, for purposes of political, commercial and social intercourse — a union that will secure us responsible government, a local legislature, representation at Ottawa, relief from our financial embarrassments and overland communication.

A union that will place our public affairs in the hands of men experienced in the science of government — whether that experience was obtained in the United Kingdom or in the colonies — men who will readily learn to understand our wants and requirements, and, understanding them, will set about removing the obstacles that lie in our path and clog our progress.

Confederation would encourage in the colony the growth of a national spirit and promote national sentiment, and, in case of need, facilitate a national defence.

We should then be recognized and known as a member of the great British family. Measures introduced to benefit the Confederacy as a whole, would benefit us as a part. Our powers for local improvements would be promoted, and facilities and inducements for the extension of trade and the encouragement of immigration greatly increased.

Our growth would add to the growth of the commerce of England — we should in time of peace exchange for manufactured products our raw material and our gold, and, in case of war, we should be her firm and uncompromising ally.

All these advantages British statesmen have observed, and though we admit they have thus far exhibited an inexcusable carelessness and indifference as to our fate, we do not look for the same treatment from the Confederacy, into whose hands we have committed our destinies.

Canada has too deep an interest in retaining our affections to allow an opportunity such as the present to pass unimproved. Like Barkis, we have signified that we are “willin,’ ” and the eastern provinces have only to open their arms to receive us.

The advantages that will accrue to the Confederation from admitting us to its family are manifold.

Our debt, though a heavy load for the 4,000 people who now shoulder it, would be “a drop in the bucket” to the four millions of Canadians, and its assumption would be but a small price for them to pay for the possession of one of the richest mineral countries on the continent, with land communication guaranteed over a natural highway through British Columbia to the Saskatchewan River, across the chain of lakes, which Nature has thoughtfully laid in the path to cheapen the cost of carriage, and out again at the head of Lake Superior, where great ships spreading their wings may sail across Lake Huron, pass through the Georgian Ship Canal (now building) to Lake Ontario, and thence up the St. Lawrence River to the ocean and find a market in any quarter of the globe for which they may steer.

The Canadians are becoming a great manufacturing people. Low taxation and a reasonable rate of wages enable many of their products to pay the excessive duties levied by the United States Customs and undersell American goods in American markets.

As for annexation, it is a myth — a delusion; and the men who persist in forcing its agitation upon us are no friends of the colony.

There is not the least prospect of Great Britain cutting adrift this splendid appendage of the Crown, which will some day contribute much to her strength and glory as we will benefit from one connection with her if we but press our claims to be included in the new nation just now founded by our brethren across the mountains.

The agitation of the annexation question is doing us much harm.

Every newspaper article advocating it is held up by our enemies on the mainland as another evidence of the disloyalty of the Islanders and their utter unworthiness to enjoy any of the privileges to which as British subjects they are entitled.

This agitation most end — must be frowned down now and forever. The proposition made, through our contemporary, to call a public meeting and ask for annexation was a miserable failure.

The proposition through the same source to circulate a petition to effect the medium end was equally a fizzle.

Why, then, is the agitation kept up? Why are our people told, day after day, that annexation is possible if they will but ask for it?

They have declined to ask for it; but have unmistakably declared in favour of Confederation.

Yet before an answer is returned, they are told to recall that request and ask for what every man who has not parted with his senses knows well they can never obtain.

We say again, that this senseless, crazy annexation cry is doing us harm, and that if our people wish to enjoy the fruits of their years of labour and toil and desire a beneficial change in their political condition, they must discountenance and discourage it at once.

The Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle,

May 27, 1867