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Fathers of Confederation, Governors General and Cabinet Ministers in St. Patrick

Sir John A. Macdonald’s own words on Canada’s confederation were very eloquent and impassioned, as one can hear when playing this video.

Sir John A. Macdonald speaks about Canada’s Constitution View this video with transcript

In London, England, on June 29th, 1867, John A. Macdonald was knighted by Queen Victoria in recognition for his exceptional contribution in bringing about Confederation of British North America.

A photo of the poster announcing Queen Victoria's proclamation creating the Dominion of Canada, July 1, 1867.

Queen Victoria’s words proclaiming the Dominion of Canada were published in newspapers for July 1, 1867

Thereafter, the term “Fathers of Confederation” referred to the 36 people who attended one or more of the three conferences held to discuss uniting Canada’s provinces and former colonies.

Sir John A. Macdonald was appointed Prime Minister by the Queen’s representative Lord Monck; in keeping with the constitutional requirements, a general election (the first federal election for the new country) was held one month later, which Macdonald easily won.

Black and white photograph of a man (Lord Monck) standing, leaning on a folded-up umbrella, his other hand held behind his back. There is a chair next to him on which sits a top hat. The man has a full beard and is dressed in a double-breasted woolen overcoat.

Lord Charles Monck, 1866


Black and white photo of a woman (Lady Frances Monck) standing, a wide full-length skirt draped with lace; she is turning the pages of a book which is open on a stand in front of her.

Lady Frances Monck, 1864


Governor General Lord Charles Monck and Lady Frances Monck enjoyed spending their Canadian summers in St. Patrick where, during the 1860s, they rented a farmhouse at 308 rue Fraser, which belonged to the local blacksmith, Alexandre Moreau.

A formal black and white portrait of Lord Dufferin in a dark suite with a white handkerchief in the front pocket, standing with his left hand on his hip.

Lord Dufferin, 1878


Black and white photograph of the head and shoulders of Lady Dufferin, with her hair swept up, and a formal dress with a lacy squared bodice and jewelled necklace.

Lady Dufferin, 1878


Monck’s successor Lord Dufferin (Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood) also spent a summer in St. Patrick, staying at Thomas Reynolds’s house (then called Ward House, and later, Rookwood) at 304 rue Fraser.

This was before Lord Dufferin and Lady Dufferin (Hariot Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood) had a permanent house of their own, Dufferin House, built in Tadoussac on the north side of the Saint Lawrence River.

Black and white portrait of Sir Hector Langevin, a middle-aged man, clean shaven but for a small beard on his chin, dark hair, wearing a jacket and vest and bow tie, looking to the viewers left as though he's focused on something.

Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, 1873


Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, considered also one of the Fathers of Confederation, and who held a position in the cabinet of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald as Minister of Public Works between 1869 and 1873, is known to have stayed in St. Patrick.

A black and white photograph of Sir Adolph Caron, a young bearded man seated, holding a closed umbrella next to his crossed legs, looking to the left of the viewer. He wears a double-breasted wool coat and a dark tie.

Joseph-Philippe-René-Adolphe Caron, 1873


Joseph-Philippe-René-Adolphe Caron, Macdonald’s Minister of Militia was another summer resident, who first rented and later purchased a house about a mile from Les Rochers.

One summer Caron, who was known as a “dandy” and who loved to ride horses, hosted a memorable and lavish political picnic in the fields behind his house in support of Sir John A. Macdonald.

A grainy, black and white photo of five adults (Sir John A. Macdonald, Lady Agnes Macdonald and members of the Tilley family) standing and seated on some rocky ground, with the Saint Lawrence River behind them.

Lady Macdonald, Sir Leonard Tilley, Lady Tilley, Sir John A. Macdonald, L.P. de W. Tilley, photo taken by Herbert C. Tilley at Rivière-du-Loup in 1890


Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick and another Father of Confederation, and his wife, for decades close to the Macdonalds, are known to have stayed with Sir John and his family at Villa Les Rochers on more than one occasion.

Thomas McGreevy, banker, politician and businessman, and a Father of Confederation as well, kept a summer house in St. Patrick. He was known to be both ruthless and extremely shy, and his presence as a politician is described by the Dictionary of National Biography as “l’éminence grise”, or quiet mastermind.

In the summer of 1882, when the Macdonalds were having extensive renovations carried out at Villa Les Rochers, they rented McGreevy’s house for the duration. McGreevy himself was unable to be in St. Patrick that year, for he was occupied with business in Quebec City.

During the last week of August 1885, with pressing financial and political problems threatening progress of the railroad, Sir John A. convened his Cabinet to meet at Les Rochers.

Some, such as Joseph-Philippe-René-Adolphe Caron and Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, did not have to go far, as they were already spending their summer in St. Patrick. Other Cabinet Ministers including Alexander Campbell (Minister of Justice), Thomas White (Minister of the Interior) and John Costigan (Minister of Inland Revenue) travelled by train from Ottawa.

Black and white portrait of the head and shoulders and arm of Louis St. Laurent in a suit and tie, with receding grey hair, dark eyes and an authoritative expression.

Prime Minister Louis St.-Laurent, undated


In 1955 Prime Minister Louis St.-Laurent purchased a brick house (built by Pierre Pelletier in 1865, and later extensively renovated by owner James K. Woods) at 342 rue Fraser. He and his family spent their summers there until 1971.