The 36 men traditionally regarded as the Fathers of Confederation were those who represented British North American colonies at one or more of the conferences that lead to Confederation on 1 July 1867, including the Charlottetown Conference (September 1864), the Québec Conference (October 1864) and the London Conference (1866–67).
Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, politician, lawyer, journalist (born 25 August 1826 in Québec City, Lower Canada; died 11 June 1906 in Québec City). Sir Hector-Louis Langevin played an important role in Confederation, defending the position of Québec and French-speaking Canadians at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences of 1864, and again in London in 1866. He was a trusted administrator in Sir John A. Macdonald’s governments and an ardent federalist. Langevin was one of the original architects of the residential schools system, which was designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.
Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cecile and Marie aroused worldwide attention after their birth at Corbeil, Ontario, to Oliva and Elzire Dionne on 28 May 1934. With only two previous cases on record, they were the only quintuplets to survive for more than a few days. This miracle, plus their baby cuteness, the poverty of their French Canadian parents, and the controversy over their guardianship, made them the sensation of the 1930s.
"I sprang from the oars to my feet, and lifted the anchor above my head, threw it clear just as she was turning over. I grasped her gunwale and held on as she turned bottom up, for I suddenly remembered that I could not swim." - Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World, 1900.
In a country that frowns upon self-promotion, Canadians prefer modest heroes. This is true even when a hero’s fame lives on long after him, touches millions of people beyond the country’s borders and when his accomplishment has resulted in almost $700 million being raised for an important cause.
George Brown played an instrumental role in establishing Confederation. As leader of the Clear Grits (forerunner of the Liberal Party) in Canada West, he set aside political differences and allied with his Conservative rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1864, with whom he pitched Confederation to the Atlantic colonies at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. From 3 February to 13 March 1865, politicians in the Province of Canada debated the terms of Confederation, offering some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the union of British North American colonies. In the following speech, delivered before the legislature of the Province of Canada on 8 February 1865, Brown explains his reasons for supporting Confederation.
Mathieu Da Costa (depending on the language of the documents that mention his name, also known as “Mateus Da Costa,” “Mathieu de Coste,” “Matheus de Cost” and “een Swart genamd Matheu”), interpreter (dates and places of birth and death unknown). Da Costa is one of the most fascinating and elusive figures in the early history of Canada. Historians consider him the first Black person known to have visited Canada, probably in the company of Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain. But many aspects of his life remain unclear or unknown.
Joseph-Israël Tarte, journalist and politician (born 11 January 1848 in Lanoraie, Canada East; died 18 December 1907 in Montréal, QC). A brilliant, caustic and often impulsive polemicist, Tarte was the owner and editor-in-chief of several newspapers throughout his career, including Le Canadien, L’Événement, La Patrie and the Quebec Daily Mercury, which he used to support various political factions and causes.
On 9 October 1867, in Spotted Island Harbour, Labrador, Captain William Jackman secured his vessel ahead of a vicious storm and went ashore to visit his old friend, John Holwell. Before the day ended, events transpired that earned Jackman a place in Newfoundland history — and legend.
Édouard-Raymond Fabre, bookseller, politician, mayor of Montréal 1849–51, Patriote (born 15 September 1799 in Montréal, Lower Canada; died 16 July 1854 in Montréal, Canada East). Known as the “first real bookseller in Lower Canada,” Fabre’s bookstore not only provided patrons with books and supplies, but it was also a meeting place for the Patriotes. A devoted Patriote himself, he played a major role in the creation of the Maison canadienne de commerce and la Banque du peuple as well as the survival of La Minerve and the Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser. Following the 1837–38 Rebellions, Fabre helped guarantee the return of political exiles to Lower Canada, including Louis-Joseph Papineau, and was the mayor of Montréal from 1849 to 1851.
Augustin-Norbert Morin, editor, lawyer, judge, politician, Patriote (born 13 October 1803 in Saint-Michel, Lower Canada; died 27 July 1865, Sainte-Adèle-de-Terrebonne, Canada East). Augustin-Norbert Morin studied law before he became one of the most important members of the Patriote movement; he founded La Minerve, drafted the 92 Resolutions, and acted as Louis-Joseph Papineau’s lieutenant in Québec City. After the rebellion, he was one of La Fontaine’s Reformers and on two occasions, first with Francis Hincks and then Allan Napier MacNab, led the government of the Province of Canada. Between 1859 and his death in 1865, he worked on the creation of the 1866 Civil Code of Lower Canada.