Sir Charles Hastings Doyle

Sir Charles Hastings Doyle, soldier, administrator, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia (b at London, Eng 10 Apr 1804; d there 19 Mar 1883). Doyle played an important role in the politics and military affairs of Canada at the time of CONFEDERATION in 1867.

Doyle, Sir Charles Hastings

Sir Charles Hastings Doyle, soldier, administrator, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia (b at London, Eng 10 Apr 1804; d there 19 Mar 1883). Doyle played an important role in the politics and military affairs of Canada at the time of CONFEDERATION in 1867.

Like his father before him, Doyle chose a career in the army. By 1860 he had been promoted to the rank of major-general and within a year had assumed command of British troops in the Atlantic area. Military matters preoccupied Doyle upon his arrival. The outbreak of the AMERICAN CIVIL WAR created an urgency unknown since the WAR OF 1812. Beginning with the TRENT AFFAIR, followed by the CHESAPEAKE AFFAIR and ending with the FENIAN threat, Doyle demonstrated sound military and diplomatic skills. Most importantly, he was not a one-dimensional character like the incompetent imperial figures who had characterized the era of "Wellington's Generals." As Commander of British Forces it was his duty to act for the lieutenant-governor in his absence. Political skills and friendships developed during these tenures enabled him to play a significant role in the achievement of Confederation in the Maritimes.

By 1867 Doyle had established a reputation for fairness and integrity. He could count among his friends and allies such key politicians as Joseph HOWE, Charles TUPPER and John A. MACDONALD. He was the ideal person to defuse the political firestorm surrounding Confederation in Nova Scotia and as a result was appointed lieutenant-governor in October 1867. Facing "odds that would beat the Angel Gabriel if sent here to govern," Doyle was able to work with both Tupper and Howe to control the anti-confederate forces. He played a key role in the negotiation of "better terms" for Nova Scotia, which was critical to the final acceptance of Confederation. This was perhaps his greatest legacy.

Doyle left Nova Scotia in May 1873 and spent his remaining years in relative tranquillity. He had left an indelible mark upon the military, diplomatic and political history of the new Dominion.