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.
Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil libertarian (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. It is, however, the story of her courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination that provided inspiration to a later generation of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In December 2016, it was announced that Desmond would be the first Canadian woman depicted on the face of a Canadian banknote — the $10 note in a series of bills released in 2018.1
Thomas Scott, insurgent, labourer (born c. 1842 in Clandeboye, County Down Ireland; died 4 March 1870, in Red River Colony). Scott was an Irish Protestant who moved to the Red River Colony in 1869 and joined the Canadian Party. His actions against the Provisional Government of Assiniboia twice led to his arrest and jailing. Scott was convicted of treason and executed by the provisional government, led by Louis Riel, on 4 March 1870. His execution led to the Red River Expedition, a military force sent to Manitoba by Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to confront the Métis at Red River. From that point on, Protestant Ontarians, especially members of the powerful Orange Order, wanted retribution from Riel for Scott’s death. Scott’s execution led to Riel’s exile and to Riel’s own execution for treason in 1885.
Sir James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island (1851–63) and of British Columbia (1858–64), fur trader (born 15 August 1803 in Demerara [Guyana]; died 2 August 1877 in Victoria, BC). A resourceful, energetic and intelligent man, Douglas helped the Hudson’s Bay Company become a trading monopoly in the Pacific Northwest. As colonial governor, he initiated British rule west of the Rocky Mountains, and as the founder of settlement, trade and industry, he is remembered as “the Father of British Columbia.”
James Leo (Jim) Egan, gay activist, writer, politician, environmental activist (born 14 September 1921 in Toronto, ON; died 9 March 2000 in Courtenay, BC). Egan was the first person to publish long articles written from a gay point of view in Canada. He was also one of the first openly gay politicians to serve in Canada. Egan is best remembered for a court challenge he and his partner, Jack Nesbit, launched against the spousal allowance benefit under the Old Age Security Act in 1988. In the subsequent Egan v. Canada decision (1995), the Supreme Court read in that sexual orientation is a protected ground of discrimination inthe Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — a monumental finding in support of LGBTQ2 rights in Canada.
As a young man, Biencourt was reputedly tactless in dealing with others, and his violent quarrels with Jesuit missionaries undoubtedly harmed the colony. His determination, however, was crucial to the survival of the French presence in Acadia after a disastrous English raid in 1613.
Samuel Hume Blake, lawyer, judge, social reformer, pamphleteer (b at Toronto 31 Aug 1835; d there 23 Jun 1914), son of William Hume BLAKE, brother of Edward BLAKE, and son-in-law of Bishop Benjamin CRONYN. S.H. Blake attended UPPER CANADA COLLEGE and then briefly entered a Toronto mercantile firm.
D'Alton McCarthy, lawyer, politician (b near Dublin, Ire 10 Oct 1836; d at Toronto 11 May 1898). He came to Canada with his parents in 1847, and was educated in Barrie, Canada West. He was called to the Bar of Upper Canada in 1858, and was elected to Parliament as a Conservative 1876.