Fredericton versus Saint John: The New Brunswick Seat of Government, 1785-1882

Ged Martin

In November 1785, Governor Thomas Carleton proclaimed that the seat of government of the recently created province of New Brunswick would be established at Fredericton, around 120 kilometres upstream from the emerging city of Saint John on the Fundy coast.

The selection of Fredericton: ‘centrical’ or ‘aristocratic’?

In November 1785, Governor Thomas Carleton proclaimed that the seat of government of the recently created province of New Brunswick would be established at Fredericton, around 120 kilometres upstream from the emerging city of Saint John on the Fundy coast.[1] Pointing out that the decision was made before the turbulent election of 1786, David G. Bell thought it 'unlikely' that fear of the unruly Saint John mob played any part in the decision.[2] W.S. MacNutt, the doyen of New Brunswick historians, assumed that the settlement of Loyalist officers in the area influenced the choice, creating an atmosphere in which 'aristocratic fashions in government and society might have freer expression' than in the 'commercial environment' of Saint John.[3] While these explanations emphasise the negative qualities of Saint John, rather than any positive features of Fredericton, Carleton himself emphasised that his choice was 'peculiarly advantageous' in military terms because Fredericton was 'centrical' to the province as a whole.[4] In 1843, the English traveller James Silk Buckingham thought Carleton had made a good choice, because of Fredericton's 'centrality of position'.[5] It seems that Fredericton was also favoured because of its unofficial frontier status, and the need to extend colonial authority to the north. No counties had been laid out beyond York, and Malecite still dominated the upper St John valley.[6]

New Brunswick's first legislature had met in Saint John in 1786. It is likely that the port city never fully accepted the subsequent removal of the capital upriver, which did not take place until 1788. In 1795, the Assembly demanded that supreme court sessions be held alternately in the two cities. Carleton attributed opposition to his rule from the Fundy coastal counties, which created deadlock in government until 1799, to the desire of the 'mercantile interest' to recover the capital.[7] Even Jonathan Bliss, Carleton's mouthpiece in the Assembly, disagreed with the choice of Fredericton.[8] A more determined opponent of the move was Amos Botsford, a Saint John representative who was Speaker when the Assembly met in his home city in 1786:[9] his grandson, Amos E. Botsford, was associated with the 1847-8 bid for the restoration of the capital. Saint John representatives helped block the erection of a province hall at Fredericton until 1800.[10] In 1848, a petition from 614 residents asked that 'the Seat of Government may be established at its ancient Site, the City of Saint John,'[11] and the theme of righteous restitution was never far below the surface of its various campaigns, especially as late as 1880.

Indeed, there was a sense in which the colonial capital never completely departed Saint John. Troops were withdrawn from Fredericton for some years from 1792, leaving the settlement to stagnate: in 1808, a London publication called it 'the late seat of government'.[12] In the eighteen-thirties, two senior officials, provincial treasurer Richard Simonds and chief justice Ward Chipman junior, operated entirely from Saint John.[13] One of the arguments for removing the seat of government to Saint John in 1858 was that the railway commissioners and provincial treasurer were based there.[14] The question of the rightful capital even surfaced during New Brunswick's only attempted political putsch. Lieutenant-governor George Stracey Smyth preferred to rule from Saint John.[15] His death in office in 1823 meant that his functions devolved upon the senior Councillor at the seat of government. The two longest-serving incumbents, octogenarians George Leonard of Sussex and Christopher Billop of Saint John, both refused to travel to Fredericton, where Ward Chipman senior was sworn in. However, a group of Billop's supporters declared that Saint John was the effective seat of government, and proclaimed the 85 year-old as the rightful administrator. The coup failed.[16] Indeed, the Assembly did meet once at Saint John, to farewell Sir William Colebrooke in 1848, after the departing governor pleaded that his health prevented him from travelling to Fredericton.[17]

Fredericton's site certainly had the potential to develop as a capital city. It was located on 'a flat of level intervale land ... nearly a mile in width, and raised about thirty feet above the river',[18] which gave it some protection against flooding. 'Fredericton is laid out in blocks of a quarter of an acre square, of which there are eighteen; the streets are disposed rectangularly, some of them being a mile long, and, for the most part, continuously built up with wooden houses.'[19] This description of 1837 flattered the city: it would be a long time before Fredericton acquired the density of buildings, let along the architectural style, to match its layout. Communications by river were Saint John were established from early days but, even after the introduction of steamboats, the journey took eight hours.[20] Located 'at the head of the Sloop and ordinary Steam navigation',[21] Fredericton was also close to the highest point where tides flowed. The combination of a long (but largely undeveloped) waterfront with a tidal variation of about fifteen inches (38.1 centimetres)[22] offered the potential to develop the city as a trans-shipment point and supply centre for the interior of the province. In fact, this barely happened. James Glenie's predictions in the early seventeen-nineties that silt from the annual spring flood would make it impossible for vessels to reach Fredericton within twenty years fortunately proved unduly gloomy,[23] but there were problems with navigation upriver to Woodstock, while the assault on the inland forests probably added to the problems of erosion. Fredericton's immediate hinterland, the Nashwaak valley on the opposite bank, was relatively sparsely populated, and access was by ferries, which were not always reliable.[24] The more distant north-east of the province was even harder to reach:[25] in 1850, a once-weekly stage coach took 24 hours to reach Chatham.[26]

It was not simply Fredericton's location which aroused hostility, but the aloof and privileged conception of government that it was seen to embody. With a political base in the adjoining Sunbury County, James Glenie might have been expected to welcome an upriver capital. Rather, and in typically exaggerated language, he condemned Fredericton as 'the most abominable of all Cities, over which the infamous whore of Babylon presides'.[27] Glenie's contempt was echoed by the English radical William Cobbett, who had been stationed in New Brunswick as a non-commissioned officer in the British army between 1785 and 1791.[28] He showed no regret on learning that thirty nine barns had been destroyed in a fire at Fredericton. 'I was at that very Fredericton ... when there was no more thought of there ever being a barn there, than there is now thought of their being economy in our Government. ... What do we want with armies, and barracks and chaplains in those woods?'[29] The garrison was more evident than in Saint John: J.S. Buckingham found it a strange experience to deliver a public lecture in a Fredericton Methodist church, where a detachment of soldiers 'made the aisles ring with the clatter of heavy boots, steel scabbards, and the tramp of numbers, not quite in harmony with the grave decorum of a chapel or a lecture-room.'[30] For Abraham Gesner, the presence of the garrison had more insidious effects. 'If columns of British infantry are terrible on the fields of an enemy's country, they are also to be dreaded in a Provincial village among their friends and countrymen.' A cadre of officers 'may impart a degree of taste, etiquette, and gentlemanly deportment to certain classes; but more frequently are their errors imitated, and habits introduced unfavourable to that industry by which alone a new Province can be ... rendered a fit abode for a civilised people.' In Gesner's contemptuous judgement, the art of growing fancy whiskers was 'too often cultivated by those whose better interest it would be to bring to perfection the nutritious and valuable products of the country.'[31] A decade later, a Charlotte County newspaperman, condemned to reporting the legislature, let fly at the 'pomposity and exclusiveness' which 'causes Fredericton to stink in the nostrils' of right-thinking people.[32]

Unluckily, one institution that did take root in Fredericton did nothing to make the city seem inclusive. King's College, opened in 1829, expensively educated the 'sons of the richest men in the Province' in an irrelevant classical curriculum and an atmosphere of rearguard Anglican privilege, making both it and Fredericton targets for the wrath of Albert J. Smith, the outspoken Westmorland lawyer who was elected to the Assembly in 1852.[33] James Robb, a King's College professor from Scotland, felt that its Fredericton location harmed the students. 'All the gaieties and absurdities of a miniature capital come in to lead off the minds of the young men.'[34] By the end of that decade, most Reformers wanted King's to be replaced by a broadly conceive university, and S.L. Tilley wanted it to be replaced by a university in Saint John.[35] New Brunswick was far-sighted in supporting teacher education, but in a province where one teachers' college might have seemed an extravagance (Sir Edmund Head wanted a joint institution shared with Nova Scotia), 'normal schools' were established in both Fredericton and Saint John.[36]

The significance of the location of New Brunswick's capital in a small inland community has rarely been explored. MacNutt's predominantly narrative history occasionally mentioned controversies over the location of the seat of government, without any extended analysis of Fredericton's role. Thorburn's political science textbook implicitly accepted the choice of Fredericton as part of the fabric of provincial governance.[37] Acheson's important history of Saint John in the half century after 1815 focused on the formation of the urban community on the coast rather than its interplay with the interior.[38] Hence it is easy to overlook the basic point that New Brunswick is the only Atlantic province whose capital was located inland. Halifax, St John's and – on a smaller scale – Charlottetown all doubled as the major port and seat of government. Saint John people were 'jealous of Halifax' and it was an article of faith that Haligonian pretensions to rival them in regional leadership were based not on economic strength but upon the artificial prosperity as a garrison and naval base, and motivated merely by 'malevolence'.[39] Their feelings need not be dismissed as sour grapes. In 1860, a correspondent of The Times of London described 'the handsome, thriving town of St. John, New Brunswick, the finest and most flourishing of all the North American provinces' as 'an antidote to the sleepy feeling which the sight of Halifax engenders in the mind.' Indeed, Halifax was 'a quaint, rickety little village, less like a town itself than the débris of an old one for sale'.[40] It is likely that Saint John's hankering for restitution of the seat of government was partly motivated by a desire to establish parity of function with its decrepit rival, although appeal to Nova Scotian precedent would not be tactically wise in New Brunswick political discourse.[41]

On the wider British North American canvas, two examples throw some comparative light. Toronto, then called York, was selected as the seat of government for Upper Canada in 1796, a temporary arrangement prior to the construction of a permanent capital at London. Governor Simcoe even planned to erect a makeshift Government House, with two wings, one for public offices and the other to accommodate the legislature.[42] The sequel, according to J.M.S. Careless, proved that 'inertia' operated as a principle of urban growth as well as in physics. The seat of government remained at Toronto, and the city's role as an administrative centre helped underpin its emergence, by 1834, as the leading urban centre and indeed only genuine city in Upper Canada. Its diversity of function was sufficiently robust that its loss of capital status with the union of the Canadas in 1841 had 'remarkably small effect', partly because it retained law courts and various government offices.[43] By contrast, Fredericton, which had a decade's start over Toronto, exemplified 'inertia' in wholly different sense. The city proved notably incapable of developing any wider commercial function, and may even have been inhibited from achieving economic growth by its military-legislative base. The other intriguing parallel is with Ottawa, chosen as a compromise seat of government for the united province of Canada in 1858. The need to select a permanent capital was the legacy of the removal of the capital from Canada's largest city, Montreal, in 1849, as a punishment for rioting, which the community had neither the means nor the will to repress. Many reasons were advanced for the selection Ottawa, but one intriguing argument, advanced by the governor-general, Sir Edmund Head, was that the inland city was in fact a surrogate for Montreal. Although Ottawa was located 120 miles upstream (around 190 kilometres, double the distance from Fredericton to Saint John), its selection would be 'readily acquiesced in' by Montrealers, some of whom had privately commented 'that they would as soon have the seat-of-government at Ottawa as at Montreal itself.'[44] Saint John entertained no such feelings towards Fredericton. It was an event when one of its newspapers, the New Brunswick Courier, sent a reporter to the seat of government to cover legislative debates in 1831; thirty years later, Governor Gordon noted that Saint John newspapers ignored Fredericton.[45] Few influential figures moved between the two places. Fredericton-born William H. Needham spent a decade in Saint John and shook up its civic politics, before returning around 1853 to head a law reform commission in his birthplace, where he later served six terms as mayor.[46] George E. Fenety, a successful Saint John newspaperman, moved to Fredericton after his appointment as Queen's Printer in 1863, becoming a civic patriot for his adopted city and also serving as mayor.[47] Needham and Fenety were both drawn to Fredericton by aspects of its function as seat of government, but they were notable exceptions. Montreal, according to Head, saw Ottawa as part of a potential route to the West. Saint John saw Fredericton as a backwater.[48]

Port city versus country village

The core problem was the disparity between the two places both in demography and dynamics. Saint John's urban population (including Portland) had reached 10,000 by 1824, and was approaching 40,000 by 1861. Its quadruple increase was faster than the 2.5 times population growth for New Brunswick as a whole.[49] By contrast, Fredericton, lampooned as a 'small village' by a Saint John satirist in 1833, lagged behind,[50] managing to pass 5,000 by 1861.[51] 'St. John is rapidly advancing in wealth and population,' Abraham Gesner noted in 1847, 'while Fredericton remains almost stationary'.[52]

Saint John's growth did not come without problems. As early as 1829, a visitor pronounced it 'perhaps the most unhealthy place in our North American provinces', with 'filth' in the streets adding to the natural disadvantages of Fundy fogs.[53] A cholera outbreak three years later triggered good intentions of civic reform, but Saint John remained vulnerable when the scourge returned in 1854, killing five percent of its residents.[54] Mains for a public water supply were laid throughout the city in the autumn of 1857, just months before its representatives sought to reclaim the seat of government.[55] Unfortunately, the city was less effective in tackling sewage disposal and, so a modern study concludes, 'Saint John remained dirty.'[56] Saint John's population growth was driven by immigration: by the eighteen-forties, the city faced the challenge of assimilating a sizeable Irish Catholic population. It was the reluctance of the host population to adjust to the newcomers that caused the social violence of the 1849 Orange riots. (Fredericton had not been immune to sectarian disorder either).[57] Although Mayor Wilmot made some attempt to preserve order, the battle of York Point undermined the Saint John argument that its restoration as the seat of government would bring a more diverse public opinion to bear upon the legislature.[58] Major sectarian clashes were avoided after 1849, but social violence remained a problem in the poorer North End throughout the decade, including an arson campaign through the winter of 1858-9.[59]

            At least Saint John's problems stemmed from economic success. Fredericton had its admirers, but their optimism seems to have been misplaced. J.S. Buckingham in 1843 had 'a favourable impression of the place' and 'a well-grounded hope of its future prosperity.'[60] C.L Hatheway, whose 1846 History of New Brunswick was published in Fredericton, thought that it 'must rise in importance, although its commercial interest cannot equal Saint John.'[61] A British army officer, Sir James Alexander, found Fredericton 'pleasant and cheerful', and liked its 'air of quiet and peace'.[62] Even Arthur Gordon, the aristocratic governor so often irritated by his colonial exile, noted on his arrival in 1861 that 'Fredericton is more of a place than I expected.'[63] However, it is hard not to believe that the optimists were in denial. 'From its situation, Fredericton ought to be a place of excellent business,' wrote C.W. Atkinson in 1844, but 'the place is very irregularly supplied with fresh provisions' and 'there is but one butcher...and only three bakers in the town.'[64] Alexander Monro's aim in 1855 was to boost New Brunswick's potential to become a manufacturing economy, but he was bleak in his criticism of Fredericton's failure to build upon the advantages of its entrepôt location and government role: 'it seems surprising that it should not have made more rapid progress.'[65] A.L. Spedon's light-hearted tourist account of 1863 made the same point in less reverent tones. A half-hour morning walk around Fredericton left him with 'a sort of bewildered disappointment'. He could not believe that the deserted main street was the business district of a capital city, and sarcastically wondered if he had disembarked from the steamboat 'at the wrong place.'[66]

        Perceptive critics argued that Fredericton's failure to flourish was directly caused by its peculiar economic and social structure. The artificiality of Fredericton was brought home to James Robb in 1839 when he visited relatives in the rising Upper Canadian city of Hamilton. 'It is like Fredericton but rather smaller. They are merchants, but we are gentlemen. We live upon short commons. They live upon clover. ... We look as if we had cash. They have it and don't look like it.'[67] C.W. Atkinson noted that the social malaise poisoned all aspects of class relations. Labour was expensive and unreliable, thanks to an unhealthy combination of notionally high wages but tied to a truck system, by which workers were paid in kind from an employer's shop: 'great difficulty exists in having work of any kind completed promptly'. With a servant problem and a disrespectful attitude of 'non-chalance' among the working classes thrown in, 'Fredericton exhibits a state of society not to be equalled in North America.'[68] It was a York County representative who lambasted the city's civic culture in 1848, alleging that there was 'no energy manifested about public affairs,' largely because the community was split between 'the upper-crust party and the middle-crust party'.[69] James Robb identified the core problem soon after his arrival in the province. Using an Old World shorthand term to describe the official establishment, he commented: 'Fredericton is not destined to become very much larger. The court alone secures its prosperity.'[70] Gesner elaborated the point a decade later. 'Remove from the capital its warlike establishment, the Legislature, and the public functionaries of high salaries, and it would soon be a plain country village, whose inhabitants would have to look to agriculture and manufacturing pursuits for their support.'[71] Even Fenety's unidentified York County member was tempted to agree. 'He would almost advocate the removal of the Seat of Government, if he thought it would be the means of infusing a little energy into some people.'[72]

The creation of an Anglican bishopric in 1845 for New Brunswick triggered rivalry between the two cities. The Catholic Church had created a New Brunswick diocese in 1842, and it was natural enough to base the appointment at Saint John, with its large Irish population.[73] The new Anglican entity was carved out of the existing diocese of Nova Scotia but, in London, the senior Colonial Office civil servant, James Stephen, himself a devout Anglican, opposed the use of a territorial title, insisting upon a bishopric of Fredericton and not of New Brunswick. Historically, he argued, episcopal titles conveyed the idea of 'a Civic location, and a rural dependency,' an arrangement by which a bishop was based in 'a central and sedentary position, whence Christianity was to radiate, and to which the inferior Clergy was [sic] to resort.'[74] Soon after his arrival in the province, it was reported that Bishop Medley doubted whether Fredericton could fulfil this role. A newspaper controversy erupted over the location of his proposed cathedral. Saint John invoked the Biblical prohibition against building on sand, warning that a stone structure in Fredericton would sink into the ground. Fredericton retaliated by arguing that Saint John's notorious fogs would rot the masonry. The Fredericton Head Quarters saw the scheme to switch the location of the cathedral as 'the entering wedge to unsettle the question of the seat of Government' but one key difference was that, whereas Saint John wished the province to pay for the removal of the capital, the city's advocates claimed that its Anglican community would meet the shortfall between the projected cost and the funds Medley had brought with him from England.[75] In the event, the project went ahead on the soft ground of Fredericton.[76]

The acquisition of the Anglican bishopric may have been counterproductive for Fredericton. It emphasised its Anglican ethos at just the moment when the fight against Church establishment was substantially won.[77] The presence of a bishop increased the scope for the petty spats over social propriety that bemused the governor, Sir Edmund Head. (Head regarded the atmosphere of official Fredericton as reminiscent of the comical court feuds of a minor German principality. Although an Anglican himself, he was cynically unenthusiastic about the cathedral project.[78]) A complication was that Medley was a member of the High Church movement, which sought to revive ritualistic practices in Anglican services. This cost him the sympathy of Saint John Anglicans, who were predominantly Evangelicals,[79] and probably contributed to the sardonic labelling of Fredericton as the 'Celestial City'.[80] In accordance with the English cathedral-city precedent, Fredericton was incorporated in 1848. Its elevation, which struck doubters as premature and presumptuous, triggered some discussion of the seat of government.[81] 'Properly speaking, New Brunswick ... has only one city, namely, Saint John,' declared Spedon in 1863, dismissing the presumption of 'the insignificant, so called city of Fredericton'.[82]

The seat of government issue, 1844-1850

Writing in the context of the Election Act of 1828, John Garner stated that party divisions in early New Brunswick were basically geographical: 'the Fundy counties were loosely united to secure the transfer of the seat of government to St. John'.[83] This had been the case in Carleton's time thirty years earlier, but does not seem to have been the case in the eighteen-twenties.[84] It would hardly have been worth raising the issue through the Assembly in an era when the province was essentially run by the Governor and his Council: the former was commander of the garrison, and Fredericton had become a comfortable environment for the conservative elite. In January 1826, following the destruction by fire of Government House, the Assembly passed an obsequious address regretting the inconvenience to Sir Howard Douglas and his family and expressing its willingness to support the construction of a replacement. It was left to Douglas, in gratefully embracing the offer, to express regret at 'placing so heavy a charge on the Finances of the Country', a message received by the Assembly before it debated amendments to 'An Act to prevent bringing infectious distempers in the City of Saint John'.[85] Unlike the Fredericton fire of 1880, no opportunity was taken to make a disaster the opportunity to review the location of the capital.

            The transfer of control over Crown lands to the province in 1837 massively shifted political authority towards the Assembly, which operated in a political culture where localities scrambled for advantage without much awareness of any general interest.[86] Moreover, the disparity between the two cities also became more marked around that time. Between 1834 and 1840, Saint John leaped from a population of 16,000 to one of almost 27,000, becoming 'one of the greatest cities in North America', as the Morning News claimed.[87] Although problems of health and public order stemming from this rapid growth became increasingly obvious during the following decade, Saint John was an aggressively confident metropolitan centre characterised by an ambitious elite of merchants, lawyers and newspapermen.[88] Formed in 1844, the Saint John-based Provincial Association – the name is revealing – argued for protective tariffs, to make the city a regional economic capital.[89] Meanwhile, as indicated above, a chorus of bleak comment characterised sluggish Fredericton. Although Canada was generally a remote province which rarely intruded upon the New Brunswick consciousness, the success of Montreal in capturing the seat of government in 1843 probably encouraged emulation in Saint John, a similar port city with metropolitan pretensions. The supplanted city of Kingston, briefly designated the capital of the united province of Canada in 1841-3, was a Loyalist and garrison town which was slipping down the urban growth league: the parallels with Fredericton would have been obvious.

            On 11 April 1844, as the legislative session was closing, Robert L. Hazen, one of the members for Saint John city, presented a petition 'praying for the removal of the Seat of Government from Fredericton to the said city,' and asking for a report on the procedure and expense involved to be submitted to the next session. The petition was headed by Lauchlan Donaldson, a prominent merchant and mayor of Saint John, with veteran alderman Henry Porter and William O. Smith, a wholesale druggist heading a further 340 signatures.[90] The timing seems bold, even insensitive: the previous month, Mayor Donaldson had been fully stretched attempting to maintain order between rival Irish factions around St Patrick's Day. Privately, he feared that the city had become so polarised that it was becoming impossible to mobilise any neutral citizen police force.[91] Possibly the petition was a device to unify the Saint John community, to busy giddy minds with Fredericton quarrels. Fredericton residents mobilised for an indignation meeting, and the Head Quarters poured scorn on a scheme that it claimed would add £100,000 ($480,000) to the provincial debt – an uncosted and almost certainly inflated estimate – and soak up all funding for bye-roads (always a popular cry) for years ahead. 'It always has been and always will be the case that the more St. John gets the more she will ask and expect.'[92] Nothing seems to have come of the 1844 initiative, perhaps because the Reade affair the following year created temporary unity among New Brunswick politicians as they united to protest against the appointment of an outsider from England to the office of provincial secretary.[93]

            At the general election of October 1846, the York County candidates pledged themselves to resist any threat to remove the seat of government. Although regarding Saint John as a threat, the Head Quarters was confident that any attack could be beaten off. 'The more this question is agitated, the more apparent will become the importance of York'.[94] But the Saint John Morning News mockingly replied that whatever Fredericton's representatives might say, 'as sure as they've got seats to their pantaloons, they'll lose the Seat of Government next Winter. They've had it long enough; and we intend now to take it by storm'.[95] The 1846 election introduced a new and determined champion of Saint John to the Assembly. William Johnstone Ritchie soon showed himself in earnest on the seat of government question.[96] As the Assembly closed its labours for 1847, he gave notice that in the next session, he would raise 'the question of the propriety and necessity of removing the Seat of Government from Fredericton, and restoring it to the City of Saint John'.[97] Amos Edwin Botsford made a similar announcement in the Legislative Council. Of course, Botsford's move could not commit the upper house, but it did signal that Fredericton could not complacently depend upon the appointed members of the second chamber to protect its interests. It was noteworthy, too, that Botsford came from Westmorland County, hinting at the emergence of the Fundy coastal alliance Garner discerned in the eighteen-twenties.[98] This was parliamentary procedure used (or abused) as psychological warfare. The consistent charge against Fredericton was that it lacked the enterprise to capitalise on its advantages. But uncertainty over the permanence of its status arguably discouraged investment in the city.[99] When Ritchie made his move, eleven months later in March 1848, York County representative Lemuel Allan Wilmot tabled a furious counter-motion, claiming that 'great injury and injustice must accrue to the Inhabitants of Fredericton and the surrounding County from the protracted agitation of the question'.[100] 'The opinion is yearly strengthened, that St. John should now be the capital,' Gesner declared in 1847.[101] During a debate on the incorporation of Fredericton in 1848, one member predicted that the seat of government would be transferred to Saint John within five years.[102] Fredericton needed a decisive victory to stem the tide of postulated inevitability. The city was ready to fight back. The Head Quarters called the Ritchie-Botsford initiative 'extraordinary' and 'an absurdity', while Wilmot foreshadowed a counter-motion, condemning any removal to Saint John as 'injurious to the public welfare' and 'influenced more by private interest and personal convenience than by motives of Public Policy'.[103]

            In February 1848, the Saint John campaign presented two petitions to the Assembly asking for the seat of government to be 'established at its ancient site'. In a clever ploy to suggest province-wide tide of opinion, these came from 624 residents of Westmorland, and 362 signatories from Albert County.[104] Saint John advanced the familiar claim that Fredericton was characterised by 'a lethargy, want of life, vigour and intelligence' that somehow infected the legislature and executive. However, the impeding advent of responsible government added a new argument. Government departments would now be headed by politicians, who would hold office so long as they retained majority support in the Assembly. Given the unstable character of New Brunswick political alliances, frequent changes of ministry could be foreseen. With no cadre of professional politicians, provincial legislators combined their public duties with pursuit of their own careers. Only Saint John, it was argued, could provide a sufficient pool of competent personalities capable of taking on ministerial responsibilities on such a transient basis.[105] The argument was plausible, but it was also arrogant, and hardly aimed at winning goodwill from remoter sections of the province.[106]

            One month later, arguing that it was 'highly desirable to ascertain the probable expense' of the removal that had been requested in 'several' petitions, Ritchie moved to establish a commission of enquiry, prompting L.A. Wilmot's counter-amendment deploring the injury to Fredericton caused by the agitation and the uncertainty that it aroused.[107] The Assembly debated the proposition with what MacNutt unkindly called 'humour of triviality', before emphatically endorsing Wilmot's condemnation by 24 votes to ten.[108] Taking the seat of government by storm, as the Morning News had threatened, simply flew in the face of what Sir Edmund Head called 'the disjointed conformation of the country'.[109] The division list revealed the weakness of the Fundy coastal strategy. Saint John won three of the four Westmorland votes (with one abstention) but, despite the emphatic numbers behind the county's petition, the two Albert representatives split on the issue. In the whole northern interior of the province, from Kent and Carleton northward, only a single vote was cast against Fredericton. A solid six from York and Sunbury was to be expected, but less predictable was the refusal of the five members from Kings and Queens to yield more than one vote in support of the challenge: two backed Fredericton and two offered no opinion. Charlotte gave its four votes for the status quo. Perhaps most striking of all was the lack of enthusiasm among the six members for Saint John city and county, only four of whom backed the transfer. As a key member of the Executive Council, Robert L. Hazen probably preferred to maintain his neutrality on an issue that might well resolve itself. He would shortly remove himself from the pressures of his Saint John constituents and transfer to the Legislative Council.[110] More noteworthy was the decision of St John County member John R. Partelow to vote against Ritchie's proposal to cost the relocation. In an anarchic system of governance in which individual members of the Assembly could initiate votes of public money, Partelow was the closest approximation the province possessed to a finance minister. Somehow he performed the miracle of ensuring that he accumulated disbursements were equalled by an available public revenue. Evidently, he did not welcome Ritchie's initiative.[111]

            Although the Head Quarters hoped that the victory of 1848 meant that hankering after the seat of government 'had been pretty well beaten out of the heads of our St. John friends,' the New Brunswick Courier called for candidates at the 1850 general election to be challenged on their attitudes to the removal issue. The Courier’s concern was that 'we cannot get mercantile men to represent us with the Seat of Government at Fredericton, very few of them being willing to leave their business for such a length of time.' Not only was this argument hugely dismissive towards the rest of the province – if Saint John could not go to the capital, the capital must come to Saint John – but it was belied by the fact the six City and County members were consistently among the most high-powered representatives in the Assembly. The Head Quarters called the initiative an attempt to have 'a little electioneering capital' and dismissed 'the crotchet of finding the centre of the circle on the line of its circumference' – an indication of the importance of the argument for geographic centrality in the defence of Fredericton.[112]

            Notwithstanding this dismissal, it seemed that the issue was not going to go away. In October 1850, the Courier foreshadowed a new campaign in the upcoming Assembly session. Forgetting its earlier claim that its leading citizens refused to go to Fredericton, it now asserted that 'St. John send a powerful representation – well able to advocate its claims'. The claim that 'St. John appears designed by nature to be the capital of the Province' was derided by the Head Quarters, which suggested that this revelation had only been communicated to the Courier’s proprietor, Henry Chubb, after his recent appointment as mayor of Saint John. The voice of Fredericton easily identified the key weakness in the Courier’s case, its claim that the transfer of the capital was vital to 'the future interests of the country'. Decoded, this meant that 'the interests of every portion of this Province would be made subsidiary to and dependent on Saint John.'[113]

            At that point, fate took a hand in a manner all too familiar in New Brunswick. On the afternoon of Monday 11 November, a large section of downtown Fredericton was destroyed by fire. An initial estimate that two thousand people – almost half the population -- had been made homeless was probably an exaggeration: the flames had not reached the legislature and the city's hotels seem to have been unaffected. It was no doubt legitimate to ask whether Fredericton's infrastructure was still capable of supporting the upcoming meeting of the legislature, but the Head Quarters was understandably outraged when a Saint John newspaper, the Observer, proposed that the session should be held in the rival city. 'Bad as things are, Fredericton can yet afford sufficient accommodation to the members of the Legislature'. Angling for the seat of government at such a moment seemed ungracious, the more so as it was easy to appeal to memories of the way New Brunswick had rallied to support Saint John when a similar disaster had struck in 1839. The Observer, apparently an outspoken newspaper, quickly backed off, and even the suspicious Head Quarters expressed appreciation of the sympathy shown in the sister city.[114]

The Smashers, the seat of government and Confederation, 1857-1867

Although it probably never entirely went away,[115] the seat of government issue was not to the fore during the next few years. York County had strong representation in the Executive Council in Wilmot, until he moved to the bench in 1851, and Charles Fisher for much of the decade. In a mishandled manoeuvre in support of his conception of responsible government, Ritchie resigned from the Assembly in 1851. When re-elected in 1854, his personal priority was to secure a judgeship, which he achieved within a year.[116] There was, too, a subtle shift in the terms of the debate. In 1848, the Saint John indictment had included the charge that Fredericton had 'no public opinion to correct and give energies to the proceedings of the Legislature'.[117] The violence of July twelfth 1849 enabled Fredericton to make arch allusion to the enlightened viewpoints which the Irish ghetto of York Point could bring to bear upon a Saint John legislature.[118] In his crusade against privilege, the outspoken Albert J. Smith was allegedly in the habit of denouncing any expression of opinion from the galleries as intimidation by the 'Fredericton mob' – on one occasion, allegedly, when a reporter accidentally knocked over an inkstand – but the concept was an implausible one.[119] However, the major reason why the seat of government question went into abeyance was that Saint John had a more immediate concern, the project of North Shore connection by means of a railway to Shediac. Despite opposition from the Legislative Council and the protest of a Fredericton newspaper that 'Saint John is not the Province,'[120] in 1852 its representatives secured a charter for the grandly named European & North American railway, with Ritchie as company solicitor. Financial problems forced the province to take control of the project in 1855. As Wallace concludes, Saint John 'succeeded in imposing its policy on New Brunswick.'[121] Since the strategy compelled the majority of counties to help finance a line which could bring them no benefit, there was no point in raising the additional agenda item of acquiring the capital.

            A torrid three-year period from 1854 to 1857 reshaped the political culture and reopened the possibility of challenging Fredericton. New Brunswick had party labels, but was slow to develop matching party structures. For the first time, the 1854 election produced a disciplined majority, who called themselves 'liberals' and asserted that their victory was the real beginning of responsible government in New Brunswick. Much of their grass-roots organisational backing came from the temperance movement and, although divided on the question, the new ministry was forced to accept an unworkable prohibition law. As the province faced alcoholic dislocation in 1856, the governor, H.T. Manners-Sutton, ousted the liberals and, in a forced election, secured an acceptable replacement ministry, which repealed the impractical legislation. The upshot was a triumph for the liberals, who were not only freed from the incubus of prohibition but gifted a convenient cry against the machinations of a manipulative elite.[122] The 'Smashers', as their opponents branded them, rallied to sweep away the provincial old regime, of which – as in Glenie's time – Fredericton was the hated symbol. On 26 March 1857, during an angry debate on the ministry's fate, Albert J. Smith claimed to have been insulted from the gallery, and attempted to propose a resolution to remove the seat of government to Saint John. Since the Assembly was already debating a no-confidence motion, the Speaker ruled him out of order, 'and nothing further was done upon it.' Although dismissing talk of depriving Fredericton of the seat of government as 'garbage,' the Head Quarters proudly claimed that 'the forbearance exhibited by our citizens ... forms one of the strongest arguments against it.'[123]

            A 'Tantramarsher' in the dismissive vocabulary of Fredericton, the impulsive Smith had probably made a solo run. But, as Manners-Sutton put it, the unifying principle of the Smashers was their belief that 'the direction of public affairs had been too long in the hands of men of property and liberal education,'[124] and Fredericton was a tempting symbol of that privileged regime. The first sections of the railway to Shediac were about to open, making it tactically feasible to revive Saint John's ambitions to become the provincial capital. What made the Smashers (also called Radicals) so dangerous was their novel attachment to caucus solidarity. In 1848, the Saint John members had failed to persuade a majority in the Assembly. Now all they had to do was win a majority behind the closed doors of a party meeting, and the principle of caucus solidarity would deliver them victory in the House. Even Charles Fisher, the incoming Attorney-General and a York County representative, it was alleged, would be compelled to support the removal of the capital. 'If the Radicals return to power supported by four members from St. John,' warned the Head Quarters, 'the change of the seat of Government is inevitable.' With stretched logic, it claimed that the garrison would follow, and the entire St. John valley would be hard hit.[125] Saint John Radicals were reported to be planning to turn the Custom House into a legislative building, and there were rumoured negotiations to purchase the mansion of William Wright, a shipbuilder who was relocating to England, as the new Government House. The Head Quarters asked 'what sort of city Fredericton would be, with no Legislature, no Governor, no public offices, no troops, and no prospect of a railroad?' York County farmers were invited to ask themselves 'what sort of a market they would have, if Fredericton was deserted, and the grass growing green in the streets?'[126]

            In the event, the two-day debate at the end of March 1858 on a motion to remove the seat of government to Saint John almost proved an anticlimax: after a brief burst of consternation, Fredericton opinion complacently concluded that 'no action will be taken in the matter.'[127] Although this was the first formal assault on its status in ten years, an important change in the provincial constitution entirely altered the context of the controversy. In 1856, the Assembly had agreed to surrender the time-honoured right of individual members to initiate money votes, so that only the Crown (in other words, the ministry) could propose financial measures, and the new system had become operational the following year.[128] Therefore, sooner or later, the Smasher cabinet would have to determine whether or not it favoured the move to Saint John, because it would have to accept responsibility for the budgetary implications. Evidently, they could not agree, with Charles Fisher putting his York County base before party unity. There were undoubtedly tensions within the Executive Council, but MacNutt supplied no evidence for his statement that the seat of government issue was a device by Ritchie and Smith to force Fisher's resignation: Ritchie, who had been a judge for three years, seems an unlikely conspirator.[129] Failing cabinet agreement, the Smashers fell back on using a private member, Matthew McLeod of King's County ('one of their lickspittles') not only to propose the motion, but to move that the new system 'be dispensed with in this instance'.[130] Although this manoeuvre apparently drew little comment, it was undoubtedly a retrograde step in provincial financial management – and one that postponed rather than evaded the need for a ministerial decision. The feared caucus Juggernaut also failed to roll. James Tibbits, of Victoria County in the north, and the members for Charlotte – whether out of affection for Fredericton or dislike for Saint John – were reported to have threatened to break with the Smashers if they pressed the issue.[131]

            The arguments for removal were far from impressive, and were cogently dissected in an impromptu speech from William End, the veteran member for Gloucester – the York County members having, it seems, decided not to rise to the bait.[132] Even the proposer seemed half-hearted, McLeod claiming that he had acted to 'set a vexed question at rest'. There was little denunciation of the restrictive atmosphere of Fredericton, perhaps because Albert J. Smith tactfully refrained from contributing to the debate. Instead, the indictment dwindled to criticism of the 'fetid atmosphere' and general inconvenience of the legislative building. The obvious response to this concern was not to remove the capital one hundred kilometres downstream, but to tackle the ventilation problems of the existing building and explore whether it could be extended. The artificiality of the complaint was demonstrated a few days later, when a motion to that effect was rejected in a ragged division of fourteen votes to twelve.[133] A less respectful reply was that a stuffy interior in Fredericton was preferable to the fogs and filth that enveloped the whole of Saint John, where – so one of the city's newspapers had recently complained – residents not only drowned unwanted litters of kittens and puppies, but dumped their carcasses to decay in the streets.[134] The Custom House, rumoured as the preferred location of the legislature, was a fine building, William End agreed, but its waterfront location meant that it was surrounded by 'exhalations from mud of the harbor and the decaying wharves all round' – whereas relief could be found from the stuffiness of the existing building simply by opening a window.[135]

Tilley was clearly on the defensive dealing with the objection that 'in a large city there might be external pressure brought to bear on the Legislature.' This was not the case, he insisted, in Boston, Massachusetts or Richmond, Virginia, but other members pointed to the more general American custom of placing state capitals in small towns, such as Augusta in Maine. Another argument was that government printing could be undertaken more cheaply in Saint John, saving something between £500 and £800 annually ($2400 to $3840). The claim was unpersuasive: Simpson, the official printer, had won the position by through competitive tender, and there was nothing to prevent either moving him to Saint John or calling for new bids. William End countered that firewood could be five times more expensive in Saint John than in Fredericton, while insisting that such arguments were 'less than futile' in the discussion of so far-reaching an issue. It appeared that the oft-asserted claims of Saint John were much harder to justify to third parties than the city's boosters assumed. 'The City of St. John is already too big for the country,' declared William End, dismissing its pretensions to the capital as 'mere assertion'.[136] Indeed, Saint John did not press its case very hard. It was pointed out that (unlike 1848) there were no petitions on the subject, and even Tilley, member for the city, admitted that most of his constituents were 'indifferent on this question'.[137]

            By contrast, Fredericton was robustly defended, both on grounds of its conveniently central location and as part of a more general strategy of encouraging the development of the New Brunswick interior. William End argued that the province was under obligations to maintain the existing arrangement. Well-wishers in England had subscribed to the cathedral in the belief that it would ornament a capital city. The province had made low-interest loans to victims of the 1850 Fredericton fire, and could hardly recoup its money if it deprived them of their livelihood. Tilley insisted that Fredericton would not suffer from the removal as much as was feared. A more balanced assessment came from the Woodstock Journal: 'Though Fredericton would ultimately revive from the stroke, its immediate effects would be deplorable.'[138]

Looming over the debate was the unresolved issue of cost. In recent years, New Brunswick had acquired a substantial public debt for railway construction, and there were ambitions to build more. It hardly made sense to incur heavy expenditure moving the capital for gains of doubtful value. McLeod's motion seems to have been heading for defeat when a Charlotte County representative, A.H. Gillmor, moved an amendment asking the governor to appoint a commission 'to ascertain the probable expense which the removal of the Seat of Government to Saint John would occasion'.[139] Critics alleged a Smasher manoeuvre to avoid the humiliation of outright defeat, a device to maintain some facade of party unity.[140] The amendment was passed, the following day, by twenty votes to nineteen.[141] Two clear blocs emerged from the division. Although Saint John City and County cast only four of its six votes for the commission of enquiry – Robert Duncan Wilmot broke ranks, and James A. Harding was Speaker – all ten representatives from Charlotte, Albert and Westmorland were in favour.[142] Fredericton was defended by a solid phalanx from York, Sunbury, Carleton and Queens, the central river valley counties, with all four votes from North Shore Kent and Gloucester weighing in too. The two members for Restigouche split, with John McMillan presumably voting his loyalty to the Smashers.[143] Victoria County's two representatives also divided. James Tibbitts, who had reportedly threatened to break with the government if they forced through the transfer, voted against the enquiry.[144] Charles Watters was the only member to abstain. A Saint John lawyer, he probably had his eye on the City seat, which he won in 1861. Northumberland was perhaps the least predictable in its members' voting behaviour, casting three votes out of four in favour of the enquiry. John M. Johnson spoke in support of Saint John, contemptuously claiming that 'it was wilderness all round Fredericton,' whereas upriver, 'where they were not dependent on the Legislature, the country was flourishing.'[145] The single vote majority for the amended resolution was unlikely to sustain the required coalition of regional interests that would be required to carry through the actual relocation, especially when the cost became clearer. 'With a deficient revenue, and a large debt, which is annually augmenting,' pronounced the Chatham Gleaner, 'we cannot believe that any serious intentions are entertained by the majority of the Legislature to remove the seat of Government; neither do we think it a measure at all calculated to be of the slightest benefit to the Province, or at present called for.'[146]

            Receiving the Assembly deputation asking him to appoint commissioners to examine the cost of removal to Saint John, Governor Manners-Sutton, who detested the Smashers, pointedly responded that 'he would consult with his Council,' thereby forcing responsibility for the manoeuvre upon his ministers.[147] To counter claims that the commission would provide 'a fat job' for party hangers-on, ministers persuaded John Robertson, one of the most respected and also one of the wealthiest of Saint John merchants, to head the enquiry.[148] Robertson evidently took the assignment seriously, but the enquiry's effectiveness was undermined when one of the four commissioners, Thomas Murray, insisted on submitting a critical minority report when the exercise was completed in March 1859.[149] While avoiding any specific recommendation, which was not part of its remit, the majority report offered a range of estimates, some of them based upon notional tenders from landlords and builders. These were presented to make one option, conversion of the Saint John Custom House, appear a bargain. The lowest estimate for a legislative building and governor's residence (apparently, none of Saint John's merchant princes offered to sell his home) was £41,000; the highest £57,000 ($196,800 to $273,600). Ingeniously, the commissioners averaged the two figures to £49,000 ($235,200), added £10,000 ($48,000) for excavating foundations (Saint John was famously rocky), landscaping and furniture, and then threw in an additional thousand for contingencies, before concluding that £60,000 ($288,000) was 'a very safe estimate'. However, if the city presented a site for the legislature, the averaged cost would be reduced to £52,000 ($249,600). The Custom House could be acquired for £20,000 ($96,000) and adapted as a provincial parliament for a further £8,000 ($38,400). This arrangement would permit the elimination of existing rent payments which, capitalised in an accountancy device, would reduce the effective cost to below £15,000 ($72,000). The commissioners conceded that, while the Custom House could accommodate both the legislature and existing government offices, 'looking to the future of the Province,' it might not prove 'in every respect desirable,' because its downtown location allowed no space for expansion of the premises.[150]

            Thomas Murray's dissenting report ignored the Custom House and concentrated on his colleagues' plans for a phantom legislative building, for which they had received a tender of £25,000 ($120,000). Murray claimed that the specification was inadequate 'for the present, much less the future convenience of the Legislative Bodies'. No provision had been made either for committee rooms or for 'the extensive and expensive fire-proof vaults' for the protection of 'important records' which already existed in the Fredericton offices. The plans on which the estimate was based were not only 'defective' but 'vague,' with 'no specification of architectural external or internal finish'. As a result, the builder had estimated on the basis of using rubble for external finish, using internal plasterwork 'without mouldings'. In any case, mean though the imaginary building would be, 'all precedent' indicated that even on 'the limited scale contemplated ... the expense would greatly exceed the highest amount which has been specified.' Moreover, the suggestion that the city of Saint John might donate a site was not only 'unauthorized and gratuitous' but intended as 'a powerful means of deceptive and unintelligent argument for the removal of the Seat of Government.' Instead of submitting professionally scrutinised proposals, his colleagues had presented 'cheap estimates ... calculated to lead to a hasty or inconsiderate popular pressure for the adoption of a most important public measure'.[151]

            On 14 March 1859, Tilley tabled the two reports in the Assembly and that, as Fenety recalled in 1894, 'was the end of the removal business,' although he was not entirely correct in claiming that it 'settled the question for ever'.[152] The provincial revenue in 1856 had been £119,305 ($572,664).[153] The commissioners' top estimate, of £60,000 ($288,000), was thus equal to about half the New Brunswick government's annual income. In capitalising savings on rent, Robertson's team assumed that the province would borrow at six percent, at which rate £60,000 expenditure would cost £3,600 a year ($17,280), a more bearable burden of around three percent of income. But Fenety, who was a Saint John newspaper editor at the time, was sure that figure would have been exceeded, 'as in all cases of such like calculation'.[154] In any case, even if colonial politicians had been capable of the accountancy exercise to translate capital expenditure into annual payments, their constituents would far more likely have fixed their attention on the considerable increase in provincial debt. Overseas investors, such as the hard-headed London financiers whose support was required for railway projects, might also have been less than impressed by such a large outlay. Meanwhile, there were signs that the Saint John's pretensions were provoking resistance. In December 1858, one of its newspapers, the New Brunswicker, laid claim to King's College, prompting the Head Quarters to marvel that its citizens 'seem to indulge the idea that the whole Province – its resources, revenues, and institutions – ... should of right belong to and become the exclusive property of their city.'[155] Resentment was not confined to Fredericton. The day after he tabled the Robertson report, Tilley encountered resistance to a routine proposal to grant $6,000 (£1,250) to the provincial penitentiary. 'Complaints were made by members from rural districts that the institution was wholly for the benefit of St. John.' Tilley waspishly replied that 'persons were there from all parts of the Province.'[156]

            There are two intriguing tailpieces to the 1859 majority report costing the removal of the seat of government. The first is that Fredericton was saved, in part, by its own moribundity. Almost as an afterthought, the commissioners noted that a cost of £3,000 to £4,000 ($14,400 to $19,200) should be included for furnishing a new Government House in Saint John, but argued that this could be paid for 'the proceeds of the sale of the Public Grounds and erections at Fredericton, which we believe would more than meet this latter expense.'[157] Staunch as it was in its defence of Fredericton, the Head Quarters had condemned the plan to remove the seat of government not merely as expensive but also wasteful, involving the abandonment of 'buildings ... which can be neither let or [sic] sold'.[158] Had there been an independently buoyant Fredericton economy and a booming property market, sufficient to make removal a cost-neutral proposition, then transferring the capital to Saint John might have been acceptable.

            The second tailpiece can be found in an easily overlooked detail of the majority report. Although the imaginary parliament building for which they called tenders was condemned by Murray as inadequate both for present and future, its debating chambers were conceived on a grand scale, with an Assembly that could hold 150 members and an upper house of 75. New Brunswick's Assembly of 41 members had not been increased in size since two seats had been added for Victoria County in 1850. Its Legislative Council generally numbered around a dozen active members. The projected size of the Saint John parliament only made sense if the city was being positioned to become not simply the seat of government for New Brunswick, but the capital of a union of the Maritime provinces. Maritime Union was an issue in the background during this period, and Whitelaw's classic account portrays it as largely a governors' movement.[159] Since we lack political diaries of the kind that illuminate British politics, there is no way of knowing how far governors shared their ideas with leading politicians: MacNutt tartly dismissed the notion that Manners-Sutton could have persuaded the Smashers to share his enthusiasm for the project.[160] Nonetheless, the chronology is intriguing. As Whitelaw stated, proposals for Maritime Union (which generally lacked detail) generally assumed a compromise capital on or near the Chignecto isthmus.[161] In response to a Canadian attempt to raise the question of the union of the provinces in 1858, Manners-Sutton argued for Maritime Union instead, and in early October advised the Colonial Office that he believed he could 'raise the question' with 'a fair prospect of success'.[162] Even given 'the history of almost chronic disagreement'[163] between the governor and his ministers, Manners-Sutton and Tilley could well have found common ground in steering Robertson and his colleagues towards designing a legislature that would only make sense for a larger union. A Maritime Union would have been essentially a merger of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It could be plausibly assumed that western Nova Scotia would find Saint John as convenient a capital as Halifax, while the almost completed railway to Shediac would provide access for Prince Edward Island legislators. Had Maritime Union become a practical option, it would have faced the problem that towns such as Amherst, Dorchester and Sackville, which were variously mentioned as compromise capitals, were too small to provide the infrastructure for a sizeable legislature and developing bureaucracy – at which point, Saint John, now with its convenient rail connection to Westmorland County, would have come back into contention. The 1864 Charlottetown conference, ostensibly called to discuss Maritime Union quickly switched its focus to the wider challenge of British North American union, but the question remained: should the Maritimes enter Confederation as one province or three? Despite Canadian preference and Nova Scotian pressure, Tilley believed New Brunswick could secure a better deal if it joined as a separate unit. 'Seat of Gov[ernmen]t very difficult question in N.B.,' Chandler told a closed session of Maritime delegates, and Tilley agreed: 'Seat of Government. Could not agree.'[164] At the Quebec conference which followed, it was Tilley rather than Tupper, premier of the largest Maritime province, who seconded John A. Macdonald's resolution that the 'best interests' of British North America would be 'promoted by a Federal Union,' while Charles Fisher assured York County voters that the federal nature of the scheme 'would preserve to Fredericton the Seat of Government'.[165] Confederation was not popular in Fredericton, but the threat of losing its status as provincial capital does not seem to have been a major concern. At a by-election in 1868, William H. Needham argued that Maritime Union would be 'worse than Confederation .... York's throat would be cut, her glory would be gone.'[166]

            For Saint John, which had hardly campaigned flat out to secure the seat of government in 1858-9, the outcome may even have formed a useful way of underlining the city's economic ascendancy. Greeting the Prince of Wales in 1860, the Common Council vaunted the spirit of loyalty to Queen Victoria 'in this the Commercial Capital of her Province of New Brunswick.'[167]   A Halifax journalist noted in 1864 that the typical citizen of Saint John 'sneers at the Government House, the Legislature, and all the other powers that collect in Fredericton.'[168] But if Saint John seemed to be moving on, it was less clear that the Fredericton psyche was entirely free of fears about its status. Fenety in 1867 feared that 'the seat of Government question is liable to re-opened at any time.' As a result, property values were insecure, while the city's 'public buildings have always presented a rubbishy appearance – always looking like a temporary arrangement – very cramped and inconvenient'. Fenety hoped that the growth of the railway network would finally confirm Fredericton as the capital, and make possible 'the erection of a Parliamentary building and public offices ... compatible with the dignity and wealth of the Province. ... Let New Brunswick soon rejoice in at least one public building worthy of the ornamental architecture of the age.'[169] The two questions – an imposing parliament building and its host city – would arise in dramatic form on 22 February 1880, when the Fredericton legislature was damaged by fire.

‘A matter of inheritance’: Saint John’s last bid for the capital, 1880

In the years immediately following 1867, as New Brunswick adjusted to being ruled from Ottawa, it would not have been immediately obvious whether the seat of government was still a prize worth having. New provincial leaders filled the void caused by the transfer of the pre-Confederation cadre to Dominion politics. George E. King, elected for Saint John in 1867, became premier in 1870 at the age of thirty, holding the office for most of the next eight years.[170] In 1880, he admitted that he had known little of the previous campaigns to secure the seat of government and that 'during the time he was in public life he had not done anything to advance the interest of St. John in this respect.'[171] Between 1871 and 1875, provincial affairs were dominated by the New Brunswick schools controversy:[172] Saint John, simultaneously both the most Catholic and the most Protestant city in the province, was hardly an attractive candidate to house an already divided legislature. Indeed, the city seemed to have soared above the seat of government issue. In 1880, a bemused Fredericton newspaper claimed that it was not so long since prominent citizens of Saint John were 'wont to say that it would have been a nuisance to have the Legislature sitting in their midst,' and the idea of removing the capital 'would have been very coldly treated'.[173] Even before the Intercolonial railway and the National Policy gave improved access to central Canadian markets, Saint John confidently saw itself as the manufacturing centre of the Dominion.[174]

            Then followed the drama of the massive Saint John fire of June 1877. In the medium term, it became clear that the destruction of huge amounts of capital at a time when the city's ship-building economy was already under threat was a major landmark on a downward path. However, this was not immediately apparent. For two years after the disaster, Saint John was 'a very busy place,' as insurance payments, Ottawa compensation and international charitable relief helped the city rebuild: 'labourers from all over America came to assist.'[175] This brief recovery was coming to an end at just the moment when the fire in the Fredericton legislature opened yet again the prospect of making Saint John a city of government. Presenting his budget to the House of Commons in Ottawa on 9 March 1880, Tilley acknowledged that 'thousands who came to the city to re-build it are leaving it,' although he shrugged this off as a natural process of labour mobility.[176]

           Within days of the fire at Fredericton's Province Hall on 22 February 1880, Saint John had launched a full-scale campaign to annex the seat of government. There were some indications that even Saint John was embarrassed by its own opportunism. One alderman was anxious to stress that there were 'other reasons besides the fire': reconstruction of the legislative buildings had been foreshadowed two years previously, and Fredericton's misfortune was merely the occasion for pressing the rival case, a subject that would have arisen at some stage anyway.[177] The city's campaign was two-pronged. The lawyers wanted to move the Supreme Court from Fredericton. The size of the profession in Saint John made possible specialisation, and – as the resolution of the local Law Society put it at a packed meeting on 27 February – the largest portion of Supreme Court business was 'controlled' by lawyers practising in Saint John. Locating the courts in Saint John would eliminate time wasted in a distant city waiting for cases to be called, while it was claimed that the provincial law library could be both more efficiently maintained and more effectively used in their custody. The meeting was not entirely unanimous. Some feared that demanding the relocation of the legislature fell outside their professional remit, but it was argued that since the judges and the legislators met in the same building, it was virtually impossible – and certainly financially wasteful – to demand the one without the other. Almost the only outright opponent was W.M. Jarvis, a respected authority on insurance law whose standing had been enhanced by his work on the fall-out from the 1877 fire. Jarvis felt that his colleagues were 'too hasty' in expressing an opinion on the seat of government, and risking interference with Fredericton's 'vested rights' to the capital.[178] This argument would provoke a devastating reply from Joseph W. Lawrence, founding president of the New Brunswick Historical Society, who was already at work on his major (eventually posthumous) study, The Judges of New Brunswick and Their Times.[179]

            Two of the driving forces behind the 1880 agitation were veterans of 1858-9 campaign, and evidently determined to learn from its failure. Lawrence had been present, as member for Saint John City, in the Assembly in 1857, when Smith had denounced the 'Fredericton mob'; Harding had been Speaker in 1858, and so unable to vote.[180] One weakness in the Saint John armoury that year had been the absence of any petitions from its citizens on the subject: by the end of February 1880, over 1200 signatures had been collected, suggestive of impressive organisation on the ground.[181] 'If the Common Council of that time ... had offered to provide a Governor's residence,' Lawrence told a public meeting on March 8, 'the seat of government would have been in Saint John twenty years ago.'[182] Saint John would not repeat that mistake either. A special meeting of the Common Council on 28 February was characterised by 'unusual calm'. The only frivolity was an outbreak of laughter at the information that Saint John had lost the seat of government a century earlier because it had been thought vulnerable to enemy attack. By 1880, the prospect seemed risible, although it was barely a decade since fortifications had been upgraded against the Fenians. The Council voted unanimously to provide sites for public buildings 'and give to the province a suitable residence for the Lieutenant Governor.'[183] Edward Willis, proprietor of the Daily News, and a fervent supporter of the campaign, argued that the legislative building should be located in Queen Square, whose sloping site would provide an attractive view and good drainage, with plenty of surrounding space for all-day sunshine and effective ventilation (presumably a hit at Fredericton's notoriously stuffy parliament).[184] To doubters who grumbled that the site would involve expensive excavation costs, Willis replied that much of the material could be re-used as part of the project or sold as gravel.[185]

            The climax of the Saint John campaign came on Monday 8 March, when hundreds – presumably all male – turned out in the Mechanics' Institute in enthusiastic support of their city's pretensions. Mayor Charles Ray became 'quite eloquent,' sufficiently carried away by his own enthusiasm to claim that removal 'was for the good of the whole province.' Three arguments ran through the speeches. James A. Harding identified the immediate issue, claiming that the Fredericton fire made new buildings necessary. 'The question is, where shall the buildings be erected?' George E. King hammered home a second argument: in the days of stage coach travel, Fredericton might indeed have claimed the advantage of central location, but 'railways give a reason why an effort should be made to have the wrong of long years ago righted. ... Railways have brought Restigouche near Saint John.' A key element in the argument here lay not so much in the impact of the new transportation technology, as in its differential and incomplete development. Rail communication from Saint John had been established through Charlotte County in 1871, while the completion of the Intercolonial in 1876 had given indirect access to the North Shore through Moncton. As another speaker put it, 'most of the members of the House had to pass through St. John to reach Fredericton.' Indeed, travel time for that final leg had been cut in half, to under four hours. By contrast, Fredericton still had no railway to the Miramichi, and no bridge over the St John river, a continuing disadvantage as the terminus of its upriver line was on the north bank. A narrow-gauge railway, its daily passenger train took around thirteen hours to reach Edmundston.[186]

            The third argument in the Saint John armoury was the claim that the Supreme Court would be more effectively located in the city. This was outlined to the public meeting by prominent barrister, Samuel R. Thomson. Thomson was an authoritative voice. In 1876, he had successfully appealed convictions for murder against participants in the Caraquet riots, and so could not be suspected of any revenge agenda against the Fredericton-based court.[187] He estimated that four-fifths of Supreme Court cases originated in Saint John. Litigants suffered heavy costs because lawyers often had to wait around for three or four days before they were called upon to plead. 'If the Courts were here the lawyer would only charge for the time he was arguing the case.' The first resolution put to the public meeting alleged that the location of the capital was 'to the great inconvenience of a large majority of the inhabitants of the province,' but Thomson's argument illustrated the narrowness of the city's case. Lawyers and witnesses from other parts of New Brunswick would not necessarily find Saint John more convenient, and those who were in litigation against the commercial metropolis would certainly find it less congenial. The Fredericton environment might be sluggish, but it was generally neutral.[188]

            The most memorable contribution to the 8 March public meeting dealt not with the future but with the past. Joseph W. Lawrence drew upon his historical research to tell the story of the seat of government in terms both passionate and entertaining, explaining how a governor's whim had deprived Saint John of its rightful status, how governors and officials had so often preferred to base themselves in the port city, how even the Assembly had met there to farewell Governor Colebrooke in 1848. George E. King admitted that he had not known of the attempts in 1848 and 1858 to recover the capital. The prehistory was also news to Thomson, who pointed out that there was no statutory basis for Governor Carleton's decision. Another prominent lawyer, Charles N. Skinner, who argued that Lawrence's account disproved the claim that Fredericton had 'vested rights' in the location of the capital. 'St. John was deprived of the seat of government in the wrong,' he said, deftly linking this injustice to another of the city's grievances, the selection of the North Shore route over the St John valley for the Intercolonial Railway.[189] Lawrence's contribution must rank as one of the most impactful pieces of public history in nineteenth-century Canada, and maybe also one of the earliest. It played a major role in firing up the Saint John audience to a sense of victimhood, but it would remain to be seen how widely this would inspire the rest of the province. Within a few days, the confident assertiveness of the Daily News gave way to a more defensive tone, as it became clear that the city's charm offensive was running into opposition.[190]

            Looking back on the 1880 episode in 1909, James Hannay – who had supported the Saint John campaign – briefly recorded that the attempt 'was not looked upon with much favour by the representatives of the other Constituencies .... The friends of Fredericton mustered and defeated the proposal'.[191] This was something of a glowing recollection, possibly part of a belated attempt at healing the perennial rift. Initially, there had been consternation. 'Fredericton is in great danger of being gobbled up, body and boots,' remarked the Moncton Times.[192] A Fredericton newspaper unveiled an overheated vision of twentieth-century tourists picnicking in the city's ruins.[193] In fact, the incumbent seat of government had several advantages, certainly in comparison with the challenge of 1858. There might still be objections to its location, but there was less scope for the ideological and social criticism that had motivated James Glenie and Albert J. Smith. It was twenty years since King's College had been transformed into the University of New Brunswick. The successor institution had yet to win any deep place in the affections of the province,[194] but it was no longer a target for the enemies of privilege. Since 1868, locally-born lieutenant-governors had represented the Dominion at Government House. The first appointee, the Methodist L.A. Wilmot was 'hospitable but plebeian,' as the writer and Army wife Juliana Ewing called him. Although a total abstainer himself, he kept up 'the old customs with respect to the use of liquor' at the governor's table,[195] although he refused to allow dancing and would not even give a ball in honour of Queen Victoria's son, Prince Arthur, when he visited in 1869.[196] Wilmot's successor, S.L. Tilley, was a veteran of the great prohibition struggle of the eighteen-fifties. 'So long as he was Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick no intoxicating beverages of any kind were ever used at his table.' The atmosphere of Fredericton was also changed by the departure of the British garrison in 1869, which enabled Tilley to live a life of 'severe simplicity'.[197] The Fredericton of 1880 aroused more sympathy than resentment. Although some argued that the city had survived the loss of its redcoats and would bounce back from losing the capital too, others felt that it would be 'cruel and improper' to deprive it of an asset upon which 'the very existence of Fredericton as a community' seemed to depend.[198]

            However, in the beggar-my-neighbour localism of New Brunswick politics, it would be unsafe to rely upon sentiment. Fredericton had a second, and more practical advantage: both the premier, John J. Fraser, and the opposition leader, Andrew G. Blair, were York County members.[199] Fraser led a nominally Conservative cabinet, compensating for his party's lack of a majority in the Assembly by including three floating Liberals. Blair generally took every opportunity to denounce ministerial shortcomings, but this issue was an exception. An opposition leader who portrayed Fraser as putting Fredericton before the province might have disrupted his ad hoc coalition, but on this issue, Blair made an exception to his usual denunciations. Hannay regarded the tacit Fraser-Blair alliance as an important element in the outcome.[200]

            Although initially alarming, the suddenness of the Saint John demand gave Fredericton a third advantage. 'The dwellers in the city by the foggy Bay are a peculiar people,' commented the Star. 'When an idea seizes upon them, they rush it with one consent; they are slaves of the sensation of the hour.' Saint John's worldly pretensions were subtly subverted to make its citizens seem impulsive and unreliable, their protests of historical grievance evidence of 'selfishness and rapacity'. A month earlier, the Common Council had been 'seized with a violent fit of economy' and the population 'appeared to be oppressed my melancholy.' In a dramatic mood swing, they now sought to plunge into debt in pursuit of a dream allegedly of little benefit to themselves but much harm to Fredericton. It was argued that only a few Saint John barristers specialised in carrying appeals to Fredericton. Move the judges downriver, and the city's 'host of eager lawyers' would 'flood the Courts with petty cases'. The river counties and the North Shore would prefer to keep the legislature and the judiciary in Fredericton. 'St. John ... is not so important as its people think it. It is not the whole of the Province.'[201] 

            The rapidity with which Saint John committed itself gave Fredericton its fourth, and perhaps clinching, advantage. The sudden demand for the capital was founded on the argument that the February 22 fire in the legislature made a completely new building necessary, so that the issue was solely about location and not cost. This comfortable assumption was undermined by reports that insurance assessors estimated the cost of damage at just $3,775.[202] An insurance valuation would hardly err on the generous side, but the surprisingly small amount suggested that the existing buildings had not been totally destroyed and might even be repaired for continued use. In any case, even if the opportunity were taken to construct an entirely new legislature in Fredericton, relocation to Saint John would still cost more, since at least six government departments would have to be moved, and new premises found for them. The Star estimated the cost of rebuilding locally at $50,000, against $310,000 for a legislature, offices and a governors' residence in Saint John, and that figure took no account of the physical costs of shipping records and staff to the new capital. Since Saint John's Common Council had been wrangling with the provincial government over the costs of a projected industrial exhibition, its grandiose offers of sites and buildings could be relied upon.[203] The Celestial City, it was clear, would fight to defend its status.

                 Across the province, Saint John's initiative seemed to trigger a mixture of opportunism and amusement. Announcing the arrival of a third city in the New Brunswick urban universe, the municipality of Moncton offered a twenty-acre (8.1 hectare) site, 'the ambitious little town' not only bidding for the seat of government, but positioning itself to become the capital of a future Maritime Union.[204] Le Moniteur Acadien and the Sackville Transcript also argued for a Westmorland County location to advance the cause of Maritime Union. Other proposals were less serious. St Andrews was reportedly ready to donate a scenic site.[205] A Chatham hotelier was said to be ready to provide complimentary accommodation and food for legislators if they came to the Miramichi, although, as he ran a temperance establishment, they would have to buy their own liquor.[206] Tongue in cheek, the Chatham Gleaner remarked that the town 'could offer superior inducements to have the seat of government brought over here,' but it would be 'selfish' to deprive Fredericton of its only asset. 'We think too much of ourselves to take an unfair advantage of a country town like that.'[207] Newspapers responded to the case for removal according to editorial preference as much as regional perspective: the Newcastle Advocate and the Miramichi Advance favoured Saint John, while the Chatham Gleaner preferred to 'let well alone' – while strongly hinting that the price of Northumberland County's support for Fredericton was the construction of the Miramichi railway.[208] Two Charlotte County newspapers, the St Croix Herald and the Bay Pilot, were cautiously favourable to Saint John.[209] The St Andrews Standard published a stream-of-consciousness leading article, which began by arguing that Saint John would become the capital when, 'sooner or later,' Maritime Union was achieved, before backing away on grounds of cost and suggesting that Fredericton's Government House might be converted into a parliament building, and the lieutenant-governor housed more cheaply elsewhere.[210] The Chignecto Post thought that the law courts and law-makers should be insulated from the kind of public fervour that was currently gripping Saint John. 'Just imagine a hundred lawyers surrounding the Assembly and roaring to have some bill passed by the Legislature, what chance would the representatives have [?]'[211] In Albert County, 'the advocates of Fredericton could almost be counted on the ends of one's fingers,' and it was claimed that four-fifths of Westmorland favoured Saint John. These were the two counties that had produced numerously-signed petitions favouring removal in 1848 -- but there was little sign of a brushfire campaign for removal across the province.[212]

            Fredericton by 1880 was sufficient of an institutional city to recover quickly from the fire. Ten years earlier, the province had closed its normal schools at Saint John and Chatham, centralising teacher-training in Fredericton. Initially the enlarged training college was housed in the Queen Street barracks, recently vacated by the British garrison, but purpose-built premises were opened in 1877 – one of the happier results of the controversial 1871 School Act, which had emphasised the need to train New Brunswick's educators. It was here, after a short delay, that the legislature met on 9 March.[213] While Saint John passed resolutions, incumbency enabled Fredericton to lobby the elected representatives. 'Members are button-holed ... to go for Fredericton and save her from annihilation.'[214] Even before the Saint John campaign had peaked, the Fredericton Star claimed victory by 24 votes to 8, although ten of its claimed supporters eventually fell by the wayside. Few in the city thought there was 'the slightest probability' of losing the capital.[215] Others agreed. 'Fredericton will be chosen by a good majority,' predicted the Chatham Gleaner.[216] Even so, the issue called for careful choreography from Premier Fraser. Heading a coalition ministry, he needed a device which would appear to respond to the fire in the legislative building -- not to mention the brushfire in Saint John -- but also allow his cabinet colleagues to argue for local interests. The throne speech announced that tenders would be called for new parliament in Fredericton. The explanation by a government spokesman that ministers were not committed 'to anything except the reception of the report,' drew a 'Hear, hear' from the provincial secretary William Wedderburn, a Saint John city member.[217]

            On 16 March, the pro-Fredericton forces staged a pre-emptive move. A Gloucester County member, Patrick G. Ryan, moved an opaque motion arguing for the provision of 'suitable accommodation' in Fredericton, subject to unspecified budgetary limitations.[218] Although the Daily News dismissed it as a 'flank movement,'[219] Ryan unambiguously dismissed the 'spasm of feeling' behind the Saint John demand and, in an implicit allusion to the port city's historical claims, argued that Fredericton should be protected by a 'statute of limitations'. (The point was that, even if the original selection of Fredericton had been irregular and unjust, it was far too late to turn back the clock almost a century later.) As Blair pointed out, supporters of Saint John 'dared not' respond to Ryan's motion with a direct proposal in favour of their city. Instead, J.J. Black of Westmorland County moved an amendment, accepting the Fredericton location as a temporary solution, either by using the Normal School or repairing the damaged legislative buildings. This would leave open the question of the permanent site of the provincial capital, an uncertainty that was unwelcome to many members. Black criticised making provision for a second chamber in the new buildings, when the Fraser ministry had 'determined on abolishing the Legislative Council'. (In fact, it survived another twelve years: as Fraser pointed out, the upper house was 'an independent body, and could not be abolished by a mere wave of the hand.'). A temporary solution also made sense, since if Maritime Union went ahead, 'the capital would have to be changed again.' Essentially, Black's amendment placed the Saint John campaign in an anomalous position that reflected its own weakness. Wedderburn argued that 'the status quo had been destroyed by the destruction of the [legislative] buildings,' while arguing for a manoeuvre that contemplated patching up those same premises. Daily News editor Edward Willis, member for St John County, argued that the amendment would 'give time for people to consider the question.' Wedderburn was more explicit. Delaying a decision would enable members 'during the recess, [to] get up a vote in each County ... and come back next year reflecting the exact views of their constituents.' The Assembly was invited to sponsor a province-wide agitation that the forces of Saint John could not raise on their own. Blair offered a two-word comment on the prospect that the seat of government might become an election issue: 'God forbid.'

            Overall, the case for Saint John became remarkably thin when it was not being urged to an enthusiastic down-home audience. P-A. Landry, New Brunswick's first Acadian cabinet minister,[220] admitted that Saint John's complaint about access to the law courts had 'considerable weight,' but Fraser ignored the point altogether, and most members presumably put local convenience first. The major argument designed to appeal more widely was that railways had made Saint John the most convenient centre for access. 'Three quarters of the whole population had to pass through St. John to reach Fredericton,' said David McLellan, a St John County representative.[221] But that was easily dismissed as a temporary phenomenon. 'When the Miramichi Railway was built Fredericton would be more central than St. John,' Fraser pointed out, in what was denounced as a 'sop' to the North Shore.

Saint John's grievance against Governor Carleton seemed irrelevant. The question had never been settled, insisted Wedderburn, 'but merely kept in abeyance'. Saint John demanded the capital as 'a right or a matter of inheritance'. The claim failed on five counts. First, for all its occasional rhetoric about New Brunswick's Loyalist origins, the seventeen-eighties were simply not a practical reference point for public discourse a century later.[222] Second, it could be countered by an appeal to more recent tradition, expressed by the veteran Westmorland member Daniel Hanington, whose father had voted in the 1858 division on the issue (in fact, in favour of a commission of investigation). His assertion that '[the] question of location had been several times decided by the people in favour of Fredericton' was an exaggeration, although less so than Landry's belief that the claims of Saint John had been voted down by a large majority in 1858. Third, in their collective self-pity, enthusiasts for removal probably alienated neutral opinion by displaying scant sympathy for the existing seat of government. 'Removal would ruin Fredericton without benefiting St. John,' warned Hanington. Wedderburn let slip his contempt by stating that the Dominion government had located its offices in Saint John 'and not in some little town in the interior.' He foresaw 'temporary paralysis' in Fredericton, 'but that would not last long.' 'The removal of the troops didn't ruin Fredericton,' said Edward Willis, who was credited with suggesting that vacated government buildings might be converted into a glue factory. Fourth, there was suspicion that Saint John's proffered generosity might not materialise. Fraser claimed moving downriver would cost half a million dollars ('a puerile exaggeration,' said the Daily News), and that the Queens Square site was mortgaged to the city's bondholders. (The bondholders would not object, replied Saint John newspaperman William Elder,[223] since Queens Square 'yielded no revenue'.) Fifth, there was distrust of Saint John, pure and simple. Blair warned against 'allowing St. John to monopolise political as well as commercial power.' 'We felt the influence of St. John even here,' commented Landry. Fraser insisted that the demand for removal was the work of 'wirepullers' which 'found no echo in the generous heart of St. John.' But he was bold enough to make one point that infuriated his opponents. 'St. John should remember the generosity of the public toward her after the great fire and not seek to rob Fredericton of her rights.'

            The Assembly debate extended at intervals from Thursday 18 March to Tuesday 23 March. Although the vote was officially a choice between permanent and temporary accommodation in the existing capital, it was of course interpreted as a surrogate divide between the two cities – which Fredericton won by twenty votes to eighteen. Evidently, the vote might easily have gone the other way: the Saint John camp had counted on three members from Gloucester, Madawaska and Restigouche, each of whom voted for Fredericton. In a curious irony, Edward Willis did not take part in the division: his newspaper business had been under pressure since the 1877 fire, and he was frequently absent from the Assembly. Willis was paired with a Fredericton supporter from Northumberland County, a situation that would probably not have arisen had he been in town. The attitude of the Speaker, B.R. Stephenson, a St Andrews lawyer, can only be guessed, but it is possible that the outcome would have been closer had a northern New Brunswick politician been in the chair.[224] Of particular importance was Blair's decision not to exploit ministerial divisions: in the event, only the cabinet's two Saint John members, Wedderburn and Robert Marshall, voted for removal, although another supporter of removal, William Elder of St John County, was generally a close ally of Premier Fraser. Obviously, the fact that Blair was himself a York County representative limited his freedom of manoeuvre, but – always a shrewd political tactician – he may have reckoned that simply dislodging Fraser would not have solved the unwelcome issue of the capital's location.

However, once the might-have-beens are discarded, the underlying patterns perhaps seem predictable. Saint John city and county, Albert and King's cast a block of ten votes for removal, while York, Sunbury and Carleton were equally predictable and unanimous in their eight votes for the status quo. But outside the two fortress zones, opinion was divided. Back in 1858, Charlotte in the south west, and Westmorland in the east – eight members in total -- had voted solidly for the face-saving device of a commission of enquiry. In 1880, Charlotte gave just one vote for Saint John, while Westmorland split evenly between the two, with Landry and Hanington, both ministers, defying 'temporary excitement' among their constituents and winning warm gratitude from Fredericton.[225] At the mid-point of the St John valley, Queens gave one vote to each candidate. Upriver, the single-member counties of Madawaska and Victoria went for Fredericton, but Restigouche split its two votes: J.C. Barberie seems genuinely to have favoured delaying the decision on location until after the next general election. On the North Shore, Northumberland perhaps unexpectedly – given its interest in the Miramichi railway to Fredericton – voted two to one for Saint John. Kent's two members also divided, with Charles Sayre favouring Saint John while also feeling swayed by two arguments for delay, the possibility of Maritime Union and the likelihood of abolition of the Legislative Council. Although distant from Fredericton, Gloucester gave its two votes for the existing capital, as it had done both in 1848 and 1858.

Acadian support, representing an emerging force in New Brunswick politics, went to Fredericton. Landry had been educated there, and his wife was from a Fredericton family. Both Urbain Johnson, of Kent County, a sponsor of the first Acadian convention, at Memramcook in 1881, and Lévite Thériault, the member for Madawaska, voted for Fredericton.[226] Ferdinand Robidoux added the support of Le Moniteur Acadien.[227] Although slight, there was an Acadian presence in Fredericton. In 1878, the Normal School had begun a French programme, headed by Alphée Belliveau – not bilingual education, but a course designed to equip Acadian students to follow the English curriculum – but the enrolment was small. Overall, Acadian support for Fredericton was probably motivated by regional rather than cultural interests.[228]

In the Daily News, Edward Willis proclaimed that Saint John had won the argument and should fight on, but the reaction to the vote of the remarkably well-behaved Fredericton mob in the gallery proved to be not merely cheers of relief but of victory. When a new tri-weekly newspaper was launched later that year, it proudly called itself the Evening Capital. The new legislative building, of sandstone construction in French Second Empire style, was inaugurated in February 1882. Recalling that 'the removal of the seat of government would have inflicted a most serious injury on this city,' the Evening Capital rejoiced that the 'noble structure' guaranteed Fredericton's 'position as a capital city for long years to come'.[229] The new parliament cost $120,000 – a reminder that removal to Saint John would have been no cheap exercise, even with the incentives the rival city had offered.[230]

There was one small tailpiece to the long saga of New Brunswick's capital. During Tilley's second term as lieutenant-governor (1885-1893), Fredericton's Government House was closed as an economy measure, and Tilley operated from his own residence in Saint John. Hence, claimed his biographer James Hannay, 'the seat of government, so far as his presence was concerned, was transferred to that city.'[231] It might seem tempting to comment that the nineteenth century ended, as it had begun, with an element of ambiguity about the precise location of the New Brunswick capital. In fact, the lieutenant-governorship had become a decorative element in the provincial constitution. The office had returned to Fredericton by the time the governor-general and his wife visited the province in 1894. Lord and Lady Aberdeen were welcomed by the man who had saved the capital fourteen years earlier, John J. Fraser, recently appointed lieutenant-governor after a decade on the bench. 'The present Governor lives in his own house which is scarcely fitted for state entertainment,' noted Lady Aberdeen. Lord Aberdeen was the nephew of Arthur Gordon, the controversial colonial governor of the eighteen-sixties, and the viceregal couple were keen to visit the mansion 'where Uncle Arthur reigned.' They were sorry to find it abandoned and a casualty of government economy. 'It seems a great pity to let it decay, as it appears a charming English kind of house, with well proportioned rooms & very comfortable.'[232]

The Celestial City triumphant

With or without a resident lieutenant-governor, Fredericton's position as the New Brunswick capital seems to have been unassailable after 1882. The military presence returned the following year, albeit on a small scale, with the establishment of an infantry school for Canada's Permanent Force in the former British barracks.[233] Andrew G. Blair, who became premier in 1883, built a road bridge across the St John in 1884-5.[234] From July 1887, trains ran to Chatham on the Northern & Western railway, later (grandiloquently, if confusingly) renamed the Canada Eastern. A second government building, for departmental offices, was erected alongside the legislature in 1888.[235] A railway bridge followed soon after: when planning began in 1887, the Evening Capital predicted that it would be 'one of the finest in the world.'[236] However, it was a railway that ran almost entirely outside New Brunswick that eventually brought about major changes in the role of both Fredericton and Saint John. From June 1889, the Canadian Pacific Railway's 'Short Line' linked southern New Brunswick to Montreal through Maine and Quebec. Saint John did not immediately achieve its ambition to become Canada's winter port. Portland, Maine, Canada's year-round outlet for four decades, was 300 kilometres closer to Montreal; Halifax was several days' sailing closer to Europe. Lady Aberdeen was impressed by the place when she visited in 1897: 'very much a city, being full of manufacturers & looking very busy & grimy steamers, trains & factories whistling all around.'[237] But Saint John's position as a manufacturing centre was under threat from central Canadian competition and, from 1895 onward, the city used political leverage to secure dock facilities, subsidised shipping services and favourable freight rates to position itself as, in effect, an outport of Montreal, a development that made its interests diverge from much of the rest of New Brunswick. The process was helped by Blair's transfer to Ottawa politics in 1896, to become Laurier's minister for railways.[238] Thus the freight potential of the Short Line needed political interventions to benefit Saint John.

However, the line's ability to stimulate passenger traffic had a much earlier impact both upon the economy and the projected image of Fredericton. Given the time and cost involved in travelling to the Maritimes from other parts of North America, Fredericton was likely to be a minority destination. With just 325 hotel beds in 1897, the city needed to target upmarket visitors, preferably on a year-round basis, encouraging them to enjoy both the verdant New Brunswick summer and the winter season of moose and caribou hunting. A promotional booklet, published in 1897 by Fredericton's Tourist Committee, eagerly embraced the very stereotypes that had formerly been portrayed as negative influences on the political process. With its cathedral and university, Fredericton appealed to the culturally discriminating visitor, who would laugh at the 'Puritan pepperbox' that topped the provincial parliament, before inspecting the legislative library, with its copy of Audubon's Birds of North America. The population of Fredericton, 'this unique, half modern, half ancient little town,' included 'men of leisure and scholarly attainment, skilled in the social amenities'. The average citizen was 'content with his lot ... secure from sudden attacks of affluence ... [but] equally safe from the withering disaster that comes from reckless speculation.' The Fredericton mind was 'liberal in thought – conservative in action.' Thus the qualities that had formed a central part in Saint John's indictment forty years earlier, were now vaunted to promote the tourist destination that proudly embraced its once-mocking nickname, the 'Celestial City'.[239] Visitors embraced the image. A British official, touring Canada in 1914, found Saint John 'dingy' but reckoned Fredericton that equalled Charlottetown as the 'pleasantest' town in Canada. 'In the course of centuries, it might even resemble Oxford!'[240]

The twentieth century created a new internal balance of provincial forces, making earlier rivalries seem less relevant. The automobile rendered the distance between the two cities, while the rise of Acadian New Brunswick underlined the shared anglophone identity of the middle and lower St John valley. The concept of single-function communities probably became more familiar, as Sackville flourished as a college town, Dorchester was associated with the penitentiary, while Moncton grew first as a railway centre and then as a symbol, if sometimes a contested one, of French New Brunswick. The growth of the provincial State from mid-century meant the expansion of Fredericton. The process sometimes seemed to be self-generating, as when the provincial power corporation shifted its headquarters from Saint John in 1949. By 1990, of 75 New Brunswick government agencies, 63 had headquarters in the capital, with only eight based in Saint John.[241] Fredericton also benefited from the growth of the University of New Brunswick. The transfer of St Thomas University to Fredericton in 1964 was one indication of the capital's strength in higher education. Another was the long-running Saint John campaign for a co-equal campus within UNB, which had some echoes of the city's previous bids for the seat of government. Carl Wallace was harsh in his 1976 allusion to the 'humiliating wail for federal subsidies' that characterised Saint John's twentieth-century self-promotion,[242] but the insouciant confidence that had once sought to brush Fredericton aside was no longer evident. In 1861, Saint John contained five times as the population of Fredericton. By 2011, the gap had narrowed: Fredericton counted 94,268 people to Saint John's 127,761. Moncton, with a population of 138,644, had overtaken them both.[243]

The seat of government issue in perspective

The seat of government controversies throw some light, mainly confirmatory, on interpretation of New Brunswick's institutions of government and political culture. Prior to the eighteen-forties, no lieutenant-governor would have agreed to remove the capital from Fredericton, simply because the political office was combined with command of the troops, and both were directed from London. Hence, a Fredericton newspaper launched in 1843 was the Head Quarters, while a successor from 1881 was the Capital. Later governors, whether appointed from London or from Ottawa, might have grumbled at the upheaval, but it is doubtful whether they would have any title to object. British military authorities might perhaps have doubted the wisdom of transferring the seat of government to Saint John, but the parallels of Halifax and St John's Newfoundland would have been counter-argued against them. Since no Assembly voted to go to Saint John, the role of the Legislative Council can only be guessed. Although the 1848 move included a gesture of support from one member of the upper house, it is highly possible that the pre-Confederation second chamber would have blocked or at least delayed removal, arguing against the cost and relying upon a lack of enthusiasm for the move in the upper St John valley and on the North Shore. In 1880, its potential response would have been harder to predict. On the one hand, already threatened with abolition, the Legislative Council might have been tempted to allow the Assembly to incur the penalties of its own folly; on the other, its members might have seen removal either as an issue on which to go down fighting, or one that could demonstrate the utility of their accumulated wisdom. Government, of course, was something more than legislators. It is striking how little discussion there seems to have been about the functioning of the provincial bureaucracy, especially in 1858-9, a curious oversight given that in the province of Canada, with its alternating capital system from 1849, the inconvenience of packing up files and shifting offices every five years was increasingly argued as the key reason to select a permanent capital. Thomas Murray's minority report denounced his colleagues for failing to take account of the need even for so obvious a facility as fireproof storage for official files. There was more attention to cost of shifting the provincial civil service in 1880, in some respects a puzzling development since many areas of administration had been transferred to Ottawa under Confederation.

Rivalry over the capital also illustrated the limits of cabinet government in New Brunswick politics. In 1857, Fredericton had feared that the Smasher principle of caucus solidarity would enable Saint John to ram through its demands and have them tamely ratified in the Assembly by party vote. In fact, both in 1858 and in the looser cabinet alliance of 1880, ministers divided, arguing both sides of the question, demonstrating that their primary loyalty was to their constituencies. Obviously, it was Fredericton's good fortune that on both occasions, the premier was a York County representative – Fisher in 1858, Fraser in 1880. However, there was something of the charade about the use of independent members to raise the issue: after 1856-7, when the Assembly conceded control over the initiation of money votes to the Crown, at some point ministers would have been forced to take a collective decision and propose the expenditure of the large sum of money required to ship legislators and administrators down river. Partelow's opposition to the idea in 1848, and the abandonment of the campaign on receipt of the commission report in 1859, both indicate that it was by no means likely that any cabinet would have moved beyond gesture to action.

The counterpart of ministerial reluctance to adopt a collective line on an issue of such importance as the location of the capital was, of course, the compulsive localism of provincial politics. 'The different counties hate each other,' Gordon commented in 1862, '& they all unite in hating &abusing Halifax,' but there was little sense of collective identity as New Brunswickers.[244] Most of the province, it would seem, felt a similar if latent dislike for their own largest city. Hannay's allusion to the 'friends of Fredericton,' who saved the city in 1880, was a polite exaggeration. Fredericton did indeed have its phalanx of core support. In the three votes of 1848, 1858 and 1880, York, Sunbury and Carleton cast 29 of their 30 votes, with one abstention, in support of the status quo. More widely, however, support for Fredericton was probably based on three elements One was the hard-headed calculation that sale of its real estate would not finance a new capitol in Saint John. Another was that whatever its shortcomings, Fredericton was a more central location for the North Shore and upriver counties. The third reason had little to do with the merits of Fredericton and everything to do with suspicion of the power and pretensions of Saint John. Indeed, the city and county themselves were never as solid in supporting their pretensions as the central St John valley was in resisting them. Casting a total of eighteen votes in the three Assembly divisions, they managed to give only 13 in support of removal, with two against and three abstentions. Their strongest support came from the Fundy axis of Albert and Westmorland, but even here removal gained only 14 of the 18 available votes, with three supporting Fredericton and one abstention. In other directions, Saint John's attractions proved even more resistible. On the face of it, Charlotte's twelve votes went 5 for Saint John and 6 for Fredericton, but there was evidence that their four-nil vote for the commission of enquiry in 1858 was a compromise move to sideline the question, rather than a full-hearted endorsement. Although far behind Saint John in tonnage handled, St Andrews was New Brunswick's second port, with ambitions to develop its own hinterland.[245] If the four Charlotte votes of 1858 are regarded as simply a diversionary exercise, the county's lack of enthusiasm for any further transfer of influence to neighbouring Saint John is striking. Similarly, the lower St John valley counties of Kings and Queens were resistant to the pull of the port city: Kings cast 6 of its nine votes for Saint John, with 2 for Fredericton, but only one of the six Queens votes went downriver, with four for the existing capital. In the remaining eastern and northern arc from Kent to the upper St John, 21 of the 32 votes went to Fredericton, 9 to Saint John.

As Acheson commented, Saint John 'never had been able to play a significant role on the north shore of its own province.'[246] Indeed, in its attempts to annex the seat of government, Saint John did not make much attempt to harness goodwill from the outer fringes of New Brunswick. The 1846 threat to seize the capital 'by storm' was bombast, but of a revealing kind. Petitions in 1848 were impressively supported in Westmorland and Albert, but no substitute for a province-wide demand for action. Supporters of the 1880 upsurge seem to have had no idea how the rest of New Brunswick would respond. Worse still, Saint John's arguments for acquiring the capital too often had the flavour of a community talking to itself. Prior to Confederation, there were social and ideological grounds for condemning the elitist and somnolent atmosphere of the existing seat of government, but in 1880 the city's representatives in the Assembly seemed impatient at the impertinence of Fredericton's very existence. The 1880 argument, that railways had made Saint John the real centre of the province, was not only transient – as Fraser riposted, the Miramichi line would restore Fredericton's central position – but it draws attention to the city's earlier lack of concern with the additional inconvenience that would be imposed upon North Shore and upriver representatives had it captured the capital. In arguing that the appeal courts should be located in their city, a major element in the 1880 case, Saint John partisans clearly gave no thought to the likely response of interior small-town businessmen, who probably already thought themselves at a disadvantage in any dispute with its powerful merchants.

The seat of government controversy might seem long buried in the distant past, but there is a sense in which it leaves its mark upon modern Canada. In 1864, as the movement for Confederation began, both Canadian and Nova Scotian politicians initially envisaged a union of three roughly equal units, comprising the re-divided province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec) and a Maritime Union, probably to be called 'Acadia'. New Brunswick's delegates blocked this neat blueprint, citing the seat of government issue as one of their concerns. In fact, by the eighteen-sixties, the tripartite federation would have operated with one leg notably shorter than the other two: both Ontario and Quebec had populations of over a million, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick combined fell short of 700,000. (Prince Edward Island, which quickly fell by the wayside on the road to Confederation, would have made little difference demographically.) Because the long-running rivalry over the New Brunswick capital has largely disappeared from the history books, the plea of internal jealousies over the seat of government in a Maritime Union may appear as a polite cover that enabled the New Brunswickers to avoid expressing distrust for their neighbours. But factoring in the disputes that had arisen during the responsible government era makes it possible to appreciate the wary attitude adopted by Tilley and Chandler. To have Fredericton and Saint John squabbling over the location of the New Brunswick legislature was a divisive complication. To have both cities opposing a project that would remove the local administration beyond their boundaries altogether was to invite the rejection of British North American union. Hence the Dominion would be born with four asymmetrical provinces, a model that made it easier to accommodate new units with sparse populations. Of the six provinces that joined Canada in the 82 years after 1867, only Newfoundland in 1949 had more people than New Brunswick in 1867. (Saskatchewan had about the same.)

The timing of the three formal bids to relocate the seat of government merits some comment. Part of the argument advanced by Saint John in 1848 was that the imminent introduction of responsible government, with a full cabinet system, would require an adequate pool of potential ministers that only a large and thriving city could provide. Not only was this dismissive of the rest of the province, but it was also premature, and might have been more effective if urged after a couple of parliamentary sessions had demonstrated the personnel pressures of the new system. However, the 1848 campaign preceded two episodes which undoubtedly undermined whatever attractiveness Saint John possessed, the 1849 riots and the 1854 cholera epidemic. It could be argued that Saint John – with the most effective, and indeed almost the only, structure of local government in the colony – did not handle either challenge well, both in its response to the immediate crises and in taking remedial action during the aftermath. The 1858 move was unluckily timed in other respects. On the one hand, the recent concession to the Crown of control over initiating money votes placed restrictions on the decision-making of Assembly members. On the other, the railway to Shediac was not yet complete. Had Albert J. Smith made his move after his October 1862 cabinet resignation, he might have presented Saint John as a more convenient capital for the North Shore, perhaps also driving a wedge between the premier, S.L. Tilley, and his Fredericton lieutenant, G.L. Hatheway: the split between them that did emerge in 1864-5 seriously threatened New Brunswick's adhesion to Confederation. The timing of Saint John's 1880 attempt was dictated by the accident of the fire in the legislative building. Fortuitously, it came at almost exactly the moment when Saint John's brief construction boom after the great fire of 1877 was starting to falter, and it can be viewed alternatively either as an expression of misplaced confidence or of sudden insecurity regarding the city's future. Although rapidly and impressively supported in Saint John, the campaign was not deeply thought out, and apparently made no attempt to sell itself across the province. The rapid discovery that the existing buildings in Fredericton might in fact be repaired undercut its basic claim that the province faced expenditure anyway and might as well spend its cash in Saint John.

The sudden excitement of 1880 raises a second question about timing: how far did the three episodes represent a continuous sense of injustice in Saint John, a live tradition that stretched all the way back to Governor Carleton's removal in 1787? Premier Fraser was no doubt unfair to dismiss the 1880 outcry as the work of 'wirepullers,' but it does seem that the sense of historical grievance so eloquently expressed by Joseph W. Lawrence had at most a latent existence in the minds of many Saint John citizens. From a post-Confederation political generation, George E. King knew little of the prehistory, while the previous bids could be closely identified with specific individuals, J.W. Ritchie in 1848 and Albert J. Smith – an anti-Fredericton politician rather than a Saint John booster – ten years later. On balance, it seems unlikely that loss of its status as the capital was a major continuing concern in a busy commercial metropolis, with some evidence that the Saint John business community even affected indifference to the legislative process. On the other hand, the uncertainty associated with the latent threat to its status probably harmed Fredericton, as L.A. Wilmot complained in 1848, and G.E. Fenety observed in 1867. However, Saint John was not the only cause of Fredericton's insecurity: Maritime Union, however much a will-o'-the-wisp, would also not be good news for a small city on the western periphery of the Atlantic region.

Perhaps in the final resort, three elements may be identified to explain how Fredericton managed to fend off challenges to its status as New Brunswick's seat of government. One, postulated by J.M.S. Careless in relation to Toronto, was inertia: once a location was selected, considerable and united force was required to change it. In a province as diverse as New Brunswick, it was unlikely that a durable coalition of mutually suspicious localities would ever hold together for long enough to deprive Fredericton of its primacy. The second consideration was cost. Nineteenth-century New Brunswick was not a rich community, but it was ambitious for railways. When forced in 1859 and 1880 to confront the likely cost of relocating its capital to a large and expensive city, its representatives backed away from a costly vanity project. The irony is that Fredericton was saved partly because it was economically under-powered: nobody seriously argued that removal to Saint John could be financed by selling existing government real estate. Yet the third theme is the one that underlies the whole controversy – the mismatch between Saint John and the province that it sought to dominate. The core explanation of the saga lies in the configuration of New Brunswick itself. So wide and deep ran the felt need to counterbalance Saint John that, if Fredericton had not existed, it would necessary to have invented it. Indeed, it might be concluded that New Brunswick did invent its capital. And, in the long run, it probably made the correct decision.


[1] W.S. MacNutt, New Brunswick: A History: 1784-1867 (Toronto, 1982 ed.), 57-8 [cited as MacNutt]. Fredericton was previously called Saint Anne's, and was initially renamed Frederick's Town. In 1849, the distance between the two places was stated to be 75 miles (120 kilometres) by river and 66 miles (106 kilometres) by road. Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of New Brunswick, 1849, 52. ). [Journals are cited below in short form, JHA, and by year.]

A brief note on terminology. In common with other British North American colonies, New Brunswick had a 'seat of government,' not a capital. As part of the Empire, its capital was London. I use the term 'capital' occasionally and informally to avoid unnecessary repetition. I have also followed the modern convention of referring to the city as 'Saint John,' but the County and river as St John. I follow the British practice of omitting a full stop for the abbreviation, as it contains a first and last letter and should be distinguished from the short form of 'street'. Some quotations do not conform to these usages. The governor of New Brunswick was officially styled 'lieutenant-governor' from 1786. In pre-Confederation usage I have generally simplified the title. Where the concluding part of a complete sentence is quoted within my own sentence structure, I close with full stop + quotation mark. Where the wording quoted continues within the original sentence, I use quotation mark + full stop.

[2] D.G. Bell, Early Loyalist Saint John: The Origins of New Brunswick Politics 1783-1786 (Fredericton, 1983), 99.

[3] MacNutt, 57. The point is echoed by Ann Gorman Condon in Phillip A. Buckner and John G. Reid, eds, The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History (Toronto and Fredericton, 1994), 192.

[4]W.G. Godfrey, 'Thomas Carleton,' Dictionary of Canadian Biography [cited as DCB], v. DCB volumes may be consulted on line via Hence I have omitted page references.

[5] James S. Buckingham, Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Other British Provinces in America, with a Plan of National Colonization (London, 1843), 420.

[6] Native people camped in large numbers around Fredericton in 1786, implicitly to intimidate the legal process during a murder case.

[7] Godfrey, 'Thomas Carleton'.

[8] P. Buckner, 'Jonathan Bliss,' DCB, vi.

[9] J. Snowdon, 'Amos Botsford,' DCB, v.

[10] MacNutt, 64, 99, 112.

[11] Petition from the Reverend Ferdinand Gavreau et al., JHA, 1848, 166 (15 February 1848).

[12] MacNutt, 95-6, 130.

[13] MacNutt, 226, 236, 341. Attorney-General Thomas Wetmore had to be ordered to move to Fredericton in 1813, but Simonds refused to obey instructions to quit Saint John in 1832. P. Buckner, 'Thomas Wetmore,' DCB, vi; D.M. Young, 'Richard Simonds,' DCB, vii.

[14] G. E. Fenety, Political Notes: A Glance at the Leading Measures Carried in the House of Assembly of New Brunswick from the Year 1854., (1894), a compilation of columns from Progress (Saint John), 19, 26 May 1894.

[15] D.M. Young, 'George Stracey Smyth,' DCB, vi.

[16] MacNutt, 189-90; A.G. Condon, 'George Leonard,' DCB, vi.

[17] JHA, 1848, 333. The session was held in the Saint John Court House on 30 March 1848. The episode was recalled by historian J.W. Lawrence in 1880: Saint John Daily News, 9 March 1880.

[18] James F.W. Johnston, Notes on North America (2 vols, Boston, 1853), i, 45. A writer of 1834 defined 'intervale' for British readers. 'This term, which is frequently used in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and other colonies, is applied to land so situated, with respect to some adjacent river or stream, as to be occasionally overflowed, and thus enjoy the advantage of alluvial deposits.' In fact, this New England word seems particularly characteristic of descriptions of New Brunswick, an indication of American cultural influences in the province. R. Montgomery Martin, History of Nova Scotia... (London, 1837), 134n.

[19] Martin, History of Nova Scotia..., 148. See also Buckingham, Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick..., 417.

[20] In 1894, the steamboat journey took 7 to 10 hours: vessels were 'old and slow ... and seem to call at almost every farmhouse on the river'. K. Baedeker, Dominion of Canada... (Leipsic, 1894), 129.

[21] C.L. Hatheway, The History of New Brunswick ... (Fredericton, 1846), 41.

[22] Johnston, Notes on North America, i, 46.

[23] MacNutt, 102.

[24] MacNutt, 85; map of population distribution in 1851, Graeme Wynn, Timber Colony: A Historical Geography of Early Nineteenth Century New Brunswick (Toronto, 1981), 151.

[25] 'An excellent Road affords communication between [Northumberland County] and the Seat of Government.' JHA, 1849, 53.

[26] Chatham Gleaner, 28 January 1850.

[27] Quoted, W.G. Godfrey, 'James Glenie and the Politics of Sunbury County', in Larry McCann, ed., People and Place: Studies of Small Town Life in the Maritimes (Fredericton and Sackville, 1987), 27. Glenie's 'Credo' was apparently written c. 1803.

[28] Wallace Brown, 'William Cobbett,' DCB, vi.

[29] William Cobbett (ed. G. Woodcock), Rural Rides (Harmondsworth, UK, 1967 ed.), 283-4.

[30] Buckingham, Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, 419.

[31] Abraham Gesner, New Brunswick, with Notes for Emigrants (London, 1847), 161. MacNutt, 264, for instances of Fredericton rowdyism.

[32] St Croix Herald, undated, in HQ, 13 April 1859.

[33] C.M. Wallace, 'Sir Albert James Smith,' DCB, xi.

[34] A.G. Bailey, ed, The Letters of James and Ellen Robb: Portrait of a Fredericton Family in Early Victorian Times (Fredericton, 1983), 25 (letter of 26 February 1839).

[35] MacNutt, 370.

[36] D.G.G Kerr, Sir Edmund Head: A Scholarly Governor (Toronto, 1954), 103; L.D. McCann, 'The 1840s: Decade of Tribulation', in Buckner and Reid, eds, The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History, 320.

[37] Hugh G. Thorburn, The Politics of New Brunswick (Toronto, 1961), 4, 150. Thorburn rightly focused on what he called 'the reappearance of the Acadians,' a power shift which reduced the importance of rivalries within the St John valley.

[38] T.W. Acheson, Saint John: The Making of a Colonial Urban Community (Toronto, 1985).

[39] Kerr, Scholarly Governor, 94 (letter of Sir Edmund Head, 9 December 1851) and William M. Baker, Timothy Warren Anglin 1822-96: Irish Catholic Canadian (Toronto, 1977), 28 (Saint John Morning Freeman, 18 January 1862) .

[40] The Times (London), 4 October 1860.

[41]Larry McCann's comparison of the challenges facing the two cities in the late nineteenth century makes no mention of Halifax's status as a capital, no doubt a reasonable reflection of the limited economic impact of provincial government structures. Saint John, according to McCann, was more effective in exploiting its influence in Dominion politics. Larry McCann, 'The 1890s: Fragmentation and the New Social Order' in E.R. Forbes and D.A. Muise, eds, The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation (Toronto, 1993), 148-52.

[42] E.A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of John Graves Simcoe, iv: 1795-1796 (Toronto, 1926), 201.

[43] J.M.S. Careless, Toronto to 1918: An Illustrated History (Toronto, 1984), 23, 54, 62.

[44] Confidential memorandum by Sir Edmund Head, 1858, David B. Knight, Choosing Canada’s Capital: Conflict Resolution in a Parliamentary System (Ottawa, 1991), 253.

[45] MacNutt, 223; Saint John, New Brunswick Museum, Tilley Papers, 5/2, Gordon to Tilley, 13 October 1862.

[46] C.M. Wallace, 'William Hayden Needham,' DCB, x; Acheson, Saint John, 190-4.

[47] C.M. Wallace, 'George Edward Fenety,' DCB, xii. Although primarily associated with Saint John, John R. Partelow appears to have been effectively resident at Fredericton after 1848.

[48] Knight, Choosing Canada’s Capital, 253. Comparison may also be made with the South African colony, Natal, where the seat of government, Pietermaritzburg, was located 80 kilometres inland from the port, Durban. Pietermaritzburg had been the capital of the Afrikaner republic annexed by the British in 1843, with some overlap between the two regimes. Unlike Fredericton, the town was an important link on a major route to the interior. Durban's development as a port was hampered by a harbour bar, which was not effectively tackled until the 1890s. In 1887, in an era when few Africans or Indians were urbanised, the white population of Pietermaritzburg (9,251) exceeded that of Durban (8,762). E.H. Brookes and C. De B. Webb, A History of Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1965), 48, 52, 79, 158, 161-2.

[49] Acheson, Saint John, 252, 21. The figures were 10,300 in 1824 and 38,817 in 1861.

[50] A. Munro, New Brunswick; with a Brief Outline of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (Halifax, 1855), 164.

[51] The figure (5,652) was for Fredericton parish, in which about 6 percent of the employed population worked in agriculture. JHA,1862, 136-7.

[52] Abraham Gesner, New Brunswick, with Notes for Emigrants (London, 1847), 161.

[53] Letters from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Edinburgh, 1829), 141.

[54] Geoffrey Bilson, 'The Cholera Epidemic in Saint John, N.B., 1854,' Acadiensis, iv (1974), 85-99.

[55] Acheson, Saint John, 205-12.

[56] Bilson, 'The Cholera Epidemic in Saint John,' 97-8.

[57] Scott W. See, Riots in New Brunswick: Orange Nativism and Social Violence in the 1840s (Toronto, 1993), 147-82, 133-46.

[58] E.g. Fredericton Head Quarters [cited as HQ], 23 February 1859.

[59] Gordon M. Winder, 'Trouble in the North End: The Geography of Social Violence in Saint John, 1840-1860,' Acadiensis, xxix (2000), 27-57.

[60] Buckingham, Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, 416.

[61] C.L. Hatheway, The History of New Brunswick... (Fredericton, 1846), 41. Hatheway was the father of G.L. Hatheway, a prominent anti-Confederation York County politician. J.M. Whalen, 'Calvin Luther Hatheway,' DCB, ix.

[62] James E. Alexander, L’Acadie; or, Seven Years’ Explorations in British America (2 vols, London, 1849), i, 88.

[63] University of New Brunswick, Stanmore Papers, 4, diary, 26 October 1861.

[64] C.W. Atkinson, A Historical and Statistical Account of New Brunswick ... (Edinburgh, 1844), 77.

[65] Munro, New Brunswick, 164; E.L. Swanick, 'Alexander Monro,' DCB, xii.

[66] A. L. Spedon, Rambles Among the Bluenoses (Montreal, 1863), 72. When a major militia camp broke up in 1864, one Fredericton hotelier told a volunteer soldier: 'We are going to buy a few thousand feet of cheap boards.' When asked why, he explained: 'To board the city up after you go.' Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society, x (1919), 323-4.

[67] Bailey, ed., Robb Letters, 40 (18 September 1839).

[68] Atkinson, Historical and Statistical Account of New Brunswick, 76-7.

[69] G.E. Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, (Fredericton, 1867) , 265. Fenety's refusal to identify the speaker suggests that he was still active in public life in 1867.

[70] Bailey, ed., Robb Letters, 8 (18 March 1838).

[71] Gesner, New Brunswick, 161.

[72] Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 265.

[73] MacNutt, 280.

[74] UK National Archives, CO 188//89, minute of 26 December 1844, fo. 128, quoted Paul Knaplund, James Stephen and the British Colonial System 1813-1847 (Westport, Conn., 1974 ed.), 170.

[75] Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 191-2.

[76] At the same time, the two cities vied for the relocation of the provincial lunatic asylum, as the original Saint John building required reconstruction. Fredericton argued its central position, adding that its role as seat of government would ensure effective inspection of the facility. Its favourable climate was free of the 'depressing and unhealthy fogs' that infested Saint John. Moreover, since Saint John formed 'the most densely populated section of the Province', it would also generate the largest number of patients. Since medical opinion declared that the mentally ill should 'be removed not only from their associates, but also from their customary haunts and usual occupations', it would be a kindness to bring them to Fredericton. The report shows that Fredericton was capable of counter-bidding for a Saint John facility, although this document was produced in response to a consultation exercise, which also invited bids from Gagetown and Sussex Vale. The Fredericton case was made by two local physicians, G.M. Odell and J.B. Toldervey, and magistrate and watchmaker, R. Wolhaupter. Journals of the House of Assembly, 1845, lxxx-lxxxi (undated report); Bailey, ed., Robb Letters, 162, 165; D.C. Mackay, 'Benjamin Wolhaupter,' DCB, viii. The cathedral was erected in Fredericton and the asylum was rebuilt in Saint John.

[77] MacNutt, 305, but see Acheson, Saint John, 130.

[78] Kerr, Sir Edmund Head, 56; W.Q. Ketchum, The Life and Work of the Most Reverend John Medley... (Saint John, 1893), 65. Some of the controversy surrounding Medley arose from his challenges to the local elite, including his insistence that all sittings in his new cathedral should be free and not reserved to pew-holders. One member of his flock threatened to horsewhip him in retaliation. M.H. & T.E. Blom, eds, Canada Home: Juliana Horatia Ewing’s Fredericton Letters, 1867-1869 (Vancouver, 1983), 155.

[79] Acheson, Saint John, 128-9; Barry L. Craig, Apostle to the Wilderness: Bishop John Medley and the Evolution of the Anglican Church (Madison. NJ, 2005), 56-8.

[80] 'Celestial city' had earlier been a mocking Fredericton nickname for Saint John, HQ, 28 August, 11 September 1844.

[81] MacNutt, 301; Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 264-5.

[82] Spedon, Rambles Among the Bluenoses, 74.

[83] John Garner, The Franchise and Politics in British North America 1755-1867 (Toronto, 1969) 58-9.

[84] A key word search of the on-line Journals of the House of Assembly for 1822-30 does not reveal any motion or petition.

[85] JHA, 1826, 19-20.

[86] MacNutt, 257-62; W.S. MacNutt, 'New Brunswick's Age of Harmony: the Administration of Sir John Harvey,' Canadian Historical Review, xxxii (1951).

[87] MacNutt, 293, gives no date, but implies c.1847.

[88] C.M. Wallace, 'Saint John Boosters and Railroads in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,' Acadiensis, vi (1976), 71-91.

[89] Judith Fingard, 'The Emergence of the Saint John Middle Class in the 1840s,' Acadiensis, xvii (1987), 163-9.

[90] JHA, 1844, 309. Identifications from Acheson, Saint John.

[91] Acheson, Saint John, 224-5.

[92] HQ (Fredericton), 18 April 1845. UK Parliamentary Papers, 1857-8, 2441, converted £1 at $4.80. Although rates varied, this figure is used to calculate dollar equivalents for amounts given in pounds. A complication is that the New Brunswick £ was worth less than Britain's £ sterling. Albert J. Smith clashed with Governor Gordon in 1864, frustrating the latter's demand to have his salary paid in sterling. Wallace, 'Sir Albert James Smith,' DCB, xi.

[93] MacNutt, 287-9.

[94] HQ, 7 October 1846.

[95] Saint John Morning News, 9 October 1846.

[96] G. Bale and E.B. Mellett, 'William Johnstone Ritchie,' DCB, xii. Ritchie was later chief justice of Canada.

[97] JHA, 1847, 362 (13 April 1847).

[98] Journal of the Legislative Council of New Brunswick, 1847, 172; L.M. Oulton, 'Amos Edwin Botsford,' DCB, xii.

[99] Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 265n.

[100] JHA, 1848, 258 (17 March 1848).

[101] Gesner, New Brunswick, 161.

[102] Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 265.

[103] HQ, 14 April 1847; JHA, 1847, 362 (13 April 1847). This episode may have contributed to poor relations between Ritchie and L.A. Wilmot. In 1866, Ritchie's appointment as chief justice of New Brunswick, despite Wilmot's seniority on the bench, was a factor in the resignation of his cousin, R.D. Wilmot, from Albert J. Smith's anti-Confederation ministry. This in turn became a complication in the province's adjustment to British North American union.

[104] JHA, 1848, 166 (15 February 1848). The two petitions were impressively supported. Gail G. Campbell reported 493 Albert residents as qualified to vote in tax assessments for 1847. Her calculation was limited to men also listed in the 1851 census, suggesting a total electorate perhaps in excess of 500. She also found that about one fifth of eligible voters abstained in all six elections between 1846 and 1856. The 362 signatories, comprising two thirds of the potential electorate, therefore represented a very high proportion of politically aware residents. Gail C. Campbell, 'The Most Restrictive Franchise in British North America? A Case Study,' Canadian Historical Review, lxxi (1990), 159-88, esp. 175, 169. A petition from 500 inhabitants of Westmorland was also presented to the upper house. Journal of the Legislative Council of New Brunswick, 1848, 272.

[105] Saint John New Brunswick Courier, 1 January 1848, quoted MacNutt, 293. See more generally, W.S. MacNutt, 'The Coming of Responsible Government to New Brunswick,' Canadian Historical Review, xxxiii (1952).

[106] In 1850, Sir Edmund Head commented on the problems of convening the nine-member Executive Council. The provincial secretary, attorney general and solicitor general were 'usually' at Fredericton, where a fourth member, Charles Fisher, resided. But the quorum for even formal business was five, and the remaining members lived at Miramichi, Dorchester, Shediac, St Stephen and Saint John, variously between 65 and 170 miles (105 to 175 kilometres) from Fredericton. For responsible government to function effectively, it 'must be worth the while of competent men to attend to the business of the public rather than to their own affairs'. Head to Earl Grey, 6 November 1850, extracts in JHA, 1851, 149. In Head's analysis, the location of the capital was relatively unimportant. If the New Brunswick public wanted effective responsible government, 'they must in some manner pay the men who give up their time to the public service,' Kerr, Sir Edmund Head, 77(despatch of 10 February 1851).

[107] JHA, 1848, 258 (18 March 1848).

[108] MacNutt, 293; JHA, 1848, 260 (20 March 1848). Fenety gave the vote as 26 to 8, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 280.

[109] Head's despatch of 31 March 1849, in Kerr, Sir Edmund Head, 47.

[110] P.R. Lindo, 'Robert Leonard Hazen,' DCB, x.      

[111] W.S. MacNutt, 'John Richard Partelow,' DCB, xi. Partelow held no formal office until he was appointed provincial secretary in 1848. He seems then to have moved to Fredericton, where he had a house by 1850. In the election of that year, he was narrowly defeated in St John County. HQ, 26 June, 10 July 1850.

[112] HQ, 12 June 1850, quoting Courier, undated.

[113] HQ, 30 October 1850, quoting Courier, undated; G.L. Parker, 'Henry Chubb,' DCB. Chubb was the last Saint John mayor to be appointed by the provincial government.

[114] HQ, 13, 20 November 1850.

[115] HQ, 18 July 1855, 11 March, 1 April, 7 May 1857.

[116] Bale and Mellett, 'William Johnstone Ritchie.'

[117] Courier, 1 January 1848, quoted MacNutt, 293.

[118] The argument was unfair, since the Catholic Irish were victims of a nativist Orange assault. In Fredericton, rowdies associated with 'the official party' had attacked guests returning from Government House in 1840, and shouting from the galleries had disrupted debates on the Reade affair in 1845. Shocked Fredericton opinion helped shame the Assembly after it had refused, in a brief outbreak of parsimonious radicalism, to vote money for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1860. It is probable that legislators would have encountered a similar loyal public opinion at Saint John. MacNutt, 264, 288, 377.

[119] HQ, 1 April 1857, 13 April 1859.

[120] New Brunswick Reporter, 6 April 1849, quoted Wallace, 'Saint John Boosters,' 79.

[121] Wallace, 'Saint John Boosters,' 79-86.

[122] MacNutt, 354-63.

[123] HQ, 1 April 1857.

[124] Confidential despatch of 3 March 1859, MacNutt, 357.

[125] HQ, 29 April 1857.

[126] HQ, 6 May 1857; R. Rice, 'William Wright,' DCB, x.

[127] HQ, 7 April 1858.

[128] MacNutt, 364-5

[129] MacNutt, 386.

[130] JHA, 1858, 220 (26 March 1858).

[131] HQ, 7 April 1858.

[132] The debate was summarised by Fenety's 1894 compilation, Political Notes, columns from Progress (Saint John), 19, 26 May 1894; End's speech, HQ, 14 April 1858. See also B. Pothier, 'William End,' DCB, xi.

[133] JHA, 1858, 243 (1 April 1858).

[134] End's speech, HQ, 14 April 1858. Recalling Saint John in the 1850s, J.W. Millidge wrote that 'dead cats was [sic] considered a natural feature' in the streets. Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society, x (1919), 131.

[135] HQ, 14 April 1858.

[136] HQ, 14 April 1858.

[137] Fenety, Political Notes (Progress, 19 May 1894).

[138] Woodstock Journal, undated, quoted HQ, 14 April 1858.

[139] JHA, 1858, 220 (26 March 1858).

[140] HQ, 31 March 1858; K. Wilson, 'Arthur Hill Gillmor,' DCB, xiii.

[141] JHA, 1858, 222 (27 March 1858).

[142] Harding would be one of the prime movers of the Saint John campaign in 1880. Saint John Daily News, 9 March 1880.

[143] W.A. Spray, 'John McMillan,' DCB, xi.

[144] HQ, 7 April 1858.

[145] Fenety, Political Notes (Progress, 26 May 1894). As the Head Quarters (31 March 1858) sarcastically put it, 'we are a helpless and degenerate race.'

[146] Chatham Gleaner, 4 December 1858.

[147] JHA, 1858, 230 (31 March 1858).

[148] Letter from 'Z', HQ, 31 March 1858; C,M. Wallace, 'John Robertson,' DCB, xi.

[149] JHA, 1859, appendix, dcix-dcxi. Majority report by John Robertson, George W. Porter and William S. Caie, minority report by George Murray, both dated 2 March 1859.

[150] Majority report, JHA, 1859, dcix-dcxi.

[151] Minority report, JHA, 1859, dcxi. In 1848, L.A. Wilmot had claimed removal would cost at least £70,000 ($336,000), Fenety, Political Notes and Observations..., i, 281.

[152] JHA, 1859, 137 (14 March 1859); Fenety, Political Notes (Progress, 9 June 1894). The Chatham Gleaner (19 March 1859) reported that the Assembly barely achieved a quorum.

[153] UK Parliamentary Papers, 1857-8, 2441, Statistical Tables, 97.

[154] Fenety, Political Notes (Progress, 9 June 1894).

[155] HQ, 29 December 1858.

[156] The Gleaner (Chatham), 26 March 1859.

[157] Majority report, JHA, 1859, dcxi.

[158] HQ, 31 March 1858.

[159] W.M. Whitelaw, The Maritimes and Canada before Confederation (ed. P.B. Waite, Toronto, 1966, first published 1934).

[160] MacNutt, 484.

[161] Whitelaw, Maritimes and Canada before Confederation (ed. Waite), 129.

[162] Confidential despatch, 2 October 1858, Whitelaw, Maritimes and Canada before Confederation (ed. Waite), 132.

[163] MacNutt, 484.

[164] Tupper's undated notes, G.P. Browne, ed., Documents on the Confederation of British North America (Toronto, 1969), 39-40.

[165] Browne, ed., Documents, 58; HQ, 1 March 1865.

[166] HQ, 18 November 1868.

[167] Morning Freeman, 4 August 1860.

[168] Quoted Morning Telegraph, 16 January 1865, in Wallace, 'Saint John Boosters,' 73.

[169] Fenety, Political Notes and Observations, i, 280. Praising the architecture of Fenety's own house, the Head Quarters (11 November 1868) remarked: 'Perhaps Fredericton will acquire something more of the artistic element yet.'

[170] T.W. Acheson, 'George Edwin King,' DCB, xiii.

[171] Saint John Daily News [cited as DN], 9 March 1880.

[172] G.F.G. Stanley, 'The Caraquet Riots of 1875,' Acadiensis, ii (1972), 21-38.

[173] Fredericton Farmer, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880. Cf. ‘St John lost nothing by ceasing to be the capital, and Fredericton made a gain.’ Saint John and its Business (1875), 26, attributed to James Hannay.

[174] Saint John and its Business (Saint John, 1875), attributed to James Hannay; Phillip Buckner, 'The 1870s: Political Integration,' in Forbes and Muise, eds, Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 65-6.

[175] James Hannay, History of New Brunswick (Saint John, 1909), ii, 327.

[176] House of Commons Debates, 1875, i, 527 (

[177] DN, 1 March 1880.

[178] DN, 28 February 1880; E.W. McGahan, 'William Munson Jarvis,' DCB, xv.

[179] D.G. Bell, 'Joseph Wilson Lawrence,' DCB, xii.

[180] J.W. Lawrence, (eds. A.A. Stockton, W.O. Raymond), The Judges of New Brunswick and Their Times (Saint John, 1907), 518.

[181] DN, 27, 28 February, 1 March 1880.

[182] DN, 9 March 1880.

[183] DN, 1 March 1880.

[184] DN, 28 February 1880; R.H. Babcock, 'Edward Willis', DCB, xii.

[185] DN, 6 March 1880.

[186] DN, 9 March 1880.

[187] B. Pothier, 'Samuel Robert Thomson,' DCB, xi.

[188] DN, 9 March 1880.

[189] DN, 9 March 1880.

[190] DN, 11, 12 March 1880. David G. Bell's verdict, that by 1880 Lawrence was 'decidedly odd,' prompts the speculation that his fervour perhaps struck few chords outside Saint John. Bell, 'Joseph Wilson Lawrence,' DCB, xii.

[191] Hannay, History of New Brunswick , ii, 333. Hannay was a spectator at the 28 February Common Council meeting. DN, 1 March 1880.

[192] Moncton Times, undated, quoted DN, 2 March 1880.

[193] Fredericton Star, undated, quoted DN, 4 March 1880.

[194] Hannay, History of New Brunswick , ii, 192-3.

[195] James Hannay, The Life and Times of Sir Samuel Tilley ... (Saint John, 1897), 356-7.

[196] M.H. & T.E. Blom, eds, Canada Home: Juliana Horatia Ewing’s Fredericton Letters, 1867-1869, 327, 342. Ewing wrote of the fear among the Fredericton elite in 1867 that Wilmot would be appointed: 'everybody longs for a man from England,' ibid, 64; J. Lathern, The Hon. Judge Wilmot: A Biographical Sketch (rev. ed., Toronto, 1881), 92-5.

[197] Hannay, Life of Tilley, 357.

[198] Hannay, History of New Brunswick , ii, 333.

[199] D.M. Young, 'John James Fraser,' DCB, xii; D.M. Young, 'Andrew George Blair,' DCB, xiii.

[200] Hannay, History of New Brunswick , ii, 333.

[201] Fredericton Star, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880.

[202] DN, 4 March 1880.

[203] Fredericton Star, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880.

[204] DN, 1 March 1880.

[205] Fredericton Star, undated, quoted DN, 2 March 1880.

[206] Chatham Gleaner, 13 March 1880.

[207] Chatham Gleaner, 6 March 1880.

[208] Newcastle Advocate, Miramichi Advance, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880; Chatham Gleaner, 6 March 1880.

[209] St Croix Herald, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880.

[210] St Andrews Standard, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880. At the Saint John public meeting, Skinner called Government House 'little less than a barrack.' DN, 9 March 1880.

[211] Chignecto Post and Borderer, undated, quoted DN, 5 March 1880.

[212] DN, 24 March 1880.

[213] K.F.C. MacNaughton, The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick, 1784-1900: A Study of Historical Background (Fredericton, 1947), 174-5; Hannay, History of New Brunswick, ii, 322. The Normal School, much extended, and rebuilt after in 1930 after a fire, is now (2015) the Justice Building in Fredericton's Queen Street. An ornate triple entrance arch survives from the original building. The structure bears the date 1876. John Leroux and Peter Pacey, eds, Building Capital: A Guide to Fredericton's Historic Landmarks (rev. ed, Fredericton, 2006), 5.

[214] DN Fredericton correspondent, 10 March, DN, 11 March 1880.

[215] DN Fredericton correspondent, 8 March; Fredericton Star, undated, in DN, 9 March 1880.

[216] Gleaner, 13 March 1880.

[217] A prominent lawyer, Wedderburn had overhauled the working of the Assembly while serving as Speaker from 1876 to 1878. He had long involvement with civic activities in Saint John, including a notable double distinction: he delivered the address at the city's memorial service for Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and spoke again in honour of President Garfield in 1881. G.M. Rose, ed,, A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography ... (Toronto, 1888), 150-1.

[218] DN, 16 March 1880. Debate reported in DN, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 March 1880 and Gleaner, 27 March 1880. First elected in 1876, Ryan was a leather manufacturer from Caraquet, respected in the Assembly for his 'forcible business qualities'. Rose, ed,, Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography, 736.

[219] DN, 17 March 1880.

[220] J-R. Cyr, 'Pierre Amand Landry,' DCB, xiv.

[221] McLellan was a lumberman: Rose, ed., Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography, 433.

[222] M. Barkley, 'The Loyalist Tradition in New Brunswick: the Growth and Evolution of a Historical Myth,' Acadiensis, iv [2] (1975), 1-45.

[223] M. Barkley, 'William Elder,' DCB, xi.

[224] But Charlotte members split on the issue, and Stephenson was a graduate of King's College. H.J. Morgan, ed., Canadian Parliamentary Companion, for 1875 (Ottawa, 1875), 576-7.

[225] Fredericton Evening Capital, 16 February 1882.

[226] Thériault had served as a militia officer and would have known Fredericton, where training had become centralised. In April 1880, soon after voting for Fredericton, he lobbied for a seat in the Legislative Council. S. Andrew, 'Lévite Thériault,' DCB, xii.

[227] Young, 'John James Fraser,' DCB, xii.

[228] A-J. Savoie, 'L'enseignement, 1604-1970,' in J. Daigle, réd., Les Acadiens des Maritimes: études thématiques (Moncton, 1980), 443; Sheila M. Andrew, The Development of Elites in Acadian New Brunswick 1861-1881 (Montreal & Kingston, 1996), 76, 135, 138. Acadian students had found problems travelling to the former Saint John Normal School., ibid., 68.

[229] Fredericton Evening Capital, 16 February 1882.

[230], consulted 13 May 2015. Fredericton celebrated by throwing a huge ball in the new premises. The venture was not without its problems. Only by calling the event a 'ball' could people be persuaded to buy tickets, but the term excluded members of religious denominations which regarded dancing as sinful. Saint John newspapers criticised the event, provoking some rehearsal of the arguments over location. Fredericton Evening Capital, 14, 26 January 1882.

[231] Hannay, Life of Tilley, 372.

[232] J.T. Saywell, ed,, The Canadian Journal of Lady Aberdeen (Toronto, 1960), 110-11 (17 August 1894). Government House, Fredericton was put to various forms of institutional use from 1896 to 1999, when it once again became the residence of the lieutenant-governor.

[233], consulted 13 May 2015.

[234] Young, 'Blair,' DCB, xiii.

[235], consulted 13 May 2015.

[236] Evening Capital, 23 July 1887; D.M. Young, 'Alexander Gibson,' DCB, xiv. The railway from Edmundston to Rivière-du-Loup in Quebec was completed at about the same time, but was never operated as a through line, Hannay, History of New Brunswick, ii, 292.

[237] Saywell, ed,, The Canadian Journal of Lady Aberdeen, 429 (22 October 1897).

[238] Hannay, History of New Brunswick, 358-9; McCann, 'The 1890s,' in Forbes and Muise, eds, The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 148-52; Young, 'Blair,' DCB, xiii. Elizabeth W. McGahan, The Port of Saint John; i, From Confederation to Nationalization 1867-1927 (Saint John, 1982) deserves to be better known.

[239] F.H. Risteen, The Celestial City ... (Fredericton, 1897), 56, 11, 7, 13.

[240] S. Constantine, ed,, Dominions Diary: The Letters of E.J. Harding 1913-1916 (Halifax, UK, 1992), 252, 255.

[241] 1990 Corpus Almanac & Canadian Sourcebook, 143-62. For Saint John's campaign for a university campus, P. McGahan, The "Quiet Campus" ... (Fredericton, 1998). 

[242] Wallace, 'Saint John Boosters'.

[243] Population figures from, consulted 15 May 2015.

[244] UNB, Stanmore Papers, reel 3, Gordon to Monck, copy, 8 May 1862.

[245] In 1856, 440,567 tons of shipping cleared Saint John, 51,397 cleared St Andrews. The New Brunswick total was 704,149 tons. UK Parliamentary Papers, 1857-8, 2441, Statistical Tables, 99.

[246] T.W. Acheson, 'The Maritimes and “Empire Canada”,' in D.J. Bercuson, ed., Canada and the Burden of Unity (Toronto, 1977), 87-114, esp. 93.