Nova Scotia Constitutional Timeline

An expanded version of what’s put forth by the Nova Scotia legislature.

1493 – May 4, Alexander VI, Pope of Rome, issued a bull, granting the New World. Spain laid claim to the entire North American Coast from Cape Florida to Cape Breton, as part of its territory of Bacalaos.

1496 – March 5, Henry VII, King of England issued a commission to John Cabot and his sons to search for an unknown land

1498 – March 5,  Letters Patents of King Henry the Seventh Granted unto John Cabot and his Three Sonnes, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius for the “Discouerie of New and Unknowen Lands”

1502 – Henry VII commissioned Hugh Eliot and Thomas Ashurst to discover and take possession of the islands and continents in America; “and in his name and for his use, as his vassals, to enter upon, doss, conquer, govern, and hold any Mainland or Islands by them discovered.”

1524 – Francis I, King of France, said that he should like to see the clause in Adam’s will, which made the American continent the exclusive possession of his brothers of Spain and Portugal, is said to have sent out Verrazzano, a Florentine corsair, who, as has generally been believed, explored the entire coast from 30° to 50° North Latitude, and named the whole region New France.

1534 – King Francis commissioned Jacques Cartier to discover and take possession of Canada; “his successive voyages, within the six years following, opened the whole region of St. Lawrence and laid the foundation of French dominion on this continent.”

1578 – June 11, Letters patent granted by Elizabeth, Queen of England to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, knight, for “the inhabiting and planting of our people in America”.

1584 – March 25, Queen Elizabeth renewed Gilbert’s grant to Sir Walter Raleigh, his half-brother. Under this commission, Raleigh made an unsuccessful attempt to plant an English colony in Virginia, a name afterwards extended to the whole North Coast of America in honor of the “Virgin” Queen.

1603 – November 8, Henry IV, King of France, granted Sieur de Monts a royal patent conferring the possession of and sovereignty of the country between latitudes 40° and 46° (from Philadelphia as far north as Katahdin and Montreal). Samuel Champlain, geographer to the King, accompanied De Monts on his voyage, landing at the site of Liverpool, N.S., a region already known as “Acadia.”

1606 – April 10, King James claimed the whole of North America between 34° and 45° North latitude, granting it to the Plymouth and London Companies. This entire territory was placed under the management of one council, the Royal Council for Virginia. The Northern Colony encompassed the area from 38° to 45° North latitude.

1620 – November 3, Reorganization of the Plymouth Company in 1620 as the Council of Plymouth for New England, encompassing from 40° to 48° North latitude.

1621 – September 29, Charter granted to Sir William Alexander for Nova Scotia

1625 – July 12, A grant of the soil, barony, and domains of Nova Scotia to Sir Wm. Alexander of Minstrie

1630 – April 30, Conveyance of Nova-Scotia (Port-royal excepted) by Sir William Alexander to Sir Claude St. Etienne Lord of la Tour and of Uarre and to his son Sir Charles de St. Etienne Lord of St. Denniscourt, on condition that they continue subjects to the king of Scotland under the great seal of Scotland.

1632 – March 29, Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, between King Louis XIII. and Charles King of England for the restitution of the New France, Cadia and Canada and ships and goods taken from both sides.

1632 – May 14/24 – Concession of the River and Bay of St. Croix to Commander Razilly, by the Company of New France

1635/6 – January 15/25 – Concession of Acadia to Sir Charles La Tour, By The Company of New France.

1638 Grant to Charnesay and La Tour

1647 – February – Commission To Lord D’Aulney Charnizay, By Louis XIV of France.

1651/2 – February 25th,March 7th – Letters Patent Confirming Sir Charles La Tour In Acadia, By Louis XIV. Of France.

1654 – August 16, Capitulation of Port-Royal

1656 – August 9/19, The Grant of Acadia, By Oliver Cromwell

1656 – September 17/27 – Commission to Colonel Temple, By Oliver Cromwell

1667 – July 31, The treaty of peace and alliance between England and the United Provinces made at Breda

1668 – February 17, Act of cession of Acadia to the King of France

1689 – English Bill of Rights enacted

1691, October 7, A charter granted by King William and Queen Mary to the inhabitants of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England

1713 – March 31, Treaty of peace and friendship between Louis XIV. King of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, made in Utrecht

1713 – April 11, Treaty of navigation and commerce between Louis XIV, king of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain

1719 – June 19, Commission to Richard Philips to be Governor (including a copy of the 1715 Instructions given to the Governor of Virginia, by which he was to conduct himself)

1725 – August 26, Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay

1725 – December 15, A treaty with the Indians (Peace and Friendship Treaty, ratification at Annapolis)

1727 – July 25, Ratification at Casco Bay of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1728 – May 13, Ratification at Annapolis Royal of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1748, October 7–18, The general and definitive treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle

1749 – September 4, Renewal of the Peace and Friendship treaty of 1725

1752 – November 22, Treaty between Thomas Hopson, Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and Major Jean Baptiste Cope, Chief Sachem of the Tribe of the MickMack Indians inhabiting the Eastern Coast…

1758 – Nova Scotia Legislature established (consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, his Council and the newly established, elected legislative assembly called the House of Assembly)

1760 – March, Treaty of Peace and Friendship concluded by the Governor of Nova Scotia with Paul Laurent, Chief of the La Heve tribe of Indians

1761 – November 9, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis

1763 – February 10, France ceded, for the last time, the rest of Acadia, including Cape Breton Island (‘île Royale), the future New Brunswick and St John’s Island (later re-named Prince Edward Island), to the British (Treaty of Paris) and it was joined to Nova Scotia

1763 – October 7, Royal Proclamation

1769 – Prince Edward Island established as a colony separate from Nova Scotia

1779 – September 22, Treaty signed at Windsor between John Julien, Chief and Michael Francklin, representing the Government of Nova Scotia

1784 – Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick established as colonies separate from Nova Scotia

1820 – Cape Breton Island re-joined to Nova Scotia

1838 – Separate Executive Council and Legislative Council established

1848 – Responsible government was established in Nova Scotia (Members of the Legislature appointed a majority of those in the Legislative Council)

1867 – “Union” of provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the “self-governing” federal colony of the Dominion of Canada (British North America Act, 1867 — now known in Canada as Constitution Act, 1867) & the Parliament of Canada established (consisting of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons)

1928 – Abolition of the Legislative Council (leaving the Legislature consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and the House of Assembly)

1931 – Canadian “independence” legally recognized (Statute of Westminster, 1931)

1960 – Canadian Bill of Rights enacted

1982 – “Patriation” of the amendment of the Constitution of Canada & adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada Act 1982)

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. J. Stockdale, 1787. https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/gdc/lhbcb/04902/04902.pdf

Legislature of the State of Maine. “The Revised Statutes of the State of Maine, Passed August 29, 1883, and Taking Effect January 1,1884.”, Portland, Loring, Short & Harmon and William M. Marks. 1884. https://lldc.mainelegislature.org/Open/RS/RS1883/RS1883_f0005-0017_Land_Titles.pdf

Farnham, Miss Mary Frances. “Documentary History of the State of Maine: Volume VII Containing The Farnham Papers 1603-1688”. Maine Historical Society. Portland. 1901. https://archive.org/details/documentaryhisto07main, https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/public/gdcmassbookdig/farnhampapers01farn/farnhampapers01farn.pdf

Kennedy, William P. Statutes, Treaties and Documents of the Canadian Constitution: 1713-1929. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1930. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_03428

Harvard Law School Library. “Description Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton,” ca. 1715? Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library. https://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HLS.LIBR:19686447, Accessed 07 June 2021

Thorpe, Francis Newton. “The Federal and State constitutions: colonial charters, and other organic laws of the States, territories, and Colonies, now or heretofore forming the United States of America” Washington : Govt. Print. Off. 1909. https://archive.org/details/federalstatecons07thor/page/n5/mode/2up

Murdoch, Beamish. “Epitome of the laws of Nova-Scotia” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1832 (Halifax, N.S. : J. Howe) Volume One: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59437, Volume Two: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59438, Volume Three: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59439, Volume Four: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59440

Marshall, John G. “The justice of the peace, and county and township officer in the province of Nova Scotia : being a guide to such justice and officers in the discharge of their official duties” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1837 (Halifax [N.S.] : Gossip & Coade) https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.36869, Second Edition: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.38224

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

Bourinot, John George. “The constitution of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia” [S.l. : s.n., 1896?] https://archive.org/details/cihm_10453/page/141, https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.10453/14?r=0&s=1

Laing, David, editor. “Royal letters, charters, and tracts, relating to the colonization of New Scotland, and the institution of the Order of knight baronets of Nova Scotia. -1638“. [Edinburgh Printed by G. Robb, 1867] https://archive.org/details/royallettersc11400lainuoft

Labaree, Leonard Woods. “Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776“. Vol. I and Vol. II. The American Historical Association. (New York : D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935) https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0001laba, https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0002laba

Beamish Murdoch, “On the origin and sources of the Law of Nova Scotia” (An essay on the Origin and Sources of the Law of Nova Scotia read before the Law Students Society, Halifax, N.S., 29 August 1863), (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1399&context=dlj

Shirley B. Elliott, “An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography”, Comment, (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/dlj/vol8/iss3/12/

Railroad Veteran Dies In Dartmouth

Herbert Greenough. Railroad veteran, who had 44 years of service to his credit, who died at his home, Silver’s Road, Dartmouth. He was also well known for his writings for the press.

Halifax Mail, Wednesday, December 23, 1931. https://www.newspapers.com/image/776903662/?clipping_id=146653432&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjc3NjkwMzY2MiwiaWF0IjoxNzE1MDk1MzU5LCJleHAiOjE3MTUxODE3NTl9.zXkhXUPvgjVZBeSsstRjuHC8GiLUWD4fW6o56sIZSh8

Dominion Disallowance of Provincial Legislation in Canada

Federal disallowance of Provincial Legislation has been a significant aspect of the Canada’s system of “federalism”, allowing the central government to nullify provincial acts deemed contrary to federal interests. This power, unique to Canada, contrasts with the American federal system, reflecting a “differing approach” to federalism. From 1867 to 1935, the Dominion government disallowed at least 114 provincial acts and territorial ordinances, highlighting its considerable powers over provincial legislation.

The process of disallowance involved the submission of provincial acts to the governor-general, with the governor-general in council having the authority to disallow them, typically based on recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, in the same way colonies previous to Confederation would submit their legislation through Lieutenant Governors to the Crown. Disallowance had to occur within one year of receiving the act. While the British government couldn’t directly interfere with provincial acts after confederation, it could express its concerns to the Dominion government instead, as could other foreign governments.

The reasons for disallowance varied widely, including conflicts with federal legislation, exceeding provincial powers outlined in the British North America Act, violation of treaty rights, or infringement on individual rights and property. The subjects of disallowed acts ranged from immigration and banking to mining and liquor regulation, indicating the Dominion’s broad oversight.

Historically, the frequency of disallowance fluctuated, with peaks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries followed by a decline in recent years. Initially, the crown and its Federal government, themselves involved in a parent-child relationship, viewed a strong central government as necessary, akin to a parent-child relationship with provinces. Where that leaves “the people” is clear.

Evolving interpretations of “Canadian federalism” have more recently emphasized provincial rights and autonomy, more in keeping with the American meaning of the term. Decisions by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and advocacy for provincial rights led to a shift in attitudes toward disallowance. Provinces began to assert their legislative independence, advocating for minimal federal interference. By the early 20th century, calls for disallowance were expected to be justified by clear attempts to infringe on federal jurisdiction. Whether this power is still exercised today, on the down low, with the only outward evidence of such actions being a bill dying on the order paper, is unclear.


“Although there is a federal form of government in both the Dominion of Canada. and the United States, there are striking differences in the two types of federalism. Some of these differences are to be found in fundamentals, such as the basis upon which the powers of government are divided in the two countries. Less striking, but nevertheless significant, are still other points of variance. Among these is the power which the dominion government has to disallow legislative acts of the provinces. Just why the fathers of the Canadian federation thought this power should be given to the central government is not clear. The fact remains, however, that in the years from 1867 to 1935, at least 114 provincial acts and territorial ordinances were set aside. It is important to note that these acts were dis- allowed by executive officers of the dominion government. Executive officers of the national government in the United States do not possess similar powers where state legislation is concerned.”

“A survey of the law-making efforts of provincial legislatures which have been set aside by the dominion government indicates that the central government has interfered with some of the most important fields in which provincial legislation might be enacted.”

“The frequency with which the dominion’s power of disallowance has been used has varied considerably at different periods in Canada’s history. In the years from 1867 through 1895, no less than 72 acts and ordinances were set aside. In the years from 1896 through 1920, a period of almost equal length, 37 provincial acts and ordinances were annulled. From 1920 to 1935, only five acts passed by provincial legislatures fell before the disapproval of the dominion government. In the first period mentioned, the greatest number of acts to be disallowed in one province was 26, in Manitoba. British Columbia, with 20, was a close second. Seven ordinances (as distinct from legislative acts) were set aside in the Northwest Territory, while in Ontario and Nova Scotia six acts in each province were disallowed. The remainder of the 72 can be accounted for by the disallowance of four statutes in Quebec, two in Prince Edward Island, and one in New Brunswick. In the second period, British Columbia headed the list with 22, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan had three each. Ontario and Quebec each had one act annulled. Seven ordinances were set aside, five in the Yukon Territory and two in the Northwest Territory. Since 1920, legislative acts in only three provinces have been disallowed. Three were annulled in Nova Scotia and one each in Alberta and British Columbia.”

“To many Americans, it is, of course, striking that the central government in a federation should possess this degree of control over certain types of legislation enacted by the member units in that federal organization. In the Canada of 1864-66, however, there were many who, like J. A. Macdonald, wished to see a strong central government created. They believed that the war between the states to the south of them was due, in part, to weakness at the center. That the dominion government should be able to disallow provincial legislation did not seem strange to them.”

Heneman, H. J. (1937). Dominion Disallowance of Provincial Legislation in Canada. The American Political Science Review, 31(1), 92–96. https://doi.org/10.2307/1948049

Institutionalizing Eugenics: Custody, Class, Gender And Education In Nova Scotia’s Response To The “Feeble-Minded”, 1890-1931

It’s obvious to me that the eugenicists didn’t stop after 1931, that it was used in ways that were politically motivated seems just as obvious. It was preceded by a few generations of “stirpiculture“, which just so happened to make an appearance in an institutionalized form in Nova Scotia in time for “confederation” leading to many subsequent expansions, including at the time of Dartmouth’s incorporation. Howe hinted towards this possibility in his speech at Dartmouth, “The lunatic asylum of course we must keep up, because Archibald may want it by-and-by to put Tupper and Henry into at the close of the elections“, by no means the only example of such statements. That 1868-69 featured the highest number of admission to the “Hospital for the insane” since its inception in 1859 adds further context.

I often think of this whenever I hear a member of Canada’s ruling caste — those who we are supposed to believe have the best interests of their subjects at heart — talk about “mental health” within the context of the current political environment, where they’re preparing every avenue, most especially health and education, for the application of philosophical intoxication against those who resist any of their totalitarian actions and inclinations.

It certainly brings clarity as to why we have such a highly political and ideologically focused monopoly health care system devoid of private payments or hospitals, let alone private insurers for primary care. It’s a level of control that wouldn’t have been so easy to achieve with the patchwork of jurisdictions, imbued with some measure of self government, which we enjoyed previous to this current “amalgamated” regime of hyper-centralization in terms of the administrative state.

I’m sure they’re just looking out for all of our best interests, now.


“Between 1890 and 1927 hundreds of Nova Scotian children and adults were identified as either feeble-minded or mentally deficient through investigations conducted by physicians and philanthropists in the province. The earliest of these studies were not commissioned by the provincial government but instead reflected the middle-class internalization of the eugenic discourse. Reformers, drawn often from medical, religious, educational, and philanthropic vocations, sought with ever-increasing alacrity to respond to perceived social problems, such as poverty, prostitution, venereal disease, and alcoholism, with a scientific solution. The scientific solution that they embraced was eugenics.

Eugenic ideology and programs rose to popularity in Europe and North America at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Driven by social anxiety and the medicalization of reproduction, eugenic theory expressed the concerns of the middle classes that those they deemed less fit on the basis of socio-economic class, education or heredity, were reproducing at a higher rate than the ‘desirable’ segments of the population. The application of eugenic theory was shaped by cultural assumptions about gender, class and race which resulted in the same principles finding different expression in different areas across the globe.

This dissertation seeks to understand how local circumstances shaped the Nova Scotian understanding of eugenics and its application. It examines the manner in which Nova Scotian physicians and philanthropists, with strong ties to both New England and Britain, participated in the transnational eugenic discourse through both professional and popular publications and organizations. Overall it argues that the expression of eugenics in Nova Scotia culminated in legislation that enforced the inspection, segregation and institutionalization of individuals who were assessed as feeble-minded. In doing so it also calls attention to the need to recognize outcomes other than sexual sterilization as legitimate expressions of eugenic policy. Subsequently the influential role played by regional circumstances in shaping what was considered an acceptable eugenic outcome as well as how eugenic policy was sought and implemented is examined. In investigating what reformers understood to be eugenic, and conversely what they considered dysgenic, a complex discourse surrounding the health of populations and reliant on ideas of gender, race, and class is revealed.”

Baker, Leslie Elaine. Institutionalizing Eugenics: Custody, Class, Gender And Education In Nova Scotia’s Response To The “Feeble-Minded”, 1890-1931. University of Saskatchewan, Feb. 2015. https://harvest.usask.ca/bitstream/handle/10388/ETD-2015-01-1934/BAKER-DISSERTATION.pdf

Responsible Government in Nova Scotia

This book discusses the evolution of Nova Scotia’s constitutional and legal institutions during the 18th and 19th centuries in terms of the British institutions from which it sprang. As English settlers established colonies, they carried with them differing political and constitutional views, leading to tensions and migrations. Despite this scattering, the underlying issues persisted and grew, ultimately posing challenges for the British Empire as a whole.

The American Revolution emerged from these tensions, fueled by differing interpretations of political sovereignty and governance. Colonists demanded self-government and local autonomy, rebuffing British attempts at centralized control. The Declaration of Independence asserted the rights of man and consent of the governed, principles rooted in British constitutional history but revitalized in the American colonies.

The clash between local autonomy and centralized control led to the formation of the Articles of Confederation and the principle of federalism in the new American republic. Meanwhile, the colonies sought a partnership with Britain rather than subjugation, reflecting a new conception of empire and fellowship among equals.

This period of revolution and adjustment saw the birth of new constitutional principles and governmental customs, challenging traditional notions of imperial governance. Nova Scotia’s role in this constitutional evolution is highlighted, underscoring the neglected history of its contribution to the broader imperial narrative. Extensive research into original and manuscript sources sheds light on this overlooked aspect of history, providing insight into the complexities of constitutional development during this transformative era.


“From the beginning a most important feature of English history has been the steady evolution of a constitution and the development of legal and political institutions. During the period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when her people were expanding into the new world and establishing states as offsprings of the mother country, the constitution at home was undergoing some very necessary adjustments and fundamental changes. While these transformations were wrought primarily for the purpose of meeting the changing circumstances and growing needs of the ancient island kingdom, some of the friction which resulted was profoundly instrumental in sending out to the colonies great groups and sections of her own people, who, when they arrived and settled retained the points of view and the interpretations which had made it unwise and, in some cases, impossible for them to remain at home.

The Puritans, the Cavaliers, the Catholics, and the Quakers all held political and constitutional views somewhat different, representing in those views the points of controversy and change sought before and at the time of their departure. Indeed, no question whatever was actually solved by their removal; rather the difficulties were scattered over a wider field where their growth continued apace, in some cases more virulent than ever, producing in time a more serious problem for the Empire at large than it had been originally for the more limited sphere of the mother country. The need for adjustments was only delayed by this process of scattering, and in time emerged again in a larger form for the Empire as a whole. Also the basic conditions of life in the new world were different, essentially those of the frontier, which tended strongly to bring out, to renew and to revitalize one of the deepest seated characteristics of the British stock, that of self sufficiency.

This added to the difficulty, and out of these two circumstances, — the dissenting colonists and the new life of the frontier — arose a strong sense of constitutional right and a powerful spirit of political and economic independence. This called for statecraft and adjustments of the finest sort from the side of the mother country, but as yet she had not sensed the real meaning of empire, nor was she able to cope successfully with those new problems which expansion and growth had made inevitable.

With the rapid growth and development of the older colonies, and with the acquisition after 1760 of the alien province of Quebec, the problems of political and economic adjustment in the new world became acute. Could the older institutions of the mother country be successfully adapted to the newer conditions and the widely varying circumstances of the several daughter colonies in America? Could the constitution of England in its broad historical meaning be transformed into a constitution for the whole of a vast imperial organization?

The strain was great; the demands for adjustments and change came too quickly upon the government in London; and that government in this evil hour unfortunately was more devoted to a few great private interests than to the larger problems of a growing empire. Indeed, it might be said that in this period the government of England was more a property of those private interests than it was a function of the constitution, and because of this defect it was impossible for the government to consider fairly the broader colonial policy and to preserve the whole of the growing colonial empire under a common Crown.

The deeper problems of adjustment which this British government was not able to meet successfully may be more clearly understood from a study of the constitutional issues of the American Revolution and a consideration of those principles upon which, at first, it was proposed to establish the new American Republic. The democratic life of the new world and the experience in the colonies for over a century of a large degree of self-government had not only produced reinterpretations of some of the older political and legal institutions, but had actually produced new constitutional principles and governmental customs.

The friction and circumstances following 1763 stimulated the colonial statesmen to attempt a definition of some of these new departures. By the time the disruption had been completed and the new republic established those basic principles had been given vivid and dramatic expression.

The Whig parliament in England had drifted far in its interpretation of the state and of its function in the government. Never “weary of expressing their contempt for public opinion” they “denied that members of the Commons sat as representatives of the people.” Standing in sharp contrast with this theory of an all sovereign and irresponsible parliament was the plain assertion in the Declaration of Independence of the rights of man and the “consent of the governed” as the proper basis for all just government wherever found. This broad and fundamental principle involved not only actual self-government for the people but also self-determination for a colony or a state.

But it was not a new constitutional principle, indeed it was as old as the British race and had been understood by such men as Sir Edward Coke in the time of the early Stuarts, and John Locke as he explained the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. In America this old principle, along with the British stock, had been revitalized and given a new and vigorous emphasis, while at home the Whig parliament and the Hanoverian kings had wandered far from any understanding of its constitutional importance and were unable, therefore, to make those finer adjustments demanded by the colonies prior to 1776.

As a natural corollary to the principle of self-government reasserted by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, was the demand on the part of the thirteen colonies for a system of general government in which the major emphasis should rest, not as the Whigs would have it, upon the central administration, but upon the sacred sovereignty of the local state as a political unit.

The British government had been unable to understand this need but continued to assert that the parliament in London had the power to legislate for them “in all cases whatsoever” and had gone on with its attempt to modify local administration with royal prerogative and centralized control. In this clash of principle — local autonomy versus centralized control — is found the explanation in part, of the first constitution of the new republic, the Articles of Confederation, and the origin of the American principle of federalism.

Of equal importance in the period of revolution and adjustment was the theory held in the colonies of the nature of the empire and of the place of the colony in the larger organization. In harmony with the principle of self-government the colonies maintained that their local legislatures should occupy, a coordinate position under the Crown with the Parliament of Great Britain. In this they were breaking new ground and building slowly a new conception of an imperial organization. Since the people in the colonies were entitled to all the rights of British subjects the colonies could not possibly be considered as possessions of the mother country.

The alternative, therefore, was a partnership relation among them and with the United Kingdom. But again the British government, dominated by the Whig theories, could not appreciate this new interpretation of a larger fellowship as it developed in the growing life of the new world communities. Soon after the organization of the republic this new principle found expression in the definition of the colonial policy of the new American nation. Like the Declaration of Independence, the Ordinance of 1784 came from the vigorous mind of the Virginia liberal, Thomas Jefferson, and the principle of empire which it explains is quite in harmony with his conception of the place of the individual in the social and political organizations. According to this principle, which was finally embodied in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the new states, subsequently formed from this Northwest Territory, should be free and autonomous units:

“That Whenever any of the sd. states shall have of free inhabitants as many as shall then be in any one of the least numerous of the thirteen original states, such states shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the said original states.” (Report to Congress, March 1, 1784. Journals of Congress Containing their Proceedings (Philadelphia, 1800), Vol. IX (April 23, 1784), pp. 109-110. In the Ordinance of 1787 “in all respects whatsoever” was added. The same principle is found in the earlier deed to the Northwest Territory given by Virginia to Congress and prepared also by Jefferson: “… and that the states so formed, shall be distinct republican states, and admitted members of the federal union; having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence as the other states.” Ibid., p. 48)

The conception here is clearly that of a union of equals freely associated together, and as such it is a definition of a new colonial policy and of a new imperial order. Upon this conception the new American “empire of liberty,” as it was called by Jefferson, was to expand indefinitely under republican institutions. Little did he realize that the older empire of Britain would also in time accept the same liberal interpretation of its own imperial bond.

A history of this political and constitutional process is the scope of this study. The field is new, for Nova Scotia and the period of her important contribution to the constitution of the newer empire has been neglected by the students of history and politics. (In June 1926, the Canadian Historical Review published the writer’s article, “The First Responsible Party Government in British North America”. Last year, 1929, since the completion of this volume, the Oxford Press published a study by Professor Chester Martin, Empire and Commonwealth, which has a section devoted to the constitutional evolution of Nova Scotia.)

The research, therefore, has involved the use and study of original, and in many cases manuscript sources, hitherto unexploited. Most of these are available in the Public Archives of Canada at Ottawa. Some are in the Provincial Archived of Nova Scotia and others are to be found only at the Public Record Office in London.”

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

Halifax (and Dartmouth), Canada

Among Dartmouth’s attractions noted:

North of Park Avenue: North Ferry, St. Paul’s School, Stairs Memorial Church, Emmanuel Church, Park School and Victoria School, Dartmouth Common as well as Brightwood Golf course further down School Street.

In or near Austenville: St. Peter’s Church and St. Peter’s School, Carter’s Ice Office on Pine Street, Carters Ice Company Ltd lying on lake Banook with notes on Eastern Shore Highway Route 7 lying further down Waverly Road.

Downtown: CNR rail station at the bottom of Park Ave, the Dartmouth Ferry next to the N.S. Light and Power Dartmouth Division, Maritime Academy of Music between Queen and Ochterloney at what is now Alderney Drive. Halifax Shipyards Ltd and marine railways are seen at the present Kings Wharf, Jacobson Bros is on Portland, Salvation Army and Acadia Stores Ltd lie further towards Prince Albert. The Post office is at Queen and Wentworth with Harbour Exchange on the next block before Dundas. Grace United Church, the Town Hall and the Dartmouth Baptist Church are located one after another on each block between King and Victoria, with Chirst Church across from the Town Hall on Ochterloney. Greenvale lies further beyond at Pine street, listed as the high school.

South east of Prince Albert Road: Starr Manufacturing, Findlay School and Hawthorne School, St. James Church with Dartmouth Lumber Co. Ltd across the street, Bell Busses Ltd. shown at what is now the site of a Tim Hortons.

Along the Dartmouth shore: (Department of) Marine & Fisheries, the Nova Scotia Provincial Hospital, Acadia Sugar Refining Company Limited and Imperoyal. Silver Sands and Rainbow Haven are noted further down Eastern Passage Road.

“Halifax, Canada”, April 1937. J Bernard Dauphinee. https://archives.novascotia.ca/maps/archives/?ID=1494

Dartmouth Reading Room

“Population, 9,100. Open daily, afternoon and evening.

Dartmouth is situated on Halifax Harbor, within a few minutes by ferry from Halifax. The Reading Room has been in existence for many years, but it has recently received a new lease of life, thanks to the interest and support of a number of Dartmouth’s leading citizens. The aim is to supply magazines of the better type and accommodation for people to sit and read them. The response has been very gratifying.

There is a sense of purpose and direction behind this activity and it seems not impossible that, if the County of Halifax is to have county library service, the impetus might come from Dartmouth. This winter the reading room is venturing on a program of adult education. The plan is to have half a dozen subjects, of timely and immediate interest for discussion in groups of eight to twelve members, with a leader to guide the discussion and give advice as to suitable reading. Although the program has only just started there are fifty people taking part.”

Bateson, Nora, 1896-, Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia. Education Office. Library Survey of Nova Scotia. Halifax, N.S.: Dept. of Education, 1938. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015033941181?urlappend=%3Bseq=20

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