This Week in History
For the week of Monday November 9, 1998
On November 9, 1835, 21-year-old George-Étienne Cartier was called to the bar of Lower Canada (Quebec). Not even two years later, this rising young lawyer got caught up in the 1837 Rebellion and was forced to flee the country! Who could have guessed this 'rebel' would return to Canada and become one of our leading politicians?
A passionate French-Canadian nationalist, Cartier became an adamant Canadian federalist. He feared the rapid expansion of the United States and pushed hard for confederation between Canada and the Maritime provinces. While he was Prime Minister of the province of Canada, Cartier's ministry was the first to adopt confederation as policy. Although he was determined to reach an agreement, Cartier was among the French-Canadian leaders who insisted on conditions that would guard Quebec's language, religion, and unique system of civil laws.
Obviously, Cartier was a man of many talents. The same man who composed and sang "O Canada, mon pays, mes amour" for a Montréal banquet, once made a 13-hour parliamentary speech that drove a government to resign! Although overshadowed among English-speaking Canadians by his "twin", Cartier was such a political force that colleagues nicknamed him "the lightning striker." In recognition of Sir George-Étienne Cartier's unparalleled role in Canada's development, his house in old Montréal, Quebec, is open to the public as a national historic site managed by Parks Canada.
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