Part II

The British North American Act, 1867 and the Constitution Act, 1982
Canada’s Constitution was formulated in two big spurts. One led to the ratification of the British North American Act in 1867 by the Mother Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Scotsman John A. Macdonald was the primary figure who both envisaged and implemented the plan to pull together into a single polity all the British colonies and corporations in North America. His plan was to edify and elaborate the British Empire, not to break free from the imperial connection as had been done by the founders of the United States. By sharing in the power of the British Empire, the makers of the Dominion of Canada were able to withstand the pull of the United States whose population and economy have historically been about ten times that of the Canadian Dominion.

The job of creating a coast-to-coast-to-coast Dominion in North America was extremely ambitious. It included the transformation of the financial and territorial organization of the Hudson’s Bay fur trade company into the structure of finance and privatized land integral to the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

Formed in 1858, the Pacific Coast colony of British Columbia joined the Dominion in 1871 based on the promise that the government of Canada would build a railway to eastern and central Canada through the legally-transformed Hudson’s Bay Company lands. The overall project succeeded, resulting in the creation of the second largest country in the world.

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