Prince Edward Island Before Confederation ~Tessa and Tiwanka

Entering the Confederation

A map of Prince Edward Island

Inquiry Questions

Why would Prince Edward Island wait 6 years to enter the Confederation?

Prince Edward Island waited 6 years to enter the confederation, in 1873. The reciprocity treaty, the treaty that allowed free trade between Canada and America ended in 1866. To prevent the forging of ties between P.E.I. and America, the dominion of Canada offered Prince Edward Island a deal entitled, “Better Terms,” in 1869. The deal stated that Canada would assume the debts of the island, as well as a steamship service to connect the island to the rest of Canada. The deal also stated that Canada would pay $800 000 to buy out absentee landlord holdings. However, P.E.I. declined.

Prior to joining the confederation, Prince Edward Island had large debts. The debts were mainly caused by the construction of a railway. The railway was intended to improve the island’s economy and increase tourism. However, they overspent their construction budget. They overspent so much that the colony was on the verge of a full economic collapse, in 1872. In desperate times, Prince Edward Island approached the Canadian government about joining the Confederation.

In 1873, the new premiere of Prince Edward island, James Pope, negotiated a new deal. This deal was better than the original deal, “Better Terms.” The dominion of Canada assumed the railway debts, bought land from absentee landlords, as well as promised and maintained year round communication link from P.E.I to the rest of Canada.

How would the Confederation of Canada effect Prince Edward Island negatively?

Prince Edward Island lost many tasks after joining the confederation. They no longer had their trade relationship with the United States and Europe using the reciprocity treaty. For that reason, they were not able to benefit from their agricultural and fishing industries. They were also no longer able to profit from building ships for Great Britain, Norway, and the United States. In addition to that, the government of Prince Edward Island lost their independence in politics. They were not going to have much say in any political uprisings as the population on the island was extremely small. Because of that, many citizens in Prince Edward Island could be affected as their new laws can negatively impact them.

Why would Prince Edward Island call itself the “Birthplace of Confederation” if they joined 6 years after?

Prince Edward Island is called the “Birthplace of confederation” because of the Charlottetown conference in 1864. The conference brought representatives from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to propose the idea of a Canadian confederation. During the conference Great Britain had encouraged to join as they hoped that the island will become less dependent on them. This name was in tribute in many places throughout Prince Edward Island such as the confederation bridge, the fairy vessel and the confederation center of arts.

How might Prince Edward Island be affected if they did not join the Confederation?

There are many issues that could potentially happen if Prince Edward Island refused to join the confederation. If the union of Canada would not take on their massive railway debt, their strong economy would completely collapse. America could also attack them or Prince Edward Island would eventually join them. In addition to that, P.E.I. would be isolated from any other forms of land as they would not have any to travel or to stay in contact with anyone but Britain. Also, if the union of Canada didn’t buy the land from Britain, there would still be absentee landlord problems where people would keep paying off their rent to the British.

Before Confederation...

Prince Edward Island's Geographical Area

Prince Edward island is situated in the gulf of St. Lawrence river and separated from nova scotia and New Brunswick. The province's population was estimated to be 80 00 people before they joined the confederation of Canada. Most of these people were farmers fishers, loggers, and shipbuilders. Their ethnicity included English, Acadian, Mi'kmaq and Scottish people. The island is known for the red soil everywhere due to the high iron oxide, it was very helpful to the farms and that is partly the reason for t. The largest city on the island back then was Charlottetown with 7000 people living. Before Confederation, Prince Edward Island was extremely isolated during the winter as they were not able to communicate with other lands because the water surrounded would freeze.

The red soil in P.E.I.

Prince Edward Island's Economic Reasources

Prince Edward Island brought many economic resources to the union of colonies including food, therefore, they would be able to offer Canada many home grown food including potatoes, wheat, tobacco, livestock and they were also able to make eggs and butter. Farming was the Island’s primary industry because of the rich soil they had. The fishery was also very important to the island as they have a variety of seafood they were able to catch. This includes scallops, oysters, clams, herrings, eels, lobsters, and cod. Exporting goods was their secondary industry. The timber and logging industry was also offered to the union of Canada as there were many forests P.E.I could rely on. The service industry was P.E.I.’s tertiary industry. Bankers and salespeople contributed to the industry. Additionally, the island also builds ships as there are many skilled laborers in ship building.

A potato farm in P.E.I.

Important People in P.E.I. Before Confederation

There were many people important people that were associated with Prince Edward Island before the confederation. It all started with Jacques Cartier. Although Cartier was alive during the 1500s, he was the explorer who first discovered the colony of P.E.I. The land was first inhabited by the Mi’kmaq people. Since Prince Edward Island is a part of the Atlantic colonies and is close to Europe, many of its population consisted of settlers. Robert Haythorne was the premier of Prince Edward Island in 1869, when the offer “better terms” was proposed to the Prince Edward Island colony to join the confederation of Canada. Although in an extreme debt, Haythorne rejected the offer. In 1873, a politician, James Pope, ran a general election against Haythorne to assume his position. The habitants voted in favor of Pope, giving him the position of Prince Edward Island's premier. James Pope then met with officials negotiating a better deal for P.E.I.

A photo of James Pope
A Photo of Robert Haythrone

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