By Barbara Messamore
Oft-ignored within the learn of Canadian historical past or pushed aside as a vestige of colonial prestige, the governor general's workplace offers crucial old perception into Canada's constitutional evolution. within the 19th century, as this present day, person governors normal exercised huge scope in studying their method of the workplace. The period 1847-1878 witnessed profound adjustments in Canada's dating with Britain, and during this new publication, Barbara J. Messamore explores the character of those adjustments via an exam of the function of the governor general.
Guided via superseded directions and constitutional conventions that weren't but firmly confirmed, the governors common of the time - Lord Elgin, Sir Edmund Head, Lord Monck, Lord Lisgar, and Lord Dufferin - all wrestled with the results of colonial self executive. The imprecision of the viceregal position made the nature of the appointee particularly vital and biographical info are hence necessary to an knowing of the way the recent test of colonial self-government was once positioned into perform. Messamore's publication marries constitutional historical past and biography, supplying illumination on many of the key figures of nineteenth-century Canadian politics.
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Additional info for Canada's Governors General, 1847-1878: Biography and Constitutional Evolution
To the people of Canada, Elgin would have seemed a refreshing change from the series of delicate specimens who had held the viceregal office in recent years. Charles Edward Poulett Thomson, first Baron Sydenham, was only forty when he took office in Canada in 1839, but was far from robust. The unmarried Sydenham had a reputation for being vain and effeminate, suffered from gout, and succumbed to injuries suffered in a fall from his horse when he had been in office less than two years. His successor, the sixty-year-old Sir Charles Bagot, was already in fail- Mary Lambton's Husband 37 ing health when he arrived early in 1842.
Lisgar, in keeping with his previous parliamentary experience, tended to exercise most of his influence behind the scenes. He attracted little attention to himself or his role, either from contemporaries or later historians, and his activities have been consequently underestimated and misjudged. Dufferin, by contrast, was flamboyant by nature. He frequently had to vigorously resist his own impulses to get involved in political controversies, but, on the positive side, his high-profile social and cultural efforts did much to elevate the status of the viceregal office.
The Foreign Office declined Elgin's request to finance this rescue - or raid - of neglected antiquities, but Elgin pressed ahead, spending an estimated £62,440 to recover the treasures. The episode played a significant part in the financial hardships that encumbered the family for generations. 3 But debt was only part of the problem. The seventh Earl's bid to save Greek architectural treasures was condemned by many contemporaries as the act of a rapacious despoiler, intent on stripping the Greek people of their rightful cultural legacy.