By Barbara Messamore

Oft-ignored within the research of Canadian heritage or disregarded as a vestige of colonial prestige, the governor general's workplace presents crucial historic perception into Canada's constitutional evolution. within the 19th century, as at the present time, person governors basic exercised enormous scope in analyzing their method of the workplace. The period 1847-1878 witnessed profound adjustments in Canada's dating with Britain, and during this new booklet, Barbara J. Messamore explores the character of those alterations via an exam of the position of the governor general.

Guided by means of superseded directions and constitutional conventions that weren't but firmly confirmed, the governors common of the time - Lord Elgin, Sir Edmund Head, Lord Monck, Lord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 govt. The imprecision of the viceregal position made the nature of the appointee specifically very important and biographical information are hence necessary to an knowing of ways the hot test of colonial self-government was once positioned into perform. Messamore's ebook marries constitutional heritage and biography, supplying illumination on a few of the key figures of nineteenth-century Canadian politics.

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Elgin recognized that there were some occasions on which a little posturing was useful. Elgin's secretary, Laurence Oliphant, who accompanied him to Washington to negotiate the 1854 Reciprocity Treaty, remarked with admiration on how readily Elgin put aside his aristocratic reserve, adapted himself to American society, and won popularity with his American hosts. '30 We can see glimpses of this side of Elgin's character in an episode dating from an 1857 journey to China. 32 At times, Elgin experienced difficulties reconciling his duties as a servant of the British empire with his ideal of Christian conduct.

Buller pointed to the smooth working of the British system since 1688 as a successful model for any constitution with representative govern- 42 Canada's Governors General ment. 60 T told you in those early days,' he reassured her on another occasion, that I thought it ought to be possible (not easy) to govern Canada under the system introduced by y[ou]r father, and that if it was found to be possible to carry on the Gov[ernmen]t under that system his title to be considered a great benefactor to his country could no longer be disputed.

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.

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