Biography of Cartier, George-Etienne, Sir, 1814-1873
Sir George-Étienne Cartier (1814-1873) was one of the fathers of Confederation. He trained in law with a lawyer who supported the Patriote party. He worked for Louis-Joseph Papineau and Robert Nelson during the elections of 1834 and was the composer of two patriotic songs: O Canada, mon pays, mes amours and Avant tout je suis Canadien. He was also a member of the Fils de la Liberté, an association of French Canadian militants, and he participated in the rebellions of 1837. After the defeat of the Patriotes, Cartier fled to the United States, where he remained for several months. After his return to Canada, he supported Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine and the demand for responsible government. In 1848 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. In 1856 he became attorney general for Canada East and in 1857 formed a government with John A. Macdonald, the first of a series of governments in which he played an important part. He was involved in the selection of Ottawa as the country’s permanent capital, the promotion of the CPR, and negotiation in London for the transfer of Rupert’s Land to Canada. In 1866 he participated in the conference that passed the resolutions that became the British North America Act and on July 1, 1867, he became minister of militia and defence in the new Canadian government. Cartier negotiated an agreement with Bishop Taché that led to the creation of the province of Manitoba. In August 1872, after being defeated in Montreal East in the federal general election, he ran in Provencher, Manitoba, where Louis Riel and Henry James Clarke were contestants. They were persuaded to withdraw and Cartier was elected, though he was never to visit the riding. Cartier died in 1873 in England.