October 13, 2017

Highclere and Canada

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After spending time researching three unusual names in the Castle visitor book of 1866, I uncovered the story behind the birth of Canada as a nation and the 4th Earl of Carnarvon’s role on the world stage. Those names were John A Macdonald, George Etienne Cartier and Alexander Galt.

I discovered in the archives nearly eight weeks of almost daily correspondence between the 4th Earl and the first Prime Minister of Canada Sir John A. MacDonald. Diary entries and letters show the discussion of key elements of the Canadian Constitution, such as how Lord Carnarvon sought to safeguard the rights of minorities, the terms of the Senators and the respective powers of the federal and local legislatures.

It is clear that Highclere Castle was at the very centre of the discussions surrounding the British North American Bill and its drafting. Indeed, it was the 4th Earl himself who took the British North America Act to Parliament in February 1867, which led to the creation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1st of the same year.

As I can, I hope to transcribe more letters and share them through this page, and first of all below I have included a poem in French by Monsieur Cartier which he wrote in our Visitors book and I would really appreciate if any of you would translate and share back on here! There are stories about the Intercolonial Railway which Lord Carnarvon promoted and persuaded the Cabinet it was a sine qua non. And thus the new nation would stretch “Mari usque ad Mare”, “From Sea to Sea” and “D’un océan à l’autre”.

I feel very proud that Highclere and the 4th Earl was regarded as a true friend of Canada. I hope Canadians will feel very welcome at Highclere today. On July 1st 2018 Highclere will again celebrate Canada and seek to share our “Constitutional Walk”.