Sir Charles Tupper


Sir Charles Tupper

Amherst, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Canada
Death 30 Oct 1915 (aged 94)
Bexleyheath, London Borough of Bexley, Greater London, England
Burial Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada
Memorial ID 2551 View Source
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6th Canadian Prime Minister. He served in this capacity from May 1, 1896 until July 8, 1896 as a Conservative from Nova Scotia, following Sir Mackenzie Bowell's ouster by the Canadian Parliamentary Cabinet. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Confederation. His 69-day term as prime minister is currently the shortest in Canadian history. He was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, the son of a Baptist minister. In 1837 he attended the Horton Academy, Wolfville, Nova Scotia. After graduating in 1839, he became a teacher for a short period and then moved to Windsor, Nova Scotia to study medicine. In 1841 he relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and graduated with his medical degree in 1843. In 1846 he returned to Nova Scotia and married Frances Morse, the granddaughter of Colonel John Mores, the founder of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He set up a medical practice in Amherst and also opened a drugstore there. He practiced medicine periodically throughout his political career and served as the first president of the Canadian Medical Association. In 1855 he entered Nova Scotia politics as a protégé of James William Johnston. During Johnston's tenure as premier of Nova Scotia in 1857 to 1859 and from 1863 to 1864, he served as provincial secretary. In 1860 he set out to establish a Canadian confederation of all the British North American Colonies. Because he thought that full union among the British North American colonies would be unachievable for many years, on March 28, 1864, he instead proposed a Maritime Union which would unite the Maritime provinces in advance of a projected future union with the Province of Canada. In 1864 he replaced Johnston as premier and established public education in Nova Scotia. He also worked to expand Nova Scotia's railway network in order to promote industry. Following the passage of the British North America Act in 1867, which ultimately created the country of Canada, he resigned as premier of Nova Scotia and began a career in Canadian politics. He served in the first Canadian Parliament as a Member of the House of Commons (1867 to 1884 and 1887). He held multiple cabinet positions under Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, including President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (1870 to 1872), Minister of Inland Revenue (1872 to 1873), Minister of Customs (1873 to 1874), Minister of Public Works (1878 to 1879), and Minister of Railways and Canals (1879 to 1884). Initially groomed as Macdonald's successor, he had a falling out with Macdonald, and by the early 1880s, he asked Macdonald to appoint him as Canadian High Commissioner to the Great Britain. He assumed this post in London in 1883, and would remain High Commissioner until 1895, although from 1887 to 1888, he served as Minister of Finance without relinquishing the High Commissionership. When Prime Minister Sir John Thompson died suddenly in office in December 1894, it was thought that the Governor General of Canada, Lord Aberdeen, would invite Tupper to return to Canada to become prime minister. However, Lord Aberdeen disliked him and instead invited Sir Mackenzie Bowell to replace Thompson as prime minister. The greatest challenge facing Bowell as prime minister was the Manitoba Schools Question. The Conservative Party was bitterly divided on how to handle the issue and as a result, on January 4, 1896, seven cabinet ministers resigned, demanding Tupper's return. As a result, Bowell and Aberdeen were forced to invite him to join the 6th Canadian Ministry and on January 15 he became Secretary of State for Canada, with the understanding that he would become prime minister following the dissolution of the 7th Canadian Parliament. On May 1, 1896 he was sworn in as prime minister, becoming the oldest person to serve in that position at the age of 74. While the Conservative party captured the majority vote in the 1896 election, they did not retain a majority in Parliament. When he attempted to make political appointments as prime minister, Lord Aberdeen refused to carry them out and he resigned on July 8, 1896 and Aberdeen invited Wilfrid Laurier, the leader of the Liberal Party, to become the prime minister. From that point until 1900, he served as Leader of the Opposition in the 8th Canadian Parliament, after which he returned to England. In November 1907 he became a member of the British Privy Council and was also promoted to the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. He and died in Bexleyheath, London, England of heart failure at the age of 94. In his retirement, he wrote his memoirs, "Recollections of Sixty Years in Canada," published in 1914. He also gave a series of interviews to journalist W. A. Harkin which formed the basis of a second book published in 1914, entitled "Political Reminiscences of the Right Honourable Sir Charles Tupper."

Bio by: William Bjornstad


G.C.M.C. C.B.
BORN JULY 2, 1821 - DIED OCT. 30, 1915
BORN MAR. 14, 1826 - DIED MAY 11, 1912

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2551
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Charles Tupper (2 Jul 1821–30 Oct 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 2551, citing St. John's Cemetery and Columbarium, Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada ; Maintained by Find a Grave .