Having recently reviewed some prominent Fathers of Confederation, this week we focus on Mothers of Confederation. Without a doubt, the most prominent and important female influence of Confederation was Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria’s connection with Canada went beyond merely sitting as monarch over a colony. Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, lived in Quebec and the Maritimes for the better part of a decade. Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, was named after him.
Queen Victoria was Canada’s ultimate political signatory to enact Confederation. It was an appealing mechanism with which to unite French- and English-speaking residents, to facilitate trade among the regions, and to stave off American invasion. Some Canadian and British politicians reasoned that the US would be more likely to conquer Canada if the regions remained separate British colonies. Therefore, Confederation not only internally united Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, it also protected the region from external threats.
One of Queen Victoria’s first steps to uniting British North America was to ease tensions after the rebellion uprisings in Upper and Lower Canada. The rebellions started in 1837, the year Victoria ascended to the throne, and continued to 1839. She granted amnesties to rebels as early as 1838, allowed the Governor General to issue special pardons in 1843, and granted completed pardons for anyone involved in the rebellions through the Amnesty Act in 1849. One former rebel became a father of Confederation, which speaks to the Queen’s work in reconciliation.
In a further commitment to maintain harmony in her colony, Queen Victoria directly met with First Nations leaders before Confederation. Her children appear to have continued that commitment by visiting Canada and meeting with First Nations leaders to listen to political needs and concerns.
Although her father and five of her children visited Canada, Queen Victoria never did. Moreover, one critic wrote that Queen Victoria’s personal diary seems dismissive of major Canadian events. On May 22, 1867, the Queen noted only briefly that she attended the final meeting to authorize Confederation. And on July 1st, 1867, Queen Victoria wrote of her daughter’s fifth wedding anniversary and of the weather, with no mention of Canada.
Other historians note that the Queen never stopped grieving her husband’s death in 1861. Perhaps, though committed to Canada’s political interests, she merely reflected in her personal journal without considering whether 150 years later we would analyze her private thoughts.
Whatever her motivation for her personal diary, Queen Victoria’s motivation for Confederation was echoed by those who were on the ground in British North America. Confederation had political motives that transcended those among the colonies. As Canada’s Queen, Victoria made her mark on Canada and we continue to celebrate her reign with the annual Victoria Day long weekend.
*Just kidding; we love Queen Bey.
 Arthur Bousfield, “Queen Victoria, 1837-1901: Mother of Confederation,” Canadian Royal Heritage Trust (2013), online: <crht.ca/queen-victoria-mother-of-confederation/>; Carolyn Harris, “Queen Victoria and Canada,” Queen’s Alumni Review, Queen’s University (2016), online: <www.queensu.ca/gazette/alumnireview/stories/queen-victoria-and-canada>.
 Library and Archives Canada, Government of Canada “How Canada was Formed,” Politics and Government, Library and Archives Canada online: <https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/confederation/kids/023002-1010-e.html>; Canada History, “The London Conference,” CanadaHistory.com (2013), online: <http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/confederation/London.html>.
 Harris, supra note 1.
 Randy Boswell, “Queen Victoria, the ‘Mother of Confederation,’ Made No Mention of the Event in her Diary,” Postmedia Network Inc (25 May 2012) Canada.com, online: <www.canada.com/news/Queen+Victoria+Mother+Confederation+made+mention+event+diary/6679733/story.html>.
 Bousfield, supra note 1; Harris, supra note 1.