Skip to main content

The Fathers of Confederation

In 1883, the Canadian Government commissioned Robert Harris to paint the Charlottetown Conference of September 1864. The work was to include the 23 Fathers of Confederation, and secretary Hewitt Bernard. Asked to change the setting to the larger Quebec Conference of October that same year, Harris added ten figures. A preliminary charcoal sketch was made in Charlottetown, and the final work was painted in Montreal. In May 1884, it was hung in the Parliament Building in Ottawa. It went to England's Festival of Empire in 1911, after which it returned to Canada. It was destroyed when the Parliament Building burned February 3, 1916.

On September 1, 1964 - one hundred years after the Charlottetown Conference - the same scene began to emerge again. Rex Woods was embarking on a commission from the insurance company, Confederation Life, to recreate the heirloom for presentation to the nation during 1967 Centennial celebrations. Three delegates to the London Conference of 1866 - who had been officially recognized during the Diamond Jubilee in 1927 - were added on the right. The portrait above them is a tribute to Robert Harris. His signature is on the portfolio at the left, as in the original painting.

The Fathers of Confederation

Title: The Fathers of Confederation
Object name: Painting
Artist: Rex Woods
Date: 1968
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 213.36 x 365.72 cm
Catalogue no.: O-609

List of The Fathers of Confederation:

  1. Hewitt Bernard, secretary
  2. William Henry Steeves
  3. Edward Whelan
  4. William Alexander Henry
  5. Charles Fisher
  6. John Hamilton Gray, P.E.I.
  7. Edward Palmer
  8. George Coles
  9. Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley
  10. Sir Frederic B. T. Carter
  11. Jean-Charles Chapais
  12. Sir Ambrose Shea
  13. Edward Barron Chandler
  14. Sir Alexander Campbell
  15. Sir Adams George Archibald
  16. Sir Hector-Louis Langevin
  17. Sir John Alexander Macdonald
  18. Sir George-Etienne Cartier
  19. Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché
  1. George Brown
  2. Thomas Heath Haviland
  3. Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt
  4. Peter Mitchell
  5. James Cockburn
  6. Sir Oliver Mowat
  7. Robert Barry Dickey
  8. Sir Charles Tupper
  9. John Hamilton Gray, N.B.
  10. William Henry Pope
  11. William McDougall
  12. Thomas D'Arcy McGee
  13. Andrew Archibald Macdonald
  14. Jonathan McCully
  15. John Mercer Johnson
  16. Robert Duncan Wilmot
  17. Sir William Pearce Howland
  18. John William Ritchie
Top of page