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Biography of the Day

SCHWATKA, FREDERICK – Volume XII (1891-1900)

b. 29 Sept. 1849 in Galena, Ill.


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

Moral and Religious Reforms
Original title:  Begbie Contest Society - 1st 20 years

Source: Link


Various interest groups, for moral or religious reasons, pressed the federal government to implement reforms thought likely to relieve some of society’s ills. Among the reformers were journalist Francis Stephens SPENCE and members of the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic, who encouraged the federal government to hold a referendum on Prohibition in 1898:

“Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier nevertheless declined to act on it since prohibitionists, though holding a majority among those voting, had only a minority of the full electorate and had suffered a defeat in Quebec.”


Appointed first general secretary of the Lord’s Day Alliance in 1900, Presbyterian minister John George SHEARER and his group demanded that Sundays be respected as a day of religious observance:

“[The Alliance’s] Sabbatarian focus became a pressing concern for evangelical Christianity.… Shearer provided pressure.… The Alliance succeeded in its main aim with the passage of the federal Lord’s Day Act in 1906.…”


Laurier gave in, but, as recalled in this excerpt from his biography, he had difficulty in pleasing everyone:

“[The] Lord’s Day Act, introduced in the house on 12 March 1906, did not satisfy the Lord’s Day Alliance, and aroused anxiety among French Canadians in the province of Quebec which was stirred up by the Nationaliste movement of [Henri] Bourassa and [Armand] La Vergne.”


For more detailed information on the influence of interest groups concerned with morals or religion on the Laurier administration, we invite you to consult the following lists of biographies.


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