In the mid-19th century, British North America was a patchwork of colonial lands that included two colonies on the Pacific coast, the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land, the Province of Canada (previously Lower and Upper Canada), the colony of Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Each province had its own legislature and governor, and reported to the British government. However, a number of social, economic and security issues encouraged some people to consider a union or alliance. The American Civil War was over and there were fears of annexation; Britain was reluctant to spend more money on the colonies and was encouraging self-sufficiency.
When the Province of Canada heard that the Maritime provinces were meeting to discuss a union among themselves, Governor General of Canada Lord Charles Monck, on behalf of John A. Macdonald, George Brown and George-Étienne Cartier, asked Maritime leaders if they could broaden the discussion to include Canada. The three premiers from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island agreed to meet with them, and a conference was convened in Charlottetown 150 years ago in September 1864.
A convincing proposal, first introduced at the Charlottetown Conference, was elaborated at the Quebec Conference, and became the framework for Confederation. Three years later, the vision of a union was realized at the London Conference with the creation of the British North America Act. The Act finalized the union of the provinces and on July 1, 1867, gave birth to the Dominion of Canada.