1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cartier, Sir Georges Étienne
CARTIER, SIR GEORGES ÉTIENNE, Bart. (1814–1873), Canadian statesman, was born in the province of Quebec on the 6th of September 1814. Called to the bar in 1835, he soon gained a large practice. He took part in the rebellion of 1837, and was forced for a time to fly the country. In 1848 he was elected to the Canadian parliament. His youthful ebullition of 1837 was soon repented of, and he became a loyal subject of the British crown. So greatly had he changed that in 1854 he became a leading member of the reconstructed Liberal-Conservative party. In 1855 he was appointed provincial secretary, and in 1857 attorney-general for Lower Canada. From 1858 to 1862 he and Sir John Macdonald were joint prime ministers of Canada, and their alliance lasted till the death of Cartier. He took the chief part in promoting many useful measures, such as the abolition of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada (see Quebec), and the codification of the civil law of that province (1857–1864). Above all he favoured the construction of railways, and to his energy and fearless, optimism are largely due the eventual success of the Grand Trunk railway, and the resolve to construct the Canadian Pacific. In the face of great opposition, he carried his native province into federation (1864–1867), which would have been impossible without his aid. In the first cabinet of Sir John Macdonald he sat as minister of militia and defence, and carried in 1868 an important act establishing the land forces of Canada on a sound basis. Though a devout Catholic, he became involved in a political quarrel with his church, and was defeated by clerical influence at the general election of 1872. Another seat was found for him, but his health failed and he died on the 20th of May 1873.
The Life, by Alfred O. De Celles (Toronto, 1904), may be supplemented by the sketch in Dent’s Canadian Portrait Gallery (Toronto, 1880). (W. L. G.)