Archibald, Adams George (DNB01)

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ARCHIBALD, Sir ADAMS GEORGE (1814–1892), Canadian statesman, the son of Samuel Archibald and Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Archibald, came of an old Scottish family which had settled in the north of Ireland, and thence migrated to Nova Scotia in 1761. His grandfather, James Archibald, had been judge of the court of common pleas for the county of Colchester in Nova Scotia. He was born at Truro, Nova Scotia, on 18 May 1814, and educated at Pictou College; thence he proceeded to Halifax and read for the law in the chambers of William Sutherland, afterwards recorder of Halifax. He was admitted an attorney of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in 1838, and called to the bar of the latter colony in 1839, for some years devoting himself to the practice of his profession.

Archibald entered public life in 1851, when he was elected to the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia as member for Colchester, and during the years which followed he took an active part in promoting legislation. He was especially interested in measures for the management of goldfields, for dealing with free education, and for restricting the franchise to ratepayers. In 1855 he became Q.C., and in August 1856 he was appointed solicitor-general for the province. On 14 Feb. 1857 he went out of office with the ministry. Later in the same year he was sent to England as one of two delegates to represent the rights of the province against the General Mining Association, the monopoly of which over the coal areas the government was endeavouring to destroy. He also took part in the discussions on the project of an intercolonial railway for which the help of the home government was desired. He was required at the same time to discuss with the home authorities the question of the union of Nova Scotia with the provinces of New Brunswick, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island (v. his letter of 24 Nov. 1866 on union). On 10 Feb. 1860 he came into office again as attorney-general, and in September 1861 (Pari. Papers, 1862, xxxvi. 651) was deputed to represent Nova Scotia at the conference at Quebec respecting the intercolonial railway scheme. In 1862 he was appointed advocate-general in the vice-admiralty court at Halifax. On 11 June 1863 he went out of office with his colleagues. In June 1864 he was delegate of Nova Scotia to a conference held at Charlottetown on the question of the legislative union of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, and similarly attended the conference on the question of a more comprehensive scheme of union which assembled at Quebec on 10 Oct. 1864. In 1866 he proceeded to London to take part in the consultations which led up to the federation of the Canadian provinces, and published a letter, dated 24 Nov. 1866, recording his views on the subject of colonial union. In 1867 he was appointed secretary of state for the provinces under the new dominion government; but in 1868, being beaten in the contest for Colchester, he resigned his post. In 1869 he was elected to the dominion parliament as member for Colchester, but in May 1870 resigned in order to become the first lieutenant-governor of Manitoba on its transfer from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the government of the dominion.

On 2 Sept. 1870 Archibald arrived at Fort Garry, just as Colonel (now Lord) Wolseley was moving out on his Red River expedition. He was looked upon by many as a French sympathiser, and justified this opinion by his conciliatory policy towards the rebels. He lost no time in forming the rudiments of a council and taking a census of the north-west territories with a view to the election of an assembly. On 15 March 1871 he opened the first local parliament. He laid the foundation of the north-west mounted police and initiated a sound Indian policy. On 27 Aug. 1871 he had a mass meeting of the Indians and made a treaty with them on behalf of the dominion government. Though abused at first by both parties, his administration proved very successful; he maintained with skill his position in relation both to the central government and the people whom he had to accustom to the reign of order. In October 1872 he resigned by his own desire, with the unconcealed regret of the governor-general, the Earl (afterwards Marquis) of Dufferin.

On 24 June 1873 Archibald was appointed judge in equity in Nova Scotia, but on 4 July the office of lieutenant-governor became vacant, and he succeeded to the post, which he filled with such general approbation that at the end of his term in 1878 he was reappointed, and did not finally retire from this office till 4 July 1883. In 1888 he was once more induced to stand for Colchester, and was elected to the Canadian House of Commons; but in 1891, at the next general election, did not offer himself as a candidate. He died at Truro on 14 Dec. 1892, and was buried in Truro churchyard.

Archibald was created C.M.G. in 1872, and K.C.M.G. in 1886. In 1873 he became a director of the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1884 chairman of the governors of Dalhousie College. In February 1886 he was elected president of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, in the proceedings of which he had for some years taken an active part, contributing various papers to its collections.

Archibald was a staunch presbyterian, but a man of broad views, of strong will but cool judgment, courteous and dignified in bearing. He married, on 1 June 1843, Elizabeth Archibald, daughter of John Burnyeat, incumbent of the parish of St. John, Colchester, Nova Scotia, whose wife was a connection of the Archibald family. He had a son, who died young, and three daughters, all married, one being the wife of Bishop Jones of Newfoundland.

[Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1895, ix. 197–201; Rose’s Cyclopædia of Canadian Biography; Begg’s History of the North-West, vol. ii. esp. pp. 90–100; the Citizen and Evening Chronicle (of Halifax, N.S.), 5 July 1888; Canadian Parliamentary Companion, 1875.]

C. A. H.