Galt, Sir Alexander Tilloch

Galt, Sir Alexander Tilloch tĭlˈək gôlt [key], 1817–93, Canadian statesman, b. England; son of John Galt. In 1835 he went to Canada in the service of the British American Land Company. He directed (1844–55) the affairs of this company and was also involved in promoting the building of railroads. He was a member of the Canadian Legislative Assembly (1849–50, 1853–67) and of the Canadian House of Commons (1867–72). Although Galt had in 1849 signed the manifesto favoring the annexation of Canada by the United States, he became one of the most persistent and influential leaders of the movement for confederation of the provinces, and when he accepted (1858) the ministry of finance in the Cartier-Macdonald administration, it was on the understanding that the government would work to achieve confederation. In 1859, in answer to Great Britain's protests against the protective tariff newly adopted by Canada, Galt declared that Canada must be allowed control of its financial policies. While serving (1858–62, 1864–66) as minister of finance he was an influential member of the two conferences (1864) on confederation and of the London Conference that resulted in the British North America Act. He became (1867) minister of finance in the first dominion government, but he resigned in 1868 because of disagreement with Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and in 1872 retired from Parliament. He was the dominant member of the Halifax Fisheries Commission, which won for Canada a large award from the United States. From 1880 to 1883 he served as Canadian high commissioner in London, the first to hold that position. In the last 10 years of his life he had economic interests in W Canada, among them the development of coal deposits in Alberta; in this connection he founded Lethbridge. He was knighted in 1878.

See biography by O. D. Skelton (rev. ed. 1966).

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