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Legislative Council of Manitoba

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  • Honorable Donald Gunn (1797 - 1878)
    HONORABLE DONALD GUNN======Hudson's Bay Company Servant at York Factory, 1813-23, educator, scientist, historian, and member of the Legislative Council of Manitoba=== Donald Gunn is the youngest son of...

The Legislative Council of Manitoba was the upper house of the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Created in 1870 and abolished in 1876, the Council was the only provincial upper house in Canada that was not a direct or indirect continuation of a pre-confederation upper house. It was also the first provincial upper house to be abolished.

The council was created under the provisions of the Manitoba Act. Even prior to Manitoba's entry into Confederation, the need for an upper house at the provincial level was seen to be questionable by many Canadians. However, the Francophone Metis population wanted to model the government in Manitoba on what had already been created for Quebec. There, the Legislative Council had been retained and was seen as a means to protect the interests of religious and linguistic minorities inside the province. In this, they easily gained the agreement of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, who firmly believed in the necessity of an unelected upper house.

During its brief existence, members of the Legislative Council were appointed by the Manitoban lieutenant governor. However, by 1874, the new province's finances were in trouble, and the government had to appeal to Ottawa for aid. By this time, Macdonald had been replaced as Prime Minister by Alexander Mackenzie. Mackenzie's government agreed to provide aid, but demanded that the Legislative Council be eliminated as a cost cutting measure. The Council initially resisted, rejecting bills to abolish itself in 1874 and 1875. Finally in 1876, following the mediation of Lieutenant Governor Alexander Morris who had promised the recalcitrant Councilors lucrative government positions elsewhere, the Legislative Council was abolished.