In the second half of the nineteenth century, Great Britain gave greater powers to its colonies through the principle of “responsible government”. Canada became the first colony to acquire the status of a Dominion.
Fear that the United States, a former British territory that had been independent since 1776, might succeed in annexing the Canadian colonies was one of the factors leading to Confederation. On July 1, 1867, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia formed the Dominion of Canada. Already, the construction of a railway network connecting the Maritimes and Quebec was part of the agreement.
And western development was one of the first Canadian government’s projects. The coast-to-coast transcontinental railway became a key argument in convincing new provinces to join Confederation; one of these was British Columbia, which joined Canada in 1870.