Notable quotes from Sir John

“In a young country like Canada, I am of the opinion that it is of more consequence to endeavour to develop its resources and improve its physical advantages than to waste the time of the legislature and the money of the people in fruitless discussions on abstract and theoretical questions of government.” (1844)

“If there is one thing to be avoided it is meddling with the Constitution of the country, which should not be altered till it is evident that people are suffering from the effects of that Constitution as it actually exists.”

“I believe it is a great mistake in politics and private life to resist when resistance is hopeless . . . there is no maxim which experience teaches more clearly than this, that you must yield to the times. Resistance may be protracted until it produces revolution. Resistance was protracted in this country until it produced rebellion.”

"Let us be English or let us be French... but above all let us be Canadians"

"Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken."

If a Lower Canadian Britisher desires to conquer he must ‘stoop to conquer.... (We) must make friends with the French, without sacrificing the status of his race or religion or language (we) must respect their nationality. Treat them as a nation and they will act as a free people generally do—generously. Call them a faction and they become factious.

“Let us not, like the hunters in the fable, quarrel about the skin before we kill the bear. It will take our united efforts to kill a bear.”

"I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the sake of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country."

“Confederation is only yet in the gristle, and it will require five years more before it hardens into bone.” (1872)

 “The great reason why I have always been able to beat (the opposition) is that I have been able to look a little ahead, while (they) could on no occasion forgo the temptation of a temporary triumph. Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling.”

“At all events, the Indians have been great sufferers by the discovery of America, and the transfer to it of a large white population."

“The Dominion cannot be considered complete without Newfoundland. It has the key to our front door.” 

“The question which you will shortly be called upon to determine resolves itself into this: shall we endanger our possession of the great heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers, and submit ourselves to direct taxation for the privilege of having our tariff fixed at Washington, with the prospect of ultimately becoming a portion of the American Union? . . . As for myself, the course is clear. A British subject I was born, a British subject I will die.” (1891)

"Yes, but the people would prefer John A. drunk to George Brown sober."