1894 Colonial Conference

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1894 Colonial Conference
Host country Canada Canada
Dates 28 June–9 July 1894
Venue(s) Senate Chamber and
Office of the Minister of Trade & Commerce
Cities Ottawa
Participants 9 governments
Chair Mackenzie Bowell
(Canadian Minister of Trade and Commerce)
Follows First Colonial Conference (1887)
Precedes 1897 Colonial Conference
Key points

The Colonial Conference of 1894 was called by the government of Canada to continue discussion begun at the First Colonial Conference in 1887 on a proposal to lay a telegraph cable at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to create a communications link between Canada and Australasia and, by extension, to the rest of the British Empire as part of what became referred to as the All Red Line network of cables throughout the Empire.[1]

The opening ceremonies were in the Senate Chamber in the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings but day-to-day meetings occurred in the offices of the Minister of Trade and Commerce.

The Earl of Jersey attended the conference as the representative of the British government and was instructed to listen and report back but not to make any commitments on behalf of the government.[1]

All self-governing British colonies were invited to send delegates with the exception of Newfoundland Colony. Western Australia and Natal Colony did not send representatives due to domestic priorities.[1] The colony of Fiji was also invited due to its geographical location on the proposed route of the cable but declined.[1] Delegates were sent to the conference by Canada, New Zealand, the Australian self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria and the South African colony of Cape Colony. Unlike other colonial conference, the colonial delegates were cabinet ministers or legislators or government representatives rather than Prime Ministers.

Resolutions were proposed to the conference and it was agreed that decisions would be made on the basis of "one colony, one vote" but the resolutions were not binding on the British government or the Colonial Office.

In addition to discussing telecommunications issues, the conference also approved a resolution favouring preferential trade within the Empire, however, this resolution was opposed by Australia's largest colonies, New South Wales and Queensland, who were suspicious the Canadian initiative seemed designed to undermine Australia's protective tariffs. The proposal would be made again to the 1897 Colonial Conference but was not agreed to and would not be acted upon until the British Empire Economic Conference in 1932.[1]


The conference was hosted by the Dominion of Canada with representatives of the governments of various colonies in attendance.

Nation Name Portfolio
United Kingdom United Kingdom Earl of Jersey Representing the British government
 Canada Mackenzie Bowell Minister of Trade and Commerce
Sir Adolphe-Philippe Caron Postmaster-General
George Eulas Foster Minister of Finance
Sanford Fleming Engineer
British Cape Colony Cape Colony Sir Henry de Villiers Chief Justice of the Cape Colony
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr Member of the Cape House of Assembly
Sir Charles Mills Agent-General
New South Wales New South Wales Francis Bathurst Suttor Minister of Public Instruction
New Zealand Colony of New Zealand Alfred Lee Smith Delegate of the New Zealand government
Queensland Queensland Andrew Joseph Thynne Minister without portfolio and Member of the Queensland Legislative Council
William Forrest Member of the Queensland Legislative Council
South Australia South Australia Thomas Playford Agent-General
Tasmania Colony of Tasmania Nicholas Fitzgerald Delegate (representing Tasmania and Victoria)
Victoria (Australia) Victoria Sir Henry John Wrixon Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly
Nicholas Fitzgerald Member of the Victorian Legislative Council
Simon Fraser Member of the Victorian Legislative Council


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e The Cambridge History of the British Empire, Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. 1929. p. 409.
  2. ^ Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference [microform