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Alexander Tilloch Galt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt

Sir Alexander Galt.jpg
Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt in 1869
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Sherbrooke (Town of)
In office
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byEdward Towle Brooks
1st Canadian Minister of Finance
In office
July 1, 1867 – November 7, 1867
Prime MinisterJohn A. Macdonald
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded bySir John Rose, 1st Baronet
1st Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
In office
Preceded bySir John Rose, 1st Baronet (as Financial Commissioner)
Succeeded byCharles Tupper
Personal details
Born(1817-09-06)September 6, 1817
Chelsea, England
DiedSeptember 19, 1893(1893-09-19) (aged 76)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyLiberal-Conservative
Elliott Torrance
(m. 1848; her death 1850)

Amy Gordon Torrance
(his death 1893)
RelationsSir Hugh Allan (cousin)
Alexander Tilloch (grandfather)
Children10, including Elliott
ParentsJohn Galt

Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, GCMG CB PC (September 6, 1817 – September 19, 1893),[1] was a politician and a father of Canadian Confederation.

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What causes, say, heroin addiction? This is a really stupid question, right? It’s obvious; we all know it; heroin causes heroin addiction. Here’s how it works: if you use heroin for 20 days, by day 21, your body would physically crave the drug ferociously because there are chemical hooks in the drug. That’s what addiction means. But there’s a catch. Almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong. If you, for example, break your hip, you’ll be taken to a hospital and you’ll be given lots of diamorphine for weeks or even months. Diamorphine is heroin. It’s, in fact, much stronger heroin than any addict can get on the street because it’s not contaminated by all the stuff drug dealers dilute it with. There are people near you being given loads of deluxe heroin in hospitals right now. So at least some of them should become addicts? But this has been closely studied; it doesn’t happen. Your grandmother wasn’t turned into a junkie by her hip replacement. Why is that? Our current theory of addiction comes in part from a series of experiments that were carried out earlier in the 20th century. The experiment is simple: you take a rat and put it in a cage with two water bottles. One is just water, the other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself. But in the 1970s, Bruce Alexander, a professor of psychology, noticed something odd about this experiment: the rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So he built Rat Park, which is basically heaven for rats; it’s a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls, tunnels to scamper down, plenty of friends to play with, and they could have loads of sex— everything a rat about town could want. And they would have the drugged water and the normal water bottles. But here’s the fascinating thing: in Rat Park, rats hardly ever use the drugged water; none of them ever use it compulsively; none of them ever overdose. But maybe this is a quirk of rats, right? Well, helpfully, there was a human experiment along the same lines: the Vietnam War. 20% of American troops in Vietnam were using a lot of heroin. People back home were really panicked, because they thought there would be hundreds of thousands of junkies on the streets of the United States when the war was over. But a study followed the soliders home and found something striking: they didn’t go to rehab; they didn’t even go into withdrawal; 95% of them just stopped after they got home. If you believe the old theory of addiction, that makes no sense. But if you believe Prof. Alexander’s theory, it makes perfect sense, because if you’re put into a horrific jungle in a foreign country where you don’t want to be, and you could be forced to kill or die at any moment, doing heroin is a great way to spend your time; but if you go back to your nice home with your friends and your family, it’s the equivalent of being taken out of that first cage and put into a human Rat Park; it’s not the chemicals, it’s your cage. We need to think about addiction differently. Human beings have an innate need to bond and connect. When we are happy and healthy, we will bond with the people around us. But when we can’t, because we’re traumatized, isolated, or beaten down by life, we will bond with something that gives us some sense of relief. It might be endlessly checking a smartphone; it might be pornography, video games, reddit, gambling, or it might be cocaine. But we will bond with something, because that is our human nature. The path out of unhealthy bonds is to form healthy bonds, to be connected to people you want to be present with. Addiction is just one symptom of the crisis of disconnection that’s happening all around us. We all feel it. Since the 1950s, the average number of close friends an American has has been steadily declining. At the same time, the amount of floor space in their homes has been steadily increasing. To choose floor space over friends, to choose stuff over connection. The War on Drugs we’ve been fighting for almost a century now has made everything worse. Instead of helping people heal and getting their life together, we have cast them out from society, we have made it harder for them to get jobs and become stable, we take benefits and support away from them if we catch them with drugs, we throw them in prison cells, which are literally cages, we put people who are not well in a situation which makes them feel worse and hate them for not recovering. For too long, we’ve talked only about individual recovery from addiction. But we need now to talk about social recovery. Because something has gone wrong with us as a group. We have to build a society that looks a lot more like Rat Park and a lot less like those isolated cages. We are going to have to change the unnatural way we live and rediscover each other. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection. This video is a collaboration with Johann Hari, the author of the book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs”. He was very kind to work with us on this video to spread the word. We recommend that you give the book a try. Our videos are made thanks to your support on If you want to help us make more of them, we really appreciate your support. We made an interactive version of this video together with some friends. See the link in the description. Subtitles by the community


Early life

Galt was born in Chelsea, England on September 6, 1817. He was the son of John Galt, a Scottish novelist and colonizer, and Elizabeth (née Tilloch) Galt.[2] His mother was the only daughter of Alexander Tilloch, the journalist and inventor who founded Philosophical Magazine.[3][4] He was a first cousin of Sir Hugh Allan of Montreal, the owner of the Allan Shipping Line which was the largest privately owned shipping empire in the world in 1882.[5] He was educated at Reading School.


He was a member of the Great Coalition government in the Province of Canada that secured Confederation between 1864 and 1867. He became a leading figure in the creation of the Coalition when he was asked to become premier of the Province of Canada by then Governor General Sir Edmund Walker Head. Doubting his own ability to demand the loyalty of the majority of members of the Legislative Assembly, he turned down the position, but recommended that George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald be asked to become co-leaders of the new government.[3]

In return, Cartier and Macdonald asked him to become Inspector-General of Canada. He accepted the post on the condition that Macdonald and Cartier made Confederation a key platform in their new government. In 1858, Alexander Tilloch Galt made a motion in the Legislature at Kingston recommending that the Province of Canada ask the British Government to create a federal union of British North America (Canada East and West, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) and Rupert's Land (owned by the Hudson's Bay Company). The motion succeeded, and Alexander Galt, John Ross, and Sir George-Étienne Cartier went to London to begin the long process of convincing the British to make British North America into the first sovereign Dominion within the British Empire.

As Inspector General, Galt reformed the Province of Canada's banking system trade policies. He was the main architect of the Cayley-Galt Tariff, which protected colonial businesses and caused consternation in both Britain and the United States.[6]

July 1, 1867, Canada East and West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became the first provinces in British North America to form the Dominion of Canada. Galt served as the first Minister of Finance in the new confederation. As minister of Finance, he reversed many of his earlier policies, promoting trade within the British Empire. Following a strong disagreement with Macdonald and Cartier concerning the fate of the Commercial Bank of Canada, Galt resigned from government. He continued to sit as an MP until 1872.[7]

Nevertheless, Galt remained an important figure in Canadian business and politics. In 1877, The British appointed him as their representative in the Halifax Fisheries Commission concerning American fishing rights in Canadian waters. Following a rapprochement with the re-elected Macdonald, Galt was sent to London to be Canada's informal representative there. As this was the only important office of the Canadian government overseas at the time, he also travelled to France and Spain to negotiate trade deals with those nations. The British government knew of these trips and was not pleased that Canada had developed a foreign policy separate from the Empire. The British demanded that Galt's position be formalized, and in late 1880, he became the first Canadian High Commissioner in London.[3][6] He left his post on 1 June 1883.[8]

Business ventures

Sir Alexander Galt and his son Elliott Torrance Galt co-founded the city of Lethbridge, Alberta in 1883, when he established a coal mine on the banks of the Oldman River in the southwest portion of the District of Alberta, Northwest Territories. The Canadian Post Office refused to accept the name Lethbridge for the community[why?] in the Dominion of Canada. Canada's Governor General, the Marquess of Landsdowne, demonstrated the Dominion government's support of the Galt enterprises, by opening the Galts' railway in September 1885 in Lethbridge.[3][6]

Galt's company, the North Western Coal and Navigation Company went through a variety of name changes as it moved into railways, and irrigation enterprises. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier dedicated the Galt Hospital addition, which houses the Galt Museum, in 1910.[3][6]

Galt was also the founding president of The Guarantee Company of North America in 1872, providing fidelity bonds to guarantee the surety of employees of railroads and government. The company still exists today as the largest provider of surety bonds in all of Canada in public works and government services.

Personal life

The Galt house on Simpson Street in the Golden Square Mile at Montreal
The Galt house on Simpson Street in the Golden Square Mile at Montreal

On February 9, 1848, Galt married Elliott Torrance (1828–1850), the daughter of merchant and entrepreneur John Torrance, of Saint-Antoine Hall, Montreal. Among Elliott's sibling was Daniel Torrance, who married Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt, a daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Jane Torrance, who married David Torrance, president of the Bank of Montreal.[9] Galt's wife died on May 25, 1850, shortly after giving birth to their only son:

Later he married her younger sister, Amy Gordon Torrance (1834–1911). Amy gave birth to seven daughters and two more sons. They lived in Montreal at their house within the Golden Square Mile, which Galt built in about 1860. Galt appears to have had a very non-sectarian approach to religious faith and although the grandson of a Calvinist theologian, Alexander Galt supported both the Methodist and Anglican churches while his wife, Amy, was a lifelong Presbyterian.[6]

Galt was reported to be a Freemason of Victoria Lodge, No. 16 (Quebec) of Sherbrooke.[12]

Galt died in Montreal, Quebec on September 19, 1893. He is interred in the Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.


He has a street named after him: Avenue Galt in the borough of Verdun, Quebec, in the city of Montreal where he had lands.[13]

In Sherbrooke, Quebec, he has two streets named after him: rue Galt Est/Ouest and rue Alexandre. The Quartier Alexandre, located downtown, is also named after Galt. In Lennoxville, Quebec, the Alexander Galt High School was named in his honour.

The Galt Gardens public park and Galt Museum (formerly a hospital) in Lethbridge are named after him.

Galt was portrayed by Patrick McKenna in the 2011 CBC Television film John A.: Birth of a Country.


  1. ^ MARGARET E. MCCALLUM. "Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  2. ^ Jean-Pierre Kesteman. "GALT, Sir ALEXANDER TILLOCH". University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Skelton, Oscar (1920). The Life and Times of Alexander Tilloch Galt. Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Springett, Evelyn (1937). For My Children's Children. Montreal: Unity Press.
  5. ^ The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt | Canadian statesman". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Harris, Jane (2006). Stars Appearing: The Galts Vision of Canada. Kitchener: Volumes Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9780985-0-6.
  7. ^ Skelton, Oscar D. (1920). The Life and Times of Sir Alexander Galt. Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 422–427.
  8. ^ "Alexander Tilloch Galt". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2016.
  9. ^ "Biography – TORRANCE, DAVID – Volume X (1871-1880)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  10. ^ Alberta History, vol. 33, Historical Society of Alberta, 1985, pg 29
  11. ^ The Galts, Hamilton Baird Timothy, McClelland and Stewart, 1984, pg 108
  12. ^ Michael Jenkyns (July 2017). "Canada's Sesquicentennial - Freemasonry and Confederation". Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario. Archived from the original on 19 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  13. ^,11245605&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL


This page was last edited on 28 April 2019, at 02:05
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