Canadian federal election, 1867

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Canadian federal election, 1867
August 7–September 20, 1867 → 1872

180 seats in the 1st Canadian Parliament
91 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  JaMAC 140x190.jpg Brown-sm.jpg Joehowe.JPG
Leader John A. Macdonald none (unofficially, George Brown) Joseph Howe
Party Conservative Liberal Anti-Confederation
Leader's seat Kingston ran in Ontario South (lost) Hants
Seats won 1001 62 18
Popular vote 62,992 (Conservative)
29,730 (Liberal-Conservative)
60,818 21,239
Percentage 23.45% (Conservative)
11.08% (Liberal-Conservative)
22.67% 7.92%

Canada 1867 Federal Election.svg

Prime Minister before election

John A. Macdonald
Conservative Party of Canada (historical)

Prime Minister-designate

John A. Macdonald
Conservative Party of Canada (historical)

The initial seat distribution of the 1st Canadian Parliament

The Canadian federal election of 1867, held from August 7 to September 20, was the first election for the new nation of Canada. It was held to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons, representing electoral districts in the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec in the 1st Parliament of Canada. The provinces of Manitoba (1870) and British Columbia (1871) were created during the term of the 1st Parliament of Canada and were not part of the Canadian federal election of 1867.

Sir John A. Macdonald, as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (concurrently known as the Liberal-Conservative Party until 1873), became the first Prime Minister of Canada as the Conservatives won a majority of the seats in the election. Macdonald had led a coalition government in the former Province of Canada during the last pre-Confederation election, and the Liberal-Conservative Party that came out of that coalition now won a majority of the seats (and votes) in the new provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The Liberal Party of Canada won the second largest number of seats overall, including a majority of the seats (and votes) in the province of New Brunswick. The Liberals did not have a party leader in the election. George Brown, who was leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario, was considered the "elder statesman" of the national party. Brown ran concurrently for seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Canadian House of Commons, and may well have been Prime Minister in the unlikely event that the Liberals prevailed over the Conservatives in the national election. Brown failed to win a seat in either body, and the national Liberals remained officially leaderless until 1873.

The Anti-Confederation Party, led by Joseph Howe, won the third largest number of seats overall, based solely on a majority of seats (and votes) in the province of Nova Scotia. Their main desire was the reversal of the decision to join Confederation, which had become highly unpopular in that province. The goals of the Anti-Confederation Members of Parliament (MPs) were openly supported by five of the Liberal MPs of New Brunswick. The Anti-Confederation MPs sat with the Liberal caucus. When the government in Britain refused to allow Nova Scotia to secede, a majority of the Anti-Confederation MPs (11 of 18) moved to the Conservatives.

Voter turn-out: 73.1%

For a list of the MPs elected in the 1867 election, and in by-elections prior to 1872, see 1st Canadian parliament.

Election results[edit]


Party Party leader # of
Elected Popular vote
# %
     Conservative Sir John A. Macdonald 81 71 63,752 23.45%
     Liberal-Conservative1 32 29 29,730 11.08%
     Liberal none (unofficially, George Brown) 65 62 60,818 22.67%
  Anti-Confederation2 Joseph Howe 20 18 21,239 7.92%
     Independents 1 - 1,756 0.65%
     Liberal-Independent 1 - 1,048 0.39%
     Unknown 141 - 90,044 33.84%
Total 341 180 268,386 100%
Source: History of Federal Ridings since 1867


1 Though identifying themselves as Liberal-Conservatives, these MPs and those identifying as Conservatives were both led by Sir John A. Macdonald (himself a Liberal-Conservative) and sat together in the House of Commons. 2 Anti-Confederates sat with the Liberal Party in the House of Commons.

The following MPs were acclaimed:

  • Ontario: 3 Conservative, 3 Liberal-Conservatives, 9 Liberals
  • Quebec: 14 Conservatives, 5 Liberal-Conservatives, 4 Liberals
  • New Brunswick: 1 Conservative, 3 Liberals
  • Nova Scotia: 4 Anti-Confederates

Results by province[edit]

Party name Ontario Quebec  NB   NS  Total
     Conservative Seats 33 36 1 1 71
     Popular vote 26.2% 28.5%   13.8% 23.2%
     Liberal-Conservative Seats 16 11 2 - 29
     Vote 12.5% 12.3% 11.1% 3.5% 11.1%
     Liberal Seats 33 17 12   62
     Vote 23.7% 25.2% 49.5%   22.7%
  Anti-Confederation Seats       18 18
  Vote       58.2% 7.9%
     Unknown Seats - - - - -
     Vote 35.6% 34.1% 39.3% 24.4% 34.0%
     Independent Seats -       -
     Vote 1.3%       0.7%
     Independent Liberal Seats -       -
     Vote 0.7%       0.4%
Total seats 82 64 15 19 180

Vote and seat summaries[edit]

Popular vote

Seat totals

See also[edit]

External links[edit]