The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), April 23, 1840


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Removal From Office - It has been recently reported in this place, for a few days past, that his Excellency the Lieut. Governor has dismissed the Hon. John Willson from the directorship of the Welland Canal Co. and appointed a Mr. Cayley, of Niagara, in his place.

The proceeding has created a great sensation here, and will, no doubt not, if our information should prove correct, produce such a general feeling of dissatisfaction and indignation, throughout the province, when the transaction becomes fully known, as has not heretofore been witnessed for many years.

The Hon. John Willson is one of the oldest settlers on this peninsula, and has been a conspicuous publick character for more than thirty years past - the great part of which time, he was a member of the Assembly of this province - and closed a long and useful career in that House, of which he was Speaker, during one term, only a few years since. He was soon after raised to the Legislative Council, by command of his sovereign; which situation he now holds, with credit to himself, and honour to his country. Mr. W. has uniformly, from its commencement been a zealous and most efficient supporter of the Welland Canal - to whom the country is indebted, in a great measure, for its existence. At the time when the provincial grants in aid of the work, were made, his constituents were decidedly opposed to them; but his judgement and patriotism enabled him to overcome every obstacle. To his influence, also, is the publick mainly indebted for the grant of £25,000, from Lower Canada. He has several times been appointed one of the arbitrators, on behalf of the company; and is intimately acquainted with the work itself, and its earliest history.

And what is his offence? He voted for Wm. Hamilton Merritt, Esq., as president of the Welland Canal Company, instead of the Hon. John Simcoe Macualay!

When it was known, that Sir Francis Head, had declined the re-appointment of Mr. Merritt to a situation which he had held so long, and to which publick thought he was so justly entitled, our citizens assembled spontaneously, raised funds by voluntary subscription, and sent a memorial to his Excellency, stating in the strongest terms, the injustice done to Mr. M. and expressing their fears, that the same energy and perseverance which had previously been exercised, in the prosecution of this great national undertaking, would not continue a prevailing characteristic of the operation of those placed in charge of the work. Three years have passed away, and we are "as we were."

We shall feel strongly inclined to discredit the report above alluded to, until it is officially announced; but if Sir Geo. Arthur is determined to outdo Sir Francis, and punish Mr. Willson in this way, for calmly and deliberately exercising the dictates of his conscious, and the promptings of his best judgement, in this matter, he will find, perhaps, when it is too late to remedy the evil, that he has committed an act of cruel injustice towards a meritorious individual, in violation of every correct principle of government, and in utter contempt of publick opinion.

We do not yet believe, however, that such a wanton and unnecessary proceeding, will be tolerated. It cannot be justified, on any principle of equity or sound policy. If it is, what hope is left that publick opinion is ever to be consulted, in publick affairs. It will do more to paralyze all individual exertion for the general welfare of the people; to dampen the spirit of enterprise for the internal improvement of the country, and spread dissatisfaction far and wide among all classes of her majesty's subjects, then perhaps his Excellency's advisors have contemplated, or may be aware of.

As a favourable circumstance, we learn that neither Mr. Willson nor Mr. Cayley attended the meeting of the directors on Tuesday last; and also, that no differences of opinion existed among those who did attend in regard to the future operations of the board; which inclines us to the belief, that the report of Mr. W.'s dismissal is premature. Still we await the event with much anxiety.


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Date of Original:
April 23, 1840
Local identifier:
GLN.4757
Language of Item:
English
Donor:
Peter Warwick
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), April 23, 1840