Daily Archives: December 17, 2010

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Today is Thomas C. Haliburton‘s birthday (1796-1865).

Frye in “Haliburton: Mask and Ego”:

Haliburton would never have called himself a Canadian.  He was a Nova Scotian, a Bluenose, and died two years before Confederation.  He was born and brought up in Windsor, and represented Annapolis in the legislature.  There he did good work in fighting the Family Compact, and became the friend of an every more brilliant man than himself, Joseph Howe.  It was in Howe’s paper that he began the series of sketches later know as The Clockmaker: the sayings and doings of Sam Slick of Slickville, Onion County, Connecticut.  The Sam Slick books extend from 1835 to 1860, there are eight of them, and they take in nearly everything Haliburton wrote that we still read, except for some sketches of Nova Scotia called The Old Judge.

After his first skirmishes as a Liberal, Haliburton became a judge, a judge like the one in Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches, who says he has no politics because he’s on the bench, but — and then we get a belligerent Tory speech.  To call Haliburton a Tory would be an understatement.  He fought responsible government; he fought the Durham Report, and until toward the end of his life he fought Confederation.  He didn’t want Great Britain either to give Nova Scotia self-government or run it from London; but to appoint Nova Scotians to the government.  In other words, he wanted patronage on a grand scale.  As for the kind of person who should be appointed — well, there are several hints, sometimes not very subtle hints, about one in particular who has deserved well of his country. (CW 12, 316-17)