15 June

7th Earl of Aberdeen, Governor-General of 

Canada (1893-1898), son of Lord Aberdeen

Oregon Treaty Signed

On June 15, 1846, Britain and the United States 'signed the Oregon Boundary Treaty. There was a good deal of give and take in the Treaty, which extended the frontier along the 49th parallel, dipping south on the Pacific to give Britain all of Vancouver Island.

Britain had hoped to make the Columbia River "the St. Lawrence of the Pacific." The Hudson's Bay Company had pioneered the area and it had also been claimed by explorers Vancouver, Thompson and Broughton. An amazing mistake by a Royal Naval officer in 1813 may have cost Britain this territory (see October 6) .

The Americans hoped not only to acquire the Pacific coast to the 49th parallel, but all the way to Alaska. They were ready to go to war, if necessary. In 1844 the Democratic Party slogan was, "fifty-four forty or fight," and fifty-four forty meant the boundary of Alaska. The Democrats won the election. President Polk said in his inaugural address that Britain had no rights to territory on the Pacific. Britain, however, took a firm stand and American Secretary of State Buchanan (who later became president) warned Polk that there would be war if he pushed the matter too far. War with Mexico was imminent and it would be dangerous for the States to be fighting Britain at the same time.

Under these conditions the Oregon Boundary was signed. The negotiations for Britain were carried out by Lord Aberdeen, the Foreign Secretary. His firmness in the matter was not undermined by the opinions of his brother, Captain Gordon of the Royal Navy, who had been sent to survey the region. Captain Gordon wrote to Lord Aberdeen that he would not give one barren hill of Scotland for what he had seen of the Pacific. The country was worthless because neither salmon nor trout would rise to the fly! Captain Gordon was obviously using the wrong kind of fly!


15 June

-1616    The first schools for Indians opened at Three Rivers and Tadoussac.

-1636    Governor Montmagny arrived at Quebec.

-1676    Inhabitants of Quebec were summoned to attend a meeting to fix the price of bread and make suggestions for the welfare of the community.

-1815    One hundred and forty Selkirk colonists left the Red River for Upper Canada.

-1875    Various Presbyterian churches united as the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

-1905    Newfoundland prohibited the sale of bait to foreign vessels.

-1915    Canadian troops were in action at Givenchy, France.

-1944    The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Party won in Saskatchewan for the first time.

-1962    The first Canadian space vehicle was launched at Wallops Island, Virginia.