Who was George Brown?

Portrait of George Brown

When you're walking through the doors at George Brown College, do you ever wonder, Who was George Brown and why is my college named after him?

George Brown did many amazing things, but most importantly, he was a key figure in laying the groundwork for Canadian Confederation.

Fast facts

Learn more about Father of Confederation, George Brown:

Short bio

George Brown emigrated to New York from Scotland, and decided to move to Toronto a few years later. Shortly after arriving in Toronto he foundedThe Globe newspaper (now The Globe and Mail) and became involved in politics as a reformer. He reorganized the Clear Grit party, which would later become the Liberal party. He died in 1880 after being shot in The Globe offices by a disgruntled former employee.

Canadian Confederation

George Brown set the ball rolling to unite the British North American colonies and in 1864 he joined a coalition with his political rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier to pursue the idea.

After attending two conferences to discuss the plan in Charlottetown and Quebec City, Brown left the coalition in 1865 over a dispute about trade with the United States. His efforts helped pave the way for Confederation in 1867.

Brown fought for the separation of church and state and representation by population.

Read the fine print of George Brown’s letter to a new nation (The Globe and Mail, June 26, 2017)

Learn more about Brown's legacy

In his column George Brown, the forgotten man of Canadian history, published April 12, 2017, Andrew Coyne, in the National Post, argued why Brown should be given more credit.

 Read Coyne's column.

And at The Globe and Mail, the newspaper Brown founded, Barbara Messamore, a professor of history at the University of Fraser Valley, made her case as to why Brown should receive all the glory for Canadian Confederation in The case for George Brown as Confederation’s true father.

Read Messamore's column.