14 Facts About Dominion


Term Dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire.

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Dominion status was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State at the 1926 Imperial Conference to designate "autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations".

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Foundation of "Dominion" status followed the achievement of internal self-rule in British Colonies, in the specific form of full responsible government.

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From 1870 the Dominion included two vast neighbouring British territories that did not have any form of self-government: Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, parts of which later became the Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the separate territories, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

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In connection with proposals for the future government of British North America, use of the term "Dominion" was suggested by Samuel Leonard Tilley at the London Conference of 1866 discussing the confederation of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into "One Dominion under the Name of Canada", the first federation internal to the British Empire.

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However, neither the Confederation nor the adoption of the title of "Dominion" granted extra autonomy or new powers to this new federal level of government.

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For example, matters concerning visas and lost or stolen passports of Dominion citizens were carried out at British diplomatic offices.

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Irish Free State, set up in 1922 after the Anglo-Irish War, was the third Dominion to appoint a non-UK born, non-aristocratic Governor-General when Timothy Michael Healy, following the tenures of Sir Gordon Drummond in Canada and of Sir Walter Davidson and Sir William Allardyce in Newfoundland, took the position in 1922.

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Dominion status was never popular in the Irish Free State where people saw it as a face-saving measure for a British government unable to countenance a republic in what had previously been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

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Term Dominion is employed in the Constitution Act, 1867, and describes the resulting political union.

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Frank Scott theorised that Canada's status as a Dominion ended when Canadian parliament declared war on Germany on 9 September 1939, separately and distinctly from the United Kingdom's declaration of war six days earlier.

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Nevertheless, the United Kingdom and other member states of the Commonwealth continued to regard Ireland as a Dominion owing to the unusual role accorded to the British Monarch under the Irish External Relations Act of 1936.

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The term "Dominion" is still found in the Canadian constitution where it appears numerous times, but it is largely a vestige of the past, as the Canadian government does not actively use it.

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Term "Dominion" remained in informal use for some years when relating to newly independent territories and was sometimes used to refer to the status of former British territories during an immediate post-independence period while the British monarch remained head of state, and the form of government a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.

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