Canada's premiers pose like it's 1864 in Charlottetown

Every year, the province that hosts the premiers' annual summer meeting has to come up with an original photo op. For this week's meeting in the birthplace of Confederation, officials planned an homage to one of the most famous photos in Canadian political history.

Council of the Federation photo pays homage to 150th anniversary of Charlottetown Conference

(Brian Simpson/Government of Prince Edward Island)

Every year, the province that hosts the annual summer meeting of the Council of the Federation has to come up with an original idea for the premiers' traditional group photo call.

With this week's meeting held in the birthplace of Confederation, the government of Prince Edward Island couldn't resist an homage to one of the most famous photos in Canadian political history: the Sept. 6, 1864, shot of the delegates to the Charlottetown Conference as they began Canada's journey from colonies to Confederation.

The premiers, just like the Fathers of Confederation 150 years ago, posed on the steps of Government House (also known locally as Fanningbank) in Charlottetown.

Today, it's the residence of Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis, seated in the 2014 photo in the spot occupied in 1864 by Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
(George P. Roberts/National Archives of Canada)

The staff at Government House have 1864-style top hats for tourists to use when they want to recreate their own photo in the same spot. This week, some of the premiers struck a pose with the same props.

Government House has placed markers on the steps to help visitors and premiers alike figure out in whose spot they are standing.

The Council of the Federation isn't the first group of dignitaries to pose on the steps this summer. Governor General David Johnston and most of the provincial lieutenant-governors did a similar photo with their spouses in June.

Were the premiers' placements deliberate? One of the officials tells CBC News they did plan the placements somewhat (Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is in Canada East Father of Confederation George-Étienne Cartier's spot, for example) but "they didn't lose sleep over it."

Host Premier Robert Ghiz is in the place of William A. Henry (from the former colony of Nova Scotia). Stephen McNeil, Nova Scotia's premier, is in Thomas D'Arcy McGee's spot.

The biggest difference? Two female premiers, something that would have been unthinkable in Canadian politics 150 years ago.

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