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Robert Barry Dickey almost strangled the Canadian Confederation plans at their birth.

He had gone to the Quebec conference as a delegate from his native Nova Scotia and the speeches he heard there convinced him that the financial terms allowed the Maritime provinces were unjust. For this reason, he refused to subscribe to the resolutions the conference intended to pass as a step towards ultimate Confederation. He maintained this opposition until more liberal subsidies were conceded in 1866, when he swung round to support a united Canada.

Dickey had been born at Amherst in 1811. He was educated at the Windsor Academy and called to the provincial bar in 1834, eventually setting up practice in his home town. He was named to the legislative Council in 1858 and stayed there until 1867.

His son, Arthur Rupert Dickey, later became a Canadian cabinet minister. Dickey senior died in Amherst on July 14, 1903