Canada under British Rule 1760-1900
John G. Bourinot

Part 3 out of 6

of Lundy's Lane, and hear the bugles which drove the invaders of their
country from the woods of Chateauguay.

The war did much to solidify the various racial elements of British
North America during its formative stage. Frenchmen, Englishmen,
Scotsmen from the Lowlands and Highlands, Irishmen and Americans, united
to support the British connection. The character of the people,
especially in Upper Canada, was strengthened from a national point of
view by the severe strain to which it was subjected. Men and women alike
were elevated above the conditions of a mere colonial life and the
struggle for purely material necessities, and became animated by that
spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotic endeavour which tend to make a
people truly great.



SECTION I.--The rebellion in Lower Canada.

Responsible government in Canada is the logical sequence of the
political struggles, which commenced soon after the close of the war of
1812-15. As we review the history of Canada since the conquest we can
recognise "one ever increasing purpose" through all political changes,
and the ardent desire of men, entrusted at the outset with a very
moderate degree of political responsibility, to win for themselves a
larger measure of political liberty in the management of their own local
affairs. Grave mistakes were often made by the advocates of reform in
the government of the several provinces--notably, as I shall show, in
Lower Canada, where the French Canadian majority were carried often
beyond reason at the dictation of Papineau--but, whatever may have been
the indiscretions of politicians, there were always at the bottom of
their demands the germs of political development.

The political troubles that continued from 1817 until 1836 in Lower
Canada eventually made the working of legislative institutions
impracticable. The contest gradually became one between the
governor-general representing the crown and the assembly controlled
almost entirely by a French Canadian majority, with respect to the
disposition of the public revenues and expenditures. Imperial statutes,
passed as far back as 1774-1775, provided for the levying of duties, to
be applied solely by the crown, primarily "towards defraying the
expenses of the administration of justice and the support of the civil
government of the province", and any sums that remained in the hands of
the government were "for the future disposition of parliament." Then
there were "the casual or territorial revenues," such as money arising
from the Jesuits' estates, royal seigniorial dues, timber and land, all
of which were also exclusively under the control of the government. The
assembly had been given jurisdiction only over the amount of duties
payable into the treasury under the authority of laws passed by the
legislature itself. In case the royal revenues were not sufficient to
meet the annual expenditure of the government, the deficiency was met
until the war of 1812-15 by drawing on the military exchequer. As the
expenses of the provincial administration increased the royal revenues
became inadequate, while the provincial revenues gradually showed a
considerable surplus over the expenditure voted by the legislature. In
1813 the cost of the war made it impossible for the government to use
the military funds, and it resorted to the provincial moneys for the
expenses of justice and civil government. In this way, by 1817, the
government had incurred a debt of a hundred and twenty thousand pounds
to the province without the direct authority of the legislature. The
assembly of Lower Canada was not disposed to raise troublesome issues
during the war, or in any way to embarrass the action of Sir George
Prevost, who, whatever may have been his incompetency as a military
chief, succeeded by his conciliatory and persuasive methods in winning
the good opinions of the French Canadian majority and making himself an
exceptionally popular civil governor. After closing the accounts of the
war, the government felt it expedient to stop such irregular
proceedings, to obtain from the legislature a general appropriation act,
covering the amount of expenditures in the past, and to prevent the
necessity of such a questionable application of provincial funds in the
future. This may be considered the beginning of the financial
controversies that were so constant, as years passed by, between the
governors and the assemblies, and never ended until the rebellion broke
out. The assembly, desirous of obtaining power in the management of
public affairs, learned that it could best embarrass the government and
force them to consider and adjust public grievances, as set forth by the
majority in the house, by means of the appropriation bills required for
the public service. The assembly not only determined to exercise sole
control over its own funds but eventually demanded the disposal of the
duties imposed and regulated by imperial statutes. The conflict was
remarkable for the hot and uncompromising temper constantly exhibited by
the majority on the discussion of the generally moderate and fair
propositions submitted by the government for settling vexed questions.
The assembly found a powerful argument in favour of their persistent
contention for a complete control of the public revenues and
expenditures in the defalcation of Mr. Caldwell, the receiver-general,
who had been allowed for years to use the public funds in his business
speculations, and whose property was entirely inadequate to cover the
deficiency in his accounts.

The legislative council was always ready to resist what it often
asserted to be unconstitutional acts on the part of the house and direct
infringements of "the rights of the crown" sometimes a mere convenient
phrase used in an emergency to justify resistance to the assembly. It
often happened, however, that the upper chamber had law on its side,
when the house became perfectly unreasonable and uncompromising in its
attitude of hostility to the government. The council, on several
occasions, rejected a supply bill because it contained provisions
asserting the assembly's right to control the crown revenues and to vote
the estimates, item by item, from the governor's salary down to that of
the humblest official. Every part of the official and legislative
machinery became clogged by the obstinacy of governor, councils, and
assembly. To such an extent, indeed, did the assembly's assumption of
power carry it in 1836, that the majority actually asserted its own
right to amend the constitution of the council as defined in the
imperial statute of 1791. Its indiscreet acts eventually alienated the
sympathy and support of such English members as Mr. Neilson, a
journalist and politician of repute, Mr. Andrew Stuart, a lawyer of
ability, and others who believed in the necessity of constitutional
reforms, but could not follow Mr. Papineau and his party in their
reckless career of attack on the government, which they thought would
probably in the end imperil British connection.

The government was in the habit of regularly submitting its accounts and
estimates to the legislature, and expressed its desire eventually to
grant that body the disposal of all the crown revenues, provided it
would consent to vote a civil list for the king's life, or even for a
fixed number of years, but the assembly was not willing to agree to any
proposal which prevented it from annually taking up the expenditures for
the civil government item by item, and making them matters of yearly
vote. In this way every person in the public service would be subject to
the caprice, or ill-feeling, of any single member of the legislature,
and the whole administration of the public departments would probably be
made ineffective. Under the plan suggested by the government in
accordance with English constitutional forms, the assembly would have
every opportunity of criticising all the public expenditures, and even
reducing the gross sum in cases of extravagance. But the same
contumacious spirit, which several times expelled Mr. Christie, member
for Gaspe, on purely vexatious and frivolous charges, and constantly
impeached judges without the least legal justification, simply to
satisfy personal spite or political malice, would probably have been
exhibited towards all officials had the majority in the assembly been
given the right of voting each salary separately. The assembly never
once showed a disposition to meet the wishes of the government even
half-way. Whatever may have been the vacillation or blundering of
officials in Downing Street, it must be admitted that the imperial
government showed a conciliatory spirit throughout the whole financial
controversy. Step by step it yielded to all the demands of the assembly
on this point. In 1831, when Lord Grey was premier, the British
parliament passed an act, making it lawful for the legislatures of Upper
and Lower Canada to appropriate the duties raised by imperial statutes
for the purpose of defraying the charges of the administration of
justice and the support of civil government. The government consequently
retained only the relatively small sum arising from casual and
territorial dues. When Lord Aylmer, the governor-general, communicated
this important concession to the legislature, he also sent a message
setting forth the fact that it was the settled policy of the crown on no
future occasion to nominate a judge either to the executive or the
legislative council, the sole exception being the chief justice of
Quebec. He also gave the consent of the government to the passage of an
act declaring that judges of the supreme court should thereafter hold
office "during good behaviour," on the essential condition that their
salaries were made permanent by the legislature. The position of the
judiciary had long been a source of great and even just complaint, and,
in the time of Sir James Craig, judges were disqualified from sitting in
the assembly on the demand of that body. They continued, however, to
hold office "during the pleasure" of the crown, and to be called at its
will to the executive and legislative councils. Under these
circumstances they were, with some reason, believed to be more or less
under the influence of the governor-general; and particular judges
consequently fell at times under the ban of the assembly, and were
attacked on the most frivolous grounds. The assembly passed a bill
providing for the independence of the judiciary, but it had to be
reserved because it was not in accordance with the conditions considered
necessary by the crown for the protection of the bench.

The governor-general also in his message promised reforms of the
judicial and legal systems, the disposal of the funds arising from the
Jesuits' estates by the legislature, and, in fact, nearly all the
reforms which had been demanded by the house for years. Yet when the
government asked at the same time for a permanent civil list, the
message was simply referred to a committee of the whole house which
never reported. Until this time the efforts of the assembly to obtain
complete control of the public revenues and expenditures had a
justification in the fact that it is a recognised English principle that
the elected house should impose the taxes and vote the supplies; but
their action on this occasion, when the imperial government made most
important concessions, giving them full control over the public funds,
simply on condition that they should follow the English system of voting
the salaries of the judiciary and civil list, showed that the majority
were earned away by a purely factious spirit. During the progress of
these controversies, Mr. Louis Joseph Papineau, a brilliant but an
unsafe leader, had become the recognised chief of the French Canadian
majority, who for years elected him speaker of the assembly. In the
absence of responsible government, there was witnessed in those times
the extraordinary spectacle--only now-a-days seen in the American
congress--of the speaker, who should be above all political antagonisms,
acting as the leader of an arrogant majority, and urging them to
continue in their hostility to the government. It was Mr. Papineau who
first brought the governor-general directly into the arena of political
conflict by violent personal attacks; and indeed he went so far in the
case of Lord Dalhousie, a fair-minded man anxious to act moderately
within the limits of the constitution, that the latter felt compelled by
a sense of dignity to refuse the confirmation of the great agitator as
speaker in 1827. The majority in the assembly vehemently asserted their
right to elect their speaker independently of the governor, whose
confirmation was a mere matter of form, and not of statutory right; and
the only course at last open to Lord Dalhousie was to prorogue the
legislature. Mr. Papineau was re-elected speaker at the next session,
when Lord Dalhousie had gone to England and Sir James Kempt was

After 1831, Mr. Papineau steadily evoked the opposition of the more
conservative and thoughtful British Liberals who were not disposed to be
carried into a questionable position, inimical to British connection and
the peace of the country, Dr. Wolfred Nelson, and Dr. O'Callaghan, a
journalist, were soon the only supporters of ability left him among the
British and Irish, the great majority of whom rallied to the support of
the government when a perilous crisis arrived in the affairs of the
province. The British party dwindled away in every appeal to the people,
and no French Canadian representative who presumed to differ from Mr.
Papineau was ever again returned to the assembly. Mr. Papineau became
not only a political despot but an "irreconcilable," whose vanity led
him to believe that he would soon become supreme in French Canada, and
the founder of _La Nation Canadienne_ in the valley of the St. Lawrence.
The ninety-two resolutions passed in 1834 may be considered the climax
of the demands of his party, which for years had resisted immigration as
certain to strengthen the British population, had opposed the
establishment of registry offices as inconsistent with the French
institutions of the province, and had thrown every possible opposition
in the way of the progress of the Eastern Townships, which were
attracting year by year an industrious and energetic British population
from the British Isles and New England.

In these resolutions of 1834 there is not a single paragraph or even
phrase which can be tortured into showing that the French Canadian
agitator and his friends were in favour of responsible government. The
key-note of the whole document is an elective legislative council, which
would inevitably increase the power of the French Canadians and place
the British in a hopeless minority. Mr. Roebuck, the paid agent of the
assembly in England, is said to have suggested the idea of this elective
body, and assuredly his writings and speeches were always calculated to
do infinite harm, by helping to inflame discontent in Canada, and
misrepresenting in England the true condition of affairs in the
province. The resolutions are noteworthy for their verbosity and entire
absence of moderate and wise suggestion. They were obviously written
under the inspiration of Mr. Papineau with the object of irritating the
British government, and preventing the settlement of political
difficulties. They even eulogised the institutions of the neighbouring
states which "commanded the affection of the people in a larger measure
than those of any other country," and should be regarded "as models of
government for Canada." They even went so far as "to remind parliament
of the consequences of its efforts to overrule the wishes of the
American colonies," in case they should make any "modification" in the
constitution of the province "independently of the wishes of its
people." Colonel Gugy, Mr. Andrew Stuart, Mr. Neilson and other
prominent Englishmen opposed the passage of these resolutions, as
calculated to do infinite harm, but they were carried by a very large
French Canadian majority at the dictation of Mr. Papineau. Whatever may
have been its effect for the moment, this wordy effusion has long since
been assigned to the limbo where are buried other examples of the
demagogism of those trying times.

In 1835 the imperial government decided to send three commissioners to
examine into the various questions which had been so long matters of
agitation in Lower Canada. Lord Aberdeen, then Colonial Secretary of
State, emphatically stated that it was the intention of the government
"to review and enquire into every alleged grievance and examine every
cause of complaint, and apply a remedy to every abuse that may still be
found to prevail."

The choice of the government as chief commissioner and governor-general
was Lord Gosford, an amiable, inexperienced and weak man, who failed
either to conciliate the French Canadian majority to whom he was even
humble for a while, or to obtain the confidence of the British party to
whose counsels and warnings he did not pay sufficient heed at the
outset of the crisis which culminated during his administration. The
majority in the assembly were determined not to abate one iota of their
pretensions, which now included the control of the casual and
territorial revenues; and no provision whatever was made for four years
for the payment of the public service. The commissioners reported
strongly against the establishment of an elected council, and in favour
of a modified system of responsible government, not dependent on the
vote of the house. They recommended also the surrender of the casual and
territorial revenues on condition of proper provision for the payment of
the civil service, and the administration of justice.

The imperial government immediately recognised that they had to face a
very serious crisis in the affairs of Lower Canada. On the 6th March,
1836, Lord John Russell, then home secretary in Lord Melbourne's
administration, introduced a series of ten resolutions, providing for
the immediate payment of the arrears of L142,160. 14s. 6d., due to the
public service, out of the moneys in the hands of the receiver-general.
While it was admitted that measures should be taken to secure for the
legislative council a greater degree of public confidence, the
government deemed it inexpedient to make that body elective. The
necessity of improving the position of the executive council was also
acknowledged, but the suggestion of a ministry responsible to the
assembly was not approved. This disapproval was quite in accordance with
the policy adopted by Englishmen since 1822, when a measure had been
introduced in parliament for the reunion of the two Canadas--the
precursor of the measure of 1840. This measure originally provided that
two members of the executive council should sit and speak in the
assembly but not vote. Those parts of the bill of 1822 which provided
for a union were not pressed on account of the objections raised in both
the provinces, but certain other provisions became law under the title
of "The Canadian Trade Acts," relieving Upper Canada from the
capricious action of Lower Canada with respect to the duties from which
the former obtained the principal part of her fund for carrying on her
government. This share had been originally fixed at one-fifth of the
proceeds of the customs duties collected by the province of Lower
Canada, but when the population of the western section increased
considerably and consumed a far greater quantity of dutiable goods, its
government justly demanded a larger proportion of the revenues collected
in the ports of the lower St. Lawrence. The legislature of Lower Canada
paid no attention to this equitable demand, and eventually even refused
to renew the legislation providing for the payment of one-fifth of the
duties. Under these circumstances the imperial government found it
necessary to intervene, and pass the "Trade Acts," making the past
legislation of Lower Canada on the subject permanent, and preventing its
legislature from imposing new duties on imports without the consent of
the upper province. As this was a question of grave import, the
resolutions of 1836 gave authority to the legislatures of Upper and
Lower Canada to provide joint legislation "for determining and adjusting
all questions respecting the trade and commerce of the provinces."

As soon as the passage of these resolutions became known throughout
Lower Canada, Papineau and his supporters commenced an active campaign
of denunciation against England, from whom, they declared, there was no
redress whatever to be expected. Wherever the revolutionists were in the
majority, they shouted, "_Vive la liberte!" "Vive la Nation Canadienne!"
"Vive Papineau!" "Point de despotisme_!": while flags and placards were
displayed with similar illustrations of popular frenzy. _La Nation
Canadienne_ was now launched on the turbulent waves of a little
rebellion in which the phrases of the French revolution were glibly
shouted by the _habitants_ with very little conception of their real
significance. The British or Constitutional party took active steps in
support of British connection, but Lord Gosford, unhappily still
governor-general, did not for some time awaken to the reality of the
public danger. Happily for British interests, Sir John Culhorne,
afterwards Lord Seaforth, a courageous and vigilant soldier, was in the
country, and was able, when orders were given him by the reluctant
governor, to deal determinedly with the rebels who had taken up arms in
the Richelieu district. Dr. Wolfred Nelson made a brave stand at St.
Denis, and repulsed Colonel Gore's small detachment of regulars.
Papineau was present for a while at the scene of conflict, but he took
no part in it and lost no time in making a hurried flight to the United
States--an ignominious close to a successful career of rhetorical
flashes which had kindled a conflagration that he took very good care
should not even scorch him. Colonel Wetherall defeated another band of
rebels at St. Charles, and their commander, Mr. Thomas Storrow Brown, a
well-meaning but gullible man, fled across the border. Dr. Wolfred
Nelson was captured, and a number of other rebels of less importance
were equally unfortunate. Some of the refugees made a public
demonstration from Vermont, but precipitately fled before a small force
which met them. At St. Eustache, one Girod, a plausible, mendacious
Swiss or Alsatian, who had become a leader in the rebellious movement,
and Dr. Chenier, a rash but courageous man, collected a considerable
body of rebels, chiefly from St. Benoit, despite the remonstrances of
Mr. Paquin, the cure of the village, and defended the stone church and
adjacent buildings against a large force, led by Sir John Colborne
himself. Dr. Chenier and many others--at least seventy, it is said on
good authority--were killed, and the former has in the course of time
been elevated to the dignity of a national hero and a monument raised in
his honour on a public square of the French Canadian quarters of
Montreal. Mad recklessness rather than true heroism signalised his
action in this unhappy affair, when he led so many of his credulous
compatriots to certain death, but at least he gave up his life manfully
to a lost cause rather than fly like Papineau who had beguiled him to
this melancholy conclusion. Even Girod showed courage and ended his own
life when he found that he could not evade the law. The rebellious
element at St. Benoit was cowed by the results at St. Eustache; and the
Abbe Chartier, who had taken an active part in urging the people to
resistance, fled to the United States whence he never returned. The
greater part of the village was destroyed by fire, probably in
retaliation for the losses and injuries suffered by the volunteers at
the hands of the rebels in different parts of the district of Montreal.

One of the most unfortunate and discreditable incidents of the rising in
the Richelieu district was the murder of Lieutenant Weir, who had been
taken prisoner while carrying despatches to Sorel, and was literally
hacked to pieces, when he tried to escape from a _caleche_ in which he
was being conveyed to St. Charles. An equally unhappy incident was the
cold-blooded execution, after a mock trial, of one Chartrand, a harmless
non-combatant who was accused, without a tittle of evidence, of being a
spy. The temper of the country can be gauged by the fact that when it
was attempted, some time later, to convict the murderers on clear
evidence, it was impossible to obtain a verdict. Jolbert, the alleged
murderer of Weir, was never punished, but Francois Nicholas and Amable
Daumais, who had aided in the trial and execution of Chartrand, were
subsequently hanged for having taken an active part in the second
insurrection of 1838.

The rebellion of 1837 never reached any large proportions, and very few
French Canadians of social or political standing openly participated in
the movement. Monseigneur Lartigue, Roman Catholic bishop of Montreal,
issued a _mandement_ severely censuring the misguided men who had joined
in the rebellious movement and caused so much misery throughout the
province. In England, strange to say, there were men found, even in
parliament, ready to misrepresent the facts and glory in a rebellion the
causes of which they did not understand. The animating motive with
these persons was then--and there were similar examples during the
American revolution--to assail the government of the day and make
political capital against them, but, it must be admitted, in all
fairness to the reform ministry of that day and even to preceding
cabinets for some years, that the policy of all was to be just and
conciliatory in their relations with the provincial agitators, though it
is also evident that a more thorough knowledge of political conditions
and a more resolute effort to a reach the bottom of grievances might
have long before removed causes of irritation and saved the loss of
property and life in 1837 and 1838.

In the presence of a grave emergency, the British government felt
compelled to suspend the constitution of Lower Canada, and send out Lord
Durham, a Liberal statesman of great ability, to act as governor-general
and high commissioner "for the determining of certain important
questions depending in the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada
respecting the form and future government of the said provinces" Despite
a certain haughtiness of manner which was apt to wound his inferiors and
irritate his equals in position, he was possessed of a great fund of
accurate political knowledge and a happy faculty of grasping all the
essential facts of a difficult situation, and suggesting the best remedy
to apply under all the circumstances. He endeavoured, to the utmost of
his ability, to redeem the pledge with which he entered on his mission
to Canada, in the first instance "to assert the supremacy of her
majesty's government," in the next "to vindicate the honour and dignity
of the law," and above all "to know nothing of a British, a French, or a
Canadian party," but "to look on them all alike as her majesty's
subjects." After he had appointed a special council he set to work
energetically to secure the peace of the country. Humanity was the
distinguishing feature of his too short career in Canada. A
comprehensive amnesty was proclaimed to all those engaged in the
rebellion with the exception of Dr. Wolfred Nelson, R.S.M. Bouchette,
Bonaventure Viger, Dr. Masson, and four others of less importance, who
were ordered by an ordinance to be transported to Bermuda during the
queen's pleasure. These persons, as well as sixteen others, including
Papineau, who had fled from justice, were declared to be subject to
death should they venture to enter the province. Not a single rebel
suffered death on the scaffold during Lord Durham's administration.
Unfortunately the ordinance, transporting a number of persons without
trial to an island where the governor-general had no jurisdiction, gave
an opportunity to Lord Brougham, who hated the high commissioner, to
attack him in the house of lords. Lord Melbourne, then premier, was
forced to repeal the ordinance and to consent to the passage of a bill
indemnifying all those who had acted under its provisions Lord Glenelg,
colonial secretary, endeavoured to diminish the force of this
parliamentary censure by writing to the high commissioner that "her
majesty's government repeat their approbation of the spirit in which
these measures were conceived and state their conviction that they have
been dictated by a judicious and enlightened humanity"; but a statesman
of Lord Durham's haughty character was not ready to submit to such a
rebuke as he had sustained in parliament He therefore immediately placed
his resignation in the hands of the government which had commissioned
him with powers to give peace and justice to distracted Canada, and yet
failed to sustain him at the crucial moment. Before leaving the country
he issued a proclamation in defence of his public acts. His course in
this particular offended the ministry who, according to Lord Glenelg,
considered it a dangerous innovation, as it was practically an appeal by
a public officer to the public against the measures of parliament. Lord
Durham may be pardoned under all the circumstances for resenting at the
earliest possible moment his desertion by the government, who were bound
in honour to defend him, at all hazards, in his absence, and should not
have given him over for the moment to his enemies, led by a spiteful
Scotch lawyer. Lord Durham left Canada with the assurance that he had
won the confidence of all loyal British subjects and proved to all
French Canadians that there were English statesmen prepared to treat
them with patience, humanity and justice.

Sir John Colborne became administrator on the departure of Lord Durham,
and subsequently governor-general. Unhappily he was immediately called
upon to crush another outbreak of the rebels, in November, 1838, in the
counties watered by the Richelieu River, and in the district immediately
south of Montreal. Dr. Robert Nelson and some other rebels, who had
found refuge in the frontier towns and villages of Vermont and New York,
organised this second insurrection, which had the support of a
considerable number of _habitants_, though only a few actually took up
arms. The rising, which began at Caughnawaga, was put down at
Beauharnois, within a week from the day on which it commenced. The
authorities now felt that the time had passed for such leniency as had
been shown by Lord Durham; and Sir John Colborne accordingly established
courts-martial for the trial of the prisoners taken during this second
insurrection, as it was utterly impossible to obtain justice through the
ordinary process of the courts. Only twelve persons, however, suffered
the extreme penalty of the law; some were sent to New South Wales--where
however they were detained only a short time; and the great majority
were pardoned on giving security for good behaviour.

While these trials were in progress, and the government were anxious to
give peace and security to the province, refugees in the border states
were despatching hands of ruffians to attack and plunder the Loyalists
in the Eastern Townships; but the government of the United States
intervened and instructed its officers to take decisive measures for the
repression of every movement in the territory of a friendly Power. Thus
the mad insurrection incited by Papineau, but actually led by the
Nelsons, Chenier and Brown, came at last to an end.

A new era of political development was now to dawn on the province, as a
result of a more vigorous and remedial policy initiated by the imperial
government, at last thoroughly awakened to an intelligent comprehension
of the political conditions of the Canadas. But before I proceed to
explain the details of measures fraught with such important
consequences, I must give an historical summary of the events which led
also to a rash uprising in Upper Canada, simultaneously with the one
which ended so disastrously for its leaders in the French province.

SECTION 2.--The rebellion in Upper Canada.

The financial disputes between the executive and the assembly never
attained such prominence in Upper Canada as in the lower province. In
1831 the assembly consented to make permanent provision for the civil
list and the judiciary, on condition of the government's giving up to
the legislature all the revenues previously at its own disposition.
Three years later the legislature also passed an act to provide that the
judges should hold their offices during good behaviour, and not at the
pleasure of the crown--a measure rendered possible by the fact that the
assembly had made the salaries of the bench permanent.

Nor did the differences between the assembly and the legislative council
ever assume such serious proportions as they did in the French province.
Still the leaders of the reform party of Upper Canada had strong
objections to the constitution of the council; and a committee of
grievances reported in 1835 in favour of an elected body as well as a
responsible council, although it did not very clearly outline the
methods of working out the system in a colony where the head of the
executive was an imperial officer acting under royal instructions. The
different lieutenant-governors, the executive and legislative
councillors, and the whole body of officials, from the very moment
responsible government was suggested in any form, threw every possible
obstacle in the way of its concession by the imperial government.

It was largely the dominant influence of the official combination, long
known in Canadian history as the "family compact," which prevented the
concession of responsible government before the union of the Canadas.
This phrase, as Lord Durham said in his report, was misleading inasmuch
as there "was very little of family connection between the persons thus
united." As a matter of fact the phrase represented a political and
aristocratic combination, which grew up as a consequence of the social
conditions of the province and eventually monopolised all offices and
influence in government. This bureaucracy permeated all branches of
government--the executive, the legislative council, and even the
assembly where for years there sat several members holding offices of
emolument under the crown. It practically controlled the banks and
monetary circles. The Church of England was bound up in its interests.
The judiciary was more or less under its influence while judges were
appointed during pleasure and held seats in the councils. This governing
class was largely composed of the descendants of the Loyalists of 1784,
who had taken so important a part in the war with the United States and
always asserted their claims to special consideration in the
distribution of government favour. The old settlers--all those who had
come into the country before the war--demanded and obtained greater
consideration at the hands of the government than the later immigrants,
who eventually found themselves shut out of office and influence. The
result was the growth of a Liberal or Reform party, which, while
generally composed of the later immigrants, comprised several persons of
Loyalist extraction, who did not happen to belong to the favoured class
or church, but recognised the necessity for a change in the methods of
administration. Among these Loyalists must be specially mentioned Peter
Perry, who was really the founder of the Reform party in 1834, and the
Reverend Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist minister of great natural ability.

Unfortunately creed also became a powerful factor in the political
controversies of Upper Canada. By the constitutional act of 1791 large
tracts of land were set aside for the support of a "Protestant clergy",
and the Church of England successfully claimed for years an exclusive
right to these "clergy reserves" on the ground that it was the
Protestant church recognised by the state. The clergy of the Church of
Scotland in Canada, though very few in number for years, at a later time
obtained a share of these grants as a national religious body; but all
the dissentient denominations did not participate in the advantages of
these reserves. The Methodists claimed in the course of years to be
numerically equal to, if not more numerous than, the English
Episcopalians, and were deeply irritated at the inferior position they
long occupied in the province. So late as 1824 the legislative council,
composed of members of the dominant church, rejected a bill allowing
Methodist ministers to solemnise marriages, and it was not until 1831
that recognised ministers of all denominations were placed on an
equality in this respect. Christian charity was not more a
characteristic of those times than political liberality. Methodism was
considered by the governing class as a sign of democracy and social
inferiority. History repeated itself in Upper Canada. As the Puritans of
New England feared the establishment of an Anglican episcopacy, and used
it to stimulate a feeling against the parent state during the beginnings
of the revolution, so in Upper Canada the dissenting religious bodies
made political capital out of the favouritism shown to the Church of
England in the distribution of the public lands and public patronage.
The Roman Catholics and members of all Protestant sects eventually
demanded the secularisation of the reserves for educational or other
public purposes, or the application of the funds to the use of all
religious creeds. The feeling against that church culminated in 1836,
when Sir John Colborne, then lieutenant-governor, established forty-four
rectories in accordance with a suggestion made by Lord Goderich some
years previously. While the legality of Sir John Colborne's course was
undoubted, it was calculated to create much indignant feeling among the
dissenting bodies, who saw in the establishment of these rectories an
evidence of the intention of the British government to create a state
church so far as practicable by law within the province. This act, so
impolitic at a critical time of political discussion, was an
illustration of the potent influence exercised in the councils of the
government by Archdeacon Strachan, who had come into the province from
Scotland in 1799 as a schoolmaster. He had been brought up in the tenets
of the Presbyterian Church, but some time after his arrival in Canada he
became an ordained minister of the Church of England, in which he rose
step by step to the episcopacy. He became a member of both the executive
and legislative councils in 1816 and 1817, and exercised continuously
until the union of 1841 a singular influence in the government of the
province. He was endowed with that indomitable will, which distinguished
his great countryman, John Knox. His unbending toryism was the natural
outcome of his determination to sustain what he considered the just
rights of his church against the liberalism of her opponents--chiefly
dissenters--who wished to rob her of her clergy reserves and destroy her
influence in education and public affairs generally. This very fidelity
to his church became to some extent her weakness, since it evoked the
bitter hostility of a large body of persons and created the impression
that she was the church of the aristocratic and official class rather
than that of the people--an impression which existed for many years
after the fall of the "family compact."

The public grievances connected with the disposition of the public
lands were clearly exposed by one Robert Gourlay, a somewhat meddlesome
Scotchman, who had addressed a circular, soon after his arrival in
Canada, to a number of townships with regard to the causes which
retarded improvement and the best means of developing the resources of
the province. An answer from Sandwich virtually set forth the feeling of
the rural districts generally on these points. It stated that the
reasons for the existing depression were the reserves of land for the
crown and clergy, "which must for a long time keep the country a
wilderness, a harbour for wolves, and a hindrance to compact and good
neighbourhood; defects in the system of colonisation; too great a
quantity of lands in the hands of individuals who do not reside in the
province, and are not assessed for their property." Mr. Gourlay's
questions were certainly asked in the public interest, but they excited
the indignation of the official class who resented any interference with
a state of things which favoured themselves and their friends, and were
not desirous of an investigation into the management of public affairs.
The subsequent treatment of Mr. Gourlay was shameful in the extreme. He
was declared a most dangerous character when he followed up his circular
by a pamphlet, attacking the methods by which public affairs generally
were conducted, and contrasting them with the energetic and progressive
system on the other side of the border. The indignation of the officials
became a positive fever when he suggested the calling of public meetings
to elect delegates to a provincial convention--a term which recalled the
days of the American revolution, and was cleverly used by Gourlay's
enemies to excite the ire and fear of the descendants of the Loyalists.
Sir Peregrine Maitland succeeded in obtaining from the legislature an
opinion against conventions as "repugnant to the constitution," and
declaring the holding of such public meetings a misdemeanour, while
admitting the constitutional right of the people to petition. These
proceedings evoked a satirical reply from Gourlay, who was arrested for
seditious libel, but the prosecutions failed. It was then decided to
resort to the provisions of a practically obsolete statute passed in
1804, authorising the arrest of any person who had resided in the
province for six months without taking the oath of allegiance, and was
suspected to be a seditious character. Such a person could be ordered by
the authorities to leave the province, or give security for good
behaviour. This act had been originally passed to prevent the
immigration of aliens unfavourable to England, especially of Irishmen
who had taken part in the rebellion of 1798 and found refuge in the
United States. Gourlay had been a resident of Upper Canada for nearly
two years, and in no single instance had the law been construed to apply
to an immigrant from the British Isles. Gourlay was imprisoned in the
Niagara gaol, and when his friends attempted to bring him out on a writ
of _habeas corpus_ they failed simply because Chief Justice Powell, an
able lawyer of a Loyalist family and head of the official party, refused
to grant the writ on a mere technical plea, afterwards declared by the
highest legal authorities in England to be entirely contrary to sound
law. Gourlay consequently remained in prison for nearly eight months,
and when he was brought again before the chief justice, his mental
faculties were obviously impaired for the moment, but despite his
wretched condition, which prevented him from conducting his defence, he
was summarily convicted and ordered to leave the province within
twenty-four hours, under penalty of death should he not obey the order
or return to the country.

This unjust sentence created wide-spread indignation among all
right-thinking people, especially as it followed a message of the
lieutenant-governor to the legislature, that he did not feel justified
in extending the grants of land, made to actors in the war of 1812-15,
to "any of the inhabitants who composed the late convention of
delegates, the proceedings of which were very properly subjected to your
very severe animadversion" This undoubtedly illegal action of the
lieutenant-governor only escaped the censure of the assembly by the
casting vote of the speaker, but was naturally justified in the
legislative council where Chief Justice Powell presided. Gourlay became
a martyr in the opinion of a large body of people, and a Reform party
began to grow up in the country. The man himself disappeared for years
from Canadian history, and did not return to the province until 1856,
after a chequered and unhappy career in Great Britain and the United
States. The assembly of the United Canadas in 1842 declared his arrest
to be "unjust and illegal," and his sentence "null and void," and he was
offered a pension as some compensation for the injuries he had received;
but he refused it unless it was accompanied by an official declaration
of the illegality of the conviction and its elision from the records of
the courts. The Canadian government thought he should be satisfied with
the action of the assembly and the offer of the pension. Gourlay died
abroad, and his daughters on his death received the money which he
rejected with the obstinacy so characteristic of his life.

During these days of struggle we find most prominent among the official
class Attorney-General Robinson, afterwards chief justice of Upper
Canada for many years. He was the son of a Virginian Loyalist, and a
Tory of extreme views, calm, polished, and judicial in his demeanour.
But whatever his opinions on the questions of the day he was too
discreet a politician and too honest a judge ever to have descended to
such a travesty of justice as had been shown by his predecessor in the
case of Gourlay. His influence, however was never in the direction of
liberal measures. He opposed responsible government and the union of the
two provinces, both when proposed unsuccessfully in 1822, and when
carried in Upper Canada eighteen years later.

The elections of 1825 had a very important influence on the political
conditions of the upper province, since they brought into the assembly
Peter Perry, Dr. Rolph, and Marshall Spring Bidwell, who became leading
actors in the Reform movement which culminated in the concession of
responsible government. But the most conspicuous man from 1826 until
1837 was William Lyon Mackenzie, a Scotchman of fair education, who came
to Canada in 1820, and eventually embraced journalism as the profession
most suited to his controversial temperament. Deeply imbued with a
spirit of liberalism in politics, courageous and even defiant in the
expression of his opinions, sadly wanting in sound judgment and common
sense when his feelings were excited, able to write with vigour, but
more inclined to emphatic vituperation than well-reasoned argument, he
made himself a force in the politics of the province. In the _Colonial
Advocate_, which he established in 1824, he commenced a series of
attacks on the government which naturally evoked the resentment of the
official class, and culminated in the destruction of his printing office
in 1826 by a number of young men, relatives of the principal
officials--one of them actually the private secretary of the
lieutenant-governor, Sir Peregrine Maitland. Mr. Mackenzie obtained
large damages in the courts, and was consequently able to continue the
publication of his paper at a time when he was financially embarrassed.
The sympathy felt for Mr. Mackenzie brought him into the assembly as
member for York during the session of 1829. So obnoxious did he become
to the governing class that he was expelled four times from the assembly
between 1831 and 1834, and prevented from taking his seat by the orders
of the speaker in 1835--practically the fifth expulsion. In 1832 he went
to England and presented largely signed petitions asking for a redress
of grievances. He appears to have made some impression on English
statesmen, and the colonial minister recommended a few reforms to the
lieutenant-governor, but they were entirely ignored by the official
party. Lord Glenelg also disapproved of the part taken by
Attorney-General Boulton--Mr. Robinson being then chief justice--and
Solicitor-General Hagerman in the expulsion of Mr. Mackenzie; but they
treated the rebuke with contempt and were removed from office for again
assisting in the expulsion of Mr. Mackenzie.

In 1834 he was elected first mayor of Toronto, then incorporated under
its present name, as a consequence of the public sympathy aroused in his
favour by his several expulsions. Previous to the election of 1835, in
which he was returned to the assembly, he made one of the most serious
blunders of his life, in the publication of a letter from Mr. Joseph
Hume, the famous Radical, whose acquaintance he had made while in
England. Mr. Hume emphatically stated his opinion that "a crisis was
fast approaching in the affairs of Canada which would terminate in
independence and freedom from the baneful domination of the mother
country, and the tyrannical conduct of a small and despicable faction in
the colony." The official class availed themselves of this egregious
blunder to excite the indignation of the Loyalist population against Mr.
Mackenzie and other Reformers, many of whom, like the Baldwins and
Perrys, disavowed all sympathy with such language. Mr. Mackenzie's
motive was really to insult Mr. Ryerson, with whom he had quarrelled.
Mr. Ryerson in the _Christian Guardian_, organ of the Methodists, had
attacked Mr. Hume as a person unfit to present petitions from the
Liberals of Canada, since he had opposed the measure for the
emancipation of slaves in the West Indies, and had consequently
alienated the confidence and sympathy of the best part of the nation.
Mr. Hume then wrote the letter in question, in which he also stated that
he "never knew a more worthless hypocrite or so base a man as Mr.
Ryerson proved himself to be." Mr. Mackenzie in this way incurred the
wrath of a wily clergyman and religious journalist who exercised much
influence over the Methodists, and at the same time fell under the ban
of all people who were deeply attached to the British connection.
Moderate Reformers now looked doubtfully on Mackenzie, whose principal
supporters were Dr. Duncombe, Samuel Lount, Peter Matthews, and other
men who took an active part in the insurrection of 1837.

In the session of 1835 a committee of grievances, appointed on the
motion of Mr. Mackenzie himself, reported in favour of a system of
responsible government, an elective legislative council, the appointment
of civil governors, a diminution of the patronage exercised by the
crown, the independence of the legislature, and other reforms declared
to be in the interest of good government. The report was temperately
expressed, and created some effect for a time in England, but the
colonial minister could not yet be induced to move in the direction of
positive reform in the restrictive system of colonial government.

Unhappily, at this juncture, when good judgment and discretion were so
necessary in political affairs, all the circumstances combined to hasten
a perilous crisis, and to give full scope to the passionate impulses of
Mackenzie's nature. Sir John Colborne was replaced in the government of
the province by one of the most incapable governors ever chosen by the
colonial office, Sir Francis Bond Head. He had been chiefly known in
England as a sprightly writer of travels, and had had no political
experience except such as could be gathered in the discharge of the
duties of a poor-law commissioner in Wales. His first official act was
an indiscretion. He communicated to the legislature the full text of the
instructions which he had received from the king, although he had been
advised to give only their substance, as least calculated to hamper Lord
Gosford, who was then attempting to conciliate the French Canadian
majority in Lower Canada. These instructions, in express terms,
disapproved of a responsible executive and particularly of an elected
legislative council, to obtain which was the great object of Papineau
and his friends. Mr. Bidwell, then speaker of the assembly, recognised
the importance of this despatch, and forwarded it immediately to Mr.
Papineau, at that time speaker of the Lower Canadian house, with whom he
and other Reformers had correspondence from time to time. Lord Gosford
was consequently forced to lay his own instructions in full before the
legislature and to show the majority that the British government was
opposed to such vital changes in the provincial constitution as they
persistently demanded. The action of the Lower Canadian house on this
matter was communicated to the assembly of Upper Canada by a letter of
Mr. Papineau to Mr. Bidwell, who laid it before his house just before
the prorogation in 1835. In this communication the policy of the
imperial government was described as "the naked deformity of the
colonial system," and the royal commissioners were styled "deceitful
agents," while the methods of government in the neighbouring states were
again eulogised as in the ninety-two resolutions of 1834. Sir Francis
Bond Head seized the opportunity to create a feeling against the
Reformers, to whom he was now hostile. Shortly after he sent his
indiscreet message to the legislature he persuaded Dr. Rolph, Mr.
Bidwell and Receiver-General Dunn to enter the executive council on the
pretence that he wished to bring that body more into harmony with public
opinion. The new councillors soon found that they were not to be
consulted in public affairs, and when the whole council actually
resigned Sir Francis told them plainly that he alone was responsible for
his acts, and that he would only consult them when he deemed it
expedient in the public interest. This action of the lieutenant-governor
showed the Reformers that he was determined to initiate no changes which
would disturb the official party, or give self-government to the people.
The assembly, in which the Liberals were dominant, passed an address to
the king, declaring the lieutenant-governor's conduct "derogatory to the
honour of the king," and also a memorial to the British house of commons
charging him with "misrepresentation, and a deviation from candour and

Under these circumstances Sir Francis eagerly availed himself of
Papineau's letter to show the country the dangerous tendencies of the
opinions and acts of the Reformers in the two provinces. In an answer he
made to an address from some inhabitants of the Home District, he warned
the people that there were individuals in Lower Canada, who were
inculcating the idea that "this province is to be disturbed by the
interference of foreigners, whose powers and influence will prove
invincible"--an allusion to the sympathy shown by Papineau and his
friends for the institutions of the United States. Then Sir Francis
closed his reply with this rhodomontade: "In the name of every regiment
of militia in Upper Canada, I publicly promulgate 'Let them come if they
dare'" He dissolved the legislature and went directly to the country on
the issue that the British connection was endangered by the Reformers.
"He succeeded, in fact," said Lord Durham in his report of 1839, "in
putting the issue in such a light before the province, that a great
portion of the people really imagined that they were called upon to
decide the question of separation by their votes." These strong appeals
to the loyalty of a province founded by the Loyalists of 1784, combined
with the influence exercised by the "family compact," who had all
offices and lands at their disposal, defeated Mackenzie, Bidwell, Perry
and other Reformers of less note, and brought into the legislature a
solid phalanx of forty-two supporters of the government against eighteen
elected by the opposition. It was a triumph dearly paid for in the end.
The unfair tactics of the lieutenant-governor rankled in the minds of a
large body of people, and hastened the outbreak of the insurrection of
1837. The British government seems for a time to have been deceived by
this victory of the lieutenant-governor and actually lauded his
"foresight, energy and moral courage"; but ere long, after more mature
consideration of the political conditions of the province, it dawned
upon the dense mind of Lord Glenelg that the situation was not very
satisfactory, and that it would be well to conciliate the moderate
element among the Reformers. Sir Francis was accordingly instructed to
appoint Mr. Bidwell to the Bench, but he stated emphatically that such
an appointment would be a recognition on disloyalty. He preferred to
resign rather than obey the instructions of the colonial department, and
greatly to his surprise and chagrin his proffer of resignation was
accepted without the least demur. The colonial office by this time
recognised the mistake they had made in appointing Sir Francis to a
position, for which he was utterly unfit, but unhappily for the province
they awoke too late to a sense of their own folly.

Mackenzie became so embittered by his defeat in 1836, and the
unscrupulous methods by which it was accomplished, that he made up his
mind that reform in government was not to be obtained except by a resort
to extreme measures. At meetings of Reformers, held at Lloydtown and
other places during the summer of 1837, resolutions were carried that it
was their duty to arm in defence of their rights and those of their
countrymen. Mackenzie visited many parts of the province, in order to
stimulate a revolutionary movement among the disaffected people, a
system of training volunteers was organised; pikes were manufactured and
old arms were put in order. It was decided that Dr. Rolph should be the
executive chief of the provisional government, and Mackenzie in the
meantime had charge of all the details of the movement. Mr. Bidwell
appears to have steadily kept aloof from the disloyal party, but Dr.
Rolph was secretly in communication with Mackenzie, Lount, Matthews,
Lloyd, Morrison, Duncombe, and other actors in the rebellion. The plan
was to march on Toronto, where it was notorious that no precautions for
defence were being taken, to seize the lieutenant-governor, to proclaim
a provisional government, and to declare the independence of the
province unless Sir Francis should give a solemn promise to constitute a
responsible council. It is quite certain that Mackenzie entirely
misunderstood the sentiment of the country, and exaggerated the support
that would be given to a disloyal movement. Lord Durham truly said that
the insurrectionary movements which did take place were "indicative of
no deep rooted disaffection," and that "almost the entire body of the
Reformers of the province sought only by constitutional means to obtain
those objects for which they had so long peacefully struggled before
the unhappy troubles occasioned by the violence of a few unprincipled
adventurers and heated enthusiasts."

Despite the warnings that he was constantly receiving of the seditious
doings of Mackenzie and his lieutenants, Sir Francis Bond Head could not
be persuaded an uprising was imminent. So complete was his fatuity that
he allowed all the regular troops to be withdrawn to Lower Canada at the
request of Sir John Colborne. Had he taken adequate measures for the
defence of Toronto, and showed he was prepared for any contingency, the
rising of Mackenzie's immediate followers would never have occurred. His
apathy and negligence at this crisis actually incited an insurrection.
The repulse of Gore at St. Denis on the 23rd November (p. 134) no doubt
hastened the rebellious movement in Upper Canada, and it was decided to
collect all available men and assemble at Montgomery's tavern, only four
miles from Toronto by way of Yonge Street, the road connecting Toronto
with Lake Simcoe. The subsequent news of the dispersion of the rebels at
St. Charles was very discouraging to Mackenzie and Lount, but they felt
that matters had proceeded too far for them to stop at that juncture.
They still hoped to surprise Toronto and occupy it without much
difficulty. A Colonel Moodie, who had taken part in the war of 1812-15,
had heard of the march of the insurgents from Lake Simcoe, and was
riding rapidly to Toronto to warn the lieutenant-governor, when he was
suddenly shot down and died immediately. Sir Francis was unconscious of
danger when he was aroused late at night by Alderman Powell, who had
been taken prisoner by the rebels but succeeded in making his escape and
finding his way to Government House. Sir Francis at last awoke from his
lethargy and listened to the counsels of Colonel Fitzgibbon--the hero of
Beaver Dams in 1813--and other residents of Toronto, who had constantly
endeavoured to force him to take measures for the public security. The
loyal people of the province rallied with great alacrity to put down the
revolt. The men of the western district of Gore came up in force, and
the first man to arrive on the scene was Allan MacNab, the son of a
Loyalist and afterwards prime minister of Canada. A large and well
equipped force was at once organised under the command of Colonel

The insurrection was effectually quelled on the 7th December at
Montgomery's tavern by the militia and volunteer forces under Colonel
Fitzgibbon. The insurgents had at no time mustered more than eight
hundred men, and in the engagement on the 7th there were only four
hundred, badly armed and already disheartened. In twenty minutes, or
less time, the fight was over and the insurgents fled with the loss of
one man killed and several seriously wounded. The Loyalists, who did not
lose a single man, took a number of prisoners, who were immediately
released by the lieutenant-governor on condition of returning quietly to
their homes. Mackenzie succeeded in escaping across the Niagara
frontier, but Matthews was taken prisoner as he was leading a detachment
across the Don into Toronto. Lount was identified at Chippewa while
attempting to find his way to the United States and brought back to
Toronto. Rolph, Gibson and Duncombe found a refuge in the republic, but
Van Egmond, who had served under Napoleon, and commanded the insurgents,
was arrested and died in prison of inflammatory rheumatism. Mr. Bidwell
was induced to fly from the province by the insidious representations of
the lieutenant-governor, who used the fact of his flight as an argument
that he had been perfectly justified in not appointing him to the Bench.
In later years, the Canadian government, recognising the injustice Mr.
Bidwell had received, offered him a judgeship, but he never could be
induced to return to Canada Mackenzie had definite grievances against
Sir Francis and his party; and a British people, always ready to
sympathise with men who resent injustice and assert principles of
popular government, might have soon condoned the serious mistake he had
made in exciting a rash revolt against his sovereign. But his
apologists can find no extenuating circumstances for his mad conduct in
stirring up bands of ruffians at Buffalo and other places on the
frontier to invade the province. The base of operations for these raids
was Navy Island, just above the Niagara Falls in British territory. A
small steamer, "The Caroline," was purchased from some Americans, and
used to bring munitions of war to the island. Colonel MacNab was sent to
the frontier, and successfully organised an expedition of boats under
the charge of Captain Drew--afterwards an Admiral--to seize the steamer
at Fort Schlosser, an insignificant place on the American side. The
capture was successfully accomplished and the steamer set on fire and
sent down the river, where she soon sank before reaching the cataract.
Only one man was killed--one Durfee, a citizen of the United States.
This audacious act of the Canadians was deeply resented in the republic
as a violation of its territorial rights, and was a subject of
international controversy until 1842 when it was settled with other
questions at issue between Great Britain and the United States.
Mackenzie now disappeared for some years from Canadian history, as the
United States authorities felt compelled to imprison him for a time. It
was not until the end of 1838 that the people of the Canada were free
from filibustering expeditions organised in the neighboring states.
"Hunters' Lodges" were formed under the pledge "never to rest until all
tyrants of Britain cease to have any dominion or footing whatever in
North America." These marauding expeditions on the exposed parts of the
western frontier--especially on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers--were
successfully resisted. At Prescott, a considerable body of persons,
chiefly youths under age, under the leadership of Von Schoultz, a Pole,
were beaten at the Old Stone Windmill, which they attempted to hold
against a Loyalist force. At Sandwich, Colonel Prince, a conspicuous
figure in Canadian political history of later years, routed a band of
filibusters, four of whom he ordered to instant death. This resolute
deed created some excitement in England, where it was condemned by some
and justified by others. Canadians, who were in constant fear of such
raids, naturally approved of summary justice in the case of persons who
were really brigands, not entitled to any consideration under the laws
of war.

In 1838 President Buren issued a proclamation calling upon all citizens
of the United States to observe the neutrality laws; but the difficulty
in those days was the indisposition of the federal government to
interfere with the states where such expeditions were organised. The
vigilance of the Canadian authorities and the loyalty of the people
alone saved the country in these trying times. A great many of the
raiders were taken prisoners and punished with the severity due to their
unjustifiable acts. Von Schoultz and eight others were hanged, a good
many were pardoned, while others were transported to Van Diemen's Land,
whence they were soon allowed to return. The names of these filibusters
are forgotten, but those of Lount and Matthews, who perished on the
scaffold, have been inscribed on some Canadian hearts as patriots. Sir
George Arthur, who succeeded Sir Francis Head, was a soldier, who had
had experience as a governor among the convicts of Van Diemen's Land,
and the negro population of Honduras, where he had crushed a revolt of
slaves. Powerful appeals were made to him on behalf of Lount and
Matthews, but not even the tears and prayers of Lount's distracted wife
could reach his heart. Such clemency as was shown by Lord Durham would
have been a bright incident in Sir George Arthur's career in Canada, but
he looked only to the approval of the Loyalists, deeply incensed against
the rebels of 1837. His action in these two cases was regarded with
disapprobation in England, and the colonial minister expressed the hope
that no further executions would occur--advice followed in the case of
other actors of the revolt of 1837. Sir George Arthur's place in
colonial annals is not one of high distinction. Like his predecessors,
he became the resolute opponent of responsible government, which he
declared in a despatch to be "Mackenzie's scheme for getting rid of what
Mr. Hume called 'the baneful domination' of the mother country"; "and
never" he added, "was any scheme better devised to bring about such an
end speedily".

SECTION 3.--Social and economic conditions of the Provinces in 1838.

We have now reached a turning-point in the political development of the
provinces of British North America, and may well pause for a moment to
review the social and economic condition of their people. Since the
beginning of the century there had been a large immigration into the
provinces, except during the war of 1812. In the nine years preceding
1837, 263,089 British and Irish immigrants arrived at Quebec, and in one
year alone there were over 50,000. By 1838 the population of the five
provinces of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and
Prince Edward Island had reached about 1,400,000 souls. In Upper Canada,
with the exception of a very few people of German or Dutch descent, and
some French Canadians opposite Detroit and on the Ottawa River, there
was an entirely British population of at least 400,000 souls. The
population of Lower Canada was estimated at 600,000, of whom hardly
one-quarter were of British origin, living chiefly in Montreal, the
Townships, and Quebec. Nova Scotia had nearly 200,000 inhabitants, of
whom probably 16,000 were French Acadians, resident in Cape Breton and
in Western Nova Scotia. In New Brunswick there were at least 150,000
people, of whom some 15,000 were descendants of the original inhabitants
of Acadie. The Island of Prince Edward had 30,000 people, of whom the
French Acadians made up nearly one-sixth. The total trade of the country
amounted, in round figures, to about L5,000,000 sterling in imports,
and somewhat less in exports The imports were chiefly manufactures from
Great Britain, and the exports were lumber, wheat and fish. Those were
days when colonial trade was stimulated by differential duties in favour
of colonial products, and the building of vessels was encouraged by the
old navigation laws which shut out foreign commerce from the St.
Lawrence and the Atlantic ports, and kept the carrying trade between
Great Britain and the colonies in the hands of British and colonial
merchants, by means of British registered ships. While colonists could
not trade directly with foreign ports, they were given a monopoly for
their timber, fish, and provisions in the profitable markets of the
British West Indies.

The character of the immigration varied considerably, but on the whole
the thrifty and industrious formed the larger proportion. In 1833 the
immigrants deposited 300,000 sovereigns, or nearly a million and a half
of dollars, in the Upper Canadian banks. An important influence in the
settlement of Upper Canada was exercised by one Colonel Talbot, the
founder of the county of Elgin. Mrs. Anna Jameson, the wife of a
vice-chancellor of Upper Canada, describes in her _Winter Studies and
Summer Rambles_, written in 1838, the home of this great proprietor, a
Talbot of Malahide, one of the oldest families in the parent state. The
chateau--as she calls it, perhaps sarcastically--was a "long wooden
building, chiefly of rough logs, with a covered porch running along the
south side." Such homes as Colonel Talbot's were common enough in the
country. Some of the higher class of immigrants, however, made efforts
to surround themselves with some of the luxuries of the old world. Mrs.
Jameson tells us of an old Admiral, who had settled in the London
district--now the most prosperous agricultural part of Ontario--and had
the best of society in his neighbourhood; "several gentlemen of family,
superior education, and large capital (among them the brother of an
English and the son of an Irish peer, a colonel and a major in the army)
whose estates were in a flourishing state." The common characteristic
of the Canadian settlements was the humble log hut of the poor
immigrant, struggling with axe and hoe amid the stumps to make a home
for his family. Year by year the sunlight was let into the dense
forests, and fertile meadows soon stretched far and wide in the once
untrodden wilderness. Despite all the difficulties of a pioneer's life,
industry reaped its adequate rewards in the fruitful lands of the west,
bread was easily raised in abundance, and animals of all kinds thrived.

Unhappily the great bane of the province was the inordinate use of
liquor. "The erection of a church or chapel," says Mrs. Jameson,
"generally preceded that of a school-house in Upper Canada, but the mill
and the tavern invariably preceded both." The roads were of the most
wretched character and at some seasons actually prohibitory of all
social intercourse. The towns were small and ill-built. Toronto, long
known as "muddy little York," had a population of about 10,000, but with
the exception of the new parliament house, it had no public buildings of
architectural pretensions. The houses were generally of wood, a few of
staring ugly red brick; the streets had not a single side-walk until
1834, and in 1838 this comfort for the pedestrian was still exceptional.
Kingston, the ancient Cataraqui, was even a better built town than
Toronto, and had in 1838 a population of perhaps 4500 persons. Hamilton
and London were beginning to be places of importance. Bytown, now
Ottawa, had its beginnings in 1826, when Colonel By of the Royal
Engineers, commenced the construction of the Rideau Canal on the chain
of lakes and rivers between the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence at Kingston.
The ambition of the people of Upper Canada was always to obtain a
continuous and secure system of water navigation from the lakes to
Montreal. The Welland Canal between Lakes Erie and Ontario was commenced
as early as 1824 through the enterprise of Mr. William Hamilton Merritt,
but it was very badly managed; and the legislature, which had from year
to year aided the undertaking, was obliged eventually to acquire it as
a provincial work. The Cornwall Canal was also undertaken, but work was
stopped when it was certain that Lower Canada would not respond to the
aspirations of the West and improve that portion of the St. Lawrence
within its direct control. Flat-bottomed _bateaux_ and Durham boats were
generally in use for the carriage of goods on the inland waters, and it
was not until the completion of a canal system between the lakes and
Montreal, after the Union, that steamers came into vogue.

The province of Upper Canada had in 1838 reached a crisis in its
affairs. In the course of the seven years preceding the rebellion,
probably eighty thousand or one half of the immigrants, who had come to
the province, had crossed the frontier into the United States, where
greater inducements were held out to capital and population. As Mrs.
Jameson floated in a canoe, in the middle of the Detroit River, she saw
on the one side "all the bustle of prosperity and commerce," and on the
other "all the symptoms of apathy, indolence, mistrust, hopelessness."
At the time such comparisons were made, Upper Canada was on the very
verge of bankruptcy.

Turning to Lower Canada, we find that the financial position of the
province was very different from that of Upper Canada. The public
accounts showed an annual surplus, and the financial difficulties of the
province were caused entirely by the disputes between the executive and
the assembly which would not vote the necessary supplies. The timber
trade had grown to large proportions and constituted the principal
export to Great Britain from Quebec, which presented a scene of much
activity in the summer. Montreal was already showing its great
advantages as a headquarters of commerce on account of its natural
relations to the West and the United States. Quebec and Montreal had
each about 35,000 inhabitants. Travellers admitted that Montreal, on
account of the solidity of its buildings, generally of stone, compared
most favourably with many of the finest and oldest towns in the United
States. The Parish Church of Notre Dame was the largest ecclesiastical
edifice in America, and notable for its simple grandeur. With its
ancient walls girdling the heights first seen by Jacques Cartier, with
its numerous churches and convents, illustrating the power and wealth of
the Romish religion, with its rugged, erratic streets creeping through
hewn rock, with its picturesque crowd of red-coated soldiers of England
mingling with priests and sisters in sombre attire, or with the
_habitants_ in _etoffe du pays_,--the old city of Quebec, whose history
went back to the beginning of the seventeenth century, was certainly a
piece of mediaevalism transported from northern France. The plain stone
buildings of 1837 still remain in all their evidences of sombre
antiquity. None of the religious or government edifices were
distinguished for architectural beauty--except perhaps the English
cathedral--but represented solidity and convenience, while harmonising
with the rocks amid which they had risen.

The parliament of Lower Canada still met in the Bishop's Palace, which
was in want of repair. The old Chateau St. Louis had been destroyed by
fire in 1834, and a terrace bearing the name of Durham was in course of
construction over its ruins. It now gives one of the most picturesque
views in the world on a summer evening as the descending sun lights up
the dark green of the western hills, or brightens the tin spires and
roofs of the churches and convents, or lingers amid the masts of the
ships moored in the river or in the coves, filled with great rafts of

As in the days of French rule, the environs of Quebec and Montreal, and
the north side of the St. Lawrence between these two towns, presented
French Canadian life in its most picturesque and favourable aspect.
These settlements on the river formed one continuous village, with
tinned spires rising every few miles amid poplars, maples and elms.
While the homes of the seigniors and of a few professional men were more
commodious and comfortable than in the days of French rule, while the
churches and presbyteries illustrated the increasing prosperity of the
dominant religion, the surroundings of the _habitants_ gave evidences of
their want of energy and enterprise. But crime was rare in the rural
districts and intemperance was not so prevalent as in parts of the west.

Nearly 150,000 people of British origin resided in Lower Canada--a
British people animated for the most part by that spirit of energy
natural to their race. What prosperity Montreal and Quebec enjoyed as
commercial communities was largely due to the enterprise of British
merchants. The timber trade was chiefly in their hands, and the bank of
Montreal was founded by this class in 1817--seven years before the bank
of Upper Canada was established in Toronto. As political strife
increased in bitterness, the differences between the races became
accentuated. Papineau alienated all the British by his determination to
found a "_Nation Canadienne_" in which the British would occupy a very
inferior place. "French and British," said Lord Durham, "combined for no
public objects or improvements, and could not harmonise even in
associations of charity." The French Canadians looked with jealousy and
dislike on the increase and prosperity of what they regarded as a
foreign and hostile race. It is quite intelligible, then, why trade
languished, internal development ceased, landed property decreased in
value, the revenue showed a diminution, roads and all classes of local
improvements were neglected, agricultural industry was stagnant, wheat
had to be imported for the consumption of the people, and immigration
fell off from 52,000 in 1832 to less than 5000 in 1838.

In the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince
Edward Island, there were no racial antagonisms to affect internal
development; and the political conflict never reached such proportions
as to threaten the peace and security of the people. In New Brunswick
the chief industry was the timber trade--deals especially--which
received its first stimulus in 1809, when a heavy duty was placed on
Baltic timber, while that from the colonies came free into the British
Isles. Shipbuilding was also profitably followed in New Brunswick, and
was beginning to be prosecuted in Nova Scotia, where, a few years later,
it made that province one of the greatest ship-owning and ship-sailing
communities of the world until iron steamers gradually drove wooden
vessels from the carrying trade. The cod, mackerel, and herring
fisheries--chiefly the first--were the staple industry of Nova Scotia,
and kept up a large trade with the British West Indies, whence sugar,
molasses and rum were imported. Prince Edward Island was chiefly an
agricultural community, whose development was greatly retarded by the
wholesale grant of lands in 1767 to absentee proprietors. Halifax and
St. John had each a population of twenty thousand. The houses were
mostly of wood, the only buildings of importance being the government
house, finished in 1805, and the provincial or parliament house,
considered in its day one of the handsomest structures in North America.
In the beautiful valleys of Kings and Annapolis--now famous for their
fruit--there was a prosperous farming population. Yarmouth illustrated
the thrift and enterprise of the Puritan element that came into the
province from New England at an early date in its development. The
eastern counties, with the exception of Pictou, showed no sign of
progress. The Scotch population of Cape Breton, drawn from a poor class
of people in the north of Scotland, for years added nothing to the
wealth of an island whose resources were long dormant from the absence
of capital and enterprise.

Popular education in those days was at the lowest possible ebb. In 1837
there were in all the private and public schools of the provinces only
one-fifteenth of the total population. In Lower Canada not one-tenth
could write. The children of the _habitants_ repeated the Catechism by
rote, and yet could not read as a rule. In Upper Canada things were no
better. Dr. Thomas Rolph tells us that, so late as 1833, Americans or
other anti-British adventurers carried on the greater proportion of the
common schools, where the youth were taught sentiments "hostile to the
parent state" from books used in the United States--a practice stopped
by statute in 1846.

Adequate provision, however, was made for the higher education of youth
in all the provinces. "I know of no people," wrote Lord Durham of Lower
Canada, "among whom a larger provision exists for the higher kinds of
elementary education." The piety and benevolence of the early possessors
of the country founded seminaries and colleges, which gave an education
resembling the kind given in the English public schools, though more
varied. In Upper Canada, so early as 1807, grammar schools were
established by the government. By 1837 Upper Canada College--an
institution still flourishing--offered special advantages to youths
whose parents had some money. In Nova Scotia King's College--the oldest
university in Canada--had its beginning as an academy as early as 1788,
and educated many eminent men during its palmy days. Pictou Academy was
established by the Reverend Dr. McCulloch as a remonstrance against the
sectarianism of King's; and the political history of the province was
long disturbed by the struggle of its promoters against the narrowness
of the Anglicans, who dominated the legislative council, and frequently
rejected the grant made by the assembly. Dalhousie College was founded
in 1820 by Lord Dalhousie, then governor of Nova Scotia, to afford that
higher education to all denominations which old King's denied. Acadia
College was founded by the Baptists at Wolfville, on a gently rising
ground overlooking the fertile meadows of Grand Pre. The foundations of
the University of New Brunswick were laid in 1800. McGill University,
founded by one of those generous Montreal merchants who have always been
its benefactors, received a charter in 1821, but it was not opened until
1829. The Methodists laid the foundation of Victoria College at Cobourg
in 1834, but it did not commence its work until after the Union; and the
same was the case with King's College, the beginning of the University
of Toronto.

We need not linger on the literary output of those early times. Joseph
Bouchette, surveyor-general, had made in the first part of the century a
notable contribution to the geography and cartography of Lower Canada.
Major Richardson, who had served in the war of 1812 and in the Spanish
peninsula, wrote in 1833 "Wacousta or the Prophecy," a spirited romance
of Indian life. In Nova Scotia the "Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick, of
Slickville"--truly a remarkable original creation in humorous
literature--first appeared in a Halifax paper. The author, Judge
Haliburton, also published as early as 1829 an excellent work in two
volumes on the history of his native province. Small libraries and book
stores could only be seen in the cities.

In these early times of the provinces, when books and magazines were
rarities, the newspaper press naturally exercised much influence on the
social and intellectual conditions of the people at large. By 1838 there
were no less than forty papers printed in the province of Upper Canada
alone, some of them written with ability, though too often in a bitter,
personal tone. In those days English papers did not circulate to any
extent in a country where postage was exorbitant. People could hardly
afford to pay postage rates on letters. The poor settler was often
unable to pay the three or four shillings or even more, imposed on
letters from their old homes across the sea; and it was not unusual to
find in country post-offices a large accumulation of dead letters,
refused or neglected on account of the expense. The management of the
post-office by imperial officers was one of the grievances of the people
of the provinces generally. It was carried on for the benefit of a few
persons, and not for the convenience or solace of the many thousands who
were anxious for news of their kin across the ocean.



SECTION I.--The union of the Canadas and the establishment of
responsible government.

Lord Durham's report on the affairs of British North America was
presented to the British government on the 31st January, 1839, and
attracted an extraordinary amount of interest in England, where the two
rebellions had at last awakened statesmen to the absolute necessity of
providing an effective remedy for difficulties which had been pressing
upon their attention for years, but had never been thoroughly understood
until the appearance of this famous state paper. A legislative union of
the two Canadas and the concession of responsible government were the
two radical changes which stood out prominently in the report among
minor suggestions in the direction of stable government. On the question
of responsible government Lord Durham expressed opinions of the deepest
political wisdom. He found it impossible "to understand how any English
statesman could have ever imagined that representative and irresponsible
government could be successfully combined....To suppose that such a
system would work well there, implied a belief that the French Canadians
have enjoyed representative institutions for half a century, without
acquiring any of the characteristics of a free people; that Englishmen
renounce every political opinion and feeling when they enter a colony,
or that the spirit of Anglo-Saxon freedom is utterly changed and
weakened among those who are transplanted across the Atlantic[3]."

[3: For the full text of Lord Durham's report, which was laid before
Parliament, 11 February, 1839, see _English Parliamentary Papers_ for

In June, 1839, Lord John Russell introduced a bill to reunite the two
provinces, but it was allowed, after its second reading, to lie over for
that session of parliament, in order that the matter might be fully
considered in Canada. Mr. Poulett Thomson was appointed governor-general
with the avowed object of carrying out the policy of the imperial
government. Immediately after his arrival in Canada, in the autumn of
1839, the special council of Lower Canada and the legislature of Upper
Canada passed addresses in favour of a union of the two provinces. These
necessary preliminaries having been made, Lord John Russell, in the
session of 1840, again brought forward "An act to reunite the provinces
of Upper and Lower Canada, and for the government of Canada," which was
assented to on the 23rd of July, but did not come into effect until the
10th of February in the following year.

The act provided for a legislative council of not less than twenty
members, and for a legislative assembly in which each section of the
united provinces would be represented by an equal number of
members--that is to say, forty-two for each or eighty-four in all. The
number of representatives allotted to each province could not be changed
except with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of each house.
The members of the legislative council were appointed by the crown for
life, and the members of the assembly were chosen by electors possessing
a small property qualification. Members of both bodies were required to
hold property to a certain amount. The assembly had a duration of four
years, subject of course to be sooner dissolved by the governor-general.

Provision was made for a consolidated revenue fund, on which the first
charges were expenses of collection, management and receipt of revenues,
interest of public debt, payment of the clergy, and civil list. The
English language alone was to be used in the legislative records. All
votes, resolutions or bills involving the expenditure of public money
were to be first recommended by the governor-general.

The first parliament of the United Canadas was opened on the 14th June,
1841, in the city of Kingston, by the governor-general, who had been
created Baron Sydenham of Sydenham and of Toronto. This session was the
commencement of a series of parliaments which lasted until the
confederation of all the provinces in 1867, and forcibly illustrated the
capacity of the people of Canada to manage their internal affairs. For
the moment, I propose to refer exclusively to those political conditions
which brought about responsible government, and the removal of
grievances which had so long perplexed the imperial state and distracted
the whole of British North America.

In Lord John Russell's despatches of 1839,--the sequence of Lord
Durham's report--we can clearly see the doubt in the minds of the
imperial authorities whether it was possible to work the system of
responsible government on the basis of a governor directly responsible
to the parent state, and at the same time acting under the advice of
ministers who would be responsible to a colonial legislature. But the
colonial secretary had obviously come to the opinion that it was
necessary to make a radical change which would insure greater harmony
between the executive and the popular bodies of the provinces. Her
Majesty, he stated emphatically, "had no desire to maintain any system
of policy among her North American subjects which opinion condemns", and
there was "no surer way of gaining the approbation of the Queen than by
maintaining the harmony of the executive with the legislative
authorities." The new governor-general was expressly appointed to carry
out this new policy. If he was extremely vain, at all events he was also
astute, practical, and well able to gauge the public sentiment by which
he should be guided at so critical a period of Canadian history. The
evidence is clear that he was not individually in favour of responsible
government, as it was understood by men like Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Howe,
when he arrived in Canada. He believed that the council should be one
"for the governor to consult and no more"; and voicing the doubts that
existed in the minds of imperial statesmen, he added, the governor
"cannot be responsible to the government at home" and also to the
legislature of the province, if it were so, "then all colonial
government becomes impossible." The governor, in his opinion, "must
therefore be the minister [i.e. the colonial secretary], in which case
he cannot be under control of men in the colony."

When the assembly met it was soon evident that the Reformers in that
body were determined to have a definite understanding on the
all-important question of responsible government; and the result was
that the governor-general, a keen politician, immediately recognised the
fact that, unless he yielded to the feeling of the majority, he would
lose all his influence. There is every reason to believe that the
resolutions which were eventually passed in favour of responsible
government, in amendment to those moved by Mr. Baldwin, had his approval
before their introduction. The two sets of resolutions practically
differed little from each other, and the inference to be drawn from the
political situation of these times is that the governor's friends in the
council thought it advisable to gain all the credit possible with the
public for the passage of resolutions on the all-absorbing question of
the day, since it was obvious that it had to be settled in some
satisfactory and definite form. These resolutions embodying the
principles of the new constitution of Canada, were as follows: (1) "That
the head of the executive government of the province, being within the
limits of his government the representative of the sovereign, is
responsible to the imperial authority alone, but that, nevertheless, the
management of our local affairs can only be conducted by him with the
assistance, counsel, and information of subordinate officers in the
province. (2) That, in order to preserve between the different branches
of the provincial parliament that harmony which is essential to the
peace, welfare and good government of the province, the chief advisers
of the representative of the sovereign, constituting a provincial
administration under him, ought to be men possessed of the confidence of
the representatives of the people; thus affording a guarantee that the
well-understood wishes and interests of the people, which our gracious
sovereign has declared shall be the rule of the provincial government,
will on all occasions be faithfully represented and advocated. (3) That
the people of this province have, moreover, the right to expect from
such provincial administration, the exertion of their best endeavours
that the imperial authority, within its constitutional limits, shall be
exercised in the manner most consistent with their well-understood
wishes and interests."

On the 4th September, 1841, Lord Sydenham met with a serious accident
while riding, and as his constitution had been impaired for years he
died a fortnight later, to the regret of all political parties. He was
succeeded by Sir Charles Bagot, a Conservative and High Churchman, whose
brief administration was notable for the display of infinite discretion
on his part, and for his desire to do justice to the French Canadians
even at the risk of offending the ultra-loyal party, who claimed special
consideration in the management of public affairs. Responsible
government was in a fair way of being permanently established when Sir
Charles Bagot unhappily died in 1843 of dropsy, complicated by
heart-disease; and Lord Metcalfe was brought from India to create--as it
soon appeared--confusion and discord in the political affairs of the
province. His ideas of responsible government were those which had been
steadily inculcated by colonial secretaries since 1839, and were even
entertained by Lord Sydenham himself, namely, that the governor should
be as influential a factor as possible in the government, and should
always remember that he was directly responsible to the crown, and
should consider its prerogatives and interests as superior to all local

When Lord Metcalfe assumed the responsibilities of his post, he found in
office a Liberal administration, led by Mr. Baldwin, the eminent Reform
leader of Upper Canada, and Mr. Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine, afterwards
chief justice of Lower Canada and a baronet, who had been at the outset,
like all his countrymen, opposed to the union, as unjust to their
province. What originally excited their antagonism were the conditions
exacted by the legislature of Upper Canada: an equality of
representation, though the French section had a population of two
hundred thousand more than the western province, the exclusion of the
French language from the legislature, and the imposition of the heavy
debt of Upper Canada on the revenues of the united provinces. But unlike
Mr. Papineau, with whom he had acted during the political struggles in
Lower Canada, Mr. Lafontaine developed a high order of discreet
statesmanship after the union, and recognised the possibility of making
French Canada a force in government. He did not follow the example of
Mr. John Neilson, who steadily opposed the union--but determined to work
it out fairly and patiently on the principles of responsible government.

Lord Metcalfe, at the very outset, decided not to distribute the
patronage of the crown under the advice of his responsible advisers, but
to ignore them, as he declared, whenever he deemed it expedient. No
responsible ministers could, with any regard to their own self-respect,
or to the public interests, submit to a practice directly antagonistic
to responsible government, then on its trial. Consequently, all the
members of the Baldwin-Lafontaine government, with the exception of Mr.
Daly, immediately resigned, when Lord Metcalfe followed so
unconstitutional a course. Mr. Dominick Daly, afterwards knighted when
governor of Prince Edward's Island--who had no party proclivities, and
was always ready to support the crown in a crisis--became nominally
head of a weak administration. The ministry was only completed after a
most unconstitutional delay of several months, and was even then only
composed of men whose chief merit was their friendliness to the
governor, who dissolved the assembly and threw all the weight of the
crown into the contest. The governor's party was returned with a very
small majority, but it was a victory, like that of Sir Francis Bond Head
in 1835, won at the sacrifice of the dignity of the crown, and at the
risk of exciting once more public discontent to a dangerous degree. Lord
Metcalfe's administration was strengthened when Mr. Draper resigned his
legislative councillorship and took a seat in the assembly as leader.
Lord Metcalfe's conduct received the approval of the imperial
authorities, who elevated him to the peerage--so much evidence that they
were not yet ready to concede responsible government in a complete
sense. The result was a return to the days of old paternal government,
when the parliamentary opposition was directed against the governor
himself and the British government of which he was the organ. Lord
Metcalfe had been a sufferer from cancer, and when it appeared again in
its most aggravated form he returned to England, where he died a few
months later (1846). The abuse that followed him almost to the grave was
a discreditable exhibition of party rancour, but it indicated the
condition to which the public mind had been brought by his unwise and
unconstitutional conduct of public affairs--conduct for which his only
apology must be the half-hearted, doubtful policy of the imperial
authorities with regard to the province, and his own inability to
understand the fundamental principles of responsible government.

Lord Metcalfe's successor was Lord Cathcart, who had served with
distinction in the Peninsular War, and was appointed with a view to
contingencies that might arise out of the dispute between England and
the United States on the Oregon boundary question, to which I shall
refer in another chapter. He pursued a judicious course at a time when
politics were complicated by the fact that the industry and commerce of
the country were seriously deranged by the adoption of free trade in
England, and the consequent removal of duties which had given the
preference in the British market to Canadian wheat, flour and other
products. What aggravated the commercial situation was the fact that the
navigation laws, being still in force, closed the St. Lawrence to
foreign shipping and prevented the extension of trade to other markets
so as to compensate Canadians for the loss of that with the parent
state. Lord Cathcart was recalled within less than a year, when all
prospect of war with the United States had disappeared, and was followed
(1847) by a civil governor, the Earl of Elgin, who was chosen by the
Whig ministry, in which Lord John Russell was prime minister, and Earl
Grey the secretary of state for the colonies. It had dawned upon English
statesmen that the time had come for giving the colonists of British
North America a system of responsible government without such reserves
as had so seriously shackled its beginnings. In all probability they
thought that the free-trade policy of England had momentarily weakened
the ties that had bound the colonies to the parent state, and that it
was advisable to follow up the new commercial policy by removing causes
of public discontent in the province.

Lord Elgin was happily chosen to inaugurate a new era of colonial
self-government. Gifted with a judicial mind and no ordinary amount of
political sagacity, able to originate as well as carry out a
statesmanlike policy, animated, like Lord Durham--whose daughter he had
married--by a sincere desire to give full scope to the aspirations of
the people for self-government, so far as compatible with the supremacy
of the crown, possessed of eloquence which at once charmed and
convinced, Lord Elgin was able to establish on sure foundations the
principles of responsible government, and eventually to leave Canada
with the conviction that no subsequent representative of the crown
could again impair its efficient operation, and convulse the public
mind, as Lord Metcalfe had done. On his arrival he gave his confidence
to the Draper ministry, who were still in office; but shortly afterwards
its ablest member was elevated to the bench, and Mr. Sherwood became
attorney-general and head of a government, chiefly interesting now for
the fact that one of its members was Mr. John Alexander Macdonald, who,
on becoming a member of the assembly in 1844, had commenced a public
career which made him one of the most notable figures in the history of
the colonial empire of England.

Parliament was dissolved, and the elections were held in January, 1848,
when the government were defeated by a large majority and the second
Lafontaine-Baldwin ministry was formed; a ministry conspicuous for the
ability of its members, and the useful character of its legislation
during the four years it remained in power. It is noteworthy here that
Lord Elgin did not follow the example of his predecessors and select the
ministers himself, but followed the strict constitutional usage of
calling upon Mr. Lafontaine as a recognised leader of a party in
parliament to form a government. It does not fall within the scope of
this chapter to go into the merits of this great administration, whose
coming into office may be considered the crowning of the principles
adopted by Lord Elgin for the unreserved concession of responsible
government, and never violated from that time forward by any governor of

We must now direct our attention to the maritime provinces, that we may
complete this review of the progress of responsible government in
British North America. In 1836 the revenues of New Brunswick had been
placed at the disposal of the legislature, and administrative power
entrusted to those who possessed the confidence of the assembly. The
lieutenant-governor, Sir John Harvey, who had distinguished himself in
the war of 1812-15, recognised in Lord John Russell's despatches "a new
and improved constitution," and by an official memorandum informed the
heads of departments that "thenceforward their offices would be held by
the tenure of public confidence"; but after his departure (in 1841) an
attempt was made by Sir William Colebrooke to imitate the example of
Lord Metcalfe. He appointed to the provincial secretaryship a Mr. Reade,
who had been only a few months in the province, and never represented a
constituency or earned promotion in the public service. The members of
the executive council were never consulted, and four of the most popular
and influential councillors soon resigned. One of them, Mr. Lemuel A.
Wilmot, the recognised leader of the Liberals, addressed a strong
remonstrance to the lieutenant-governor, and vindicated those principles
of colonial government "which require the administration to be conducted
by heads of departments responsible to the legislature, and holding
their offices contingently upon the approbation and confidence of the
country, as expressed through the representatives of the people." The
colonial secretary of state disapproved of the action of the
lieutenant-governor, and constitutional government was strengthened in
this province of the Loyalists. From that time there was a regularly
organised administration and an opposition contending for office and
popular favour.

In Nova Scotia a despatch from Lord Glenelg brought to a close in 1838
the agitation which had been going on for years for a separation of the
executive from the legislative functions of the legislative council, and
the formation of two distinct bodies in accordance with the existing
English system. In this state paper--the first important step towards
responsible government in the province--the secretary of state, Lord
Glenelg, stated that it was her Majesty's pleasure that neither the
chief justice nor any of his colleagues should sit in the council, that
all the judges should entirely withdraw from all political discussions;
that the assembly's claim to control and appropriate all the revenues
arising in the province should be fully recognised by the government;
that the two councils should be thereafter divided, and that the members
of these bodies should be drawn from different parts of the
province--Halifax previously having obtained all the appointments except
one or two--and selected without reference to distinctions of religious
opinions. Unfortunately for Nova Scotia there was at that time at the
head of the executive a brave, obstinate old soldier, Sir Colin
Campbell, who had petrified ideas on the subject of colonial
administration, and showed no disposition to carry out the obvious
desire of the imperial authorities to give a more popular form to the
government of the province. One of his first official acts was to give
to the Anglican Church a numerical superiority to which it had no valid
claim. As in Upper Canada, at that time, there was a combination or
compact, composed of descendants of English Tories or of the Loyalists
of 1783, who belonged to the Anglican Church, and were opposed to
popular government. Two men were now becoming most prominent in
politics. One of these was Mr. James William Johnston, the son of a
Georgia Loyalist, an able lawyer, gifted with a persuasive tongue which
chimed most harmoniously with the views of Sir Colin. On the other side
was Mr. Joseph Howe, the son of a Loyalist printer of Boston, who had no
such aristocratic connections as Mr. Johnston, and soon became the
dominant influence in the Reform party, which had within its ranks such
able and eloquent men as S.G.W. Archibald, Herbert Huntington, Lawrence
O'Connor Doyle, William and George R. Young, and, very soon, James Boyle
Uniacke. Sir Colin Campbell completely ignored the despatches of Lord
John Russell, which were recognised by Sir John Harvey as conferring "an
improved constitution" upon the colonies. In February, 1840, Mr. Howe
moved a series of resolutions, in which it was emphatically stated that
"no satisfactory settlement of questions before the country could be
obtained until the executive council was remodelled," and that, as then
constituted, "it did not enjoy the confidence of the country." The
motion was carried by a majority of eighteen votes, in a house of
forty-two members, and indeed, so untenable was the position of the
executive council that Mr. James Boyle Uniacke, a member of the
government, retired, rather than vote, and subsequently placed his
resignation in the hands of the lieutenant-governor, on the ground that
it was his duty to yield to the opinions of the representative house,
and facilitate the introduction of a better system of government, in
accordance with the well-understood wishes of the people. From that time
Mr. Uniacke became one of Mr. Howe's ablest allies in the struggle for
self-government. Sir Colin, however, would not recede from the attitude
he had assumed, but expressed the opinion, in his reply to the address
of the legislature, that he could not recognise in the despatch of the
colonial secretary of state "any instruction for a fundamental change in
the colonial constitution." The assembly then prayed her Majesty, in a
powerful and temperate address, to recall Sir Colin Campbell. Though
Lord John Russell did not present the address to the Queen, the imperial
government soon afterwards appointed Lord Falkland to succeed Sir Colin
Campbell, whose honesty of purpose had won the respect of all parties.

Lord Falkland was a Whig, a lord of the bedchamber, and married to one
of the Fitzclarences--a daughter of William IV and Mrs. Jordan. He
arrived at Halifax in September, 1840, and his first political act was
in the direction of conciliating the Liberals, who were in the majority
in the assembly. He dismissed--to the disgust of the official
party--four members of the executive who had no seats in either branch
of the legislature, and induced Mr. Howe and Mr. James MacNab to enter
the government, on the understanding that other Liberals would be
brought in according as vacancies occurred, and that the members of the
council should hold their seats only upon the tenure of public
confidence. A dissolution took place, the coalition government was
sustained, and the Liberals came into the assembly with a majority. Mr.
Howe was elected speaker of the assembly, though an executive
councillor--without salary; but he and others began to recognise the
impropriety of one man occupying such positions, and in a later session
a resolution was passed against the continuance of what was really an
un-British and unconstitutional practice. It was also an illustration of
the ignorance that prevailed as to the principles that should guide the
words and acts of a cabinet, that members of the executive, who had
seats in the legislative council, notably Mr. Stewart, stated openly, in
contradiction of the assertions of Mr. Howe and his Liberal colleagues,
that "no change had been made in the constitution of the country, and
that responsible government in a colony was responsible nonsense, and
meant independence." It was at last found necessary to give some sort of
explanation of such extraordinary opinions, to avert a political crisis
in the assembly. Then, to add to the political embarrassment, there was
brought before the people the question of abandoning the practice of
endowing denominational colleges, and of establishing in their place one
large non-sectarian University. At this time the legislature voted
annual grants to five sectarian educational institutions of a high
class. The most important were King's College, belonging to the Anglican
Church, and Acadia College, supported by the Baptists. The Anglican
Church was still influential in the councils of the province, and the
Baptists had now the support of Mr. Johnston, the able attorney-general,
who had seceded from the Church of England. This able lawyer and
politician had won the favour of the aristocratic governor, and
persuaded him to dissolve the assembly, during the absence of Mr. Howe
in the country, though it had continuously supported the government, and
the people had given no signs of a want of confidence in the house as
then constituted. The fact was, Mr. Johnston and his friends in the
council thought it necessary to lose no time in arousing the feelings of
the supporters of denominational colleges against Mr. Howe and other
Liberals, who had commenced to hold meetings throughout the country in
favour of a non-sectarian University. The two parties came back from
the electors almost evenly divided, and Mr. Howe had an interview with
Lord Falkland. He consented to remain in the cabinet until the assembly
had an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the question at issue,
when the governor himself precipitated a crisis by appointing to the
executive and legislative councils Mr. M.B. Almon, a wealthy banker, and
a brother-in-law of the attorney-general. Mr. Howe and Mr. MacNab at
once resigned their seats in the government on the ground that Mr.
Almon's appointment was a violation of the compact by which two Liberals
had been induced to join the ministry, and was most unjust to the forty
or fifty gentlemen who, in both branches, had sustained the
administration for several years. Instead of authorising Mr. Johnston to
fill the two vacancies and justify the course taken by the governor, the
latter actually published a letter in a newspaper, in which he boldly
stated that he was entirely opposed to the formation of a government
composed of individuals of one political party, that he would steadily
resist any invasion of the royal prerogatives with respect to
appointments, and that he had chosen Mr. Almon, not simply on the ground
that he had not been previously engaged in political life to any extent,
but chiefly because he wished to show his own confidence in Mr.
Johnston, Mr. Almon's brother-in-law. Lord Falkland had obviously thrown
himself into the arms of the astute attorney-general and his political

It was now a political war _a outrance_ between Lord Falkland and Mr.
Howe, from 1842 until the governor left the province in 1846. Lord
Falkland made strenuous efforts to detach Mr. MacNab, Mr. Uniacke and
other Liberals from Mr. Howe, and induce them to enter the government,
but all to no purpose. He now gave up writing letters to the press, and
attacked his opponents in official communications addressed to the
colonial office, which supported him, as it did Lord Metcalfe, under
analogous circumstances. These despatches were laid without delay on
the tables of the houses, to be used far and wide against the
recalcitrant Liberals. Mr. Howe had again renewed his connection with
the press, which he had left on becoming speaker and councillor, and had
become editor of the _Nova Scotian_, and the _Morning Chronicle_, of
which Mr. Annand was the proprietor. In these influential organs of the
Liberal party--papers still in existence--Mr. Howe attacked Lord
Falkland, both in bitter prose and sarcastic verse. All this while the
governor and his council contrived to control the assembly, sometimes by
two or three votes, sometimes by a prorogation when it was necessary to
dispose summarily of a troublesome question. Public opinion began to set
in steadily against the government. The controversy between Lord
Falkland and Mr. Howe reached its climax on the 21st February, 1846,
when a despatch was brought down to the house, referring to the speaker,
Mr. William Young, and his brother, George R. Young, as the associates
of "reckless" and "insolvent" men--the reference being to Mr. Howe and
his immediate political friends. When the despatch had been read, Mr.
Howe became greatly excited, and declared amid much disorder that if
"the infamous system" of libelling respectable colonists in despatches
sent to the colonial office was continued, "without their having any
means of redress ... some colonist would by-and-by, or he was much
mistaken, hire a black fellow to horsewhip a lieutenant-governor."

It was time that this unhappy conflict should end. The imperial
authorities wisely transferred Lord Falkland to Bombay, where he could
do no harm, and appointed Sir John Harvey to the government of Nova
Scotia. Like Lord Elgin in Canada, he was discreetly chosen by the
Reform ministry, as the sequel showed. He was at first in favour of a
coalition government like his predecessors, but he wisely dissolved the
assembly when he found that the leading Liberals positively refused to
go into an alliance with the members of the executive council, or any
other set of men, until the people had decided between parties at the
polls. The result was a victory for the Liberals, and as soon as the
assembly met a direct motion of want of confidence was carried against
the government, and for the first time in the history of the country the
governor called to his council men exclusively belonging to the
opposition in the popular branch. Mr. Howe was not called upon to form a
cabinet--his quarrel with Lord Falkland had to be resented somehow--but
the governor's choice was Mr. James Boyle Uniacke, who gave a prominent
position in the new government to the great Liberal, to whom responsible
government owed its final success in this maritime province.

Responsible government was not introduced into Prince Edward Island
until 1851, when an address on the prosperous state of the island was
presented to the imperial authorities, who at once consented to concede
responsible government on the condition that adequate provision was made
for certain public officers affected by the new order of things. The
leader of the new government was the Honourable George Coles.

In the history of the past there is much to deplore, the blunders of
English ministers, the want of judgment on the part of governors, the
selfishness of "family compacts," the arrogance of office-holders, the
recklessness of Canadian politicians. But the very trials of the crisis
through which Canada passed brought out the fact, that if English
statesmen had mistaken the spirit of the Canadian people, and had not
always taken the best methods of removing grievances, it was not from
any studied disposition to do these countries an injustice, but rather
because they were unable to see until the very last moment that, even in
a colony, a representative system must be worked in accordance with
those principles that obtained in England, and that it was impossible to
direct the internal affairs of dependencies many thousand miles distant
through a colonial office, generally managed by a few clerks.

Of all the conspicuous figures of these memorable times, which already
seem so far away from Canadians of the present day, who possess so many
political rights, there are several who stand out more prominently than
all others, and represent the distinct types of politicians, who
influenced the public mind during the first half of the nineteenth
century, when responsible government was in slow process of evolution
from the political struggles which arose in the operation of
representative institutions. Around the figure of Louis Joseph Papineau
there has always been a sort of glamour which has helped to conceal his
vanity, his rashness and his want of political sagacity, which would,
under any circumstances, have prevented his success as a safe statesman,
capable of guiding a people through a trying ordeal. His eloquence was
fervid and had much influence over his impulsive countrymen, his
sincerity was undoubted, and in all likelihood his very indiscretions
made more palpable the defects of the political system against which he
so persistently and so often justly declaimed. He lived to see his
countrymen enjoy power and influence under the very union which they
resented, and to find himself no longer a leader among men, but isolated
from a great majority of his own people, and representing a past whose
methods were antagonistic to the new regime that had grown up since
1838. It would have been well for his reputation had he remained in
obscurity on his return from exile in 1847, when he and other rebels of
1837 were wisely pardoned, and had he never stood again on the floor of
the parliament of Canada, as he did from 1848 until 1854, since he could
only prove, in those later times, that he had never understood the true
working of responsible government. While the Lafontaine-Baldwin ministry
were in power, he revived an agitation for an elective legislative
council and declared himself utterly hostile to responsible government;
but his influence was at an end in the country, and he could make little
impression on the assembly. The days of reckless agitation had passed,
and the time for astute and calm statesmanship had come. Lafontaine and
Morin were now safer political guides for his countrymen. He soon
disappeared entirely from public view, and in the solitude of his
picturesque chateau, amid the groves that overhang the Ottawa River,
only visited from time to time by a few staunch friends, or by curious
tourists who found their way to that quiet spot, he passed the remainder
of his days with a tranquillity in wondrous contrast to the stormy and
eventful drama of his life. The writer often saw his noble, dignified
figure--erect even in age--passing unnoticed on the streets of Ottawa,
when perhaps at the same time there were strangers, walking through the
lobbies of the parliament house, asking for his portrait.

William Lyon Mackenzie is a far less picturesque figure in Canadian
history than Papineau, who possessed an eloquence of tongue and a grace
of demeanour which were not the attributes of the little peppery,
undignified Scotchman who, for a few years, played so important a part
in the English-speaking province. With his disinterestedness and
unselfishness, with his hatred of political injustice and oppression,
Canadians who remember the history of the constitutional struggles of
England will always sympathise. Revolt against absolutism and tyranny is
permissible in the opinion of men who love political freedom, but the
conditions of Upper Canada were hardly such as justified the rash
insurrection into which he led his deluded followers, many to misery and
some to death. Mackenzie lived long enough to regret these sad mistakes
of a reckless period of his life, and to admit that "the success of the
rebellion would have deeply injured the people of Canada," whom he
believed he was then serving, and that it was the interest of the
Canadian people to strengthen in every way the connection with England.
Like Papineau, he returned to Canada in 1849 to find himself entirely
unequal to the new conditions of political life, where a large
constitutional knowledge, a spirit of moderation and a statesmanlike
conduct could alone give a man influence in the councils of his country.
One historian has attempted to elevate Dr. Rolph at his expense, but a
careful study of the career of those two actors will lead fair-minded
readers to the conclusion that even the reckless course followed at the
last by Mackenzie was preferable to the double-dealing of his more
astute colleague. Dr. Rolph came again into prominence as one of the
founders of the Clear Grits, who formed in 1849 an extreme branch of the
Reform party. Dr. Rolph's qualities ensured him success in political
intrigue, and he soon became a member of the Hincks-Morin government,
which was formed on the reconstruction of the Lafontaine-Baldwin
ministry in 1851, when its two moderate leaders were practically pushed
aside by men more in harmony with the aggressive elements of the Reform
party. But Mr. Mackenzie could never win such triumphs as were won by
his wily and more manageable associate of old times. He published a
newspaper--_The Weekly Message_--replete with the eccentricities of the
editor, but it was never a financial success, while his career in the
assembly from 1851 until 1858 only proved him almost a nullity in public
affairs. Until his death in 1861 his life was a constant fight with
poverty, although his closing years were somewhat soothed by the gift of
a homestead. He might have received some public position which would
have given him comfort and rest, but he would not surrender what he
called his political freedom to the men in office, who, he believed,
wished to purchase his silence--the veriest delusion, as his influence
had practically disappeared with his flight to the United States.

Joseph Howe, unlike the majority of his compeers who struggled for
popular rights, was a prominent figure in public life until the very
close of his career in 1873. All his days, even when his spirit was
sorely tried by the obstinacy and indifference of some English
ministers, he loved England, for he knew--like the Loyalists, from one
of whom he sprung--it was in her institutions, after all, his country
could best find prosperity and happiness. It is an interesting fact
that, among the many able essays and addresses which the question of
imperial federation has drawn forth, none can equal his great speech on
the consolidation of the empire in eloquence, breadth, and fervour. Of
all the able men Nova Scotia has produced no one has surpassed that
great tribune of the people in his power to persuade and delight the
masses by his oratory. Yet, strange to say, his native province has
never raised a monument to his memory.

One of the most admirable figures in the political history of the
Dominion was undoubtedly Robert Baldwin. Compared with other popular
leaders of his generation, he was calm in council, unselfish in motive,
and moderate in opinion. If there is any significance in the political
phrase "Liberal-Conservative," it could be applied with justice
to him. The "great ministry," of which he and Louis Hippolyte
Lafontaine--afterwards a baronet and chief justice--were the leaders,
left behind it many monuments of broad statesmanship, and made a deep
impression on the institutions of the country. In 1851 he resigned from
the Reform ministry, of which he had been the Upper Canadian leader, in
consequence of a vote of the Reformers of that province adverse to the
continuance of the court of chancery, the constitution of which had been
improved chiefly by himself. When he presented himself as a candidate
before his old constituency he was defeated by a nominee of the Clear
Grits, who were then, as always, pressing their opinions with great
vehemence and hostility to all moderate men. He illustrated the fickle
character of popular favour, when a man will not surrender his
principles and descend to the arts of the politician. He lived until
1858 in retirement, almost forgotten by the people for whom he had
worked so fearlessly and sincerely.

In New Brunswick the triumph of responsible government must always be
associated with the name of Lemuel A. Wilmot, the descendant of
a famous United Empire Loyalist stock, afterwards a judge and a
lieutenant-governor of his native province. He was in some respects the
most notable figure, after Joseph Howe and J.W. Johnston, the leaders
of the Liberal and Conservative parties in Nova Scotia, in that famous
body of public men who so long brightened the political life of the
maritime provinces. But neither those two leaders nor their
distinguished compeers, James Boyle Uniacke, William Young, John
Hamilton Gray and Charles Fisher, all names familiar to students of Nova
Scotia and New Brunswick history, surpassed Mr. Wilmot in that magnetic
eloquence which carries an audience off its feet, in versatility of
knowledge, in humorous sarcasm, and in conversational gifts, which made
him a most interesting personality in social life. He impressed his
strong individuality upon his countrymen until the latest hour of his
useful career.

In Prince Edward Island, the name most intimately connected with the
struggle for responsible government is that of George Coles, who,
despite the absence of educational and social advantages in his youth,
eventually triumphed over all obstacles, and occupied a most prominent
position by dint of unconquerable courage and ability to influence the
opinions of the great mass of people.

SECTION 2.--Results of self-government from 1841 to 1864.

The new colonial policy, adopted by the imperial government immediately
after the presentation of Lord Durham's report, had a remarkable effect
upon the political and social development of the British North American
provinces during the quarter of a century that elapsed between the union
of the Canadas in 1841 and the federal union of 1867. In 1841 Mr.
Harrison, provincial secretary of the upper province in the coalition
government formed by Lord Sydenham, brought in a measure which laid the
foundations of the elaborate system of municipal institutions which the
Canadian provinces now enjoy. In 1843 Attorney-General Lafontaine
presented a bill "for better serving the independence of the legislative
assembly of this province," which became law in 1844 and formed the
basis of all subsequent legislation in Canada.

The question of the clergy reserves continued for some years after the
union to perplex politicians and harass governments. At last in 1854 the
Hincks government was defeated by a combination of factions, and the
Liberal-Conservative party was formed out of the union of the
Conservatives and the moderate Reformers. Sir Allan MacNab was the
leader of this coalition government, but the most influential member was
Mr. John A. Macdonald, then attorney-general of Upper Canada, whose
first important act was the settlement of the clergy reserves. Reform
ministers had for years evaded the question, and it was now left to a
government, largely composed of men who had been Tories in the early
part of their political career, to yield to the force of public opinion
and take it out of the arena of political agitation by means of
legislation which handed over this property to the municipal
corporations of the province for secular purposes, and at the same time
made a small endowment for the protection of the clergy who had legal
claims on the fund. The same government had also the honour of removing
the old French seigniorial system, recognised to be incompatible with
the modern condition of a country of free government, and injurious to
the agricultural development of the province at large. The question was
practically settled in 1854, when Mr. Drummond, then attorney-general
for Lower Canada, brought in a bill providing for the appointment of a
commission to ascertain the amount of compensation that could be fairly
asked by the seigniors for the cession of their seigniorial rights. The
seigniors, from first to last, received about a million of dollars, and
it also became necessary to revise those old French laws which affected
the land tenure of Lower Canada. Accordingly in 1856 Mr. George Cartier,
attorney-general for Lower Canada in the Tache-Macdonald ministry,
introduced the legislation necessary for the codification of the civil
law. In 1857 Mr. Spence, post-master-general in the same ministry,


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