19th Century Canada

The Governor and Company of
Adventurers of England trading into
Hudson Bay
The oldest corporation in North America, their royal charter in
1670 granted to them approx. 15% of all the land and control of
the de facto government for the better part of a century.
The Seven Years War 1756-63
The Treaty of Paris 1763
19th Century Canadian History
At the end of the 18th century, France ceded much of
Canada to Britain at the end of the Seven Years War in
the Treaty of Paris 1763.
After the War of 1812, Britain was relegated to
approximately the modern Canadian-American border
with only a few exceptions:
1. The Maine-New Brunswick border dispute erupted
into the Aroostook War but was settled bloodlessly
in 1842 with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty
2. The Dispute over the Oregon Territory was settled in
the Oregon Treaty of 1846
The Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812
“We have met the enemy, and they are ours!” Cpt. Oliver Perry
19th Century Canadian History
Following the War of 1812,
tensions between Great Britain
and the United States began to
improve steadily over the
remainder of the decade and a
flood of European immigrants
pour into the Americas,
including Canada.
19th Century Canadian History
In terms of
governance, Britain
had responded to
the US Revolution by
passing the
Constitution Act of
1791, giving each
colony the
opportunity to elect
a legislative
The Rebellions of 1837
In 1834, the Legislative
Assembly of Lower Cananda
sent the “92 Resolutions” to
By 1837, British Colonial
Secretary responds with his
“10 Resolutions” (aka
“Russell’s Resolutions”)
They also pass additional anticolonial legislation
The Rebellions of 1837
In November of 1837,
insurrection broke out in Lower
Canada (i.e. Quebec) against the
British colonial government.
1. The lack of representation
2. The Château Clique
The Rebellions of 1837
Lord Durham,
British Governor
The Durham Report 1839
1. Upper and Lower Canada should be united into one
colony, called the Province of Canada, as this would
help to unify the colony and assimilate the French
Canadiens into Anglophone British culture.
This happened in 1840, when the Act of Union was passed
merging Upper and Lower Canada, but it failed to truly
assimilate the French Canadians.
2. Grant the new united colony a “responsible
government” (i.e. one in which the executive
government is directly responsible and accountable
to a directly elected parliament, rather than a
monarch or imperial power)
In 1848, the Province of Canada was granted a” responsible
government”, but was frought with instability.
The Canadian Confederation
The new government was led by two men: one from
each of the two regions, Canada East (Quebec) and
Canada West (Ontario).
Due to divisiveness, a coalition was formed in 1863 to
unify the various factions:
The Clear Grits – George Brown
The Parti Bleu – George-Etienne Cartier
Liberal-Conservatives – John MacDonald
This led to the formation of the Canadian Confederation
in 1867 under the condition that they resolve their
constitutional issues by supporting a federal union of
ALL British North American colonies.
The British North America Act 1867
The Confederation immediately proceeded in reworking their constitution, specifically at the
Charlottestown & Quebec Conferences. In 1867 they
drafted the British North America Act (BNA) which:
1. Called the new country Canada
2. Renamed Canada East, Quebec, and Canada
West, Ontario.
3. Designated itself a “Dominion” (from Ps. 72:8)
Within days of its completion, it was quickly
approved by both British Houses and agreed to by
Queen Victoria.
The British North America Act 1867
Having gone into effect on July 1, 1867 (Canada Day)
the new confederated government outlined the
1. The union of the provinces
2. Balance of power
3. The judicial system
4. A bill of rights?
The British North America Act 1867
“By adhering to the monarchical principle we avoid one defect
inherent in the Constitution of the United States. By the election of
the president by a majority and for a short period, he never is the
sovereign and chief of the nation. He is never looked up to by the
whole people as the head and front of the nation. He is at best but
the successful leader of a party. This defect is all the greater on
account of the practice of reelection. During his first term of office
he is employed in taking steps to secure his own reelection, and
for his party a continuance of power. We avoid this by adhering to
the monarchical principle—the sovereign whom you respect and
love. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to have that
principle recognized so that we shall have a sovereign who is
placed above the region of party—to whom all parties look up;
who is not elevated by the action of one party nor depressed by
the action of another; who is the common head and sovereign of
all.” John A. MacDonald, 1st Prime Minister of Canada
The British North America Act 1867
Unresolved Issues and Complications:
1. Provinces that did not want to be included (e.g.
Nova Scotia)
2. No explicit bill of rights
3. Lack of full autonomy
The British North America Act 1867
•Began the process that was to culminate in 1917
•Though not without some bloodshed, Canada
achieved the independence that the U.S. wanted,
though had to fight for.

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