Canada Early History III

By | December 25, 2021

After the division into two provinces, the course of events in them was somewhat different; because Upper Canada, populated by Anglo-Saxons, was more willing to remain quiet under British rule while Lower Canada, which the Quebec Act was much more welcome and its revocation had appeared as a violent suppression of ancient prerogatives, not he was slow to fidget once he trained in the new constitutional mechanism. In fact, after an initial period of relative calm, the struggle began between the lower house of the provincial legislature and the upper one: representing the former, by a large majority, the interests and aspirations of the Franco-Canadian agricultural element which, despite the growing English immigration, maintained its preponderance in the province; finding in the second its natural spokesperson Anglo-Saxon merchant element of the cities. Indeed, with 1806, the year the French newspaper was founded Le Canadien, began a real national campaign against everything that was or knew English, under the motto “Nos institutions, notre langue et nos lois”: a campaign to which the conflict between Lower and Upper Canada brought new nourishment. Indeed, Lower Canada, which was the gateway to Upper Canadian agricultural products, was involved in every way (most damaging of all the imposition of tax duties on products transiting through Lower Canada) to hinder Anglo- Canadian, arousing protests not only from the inner province of Upper Canada, but also from the mercantile element, mainly English, of the urban centers of Lower Canada. For Canada history, please check

The Anglo-American War of 1812-1814 opened a parenthesis in the agitation, uniting the two ethnic elements in the face of the common danger of an American invasion, equally deprecated on both sides, and indeed sowing the first seed of a common nationality for the future; but, after it, the struggle, now deaf now open, resumed more lively than ever, adding to the national aspirations of the Franco-Canadian element those of a political nature of the English element, yearning for more liberal systems. The British Government – especially after the presentation of a Canadian petition signed by 87,000 people (the so-called “Ninety-Two Resolutions” of 1828) and the consequent examination of the Lower Canadian problem by

On the day, in fact, when the forced release of two Canadians arrested for common crime caused an open rebellion in Lower Canada (1837), Upper Canada also followed suit. The troubles of 1837-38, much less important in Upper Canada than in Lower Canada, after some success of the insurgents, led by Papineau in Lower Canada and by Mackenzie in Upper Canada, were easily tamed: the constitution was suspended and in its place established the military regime. The roots of evil, however, persisted; and the Canadian problem was all the more difficult the more obscure it was to the English public, unaware of the causes and consequences that the Canadian rebellion might have. In 1838, after the constitution was suspended, as we have said, Lord Durham was appointed High Commissioner to Canada, ” Report on Canada is one of the most famous documents of England’s colonial policy. The report concluded by proposing the union of the two Canadas, the constitution of a local government plan made up of elective bodies and the establishment of an executive power based on more perfect principles.

The bold plan of Durham (his adversaries Tories came to call him a conspiracy with the Canadian rebels, to remove Canada from England), culminating in the “responsible government” whose expression had occurred the first time, it seems, in the Lower Canadian petition presented to the English Parliament by Stanley in 1829, it was not yet fully adopted. What mattered most then was the consolidation of English rule, which seemed so shaken in Lower Canada that it posed the dilemma of the metropolis: either to convert Lower Canada into a true English colony or to lose it. The result of this conviction was the Reunion Act, passed in 1840 and entered into force in February 1841. Once the two provinces were brought together legislatively, a single governor and a single legislature were established, made up of a Legislative Council appointed for life and an Assembly elected every 4 years. The Executive Council, chosen by the Governor, was to remain in office as long as it enjoyed the confidence of both Houses. To ensure the loyalty of the Assembly, it was established that Alto and Basso Lanada sent an equal number of members to it. although the second was much more populated.

Although the Reunion Act of 1840 was the first step towards recognizing Canada’s effective political independence, the campaign for responsible government continued for another five years: five years in which British governors did not always find a practical way to reign without ruling. Only with the full granting of a responsible government to Canada, by the English Parliament, in 1846 (the explicit recognition, that is, that the governor should entrust executive power only to politicians invested with the confidence of the Elective Chamber), the problem could be solved. The new governor, chosen by Lord Gray from among his own political opponents, Lord Elgin, Lord Durham’s son-in-law and claimant to Canada, could thus inaugurate the series in 1847 and, we would almost say, create the new type of autonomous colonial governor. While, in fact, he frankly and freely adopted the responsible government, he also knew how to show what broad action the governor, the uncrowned constitutional king of an autonomous colony, could also explain with it.

Canada Early History III