Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
158
[HISTORY
CANADA

pressed on into the far West until in 1743, first recorded of white men, he came in sight of the Rocky Mountains. In the south of the continent France also crowned La Salle’s work by founding early in the 18th century New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi. It was a far cry from New Orleans to Quebec. If France could link them by a chain of settlements and shut in the English to their narrow strip of Atlantic seaboard there was good promise that North America would be hers.

The project was far-reaching, but France could do little to make it effective. Louis XV. allowed her navy to decline and her people showed little inclination for emigration to the colonies. In 1744, when the war of the Austrian Succession broke out, the New England colonies planned and in 1745 effected the capture of Louisbourg, the stronghold of France in Cape Breton Island, which menaced their commerce. But to their disgust, when the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was made in 1748, this conquest was handed back to France. She continued her work of building a line of forts on the great lakes—on the river Niagara, on the Ohio, on the Mississippi; and the English colonies, with the enemy thus in their rear, grew ever more restive. In 1753 Virginia warned the French on the Ohio that they were encroaching on British territory. The next year, in circumstances curiously like those which were repeated when the French expedition under Marchand menaced Britain in Egypt by seeking to establish a post on the Upper Nile, George Washington, a young Virginian officer, was sent to drive the French from their Fort Duquesne on the Ohio river, where now stands Pittsburgh. The result was sharp fighting between English and French in a time of nominal peace. In 1755 the British took the stern step of deporting the Acadian French from Nova Scotia. Though this province had been ceded to Great Britain in 1713 many of the Acadians had refused to accept British sovereignty. In 1749 the British founded Halifax, began to colonize Nova Scotia, and, with war imminent, deemed it prudent to disperse the Acadians, chiefly along the Atlantic seaboard (see Nova Scotia: History). In 1756 the Seven Years’ War definitely began. France had no resources to cope with those of Britain in America, and the British command of the sea proved decisive. On the 13th of September 1759 Wolfe won his great victory before Quebec, which involved the fall of that place, and a year later at Montreal the French army in Canada surrendered. By the peace of Paris, 1763, the whole of New France was finally ceded to Great Britain.

With only about 60,000 French in Canada at the time of the conquest it might have seemed as if this population would soon be absorbed by the incoming British. Some thought that, under a Protestant sovereign, the Canadian English
possesion.
Catholics would be rapidly converted to Protestantism. But the French type proved stubbornly persistent and to this day dominates the older Canada. The first English settlers in the conquered country were chiefly petty traders, not of a character to lead in social or public affairs. The result was that the government of the time co-operated rather with the leaders among the French.

After peace was concluded in 1763, Canada was governed under the authority of a royal proclamation, but sooner or later a constitution specially adapted to the needs of the country was inevitable. In 1774 this was provided by the Quebec Act passed by the Imperial parliament. Under this act the western territory which France had claimed, extending as far as the Mississippi and south to the Ohio, was included with Canada in what was called the Province of Quebec. This vast territory was to be governed despotically from Quebec; the Roman Catholic church was given its old privileges in Canada; and the French civil law was established permanently side by side with the English criminal law. The act linked the land-owning class in Canada and the church by ties of self-interest to the British cause. The habitant, placed again under their authority, had less reason to be content.

In 1775 began the American Revolution. Its leaders tried to make the revolt continental, and invaded Canada, hoping that the French would join them. They took Montreal and besieged Quebec during the winter of 1775–1776; but the prudent leadership of Sir Guy Carleton, afterwards Lord Dorchester, saved Quebec and in 1776 the revolutionary army withdrew unsuccessful from Canada. Since that time any prospect of Canada’s union to the United States has been very remote.

But the American Revolution profoundly influenced the life of Canada. The country became the refuge of thousands of American loyalists who would not desert Great Britain. To Nova Scotia, to what are now New Brunswick (q.v.) and Ontario (q.v.) they fled in numbers not easily estimated, but probably reaching about 40,000. Until this time the present New Brunswick and Ontario had contained few European settlers; now they developed, largely under the influence of the loyalists of the Revolution. This meant that the American type of colonial life would be reproduced in Canada; but it meant also bitter hostility on the part of these colonists to the United States, which refused in any way to compensate the loyalists for their confiscated property. Great Britain did something; the loyalists received liberal grants of land and cash compensation amounting to nearly £4,000,000.

A prevailingly French type of government was now no longer adequate in Canada, and in 1791 was passed by the British parliament the Constitutional Act, separating Canada at the Ottawa river into two parts, each with its own government; Lower Canada, chiefly French, retaining the old system of laws, with representative institutions now added, and Upper Canada, on the purely British model. (For the history of Lower and Upper Canada, now Quebec and Ontario, the separate articles must be consulted.) Each province had special problems; the French in Lower Canada aimed at securing political power for their own race, while in Upper Canada there was no race problem, and the great struggle was for independence of official control and in all essential matters for government by the people. It may be doubted whether at this time it would have been safe to give these small communities complete self-government. But this a clamorous radical element demanded insistently, and the issue was the chief one in Canada for half a century.

But before this issue matured war broke out between Great Britain and the United States in 1812 from causes due chiefly to Napoleon’s continental policy. The war seemed to furnish a renewed opportunity to annex Canada to the American Union, and Canada became the chief theatre of conflict. The struggle was most vigorous on the Niagara frontier. But in the end the American invasion failed and the treaty made at Ghent in 1814 left the previous status unaltered.

In 1837 a few French Canadians in Lower Canada, led by Louis Joseph Papineau (q.v.), took up arms with the wild idea of establishing a French republic on the St Lawrence. In the same year William Lyon Mackenzie (q.v.) led a similar armed revolt in Upper Canada against the domination of the ruling officialdom called, with little reason, the “Family Compact.” Happening, as these revolts did, just at the time of Queen Victoria’s accession, Lord
Durham.
they attracted wide attention, and in 1838 the earl of Durham (q.v.) was sent to govern Canada and report on the affairs of British North America. Clothed as he was with large powers, he undertook in the interests of leniency and reconciliation to banish, without trial, some leaders of the rebellion in Lower Canada. For this reason he was censured at home and he promptly resigned, after spending only five months in the country. But his Report, published in the following year, is a masterly survey of the situation and included recommendations that profoundly influenced the later history of Canada. He recommended the union of the two Canadian provinces at once, the ultimate union of all British North America and the granting to this large state of full self-government. The French element he thought a menace to Canada’s future, and partly for this reason he desired all the provinces to unite so that the British element should be dominant.

To carry out Lord Durham’s policy the British government passed in 1840 an Act of Union joining Upper and Lower Canada, and sent out as governor Charles Poulett Thompson, who was made Baron Sydenham and Toronto In the single