provided by the Million Book Project
CANADA UNDER BRITISH RULE 1760-1900
SIR JOHN G. BOURINOT, K.C.M.G., LL.D., LITT.D.
Author of ‘Parliamentary Procedure and Practice’, ‘Constitutional History of Canada,’ ‘The Story of Canada,’ etc
WITH EIGHT MAPS
CAMBRIDGE HISTORICAL SERIES
EDITED BY G. W. PROTHERO, LITT.D., LL.D.
Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and Late Professor of History in the University of Edinburgh.
The aim of this series is to sketch the history of Modern Europe, with that of its chief colonies and conquests, from about the end of the fifteenth century down to the present time. In one or two cases the story commences at an earlier date: in the case of the colonies it generally begins later. The histories of the different countries are described, as a rule, separately, for it is believed that, except in epochs like that of the French Revolution and Napoleon I, the connection of events will thus be better understood and the continuity of historical development more clearly displayed.
The series is intended for the use of all persons anxious to understand the nature of existing political conditions. “The roots of the present lie deep in the past”; and the real significance of contemporary events cannot be grasped unless the historical causes which have led to them are known. The plan adopted makes it possible to treat the history of the last four centuries in considerable detail, and to embody the most important results of modern research. It is hoped therefore that the series will be useful not only to beginners but to students who have already acquired some general knowledge of European History. For those who wish to carry their studies further, the bibliography appended to each volume will act as a guide to original sources of information and works more detailed and authoritative.
Considerable attention is paid to political geography, and each volume is furnished with such maps and plans as may be requisite for the illustration of the text.
I devote the first chapter of this short history to a brief review of the colonisation of the valley of the St. Lawrence by the French, and of their political and social conditions at the Conquest, so that a reader may be able to compare their weak and impoverished state under the repressive dominion of France with the prosperous and influential position they eventually attained under the liberal methods of British rule. In the succeeding chapters I have dwelt on those important events which have had the largest influence on the political development of the several provinces as British possessions.
We have, first, the Quebec Act, which gave permanent guarantees for the establishment of the Church of Rome and the maintenance of the language and civil law of France in her old colony. Next, we read of the coming of the United Empire Loyalists, and the consequent establishment of British institutions on a stable basis of loyal devotion to the parent state. Then ensued the war of 1812, to bind the provinces more closely to Great Britain, and create that national spirit which is the natural outcome of patriotic endeavour and individual self-sacrifice. Then followed for several decades a persistent popular struggle for larger political liberty, which was not successful until British statesmen awoke at last from their indifference, on the outbreak of a rebellion in the Canadas, and recognised the necessity of adopting a more liberal policy towards their North American dependencies. The union of the Canadas was succeeded by the concession of responsible government and the complete acknowledgment of the rights of the colonists to manage their provincial affairs without the constant interference of British officials. With this extension of political privileges, the people became still more ambitious, and established a confederation, which has not only had the effect of supplying a remarkable stimulus to their political, social and material development, but has given greater security to British interests on the continent of North America. At particular points of the historical narrative I have dwelt for a space on economic, social, and intellectual conditions, so that the reader may intelligently follow every phase to the development of the people from the close of the French regime to the beginning of the twentieth century In my summary of the most important political events for the last twenty-five years, I have avoided all comment on matters which are “as yet”–to quote the language of the epilogue to Mr. Green’s “Short History”–“too near to us to admit of a cool and purely historical treatment.” The closing chapter is a short review of the relations between Canada and the United States since the treaty of 1783–so conducive to international disputes concerning boundaries and fishing rights–until the present time, when the Alaskan and other international controversies are demanding adjustment.
I have thought, too, that it would be useful to students of political institutions to give in the appendix comparisons between the leading provisions of the federal systems of the Dominion of Canada and the Commonwealth of Australia. I must add that, in the revision of the historical narrative, I have been much aided by the judicious criticism and apt suggestions of the Editor of the Series, Dr. Prothero.
HOUSE OF COMMONS, OTTAWA, CANADA. 1st October, 1900
THE FRENCH REGIME (1534–1760)
Section 1. Introduction
Section 2. Discovery and Settlement of Canada by France
Section 3. French exploration in the valleys of North America
Section 4. End of French Dominion in the valley of the St. Lawrence
Section 5. Political, Economic, and Social Conditions of Canada during French Rule
BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH RULE (1749–1774)
Section 1. From the Conquest until the Quebec Act
Section 2. The Foundation of Nova Scotia (1749–1783)
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS (1763–1784)
Section 1. The successful Revolution of the Thirteen Colonies in America
Section 2. Canada and Nova Scotia during the Revolution.
Section 3. The United Empire Loyalists
DEVELOPMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE INSTITUTIONS (1784-1812)
Section 1. Beginnings of the Provinces of New Brunswick, Lower Canada and Upper Canada.
Section 2. Twenty years of Political Development. (1792-1812)
THE WAR OF 1812-1815
Section 1. Origin of the war between Great Britain and the United States
Section 2. Canada during the War
THE EVOLUTION OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT (1815-1839)
Section 1. The Rebellion in Lower Canada
Section 2. The Rebellion in Upper Canada
Section 3. Social and Economic Conditions of the Provinces in 1838
A NEW ERA OF COLONIAL GOVERNMENT (1839-1867)
Section 1. The Union of the Canadas and the establishment of Responsible Government
Section 2. Results of Self-government from 1841 to 1864
THE EVOLUTION OF CONFEDERATION (1789-1867)
Section 1. The beginnings of Confederation
Section 2. The Quebec Convention of 1864
Section 3. Confederation accomplished
Section 1. The First Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (1867–1873)
Section 2. Extension of the Dominion from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean (1869–1873)
Section 3. Summary of Noteworthy Events from 1873 until 1900
Section 4. Political and Social Conditions of Canada under Confederation
CANADA’S RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES AND HER INFLUENCE IN IMPERIAL COUNCILS (1783–1900)
APPENDIX A: COMPARISONS BETWEEN CONSTITUTIONS OF THE CANADIAN DOMINION AND AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH.
APPENDIX B: BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
PLANS AND MAPS.
Map showing Boundary between Canada and the United States by Treaty of 1783.
Map of British America to illustrate the Charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
International Boundary as finally established in 1842 at Lake of the Woods.
Map of the North-Eastern Boundary as established in 1842.
Map of British Columbia and Yukon District showing disputed Boundary between Canada and the United States.
France, Spain, and Great Britain, in North America, 1756–1760.
Outline map of British Possessions in North America, 1763–1775.
Map of the Dominion of Canada illustrating the boundaries of Provinces and Provisional Districts.
A SHORT HISTORY OF CANADA UNDER BRITISH RULE.
THE FRENCH REGIME. 1534–1760.
Though the principal object of this book is to review the political, economic and social progress of the provinces of Canada under British rule, yet it would be necessarily imperfect, and even unintelligible in certain important respects, were I to ignore the deeply interesting history of the sixteen hundred thousand French Canadians, about thirty per cent of the total population of the Dominion. To apply to Canada an aphorism of Carlyle, “The present is the living sum-total of the whole past”; the sum-total not simply of the hundred and thirty years that have elapsed since the commencement of British dominion, but primarily of the century and a half that began with the coming of Champlain to the heights of Quebec and ended with the death of Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham. The soldiers and sailors, the missionaries and pioneers of France, speak to us in eloquent tones, whether we linger in summer time on the shores of the noble gulf which washes the eastern portals of Canada; whether we ascend the St. Lawrence River and follow the route taken by the explorers, who discovered the great lakes, and gave to the world a knowledge of the West and the Mississippi, whether we walk on the grassy mounds that recall the ruins of the formidable fortress of Louisbourg, which once defended the eastern entrance to the St. Lawrence; whether we linger on the rocks of the ancient city of Quebec with its many memorials of the French regime; whether we travel over the rich prairies with their sluggish, tortuous rivers, and memories of the French Canadians who first found their way to that illimitable region. In fact, Canada has a rich heritage of associations that connect us with some of the most momentous epochs of the world’s history. The victories of Louisbourg and Quebec belong to the same series of brilliant events that recall the famous names of Chatham, Clive, and Wolfe, and that gave to England a mighty empire in Asia and America. Wolfe’s signal victory on the heights of the ancient capital was the prelude to the great drama of the American revolution. Freed from the fear of France, the people of the Thirteen Colonies, so long hemmed in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian range, found full expression for their love of local self-government when England asserted her imperial supremacy. After a struggle of a few years they succeeded in laying the foundation of the remarkable federal republic, which now embraces forty-five states with a population of already seventy-five millions of souls, which owes its national stability and prosperity to the energy and enterprise of the Anglo-Norman race and the dominant influence of the common law, and the parliamentary institutions of England. At the same time, the American Revolution had an immediate and powerful effect upon the future of the communities that still remained in the possession of England after the acknowledgement of the independence of her old colonies. It drove to Canada a large body of men and women, who remained faithful to the crown and empire and became founders of provinces which are now comprised in a Dominion extending for over three thousand miles to the north and east of the federal republic.
The short review of the French regime, with which I am about to commence this history of Canada, will not give any evidence of political, economic, or intellectual development under the influence of French dominion, but it is interesting to the student of comparative politics on account of the comparisons which it enables us to make between the absolutism of old France which crushed every semblance of independent thought and action, and the political freedom which has been a consequence of the supremacy of England in the province once occupied by her ancient rival. It is quite true, as Professor Freeman has said, that in Canada, which is pre-eminently English in the development of its political institutions, French Canada is still “a distinct and visible element, which is not English,–an element older than anything English in the land,–and which shows no sign of being likely to be assimilated by anything English.” As this book will show, though a hundred and forty years have nearly passed since the signing of the treaty of Paris, many of the institutions which the French Canadians inherited from France have become permanently established in the country, and we see constantly in the various political systems given to Canada from time to time–notably in the constitution of the federal union–the impress of these institutions and the influence of the people of the French section. Still, while the French Canadians by their adherence to their language, civil law and religion are decidedly “a distinct and visible element which is not English”–an element kept apart from the English by positive legal and constitutional guarantees or barriers of separation,–we shall see that it is the influence and operation of English institutions, which have made their province one of the most contented communities of the world. While their old institutions are inseparably associated with the social and spiritual conditions of their daily lives, it is after all their political constitution, which derives its strength from English, principles, that has made the French Canadians a free, self-governing people and developed the best elements of their character to a degree which was never possible under the depressing and enfeebling conditions of the French regime.
SECTION 2.–Discovery and settlement of Canada by France.
Much learning has been devoted to the elucidation of the Icelandic Sagas, or vague accounts of voyages which Bjorne Heriulfson and Lief Ericsson, sons of the first Norse settlers of Greenland, are supposed to have made at the end of the tenth century, to the eastern parts of what is now British North America, and, in the opinion of some writers, even as far as the shores of New England. It is just possible that such voyages were made, and that Norsemen were the first Europeans who saw the eastern shores of Canada. It is quite certain, however, that no permanent settlements were made by the Norsemen in any part of these countries; and their voyages do not appear to have been known to Columbus or other maritime adventurers of later times, when the veil of mystery was at last lifted from the western limits of what was so long truly described as the “sea of darkness.” While the subject is undoubtedly full of interest, it is at the same time as illusive as the _fata morgana_, or the lakes and rivers that are created by the mists of a summer’s eve on the great prairies of the Canadian west.
Five centuries later than the Norse voyagers, there appeared on the great field of western exploration an Italian sailor, Giovanni Caboto, through whose agency England took the first step in the direction of that remarkable maritime enterprise which, in later centuries, was to be the admiration and envy of all other nations. John Cabot was a Genoese by birth and a Venetian citizen by adoption, who came during the last decade of the fifteenth century, to the historic town of Bristol. Eventually he obtain from Henry VII letters-patent, granting to himself and his three sons, Louis, Sebastian, and Sancio, the right, “at their own cost and charges, to seek out and discover unknown lands,” and to acquire for England the dominion over the countries they might discover. Early in May, 1497, John Cabot sailed from Bristol in “The Matthew,” manned by English sailors. In all probability he was accompanied by Sebastian, then about 21 years of age, who, in later times, through the credulity of his friends and his own garrulity and vanity, took that place in the estimation of the world which his father now rightly fills. Some time toward the end of June, they made a land-fall on the north-eastern coast of North America. The actual site of the land-fall will always be a matter of controversy unless some document is found among musty archives of Europe to solve the question to the satisfaction of the disputants, who wax hot over the claims of a point near Cape Chidley on the coast of Labrador, of Bonavista, on the east shore of Newfoundland, of Cape North, or some other point, on the island of Cape Breton. Another expedition left Bristol in 1498, but while it is now generally believed that Cabot coasted the shores of North America from Labrador or Cape Breton as far as Cape Hatteras, we have no details of this famous voyage, and are even ignorant of the date when the fleet returned to England.
The Portuguese, Gaspar and Miguel Cortereal, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, were lost somewhere on the coast of Labrador or Newfoundland, but not before they gave to their country a claim to new lands. The Basques and Bretons, always noted for their love of the sea, frequented the same prolific waters and some of the latter gave a name to the picturesque island of Cape Breton. Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine by birth, who had for years led a roving life on the sea, sailed in 1524 along the coasts of Nova Scotia and the present United States and gave a shadowy claim of first discovery of a great region to France under whose authority he sailed. Ten years later Jacques Cartier of St. Malo was authorised by Francis I to undertake a voyage to these new lands, but he did not venture beyond the Gulf of St. Lawrence, though he took possession of the picturesque Gaspe peninsula in the name of his royal master. In 1535 he made a second voyage, whose results were most important for France and the world at large. The great river of Canada was then discovered by the enterprising Breton, who established a post for some months at Stadacona, now Quebec, and also visited the Indian village of Hochelaga on the island of Montreal. Here he gave the appropriate name of Mount Royal to the beautiful height which dominates the picturesque country where enterprise has, in the course of centuries, built a noble city. Hochelaga was probably inhabited by Indians of the Huron-Iroquois family, who appear, from the best evidence before us, to have been dwelling at that time on the banks of the St. Lawrence, whilst the Algonquins, who took their place in later times, were living to the north of the river.
The name of Canada–obviously the Huron-Iroquois word for Kannata, a town–began to take a place on the maps soon after Cartier’s voyages. It appears from his _Bref Recit_ to have been applied at the time of his visit, to a kingdom, or district, extending from Ile-aux-Coudres, which he named on account of its hazel-nuts, on the lower St. Lawrence, to the Kingdom of Ochelay, west of Stadacona; east of Canada was Saguenay, and west of Ochelay was Hochelaga, to which the other communities were tributary. After a winter of much misery Cartier left Stadacona in the spring of 1536, and sailed into the Atlantic by the passage between Cape Breton and Newfoundland, now appropriately called Cabot’s Straits on modern maps. He gave to France a positive claim to a great region, whose illimitable wealth and possibilities were never fully appreciated by the king and the people of France even in the later times of her dominion. Francis, in 1540, gave a commission to Jean Francois de la Roque, Sieur de Roberval, to act as his viceroy and lieutenant-general in the country discovered by Cartier, who was elevated to the position of captain general and master pilot of the new expedition. As the Viceroy was unable to complete his arrangements by 1541, Cartier was obliged to sail in advance, and again passed a winter on the St. Lawrence, not at Stadacona but at Cap Rouge, a few miles to the west, where he built a post which he named Charlesbourg-Royal. He appears to have returned to France some time during the summer of 1542, while Roberval was on his way to the St. Lawrence. Roberval found his way without his master pilot to Charlesbourg-Royal, which he renamed France-Roy, and where he erected buildings of a very substantial character in the hope of establishing a permanent settlement. His selection of colonists–chiefly taken from jails and purlieus of towns–was most unhappy, and after a bitter experience he returned to France, probably in the autumn of 1543, and disappeared from Canadian history.
From the date of Cartier’s last voyage until the beginning of the seventeenth century, a period of nearly sixty years, nothing was done to settle the lands of the new continent. Fishermen alone continued to frequent the great gulf, which was called for years the “Square gulf” or “Golfo quadrado,” or “Quarre,” on some European maps, until it assumed, by the end of the sixteenth century, the name it now bears. The name Saint-Laurens was first given by Cartier to the harbour known as Sainte-Genevieve (or sometimes Pillage Bay), on the northern shore of Canada, and gradually extended to the gulf and river. The name of Labrador, which was soon established on all maps, had its origin in the fact that Gaspar Cortereal brought back with him a number of natives who were considered to be “admirably calculated for labour.”
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the English began to take a prominent part in that maritime enterprise which was to lead to such remarkable results in the course of three centuries. The names of the ambitious navigators, Frobisher and Davis, are connected with those arctic waters where so much money, energy, and heroism have been expended down to the present time. Under the influence of the great Ralegh, whose fertile imagination was conceiving plans of colonization in America, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, his brother-in-law, took possession of Newfoundland on a hill overlooking the harbour of St. John’s. English enterprise, however, did not extend for many years to any other part of North Eastern America than Newfoundland, which is styled Baccalaos on the Hakluyt map of 1597, though the present name appeared from a very early date in English statutes and records. The island, however, for a century and longer, was practically little more than “a great ship moored near the banks during the fishing season, for the convenience of English fishermen,” while English colonizing enterprise found a deeper interest in Virginia with its more favourable climate and southern products. It was England’s great rival, France, that was the pioneer at the beginning of the seventeenth century in the work of exploring, and settling the countries now comprised within the Dominion of Canada.
France first attempted to settle the indefinite region, long known as _La Cadie_ or _Acadie_. The Sieur de Monts, Samuel Champlain, and the Baron de Poutrincourt were the pioneers in the exploration of this country. Their first post was erected on Dochet Island, within the mouth of the St. Croix River, the present boundary between the state of Maine and the province of New Brunswick; but this spot was very soon found unsuitable, and the hopes of the pioneers were immediately turned towards the beautiful basin, which was first named Port Royal by Champlain. The Baron de Poutrincourt obtained a grant of land around this basin, and determined to make his home in so beautiful a spot. De Monts, whose charter was revoked in 1607, gave up the project of colonizing Acadia, whose history from that time is associated for years with the misfortunes of the Biencourts, the family name of Baron de Poutrincourt; but the hopes of this adventurous nobleman were never realized. In 1613 an English expedition from Virginia, under the command of Captain Argall, destroyed the struggling settlement at Fort Royal, and also prevented the establishment of a Jesuit mission on the island of Monts-Deserts, which owes its name to Champlain. Acadia had henceforth a checquered history, chiefly noted for feuds between rival French leaders and for the efforts of the people of New England to obtain possession of Acadia. Port Royal was captured in 1710 by General Nicholson, at the head of an expedition composed of an English fleet and the militia of New England. Then it received the name of Annapolis Royal in honour of Queen Anne, and was formally ceded with all of Acadia “according to its ancient limits” to England by the treaty of Utrecht.
[1: This name is now generally admitted to belong to the language of the Micmac Indians of the Atlantic provinces. It means a place, or locality, and is always associated with another word descriptive of some special natural production; for instance, Shubenacadie, or Segubunakade, is the place where the ground-nut, or Indian potato, grows. We find the first official mention of the word in the commission given by Henry IV of France to the Sieur de Monts in 1604.]
It was not in Acadia, but in the valley of the St. Lawrence, that France made her great effort to establish her dominion in North America. Samuel Champlain, the most famous man in the history of French Canada, laid the foundation of the present city of Quebec in the month of June, 1608, or three years after the removal of the little Acadian colony from St. Croix Island to the basin of the Annapolis. The name Quebec is now generally admitted to be an adaptation of an Indian word, meaning a contraction of the river or strait, a distinguishing feature of the St. Lawrence at this important point. The first buildings were constructed by Champlain on a relatively level piece of ground, now occupied by a market-house and close to a famous old church erected in the days of Frontenac, in commemoration of the victorious repulse of the New England expedition led by Phipps. For twenty-seven years Champlain struggled against constantly accumulating difficulties to establish a colony on the St. Lawrence. He won the confidence of the Algonquin and Huron tubes of Canada, who then lived on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, and in the vicinity of Georgian Bay. Recognizing the necessity of an alliance with the Canadian Indians, who controlled all the principal avenues to the great fur-bearing regions, he led two expeditions, composed of Frenchmen, Hurons, and Algonquins, against the Iroquois or Confederacy of the Five Nations–the Mohawks, the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas–who inhabited the fertile country stretching from the Genesee to the Hudson River in the present state of New York. Champlain consequently excited against his own people the inveterate hostility of the bravest, cruellest and ablest Indians with whom Europeans have ever come in contact in America. Champlain probably had no other alternative open to him than to become the active ally of the Canadian Indians, on whose goodwill and friendship he was forced to rely; but it is also quite probable that he altogether underrated the ability and bravery of the Iroquois who, in later years, so often threatened the security of Canada, and more than once brought the infant colony to the very verge of ruin.
[2: In 1715 the confederacy was joined by the Tuscaroras, a southern branch of the same family, and was then called more properly the Six Nations.]
It was during Champlain’s administration of affairs that the Company of the Hundred Associates was formed under the auspices of Cardinal Richelieu, with the express object of colonizing Canada and developing the fur-trade and other commercial enterprises on as large a scale as possible. The Company had ill-fortune from the outset. The first expedition it sent to the St. Lawrence was captured by a fleet commanded by David Kirk, a gentleman of Derbyshire, who in the following year also took Quebec, and carried Champlain and his followers to England. The English were already attempting settlements on the shores of Massachusetts Bay; and the poet and courtier, Sir William Alexander, afterwards known as the Earl of Stirling, obtained from the King of England all French Acadia, which he named Nova Scotia and offered to settlers in baronial giants. A Scotch colony was actually established for a short time at Port Royal under the auspices of Alexander, but in 1632, by the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, both Acadia and Canada were restored to France. Champlain returned to Quebec, but the Company of the Hundred Associates had been severely crippled by the ill-luck which attended its first venture, and was able to do very little for the struggling colony during the three remaining years of Champlain’s life.
The Recollets or Franciscans, who had first come to the country in 1615, now disappeared, and the Jesuits assumed full control in the wide field of effort that Canada offered to the missionary. The Jesuits had, in fact, made their appearance in Canada as early as 1625, or fourteen years after two priests of their order, Ennemond Masse and Pierre Biard, had gone to Acadia to labour among the Micmacs or Souriquois. During the greater part of the seventeenth century, intrepid Jesuit priests are associated with some of the most heroic incidents of Canadian history.
When Champlain died, on Christmas-day, 1635, the French population of Canada did not exceed 150 souls, all dependent on the fur-trade. Canada so far showed none of the elements of prosperity; it was not a colony of settlers but of fur-traders. Still Champlain, by his indomitable will, gave to France a footing in America which she was to retain for a century and a quarter after his death. His courage amid the difficulties that surrounded him, his fidelity to his church and country, his ability to understand the Indian character, his pure unselfishness, are among the remarkable qualities of a man who stands foremost among the pioneers of European civilization in America.
From the day of Champlain’s death until the arrival of the Marquis de Tracy, in 1665, Canada was often in a most dangerous and pitiable position. That period of thirty years was, however, also distinguished by the foundation of those great religious communities which have always exercised such an important influence upon the conditions of life throughout French Canada. In 1652 Montreal was founded under the name of Ville-Marie by Paul Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, and a number of other religious enthusiasts. In 1659, the Abbe de Montigny, better known to Canadians as Monseigneur de Laval, the first Roman Catholic bishop, arrived in the colony and assumed charge of ecclesiastical affairs under the titular name of Bishop of Petraea. Probably no single man has ever exercised such powerful and lasting influence on Canadian institutions as that famous divine. Possessed of great tenacity of purpose, most ascetic in his habits, regardless of all worldly considerations, always working for the welfare and extension of his church, Bishop Laval was eminently fitted to give it that predominance in civil as well as religious affairs which it so long possessed in Canada.
While the Church of Rome was perfecting its organization throughout Canada, the Iroquois were constantly making raids upon the unprotected settlements, especially in the vicinity of Montreal. The Hurons in the Georgian Bay district were eventually driven from their comfortable villages, and now the only remnants of a powerful nation are to be found in the community of mixed blood at Lorette, near Quebec, or on the banks of the Detroit River, where they are known as Wyandots. The Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie in their country was broken up, and Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant suffered torture and death.
Such was the pitiable condition of things in 1663, when Louis XIV made of Canada a royal government. At this time the total population of the province did not exceed 2500 souls, grouped chiefly in and around Quebec, Three Rivers and Montreal. In 1665 the Marquis de Tracy and Governor de Courcelles, with a brilliant retinue of officers and a regiment of soldiers, arrived in the colony, and brought with them conditions of peace and prosperity. A small stream of immigration flowed steadily into the country for some years, as a result of the new policy adopted by the French government. The Mohawks, the most daring and dangerous nation of the Iroquois confederacy, were humbled by Tracy in 1667, and forced to sue for peace. Under the influence of Talon, the ablest intendant who ever administered Canadian affairs, the country enjoyed a moderate degree of prosperity, although trade continued entirely dependent on the orders and regulations of the King and his officials.
Among the ablest governors of Canada was undoubtedly Louis de la Buade, Count de Frontenac, who administered public affairs from 1672-1687 and from 1689-1698. He was certainly impatient, choleric and selfish whenever his pecuniary interests were concerned; but, despite his faults of character, he was a brave soldier, dignified and courteous on important occasions, a close student of the character of the Indians, always ready when the necessity arose to adapt himself to their foibles and at the same time able to win their confidence. He found Canada weak, and left it a power in the affairs of America. He infused his own never-failing confidence into the hearts of the struggling colonists on the St. Lawrence, repulsed Sir William Phipps and his New England expedition when they attacked Quebec in 1690, wisely erected a fort on Lake Ontario as a fur-trading post and a bulwark against the Iroquois, encouraged the fur-trade, and stimulated exploration in the west and in the valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi. The settlements of New England trembled at his name, and its annals contain many a painful story of the misery inflicted by his cruel bands of Frenchmen and Indians.
Despite all the efforts of the French government for some years, the total immigration from 1663 until 1713, when the great war between France and the Grand Alliance came to an end by the treaty of Utrecht, did not exceed 6000 souls, and the whole population of the province in that year was only 20,000, a small number for a century of colonization. For some years after the formation of the royal government, a large number of marriageable women were brought to the country under the auspices of the religious communities, and marriages and births were encouraged by exhortations and bounties. A considerable number of the officers and soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres regiment, who followed the Marquis de Tracy into Canada, were induced to remain and settle new seigniories, chiefly in palisaded villages in the Richelieu district for purposes of defence against Iroquois expeditions. Despite all the paternal efforts of the government to stimulate the growth of a large population, the natural increase was small during the seventeenth century. The disturbing influence, no doubt, was the fur-trade, which allured so many young men into the wilderness, made them unfit for a steady life, and destroyed their domestic habits. The emigrants from France came chiefly from Anjou, Saintonge, Paris and its suburbs, Normandy, Poitou, Beauce, Perche, and Picardy. The Carignan-Salieres regiment brought men from all parts of the parent state. It does not appear that any number of persons ever came from Brittany. The larger proportion of the settlers were natives of the north-western provinces of France, especially from Perche and Normandy, and formed an excellent stock on which to build up a thrifty, moral people. The seigniorial tenure of French Canada was an adaptation of the feudal system of France to the conditions of a new country, and was calculated in some respects to stimulate settlement. Ambitious persons of limited means were able to form a class of colonial _noblesse_. But unless the seignior cleared a certain portion of his grant within a limited time, he would forfeit it all. The conditions by which the _censitaires_ or tenants of the seigniorial domain held their grants of land were by no means burdensome, but they signified a dependency of tenure inconsistent with the free nature of American life. A large portion of the best lands of French Canada were granted under this seigniorial system to men whose names frequently occur in the records of the colony down to the present day: Rimouski, Bic and Metis, Kamouraska, Nicolet, Vercheres, Lotbiniere, Berthier, Beloeil, Rouville, Juliette, Terrebonne, Champlain, Sillery, Beaupre, Bellechasse, Portneuf, Chambly, Sorel, Longueuil, Boucherville, Chateauguay, Lachine, are memorials of the seigniorial grants of the seventeenth century.
The whole population of the Acadian Peninsula in 1710-13, was not more than 1500 souls, nearly all descendants of the people brought to the country by Poutrincourt and his successors Razilly and Charnisay. At no time did the French government interest itself in immigration to neglected Acadia. Of the total population, nearly 1000 persons were settled in the beautiful country which the industry and ingenuity of the Acadian peasants, in the course of many years, reclaimed from the restless tides of the Bay of Fundy at Grand Pre and Minas. The remaining settlements were at Beau Bassin, Annapolis, Piziquit (now Windsor), Cobequit (now Truro), and Cape Sable. Some small settlements were also founded on the banks of the St. John River and on the eastern bays of the present province of New Brunswick.
SECTION 3.–French exploration in the great valleys of North America.
The hope of finding a short route to the rich lands of Asia by the St. Lawrence River and its tributary lakes and streams, influenced French voyagers and explorers well into the middle of the eighteenth century. When Cartier stood on Mount Royal and saw the waters of the Ottawa there must have flashed across his mind the thought that perhaps by this river would be found that passage to the western sea of which he and other sailors often dreamed both in earlier and later times. L’Escarbot tells us that Champlain in his western explorations always hoped to reach Asia by a Canadian route. He was able, however, long before his death to make valuable contributions to the geography of Canada. He was the first Frenchman to ascend the River of the Iroquois, now the Richelieu, and to see the beautiful lake which still bears his name. In 1615 he found his way to Georgian Bay by the route of the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers, Lake Nipissing and French River. Here he visited the Huron villages which were situated in the district now known as Simcoe county in the province of Ontario. Father le Caron, a Recollet, had preceded the French explorer, and was performing missionary duties among the Indians, who probably numbered 20,000 in all. This brave priest was the pioneer of an army of faithful missionaries–mostly of a different order–who lived for years among the Indians, suffered torture and death, and connected their names not only with the martyrs of their faith but also with the explorers of this continent. From this time forward we find the trader and the priest advancing in the wilderness; sometimes one is first, sometimes the other.
Champlain accompanied his Indian allies on an expedition against the Onondagas, one of the five nations who occupied the country immediately to the south of the upper St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. The party reached Lake Ontario by the system of inland navigation which stretches from Lake Simcoe to the Bay of Quinte. The Onondagas repulsed the Canadian allies who returned to their settlements, where Champlain remained during the winter of 1616. It was during this expedition, which did much to weaken Champlain’s prestige among the Indians, that Etienne Brule an interpreter, was sent to the Andastes, who were then living about the headwaters of the Susquehanna, with the hope of bringing them to the support of the Canadian savages. He was not seen again until 1618, when he returned to Canada with a story, doubtless correct, of having found himself on the shores of a great lake where there were mines of copper, probably Lake Superior.
With the new era of peace that followed the coming of the Viceroy Tracy in 1665, and the establishment of a royal government, a fresh impulse was given to exploration and mission work in the west. Priests, fur-traders, gentlemen-adventurers, _coureurs de bois_, now appeared frequently on the lakes and rivers of the west, and gave in the course of years a vast region to the dominion of France. As early as 1665 Father Allouez established a mission at La Pointe, the modern Ashland, on the shores of Lake Superior. In 1668 one of the most interesting persons who ever appeared in early Canada, the missionary and explorer, Father Marquette, founded the mission of Sainte-Marie on the southern side of the Sault, which may be considered the oldest settlement of the north-west, as it alone has a continuous history to the present time.
In the record of those times we see strikingly displayed certain propensities of the Canadian people which seriously interfered with the settlement and industry of the country. The fur-trade had far more attractions for the young and adventurous than the regular and active life of farming on the seigniories. The French immigrant as well as the native Canadian adapted himself to the conditions of Indian life. Wherever the Indian tribes were camped in the forest or by the river, and the fur-trade could be prosecuted to the best advantage, we see the _coureurs de bois_, not the least picturesque figures of these grand woods, then in the primeval sublimity of their solitude and vastness. Despite the vices and weaknesses of a large proportion of this class, not a few were most useful in the work of exploration and exercised a great influence among the Indians of the West. But for these forest-rangers the Michigan region would have fallen into the possession of the English who were always intriguing with the Iroquois and endeavouring to obtain a share of the fur-trade of the west. Joliet, the companion of Marquette, in his ever-memorable voyage to the Mississippi, was a type of the best class of the Canadian fur-trader.
In 1671 Sieur St. Lusson took formal possession of the Sault and the adjacent country in the name of Louis XIV. In 1673 Fort Frontenac was built at Cataraqui, now Kingston, as a barrier to the aggressive movements of the Iroquois and an _entrepot_ for the fur-trade on Lake Ontario. In the same year Joliet and Marquette solved a part of the problem which had so long perplexed the explorers of the West. The trader and priest reached the Mississippi by the way of Green Bay, the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. They went down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas. Though they were still many hundreds of miles from the mouth of the river, they grasped the fact that it must reach, not the western ocean, but the southern gulf first discovered by the Spaniards. Marquette died not long afterwards, worn out by his labours in the wilderness, and was buried beneath the little chapel at St. Ignace. Joliet’s name henceforth disappears from the annals of the West.
Rene Robert Cavelier, better known as the Sieur de la Salle, completed the work commenced by the trader and missionary. In 1666 he obtained a grant of land at the head of the rapids above Montreal by the side of that beautiful expanse of the St. Lawrence, still called Lachine, a name first given in derisive allusion to his hope of finding a short route to China. In 1679 he saw the Niagara Falls for the first time, and the earliest sketch is to be found in _La Nouvelle Decouverte_ written or compiled by that garrulous, vain, and often mendacious Recollet Friar, Louis Hennepin, who accompanied La Salle on this expedition. In the winter of 1681-82 this famous explorer reached the Mississippi, and for weeks followed its course through the novel and wondrous scenery of a southern land. On the 9th of April, 1682, at a point just above the mouth of the great river, La Salle took formal possession of the Mississippi valley in the name of Louis XIV, with the same imposing ceremonies that distinguished the claim asserted by St. Lusson at the Sault in the lake region. By the irony of fate, La Salle failed to discover the mouth of the river when he came direct from France to the Gulf of Mexico in 1685, but landed somewhere on Matagorda Bay on the Texan coast, where he built a fort for temporary protection. Finding his position untenable, he decided in 1687 to make an effort to reach the Illinois country, but when he had been a few days on this perilous journey he was treacherously murdered by some of his companions near the southern branch of Trinity River. His body was left to the beasts and birds of prey. Two of the murderers were themselves killed by their accomplices, none of whom appear ever to have been brought to justice for their participation in a crime by which France lost one of the bravest and ablest men who ever struggled for her dominion in North America.
Some years later the famous Canadians, Iberville and Bienville, founded a colony in the great valley, known by the name of Louisiana, which was first given to it by La Salle himself. By the possession of the Sault, Mackinac, and Detroit, the French were for many years supreme on the lakes, and had full control of Indian trade. The Iroquois and their English friends were effectively shut out of the west by the French posts and settlements which followed the explorations of Joliet, La Salle, Du Luth, and other adventurers. Plans continued to be formed for reaching the Western or Pacific ocean even in the middle of the eighteenth century. The Jesuit Charlevoix, the historian of New France, was sent out to Canada by the French government to enquire into the feasibility of a route which Frenchmen always hoped for. Nothing definite came out of this mission, but the Jesuit was soon followed by an enterprising native of Three Rivers, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, generally called the Sieur de la Verendrye, who with his sons ventured into the region now known as the province of Manitoba and the north-west territory of Canada. He built several forts, including one on the site of the city of Winnipeg. Two of his sons are believed to have reached the Big Horn Range, an “outlying buttress” of the Rocky Mountains, in 1743, and to have taken possession of what is now territory of the United States. The youngest son, Chevalier de la Verendrye, who was the first to see the Rocky Mountains, subsequently discovered the Saskatchewan (Poskoiac) and even ascended it as far as the forks–the furthest western limits so far touched by a white man in America. A few years later, in 1751, M. de Niverville, under the orders of M. de St. Pierre, then acting in the interest of the infamous Intendant Bigot, who coveted the western fur-trade, reached the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains and built a fort on the Saskatchewan not far from the present town of Calgary.
We have now followed the paths of French adventurers for nearly a century and a half, from the day Champlain landed on the rocks of Quebec until the Verendryes traversed the prairies and plains of the North-west. French explorers had discovered the three great waterways of this continent–the Mississippi, which pours its enormous volume of water, drawn from hundreds of tributaries, into a southern gulf; the St. Lawrence, which bears the tribute of the great lakes to the Atlantic Ocean; the Winnipeg, with its connecting rivers and lakes which stretch from the Rocky Mountains to the dreary Arctic sea. La Verendrye was the first Frenchman who stood on the height of land or elevated plateau of the continent, almost within sight of the sources of those great rivers which flow, after devious courses, north, south and east. It has been well said that if three men should ascend these three waterways to their farthest sources, they would find themselves in the heart of North America; and, so to speak, within a stone’s throw of one another. Nearly all the vast territory, through which these great waterways flow, then belonged to France, so far as exploration, discovery and partial occupation gave her a right to exercise dominion. Only in the great North, where summer is a season of a very few weeks, where icebergs bar the way for many months, where the fur-trade and the whale-fishery alone offered an incentive to capital and enterprise, had England a right to an indefinite dominion. Here a “Company of Gentlemen-Adventurers trading into Hudson’s Bay” occupied some fortified stations which, during the seventeenth century, had been seized by the daring French-Canadian corsair, Iberville, who ranks with the famous Englishman, Drake. On the Atlantic coast the prosperous English colonies occupied a narrow range of country bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Alleghanies. It was only in the middle of the eighteenth century–nearly three-quarters of a century after Joliet’s and La Salle’s explorations, and even later than the date at which Frenchmen had followed the Saskatchewan to the Rocky Mountains–that some enterprising Virginians and Pennsylvanians worked their way into the beautiful country watered by the affluents of the Ohio. New France may be said to have extended at that time from Cape Breton or Isle Royale west to the Rocky Mountains, and from the basin of the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
SECTION 4.–End of French dominion in the valley of the St. Lawrence.
After the treaty of Utrecht, France recognized the mistake she had made in giving up Acadia, and devoted her attention to the island of Cape Breton, or Isle Royale, on whose southeastern coast soon rose the fortifications of Louisbourg. In the course of years this fortress became a menace to English interests in Acadia and New England. In 1745 the town was taken by a force of New England volunteers, led by General Pepperrell, a discreet and able colonist, and a small English squadron under the command of Commodore, afterwards Admiral, Warren, both of whom were rewarded by the British government for their distinguished services on this memorable occasion. France, however, appreciated the importance of Isle Royale, and obtained its restoration in exchange for Madras which at that time was the most important British settlement in the East Indies. England then decided to strengthen herself in Acadia, where France retained her hold of the French Acadian population through the secret influence of her emissaries, chiefly missionaries, and accordingly established a town on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, ever since known as Halifax, in honour of a prominent statesman of those times. The French settlers, who by the middle of the eighteenth century numbered 12,000, a thrifty, industrious and simple-minded people, easily influenced by French agents, called themselves “Neutrals,” and could not be forced to take the unqualified oath of allegiance which was demanded of them by the authorities of Halifax. The English Government was now determined to act with firmness in a province where British interests had been so long neglected, and where the French inhabitants had in the course of forty years shown no disposition to consider themselves British subjects and discharge their obligations to the British Crown. France had raised the contention that the Acadia ceded to England by the treaty of Utrecht comprised only the present province of Nova Scotia, and indeed only a portion of that peninsula according to some French authorities. Commissioners were appointed by the two Powers to settle the question of boundaries–of the meaning of “Acadie, with its ancient boundaries”–but their negotiations came to naught and the issue was only settled by the arbitrament of war. The French built the forts of Beausejour and Gaspereau–the latter a mere palisade–on the Isthmus of Chignecto, which became the rendezvous of the French Acadians, whom the former persuaded by promises or threats to join their fortunes. In 1755 a force of English and Colonial troops, under the command of Colonels Moncton, Winslow and Scott, captured these forts, and this success was followed by the banishment of the Acadian French. This cruel act of Governor Lawrence and the English authorities at Halifax was no doubt largely influenced by the sentiment of leading men in New England, who were apprehensive of the neighbourhood of so large a number of an alien people, who could not be induced to prove their loyalty to Great Britain, and might, in case of continued French successes in America, become open and dangerous foes. But while there are writers who defend this sad incident of American history on the ground of stern national necessity at a critical period in the affairs of the continent, all humanity that listens to the dictates of the heart and tender feeling will ever deplore the exile of those hapless people.
Previous to the expulsion of the Acadians from their pleasant homes on the meadows of Grand Pre and Minas, England sustained a severe defeat in the valley of the Ohio, which created much alarm throughout the English colonies, and probably had some influence on the fortunes of those people. France had formally taken possession of the Ohio country and established forts in 1753 on French Creek, at its junction with the Alleghany, and also at the forks of the Ohio. Adventurous British pioneers were at last commencing to cross the Alleghanies, and a company had been formed with the express intention of stimulating settlement in the valley. George Washington, at the head of a small Colonial force, was defeated in his attempt to drive the French from the Ohio; and the English Government was compelled to send out a large body of regular troops under the command of General Braddock, who met defeat and death on the banks of the Monongahela, General Johnson, on the other hand, defeated a force of French regulars, Canadian Militia and Indians, under General Dieskau, at the southern end of Lake George.
In 1756 war was publicly proclaimed between France and England, although, as we have just seen, it had already broken out many months previously in the forests of America. During the first two years of the war the English forces sustained several disasters through the incompetency of the English commanders on land and sea. The French in Canada were now led by the Marquis de Montcalm, distinguished both as a soldier of great ability and as a man of varied intellectual accomplishments. In the early part of the Canadian campaign he was most fortunate. Fort William Henry, at the foot of Lake George, and Fort Oswego, on the south side of Lake Ontario, were captured, but his signal victory at the former place was sullied by the massacre of defenceless men, women and children by his Indian allies, although it is now admitted by all impartial writers that he did his utmost to prevent so sad a sequel to his triumph. The English Commander-in-Chief, Lord Loudoun, assembled a large military force at Halifax in 1757 for the purpose of making a descent on Louisbourg; but he returned to New York without accomplishing anything, when he heard of the disastrous affair of William Henry, for which he was largely responsible on account of having failed to give sufficient support to the defenders of the fort. Admiral Holbourne sailed to Louisbourg, but he did not succeed in coming to an engagement with the French fleet then anchored in the harbour, and the only result of his expedition was the loss of several of his ships on the reefs of that foggy, rocky coast.
In 1758 Pitt determined to enter on a vigorous campaign against France in Europe and America. For America he chose Amherst, Boscawen, Howe, Forbes, Wolfe, Lawrence and Whitman. Abercromby was unfortunately allowed to remain in place of Loudoun, but it was expected by Pitt and others that Lord Howe, one of the best soldiers in the British army, would make up for the military weakness of that commander. Louisbourg, Fort Duquesne, and the forts on Lake George, were the immediate objects of attack. Abercromby at the head of a large force failed ignominiously in his assault on Ticonderoga, and Lord Howe was one of the first to fall in that unhappy and ill-managed battle. Amherst and Boscawen, on the other hand, took Louisbourg, where Wolfe displayed great energy and contributed largely to the success of the enterprise. Forbes was able to occupy the important fort at the forks of the Ohio, now Pittsburg, which gave to the English control of the beautiful country to the west of the Alleghanies. Fort Frontenac was taken by Bradstreet, and Prince Edward Island, then called Isle St. Jean, was occupied by an English force as the necessary consequence of the fall of the Cape Breton fortress. The nation felt that its confidence in Pitt was fully justified, and that the power of France in America was soon to be effectually broken.
In 1759 and 1760 Pitt’s designs were crowned with signal success. Wolfe proved at Quebec that the statesman had not overestimated his value as a soldier and leader. Wolfe was supported by Brigadiers Moncton, Townshend, Murray, and Guy Carleton–the latter a distinguished figure in the later annals of Canada. The fleet was commanded by Admirals Saunders, Durell and Holmes, all of whom rendered most effective service. The English occupied the Island of Orleans and the heights of Levis, from which they were able to keep up a most destructive fire on the capital. The whole effective force under Wolfe did not reach 9000 men, or 5000 less than the regular and Colonial army under Montcalm, whose lines extended behind batteries and earthworks from the St. Charles River, which washes the base of the rocky heights of the town, as far as the falls of Montmorency. The French held an impregnable position which their general decided to maintain at all hazards, despite the constant efforts of Wolfe for weeks to force him to the issue of battle. Above the city for many miles there were steep heights, believed to be unapproachable, and guarded at all important points by detachments of soldiery. Wolfe failed in an attempt which he made at Beauport to force Montcalm from his defences, and suffered a considerable loss through the rashness of his grenadiers. He then resolved on a bold stroke which succeeded by its very audacity in deceiving his opponent, and giving the victory to the English. A rugged and dangerous path was used at night up those very heights which, Montcalm confidently believed, “a hundred men could easily defend against the whole British army.” On the morning of the 13th September, 1759, Wolfe marshalled an army of four thousand five hundred men on the Plains of Abraham where he was soon face to face with the French army. Montcalm had lost no time in accepting the challenge of the English, in the hope that his superior numbers would make up for their inferiority in discipline and equipment compared with the smaller English force. His expectations were never realized. In a few minutes the French fell in hundreds before the steady deadly fire of the English lines, and Montcalm was forced to retreat precipitately with the beaten remnant of his army. Wolfe received several wounds, and died on the battlefield, but not before he was conscious of his victory. “God be praised,” were his dying words, “I now die in peace.” His brave adversary was mortally wounded while seeking the protection of Quebec, and was buried in a cavity which a shell had made in the floor of the chapel of the Ursuline Convent. A few days later Quebec capitulated. Wolfe’s body was taken to England, where it was received with all the honours due to his great achievement. General Murray was left in command at Quebec, and was defeated in the following spring by Levis in the battle of St. Foye, which raised the hopes of the French until the appearance of English ships in the river relieved the beleaguered garrison and decided for ever the fate of Quebec. A few weeks later Montreal capitulated to Amherst, whose extreme caution throughout the campaign was in remarkable contrast with the dash and energy of the hero of Quebec. The war in Canada was now at an end, and in 1763 the treaty of Paris closed the interesting chapter of French dominion on the banks of the St. Lawrence and in the valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi.
SECTION 5.–Political, economic and social conditions of Canada during French ride.
France and England entered on the struggle for dominion in America about the same time, but long before the conquest of Canada the communities founded by the latter had exhibited a vigour and vitality which were never shown in the development of the relatively poor and struggling colonies of Canada and Louisiana. The total population of New France in 1759–that is, of all the French possessions in North America–did not exceed 70,000 souls, of whom 60,000 were inhabitants of the country of the St. Lawrence, chiefly of the Montreal and Quebec districts. France had a few struggling villages and posts in the very “garden of the North-west,” as the Illinois country has been aptly called; but the total population of New France from the great lakes to the Gulf of Mexico did not exceed 10,000 souls, the greater number of whom dwelt on the lower banks of the Mississippi. At this time the British colonies in America, pent up between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian mountains, had a population twenty times larger than that of Canada and Louisiana combined, and there was not any comparison whatever between these French and British colonies with respect to trade, wealth or any of the essentials of prosperity.
Under the system of government established by Louis XIV, under the advice of Colbert, the governor and intendant of Canada were, to all intents and purposes in point of authority, the same officials who presided over the affairs of a province of France. In Canada, as in France, governors-general had only such powers as were expressly given them by the king, who, jealous of all authority in others, kept them rigidly in check. In those days the king was supreme; “I am the state,” said Louis Quatorze in the arrogance of his power; and it is thus easy to understand that there could be no such free government or representative institutions in Canada as were enjoyed from the very commencement of their history by the old English colonies.
The governor had command of the militia and troops, and was nominally superior in authority to the intendant, but in the course of time the latter became virtually the most influential officer in the colony and even presided at the council-board. This official, who had the right to report directly to the king on colonial affairs, had large civil, commercial and maritime jurisdiction, and could issue ordinances which had full legal effect in the country. Associated with the governor and intendant was a council comprising in the first instance five, and eventually twelve, persons, chosen from the leading people of the colony. The change of name, from the “Supreme Council” to the “Superior Council,” is of itself some evidence of the determination of the king to restrain the pretensions of all official bodies throughout the kingdom and its dependencies. This body exercised legislative and judicial powers. The bishop was one of its most important members, and the history of the colony is full of the quarrels that arose between him and the governor on points of official etiquette or with respect to more important matters affecting the government of the country.
Protestantism was unknown in Canada under French rule, and the enterprise of the Huguenots was consequently lost to a country always suffering from a want of population. Even the merchants of La Rochelle, who traded with the country, found themselves invariably subject to restrictions which placed them at an enormous disadvantage in their competition with their Roman Catholic rivals. The Roman Catholic Church was all powerful at the council-board as well as in the parish. In the past as in the present century, a large Roman Catholic church rose, the most prominent building in every town and village, illustrating its dominating influence in the homes of every community of the province. The parishes were established at an early date for ecclesiastical purposes, and their extent was defined wherever necessary by the council at Quebec. They were practically territorial divisions for the administration of local affairs, and were conterminous, whenever practicable, with the seigniory. The cure, the seignior, the militia captain (often identical with the seignior), were the important functionaries in every parish. Even at the present time, when a canonical parish has been once formed by the proper ecclesiastical authority, it may be erected into a municipal or civil division after certain legal formalities by the government of the province. Tithes were first imposed by Bishop Laval, who practically established the basis of ecclesiastical authority in the province. It was only in church matters that the people had the right to meet and express their opinions, and even then the intendant alone could give the power of assembling for such purposes.
The civil law of French Canada relating to “property,” inheritance, marriage, and the personal or civil rights of the community generally, had its origin, like all similar systems, in the Roman law, on which were engrafted, in the course of centuries, those customs and usages which were adapted to the social conditions of France. The customary law of Paris became the fundamental law of French Canada, and despite the changes that it has necessarily undergone in the course of many years, its principles can still be traced throughout the present system as it has been modified under the influences of the British regime. The superior council of Canada gave judgment in civil and criminal cases according to the _coutume de Paris_, and below it there were inferior courts for the judicial districts of Quebec, Three Rivers and Montreal. The bishop had also special jurisdiction over ecclesiastical matters. The intendant had authority to deal with cases involving royal, or seigniorial, rights, and to call before him any case whatever for final review and judgment. In all cases appeals were allowable to the king himself, but the difficulty of communication with Europe in those days practically confined such references to a few special causes. The seigniors had also certain judicial or magisterial powers, but they never acted except in very trivial cases. Torture was sometimes applied to condemned felons as in France and other parts of the old world. On the whole justice appears to have been honestly and fairly administered.
Parkman, in a terse sentence, sums up the conditions which fettered all Canadian trade and industry, “A system of authority, monopoly and exclusion in which the government, and not the individual, acted always the foremost part.” Whether it was a question of ship-building, of a brewery or a tannery, of iron works or a new fishery, appeals must be made in the first instance to the king for aid; and the people were never taught to depend exclusively on their individual or associated enterprise. At the time of the conquest, and in fact for many years previously, the principal products of the country were beaver skins, timber, agricultural products, fish, fish oil, ginseng (for some years only), beer, cider, rug carpets, homespun cloths–made chiefly by the inmates of the religious houses–soap, potash, leather, stoves, tools and other iron manufactures–made in the St. Maurice forges–never a profitable industry, whether carried on by companies or the government itself. All these industries were fostered by the state, but, despite all the encouragement they received, the total value of the exports, principally furs, seal and other oils, lumber, peas, grain and ginseng never exceeded 3,500,000 francs, or about one-tenth of the export trade of the English colonies to Great Britain. Two-thirds of this amount represented beaver skins, the profits on which were very fluctuating, on account of the unwise regulations by which, the trade was constantly crippled. This business was heavily taxed to meet the necessities of colonial government, which were always heavy, and could never have been met had it not been for the liberality of the king. In the year 1755 the amount of all exports did not reach 2,500,000 francs, while the imports were valued at 8,000,000 francs. These imports represented wines, brandies, hardware and various luxuries, but the bulk was made up of the supplies required for the use of the military and civil authorities. The whole trade of the country was carried in about thirty sea-going vessels, none of them of heavy tonnage. The royal government attempted to stimulate ship-building in the country, and a few war vessels were actually built in the course of many years, though it does not appear that this industry was ever conducted with energy or enterprise. During the last fifty years of French rule, in all probability, not a hundred sea-going vessels were launched in the valley of the St. Lawrence. Duties of import, before 1748, were only imposed on wines, brandies, and Brazilian tobacco; but after the commencement of the war with England, the king found it necessary to establish export and import duties: a special exception was however made in favour of the produce of the farm, forest and sea, which were allowed to enter or go out free. The whole amount of duties raised in ordinary years did not reach above 300,000 francs.
In the closing years of French dominion the total population of Quebec, Montreal and Three Rivers, the only towns in the province, did not exceed 13,000 souls–about the population of Boston. Quebec alone had 8000 inhabitants, Montreal 4000, and Three Rivers 1000. The architecture of these places was more remarkable for solidity than elegance or symmetry of proportions. The churches, religious and educational establishments, official buildings and residences–notably the intendant’s palace at Quebec–were built of stone. The most pretentious edifice was the chateau of St. Louis–the residence of the governor-general–which was rebuilt by Count de Frontenac within the limits of the fort of St. Louis, first erected by Champlain on the historic height always associated with his name. The best buildings in the towns were generally of one story and constructed of stone. In the rural parishes, the villages, properly speaking, consisted of a church, presbytery, school, and tradesmen’s houses, while the farms of the _habitants_ stretched on either side. The size and shape of the farms were governed by the form of the seigniories throughout the province. M. Bourdon, the first Canadian surveyor-general, originally mapped out the seigniories in oblong shapes with very narrow frontage along the river–a frontage of two or three _arpents_ against a depth of from forty to eighty _arpents_–and the same inconvenient oblong plan was followed in making sub-grants to the _censitaire_ or _habitant_. The result was a disfigurement of a large portion of the country, as the civil law governing the succession of estates gradually cut up all the seigniories into a number of small farms, each in the form of the parallelogram originally given to the seigniorial grants. The houses of the _habitants_, then as now, were generally built of logs or sawn lumber, all whitewashed, with thatched or wooden roofs projecting over the front so as to form a sort of porch or verandah. The farm-houses were generally close together, especially in the best cultivated and most thickly settled districts between Quebec and Montreal. Travellers, just before the Seven Years’ War, tell us that the farms in that district appeared to be well cultivated on the whole, and the homes of the _habitants_ gave evidences of thrift and comfort. Some farmers had orchards from which cider was made, and patches of the coarse strong tobacco which they continue to use to this day, and which is now an important product of their province. Until the war the condition of the French Canadian _habitant_ was one of rude comfort. He could never become rich, in a country where there was no enterprise or trade which encouraged him to strenuous efforts to make and save money. Gold and silver were to him curiosities, and paper promises to pay, paper or card money, were widely circulated from early times, and were never for the most part redeemed, though the British authorities after the peace of 1763 made every possible effort to induce the French government to discharge its obligations to the French Canadian people. The life of the _habitants_ in peaceful times was far easier and happier than that of the peasants of old France. They had few direct taxes to bear, except the tithes required for the support of the church and such small contributions as were necessary for local purposes. They were, however, liable to be called out at any moment for military duties and were subject to _corvees_ or forced labour for which they were never paid by the authorities.
The outbreak of the Seven Years’ War was a serious blow to a people who had at last surmounted the greatest difficulties of pioneer life, and attained a moderate degree of comfort. The demands upon the people capable of bearing arms were necessarily fatal to steady farming occupations; indeed, in the towns of Quebec and Montreal there was more than once an insufficiency of food for the garrisons, and horse-flesh had to be served out, to the great disgust of the soldiers who at first refused to take it. Had it not been for the opportune arrival of a ship laden with provisions in the spring of 1759, the government would have been unable to feed the army or the inhabitants of Quebec. The gravity of the situation was aggravated for years by the jobbery and corruption of the men who had the fate of the country largely in their hands. A few French merchants, and monopolists in league with corrupt officials, controlled the markets and robbed a long-suffering and too patient people. The names of Bigot, Pean, and other officials of the last years of French administration, are justly execrated by French Canadians as robbers of the state and people in the days when the country was on the verge of war, and Montcalm, a brave, incorruptible man, was fighting against tremendous odds to save this unfortunate country to which he gave up his own life in vain.
So long as France governed Canada, education was entirely in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuits, Franciscans, and other religious orders, male and female, at an early date, commenced the establishment of those colleges and seminaries which have always had so important a share in the education of Lower Canada. The Jesuits founded a college at Quebec in 1635, or three years before the establishment of Harvard, and the Ursulines opened their convent in the same city four years later. Sister Bourgeoys of Troyes founded at Montreal in 1659 the Congregation de Notre-Dame for the education of girls of humble rank; the commencement of an institution which has now its buildings in many parts of Canada. In the latter part of the seventeenth century Bishop Laval carried out a project for providing education for Canadian priests drawn from the people of the country. Consequently, in addition to the great seminary at Quebec, there was the lesser seminary where boys were taught in the hope that they would take orders. In the inception of education the French endeavoured in more than one of their institutions to combine industrial pursuits with the ordinary branches of an elementary education. But all accounts of the days of the French regime go to show that, despite the zealous efforts of the religious bodies to improve the education of the colonists, secular instruction was at a very low ebb and hardly reached the seigniories. One writer tells us that “even the children of officers and gentlemen scarcely knew how to read and write; they were ignorant of the first elements of geography and history.” Still, dull and devoid of intellectual life as was the life of the Canadian, he had his place of worship where he received a moral training which elevated him immeasurably above the peasantry of England as well as of his old home. The clergy of Lower Canada confessedly did their best to relieve the ignorance of the people, but they were naturally unable to accomplish, by themselves, a task which properly devolved on the governing class. Under the French regime in Canada the civil authorities were as little anxious to enlighten the people by the establishment of public or common schools as they were to give them a voice in the government of the country.
Evidence of some culture and intellectual aspirations in social circles of the ancient capital attracted the surprise of travellers who visited the country before the close of the French dominion. “Science and the fine arts,” wrote Charlevoix, in 1744, “have their turn and conversation does not fail. The Canadians breathe from their birth an air of liberty, which makes them very pleasant in the intercourse of life, and our language is nowhere more purely spoken.” La Gallissoniere, a highly cultured governor, spared no effort to encourage a sympathetic study of scientific pursuits. Dr. Michel Sarrasin, who was a practising physician in Quebec for nearly half a century, devoted himself most assiduously to the natural history of the colony, and made some valuable contributions to the French Academy. The Swedish botanist, Peter Kalm, was impressed with the liking for scientific study which he observed in the French colony. But such intellectual culture, as Kalm and Charlevoix mentioned, never showed itself beyond the walls of Quebec or Montreal. The province, as a whole, was in a state of mental sluggishness at the time of the conquest by England, under whose benign influence the French Canadian people were now to enter on a new career of political and intellectual development.
Pitt and Wolfe must take a high place among the makers of the Dominion of Canada. It was they who gave relief to French Canada from the absolutism of old France, and started her in a career of self-government and political liberty. When the great procession passed before the Queen of England on the day of the “Diamond Jubilee”–when delegates from all parts of a mighty, world-embracing empire gave her their loyal and heartfelt homage–Canada was represented by a Prime Minister who belonged to that race which has steadily gained in intellectual strength, political freedom, and material prosperity, since the memorable events of 1759 and 1760. In that imperial procession nearly half the American Continent was represented–Acadia and Canada first settled by France, the north-west prairies first traversed by French Canadian adventurers, the Pacific coast first seen by Cook and Vancouver. There, too, marched men from Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Jeypore, Haidarabad, Kashmir, Punjaub, from all sections of that great empire of India which was won for England by Clive and the men who, like Wolfe, became famous for their achievements in the days of Pitt. Perhaps there were in that imperial pageant some Canadians whose thoughts wandered from the Present to the Past, and recalled the memory of that illustrious statesman and of all he did for Canada and England, when they stood in Westminster Abbey, and looked on his expressive effigy, which, in the eloquent language of a great English historian, “seems still, with eagle face and outstretched arm, to bid England be of good cheer and to hurl defiance at her foes.”
BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH RULE. 1760-1774.
SECTION I.–From the Conquest until the Quebec Act.
For nearly four years after the surrender of Vaudreuil at Montreal, Canada was under a government of military men, whose headquarters were at Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal–the capitals of the old French districts of the same name. General Murray and the other commanders laboured to be just and considerate in all their relations with the new subjects of the Crown, who were permitted to prosecute their ordinary pursuits without the least interference on the part of the conquerors. The conditions of the capitulations of Quebec and Montreal, which allowed the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, were honourably kept. All that was required then, and for many years later, was that the priests and cures should confine themselves exclusively to their parochial duties, and not take part in public matters. It had been also stipulated at Montreal that the communities of nuns should not be disturbed in their convents; and while the same privileges were not granted by the articles of capitulation to the Jesuits, Recollets, and Sulpitians, they had every facility given to them to dispose of their property and remove to France. As a matter of fact there was practically no interference with any of the religious fraternities during the early years of British rule; and when in the course of time the Jesuits disappeared entirely from the country their estates passed by law into the possession of the government for the use of the people, while the Sulpitians were eventually allowed to continue their work and develope property which became of great value on the island of Montreal. (The French merchants and traders were allowed all the commercial and trading privileges that were enjoyed by the old subjects of the British Sovereign, not only in the valley of the St. Lawrence, but in the rich fur regions of the West and North-West.) The articles of capitulation did not give any guarantees or pledges for the continuance of the civil law under which French Canada had been governed for over a century, but while that was one of the questions dependent on the ultimate fate of Canada, the British military rulers took every possible care during the continuance of the military regime to respect so far as possible the old customs and laws by which the people had been previously governed. French writers of those days admit the generosity and justice of the administration of affairs during this military regime.
The treaty of Paris, signed on the 10th February, 1763, formally ceded to England Canada as well as Acadia, with all their dependencies. The French Canadians were allowed full liberty “to profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish Church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit.” The people had permission to retire from Canada with all their effects within eighteen months from the date of the ratification of the treaty. All the evidence before us goes to show that only a few officials and seigniors ever availed themselves of this permission to leave the country. At this time there was not a single French settlement beyond Vaudreuil until the traveller reached the banks of the Detroit between Lakes Erie and Huron. A chain of forts and posts connected Montreal with the basin of the great lakes and the country watered by the Ohio, Illinois, and other tributaries of the Mississippi. The forts on the Niagara, at Detroit, at Michillimackinac, at Great Bay, on the Maumee and Wabash, at Presqu’ isle, at the junction of French Creek with the Alleghany, at the forks of the Ohio, and at less important localities in the West and South-West, were held by small English garrisons, while the French still occupied Vincennes on the Wabash and Chartres on the Mississippi, in the vicinity of the French settlements at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and the present site of St. Louis.
Soon after the fall of Montreal, French traders from New Orleans and the French settlements on the Mississippi commenced to foment disaffection among the western Indians, who had strong sympathy with France, and were quite ready to believe the story that she would ere long regain Canada. The consequence was the rising of all the western tribes under the leadership of Pontiac, the principal chief of the Ottawas, whose warriors surrounded and besieged Detroit when he failed to capture it by a trick. Niagara was never attacked, and Detroit itself was successfully defended by Major Gladwin, a fearless soldier; but all the other forts and posts very soon fell into the hands of the Indians, who massacred the garrisons in several places. They also ravaged the border settlements of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and carried off a number of women and children to their wigwams. Fort Pitt at the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela rivers–the site of the present city of Pittsburg–was in serious peril for a time, until Colonel Bouquet, a brave and skilful officer, won a signal victory over the Indians, who fled in dismay to their forest fastnesses. Pontiac failed to capture Detroit, and Bouquet followed up his first success by a direct march into the country of the Shawnees, Mingoes and Delawares, and forced them to agree to stern conditions of peace on the banks of the Muskingum. The power of the western Indians was broken for the time, and the British in 1765 took possession of the French forts of Chartres and Vincennes, when the _fleur-de-lys_ disappeared for ever from the valley of the Mississippi. The French settlers on the Illinois and the Mississippi preferred to remain under British rule rather than cross the great river and become subjects of Spain, to whom Western Louisiana had been ceded by France. From this time forward France ceased to be an influential factor in the affairs of Canada or New France, and the Indian tribes recognized the fact that they could no longer expect any favour or aid from their old ally. They therefore transferred their friendship to England, whose power they had felt in the Ohio valley, and whose policy was now framed with a special regard to their just treatment.
This Indian war was still in progress when King George III issued his proclamation for the temporary government of his new dependencies in North America. As a matter of fact, though the proclamation was issued in England on the 7th October, 1763, it did not reach Canada and come into effect until the 10th August, 1764. The four governments of Quebec, Grenada, East Florida, and West Florida were established in the territories ceded by France and Spain. The eastern limit of the province of Quebec did not extend beyond St. John’s River at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, nearly opposite to Anticosti, while that island itself and the Labrador country, east of the St. John’s as far as the Straits of Hudson, were placed under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. The islands of Cape Breton and St. John, now Prince Edward, became subject to the Government of Nova Scotia, which then included the present province of New Brunswick. The northern limit of the province did not extend beyond the territory known as Rupert’s Land under the charter given to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, while the western boundary was drawn obliquely from Lake Nipissing as far as Lake St. Francis on the St. Lawrence; the southern boundary then followed line 45 deg. across the upper part of Lake Champlain, whence it passed along the highlands which divide the rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those that flow into the sea–an absurdly defined boundary since it gave to Canada as far as Cape Rosier on the Gaspe peninsula a territory only a few miles wide. No provision whatever was made in the proclamation for the government of the country west of the Appalachian range, which was claimed by Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other colonies under the indefinite terms of their original charters, which practically gave them no western limits. Consequently the proclamation was regarded with much disfavour by the English colonists on the Atlantic coast. No provision was even made for the great territory which extended beyond Nipissing as far as the Mississippi and included the basin of the great lakes. It is easy to form the conclusion that the intention of the British government was to restrain the ambition of the old English colonies east of the Appalachian range, and to divide the immense territory to their north-west at some future and convenient time into several distinct and independent governments. No doubt the British government also found it expedient for the time being to keep the control of the fur-trade so far as possible in its own hands, and in order to achieve this object it was necessary in the first place to conciliate the Indian tribes, and not allow them to come in any way under the jurisdiction of the chartered colonies. The proclamation itself, in fact, laid down entirely new, and certainly equitable, methods of dealing with the Indians within the limits of British sovereignty. The governors of the old colonies were expressly forbidden to grant authority to survey lands beyond the settled territorial limits of their respective governments. No person was allowed to purchase land directly from the Indians. The government itself thenceforth could alone give a legal title to Indian lands, which must, in the first place, be secured by treaty with the tribes that claimed to own them. This was the beginning of that honest policy which has distinguished the relations of England and Canada with the Indian nations for over a hundred years, and which has obtained for the present Dominion the confidence and friendship of the many thousand Indians, who roamed for many centuries in Rupert’s Land and in the Indian Territories where the Hudson’s Bay Company long enjoyed exclusive privileges of trade.
The language of the proclamation with respect to the government of the province of Quebec was extremely unsatisfactory. It was ordered that so soon as the state and circumstances of the colony admitted, the governor-general could with the advice and consent of the members of the council summon a general assembly, “in such manner and form as is used and directed in those colonies and provinces in America which are under our immediate government.” Laws could be made by the governor, council, and representatives of the people for the good government of the colony, “as near as may be agreeable to the laws of England, and under such regulations and restrictions as are used in other colonies.” Until such an assembly could be called, the governor could with the advice of his council constitute courts for the trial and determination of all civil and criminal cases, “according to law and equity, and as near as may be agreeable to the laws of England,” with liberty to appeal, in all civil cases, to the privy council of England. General Murray, who had been in the province since the battle on the Plains of Abraham, was appointed to administer the government. Any persons elected to serve in an assembly were required, by his commission and instructions, before they could sit and vote, to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and subscribe a declaration against transubstantiation, the adoration of the Virgin, and the Sacrifice of the Mass.
This proclamation–in reality a mere temporary expedient to give time for considering the whole state of the colony–was calculated to do infinite harm, since its principal importance lay in the fact that it attempted to establish English civil as well as criminal law, and at the same time required oaths which effectively prevented the French Canadians from serving in the very assembly which it professed a desire on the part of the king to establish. The English-speaking or Protestant people in the colony did not number in 1764 more than three hundred persons, of little or no standing, and it was impossible to place all power in their hands and to ignore nearly seventy thousand French Canadian Roman Catholics. Happily the governor, General Murray, was not only an able soldier, as his defence of Quebec against Levis had proved, but also a man of statesmanlike ideas, animated by a high sense of duty and a sincere desire to do justice to the foreign people committed to his care. He refused to lend himself to the designs of the insignificant British minority, chiefly from the New England colonies, or to be guided by their advice in carrying on his government. His difficulties were lessened by the fact that the French had no conception of representative institutions in the English sense, and were quite content with any system of government that left them their language, religion, and civil law without interference. The stipulations of the capitulations of 1759-1760, and of the treaty of Paris, with respect to the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, were always observed in a spirit of great fairness: and in 1766 Monseigneur Briand was chosen, with the governor’s approval, Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec. He was consecrated at Paris after his election by the chapter of Quebec, and it does not appear that his recognition ever became the subject of parliamentary discussion. This policy did much to reconcile the French Canadians to their new rulers, and to make them believe that eventually they would receive full consideration in other essential respects.
For ten years the government of Canada was in a very unsatisfactory condition, while the British ministry was all the while worried with the condition of things in the old colonies, then in a revolutionary ferment. The Protestant minority continued to clamour for an assembly, and a mixed system of French and English law, in case it was not possible to establish the latter in its entirety. Attorney-General Maseres, an able lawyer and constitutional writer, was in favour of a mixed system, but his views were notably influenced by his strong prejudices against Roman Catholics. The administration of the law was extremely confused until 1774, not only on account of the ignorance and incapacity of the men first sent out from England to preside over the courts, but also as a consequence of the steady determination of the majority of French Canadians to ignore laws to which they had naturally an insuperable objection. In fact, the condition of things became practically chaotic. It might have been much worse had not General Murray, at first, and Sir Guy Carleton, at a later time, endeavoured, so far as lay in their power, to mitigate the hardships to which the people were subject by being forced to observe laws of which they were entirely ignorant.
At this time the governor-general was advised by an executive council, composed of officials and some other persons chosen from the small Protestant minority of the province. Only one French Canadian appears to have been ever admitted to this executive body. The English residents ignored the French as far as possible, and made the most unwarrantable claims to rule the whole province.
A close study of official documents from 1764 until 1774 goes to show that all this while the British government was influenced by an anxious desire to show every justice to French Canada, and to adopt a system of government most conducive to its best interests In 1767 Lord Shelburne wrote to Sir Guy Carleton that “the improvement of the civil constitution of the province was under their most serious consideration.” They were desirous of obtaining all information “which can tend to elucidate how far it is practicable and expedient to blend the English with the French laws, in order to form such a system as shall be at once equitable and convenient for His Majesty’s old and new subjects.” From time to time the points at issue were referred to the law officers of the crown for their opinion, so anxious was the government to come to a just conclusion. Attorney-General Yorke and Solicitor-General De Grey in 1766 severely condemned any system that would permanently “impose new, unnecessary and arbitrary rules (especially as to the titles of land, and the mode of descent, alienation and settlement), which would tend to confound and subvert rights instead of supporting them.” In 1772 and 1773 Attorney-General Thurlow and Solicitor-General Wedderburne dwelt on the necessity of dealing on principles of justice with the province of Quebec. The French Canadians, said the former, “seem to have been strictly entitled by the _jus gentium_ to their property, as they possessed it upon the capitulation and treaty of peace, together with all its qualities and incidents by tenure or otherwise.” It seemed a necessary consequence that all those laws by which that property was created, defined, and secured, must be continued to them. The Advocate-General Marriott, in 1773, also made a number of valuable suggestions in the same spirit, and at the same time expressed the opinion that under the existent conditions of the country it was not possible or expedient to call an assembly. Before the imperial government came to a positive conclusion on the vexed questions before it, they had the advantage of the wise experience of Sir Guy Carleton, who visited England and remained there for some time. The result of the deliberation of years was the passage through the British parliament of the measure known as “The Quebec Act,” which has always been considered the charter of the special privileges which the French Canadians have enjoyed ever since, and which, in the course of a century, made their province one of the most influential sections of British North America.
The preamble of the Quebec Act fixed new territorial limits for the province. It comprised not only the country affected by the proclamation of 1763, but also all the eastern territory which had been previously annexed to Newfoundland. In the west and south-west the province was extended to the Ohio and the Mississippi, and in fact embraced all the lands beyond the Alleghanies coveted and claimed by the old English colonies, now hemmed in between the Atlantic and the Appalachian range. It was now expressly enacted that the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Canada should thenceforth “enjoy the free exercise” of their religion, “subject to the king’s supremacy declared and established” by law, and on condition of taking an oath of allegiance, set forth in the act. The Roman Catholic clergy were allowed “to hold, receive, and enjoy their accustomed dues and rights, with respect to such persons only as shall confess the said religion”–that is, one twenty-sixth part of the produce of the land, Protestants being specially exempted. The French Canadians were allowed to enjoy all their property, together with all customs and usages incident thereto, “in as large, ample and beneficial manner,” as if the proclamation or other acts of the crown “had not been made”, but the religious orders and communities were excepted in accordance with the terms of the capitulation of Montreal–the effect of which exception I have already briefly stated. In “all matters of controversy relative to property and civil rights,” resort was to be had to the old civil law of French Canada “as the rule for the decision of the same”, but the criminal law of England was extended to the province on the indisputable ground that its “certainty and lenity” were already “sensibly felt by the inhabitants from an experience of more than nine years.” The government of the province was entrusted to a governor and a legislative council appointed by the crown, “inasmuch as it was inexpedient to call an assembly.” The council was to be composed of not more than twenty-three residents of the province. At the same time the British parliament made special enactments for the imposition of certain customs duties “towards defraying the charges of the administration of justice and the support of the civil government of the province.” All deficiencies in the revenues derived from these and other sources had to be supplied by the imperial treasury. During the passage of the act through parliament, it evoked the bitter hostility of Lord Chatham, who was then the self-constituted champion of the old colonies, who found the act most objectionable, not only because it established the Roman Catholic religion, but placed under the government of Quebec the rich territory west of the Alleghanies. Similar views were expressed by the Mayor and Council of London, but they had no effect. The king, in giving his assent, declared that the measure “was founded on the clearest principles of justice and humanity, and would have the best effect in quieting the minds and promoting the happiness of our Canadian subjects.” In French Canada the act was received without any popular demonstration by the French Canadians, but the men to whom the great body of that people always looked for advice and guidance–the priests, cures, and seigniors–naturally regarded these concessions to their nationality as giving most unquestionable evidence of the considerate and liberal spirit in which the British government was determined to rule the province. They had had ever since the conquest satisfactory proof that their religion was secure from all interference, and now the British parliament itself came forward with legal guarantees, not only for the free exercise of that religion, with all its incidents and tithes, but also for the permanent establishment of the civil law to which they attached so much importance. The fact that no provision was made for a popular assembly could not possibly offend a people to whom local self-government in any form was entirely unknown. It was impossible to constitute an assembly from the few hundred Protestants who were living in Montreal and Quebec, and it was equally impossible, in view of the religious prejudices dominant in England and the English colonies, to give eighty thousand French Canadian Roman Catholics privileges which their co-religionists did not enjoy in Great Britain and to allow them to sit in an elected assembly. Lord North seemed to voice the general opinion of the British parliament on this difficult subject, when he closed the debate with an expression of “the earnest hope that the Canadians will, in the course of time, enjoy as much of our laws and as much of our constitution as may be beneficial to that country and safe for this”, but “that time,” he concluded, “had not yet come.” It does not appear from the evidence before us that the British had any other motive in passing the Quebec Act than to do justice to the French Canadian people, now subjects of the crown of England. It was not a measure primarily intended to check the growth of popular institutions, but solely framed to meet the actual conditions of a people entirely unaccustomed to the working of representative or popular institutions. It was a preliminary step in the development of self-government.
On the other hand the act was received with loud expressions of dissatisfaction by the small English minority who had hoped to see themselves paramount in the government of the province. In Montreal, the headquarters of the disaffected, an attempt was made to set fire to the town, and the king’s bust was set up in one of the public squares, daubed with black, and decorated with a necklace made of potatoes, and bearing the inscription _Voila le pape du Canada & le sot Anglais_. The author of this outrage was never discovered, and all the influential French Canadian inhabitants of the community were deeply incensed that their language should have been used to insult a king whose only offence was his assent to a measure of justice to themselves.
Sir Guy Carleton, who had been absent in England for four years, returned to Canada on the 18th September, 1774, and was well received in Quebec. The first legislative council under the Quebec Act was not appointed until the beginning of August, 1775. Of the twenty-two members who composed it, eight were influential French Canadians bearing historic names. The council met on the 17th August, but was forced to adjourn on the 7th September, on account of the invasion of Canada by the troops of the Continental Congress, composed of representatives of the rebellious element of the Thirteen Colonies. In a later chapter I shall very shortly review the effects of the American revolution upon the people of Canada; but before I proceed to do so it is necessary to take my readers first to Nova Scotia on the eastern seaboard of British North America and give a brief summary of its political development from the beginning of British rule.
SECTION 2.–The foundation of Nova Scotia (1749–1783).
The foundation of Halifax practically put an end to the Acadian period of Nova Scotian settlement. Until that time the English occupation of the country was merely nominal. Owing largely to the representations of Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts–a statesman of considerable ability, who distinguished himself in American affairs during a most critical period of colonial history–the British government decided at last on a vigorous policy in the province, which seemed more than once on the point of passing out of their hands. Halifax was founded by the Honourable Edward Cornwallis on the slope of a hill, whose woods then dipped their branches into the very waters of the noble harbour long known as Chebuctou, and renamed in honour of a distinguished member of the Montague family, who had in those days full control of the administration of colonial affairs.
Colonel Cornwallis, a son of the Baron of that name–a man of firmness and discretion–entered the harbour, on the 21st of June, old style, or 2nd July present style, and soon afterwards assumed his, duties as governor of the province. The members of his first council were sworn in on board one of the transports in the harbour. Between 2000 and 3000 persons were brought at this time to settle the town and country. These people were chiefly made up of retired military and naval officers, soldiers and sailors, gentlemen, mechanics, farmers–far too few–and some Swiss, who were extremely industrious and useful. On the whole, they were not the best colonists to build up a prosperous industrial community. The government gave the settlers large inducements in the shape of free grants of land, and practically supported them for the first two or three years. It was not until the Acadian population were removed, and their lands were available, that the foundation of the agricultural prosperity of the peninsula was really laid. In the summer of 1753 a considerable number of Germans were placed in the present county of Lunenburg, where their descendants still prosper, and take a most active part in all the occupations of life.
With the disappearance of the French Acadian settlers Nova Scotia became a British colony in the full sense of the phrase. The settlement of 1749 was supplemented in 1760, and subsequent years, by a valuable and large addition of people who were induced to leave Massachusetts and other colonies of New England and settle in townships of the present counties of Annapolis, King’s, Hants, Queen’s, Yarmouth, Cumberland, and Colchester, especially in the beautiful townships of Cornwallis and Horton, where the Acadian meadows were the richest. A small number also settled at Maugerville and other places on the St. John River.
During the few years that had elapsed since the Acadians were driven from their lands, the sea had once more found its way through the ruined dykes, which had no longer the skilful attention of their old builders. The new owners of the Acadian lands had none of the special knowledge that the French had acquired, and were unable for years to keep back the ever-encroaching tides. Still there were some rich uplands and low-lying meadows, raised above the sea, which richly rewarded the industrious cultivator. The historian, Haliburton, describes the melancholy scene that met the eyes of the new settlers when they reached, in 1760, the old homes of the Acadians at Mines. They came across a few straggling families of Acadians who “had eaten no bread for years, and had subsisted on vegetables, fish, and the more hardy part of the cattle that had survived the severity of the first winter of their abandonment.” They saw everywhere “ruins of the houses that had been burned by the Provincials, small gardens encircled by cherry-trees and currant-bushes, and clumps of apple-trees.” In all parts of the country, where the new colonists established themselves, the Indians were unfriendly for years, and it was necessary to erect stockaded houses for the protection of the settlements.
No better class probably could have been selected to settle Nova Scotia than these American immigrants. The majority were descendants of the Puritans who settled in New England, and some were actually sprung from men and women who had landed from “The Mayflower” in 1620. Governor Lawrence recognized the necessity of having a sturdy class of settlers, accustomed to the climatic conditions and to agricultural labour in America, and it was through his strenuous efforts that these immigrants were brought into the province. They had, indeed, the choice of the best land of the province, and everything was made as pleasant as possible for them by a paternal government, only anxious to establish British authority on a sound basis of industrial development.
In 1767, according to an official return in the archives of Nova Scotia, the total population of what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, reached 13,374 souls; of whom 6913 are given as Americans, 912 as English, 2165 as Irish, 1946 as Germans, and 1265 as Acadian French, the latter being probably a low estimate. Some of these Irish emigrated directly from the north of Ireland, and were Presbyterians. They were brought out by one Alexander McNutt, who did much for the work of early colonization; others came from New Hampshire, where they had been settled for some years. The name of Londonderry in New Hampshire is a memorial of this important class, just as the same name recalls them in the present county of Colchester, in Nova Scotia.
The Scottish immigration, which has exercised such an important influence on the eastern counties of Nova Scotia–and I include Cape Breton–commenced in 1772, when about thirty families arrived from Scotland and settled in the present county of Pictou, where a very few American colonists from Philadelphia had preceded them. In later years a steady tide of Scotch population flowed into eastern Nova Scotia and did not cease until 1820. Gaelic is still the dominant tongue in the eastern counties, where we find numerous names recalling the glens, lochs, and mountains of old Scotland. Sir William Alexander’s dream of a new Scotland has been realised in a measure in the province where his ambition would have made him “lord paramount.”
Until the foundation of Halifax the government of Nova Scotia was vested solely in a governor who had command of the garrison stationed at Annapolis. In 1719 a commission was issued to Governor Phillips, who was authorised to appoint a council of not less than twelve persons. This council had advisory and judicial functions, but its legislative authority was of a very limited scope. This provisional system of government lasted until 1749, when Halifax became the seat of the new administration of public affairs. The governor had a right to appoint a council of twelve persons–as we have already seen, he did so immediately–and to summon a general assembly “according to the usage of the rest of our colonies and plantations in America.” He was, “with the advice and consent” of the council and assembly, “to make, constitute and ordain laws” for the good government of the province. During nine years the governor-in-council carried on the government without an assembly, and passed a number of ordinances, some of which imposed duties on trade for the purpose of raising revenue. The legality of their acts was questioned by Chief Justice Belcher, and he was sustained by the opinion of the English law officers, who called attention to the governor’s commission, which limited the council’s powers. The result of this decision was the establishment of a representative assembly, which met for the first time at Halifax on the 2nd October, 1758.
Governor Lawrence, whose name will be always unhappily associated with the merciless expatriation of the French Acadians, had the honour of opening the first legislative assembly of Nova Scotia in 1758. One Robert Sanderson, of whom we know nothing else, was chosen as the first speaker, but he held his office for only one session, and was succeeded by William Nesbitt, who presided over the house for many years. The first sittings of the legislature were held in the court house, and subsequently in the old grammar school at the corner of Barrington and Sackville Streets, for very many years one of the historic memorials of the Halifax of the eighteenth century.
At this time the present province of New Brunswick was for the most part comprised in a county known as Sunbury, with one representative in the assembly of Nova Scotia. The island of Cape Breton also formed a part of the province, and had the right to send two members to the assembly, but the only election held for that purpose was declared void on account of there not being any freeholders entitled by law to vote. The island of St. John, named Prince Edward in 1798, in honour of the Duke of Kent, who was commander-in-chief of the British forces for some years in North America, was also annexed to Nova Scotia in 1763, but it never sent representatives to its legislature. In the following year a survey was commenced of all the imperial dominions on the Atlantic. Various schemes for the cultivation and settlement of the island were proposed as soon as the surveys were in progress. The most notable suggestion was made by the Earl of Egmont, first lord of the admiralty; he proposed the division of the island into baronies, each with a castle or stronghold under a feudal lord, subject to himself as lord paramount, under the customs of the feudal system of Europe. The imperial authorities rejected this scheme, but at the same time they adopted one which was as unwise as that of the noble earl. The whole island, with the exception of certain small reservations and royalties, was given away by lottery in a single day to officers of the army and navy who had served in the preceding war, and to other persons who were ambitious to be great landowners, on the easy condition of paying certain quit-rents–a condition constantly broken. This ill-advised measure led to many troublesome complications for a hundred years, until at last they were removed by the terms of the arrangement which brought the island into the federal union of British North America in 1873. In 1769 the island was separated from Nova Scotia and granted a distinct government, although its total population at the time did not exceed one hundred and fifty families. An assembly of eighteen representatives was called so early as 1773, when the first governor, Captain Walter Paterson, still administered public affairs. The assembly was not allowed to meet with regularity during many years of the early history of the island. During one administration it was practically without parliamentary government for ten years. The land question always dominated public affairs in the island for a hundred years.
From the very beginning of a regular system of government in Nova Scotia the legislature appears to have practically controlled the administration of local affairs except so far as it gave, from time to time, powers to the courts of quarter sessions to regulate taxation and carry out certain small public works and improvements. In the first session of the legislature a joint committee of the council and assembly chose the town officers for Halifax. We have abundant evidence that at this time the authorities viewed with disfavour any attempt to establish a system of town government similar to that so long in operation in New England. The town meeting was considered the nursery of sedition in New England, and it is no wonder that the British authorities in Halifax frowned upon all attempts to reproduce it in their province.
Soon after his arrival in Nova Scotia, Governor Cornwallis established courts of law to try and determine civil and criminal cases in accordance with the laws of England. In 1774 there were in the province courts of general session, similar to the courts of the same name in England; courts of common pleas, formed on the practice of New England and the mother country, and a supreme court, court of assize and general gaol delivery, composed of a chief justice and two assistant judges. The governor-in-council constituted a court of error in certain cases, and from its decisions an appeal could be made to the king-in-council. Justices of peace were also appointed in the counties and townships, with jurisdiction over the collection of small debts.
We must now leave the province of Nova Scotia and follow the revolutionary movement, which commenced, soon after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, in the old British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, and ended in the acknowledgement of their independence in 1783, and in the forced migration of a large body of loyal people who found their way to the British provinces.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS (1763–1784).
SECTION I.–The successful Revolution of the Thirteen Colonies in America.
When Canada was formally ceded to Great Britain the Thirteen Colonies were relieved from the menace of the presence of France in the valleys of the St. Lawrence, the Ohio, and the Mississippi. Nowhere were there more rejoicings on account of this auspicious event than in the homes of the democratic Puritans. The names of Pitt and Wolfe were honoured above all others of their countrymen, and no one in England, certainly not among its statesmen, imagined that in the colonies, which stretched from the river Penobscot to the peninsula of Florida, there was latent a spirit of independence which might at any moment threaten the rule of Great Britain on the American continent. The great expenses of the Seven Years’ War were now pressing heavily on the British taxpayer. British statesmen were forced to consider how best they could make the colonies themselves contribute towards their own protection in the future, and relieve Great Britain in some measure from the serious burden which their defence had heretofore imposed on her. In those days colonies were considered as so many possessions to be used for the commercial advantage of the parent state. Their commerce and industries had been fettered for many years by acts of parliament which were intended to give Great Britain a monopoly of their trade and at the same time prevent them from manufacturing any article that they could buy from the British factories. As a matter of fact, however, these restrictive measures of imperial protection had been for a long time practically dead-letters. The merchants and seamen of New England carried on smuggling with the French and Spanish Indies with impunity, and practically traded where they pleased.
The stamp act was only evidence of a vigorous colonial policy, which was to make the people of the colonies contribute directly to their own defence and security, and at the same time enforce the navigation laws and acts of trade and put an end to the general system of smuggling by which men, some of the best known merchants of Boston, had acquired a