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before 1832. They aroused the indignation of
these newcomers, whose influence, along with
the effect of the success of parliamentary reform
at Westminster, helped to give force and per-
sistency to the movement for reform in Upper

Mackenzie soon identified himself with this Upper
democratic movement. In 1824 he established J^jT
at Toronto the Colonial Advocate; and attained dread of
province-wide fame in 1826 through a stupid and *****

i Boyd, 37.



ill-conceived riotous attack, made by the younger
Tories, on his printing plant, during which his
hand-press was thrown into Lake Ontario.
Macken- In 1828 Mackenzie was elected to the assem-
1 z ^ the bly. There he made himself objectionable to
latureat the Tories by assailing the appointment of an
Toronto Episcopalian chaplain to the assembly; by his
opposition to the presence of an Episcopal and
a Roman Catholic bishop in the legislative coun-
cil; by assailing the executive for crowding the
assembly with office holders; and by publishing
the division lists in his newspaper.

Pubii- For publishing the division lists, a practice

which had been established in connection with
division the house of commons at Westminster since 1689,
Mackenzie in 1832 was expelled from the assem-
bly at Toronto. Four times he was reflected.
Then the assembly, without any constitutional
warrant, declared him incapable of serving as a
member; and on presenting himself he was
ejected by the sergeant-at-arms.

A partisan His constituents presented a petition to Head,
governor w ^o was then governor. The only answer to
this petition, which was presented to the gov-
ernor in person, was, "I have received your peti-
tion"; and no redress was forthcoming at Toronto
either for Mackenzie or for his constituents.

A landmark in the constitutional history of
Canada of interest to all the dominions was set
up by Mackenzie during his first session in the
legislative assembly. He drafted in 1828 a



statement of the grievances of the colonists of First

Upper Canada, which was forwarded by the re- ^ mand

formers in the assembly to the colonial office respon-

in London; and it would seem that in this mani-


festo the first claim for responsible government ment
for any British colony was made. Papineau,
in his speech of 1835, pressed the claim; but it
was one to which seven years before 1835 the
reformers in Upper Canada had directed their

I. The Rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada

The rebellion in Lower Canada broke out on inter-
November 6, 1837. The rising in Upper Canada ^ e y rence
began at Toronto on December 4. The imme- pariia-
diate cause in Lower Canada developed out of ent
the popular agitation, led by Papineau, against West-
a resolution passed by Parliament at Westmin- minster
ster, providing for the payment of salaries of
judges in Lower Canada, after the legislative
assembly at Quebec had persistently refused to
vote supplies for these payments.

Meetings to protest against this legislation by Gosford
the British parliament were prohibited by Gos- j
ford, the governor-general, in June. But they protest
went on, nevertheless, from June to October. meetin * 8
The crisis came in November. There was a riot
in Montreal on the 6th. Seven of the leaders
were arrested. These men were taken out of
the custody of the military; and the fighting
began when the soldiers attempted to arrest one



of Papineau's associates at St. Denis. There
the rebels fortified a stone barn. In attempting
to take the barn, Colonel Gore, who was in
command of the military, lost six men killed,
and ten were wounded.
Three Between the 6th and the 22d of November

SdT* there was fi g htin S at St - Charles, St. Eustache,
killed and Benoit. Two thousand soldiers were en-
gaged. The fatalities were mostly on the side
of the rebels. Three hundred of Papineau's
followers lost their lives. Papineau fled to the
United States, and was a refugee there until I845. 1
Fiasco at The rising at Toronto involved no great loss
Toronto Q f jjf^ Mackenzie's plan was to seize govern-
ment house. His followers, who numbered at
most not more than 750 men, assembled at Mont-
gomery's tavern on the outskirts of the town.
They were quickly dispersed by 1200 volunteers.
Five of the rebels lost their lives.

Mac- Mackenzie fled to Navy Island in the Niagara

i^erUe River. There he issued a proclamation; set up
a provisional government; printed paper money
and otherwise introduced a touch of burlesque
into the rising. He was soon dislodged from
Navy Island, and fled to the state of New York,
where, after serving a term in prison for viola-
tion of the neutrality laws of the United States,
he was an exile until a general amnesty act was
passed by the legislature of the united provinces
of Quebec and Ontario in 1849.

1 Cf. Boyd, 45-76.



There was never any prospect of military sue- A
cess for rebellion in either Upper or Lower Canada.
But if a revolution is a rebellion that succeeds, effected
the rebellion of 1837 was a revolution. In its ^ volu "
way it was as successful as the American revolu-
tion. It was the only time after 1783 that Brit-
ish troops were in action against armed white
British subjects in any of the British colonies;
and all that is beneficent in the modern era of
British colonial government dates from the Papi-
neau and Mackenzie rebellions, and the epoch-
making mission of the Earl of Durham to
Canada, by which the rebellions were immedi-
ately followed.

The Melbourne administration of 1835-1841 William
was in power in England at the time of the re-
bellions. William IV died in June, 1837. The of
death of the king gave the administration a


freer hand in coping with the serious problems ment
of Canada.

William IV's conception of colonies, and of
the relation of the sovereign to them, was very
similar to that of George III. When Lord
Gosford was sent out to Quebec as governor-
general in 1835, the king told him that he would
never consent to the establishment of an elective
legislative council. The king held that control
of the legislative council, by nomination, was
one of the prerogatives of the crown. "It was,"
he said, " a safeguard for the preservation of the
wise and happy connection between the mother






and the

new era

in British Q f



country and the colonies, which it was both his
duty and his inclination to maintain."

The development of the British cabinet had
not reached its present stage in 1835. William
IV was the last sovereign to assume an attitude
j kind towards his ministers; and for the
United Kingdom, as well as for the colonies, an
era of less monarchical rule began with the ad-
vent of Queen Victoria.

II. Durham s Mission and the Durham Report
Legis- The rebellions necessitated immediate legisla-

wlst at t * on at Westminster. Accordingly on January
minster 1 6, 1838, a bill was introduced in the house of
commons suspending the constitution of Lower
Canada for four years, and authorizing Durham,
the new governor-general, in concert with an
executive council of five members, to frame ordi-
nances for the province. Durham was further
authorized to investigate and report on condi-
tions in all the British North American provinces,
and his commission constituted him governor-
general of all the provinces except Newfoundland.
Durham was in his forty-sixth year when he
was intrusted with this mission to Canada. He
was a man of great wealth, derived largely from
coal mines in the county of Durham; and he
was son-in-law to Grey, the Whig premier of
reform bill fame. He was one of the most aggres-
sive members of the cabinet during the crises
over the reform bill of 1830-1832; always ready


of .


to force the struggle with William IV; always
ready to fight for the bill either in the cabinet
or in parliament; and the politically courageous
part Durham had in framing and carrying the
reform bill would have given him a conspicuous
place in British history even if his achievements
of 1830-1832 had not been overshadowed by
his contribution of 1838 to the inauguration of
the new era in British colonial policy.

Durham's famous report has been more fre- Durham's
quently reprinted, more frequently edited and JJ^j st
annotated, and more widely read over the English- widely
speaking world than any other British state paper ^
of the nineteenth century. 1 He was in Canada paper
only from May 29 to November i, 1838. He ^_ e
resigned and returned to England, 2 because the teenth
Melbourne government, holding that he had century
exceeded his powers, disallowed an ordinance of
June 28, 1838, banishing eight rebels to Bermuda.
He was succeeded in August, 1839, by Poulett
Thomson, afterwards Lord Sydenham, who as a
colonial governor ranks second only to Durham
in the history of the establishment of responsible
government in the dominions.

Condemnation of the entire system of govern-
ment at Quebec and Toronto was the burden of
Durham's report. It substantiated nearly every
allegation of the reformers in Canada and of the

1 The authoritative edition is edited, with an introduction,
by Sir Charles P. Lucas, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1912.
8 He died July 28, 1840.



Durham's radicals who had supported them in parliament

nation* 11 ' at Westminster. It demonstrated that oligar-

ofthe chies had ruled in both provinces; that there

govern- was no S y s tem of municipal government that

ments at . J * _ b

Quebec in this respect Lower and Upper Canada com-
*? d pared badly with the New England states; that

Toronto & .

there was no system of education; that justice
was badly administered; and that the manage-
ment of crown lands was characterized by job-
bery and fraud.

Share The colonial office in London was also con-

ofthe demned; for Durham recalled that there were


office in eight colonial secretaries from 1827 to 1837, and

misrule ^^ ^ p O li cv o f eac h secretary had been more

in Upper . . J

and or less different from that of his predecessor. In

Lower a wor( j Durham stigmatized the whole system

Canada . .' j i_ i j i i

as vicious. He rejoiced that it had broken

Friction In Lower Canada much of the trouble was due

Up 1 ^ 611 to race antagonism. In addition there had been

and friction between Upper and Lower Canada aris-

cln^da ing out of a common use of the St. Lawrence;

for Upper Canada was entirely dependent on the

tidewater ports of the lower province. This

friction had been so serious that at one time

there was a plan to create a third province out

of the Island of Montreal. In Montreal the

English were in control; and such a plan would

have ended the dependence of Upper Canada on

ports that were under the control of French-




American influence on political conditions in American
Canada in the years from 1783 to 1837 has already ^ ence
been noted. More evidence of this influence is
contained in Durham's report, and in his recom-
mendations as to the system of government that
should be adopted at the great crisis of 1837-1840.

The suggestion was put forward, in plans pro- An
posed to Durham for the government of Lower *^~
Canada, that as a permanent or as a temporary govem-
and intermediate scheme, the government of the ent
French province should be constituted on an en- gested
tirely despotic footing, or on one that would vest f * bgc
it entirely in the hands of the British minority.

"It is proposed," wrote Durham, "either to Dis-
place the legislative authority in a governor, with ham ' s
a council formed of the heads of the British party, dem-
or to contrive some scheme of representation by f a jj^
which a minority, with the form of representation, S ug-
is to deprive the majority of all voice in the man- s estion
agement of its own affairs." 1

The adoption of such a plan would have meant "cana-
the indefinite continuation of the dreary period ^ s
of colonial history of 1791-1837. But at this, neigh-
the greatest crisis in British colonial history be- bor "
tween 1783 and the great war, the influence of
what the late Sir Richard Cartwright, for forty-
five years a member of parliament at Ottawa,
liked to describe as "Canada's only neighbor,"
again made itself felt on the destinies of what is
now the greatest British oversea dominion.
1 Cf. Lucas, II, 296-297.



influence It was an influence not of the government at

o f ion lar Wasmn g ton > but f tne people of the United
in the States, indirectly rather than directly exercised.

States ^ turnec ^ the sca ^ e with Durham. Durham's
report turned the scale with the Melbourne gov-
ernment, and through the government with par-
liament at Westminster.

Durham thus described American influence,
and how, in his opinion, it would affect Canada,
if a despotic government were established at

The maintenance of an absolute form of government on
any part of the American continent can never continue for
any long time without exciting a general feeling in the United
States against a power of which the existence is secured by
means so odious to the people; and as I rate the preserva-
tion of the present general sympathy of the United States
with the policy of our government in Lower Canada as a
matter of the greatest importance, I should be sorry that
the feeling should be changed for one which, if prevalent
among the people, must extend over the surrounding prov-
inces. The influence of such an opinion would not only act
very strongly on the entire French population, and keep up
among them a sense of injury and a determination of resist-
ance to the government, but would lead to just as great dis-
content among the English. 1

Legis- The experience in Canada of a government not

lative responsible to the people did not. in Durham's

union of Y . -c , ,. c i

upper and opinion, justify a beliet that an absolute govern-
Lower ment in Lower Canada would be well adminis-
urgedby tered. Durham was confident that the great


1 Lucas, II, 297.

C 100 ]


reforms in the institutions of the French province,
which must be made before it could be a well-
ordered and flourishing community, could be
effected by no legislature which did not repre-
sent a great mass of public opinion. He was con-
vinced that tranquillity could only be restored
by subjecting Lower Canada "to the vigorous
rule of an English majority, and that the only
efficacious government would be that formed by
a legislative union." l

At this time the estimated population of Upper p jp n-
Canada was 400,000. The number of English ^ tio ^ ppe
and Scottish people in Lower Canada was 150,000, and
and of French 450,000. If these estimates were j^J a
correct, Durham believed that the union of the in isss
provinces would not only give a clear English
majority, but one which would be increased every
year by immigration from the United Kingdom.

Durham was convinced, moreover, that the Durham
French, when once placed in a minority by the J^jJ^
legitimate course of events, and the working of aspira-
natural causes, "would abandon their vain hopes ^ ch f
of nationality"; for he held that the union of Cana-
Scotland with England in 1707, and the union of <Uans
Ireland with Great Britain in 1800, taught "us
how effectually the strong arm of a popular legis-
lature would compel the obedience of a refrac-
tory population, 2 and the hopelessness of success

1 Cf. Lucas, II, 307.

2 Sir Charles Lucas notes that the history of Ireland from
1838 has hardly borne this out. Lucas, II, 308, footnote.



would gradually subdue the existing animosities,

and incline the French-Canadian population to

acquiesce in their new state of political existence." l

Advan- Union of the provinces, according to Durham,

tagesof wou ld result in two advantages. The British

union to

Upper would control the new legislative assembly, as
Canada we jj as ^g legislative council; and union would
end for Upper Canada, for which there was no
-suggestion of despotic government, the disputes as
to the division, or amount of revenue, collected on
.imports into Canada at the St. Lawrence ports.

Lower Canada in the twenties and thirties of
last century, as in the second decade of the twen-
tieth, was the most self-sustaining area of the
North American continent. French-Canadians
imported little from the United Kingdom or from
the United States. The needs of the British
population in Upper Canada were greater and
more varied. Their importations from the United
Kingdom clothing and other manufactured
articles were comparatively large,
import All import duties levied by the legislatures of
the British North American provinces until 1858
revenue were for revenue only, and most of the revenues
only of the provinces were raised by these duties.
The disputes between Upper and Lower Canada
were as to the division of the duties.

Realizing that most of the duties were finally
paid by the people of Upper Canada, this prov-
ince was long aggrieved by the division of the

1 Lucas, II, 308.


money collected by the customs officers of Lower
Canada at Montreal and Quebec. Durham be-
lieved that with union the surplus revenue of
Lower Canada would meet the deficiency of
Upper Canada, and that Lower Canada would
be placed "beyond the possibility of locally
jobbing the surplus revenue." Upper Canada
would, by union, also secure access to the sea;
and Lower Canada would pay its fair share to
the cost of the canals in Upper Canada, which,
as Durham rightly insisted, were as much the
concern of one province as of the other.

The saving of public money which would be influence
effected by the union of the governmental estab- ^ on on
lishments would, Durham contended, supply pariia-
the means of conducting the general government ent
on a more efficient scale. "And," he added, in west-
summing up the advantages of union, "responsi- minster
bility of the executive would be secured by the
increased weight which the representative body
of the United Provinces would bring to bear on
the imperial government and legislature."

Durham was wrong in the assumption that where
with the union of the provinces race antagonism ^ g
and the struggle of the French-Canadians for assump-
nationality would gradually disappear. It was w *
race antagonism, and the deadlocks which ensued wrong;
from it, that forced on Confederation in 1864- **" e
1867. He was wrong also in assuming that econ- were
omy, coupled with greater efficiency, would result right
from union. But he was absolutely right when


he assumed that the increased weight of the
representative body would have influence with
the imperial government; for it was the legisla-
tive assembly of the United Provinces that in
the years from 1841 to 1849 forced the conces-
sion of responsible government an executive
dependent on a majority in the assembly and
again it was the assembly that in 1858-1859
insisted on the concession by Great Britain of
liberty to the United Provinces to frame their
own customs tariff, regardless of British manu-
facturing interests.

III. The Legislative Union of 184.0

Con- The Melbourne government acted on Durham's

om4o- S recommen dation that Upper and Lower Canada

1867 should be united in one province. By the act of

1840, which established this union, there was

created the constitution of 1840-1867. The bill

was introduced in the house of commons by Lord

John Russell. Neither in the commons, nor in

the lords, was the discussion in general from the

Whig or Conservative standpoints.

A In spite of appeals from the Duke of Welling-

supported ton>1 on ^ v e ^g nt or nme Conservatives in the

by both house of commons opposed the bill. Gladstone

parses 1 was st ^ a Conservative in 1840; but he and

at West- Stanley and Peel, also Conservatives, were as

anxious as Russell and his colleagues of the Whig

administration that Canada should have a better

1 Cf. Parker, "Sir Robert Peel," III, 379.

C 104]


form of government than experience had demon-
strated was possible under the constitution of 1791.

The debates at Westminster were character- Con-
ized by frequent expressions of the conviction ^^ e
that Great Britain could not long hold colonies colonies
with large white populations; and that Canada ^ d
would break away when it was ready. Peel inde-
and Gladstone gave expression to these convic- P endence
tions. They were anxious, in the meantime, that
Great Britain should do all that she could to
establish a beneficent political civilization for
the colonies.

Further legislation for Canada was enacted in The
the session of 1840. A bill was passed empowering ^ rgy
the legislature of the United Provinces to deal serves
with the clergy reserves without interference from j^j e for
parliament. The plan was to divide the money the new
received from the sale of the clergy reserves among J*^
the churches. The Episcopal church was to have
the largest share; next was to be the Presbyterian
portion; and smaller shares were to be assigned
to the Methodist and other churches.

This plan was adopted at once by the legisla- The
ture of the United Provinces. It was in opera- ^rves
tion until 1854, when the clergy reserves were from
secularized. From 1841 to 1854 each church was Jg^ to
free to expend the money it received at will,
whether for the support of its clergy, the erec-
tion of places of worship, or for education. 1

1 Cf. Stimson, " History of the Separation of Church and
State in Canada," 56-57.



Legis- The new constitution for the United Provinces

oTthe tnat was enacte d by parliament in 1840 provided

United (i) for a legislative council, nominated like the

Provinces l e gi s l a tive councils at Quebec and Toronto, the

members to hold office for life; and (2) for a

legislative assembly elected on the sa*me fran-

chises as the assemblies of 1792-1840. For mem-

bership of these assemblies there had been no

property qualification; for membership of the

new legislature ownership of landed property of

the value of 500 was a prerequisite.

Urban In the period from 1791 to 1840 eight towns

develop- fad come mto existence in Upper Canada. These

ment in . .

Upper were Toronto, Kingston, Hamilton, Brockville,

fr^ da Cornwall, Niagara, London, and Bytown

1791 to known since 1854 as Ottawa. With the excep-

tion of London and Ottawa, all these towns

now cities are on Lake Ontario, a fact which

indicates the importance of water transport in

the early settlement of Canada. By the imperial

act of 1840 two members were assigned to

Toronto, and one each to the other seven towns.

Urban Urban development in Lower Canada had pro-

constitu- ceec led more slowly than in Upper Canada. The

in the French-Canadian is usually not a town dweller.

new Sherbrooke, in the eastern counties of Lower

sentative Canada, counties that were settled between

system jgQQ an j jg^ o c hiefly by immigrants from the
United Kingdom, was the only new town suffi-
ciently important in 1840 for separate represen-
tation in the assembly.


Sherbrooke was assigned one member. Two
each were allotted to Montreal and Quebec, and
one to Three Rivers. There were, therefore, in
the new legislature fifteen representatives of
urban constituencies.

To each province were allotted ten members /Legis-
of the legislative council. To each province also lative
there were allotted forty-two members of the \
assembly a provision that for ten years was
a distinct advantage to Upper Canada, and a
grievance with Lower Canada. In the fifties
and sixties, when immigration had given Upper
Canada a population larger than that of the
French province, the position was reversed;
and out of this reversal of the position at the
time of the union of the provinces there was
developed the agitation in Upper Canada for rep-
resentation by population one of the most

Online LibraryEdward PorrittEvolution of the Dominion of Canada; its government and its politics → online text (page 7 of 34)