George Bryce.

A short history of the Canadian people online

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l^ioHul de I'lnstitution Ethnoffraphiquey Parts; President Manitoba Historical Socit

rresponding Member American Historical Association ^ and of Montreal Celtic Soviet >/ ;

Author^ ** Manitoba^ its Infanct/, Growth^ and Present Condition '" (X883) ;

Article, '^Manitoba" in *' Encijclopeadia liritannica ;"

" Fire Porta of Winnipeg *' (Royal Societij) ;

'* Mound HuildcrSj'* ^\c.





[^1^^ riffhis reserced^


Croicn 8vo, with Illustrations and Maps, 7s. 6d.


Its Infancy, Growth, and Secent Condition.

188, Fleet Street, E.G.


Canadians desire to know more of tlio early condition of
their fathers, of the elements from which the people have
sprung, of the material, social, and religious forces at
work to make Canada what she is, of the picturesque or
romantic in deed or sentiment, and of the growth of the
great principles of liberty by which the nation is main-

The writer has departed from the usual custom in
previous Canadian histories of giving whole chapters on
the war of 1812 — 1815; the rise and fall of administra-
tions, whose single aim seemed to be to grasp power; and
on petty discussions which have left no mark upon the

Instead of making his work a '^drum and trumpet
history," or a " mere record of faction fights,^ ^ the author
aims at giving a true picture of the aborigiual inhabi-
tants, the early explorers and fur-traders, and the scenes
of the French regime; at tracing the events of the
coming of the Loyalists, who were at once the " Pilgrim
Fathers " of Canada, and the " Jacobites " of America ;
and at following in their struggles and improvement the
bands of sturdy immigrants, as year after year they
sought homes in the wilderness, and by hundreds of
thousands filled the land.

While a sympathizer with movements for the wide
extension of true freedom, and rejoicing that "through
the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day,"
yet the author is a lover of the antique, and finds interest

A 2

8721 Gl

iv Preface.

in the unsuccessful experiments of introducing a nohlesse
into New France, a race of baronets in Nova Scotia, and
a '^Family Compact ^^ government into tlie several pro-
vinces of Canada.

It has not been possible to give authorities for the many
statements made. Suffice it to say that in the great
majority of cases the " original " sources have been con-
sulted, and some of the more reliable authorities have
been named in the " references " at the head of each

In the Appendices, Chronological Annals, and Index,
assistance for the reader in consulting the work will be

To make history picturesque must be the aim of the
modern historian. The time has gone by when mere
compilation of facts, however accurate, and collections of
undigested material will be taken as history. History
must be a picture of the working out of human life
under its conditions of infinite variety and complexity.

The author aims at viewing Canada from a " Dominion"
standpoint. Being a Canadian, born and bred, he wishes
to portray the beginnings and growth of life, in the
several provinces, from Halifax to Victoria, with patriotic
feeling. His extensive acquaintance with the various
parts of Canada, and his connections with learned circles
in Britain and the United States, have given him ex-
ceptional opportunities, in consulting useful manuscripts
and original documents.

The author desires to return warmest thanks to Justin
Winsor, Esq., Librarian of Harvard College, Cambridge ;
Dr. Green, of Massachusetts Historical Society; M.
Sylvain, of Ottawa Parliamentary Library ; Douglas
Brymnei', Esq., Archivist, Ottawa; and to Messrs. Bain
and Houston, Librarians, of Toronto Public and Parlia-
mentary Libraries. The services of these scholarly and
obliging gentlemen have been invaluable to him.





Section I. — Name and Extent ...... 1

„ II. — Boundaries of Canada ...... 6

„ III. — General Sketch of tlie Provinces .... 16



Section I. — Geological Data ....... 82

,, II. — Myths ....... . . 37

„ III.— Traditions 44

„ IV. — Notable Voyages and Discoveries ... 55



Section I.— The Mound Builders 85

„ II. — The present Indian tribes ..... 88

,, III.- — Domestic life of the Indians .... 99

„ IV.— Language, Manners, and Customs . . . 109

,, V. — Social, Political, and Religious Oi'ganization . 118



Section I. — The French Colonies of Acadia and Canada . 128

„ II. — English Cavalier and Puritan Colonies . . 149

„ III. — Colonies of various origins 162

vi Contents.




Section I. — Governor and People 171

„ II. — The Churcti and Missionaries .... 177

„ III. — Tlie marvellous Opening of the "West . . . 181
„ lY. — Indian Hostilities . . . . . .195

„ Y. — Wars and truces ending in the Conquest of 1759 202
„ YI. — The French Canadian people .... 221


Britain's colonial policy and loss of supremacy in ameeica.

Section I. — Constitutions and Conventions .... 225
„ II. — Causes of the American Revolt .... 232
„ III. — The Revolutionary War as it affected Canada . 242



Section I. — The coming of the Loyalists .... 248
„ II.— The Friends of the Loyalists . . . .262
„ III.— The Life of the Loyalists 274


THE king's country — A LAND OF DESIRE. (1796 — 1817.)

Section I. — Effect of Simcoe's policy 281

„ II.— From Old World to New 288

„ III. — Work of noted Colonizers 291

„ lY.— Political and Social Life 298

„ Y.— The War of Defence (1812—1815) . . .310



Section I. — The great Fur-trading Companies . . . 327
„ II.— The Life of the Traders . . . . .333
„ III. — Famous Journeys through the Fur-traders' Land 339

Contents. vii


THE MAKING OF CANADA. (1817 — 1835.)


Section I. — The great Immigration 346

„ II. — The Family Compact and its Opponents . . 357
„ III.— The struggle for Freedom 368



Section I. — Sedition in Lower Canada 380

„ II. — The Rebels in Upper Canada .... 385
„ III.— The New Constitution 392



Section I. — Growth in Population ..... . 398

„ II.— The Stormy Sea of Politics 407

„ III.— Keel, Lock, and Rail 420

„ IV.— Field, Forest, Mine, and Sea ... . 427

,, V. — Commercial, Educational, and Social Progress . 432

„ VI; — The Federal Union accomplished . . . 440



Section I. — The Affairs of State .

II. — Acquisition of the Great North-West
III. — The National Highway
IV. — Growth of a Military Sentiment
V. — Literature, Science, and Art
VI. — Religion and Morals
VII. — The destiny of Canada


Appendix A. — Provisions of British North America Act . 495

,, B. — Comparative Table of Governors of Canada . 508

Chronological Annals 511

Index 621

Map of the Dominion of Canada.






Section I. — TJie Name and Extent.

(References : Charlevoix, " Histoire de la Nouvelle France,"
6 vols., Paris, 1744; Hennepin, " Noavelle Decouverte," &c.,
Utreclit, 1698; Sclioolcraft's "Indian Tribes of North America,"
6 vols., Philadelphia, 1853.)

It was a Frenchman of Brittany who, first of Europeans
in historic times, set foot upon Canadian soil and claimed
the country for his king-, and so for many of his fellow-
countrymen who afterwards came to make New France
their home. It was a company of English adventurers
on Hudson Bay who for two centuries kept for their
king and country the almost continuous sovereignty of
the land bestowed upon them, and it was a young English
general, dying in the hour of victory on the plains near
Quebec, who engraved the name of England on Canada
— the fairest jewel in the British crown. It was brave
Eraser and Montgomery Highlanders, and restless
Scottish pioneers, who came as early settlers, the former
to carry with French voyageurs the fur trade from
Montreal to distant Athabasca, the latter to reclaim the
wilderness along the sea- shore of Nova Scotia and Prince
Edward Island, as well as elsewhere, who gave elements
of energy and thrift to Canada. It was the sweetest


2 A Short History of

poet of Ireland wlio, gliding with the boatmen down the
beautiful St. Lawrence, sang the best-known Canadian
song in the land whither many of his countrymen have
since come to find freedom and prosperity. Last, and
perhaps most important, it was American loyalists who,
sacrificing worldly goods, preserved their honour to be
an inheritance to their children in New Brunswick and
elsewhere along the sea, as well as to be the leaders in
laying the foundations of a new community upon the
shores of the lakes Erie and Ontario. Ours is the duty
of telling the story of this gathering of the races from
the several sources named, and of the consolidation of
them and their descendants into one people bearing the
name Canadian, and who have, under the shelter of
Britain, extended the rule of Canada to a region stretch-
ing between the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans,
including well-nigh half of North America.

No name could have been more appropriate for this
vast territory, for the name Canada goes back to withiu
half a century of the discovery of the continent by
Colombo. We find it first used in Cartier's account of
his voyage given by Ramusio, 1556. It was used for a
century and a half before we find any allusion to its
meaning, and this no doubt accounts for the diff'erence of
opinion on the subject. It is in the writings of Father
Hennepin in 1698, that we are told " that the Spaniards
were the first who discovered Canada ; but at their first
arriving, having found nothing considerable in it, they
abandoned the country and called it ' II Capo di Nada,'
i.e. a cape of nothing ; hence, by coiTuptiou, sprang
the word Canada, which we use in all the maps.''^

About half a century later. Father Charlevoix, in 1744,
states that the Bay of Chaleur was formerly called the
" Bay of Spaniards," and an ancient tradition goes that
the Castillians had entered there before Cartier, and
that when they there perceived no appeai-auce of mines,
they pronounced two words, " Aca nada,^' nothing here,
meaning no gold or silver; the savages afterwards re-
peated these words to the French, who thus came to
look upon Canada as the name of the country.

THE Canadian People. 3

As regards the voyages of the Spaniards to which
reference is made^ it has been usual to identify them with
those of Velasquez to the coast of Canada. It lias now
been found that the reputed voyages of this Spaniard
are spurious, so that it is evident no reliance can be
placed on this as the origin of the name Canada.

Father Charlevoix states in a note that " some derive
this name from the Iroquois word 'Kaunata/ which is
pronounced ' Cannada/ and signifies a collection of dwell-
ings." This dei-ivation is borne out by Schoolcraft,
who states that the Mohawk word for town is "Ka-na-ta,"
the Cayuga "Ka-ne-tae," and the Oneida '^Ku-na-diah/'
and these were three members of the Iroquois confederacy.
The use of the word Kannata for village, in Brant's
translation of the Gospel by Mark into Mohawk, in the
latest years of last century, confirms this derivation;
while the detection of Iroquois influence by recent in-
vestigators in the villages of Hochelaga and Stadacona,
at the time when Cartier first visited them, renders this
explanation reasonably certain.

Canada continued sole name of the country discovered
by the French on the banks of the St. Lawrence until
1609, in which year the Canadian explorer, Champlain,
having given at Fontainebleau before the French king,
Henry IV., an account of the country, it received the
name " La Nouvelle France.'^ As the French explora-
tions were continued up the St. Lawrence and along the
shores of the great lakes, the name Canada or Nouvelle
France became one of wider significance, until towards
the end of the seventeenth century it meant all the
territory claimed by the French southward to the English
possessions, from which it might be said in general
terms the Ohio River divided it, and west until the
Mississippi was reached.

West of the Mississippi lay Louisiana, seemingly
claimed by the French by virtue of their explorations by
way of the mouth of the Mississippi. Northward the
territory from St. Anthony Falls, on the Father of Waters,
was practically unknown till the third decade of the
eighteenth century. The northern boundary of Canada

B 2

4 A Short History of

was at tlie time of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, regarded
as being described by the height of land between the
lakes and Hudson Bay. That ti'eaty provided that
commissioners should be appointed to lay out this line,
but this was never cam'ied out.

It was after the American Revolution, in what, so far
as Canada is concerned, may be called the Cession rather
than the Treaty of Paris, that the vast territory south
and west of the great lakes to the Ohio and Mississippi
rivers was deliberately given up to the United States.
This seems all the more surprising and unfortunate
when it is remembered that the British Parliament had
in 1774 extended, by its own legislation, the boundaries
of the then Province of Quebec to the wider limits named.
A few years after the Treaty of Paris, when Canada had
been so shorn of her wide domain, a division was made
of the territory remaining, by the Imperial Pai-liamenfc,
into Lower Canada, containing chiefly the French popula-
tion, and Upper Canada, that portion bounded mainly by
the Ottawa River, the Upper St. Lawrence, and the lakes.

It was only in 1867-73 that the name of Canada
was given to a wider region than ever before, under the
rule of a dominion or confederated government. The
Canada, then, of the united Canadian people is the
result of the natural ties and patriotic statesmanship of
those attached to the British Crown upon the North
American continent. It was on Dominion Day, July 1st,
1867, that the Royal proclamation, dated on the 22nd
May preceding at Windsor Castle, joined the four leading
members of the Confederation, Ontario, Quebec, Nova
Scotia, and New Brunswick, into a united Canada. This
union not only gave relief from political difficulties then
existing, but consolidated British power upon this con-
tinent, and awoke to life in the Dominion a young
national existence, afterwards bringing in the North-
west, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia.

True there are those who lament that among Canadians
there is not a stronger sentiment of nationality. There
does not seem much ground for this complaint when it
is remembered that there were in 1881, out of 4,324,810

THE Canadian People. 5

of a population in the Doiniuion, uo less than 3,715,492
native-born Canadians, and when it can be stated that
there is a far stronger feeling of unity in the Dominion
now after its short career of eighteen years, than there
was in the United States in 1812, when the repubho
had been twice eighteen years a nation.

It may be admitted that the Dominion lacked the
fierce enthusiasm with which the thirteen British colonies,
throwing off the control of the mother country, began
their career in 1776, with numbers in both cases not
widely differing ; but it has been Canada's advantage
that under the eegis of Great Britain she has been com-
pelled to explore no unknown sea of political uncertainty
in prosecuting her way.

The new capital at Ottawa, removed fi^om the American
frontier, and fairly central for the confederated provinces,
had been Queen Victoria's choice, and the lofty and costly
towers crowning the height of Parliament Hill are a
centre of national life worthy of any people.

Parliament, like its model in Westminster, is made up
of the three estates, the Queen and the two Houses. By
the quinquennial appointment of a British nobleman of
unblemished character and high distinction as Governor-
General the Queen represents herself worthily at Ottawa,
and delivers the country from the civil revolution of a
ballot-box election, which periodically convulses the
United States. By the appointment, aut vitmn aut
culpam, of eighty-one members by the Governor in
Council, from among the men of wealth and political
experience of the Dominion, the Senate, or Upper House,
is created, without the evils that flow from a hereditary
aristocracy, and serving as a protection to the weaker

The 211 members of the Commons^ or Lower House,
are chosen by the people by ballot every five years at
least, from constituencies adjusted every decade accord-
ing to the variability of the population in the several
provinces. The Dominion Government appoints the
Judges of Chancery and Queen's Bench throughout the
country, by which the evils of an elected justiciary ave

A Short History of

escaped, and a Supreme Court of Appeal lias been con-
stituted at Ottawa ; while, in order that no subject may be
denied justice, and that the learning and freedom from
popular clamour of British judges may be available, an
appeal is allowed in certain cases to the Privy Council in

The military and naval equipment of Canada, which,
with a trifling exception, is not of the nature of a standing
army, is under the direction of the Dominion entirely,
thus escaping complications between the different pro-
vinces ; and the customs, trade, and currency are under
the same authority. Each of the provinces existing
before confederation has control of its public lands,
forests, and mines, though the fisheries of the whole
country, along with the lands, forests, and mines of
Manitoba and the north-western territories, are con-
trolled by the Dominion. Matters relating to social life,
morality, and education are under the jurisdiction of
the several provinces, though the full control of the
Indian population is under the Dominion. It is not to
be supposed that in the heat of political feeling no con-
flicts should have arisen between the Central Government
at Ottawa and the several Provincial Governments, but
a reference to the British Privy Council has secured an
impartial settlement of these difficulties.

Section II. — The Boundaries of Canada,

(References : Treaty of Paris, 1783; "Treaties affecting Bound-
aries, &c," Ramsay, 1885 ; " Boundaries formerly in Dispute," Sir
Francis Hincks, 1885; "Boundaries of United States," &c. ;
" United States Government," 1885; "International Law," W. E.
Hall, 1880.)

It is of prime importance to consider the limits of this
larger Canada, and to refer to the circumstances under
w^hich these boundaries were settled. During the past
100 years the numerous treaties, conventions, and com-
missions in which Britain and the United States have
taken part have largely been occupied with the adjusting
of the international boundary line.

The most noticeable thing about these negotiations is

THE Canadian People. 7

the fact that it was the former possession of Canada by
France, and the line of cleavage thus clearly marked
between Canada and the British Colonies, that led
Canada to cling to Britain when her own colonies
deserted her. It was the existence of boundary lines,
more or less sharply defined, between the English and
French Colonies which supplied the data for deciding
the boundary line of Canada. Having succeeded in
gaining independence, and this with the hearty approba-
tion of a very important part of the British people them-
selves, it was in the next year after the British surrender
at Yorktown that the United States' commissionex'S suc-
ceeded in obtaining a provisional agreement as to the
leading principles on which the boundary should be
decided. The Ministry then in power had as two of its
leading members Lord Shelbourne and Charles James
Fox, and the very existence of that Ministry was due to
the fact that the British people desired to have a harmo-
nious settlement of these differences with the rebellious

A British merchant named Oswald, well acquainted
with America, was the commissioner for Britain, and the
negotiations were conducted in Paris. On behalf of the
United States there were Franklin, Adams, and Jay,
and it is not too much to say that the desire of the
British people for peace with their own flesh and blood
beyond the sea, as well as the remarkable ability of the
American commissioners, gave Canada much less terri-
tory than she should have had.

The result of the negotiations was the memorable
Treaty of 178o, usually known as the Treaty of Paris.
In this the agreement as to boundary was very vague
in some parts. This was probably inevitable from the
unexplored character of the vast territory under con-
sideration, and many a subsequent dispute has grown
out of this want of definite description.

There was a dispute as to the line drawn fi'om the
north-west angle of Nova Scotia, which was defined as
an angle formed by a straight line north from the source
of St. Croix River to the Highlands. The line I'unning

8 A Short History of

thence along the height of land to the north-west head
of the Connecticut River, was almost impossible of
interpretation. This part of the boundary was not
settled for nearly sixty years afterwards. Running from
the point reached on the Connecticut River, and down
the river to the 45° N. lat., the line followed the forty-
fifth parallel to the St. Lawrence. The middle of the
St. Lawrence, and of the rivers and lakes from this point
up to the entrance of Lake Superior, formed a most
natural boundary. From the St. Mary's River the line
of division ran through the middle of the lake, but to
the north of Isle Royale, and then indeed the description
became vague.

A certain Long Lake is mentioned as an objective
point, but no one has ever known of a Long Lake. From
this supposed point the line was to have run along the
watery way by which at last Lake of the Woods is reached,
whose north-west corner was the point aimed at. A
west-bearing line was then to be drawn until the Missis-
sippi was reached, but the source of the Mississippi was
found to be three or four degrees to the south of the north-
west angle named.

No further attempt to fix a boundary was needed west-
ward, for to the west of the Mississippi to the south of
49° N., a line seemingly chosen as very nearly excluding
the sources of the Missouri, lay Louisiana, claimed by
the French; and to the territory west of the Rocky
Mountains the United States at the time of the TVeaty of
Paris laid no claim.

The indefiniteness of the boundary line described, and
the subsequent puixhase of Louisiana and the country on
the Pacific coast by the United States, gave rise to dis-
pute after dispute. The definition of the Maine boundary,
the finding of the line from Lake Superior to Lake of
the Woods, the line to the forty-ninth parallel, and the
Oregon difficulty, including in it the San Juan affair,
were the chief of these.

In the Treaty of London, 1794, known as that of
The Maine amity and commerce, the question arose which
Boundary, was the true St. Croix River, whose source

THE Canadian People. 9

was named as a starting point. Commissioners were

Online LibraryGeorge BryceA short history of the Canadian people → online text (page 1 of 45)