On the other hand, the delay of fourteen years after the Capitulation of 1760 and the unwarrantable extension of the provincial boundaries were cardinal errors of the most disastrous kind. The delay, filled with a futile attempt at mistaken Americanization, bred doubts and dissensions not only between the two races but between the different kinds of French Canadians. When the hour of trial came disintegration had already gone too far. The mistake about the boundaries was equally bad. The western wilds ought to have been administered by a lieutenant-governor under the supervision of a governor-general. Even leasing them for a short term of years to the Hudson’s Bay Company would have been better than annexing them to a preposterous province of Quebec. The American colonists would have doubtless objected to either alternative. But both could have been defended on sound principles of administration; while the sudden invasion of a new and inflated Quebec into the colonial hinterlands was little less than a declaration of war. The whole problem bristled with enormous difficulties, and the circumstances under which it had to be faced made an ideal solution impossible. But an earlier Quebec Act, without its outrageous boundary clause, would have been well worth the risk of passing; for the delay led many French Canadians to suppose, however falsely, that the Empire’s need might always be their opportunity; and this idea, however repugnant to their best minds and better feelings, has persisted among their extreme particularists until the present day.
Carleton’s first eight years as governor of Canada were almost entirely occupied with civil administration. The next four were equally occupied with war; so much so, indeed, that the Quebec Act could not be put in force on the 1st of May 1775, as provided for in the Act itself, but only bit by bit much later on. There was one short session of the new Legislative Council, which opened on the 17th of August. But all men’s minds were even then turned towards the Montreal frontier, whence the American invasion