Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 395 pages of information about Canada under British Rule 1760-1900.

We need not linger on the literary output of those early times.  Joseph Bouchette, surveyor-general, had made in the first part of the century a notable contribution to the geography and cartography of Lower Canada.  Major Richardson, who had served in the war of 1812 and in the Spanish peninsula, wrote in 1833 “Wacousta or the Prophecy,” a spirited romance of Indian life.  In Nova Scotia the “Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick, of Slickville”—­truly a remarkable original creation in humorous literature—­first appeared in a Halifax paper.  The author, Judge Haliburton, also published as early as 1829 an excellent work in two volumes on the history of his native province.  Small libraries and book stores could only be seen in the cities.

In these early times of the provinces, when books and magazines were rarities, the newspaper press naturally exercised much influence on the social and intellectual conditions of the people at large.  By 1838 there were no less than forty papers printed in the province of Upper Canada alone, some of them written with ability, though too often in a bitter, personal tone.  In those days English papers did not circulate to any extent in a country where postage was exorbitant.  People could hardly afford to pay postage rates on letters.  The poor settler was often unable to pay the three or four shillings or even more, imposed on letters from their old homes across the sea; and it was not unusual to find in country post-offices a large accumulation of dead letters, refused or neglected on account of the expense.  The management of the post-office by imperial officers was one of the grievances of the people of the provinces generally.  It was carried on for the benefit of a few persons, and not for the convenience or solace of the many thousands who were anxious for news of their kin across the ocean.



SECTION I.—­The union of the Canadas and the establishment of responsible government.

Lord Durham’s report on the affairs of British North America was presented to the British government on the 31st January, 1839, and attracted an extraordinary amount of interest in England, where the two rebellions had at last awakened statesmen to the absolute necessity of providing an effective remedy for difficulties which had been pressing upon their attention for years, but had never been thoroughly understood until the appearance of this famous state paper.  A legislative union of the two Canadas and the concession of responsible government were the two radical changes which stood out prominently in the report among minor suggestions in the direction of stable government.  On the question of responsible government Lord Durham expressed opinions of the deepest political wisdom.  He found it impossible “to understand how any English statesman could have ever imagined that representative

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