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.

The governors of those times became, from the very nature of their position, so many provincial autocrats, brought constantly into conflict with the popular body, and unable to conceive any system of government possible that did not place the province directly under the control of the imperial authorities, to whom appeals must be made in the most trivial cases of doubt or difficulty.  The representative of the crown brooked no interference on the part of the assembly with what he considered his prerogatives and rights, and as a rule threw himself into the arms of the council, composed of the official oligarchy.  In the course of time, the whole effort of the Liberal or Reform party, which gathered strength after 1815, was directed against the power of the legislative council.  We hear nothing in the assemblies or the literature of the period under review in advocacy of the system of parliamentary or responsible government which was then in existence in the parent state and which we now enjoy in British North America.  In fact, it was not until the beginning of the fourth decade of the nineteenth century that the Liberal politicians of Nova Scotia, like those of Upper Canada, recognised that the real remedy for existing political grievances was to be found in the harmonious operation of the three branches of the legislature.  Even then we look in vain for an enunciation of this essential principle of representative government in the speeches or writings of a single French Canadian from 1791 until 1838, when the constitution of Lower Canada was suspended as a result of rebellion.

During the twenty years of which I am writing the government of Canada had much reason for anxiety on account of the unsatisfactory state of the relations between Great Britain and the United States, and of the attempts of French emissaries after the outbreak of the revolution in France to stir up sedition in Lower Canada.  One of the causes of the war of 1812-15 was undoubtedly the irritation that was caused by the retention of the western posts by Great Britain despite the stipulation in the definitive treaty of peace to give them up “with all convenient speed.”  This policy of delay was largely influenced by the fact that the new republic had failed to take effective measures for the restitution of the estates of the Loyalists or for the payment of debts due to British creditors; but in addition there was probably still, as in 1763 and 1774, a desire to control the fur-trade and the Indians of the west, who claimed that the lands between the Canadian frontier and the Ohio were exclusively their hunting-grounds, not properly included within the territory ceded to the United States.  Jay’s treaty, arranged in 1794, with the entire approval of Washington, who thereby incurred the hostility of the anti-British party, was a mere temporary expedient for tiding over the difficulties between England and the United States.  Its most important result so far as it affected Canada was the giving up in

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Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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