- Province of Canada
Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = United Province of Canada
common_name = Canada
continent = North America
era = British Era
status = Colony
empire = United Kingdom
government_type = Constitutional monarchy|
event_start = Act of Union
year_start = 1841
date_start = February 10
event_end = BNA Act
year_end = 1867
date_end = July 1
event1 = Democratization
11 March, 1848
date_event3 = |
p1 = Upper Canada
flag_p1 = Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
p2 = Lower Canada
flag_p2 = Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
s1 = Canada
flag_s1 = Flag of Canada-1868-Red.svg|
image_map_caption = Map of the United Canada showing the two constituent parts.
Canada Westin orange and Canada Eastin green|
capital = Kingston 1841 - 1843
Montreal1843 - 1849 Toronto1849 - 1852
Quebec 1852 - 1856
Toronto1856 - 1858
Quebec 1859 - 1866
Ottawa1866 - 1867
common_languages = English, French
Canadian pound1841-1858 Canadian dollar1858-1867 (fixed to US dollar)|
leader1 = Victoria
title_leader = Queen
representative1 = See list of Governors General
deputy1 = See list of Premiers
title_deputy = Premier
legislature = Parliament of Canada
house1 = Legislative Council
house2 = Legislative Assembly
stat_year1 = 1860-61
stat_pop1 = 2507657
Canada West Canada East
The Province of Canada or the United Province of Canada was a in
North Americafrom 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durhamin the Report on the Affairs of British North Americafollowing the Rebellions of 1837.
The Province of Canada ceased to exist at
Canadian Confederationon July 1, 1867, when it was redivided into the modern Canadian provinces of Ontarioand Quebec.
Before 1841, the territory roughly corresponding to
Southern Ontarioin Canada belonged to the British colony of the Province of Upper Canada, while the southern portion of Quebec and the Labradorregion of Newfoundland and Labradorbelonged to the colony of the Province of Lower Canada. Upper Canada was primarily anglophone, whereas Lower Canada was francophone. The " Act of Union (1840)", passed July 23, 1840, by the British parliament and proclaimed by the Crown on February 10, 1841, merged the two colonies by abolishing the legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada and replacing them with a single legislative assembly.
While this new legislature maintained equal representation for both of the former colonies, the democratic nature of Lower Canada's elections was fundamentally flawed. Despite the francophone majority in Lower Canada, most of the power was concentrated on the anglophone minority, who exploited the lack of a
secret ballotto intimidate the electorate.
The area that had previously comprised Upper Canada was designated "
Canada West", while the area that had comprised Lower Canada was designated " Canada East". After the British North America Act was passed by British Parliament, the Province of Canada ceased to exist. Subsequently, Canada West and Canada East were renamed the Province of Ontario and the Province of Quebec, respectively.
The location of the capital city of the Province of Canada changed six times in its 26-year history. The first capital was in Kingston. The capital moved from
Montrealto Torontoin 1849 when rioters protesting the Rebellion Losses Billburned down Montreal's parliament buildings. In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the permanent capital of the Province of Canada, initiating construction of Canada's current parliament buildings. The first stage of this construction was completed in 1865, just in time to host the final session of the last parliament of the Province of Canada before Confederation.
The Act of Union (1840) made no provision for
responsible government(i.e., government responsible to the elected legislature instead of the colonial office); in fact, it explicitly gave the governor general of the province the authority to reject any bill passed by the elected assembly. Early governors general of the province were closely involved in political affairs, maintaining a right to make Executive Council and other appointments without the input of the legislative assembly, and even manipulating election results using intimidating mobs at polling stations. Secret ballot had not yet been introduced, so the democratic nature of this colony was fundamentally flawed.
However, in 1848 Governor General
James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, appointed a cabinet nominated by the majority party of the Legislative Assembly, the Baldwin-Lafontaine coalition that had won elections in January. Lord Elgin upheld the principles of responsible government by not repealing the Rebellion Losses Bill, which was highly unpopular with some English-speaking Torieswho favoured imperial over majority rule.
As Canada East and Canada West each held 42 seats in the Legislative Assembly, there was legislative deadlock between English (mainly from Canada West) and French (mainly from Canada East). Initially, the majority of the province was French, which demanded "rep-by-pop" (representation by population), which the anglophones opposed.
Once the English population, rapidly growing through immigration, exceeded the French, the English demanded rep-by-pop. In the end, the legislative deadlock between English and French led to a movement for a federal union which resulted in the broader
Canadian Confederationin 1867.
Amongst its accomplishments, the United Province of Canada negotiated the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 with the
United States, built the Grand Trunk Railway, improved the educational system in Canada West under Egerton Ryerson, reinstated French as an official language of the legislature and the courts, codified the Civil Code of Lower Canada in 1866, and abolished the seigneurial system in Canada East.
Longstanding municipal reform was another important achievement. Originally, local government in Canada West operated mainly at the district level, until 1849, when a system based on counties was introduced. In 1841, elected district councils were introduced; prior to that time, officials were appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor.
Canada under British Imperial control (1764-1867)
List of elections in the Province of Canada
List of Governors General of Canada
Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada
Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada
*Knight, David B. Choosing Canada's capital : conflict resolution in a parliamentary system. 2nd ed. (Ottawa : Carleton University Press, 1991). xix, 398 p. ISBN 0886291488.
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