Province of Canada


Province of Canada

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = United Province of Canada
common_name = Canada
ag
continent = North America
region = Central Canada
country = Canada
era = British Era
status = Colony
status_text=
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
date_event1 = 11 March, 1848
event2 =
date_event2 =
event3 =
date_event3 = |
life_span =
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|


flag_type =


flag_type =



symbol =
symbol_type =




image_map_caption = Map of the United Canada showing the two constituent parts. Canada West in orange and Canada East in green|
capital = Kingston 1841 - 1843
Montreal 1843 - 1849
Toronto 1849 - 1852
Quebec 1852 - 1856
Toronto 1856 - 1858
Quebec 1859 - 1866
Ottawa 1866 - 1867

national_motto =
national_anthem =
common_languages = English, French
religion =
currency = Canadian pound 1841-1858
Canadian dollar 1858-1867 (fixed to US dollar)|

leader1 = Victoria
title_leader = Queen
year_leader1 =
year_representative1 =
representative1 = See list of Governors General
title_representative = Governor General
deputy1 = See list of Premiers
year_deputy1 =
title_deputy = Premier
legislature = Parliament of Canada
house1 = Legislative Council
house2 = Legislative Assembly

stat_year1 = 1860-61
stat_area1 =
stat_pop1 = 2507657
political_subdiv= Canada West Canada East
footnotes =

The Province of Canada or the United Province of Canada was a in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham in the Report on the Affairs of British North America following the Rebellions of 1837.

The Province of Canada ceased to exist at Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867, when it was redivided into the modern Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

History

Before 1841, the territory roughly corresponding to Southern Ontario in Canada belonged to the British colony of the Province of Upper Canada, while the southern portion of Quebec and the Labrador region of Newfoundland and Labrador belonged 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 ballot to 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.

Capitals

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 Montreal to Toronto in 1849 when rioters protesting the Rebellion Losses Bill burned 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.

;Chronology
*Kingston 1841 - 1843
*Montreal 1843 - 1849
*Toronto 1849 - 1852
*Quebec City 1852 - 1856
*Toronto 1856 - 1858
*Quebec City 1859 - 1866
*Ottawa 1866 - 1867

Responsible Government

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 Tories who favoured imperial over majority rule.

Legislative deadlock

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 Confederation in 1867.

Accomplishments

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.

Population

[http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/98-187-XIE/colonial.pdf]

See also

;Political history
* Canada under British Imperial control (1764-1867)
* List of elections in the Province of Canada
* List of Governors General of Canada

;Political structure
* Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada
* Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada

Further reading

*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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