Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

colonies. Thus the influx of strangers aroused the fear and jealousy of the timid colonists of the St. Lawrence. One of their writers has thus described the strange incursion: “Immediately after the Treaty of Paris, the English, who were seeking for their personal advantage to profit from the new colony, began to arrive amongst us. The greater part carried their bales of merchandise; others brought Bibles, while others the English laws. Of these last, some were lawyers, some judges, appointed, dispatched, and installed here by the crown. They arrived, some from the three kingdoms, but yet more from New England. To say the truth, they came from all parts." . . . General Murray had selected an executive council, but it was almost entirely made up of English-speaking people. There was no other plan. In a few years some even of the noblesse accepted the situation, and the pleasant story is told of Chevalier de Léry and his spouse being presented to George III in London, when the gallant monarch remarked with reference to the lady, “that if all the Canadian ladies resembled her, he had indeed made a fair conquest.”

Practically, however, the acceptance of their new masters by the FrenchCanadians was slow, though on the other hand the small part taken by the people in government under the preceding French régime was continued in the form of a mere passive obedience under the new circumstances. Their priests and religion were respected; the British system of jurisprudence was introduced, but was not popular; and to their cures the people took most of their disputes for settlement. If General Murray had been a people's favorite, he was also succeeded by one of the most popular men of his time in North America. This was the noted general and diplomat, Sir Guy Carleton. Full of Irish spirit and wit, Carleton had been a favorite in the army, had seen many a bitter fight, and was the man to maintain the confidence of the light-hearted Canadians. Seven years after Wolfe's victory, which had made him a brigadier-general, he became governor. His associates were well chosen. Chief Justice Hey was capable; and a most distinguished lawyer, Francis Maseres, of French Huguenotic blood, was a councillor for three years, and afterwards returned to a high position in England. Charles Lamb speaks of him: “Baron Maseres, who walks, or did till very lately, in the costume of the reign of George II, closes my imperfect recollection of the old benchers of the Inner Temple."

No doubt the event most important at this time was the passage of the “ Quebec Act of 1774.” It is remarkable that almost every one had something to say for or against this famous act, except the French-Canadians themselves. Pennsylvania and New York objected because the boundaries of the new province seemed to invade their claims; the merchants of London were opposed to the introduction of the French civil law; many British parliamentarians disliked the act because it made no provision for representative institutions, but looked to a government by crown officers alone; the Congress meeting in Philadelphia urged the Canadians to resent the illiberal features of the act being passed in London. Jean Baptiste, however, if allowed to smoke his pipe in peace, speak his own tongue unmolested, and obey his good father-confessor, cared nothing for his other rights. The main provisions of the act of 1774 are the preservation of their religion to the French-Canadians, the encouragement of the Protestant religion, the Tontinuation of the criminal law of England, the permission of the French code in civil causes, and the establishment of an executive council. The act declares, “It is at present inexpedient to call an assembly;" and this was probably done on the advice of Governor Carleton, who seemingly desired to conciliate the Canadians as to law and religion, but as a military man to keep the government very much out of their hands. The act is very well characterized by George Heriot (1807): “The system (introduced by the Quebec Act) was not contemplated with partiality even on the part of the statesmen by whom it was originally framed. But its temporary operation was considered as expedient on account of the symptoms of discontent which had then appeared in several of the British provinces on the continent of America.” The French-Canadians hailed the return of Governor Carleton to Canada, after the passage of the act, with demonstrations of great satisfaction. General Carleton was, however, soon compelled to lay down the pen of the diplomat, and to seize the sword in the defence of Canada. An account is given elsewhere 1 of the expedition of Generals Montgomery and Arnold to take Quebec, after the English colonies had rebelled. For the defence of Quebec Carleton had but one company of regulars and the few seamen and marines of a sloop lying at Quebec. With his power of arousing enthusiasm, Carleton raised from among the people, most of them French-Canadians, a considerable body of defenders. His favorable standing on both continents as a soldier makes it difficult to explain the treatment given him, in superseding him as commander-in-chief, and sending General Burgoyne in his place. It may have been the intention of the British ministry to push the war in the enemy's country with more vigor, and thus leave Carleton more opportunity to devote himself to the management of a fickle people. Whatever the causes, Carleton felt and wrote keenly on the matter, and, Achilles-like, retired from Canada to his tent at home in 1778. The dissatisfied governor left Canada at a most inopportune time for the country. The closing years of the Revolutionary War were of great moment to Canada.

Carleton's successor did not gain so high a reputation as the free-hearted soldier, since called “the founder and saviour of Canada.” General Frederick Haldimand, who was appointed governor on the retirement of Carleton, was born at Yverdun in Switzerland, and had entered the British service under the mercenary system so common at the time. Twenty years before the outbreak of the War of Independence he was in command of the British troops stationed at Philadelphia ; and we find him under constant appointment by Britain, for more than thirty years, in her different American colonies, including those in the West Indies. He had been in many of the

1 Ante, Vol. VI. pp. 161–7.

engagements of the Seven Years' War and the War of Independence, and after the capture of Canada was placed in command of Montreal, and then of Three Rivers in the time of General Murray. His continuous employment by Britain in important positions shows him to have been a man of ability, and a late writer is no doubt too severe when he says: “Like Clinton, Haldimand was nervous and sank under the weight of responsibil. ity, and never saw or rose to the occasion. He was a good professional officer, honest, trustworthy, but devoid of insight.” It was under Haldimand that the settlement of the loyalists took place in Canada.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

Elsewhere the condition of the loyalists in leaving the United States has been treated. Here a word as to their destination. From the seaboard States crowds of refugees fled to Nova Scotia. On the coast of Nova Scotia was built the temporary town of Shelburne, intended to be the Carthage of the fugitives, but it has long since disappeared. A strong and successful hold was taken of the river St. John by a military section of the loyalists. Here the feeling of desire for self-control became so strong that in 1784 a new

1 Ante, Vol. VII. p. 185. * [After a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds, owned by W. L. Haldimand of Montreal, who kindly per mitted it to be copied. There is a miniature likeness on ivory also owned in the family. I have traced these pictures through the aid of Mr. Brymner, the Dominion archivist. – ED.)

province was set apart, and called New Brunswick. Already strongly military and patriotic, Nova Scotia, including the separated territory with the adjoining island of St. John, called afterward Prince Edward Island, received not less than twenty thousand of the refugees to be an element of strength in her population. And not only the maritime provinces, but inland Canada received its share of this patriotic element. In 1782 the irate officer Sir Guy Carleton had been soothed in feeling, and had been appointed to the command of New York in place of Sir Henry Clinton. The old friend of the Canadians naturally directed the eyes of the fugitives, many of whom had found a rendezvous in New York, to the banks of the St. Lawrence. Two ships, guarded by the brig“ Hope" and laden with loyalists, left New York harbor in 1783, and sailed up the St. Lawrence to deposit these “pilgrim fathers” of Upper Canada at Sorel for the winter. Thither also, down the old military road along the Richelieu, came the soldiers of disbanded loyalist regiments, chiefly from the Johnson estates in New York State. The Sorel refugees in the next year took up their weary road and settled the country from Glengarry to the Bay of Quinté. By the Mohawk and past Oswego, another stream of loyalists made their way to settle along Lake Ontario, while the Niagara frontier was lined with the desperate Butler's rangers; and loyalist districts extended even to the neighborhood of Detroit along Lake. Erie. Ten thousand loyalists, men and women of determination and principle, thus peopled STATUE OF BRANT AT BRANT

FORD, ONTARIO.* and gave tone to what is now the province of Ontario, the backbone of the Dominion. For a century to come, every homestead taken up by a loyalist or his descendant was a centre of British sentiment, whatever might be the variations of opinion in the new land. Even loyalist Indians of the Six Nations were not wanting in this seed-sowing of patriotism. Joseph Brant, who had declared himself ready to “sink or swim ” with the British, led large numbers of his people to settle on the Grand River and along the Bay of Quinté. The influx of thirty thousand new colonists into British America, and most of them dependent upon the government even for daily bread, brought much anxiety to the strict-minded Governor Haldimand. The unsettled condition of the border States, especially of Vermont, and the possibilities of the untried system of republican government, gave rise to many complications. Haldimand saw everything from the soldier's standpoint. His first duty was to preserve Canada free of taint from republican opinion. No loyalist, with his permission, might settle immediately upon the frontier, and suspicious strangers must be closely supervised. A few restless spirits in Canada were in communication with the leading men of the United States. Among these was one Pierre du Calvet, a French Protestant, residing in Montreal and possessed of considerable means and property. Letters of his to General Washington were intercepted, and Du Calvet, with others, was promptly arrested. This proved a most troublesome matter, the French seignior carrying his case afterward to Britain, much to the distress of the governor. A most extraordinary person involved in the Du Calvet case, and a marplot in all Canadian affairs in the Colonial office, was a worthless Jesuit priest named Pierre Roubaud. The Du Calvet case, upon which much has been said, was ended by the principal being lost at sea on his return from Britain to Canada.

* After a photograph.

[graphic]

After eight years of turmoil and indefatigable, and let us say not unavailing, labor, the martinet governor returned to England, to be succeeded by the idol of the French-Canadian people, Sir Guy Carleton, but now with his services fully recognized, since he had been raised to the peerage as Lord Dorchester. A pressing work was awaiting the practical-minded governor on his return to Canada. Just as the masterful loyalists to the north of the Bay of Fundy could not be satisfied till they had secured New Brunswick as a province to be moulded after their own thought, so in a still stronger degree did the fathers of Upper Canada desire to be separated from their French fellow-subjects, and to found a new province and new institutions after their own heart. But in political rearrangements it is inevitable that the greater good to many may crush out the life of some. The English-speaking people who had gathered into Montreal and Quebec now formed, twenty-five years after the Treaty of Paris, a considerable body. They had hailed the coming of the loyalists to the province of Quebec as giving them support and countenance in the face of French ideas, but now to have, as the western loyalists wished, the province divided roused their strongest opposition. Lord Dorchester had, however, the penetration to see that not only would a loyalist province on the St. Lawrence strengthen British interests in America, but it was plain that the narrow Quebec Act of 1774 had served its purpose, and freer institutions might with advantage be given to the people, in response to the petitions which had been forwarded to London for representation. The English-speaking people of Montreal and Quebec were represented by a doughty champion, Adam Lymburner, a Quebec merchant, and he fought against the proposed change with Scottish pertinacity. The opposition was, however, to no purpose ; the die was cast; and the “ Constitutional Act of 1791,” dividing Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada, became law, fixing for each province two houses of parliament, namely, a legislative council of appointed members and an assembly chosen by the people from fixed districts. Provision was made

« AnteriorContinuar »