Imagens das páginas

for the maintenance of a Protestant clergy, and the governors of the separate provinces were empowered to "erect parsonages and endow them, and to present incumbents of ministers of the Church of England.” The chief features of the old “Quebec Act," except the government by the executive council, remained in force. The news of the passage of this act of 1791 was well received in Quebec. The city was en fête. All made the good resolution that the distinction of “old” and “new” subjects now be forgotten. One hundred and sixty gentlemen - French and English — attended a public dinner in Quebec, and formed themselves into the “Constitutional Club."

The old circle of the British provinces had been rent by the American Revolution, but a new congeries of dependencies was rapidly forming, for there were now the four maritime provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, and there were the newly constituted Upper and Lower Canadas. These all, ruling their own local affairs, found their bond of connection to the mother country through the governor-general, the commander-in-chief of the forces, and a governor for each province appointed by the Home office. The proclamation made by George III in 1763, for the purpose of inducing loyal settlers by generous and free gifts of land, was continued with modifications after the coming of the loyalists. The unsettled condition of the several States along the Canadian border gave hope that a large immigration would, if encouraged, follow in the wake of the loyalists; for even Washington and the other leaders of the young republic were not blind to its besetting dangers, while it was quite a foregone conclusion among the governing class in Canada that the new government by the people must be a disastrous failure.

The officials chosen to rule the British provinces were, in the main, able men, though of intensely strong national prejudices. Over Nova Scotia was set as lieutenant-governor the sturdy old apostle of force, Sir John Wentworth. Sir John was a colonist born, had held high office, even that of governor in his native colony of New Hampshire. Trained in the old colonial official school, he was, though somewhat despotic, a good executive officer. For sixteen years he governed Nova Scotia. The pomp and show of the former days were fully maintained, and with his courtly manners he played his part well. As governor he had a horror of popular gatherings, on the ground that, being made up of “uneducated tradesmen, laborers, and farmers,” they could only end in vulgar babble. The popular leader, Mr. Cottnam Tonge, was a thorn in the side of the oligarchist governor, and probably the mean of truth lay between the contention of the narrow but good-hearted ruler and the vigorous tribune of the people. During Sir John Wentworth’s régime a large immigration came to Nova Scotia. Begun by the imperial colony of Halifax, Nova Scotia had shortly after received some two thousand German colonists, and even before the Revolution a considerable population had come from Boston, Philadelphia, and Rhode Island to fill up the vacant Acadian lands. A stream of Celtic immigration had set in to the since famous county of Pictou in the company brought by the ship “Hector” in 1773; and this, stimulated by the agricultural distress in Scotland, led to an enormous increase of population, not only in this county, but in Cape Breton also. This sturdy people have always since vied with the loyalists in their devotion to the crown. A less desirable element of population, consisting of thousands of freed negroes from the colonies and of Jamaica maroons, vexed the soul of bluff Sir John, and his “thorough” plan of dealing with them resulted in the exportation of the bulk of these vicious and troublesome settlers to the negro rendezvous of Sierra Leone in Africa. Nothing more than the usual irritating features of infantile colonial life characterized the history of the other provinces encircling the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, although indications were not wanting thus early in Prince Edward Island of the worrying contest, to extend over three generations, as to the land tenure of the island.

Meanwhile, in Lower Canada, under General Prescott, who had succeeded the veteran Lord Dorchester, the French population were learning to accept British institutions. A considerable English-speaking element was also gathering in Lower Canada, especially in the districts known as the Eastern Townships. Undoubtedly the task of governing Lower Canada and of converting an alien race into British subjects was greatly promoted by the great gulf formed between the Canadians and their mother country by the French Revolution. French Canada was unmoved by the atheism of Voltaire or the philosophy of Rousseau ; it was, in truth, in opinion the France of Louis XIV. The Churchmen of Canada were thus wrenched suddenly round from a French allegiance, and they brought with them their trustful flocks. It does not surprise us to find the French Bishop of Quebec, five years after the French Revolution, “thanking God the colony was English.” When the strong hand of Prescott, however, had given place, in the early years of this century, to weak administrators, jealousy and desire for place led to the establishment of the first French newspaper, Le Canadien, in 1806, and in the heat of passion incited the French-Canadians to call their British fellow-colonists "étrangers et intrus.” A conciliatory ruler could even yet have quieted the rising storm, but two years after the founding of Le Canadien there arrived in Quebec the stern old Scottish soldier Sir James Craig as governor-general. The firm disciplinarian, who had led his troops through the Peninsula, India, and Egypt in the French wars, had only contempt for the French clatter in the little parliament at Quebec, and dismissed the house to their constituents to learn wisdom. The new assembly was, as might have been expected, more fierce than

The governor took the summary method of throwing the violent editor of Le Canadien into prison, and along with him the more prominent and, as the governor considered, seditious members of the house. The war cloud looming up in the west, however, led the British authorities to prefer the recall of the honest old soldier as governor, to having the “dignity of the king's government” upheld in so unskilful a manner.

[ocr errors]



But it was in Upper Canada, in the period following the coming of the loyalists, that the greatest changes took place. Their trials had surely been sufficient in their hasty journey into the wilderness. But further hardships were in store for them. The third year after their arrival was a famous year. Their small plantings on the new clearings in the forest were an absolute failure ; and for a generation after, the matrons recited the narrow escape from starvation through which they passed in the “hungry year of 1788. The year 1792 saw the organization of the loyalist province of Upper Canada under the “ Constitutional Act.” With great appropriateness the man chosen as governor of the new province was John Graves Simcoe, a loyalist officer of the Revolution. The son of a British officer, who had died of disease before Quebec in Wolfe's campaign, the young officer had seen service in the regular army, had been wounded, and had, after his recovery, raised and led the Queen's Rangers. He had, at the close of the war, returned to England, and was a member for Cornwall in the parliament in which the act of 1791 was passed. Governor Simcoe, while intensely loyal in opinion, was a thoroughly practical man, and had evidently the grasp of mind to lay good foundations for the future in the young province.

GOVERNOR SIMCOE.* Upper Canada was at that time a vast forest, with a few clearings along the lake shore. Simcoe called the first provincial parliament to meet him at Niagara on the 17th of September, 1792. Of eight acts passed, the three most important were for the establishment and maintenance of English law. The province was divided into counties, the lands were thrown open for settlement, and the governor issued, in the very year of his appointment, a proclamation inviting settlers; taking care, however, to exact from each landholder the oath, “I, A. B., do promise and declare that I will maintain and defend to the utmost of my power the authority of the king in his parliament as the supreme legislature of this province.” The sanguine governor was not mistaken in regard to his invitation. Led by a German, Berczy, a thrifty band of German colonists from New York came over, and were the precursors of thousands who followed them to different parts of Upper Canada. Across the Niagara frontier came convoys of emigrants' wagons, herds of cattle, household goods, and invariably large families of children, to receive a welcome to the Niagara or

* Follows the portrait engraved in Scadding's Toronto of Old (Toronto, 1873).


London peninsula, or the district about Toronto. The land was largely unknown, and Simcoe with remarkable energy personally visited the different parts, chose for the new military depot London, as remote from the frontier, and on the new-world Thames selected a spot to be named Chatham as the dockyard for ships for the inland waters. Toronto, too, in his time was selected, after some discussion, as capital. The pioneer governor had a passion for road-making; and “Governor's Road,” Dundas Street, and Yonge Street were laid out and, to some extent, built by soldiers of the Queen's Rangers under the direction of the people's governor. Though but four years governor, and in a province without laws or organization, and with a territory unknown except to the red man, marvels of advancement were wrought by the energetic and patriotic soldier. It is not strange that he should have been called “the father of constitutional, pure, and progressive government in Upper Canada.” Though the population of the infant province had risen from twelve to thirty thousand during the short tenure of office by Governor Simcoe, the benefits of his policy were reaped in increasing measure after his departure. In spite of weak administrators and greedy land speculators, and the narrow-minded and selfish policy of the promoters of the “Sedition Act,” passed in 1804, which gave power to arrest any person under suspicion who had been less than six months in the province, settlers poured in like a food. They were as miscellaneous as they were numerous. During the last years of the century a band of royalists from France, of very high rank, formed a settlement a few miles north of Toronto. These included Comte de Puisaye, whom Lamartine declared to be an “orator, diplomatist, and soldier,” Comte de Chalûs, who had been a major-general in the royal army of France, General Farcy, and others. These, known as the French émigrés, proved themselves unable to hew out a fortune from the forests of the new world. More practical, though less celebrated, was the colony of Highland soldiers and settlers, who, following their Roman Catholic chaplain Macdonell, afterwards their bishop, came forth to fill up the settlements along the St. Lawrence, which gave the name of the “ Fencible regiment” to the district of Glengarry. An associate of Governor Simcoe in his explorations of the country had been a young Irish officer, Thomas Talbot. The vision of the stately forest trees of western Canada never left him, even when he had returned to the Green Isle. A few years after and early in the century, the somewhat quaint young Irishman emigrated to the new province, took up a tract of land on the shores of Lake Erie, and was successful before the end of his life in settling twenty-eight large townships. Colonel Talbot was long a legislative councillor of Upper Canada, and gave his name to the main artery of settlement, which is yet known as Talbot Street.

A political life, somewhat fitful and querulous, was beginning in the new province. Governor Simcoe was succeeded by governors chiefly noted for incompetency; and the loyalists – intense in their devotion as ever Jacobite had been to his cause — began to fear lest the mixed population which had flowed into the province should be of alien spirit, and defeat the very object for which they and their fathers had left the United States, for which they had clamored for the constitutional act of 1791, and which was the dearest idol of their hearts. This spirit naturally drove the proscribed classes into union for self-defence, and, as was usually the case in these new communities, a newspaper was begun to advocate the popular cause, for the loyalist opinions had grown to be looked upon as tyrannical. In 1807 appeared the Upper Canada Guardian. While Governor Craig was with a high hand upholding the prerogative in Lower Canada, the dominant party in Upper Canada, under the weak-minded Governor Gore, were persecuting their opponents. Strange that from the waves of the Atlantic to the shores of Lake Ontario, Nova Scotia, Lower Canada, and Upper Canada as well, should have been, during the first decade of this century, the scene of turbulence and political strife. No doubt these were the signs of a life slowly rising among the unlikely gatherings of people with their varied political notions. One thing is most observable, – that up to this time a very large percentage of the settlers had been military. The leading elements of Lower Canada had been French officers and soldiers; Nova Scotia had a large proportion of soldiers in Halifax and among its loyalist settlers; New Brunswick was predominantly so; while Upper Canada, with its Niagara frontier peopled by Butler's men, the St. Lawrence district by “Royal Greens” and “Hessians,” and Glengarry by the Highland Fencibles, was equally so. This military tone and direction must be ever borne in mind in studying the political and social life of Canada. But now the din of political strife was for a time to be drowned and the military spirit of the people to be drawn forth in the serious war declared in 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, and of which Canada was the principal theatre. It was no quarrel of Canada, though as a dependency of Britain the colony bore the brunt. Arising as it did from the discussion of rights upon the sea, it was to be expected that naval conflicts would make up a considerable part of the war. The account of these is given with some minuteness by another writer. It is our task simply to outline the conflict which took place on Canadian soil.

The prevailing opinion at this time in the United States as to the state of feeling in Canada was quite erroneous. It was currently reported that there were many in Canada who desired to be freed from the British yoke. A little reflection as to the military elements of the Canadian population would have shown the absurdity of this. That there was a certain amount of sympathy for the United States in the western peninsula of Upper Canada, especially along the shore of Lake Erie, may be inferred from the passing of the “Alien Act” in 1804 ; but compared with the great volume of sentiment in favor of the crown this was insignificant. This misunderstanding goes to excuse somewhat General Hull for his ludicrous proclamation. His own countrymen have been especially severe upon the

1 Ante, Vol. VII. pp. 377-405.

« AnteriorContinuar »