« AnteriorContinuar »
true U. E. loyalist stock, — John Beverly, afterwards chief justice, Robinson. These and others of like opinions and of much influence formed themselves into a cabal, probably apprehensive of the changes in political opinion or in religion that seemed to be threatening. This was rendered all the easier by the return as governor for three years, after the war, of the willing servant of the oligarchy - Francis Gore. The thorough conviction and earnestness of the loyalists gave their party its force, and while this does not carry our sympathy it wins our respect. By the year 1820 the dominant party was definitely formed, and for many years was known as the "Family Compact." In 1817 there had come to Canada a Scottish gentleman, of erratic disposition and changing fortune, — Robert Gourlay. He established himself as a land agent, and in the pursuit of his business circulated a list of queries throughout Upper Canada, which were regarded as an attack on the ruling powers. Gourlay became the object of the hatred of the junto. At Kingston, and again at Brockville, the agitator was arrested and tried, but acquitted; with singular animosity he was followed, and again arrested and tried, at Niagara, under the Sedition Act of 1804. The offender was certainly not within the range of that law, but a loyalist judge and jury found him guilty, and in the end the unfortunate man, worn out with persecution, was driven from the province. The executive council was supreme; it was not subject to either legislative council or assembly. Patronage was dispensed with lavish hands on the favorites of the rulers. The condemnation of Gourlay was an act of unpardonable tyranny, and sent a thrill of disgust through the hearts of the people. His cause they knew to be theirs; and so in 1824 there was elected a house of assembly hostile to the dominant cabal. This people's assembly was only laughed at by the oligarchy.
In the mean time the pliable governor had been replaced by Sir Peregrine Maitland, a man of high English connection and strong oligarchic tendencies. The people's assembly contained, as friends of freedom and enemies of the government, the polished American Bidwell, the people's tribune, Perry, and the astute Englishman, Dr. John Rolph. These did yeoman service for the popular cause. In the same year was begun the Colonial Advocate, a popular newspaper, conducted by one of the men who most largely influenced his time, and of whom we must know more — William Lyon Mackenzie. This newspaper became a chief instrument in exposing grievances and helping the popular ferment. It became in consequence the main object of loyalist hatred, so that in two years it brought upon itself the wrath of the younger members of the loyalist party, who entered the office, tore the paper to shreds, and threw the type into Toronto Bay. The editor, Mackenzie, hitherto as poor as he was ardent and abusive, succeeded in recovering heavy damages, which gave new life to his newspaper enterprise. In two years more the persecuted editor was elected a member of the assembly. At the same time when Mackenzie was elected to the house, a gentleman of pure life and singularly attractive qualities, named Robert Baldwin, was chosen to represent the popular cause by the town of York, the very centre of the government party. The struggle continued with unabated fury. The dominant party was greatly assisted by a headstrong British officer, Sir John Colborne, sent at this time to replace Governor Maitland. Various cases of oppression were collected by the agitators, and the most made of them. A British officer who had espoused the popular cause was charged with disloyalty for having, in a time of hilarity, called on a band of strolling players for a selection of American airs; a judge who refused to become a member of the ruling faction was removed from his position; an innkeeper of Niagara had his buildings torn down by the hands of the military under the direction of the cabal ; while a fierce libel case against a vituperative Irish radical editor raised popular feeling to the highest pitch.
The struggle had settled down to a life-and-death contest between executive council and legislative assembly. Fuel to the flame was supplied by a religious question, which in even the shortest sketch of Canadian history must have a chief place. This is what is known as the Clergy Reserve controversy. It was the thirty years' religious war of Upper Canada. The union of church and state was a prominent tenet of the loyalists. It was no wonder that the “Constitutional Act of 1791," obtained by the loyalist leaders from a sympathetic parliament, and in the face of the strong French and Roman Catholic element of the province of Quebec, should contain a provision allotting one seventh of all the crown lands for “the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy.” It seemed to anxious souls the only safeguard when political power was being entrusted to the aliens of Lower Canada. The unorganized state of the country and the trifling value of the wild lands of the province led to this potent germ of dissension lying inactive for wellnigh thirty years, though shortly after 1791 two and a half millions of acres of the public domain in Upper Canada and about one million in Lower Canada were set apart for this purpose. Murmurs of discontent had been heard in Lower Canada; the radical Gourlay had called attention to the matter in Upper Canada ; a member of the legislature had moved to have a portion of the lands sold, but Governor Gore shelved the question by a sudden prorogation; the case of a Scottish Presbyterian congregation in Niagara, which had lost its church during the late war, had raised a temporary building, and then proffered a request to the government for £100 from the clergy reserve fund, however brought up the question which was to be a bone of contention, and to ruin government after government. Lord Bathurst, the British colonial secretary, gave it as the opinion of the law officers that the expression “Protestant clergy" might apply to the ministers of the national Church of Scotland as well as to that of England, but not to dissenters, inasmuch as the last were not recognized by law. What the original intention of the act was has been much debated. It was even a matter of perplexity at the time of its passage. Lord Grenville then declared that the bill “meant to provide for any clergy that was not Roman Catholic.” There can be no doubt that many members of parliament on the other hand took it to be simply a provision for the Church of England. The further clause in the act, giving power to " erect parsonages and endow them, and to present incumbents of ministers of the Church of England,” is a pretty clear indication that the original intention debarred Presbyterians and all others outside the Episcopal Church. Sir Peregrine Maitland, though possessed of the opinion of Lord Bathurst, concealed this from the knowledge of the public. Other applications were made by the ministers of the Scottish Church in Canada for assistance. Early in 1823, the redoubtable leader Dr. Strachan, as chairman of the Upper Canada clergy reserves corporation, forwarded to Earl Bathurst a strong plea for the endowment of the Church of England alone. The tone of this petition may be seen from its opening sentiment: “That the province of Upper Canada was settled by loyalists from the United States, who were chiefly Episcopalians, ever distinguished in the colonies on account of their affection for the parent state and their incorruptible attachment to the king.” To the petition was attached an “Ecclesiastical Chart," whose claims were indignantly contradicted by all the Canadians outside the pale of the doctor's own Church. Late in the same year, the Hon. William Morris, a member of the assembly, succeeded in carrying a series of resolutions, declaring the right of the Church of Scotland in the province to participate in the govern
BISHOP STRACHAN.* ment provision for religion; the address was, however, by a narrow majority, rejected by the legislative council. Governor Maitland sent despatches to the Colonial office strenuously upholding the claim of the Church of England. This was soon followed by a visit of Dr. Strachan to England, which resulted in a decision to sell part of the lands to the Canada Company, then about to be established. On the occasion of the funeral of Bishop Mountain, of Quebec, Dr. Strachan took the opportunity in his sermon to speak in behalf of his own narrow position. Among other things the fiery partisan said: “The religious teachers of the other denominations of Christians, a very few acceptable ministers of the Church of Scotland excepted, come almost universally from the Republican States of America, where they gather their knowledge and form their sentiments.” The charge of disloyalty covertly contained in these words was mainly directed against the Methodist itinerants who were zealously advancing their cause. This unwarrantable attack drew forth an impassioned reply from a young Methodist preacher, afterwards of great fame, — Egerton Ryerson, the son of a United Empire loyalist. He pointed out that “the Methodists had no law to secure a foot of land for parsonages, chapels, and the burial of the dead; their ministers were not allowed to solemnize matrimony; and some of them had been the objects of cruel and illegal persecution on the part of magistrates and others in authority.” On the 27th January, 1826, an address to the king was adopted by the legislative assembly, in which the claim was made " that the lands set apart in this province for the maintenance and support of a Protestant clergy ought not to be enjoyed by any one denomination of Protestants to the exclusion of their Christian brethren of other denominations, equally conscientious in their respective modes of worshipping God, and equally entitled, as dutiful and loyal subjects, to the protection of your Majesty's benign and liberal government." An alteration was now suggested, to the effect that "the clergy reserve fund should be devoted to the advancement of the Christian religion generally, ... of whatever denomination, or to be applied to the purposes of education and the general improvement of the province.” To this address a reply came from Britain, saying that the reserves had been "specially allotted by the Imperial Parliament to the Established Church.” That the unfairness of the contention of those who desired to claim the whole reserve fund was recognized by the imperial authorities is shown by the fact that about this time it was decided to give from the funds arising from the sale of lands to the Canada Company £750 per annum to the Church of Scotland, and £750 to the Roman Catholics in Upper Canada, and these payments were made in 1827. In January of that year a series of strong resolutions passed the assembly by a large majority in favor of the several claimants, but these were again thrown out by the legislative council. The active ecclesiastic who led the movement was not at this time idle. Crossing to England, the “incomparable " doctor succeeded in obtaining a royal charter for an Upper Canadian university, to be called the University of King's College. This, though an entirely sectarian institution, , whose every official was required to sign the “Thirty-nine Articles," was given an endowment of 225,000 acres of wild land, and a grant of £ 1000 a year for sixteen years.
* After a photograph in Fannings Taylor's Brit. Americans, vol. iii.
During Dr. Strachan's visit in England he published a “letter and ecclesiastical chart,” around which raged even a fiercer controversy than in the case of the former chart. Years of agitation were arousing the popular mind in Canada, and the charges of Jesuitry and bad faith were freely brought against the ecclesiastical politician. The popular excitement resulted in an inquiry by the assembly into the truth of the letter and chart, and the decision was given that they were likely to "produce erroneous impressions respecting the religious state of this province and the sentiments of its inhabitants.” This report, dated 1828, states further that the whole province, and not only the loyalists, had passed through a war, “which had put to the proof the loyalty of the people,” and declaration was made against the university that "it should not be a school of political or sectarian views.” Another address was forwarded to the king, and the country was stirred to the very centre by public meetings and church courts declaring their views. The new governor, Sir John Colborne, a bigoted partisan, was forced in 1830 to transmit a petition for the dissenting Presbyterian clergymen, and even he was compelled to recommend consideration for “these most diligent ministers.” Year after year, with changing front, this religious battle raged, till in 1836 the country was startled by Sir John Colborne erecting in a clandestine manner, under the clause of the “Constitutional Act” so long held in abeyance, forty-four rectories of the Church of England, and endowing these with extensive and valuable glebe lands. It had been intended to establish fifty-seven rectories, but the plot was discovered before all the patents were signed. The rebellion of the year after, to which we shall recur, was undoubtedly stimulated by this obnoxious course of action, and soon after it had been quelled the controversy assumed a new form. The ruling powers regarded the matter now simply as a difficulty to be adjusted. In 1840 the exclusive claim of the Church of England was denied, and that of all the other bodies of Protestants admitted, by the assembly, but this view was not taken in England. An act was, however, passed with the declared purpose of removing the matter from the field of controversy, by vesting the fund from the sale of lands in the "Imperial Parliament for religious purposes." This
SIR FRANCIS HINCKS.* anomalous result was reached by the division which had been made between the subtle leader Ryerson and the political leaders of the agitation. Three years after, the revenue from the reserves proving trifling, Bishop Strachan began an agitation to amend the act of 1840, and Ryerson and the bishop and all the politicians of the country engaged in a most unseemly strife over this religious question. In three years more the bishop proposed to divide the lands among the several religious bodies. This device captured a number of his opponents, and added the charges of treachery to the tumult of the conflict. In four years more the legislature asked the transfer from imperial control to Canada again. In 1853 the transfer to Canada was made, as desired. The liberal ministry was led by Francis Hincks, one of the most determined enemies of church and state in Canada. He had long stood in the front of the battle, and was ready to apply a simple remedy to the clergy reserves difficulty; but his Lower Canadian Roman Catholic allies were afraid to
* After a photograph in Fannings Taylor's Brit. Americans, vol. iii.