The British North America Act, 1840 (3 & 4 Victoria, c.35), also known as the Act of Union 1840, (the Act) was approved by Parliament in July 1840 and proclaimed February 10, 1841 in Montréal. It abolished the legislatures of Lower Canada and Upper Canada and established a new political entity, the Province of Canada to replace them. The Act was similar in nature and in goals to the other Acts of Union enacted by the British Parliament.
The inspiration for the Act is typically attributed to Lord Durham's Report on Canada. Lord Durham was sent to the colonies to examine the causes of the Rebellions of 1837–1838 in both Upper and Lower Canada. Lord Durham wanted to re-instate peace throughout the colonies and recommended a political union. It was under his belief that peace could best be achieved by ensuring a loyal English majority in British North America, as well as by anglicizing French Canadians, and by granting responsible government. The union was also proposed to solve pressing financial issues in Upper Canada, which had become increasingly indebted  under the previous regime dominated by the Family Compact. These debts stemmed mostly from poor investments in canals connecting Upper Canada to the port of Montreal in Lower Canada via the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Due to Upper Canada's considerable debt and chronic budget shortfalls, it was hoped that its finances could be salvaged by merging it with the then-solvent Lower Canada.
Upper Canada, with its British and Protestant majority, was growing more rapidly than Lower Canada, with the French-Canadian and Catholic majority. It was hoped that by merging the two colonies, the French-Canadian cultural presence in North America would gradually disappear through assimilation. As such, the Act also contained measures banning the French language from official use in the Legislative Assembly. However, despite the amalgamation, the distinct legal systems of the two colonies was retained with Upper Canada becoming referred to as Canada West (with English common law) and Lower Canada as Canada East (with French civil law). In Upper Canada, there was opposition to unionization from the Family Compact, while in Lower Canada political and religious leaders reacted against Upper Canada's anti-French measures.
The new, merged colony was named the Province of Canada and the seat of government was moved to Kingston by Lord Sydenham. Canada West, with its 450,000 inhabitants, was represented by 42 seats in the Legislative Assembly, the same number as the more-populated Canada East, with 650,000 inhabitants. The French-Canadian majority, as well as numerous anglophones, considered this an injustice. In Lower Canada, Louis-Joseph Papineau demanded representation by population and the recall of the union the minute he entered the new parliament of the united Canadas.
The granting of responsible government to the colony is typically attributed to reforms in 1848 (principally the effective transfer of control over patronage from the governor to the elected ministry). These reforms resulted in the appointment of the second Baldwin-Lafontaine government that quickly removed many of the disabilities on French-Canadian political participation in the colony.
By the late 1850s, massive immigration from the British Isles to Canada West changed the previous demographic imbalance between the English and French sections of the colony. Many politicians in Canada West began to lobby for representation by population as they no longer considered the equal representation mandated by the Act of Union to be just.
In the end, the Act of Union failed at shutting down French-Canadian political influence, especially after responsible government was granted to the colony. By voting en bloc while the anglophones of Canada West were highly factionalized, the francophones of Canada East guaranteed a strong, unified presence in the legislative assembly. As a result, bills proposed by one of the anglophone Canada West factions required the support of the francophone Canada East votes to be passed. This was known as the double majority principle and reflected the duality of the two administrations. The double majority principle was never officially recognized and was demonstrated to be impracticable.
However, the francophone presence remained inferior to their demographic weight in the executive and legislative councils. The government of Lafontaine-Baldwin succeeded in repealing the measure against the French language in the assembly, in the courts, and in the civil administration. With the double majority principle, both Canadas were so to speak "reseparated" and for a short while, both sides were managed independently. Joint premierships shared by an anglophone from Canada West and a francophone from Canada East became the convention, but continual legislative deadlock resulting from the conflicting aspirations of the two Canadas remained. Dissatisfaction resulting from this deadlock was one of the main factors for Canadian Confederation in 1867.
The 13th Parliament of Upper Canada was opened 8 November 1836. Elections in Upper Canada had been held 20 June 1836. All sessions were held at Toronto.
The House of Assembly had five sessions 8 November 1836 to 10 February 1840.Both the House and Parliament sat at the third Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada.
In the election campaign of June 1836, the Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head appealed to the United Empire Loyalists of the colony, proclaiming that the reformers were advocating American republicanism. The Conservative party, led by the wealthy landowners known as the "Family Compact", won the election resulting in a conservative majority in the legislative assembly and triggering dissent in the province. This was the last parliament for Upper Canada. This parliament was dissolved 10 February 1840. The Act of Union 1840 abolished the legislative assemblies for Upper and Lower Canada and created a new Province of Canada with a common Legislative Assembly. This came as a result of the Rebellions of 1837.Beauce (Province of Canada)
The district of Beauce was established in 1853, under the Union regime of 1841.
Beauce was represented by one Member at the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.
Earlier, there had also been an electoral district named Beauce in Lower Canada, but it was abolished when Lower Canada ceased to exist after the Act of Union 1840.Canada East
Canada East (French: Canada-Est) was the northeastern portion of the United Province of Canada. Lord Durham's Report investigating the causes of the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions recommended merging those two colonies. The new colony, known as the Province of Canada was created by the Act of Union 1840 passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, having effect in 1841. For administrative purposes, the new Province was subdivided into Canada West and Canada East. The former name of "Lower Canada" came back into official use in 1849, and as of the Canadian Confederation of 1867, it formed the newly created province of Quebec.
An estimated 890,000 people lived in Canada East in 1851.Canada under British rule
Canada was under British rule beginning with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, when New France, of which the colony of Canada was a part, formally became a part of the British Empire. Gradually, other territories, colonies and provinces that were part of British North America would be added to Canada, along with land through the use of treaties with First Peoples (for example, see the Post-Confederation or Numbered Treaties).
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 enlarged the colony of Canada under the name of the Province of Quebec, which with the Constitutional Act 1791 became known as the Canadas. With the Act of Union 1840, Upper and Lower Canada were joined to become the United Province of Canada. Later, with Confederation in 1867, the British maritime colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were joined with the Province of Canada to form the Dominion of Canada, which was subsequently divided into four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A number of other British colonies, such as Newfoundland and British Columbia, and large territories such as Rupert's Land, initially remained outside the newly formed federation. Over time, the remaining colonies and territories of British North America were joined to Canada until the current geographic extent of the country was reached when Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada in 1949.Although confederation in 1867 led to an enlarged Dominion with increased autonomy over domestic affairs, Canada still remained a colony within the British Empire and was thus subordinate to the British Parliament, until the enactment of the Statute of Westminster in 1931. This statute recognized Canada as an independent peer coequal with the United Kingdom and thus provided the Parliament of Canada with legislative sovereignty over all federal matters except the power to change the constitutional laws of Canada, which remained under the purview of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Canada's final vestige of legislative dependence on the United Kingdom was terminated in 1982 with the enactment of the Canada Act, subsequently providing Canada with full legal legislative sovereignty independent of the United Kingdom.Canadian Human Rights Act
The Canadian Human Rights Act (the Act) is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, gender identity or expression, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief.Central Canada
Central Canada (sometimes the Central provinces) is a region consisting of Canada's two largest and most populous provinces: Ontario and Quebec. Geographically, they are not at the centre of the country but instead toward the east. Due to their high populations, Ontario and Quebec have traditionally held a significant amount of political power in Canada, leading to some amount of resentment from other regions of the country. Before Confederation, the term "Canada" specifically referred to Central Canada. Today, the term "Central Canada" is less often used than the names of the individual provinces. This has led to a sense of Western alienation.Château Clique
The Château Clique, or Clique du Château, was a group of wealthy families in Lower Canada in the early 19th century. They were the Lower Canadian equivalent of the Family Compact in Upper Canada. They were also known on the electoral scene as the Parti bureaucrate (Bureaucratic Party, also known as the British Party or the Tory Party).
Like the Family Compact, the Château Clique gained most of its influence after the War of 1812. Most of its families were British merchants, but some were French Canadian seigneurs who felt that their own interests were best served by an affiliation with this group. Some of the most prominent members were brewer John Molson and James McGill, the founder of McGill University. Generally, they wanted the French Canadian majority of Lower Canada to assimilate to English culture. That included the abolition of the seigneurial system, replacing French civil law with British common law, and replacing the established Roman Catholic Church with the Anglican Church. Their efforts led to the Act of Union (1840), which ultimately failed in its attempt to assimilate of all French Canadians but succeeded in preventing their political and economic interests from prevailing over those of Britain. The Château Clique also had control over the Crown Lands and the Clergy Reserves but much less than the Family Compact because of the already-existing seigneurial system.
The Constitutional Act of 1791 had established three branches of government: the Legislative Assembly, an elected lower house; the Legislative Council, an appointed upper house; and the Executive Council, which acted as a kind of cabinet for the lieutenant governor. The governor was appointed by the British Crown, and he appointed members of the Clique as his advisers. The Clique was also able to establish itself in the Legislative Council, leaving the Legislative Assembly, made up of a majority of French-Canadian representatives, with little or no power.
Louis-Joseph Papineau, as a reformer in the Assembly, was one of the fiercest opponents of the Château Clique. His struggles against the Clique and the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Gosford, led to the Lower Canada Rebellion in 1837.
After the rebellion, Upper and Lower Canada were united as the Province of Canada, but the Château Clique did not disappear like the Family Compact. While the English-speaking population became the majority, the British-appointed governors still attempted to force the French Canadian population to assimilate. Canada East, as Lower Canada was called after the union, eventually gained some political independence with the union government of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine.Constitution Act (British Columbia)
Constitution Act, 1996 is a provincial Act passed by the British Columbia legislature. The Act outlines the powers and rules governing the executive and legislative branches of the provincial government of British Columbia.
Unlike the Constitution of Canada, the British Columbia Constitution is a regular Act of the legislature and can be amended by a normal majority vote.
British Columbia is the only province of Canada to have such an act.Constitutional Act 1791
From 1896 known as The Clergy Endowments (Canada) Act 1791, the statute passed at Westminster in the 31st year of George III, and itemised as chapter 31 (31 Geo 3 c 31), was commonly known as the Constitutional Act 1791 (French: Acte constitutionnel de 1791). It was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain.Constitutional history of Canada
The constitutional history of Canada begins with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, in which France ceded most of New France to Great Britain. Canada was the colony along the St Lawrence River, part of present-day Ontario and Quebec. Its government underwent many structural changes over the following century. In 1867 Canada became the name of the new federal Dominion extending ultimately from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Arctic coasts. Canada obtained legislative autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1931, and had its constitution (including a new rights charter) patriated in 1982. Canada's constitution includes the amalgam of constitutional law spanning this history.Fulton–Favreau formula
The Fulton–Favreau formula was a proposed formula of amendment of the Constitution of Canada developed by federal justice minister E. Davie Fulton and Quebec Liberal Guy Favreau in the 1960s. The Fulton–Favreau formula would have achieved the patriation of the Constitution.Implied Bill of Rights
The Implied Bill of Rights (French: Déclaration des droits implicite) is a judicial theory in Canadian jurisprudence that recognizes that certain basic principles are underlying the Constitution of Canada. Invoked more often before the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted, it is nonetheless important when questions of parliamentary supremacy and the override power come into play.Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada (French: province du Bas-Canada) was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence (1791–1841). It covered the southern portion of the current-day Province of Quebec, Canada, and the Labrador region of the modern-day Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (until the Labrador region was transferred to Newfoundland in 1809).Lower Canada consisted of part of the former colony of Canada of New France, conquered by Great Britain in the Seven Years' War ending in 1763 (also called the French and Indian War in the United States.) Other parts of New France conquered by Britain became the Colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
The Province of Lower Canada was created by the "Constitutional Act of 1791" from the partition of the British colony of the Province of Quebec (1763–91) into the Province of Lower Canada and the Province of Upper Canada. The prefix "lower" in its name refers to its geographic position farther downriver from the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River than its contemporary Upper Canada, present-day southern Ontario.
The colony/province was abolished in 1841 when it and adjacent Upper Canada were united into the Province of Canada.Province of Canada
The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British colony 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 1837–1838.
The Act of Union 1840, passed on 23 July 1840 by the British Parliament and proclaimed by the Crown on 10 February 1841, merged the Colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada by abolishing their separate parliaments and replacing them with a single one with two houses, a Legislative Council as the upper chamber and the Legislative Assembly as the lower chamber. In the aftermath of the Rebellions of 1837–1838, unification of the two Canadas was driven by two factors. Firstly, Upper Canada was near bankruptcy because it lacked stable tax revenues, and needed the resources of the more populous Lower Canada to fund its internal transportation improvements. Secondly, unification was an attempt to swamp the French vote by giving each of the former provinces the same number of parliamentary seats, despite the larger population of Lower Canada.
Although Durham's report had called for the Union of the Canadas and for responsible government (a government accountable to an independent local legislature), only the first of the two recommendations was implemented in 1841. For the first seven years, the government was led by an appointed governor general accountable only to the British Crown and the Queen's Ministers. Responsible government was not to be achieved until the second LaFontaine–Baldwin ministry in 1849, when Governor General James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin agreed to request a cabinet be formed on the basis of party, effectively making the elected premier the head of the government and reducing the Governor General to a more symbolic role.
The Province of Canada ceased to exist at Canadian Confederation on 1 July 1867, when it was divided into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Ontario included the area occupied by the pre-1841 British colony of Upper Canada, while Quebec included the area occupied by the pre-1841 British colony of Lower Canada (which had included Labrador until 1809, when Labrador was transferred to the British colony of Newfoundland). Upper Canada was primarily English-speaking, whereas Lower Canada was primarily French-speaking.The Canadas
The Canadas is the collective name for Upper Canada and Lower Canada, two British historical colonies in present-day Canada. They were both created by the Constitutional Act of 1791 and abolished in 1841 with the union of Upper and Lower Canada.
Their names reflected their positions relative to the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River, the same relationship as between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt:
Lower Canada covered the south-eastern portion of the modern-day Province of Quebec, Canada, and (until 1809) the Labrador region of the modern-day Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Upper Canada covered what is now the southern portion of the Province of Ontario, and the lands bordering Georgian Bay and Lake Superior.
The northern part of the current provinces of Ontario and Quebec was, at that time, part of Rupert's Land.Timeline of Quebec history (1791–1840)
This section of the Timeline of Quebec history concerns the events in British North America relating to what is the present day province of Quebec, Canada between the time of the Constitutional Act of 1791 and the Act of Union 1840.Unsuccessful attempts to amend the Canadian Constitution
Since the Constitution of Canada was patriated, in 1982, only ten minor Amendments to the Constitution of Canada have been passed. There have, however, been a number of unsuccessful attempts to amend the Constitution in accordance with its amending formula.Wellington District, Upper Canada
The Wellington District was a historic district in Upper Canada which existed until 1849. It was formed in June 1840 from townships transferred from certain other districts:
For electoral purposes, it was called Waterloo County and the district town was Guelph.Upon the passage of the Act of Union 1840, for electoral purposes Erin Township was attached to Halton County, which became known as the East Riding of Halton, and the remaining townships of Wellington that had previously been part of Halton became known as the West Riding of Halton.When the East and West Ridings were renamed for their respective counties in 1845, the township of Erin continued to be part of Halton for electoral purposes, and the township of Dumfries was similarly included for such purposes in Waterloo. At that time, Waterloo County was declared to consist of the following townships:
In 1849, Wellington District was abolished, and Waterloo County remained for municipal and judicial purposes. The territory of the Bruce Peninsula became part of Waterloo in 1849, but was later withdrawn and transferred to Bruce County in 1851.