The term "British North America" refers to the former territories of the British Empire in North America, not including the Caribbean. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report. These territories today form modern-day Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
English and later Scottish colonization of North America began in the 16th century in Newfoundland, then began further south at Roanoke and Jamestown, Virginia, and reached its peak when colonies had been established through much of the Americas.
British North America
Flag of the United Kingdom (1801–1907)
|Capital||Administered from London, England|
|Common languages||English, French, Gaelic|
|Currency||Pound sterling, Canadian pound, Canadian dollar|
|Today part of|| Canada |
In 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, the British Empire included 20 territories in the Western Hemisphere northeast of New Spain, and apart from the islands and claims of the British West Indies. These colonies were:
Britain acquired Quebec from France, and East and West Florida from Spain, by the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years' War. By the Treaty of Paris (1783) the United States acquired the part of Quebec south of the Great Lakes; at the same time Spain gained West Florida and regained East Florida.
Nova Scotia was split into modern-day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1784. The part of Quebec retained after 1783 was split into the primarily French-speaking Lower Canada and the primarily English-speaking Upper Canada in 1791.
After the War of 1812, the Treaty of 1818 established the 49th parallel as the United States–British North America border from Rupert's Land west to the Rocky Mountains. Then in 1846, Britain and the U.S. split the Oregon Country. The U.S. was assigned lands south of the 49th parallel, but Britain retained all of Vancouver Island (south of the 49th parallel).
On 1 July 1867, the Confederation of Canada was created by the British North America Act. The new Dominion of Canada joined the provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The former Province of Canada was split back into its two parts, with Canada East (Lower Canada) being renamed Quebec, and Canada West (Upper Canada) renamed Ontario.
In 1870, Rupert's Land was annexed to Canada as the Northwest Territories (NWT) and the new province of Manitoba. British Columbia, the British colony on the west coast north of the 49th parallel, including all of Vancouver Island, joined as Canada's sixth province in 1871, and Prince Edward Island joined as the seventh in 1873. The boundary of British Columbia with Washington Territory was settled by arbitration in 1872, and with Alaska by arbitration in 1903.
The Arctic Archipelago was ceded by Britain to Canada in 1880 and added to the Northwest Territories (NWT). Later on, large sections of the NWT were split off as new territories (the Yukon Territory in 1898 and Nunavut in 1999), or provinces (Alberta and Saskatchewan, both in 1905), or were added to existing provinces (Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, in stages ending in 1912).
In 1907, the sole remaining British North American colony, Newfoundland, was granted the status of a Dominion, although starting in 1934 it returned to British administration under the Commission of Government. In 1949, the island of Newfoundland, and its associated mainland territory of Labrador, joined Canada as the tenth province.
Canada became semi-independent beginning in 1867, and fully sovereign on foreign affairs beginning with the Statute of Westminster 1931. Canada gained the right to establish and accept foreign embassies, with the first one being in Washington, D.C..
Then the last vestiges of Canada's constitutional dependency upon Britain remained until Canadians from various provinces agreed on an internal procedure for amending the Canadian Constitution. This agreement was implemented when the British Parliament passed the Canada Act 1982 at the request of Parliament of Canada.
The colonies that existed before the signing of the 1846 Oregon Treaty:
Besides the local colonial governments in each colony, British North America was administered directly via London.
From 1783 through 1801, British North America was administered by the Home Office and by the Home Secretary, then from 1801 to 1854 under the War Office and Secretary of State for War and Colonies. When the Colonial Office was reestablished it was under the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary.
The postal system had a deputy based in British North America, with administration from London.
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.British America
British America comprised the British Empire's colonial territories in North America, Bermuda, Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana from 1607 to 1783. The American colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before 1776, when the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America was used to describe the remainder of Britain's continental North American possessions. That term was first used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.
British America gained large amounts of new territory following the Treaty of Paris (1763) which ended the French and Indian War in America, and ended British involvement in the Seven Years' War in Europe. At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the British Empire included 20 colonies north and east of New Spain, including areas of Mexico and the Western United States. East and West Florida were ceded to the Kingdom of Spain in the Treaty of Paris (1783) which ended the American Revolution, and then ceded by Spain to the United States in 1819 after treaty negotiations to settle the old southwest border with Spanish Florida (eastern Louisiana, southern Alabama, Mississippi, and western Georgia). The remaining continental colonies of British North America to the northeast formed the Dominion of Canada by uniting provinces between 1867 and 1873. The Dominion of Newfoundland to the east joined Canada in 1949.British North America Acts
The British North America Acts 1867–1975 are a series of Acts at the core of the constitution of Canada. They were enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Parliament of Canada. In Canada, some of the Acts were amended or repealed by the Constitution Act, 1982. The rest were renamed in Canada as the Constitution Acts. In the United Kingdom, those Acts that were passed by the British Parliament remain under their original names. The term "British North America" (BNA) refers to the British colonies in North America.British colonization of the Americas
British colonization of the Americas (including colonization by both the English and the Scots) began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, and reached its peak when colonies had been established throughout the Americas. The English, and later the British, were among the most important colonizers of the Americas, and their American empire came to surpass the Spanish American colonies in military and economic might.
Three types of colonies were established in the English overseas possessions in America of the 17th century and continued into the British Empire at the height of its power in the 17th century. These were charter colonies, proprietary colonies, and royal colonies. A group of 13 British American colonies collectively broke from the British Empire in the 1770s through a successful revolution, establishing the modern United States. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15), the remaining British territories in North America were slowly granted more responsible government. In 1838 the Durham Report recommended full responsible government for Canada, but this was not fully implemented for another decade. Eventually, with the Confederation of Canada, the Canadian colonies were granted significant autonomy and became a self-governing Dominion in 1867. Other colonies in the Americas followed at a much slower pace. In this way, two countries in North America, ten in the Caribbean, and one in South America have received their independence from Great Britain or the later United Kingdom. All of these, except the United States, are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and nine are Commonwealth realms. The eight current British overseas territories in the Americas have varying degrees of self-government.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 Confederation
Canadian Confederation (French: Confédération canadienne) was the process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Upon confederation, the old province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec; along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the new federation thus comprised four provinces. Over the years since Confederation, Canada has seen numerous territorial changes and expansions, resulting in the current union of ten provinces and three territories.Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands
The Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands was a British colony constituting the archipelago of the same name (currently officially named Haida Gwaii) from 1853 to July 1863, when it was amalgamated into the Colony of British Columbia.
The Queen Charlotte Colony was created by the Colonial Office in response to the increase in American marine trading activity resulting from the gold rush on Moresby Island in 1851. No separate administration or capital for the colony was ever established, as its only officer or appointee was James Douglas, who was simultaneously Governor of Vancouver Island.Columbia District
The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810. The North West Company was absorbed into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, under which the Columbia District became known as the Columbia Department. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 marked the effective end of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department.Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 (originally enacted as The British North America Act, 1867, and referred to as the BNA Act) (the Act) is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system. The British North America Acts, including this Act, were renamed in 1982 with the patriation of the Constitution (originally enacted by the British Parliament); however, it is still known by its original name in United Kingdom records. Amendments were also made at this time: section 92A was added, giving provinces greater control over non-renewable natural resources.Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada (French: Gouverneure générale du Canada) is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The person of the sovereign is shared equally both with the 15 other Commonwealth realms and the 10 provinces of Canada, but resides predominantly in her oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom. The Queen, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties. The commission is for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Beginning in 1959, it has also been traditional to rotate between anglophone and francophone incumbents—although many recent governors general have been bilingual. Once in office, the governor general maintains direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.The office began in the 16th and 17th centuries with the Crown-appointed governors of the French colony of Canada followed by the British governors of Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries. Subsequently, the office is, along with the Crown, the oldest continuous institution in Canada. The present incarnation of the office emerged with Canadian Confederation and the passing of the British North America Act, 1867, which defines the role of the governor general as "carrying on the Government of Canada on behalf and in the Name of the Queen, by whatever Title he is designated". Although the post initially still represented the government of the United Kingdom (that is, the monarch in his British council), the office was gradually Canadianized until, with the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 and the establishment of a separate and uniquely Canadian monarchy, the governor general become the direct personal representative of the independently and uniquely Canadian sovereign, the monarch in his Canadian council. Throughout this process of gradually increasing Canadian independence, the role of governor general took on additional responsibilities. For example, in 1904, the Militia Act granted permission for the governor general to use the title of Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian militia, in the name of the sovereign and actual Commander-in-Chief, and in 1927 the first official international visit by a governor general was made. Finally, in 1947, King George VI issued letters patent allowing the viceroy to carry out almost all of the monarch's powers on his or her behalf. As a result, the day-to-day duties of the monarch are carried out by the governor general, although, as a matter of law, the governor general is not in the same constitutional position as the sovereign; the office itself does not independently possess any powers of the Royal Prerogative. In accordance with the Constitution Act, 1982, any constitutional amendment that affects the Crown, including the office of the Governor General, requires the unanimous consent of each provincial legislature as well as the federal parliament.
The current governor general is Julie Payette, who has served since 2 October 2017; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommended her to succeed David Johnston.List of shipwrecks in 1829
The list of shipwrecks in 1829 includes some ships sunk, wrecked or otherwise lost during 1829.Newfoundland Act
The Newfoundland Act was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that confirmed and gave effect to the Terms of Union agreed to between the then-separate Dominions of Canada and Newfoundland on March 23, 1949. It was originally titled the British North America Act 1949, but was renamed in Canada on the patriation of the Canadian Constitution from the United Kingdom in 1982.
In exchange for Newfoundland becoming a province, the Canadian government took over the Newfoundland Railway, Newfoundland Airport (now Gander International Airport), public broadcasting, telegraph services and other services that fell under federal control. The federal government assumed responsibility for Newfoundland's debt.Newfoundland was also given statutory subsidies, a special subsidy of $1.1 million, the right to enter into tax rental agreements with the federal government and an additional transitional grant of $3.5 million, diminishing by 10 per cent per year for a total of 12 years. Also, as a safety net, it was agreed a Royal Commission would review finances.North-Western Territory
The North-Western Territory was a region of British North America until 1870. Named for where it lay in relation to Rupert's Land, the territory at its greatest extent covered what is now Yukon, mainland Northwest Territories, northwestern mainland Nunavut, northwestern Saskatchewan, northern Alberta and northern British Columbia. Some of this area was originally part of Rupert's Land due to inaccurate maps. The acquisition of Rupert's Land was the largest land purchase in Canada's history.Peter Easton
Peter Easton (c. 1570 – 1620 or after) was a pirate in the early 17th century who operated along the Newfoundland coastline between Harbour Grace and Ferryland from 1611 to 1614. Perhaps one of the most successful of all pirates. He controlled such seapower that no sovereign or state could afford to ignore him and he was never overtaken or captured by any fleet commissioned to hunt him down. However, he is not as well known as some of the pirates from the late 17th and early 18th centuries.Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada are the sub-national governments within the geographical areas of Canada under the authority of the Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of British North America—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (which upon Confederation was divided into Ontario and Quebec)—were united to form a federated colony, becoming a sovereign nation in the next century. Over its history, Canada's international borders have changed several times, and the country has grown from the original four provinces to the current ten provinces and three territories. Together, the provinces and territories make up the world's second-largest country by area.
Several of the provinces were former British colonies, and Quebec was originally a French colony, while others were added as Canada grew. The three territories govern the rest of the area of the former British North America.
The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867), whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada. The powers flowing from the Constitution Act are divided between the Government of Canada (the federal government) and the provincial governments to exercise exclusively. A change to the division of powers between the federal government and the provinces requires a constitutional amendment, whereas a similar change affecting the territories can be performed unilaterally by the Parliament of Canada or government.
In modern Canadian constitutional theory, the provinces are considered to be sovereign within certain areas based on the divisions of responsibility between the provincial and federal government within the Constitution Act 1867, and each province thus has its own representative of the Canadian "Crown", the lieutenant governor. The territories are not sovereign, but instead their authorities and responsibilities come directly from the federal level, and as a result, have a commissioner instead of a lieutenant governor.Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 (French: Acte de Québec), (the Act) formally known as the British North America (Quebec) Act 1774, was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain (citation 14 Geo. III c. 83) setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec. The Act's principal components were:
The province's territory was expanded to take over part of the Indian Reserve, including much of what is now southern Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota.
Reference to the Protestant faith was removed from the oath of allegiance.
It guaranteed free practice of the Catholic faith.
It restored the use of the French civil law for matters of private law, except that in accordance with the English common law, it granted unlimited freedom of testation. It maintained English common law for matters of public law, including administrative appeals, court procedure, and criminal prosecution.
It restored the Catholic Church's right to impose tithes.The Act had wide-ranging effects, in Quebec itself, as well as in the Thirteen Colonies. In Quebec, English-speaking immigrants from Britain and the southern colonies objected to a variety of its provisions, which they saw as a removal of certain political freedoms. Canadiens varied in their reaction; the land-owning seigneurs and ecclesiastics for example were generally happy with its provisions.In the Thirteen Colonies, the Quebec Act had been passed in the same session of Parliament as a number of other acts designed as punishment for the Boston Tea Party and other protests, which the American Patriots collectively termed the "Intolerable" or in England officially the "Coercive Acts". The provisions of the Quebec Act were seen by the colonists as a new model for British colonial administration, which would strip the colonies of their elected assemblies. It seemed to void the land claims of the colonies by granting most of the Ohio Country to the province of Quebec. The Americans also interpreted the Act as an "establishment" of Catholicism in the colony. The Americans had fought hard in the French and Indian War, and they now saw the provisions given to the former enemy as an affront.Rebellions of 1837–1838
The Rebellions of 1837–1838 (French: Les rébellions de 1837) were two armed uprisings that took place in Lower and Upper Canada in 1837 and 1838. Both rebellions were motivated by frustrations with political reform. A key shared goal was responsible government, which was eventually achieved in the incidents' aftermath. The rebellions led directly to Lord Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America and to The British North America Act, 1840 which partially reformed the British provinces into a unitary system and eventually led to the British North America Act, 1867 which created Canada and its government.Report on the Affairs of British North America
The Report on the Affairs of British North America, commonly known as the Durham Report, or Lord Durham's Report is an important document in the history of Quebec, Ontario, Canada and the British Empire.
The notable British Whig politician John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, was sent to the Canadas in 1838 to investigate and report on the causes of the rebellions of 1837–38. Durham arrived in Quebec City on 29 May. He had just been appointed Governor General and given special powers as high commissioner of British North America.
On the first page of his report he stated that "While the present state of things is allowed to last, the actual inhabitants of these Provinces have no security for person or property--no enjoyment of what they possess--no stimulus to industry." He would return to that theme repeatedly throughout his report.Stickeen Territories
The Stickeen Territories , also colloquially rendered as Stickeen Territory, Stikine Territory, and Stikeen Territory, was a territory of British North America whose brief existence began July 19, 1862, and concluded July of the following year. The region was split from the North-Western Territory in the wake of the Stikine Gold Rush. The initial strike attracted large numbers of miners — mostly American — to the region; by detaching the region from the exclusive trade zone of the Hudson's Bay Company, British authorities were able to impose tariffs and licences on the speculators. The new territory, named after the Stikine River, was under the responsibility of the Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, James Douglas, who was appointed "Administrator of the Stickeen Territories" and under British law, within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The boundaries of the territory were the 62nd parallel to the north, the 125th meridian to the east, the Nass and Finlay Rivers to the south, and the panhandle of Russian America to the west (only vaguely defined by treaty and disputed until resolved with the Alaska Boundary Settlement of 1903).A year later, the Stickeen was added to the Colony of British Columbia (along with the Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands), except for the sector north of the 60th parallel, which was returned to the North-Western Territory. In 1895, this strip was again redistributed, this time to the District of Yukon, as newly constituted during the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush.