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 Province of Quebec and the Labrador region of the current Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (until the Labrador region was transferred to Newfoundland in 1809).[2]

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)[3] 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.[4]

Province of Lower Canada

Province du Bas-Canada
Flag of Lower Canada
Évolution territoriale du Bas-Canada
StatusBritish colony
CapitalQuebec City
Common languagesFrench, English
GovernmentChâteau Clique oligarchy
under a
Constitutional monarchy
• 1791–1820
George III
• 1820–1830
George IV
• 1830–1837
William IV
• 1837–1841
Lieutenant-Governor and Executive Council of Lower Canada 
LegislatureParliament of Lower Canada
Legislative Council
Legislative Assembly
Historical eraBritish Era
26 December 1791
10 February 1841
1839[1]534,185 km2 (206,250 sq mi)
• 1839[1]
CurrencyCanadian pound
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Province of Quebec (1763–1791)
United Province of Canada
Colony of Newfoundland
Today part of


Like Upper Canada, there was significant political unrest. Twenty-two years after the invasion by the Americans in the War of 1812, a rebellion now challenged the British rule of the predominantly French population. After the Patriote Rebellion in the Rebellions of 1837–38[5] were crushed by the British Army and Loyal volunteers, the "1791 Constitution" was suspended on 27 March 1838 and a special council was appointed to administer the colony. An abortive attempt by revolutionary Robert Nelson to declare a Republic of Lower Canada was quickly thwarted.

The provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada were combined as the United Province of Canada in 1841, when The Union Act of 1840 came into force. Their separate legislatures were combined into a single parliament with equal representation for both constituent parts, even though Lower Canada had a greater population.[6]

Louis-Joseph Papineau, par Alfred Boisseau, 1871

Louis-Joseph Papineau rebellion chief in Lower Canada.[8]


Constitution of Lower Canada in 1791

The Province of Lower Canada inherited the mixed set of French and English institutions that existed in the Province of Quebec during the 1763–91 period and which continued to exist later in Canada-East (1841–67) and ultimately in the current Province of Quebec (since 1867).


Lower Canada was populated mainly by Canadiens, an ethnic group who trace their ancestry to French colonists who settled in Canada from the 17th century onward.

Population of Lower Canada, 1806 to 1841
Year Census estimate[9]
1806 250,000
1814 335,000
1822 427,465
1825 479,288
1827 473,475
1831 553,134
1841 650,000


Travelling around Lower Canada was mainly by water along the St. Lawrence River. On land the only long-distance route was the Chemin du Roy or King's Highway, built in the 1730s by New France.[10] The King's Highway was, in addition to the mail route, the primary means of long-distance passenger travel until steamboats (1815) and railways (1850s) began to challenge the royal road.[10] The royal road's importance waned after the 1850s and would not re-emerge as a key means of transportation until the modern highway system of Quebec was created in the 20th century.

See also


  1. ^ "The emigrant's handbook of facts concerning Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Cape of Good Hope, &c". Open Library. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  2. ^ "LABRADOR-CANADA BOUNDARY". marianopolis. 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2008. Labrador Act, 1809. – An imperial act (49 Geo. III, cap. 27), 1809, provided for the re-annexation to Newfoundland of 'such parts of the coast of Labrador from the River St John to Hudson's Streights, and the said Island of Anticosti, and all other smaller islands so annexed to the Government of Newfoundland by the said Proclamation of the seventh day of October one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three (except the said Islands of Madelaine) shall be separated from the said Government of Lower Canada, and be again re-annexed to the Government of Newfoundland.'
  3. ^ "Lower Canada - The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Province of Canada 1841-67 - The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Rapport Durham - l'Encyclopédie Canadienne". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Canadian Encyclopedia: Act of Union". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Mackenzie, William Lyon - Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec". www.patrimoine-culturel.gouv.qc.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Louis-Joseph Papineau - The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  9. ^ Censuses of Canada. 1665 to 1871, Statistics of Canada, Volume IV, Ottawa, 1876
  10. ^ a b "History - Le Chemin du Roy". Le Chemin du Roy. Retrieved 19 November 2018.

Further reading

External links

1837 in Canada

Events from the year 1837 in Canada.

Act of Union 1840

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.

Bar of Quebec

The Bar of Quebec (French: Barreau du Québec) is the provincial law society in Quebec, Canada. It was founded on May 30, 1849, as the Bar of Lower Canada (French: Barreau du Bas-Canada).

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.

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.

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.

County of Ottawa

County of Ottawa (French: Compté d'Ottawa) was a federal and provincial electoral district in Quebec, Canada, which was represented in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1830 to 1867, in the House of Commons of Canada from 1867 to 1892, and in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec from 1867 to at least 1919.

The federal electoral district was created by the British North America Act, 1867, which preserved existing electoral districts in Lower Canada. It was redistributed into the new electoral districts of Wright and Labelle in 1892.

The provincial electoral district was restructured in 1919.

Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada

The Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada (French: Déclaration d'indépendance du Bas-Canada) was written in French by the patriot rebel Robert Nelson on February 22, 1838, while in exile in the United States, after the first rebellion of 1837.

The 1838 declaration was primarily inspired by the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence and the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, but it also included some other political ideas that were popular in the 19th century. The movement for the independence of Lower Canada (today Quebec) ultimately failed, as it did not result in the creation of an independent nation-state.

Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada

The Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada was the lower house of the bicameral structure of provincial government in Lower Canada until 1838. The legislative assembly was created by the Constitutional Act of 1791. The lower house consisted of elected legislative councillors who created bills to be passed up to the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, whose members were appointed by the governor general.

The lower house was dissolved on March 27, 1838 following the Lower Canada Rebellion and Lower Canada was administered by an appointed Special Council. With the Act of Union in 1840, a new lower chamber, the Legislative Assembly of Canada, was created for both Upper and Lower Canada which existed until 1867, when the Legislative Assembly of Quebec was created.

Lieutenant Governor of Quebec

The Lieutenant Governor of Quebec (, French (masculine): Lieutenant-gouverneur du Québec, or (feminine): Lieutenante-gouverneure du Québec) is the viceregal representative in Quebec of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who operates distinctly within the province but is also shared equally with the ten other jurisdictions of Canada, as well as the other Commonwealth realms and any subdivisions thereof, and resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom. The Lieutenant Governor of Quebec is appointed in the same manner as the other provincial viceroys in Canada and is similarly tasked with carrying out most of the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties. The present and 29th Lieutenant Governor of Quebec is J. Michel Doyon, who has served in the role since 24 September 2015.

List of lieutenant governors of Quebec

The following is a list of the Lieutenant Governors of Quebec. Though the present day office of the lieutenant governor in Quebec came into being only upon the province's entry into Canadian Confederation in 1867, the post is a continuation from the first governorship of New France in 1627, through the governor generalcy of New France, and the governorship of the Province of Quebec. From 1786 to 1867, the Governors General of The Canadas and then the Governors General of the Province of Canada simultaneously acted as the direct governor of Lower Canada and then Canada East (what is present day Quebec), only occasionally appointing a lieutenant to act in their stead.

Louis-Joseph Papineau

Louis-Joseph Papineau (October 7, 1786 – September 23, 1871), born in Montreal, Quebec, was a politician, lawyer, and the landlord of the seigneurie de la Petite-Nation. He was the leader of the reformist Patriote movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838. His father was Joseph Papineau, also a politician in Quebec. Papineau was the eldest of eight children and was the grandfather of the journalist Henri Bourassa, founder of the newspaper Le Devoir. The Papineau metro station was named after him.

Lower Canada College

Lower Canada College (LCC), located in Montreal, Quebec, is an elementary and secondary level private school. The school offers education from Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students graduate from Grade 11, and then have the option of leaving the school and going on to a Pre-University college, unique to the Quebec system, or returning to LCC for the Pre-University year.

Once boys-only, LCC is now co-educational, with roughly 40 percent of the intake being girls. Girls were first admitted to Grade 12 in 1992 and were phased into the other grades beginning in the 1995–96 school year.

Until recently, LCC was one of the few remaining schools with a covered outdoor ice hockey rink. This has been replaced by a new athletics centre, as well as a new arena. In addition to hockey, LCC has been known for fielding strong teams in Canadian football,

soccer and basketball. Rugby was canceled in 2017 because it was deemed "too dangerous". LCC's traditional rival in sports and other matters is Selwyn House.The annual tuition fees for attending LCC range from $18,350 to $22,650.

Lower Canada Rebellion

The Lower Canada Rebellion (French: rébellion du Bas-Canada), commonly referred to as the Patriots' War (French: Guerre des patriotes) by Québécois, is the name given to the armed conflict in 1837–38 between the rebels of Lower Canada (now southern Quebec) and the British colonial power of that province. Together with the simultaneous rebellion in the neighbouring colony of Upper Canada (now southern Ontario), it formed the Rebellions of 1837–38 (French: rébellions de 1837–38).

As a result of the rebellions, the Province of Canada was created from the former provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada.

Parti canadien

The Parti canadien (French pronunciation: ​[paʁti kanadjɛ̃]) or Parti patriote (pronounced [paʁti patʁiɔt]) was a primarily francophone political party in what is now Quebec founded by members of the liberal elite of Lower Canada at the beginning of the 19th century. Its members were made up of liberal professionals and small-scale merchants, including François Blanchet, Pierre-Stanislas Bédard, John Neilson, Jean-Thomas Taschereau, James Stuart, Louis Bourdages, Denis-Benjamin Viger, Daniel Tracey, Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, Andrew Stuart and Louis-Joseph Papineau.

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.

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.

Slavery in Canada

Slavery in Canada includes both that practised by First Nations from earliest times and that under European colonization. While England did not ban slavery in present-day Canada until 1833, the practice of slavery was ended through case law; and it died out in the early 19th century through judicial actions litigated on behalf of slaves seeking manumission. A significant migration of blacks (free and slaves) into Canada from the United States happened after the American Revolution and again after the War of 1812. Forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, still occur in Canada.Some slaves were of African descent, but many were Aboriginal (typically called panis, from the French term for Pawnee). Slavery within what is now Canada was practised by Aboriginal groups and European settlers. While there was Canadian trade in African slaves, native nations also enslaved their rivals, but most were purchased by colonial administrators and sold to native nations until 1833, when the British Parliament abolished slavery across the British Empire. (There is often confusion over the date at which this occurred; Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807, but did not abolish slavery itself until 1833, in an act of Parliament that came into effect on 1 August 1834.) Prior to this, however, courts had, to varying degrees, rendered slavery unenforceable in both Lower Canada and Nova Scotia. In Lower Canada, for example, after court decisions in the late 1790s, the "slave could not be compelled to serve longer than he would, and ... might leave his master at will."People of African descent were forcibly brought as chattel slaves to New France, Acadia and the later British North America during the 17th century. Those in Canada typically came from the American colonies, as no shiploads of human chattel went to Canada directly from Africa. The number of slaves in New France is believed to have been in the hundreds. They were house servants and farm workers. There were no large plantations in Canada, and therefore no large slave work forces of the sort that existed in most European colonies in the southerly Americas, from Virginia to the West Indies to Brazil.

Because early Canada's role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade was minor, the history of slavery in Canada is often overshadowed by the more tumultuous slavery practised elsewhere in the Americas, particularly in the southern United States and colonial Caribbean. Some Black Canadians today are descended from these slaves.

The Canadas

The Canadas is the collective name for the provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada, two historical British colonies in present-day Canada. The two colonies were formed in 1791, when the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act, splitting the colonial Province of Quebec into two separate colonies. The Ottawa River formed the border between Lower and Upper Canada.

The Canadas were merged into a single entity in 1841, shortly after Lord Durham's published his Report on the Affairs of British North America. His report held several recommendations, most notably union of the Canadas. Acting on his recommendation, the British Parliament passed the Act of Union 1840. The Act went into effect in 1841, uniting the Canadas into Province of Canada.

The terms "Lower" and "Upper" refer to the colony's position relative to the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River.

Lower Canada covered the south-eastern portion of the present-day province of Quebec, Canada, and (until 1809) the Labrador region 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.

Former colonies and territories in Canada
English and

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