Québec


Québec
   Known as Lower Canada before 1867, Québec was a British colony that became a province of the Dominion of Canada under the British North America Act. Conquered by the British in the Seven Years’ War of 1757–1763, and then given an extensive western hinterland by the Quebec Act of 1774, it was severed from Upper Canada - the future Ontario - by William Pitt the Younger’s Constitutional Act of 1791, which was an attempt to extend the British constitution to Quebec. It created an assembly elected under a property franchise and an appointive legislative council. The British-appointed governor ruled through an executive council of his choosing.
   This led rapidly to tensions and, as in other British North American colonies, control over colonial revenues was disputed between the British-appointed governor and the popularly elected assembly. Quebec’s politics were further complicated by divisions between the French-speaking majority and the English-speaking minority. The parti patriote in Quebec claimed that revenues should fall entirely under popular control, which would have placed effective control of the government in the hands of the French majority. More radical members of the patriotes moved toward republicanism and led a brief rebellion in 1837, coincident with the rebellion of William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada. Both were easily put down by British troops. The rebellions of 1837 led to the report of Lord Durham, and thence to the unification of the Canadas into one colony with the object of assimilating the French population into the larger English Canadian majority. The united province of Canada was granted responsible government in 1848, to the anger of much of Quebec’s British population, who rioted against the large role given to French Canadians in the newly autonomous government. The united Canadas were divided into the separate provinces of Ontario and Quebec within the new Dominion of Canada in 1867, thus re-creating a political unit with a French-speaking majority.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Ouellet, Fernand. Lower Canada, 1791–1840. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1980; Wade, Mason. The French Canadians, 1760–1945. London: Macmillan, 1955.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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