Upper Canada

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Upper Canada

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The Province of Upper Canada, the predecessor of modern day Ontario, came into existence with the passing of the Constitutional Act by British Parliament in 1791. The passing of the Act divided the old Province of Quebec into Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west, along the present-day Quebec-Ontario border. The creation of Upper Canada was the result of several different factors. During the Seven Years' War, the French abandoned most of the region of the province of Quebec to the British and after the surrender of Montreal in 1760, the British took over the territory which was later to become Upper Canada. Also, in the 1780's, after the end of the American Revolution, thousands of Loyalist refugees flooded northward, across the border. The Constitutional Act was a direct response by London to the American Revolution and Upper Canada was to develop with tight British control. The first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada was Sir John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe's prime goal was to win the American Loyalist emigrants back into the British camp. Simcoe did not fully succeed in his goal when he retired in 1796, but the War of 1812 helped to further his cause and strengthen Britain's control over Upper Canada. Over time, the people of Upper Canada found the Constitutional Act of 1791 too rigid, and there was much pressure for change. A second wave of settlers came to the region between 1815 and 1820. These settlers were immigrants from the British Isles who came to the Canadas looking for a better life. By 1838 the population of Upper Canada had risen to more than 400 000 inhabitants. In 1838, the Governor General of Canada, the Earl of Durham, drafted his famous Durham report, calling for the re-unification of Upper and Lower Canada and creation of "responsible government". Britain approved the union of Upper and Lower Canada and on February 10, Upper Canada ceased to exist, and in union with Lower Canada, became the Province of Canada. (Taken from : The Canadian Encyclopedia, Volume three. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1985.)


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