V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > H. North America, 1789–1914 > 3. British North America, 1789–1914 > b. The Dominion of Canada, 1789–1877
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
b. The Dominion of Canada, 1789–1877
1791, June 10
PASSAGE OF THE CANADA ACT through the British Parliament. It went into effect on Dec. 26. Canada was divided at the Ottawa River into Upper Canada (chiefly English) and Lower Canada (predominantly French). Each part had a governor, a Legislative Council appointed by him, and an elected Assembly. Colonial laws could be disallowed by the home government within two years of passage. One-seventh of all land granted was to be reserved for the maintenance of the Protestant clergy. All rights of the Catholic Church were reaffirmed.  1
EXPLORATION OF THE WEST. In 1789 a Spanish expedition from Mexico took possession of the northwest coast, but in 1790 Spain abandoned claims to the region (treaty of Oct. 28). In 1792 Capt. George Vancouver explored the Pacific coast and circumnavigated Vancouver Island. In 1793 Alexander Mackenzie reached the coast after the first overland journey from the east. Meanwhile (1785–95) David Thompson had traversed much of the territory along the coast of Hudson Bay north to Fort Churchill, as well as the regions about Lake Winnipeg and along the Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers. Jay's Treaty between the United States and Great Britain (Nov. 19, 1794) provided for a boundary commission to determine the frontier west of the Lake of the Woods.  2
By 1810 much of the southern half of present-day Canada had been trekked by various explorers and traders. In 1811 Lord Selkirk bought from the Hudson's Bay Company 116,000 square miles for settlement in Manitoba, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Scottish settlers arrived there on the Red River in 1812. In 1815 an attack was launched on the colony by agents of the rival Northwest Company; colonists were driven out in 1815 and 1816. An investigation in 1817 upheld the claims of Lord Selkirk, and the colony was reestablished.  3
Estimated population of Canada: French descent, 140,000; British, 110,000; 50,000 Indians in the settled sections of British North America; and a small number of African Canadians. Nearly 50 percent of the 3,000 black loyalists in Nova Scotia responded to their lowly position by emigrating to the African colony of Sierra Leone.  4
Despite the support of Indians like Joseph Brant during the American Revolution, Britain offended them by ceding large tracts of Indian land to the U.S.  5
The arrival of Jamaican maroons augmented Nova Scotia's small black population.  6
The Alien Act was passed, permitting banishment of anyone found guilty of disturbing the peace in Upper Canada.  7
Napoleon closed off Baltic Sea sources of timber supplies and helped to stimulate the growth of the Canadian timber industry.  8
An opposition political group called the Society of Loyal Electors was formed on Prince Edward Island. A similar group known as the Parti Canadien (later Parti Patriot) formed in Lower Canada at about the same time. They were considered the earliest manifestations of political parties in Canada.  9
Painter William Berczy (1744–1813) produced his masterpiece of early Canadian painting, The Woolsey Family.  10
1812, June 18
UNITED STATES DECLARED WAR ON GREAT BRITAIN. Among the causes of conflict were the continued trouble with the Indians, supposedly instigated and equipped by the British in Canada, and the American desire to conquer Canada. A triple attack was planned: on Montreal; on the region opposite Niagara; and on the region opposite Detroit. On the Montreal front and at Niagara, the offensive failed to materialize. At Detroit a short advance was made, followed by retreat. The British, under Gen. Isaac Brock, secured the surrender of Detroit (Aug. 16, 1812). Brock then turned to Niagara and fought the successful engagement of Queenston Heights (Oct. 13), in which he was killed.  11
Canada's small black population was reinforced by the arrival of 2,000 ex-slaves from the United States. By 1860, an estimated 30,000 additional slaves entered Canada via the Underground Railroad.  12
The Americans captured York (Toronto) on April 27, but abandoned it soon afterward (May 2). In Ohio the Americans were vigorously attacked by the British, supported by the Indians (Tecumseh). On Sept. 10 Lt. Oliver Hazard Perry, with an improvised fleet, won the naval Battle of Lake Erie and forced the British to abandon Detroit. The Americans, under Gen. William Henry Harrison, crossed into Ontario and fought the successful engagement on the Thames River (Oct. 5), but were unable to follow up the advantage. The campaign against Montreal was begun on Oct. 17, but the Americans were defeated in the Battle of Crysler's Farm on Nov. 11, and the advance was abandoned. On Dec. 10 an American force burned Newark; in retaliation, the British and Canadians, after taking Fort Niagara (Dec. 18), burned Buffalo (Dec. 29–31).  13
1814, July 5
The Americans, advancing from Niagara, took Fort Erie and won the engagement at Chippewa Plains. They advanced to Queenston, but then fell back again.  14
July 25
Sixteen thousand British troops had been sent to Canada, and an invasion was begun by way of Lake Champlain.  15
Sept. 11
An American naval force under Lt. (later Captain) Thomas Macdonough won the Battle of Plattsburg and forced the retirement of the British.  16
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.