Home PageSite MapSite IndexHow to Use This SiteGlossaryContact Us Acknowledgements Image
Canada in the Making
Canada in the MakingConstitutional History
Primary Sources
Teachers' Resources
Biographies & Reference
Specific Events & Topics
Maps & Images
Français
Image
Image
Themes:
Constitutional History
Image
Aboriginals
1608 - 1759
1749 - 1759
1759 - 1763
1763 - 1774
1774 - 1791
1791 - 1837 (1)
1791 - 1837 (2)
1837 - 1839
1839 - 1850
1850 - 1867
1867 - 1931 (1)
1867 - 1931 (2)
1931 - 1982
1982 - 2002
Documents

Aboriginals: Treaties & Relations
Image
Pionniers et Immigrants
Image
Image

Watercolour: A View of the City of Québec - NAC/ANC C-002008
Copyright/Source

1763 - 1774: The Struggle for French Canadian Rights

In 1763, France gave up almost all of her North American colonies. The French Canadians and the British had to learn to live with one another. It was a period of friction and adjustment for the French Canadians, the authorities, and the newly arrived British merchants in what was now the British province of Québec.

Topics in this section:

The Treaty of Paris, 1763
The Royal Proclamation, 1763
Early Demands by British Merchants
Other Problems
The Search for a Solution
Merchants Seek an Elected Assembly
Stumbling Toward a Constitution
Other Interesting or Important Documents

Map of Eastern North America, 1763
Eastern North America, 1763

The Treaty of Paris, 1763
In the Treaty of Paris, 1763, France surrendered all claims to New France. In this period, Québec was governed almost as a crown colony: there was no representative Assembly and the governor was the source of most authority. General Murray, the military governor, was made the first Governor of the province.

Image
 

Treaty of Paris, Feb 10, 1763
(France surrenders most of her North American possessions.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Instructions to Governor Murray, Aug. 13, 1763
(Murray commissioned as Governor of Québec and instructed on how to govern.)

READ the summary
Image

The Royal Proclamation, 1763
The governor was guided by the Royal Proclamation, 1763, and various instructions from authorities in London. These formed the basis of civil administration in the new province of Québec.

Painting: A View of the Bishop's House with the Ruins as they appear in going down the Hill from the Upper to the Lower Town - NAC/ANC C-000352
Copyright/Source

The proclamation withdrew the privileged status of the Catholic Church and ended French civil law. British soldiers were expected to settle in Québec in large numbers, and ultimately assimilate the French Canadian population.



Image
 

Royal Proclamation, Oct. 7th, 1763 (bilingual)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Ordinance of Sept. 17, 1764 Establishing Civil Courts
(Establishes a court of King's Bench; laws of England to prevail.)

READ the summary
Image


Did you know?

The Royal Proclamation, 1663, was judged by Lord Mansfield to be the de facto constitution of Canada until the Québec Act, 1774.

Early Demands by British Merchants
From the earliest days of the civil administration, there were difficulties. British settlers and merchants were used to representative government and were also frustrated by the policies which kept them from going into Aboriginal lands. They made several demands:

  • That the existing civil code then in use in Québec be replaced by English common law, as dictated by the Royal Proclamation, 1763. This was necessary, it was argued, to protect British rights and business interests.
  • That a House of Assembly be formed, but that French-speaking Catholic Canadians be excluded.

Painting: James Murray - NAC/ANC C-002834
Copyright/Source

Had their demands been met, 500 new inhabitants would have kept 50,000 French Canadians out of representative government. Efforts to replace the civil code also proved chaotic. The French system had been quick and inexpensive; the new system was anything but.

Image
 

Governor Murray to the Lords of Trade, October 29th, 1764
(Responds to merchants' demands.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Petition of Québec Traders to the King, 1764
(Québec traders complain about Murray's rule.)

READ the summary
Image


Did you know?

The Coutume de Paris (customary law of Paris) formed the basis of laws in the province. Read more about the differences between civil and common law.

Other Problems
The oath that the Proclamation required all office holders to formally accept articles of the Protestant faith - articles that no Catholic could, in good conscience, accept. This meant that no French Canadians were legally able to fill any positions of authority.


Did you know?

The Second Test Act required office holders to swear: "I… do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever, and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other saint and the sacrifice of the mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous..."


Painting: General Sir Guy Carleton - NAC/ANC C-002833
Copyright/Source

The Search for a Solution
Due to accusations of the British merchants, Governor Murray was recalled to London. He cleared his name, but was replaced by Sir Guy Carleton. Carleton quickly realized that meeting the demands of the merchants would not only worsen the chaos already existing, but also provoke even greater hostility amongst the French Canadians. This caused more debate.

Image
 

Instructions to Governor Carleton, 1768
(Carleton is commissioned as governor and given instructions on how to govern.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Lieut.-Governor Carleton to Earl of Shelburne, Nov. 25, 1767
(Describes the state of the province.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Lieut.-Governor Carleton to Earl of Shelburne, Dec. 24, 1767
(Tells of the disputes between practice of civil law and English common law.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Draught of Carleton's Report to the Earl of Hillsborough, March 6, 1768
(Carleton recommends that French civil law be reestablished in Québec.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Attorney General Masère's Criticisms of Governor Carleton's Report
(Maseres disapproves of Carleton's plan to revive French civil law.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Petition of French Subjects to the King, Dec. 1773
(Request the restoration of French civil law.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Case of the British Merchants Trading to Québec, May, 1774
(Object to the re-introduction of French civil law in Québec as they believe it would hurt their business interests.)

READ the summary
Image

Merchants Seek an Elected Assembly
Another issue of disagreement between Carleton and the merchants was the call for an elected assembly.

Image
 

Lieut.-Governor Carleton to Earl of Shelburne, Jan 20, 1768
(Expresses concerns about the formation of an Assembly.)

READ the summary
Image

Stumbling Toward a Constitution
As the debate over these issues continued, reports and opinions were commissioned. The French Canadian inhabitants and the British traders also both lobbied for their own positions. Ultimately, efforts were made to draft a constitution for the province.

Image
 

Report of Solicitor General Alex. Wedderburn, Dec. 6, 1772
(This report by Wedderburn discusses the government of Québec, religion, civil and criminal laws and the judiciary needed to enforce laws.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Plan of a Code of Laws for the Province of Québec

READ the summary
Image


Engraving: An East view of Montreal, in Canada, 1762 - NAC/ANC C-002433
Copyright/Source

Other Important or Interesting Documents

Previous page

Image
Image
  ImageTop of Page Image
Image Image
Image