Uniting the Canadas

During the 1840s the Canadas, Upper and Lower, simmered uneasily. England resisted the demands of the newly united colony for self government, the colonists continued to insist on being granted the right of self government. The French This represented an overwhelming majority of the people. More than half of the citizens of Lower Canada were French speaking and a good sector of the remaining number were Irish Catholic who feared being left out entirely, ruled by the English.

This conflict put many British settlers, ever loyal to the crown, in a difficult position. Although they continued to serve loyally in the local militia, they were not entirely opposed to the idea of self government.

In 1847 Lord Elgin was appointed Governor General and sent representatives of the British government to find a peaceful solution to the discord. One of the first comments sent back to the colonial secretary by the new Governor General strongly suggested the importance of equal treatment for French and English. He considered this was imperative for a successful solution to the unrest. He also felt that it was very possible that if the crown did not act on the demands of the Canadas, French speaking citizens of Lower Canada would join with Irish Catholics on both sides of the border. This latter sector, both in the Canadas and the United States was composed of fanatics and radicals violently opposed to rule by the crown. The Governor General feared if nothing was accomplished violence would break out with public buildings being attacked.

Meantime, two prominent citizens of the Canadas, Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine, a member of the Assembly of Lower Canada, and Robert Baldwin, a lawyer of Upper Canada, were working together diligently to reach an agreement between the opposing parties.

The Act of Union was passed July 23, 1840 by the British Government to merge the two provinces with one assembly.

July 1st, 1867 these two united Canadas were once again divided into two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.