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   Chapter 2 BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH RULE. 1760-1774.

Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 By John George Bourinot Characters: 37655

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


SECTION I.-From the Conquest until the Quebec Act.

For nearly four years after the surrender of Vaudreuil at Montreal, Canada was under a government of military men, whose headquarters were at Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal-the capitals of the old French districts of the same name. General Murray and the other commanders laboured to be just and considerate in all their relations with the new subjects of the Crown, who were permitted to prosecute their ordinary pursuits without the least interference on the part of the conquerors. The conditions of the capitulations of Quebec and Montreal, which allowed the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, were honourably kept. All that was required then, and for many years later, was that the priests and curés should confine themselves exclusively to their parochial duties, and not take part in public matters. It had been also stipulated at Montreal that the communities of nuns should not be disturbed in their convents; and while the same privileges were not granted by the articles of capitulation to the Jesuits, Recollets, and Sulpitians, they had every facility given to them to dispose of their property and remove to France. As a matter of fact there was practically no interference with any of the religious fraternities during the early years of British rule; and when in the course of time the Jesuits disappeared entirely from the country their estates passed by law into the possession of the government for the use of the people, while the Sulpitians were eventually allowed to continue their work and develope property which became of great value on the island of Montreal. (The French merchants and traders were allowed all the commercial and trading privileges that were enjoyed by the old subjects of the British Sovereign, not only in the valley of the St. Lawrence, but in the rich fur regions of the West and North-West.) The articles of capitulation did not give any guarantees or pledges for the continuance of the civil law under which French Canada had been governed for over a century, but while that was one of the questions dependent on the ultimate fate of Canada, the British military rulers took every possible care during the continuance of the military régime to respect so far as possible the old customs and laws by which the people had been previously governed. French writers of those days admit the generosity and justice of the administration of affairs during this military régime.

The treaty of Paris, signed on the 10th February, 1763, formally ceded to England Canada as well as Acadia, with all their dependencies. The French Canadians were allowed full liberty "to profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish Church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit." The people had permission to retire from Canada with all their effects within eighteen months from the date of the ratification of the treaty. All the evidence before us goes to show that only a few officials and seigniors ever availed themselves of this permission to leave the country. At this time there was not a single French settlement beyond Vaudreuil until the traveller reached the banks of the Detroit between Lakes Erie and Huron. A chain of forts and posts connected Montreal with the basin of the great lakes and the country watered by the Ohio, Illinois, and other tributaries of the Mississippi. The forts on the Niagara, at Detroit, at Michillimackinac, at Great Bay, on the Maumee and Wabash, at Presqu' isle, at the junction of French Creek with the Alleghany, at the forks of the Ohio, and at less important localities in the West and South-West, were held by small English garrisons, while the French still occupied Vincennes on the Wabash and Chartres on the Mississippi, in the vicinity of the French settlements at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and the present site of St. Louis.

Soon after the fall of Montreal, French traders from New Orleans and the French settlements on the Mississippi commenced to foment disaffection among the western Indians, who had strong sympathy with France, and were quite ready to believe the story that she would ere long regain Canada. The consequence was the rising of all the western tribes under the leadership of Pontiac, the principal chief of the Ottawas, whose warriors surrounded and besieged Detroit when he failed to capture it by a trick. Niagara was never attacked, and Detroit itself was successfully defended by Major Gladwin, a fearless soldier; but all the other forts and posts very soon fell into the hands of the Indians, who massacred the garrisons in several places. They also ravaged the border settlements of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and carried off a number of women and children to their wigwams. Fort Pitt at the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela rivers-the site of the present city of Pittsburg-was in serious peril for a time, until Colonel Bouquet, a brave and skilful officer, won a signal victory over the Indians, who fled in dismay to their forest fastnesses. Pontiac failed to capture Detroit, and Bouquet followed up his first success by a direct march into the country of the Shawnees, Mingoes and Delawares, and forced them to agree to stern conditions of peace on the banks of the Muskingum. The power of the western Indians was broken for the time, and the British in 1765 took possession of the French forts of Chartres and Vincennes, when the fleur-de-lys disappeared for ever from the valley of the Mississippi. The French settlers on the Illinois and the Mississippi preferred to remain under British rule rather than cross the great river and become subjects of Spain, to whom Western Louisiana had been ceded by France. From this time forward France ceased to be an influential factor in the affairs of Canada or New France, and the Indian tribes recognized the fact that they could no longer expect any favour or aid from their old ally. They therefore transferred their friendship to England, whose power they had felt in the Ohio valley, and whose policy was now framed with a special regard to their just treatment.

This Indian war was still in progress when King George III issued his proclamation for the temporary government of his new dependencies in North America. As a matter of fact, though the proclamation was issued in England on the 7th October, 1763, it did not reach Canada and come into effect until the 10th August, 1764. The four governments of Quebec, Grenada, East Florida, and West Florida were established in the territories ceded by France and Spain. The eastern limit of the province of Quebec did not extend beyond St. John's River at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, nearly opposite to Anticosti, while that island itself and the Labrador country, east of the St. John's as far as the Straits of Hudson, were placed under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. The islands of Cape Breton and St. John, now Prince Edward, became subject to the Government of Nova Scotia, which then included the present province of New Brunswick. The northern limit of the province did not extend beyond the territory known as Rupert's Land under the charter given to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670, while the western boundary was drawn obliquely from Lake Nipissing as far as Lake St. Francis on the St. Lawrence; the southern boundary then followed line 45° across the upper part of Lake Champlain, whence it passed along the highlands which divide the rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those that flow into the sea-an absurdly defined boundary since it gave to Canada as far as Cape Rosier on the Gaspé peninsula a territory only a few miles wide. No provision whatever was made in the proclamation for the government of the country west of the Appalachian range, which was claimed by Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other colonies under the indefinite terms of their original charters, which practically gave them no western limits. Consequently the proclamation was regarded with much disfavour by the English colonists on the Atlantic coast. No provision was even made for the great territory which extended beyond Nipissing as far as the Mississippi and included the basin of the great lakes. It is easy to form the conclusion that the intention of the British government was to restrain the ambition of the old English colonies east of the Appalachian range, and to divide the immense territory to their north-west at some future and convenient time into several distinct and independent governments. No doubt the British government also found it expedient for the time being to keep the control of the fur-trade so far as possible in its own hands, and in order to achieve this object it was necessary in the first place to conciliate the Indian tribes, and not allow them to come in any way under the jurisdiction of the chartered colonies. The proclamation itself, in fact, laid down entirely new, and certainly equitable, methods of dealing with the Indians within the limits of British sovereignty. The governors of the old colonies were expressly forbidden to grant authority to survey lands beyond the settled territorial limits of their respective governments. No person was allowed to purchase land directly from the Indians. The government itself thenceforth could alone give a legal title to Indian lands, which must, in the first place, be secured by treaty with the tribes that claimed to own them. This was the beginning of that honest policy which has distinguished the relations of England and Canada with the Indian nations for over a hundred years, and which has obtained for the present Dominion the confidence and friendship of the many thousand Indians, who roamed for many centuries in Rupert's Land and in the Indian Territories where the Hudson's Bay Company long enjoyed exclusive privileges of trade.

The language of the proclamation with respect to the government of the province of Quebec was extremely unsatisfactory. It was ordered that so soon as the state and circumstances of the colony admitted, the governor-general could with the advice and consent of the members of the council summon a general assembly, "in such manner and form as is used and directed in those colonies and provinces in America which are under our immediate government." Laws could be made by the governor, council, and representatives of the people for the good government of the colony, "as near as may be agreeable to the laws of England, and under such regulations and restrictions as are used in other colonies." Until such an assembly could be called, the governor could with the advice of his council constitute courts for the trial and determination of all civil and criminal cases, "according to law and equity, and as near as may be agreeable to the laws of England," with liberty to appeal, in all civil cases, to the privy council of England. General Murray, who had been in the province since the battle on the Plains of Abraham, was appointed to administer the government. Any persons elected to serve in an assembly were required, by his commission and instructions, before they could sit and vote, to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and subscribe a declaration against transubstantiation, the adoration of the Virgin, and the Sacrifice of the Mass.

This proclamation-in reality a mere temporary expedient to give time for considering the whole state of the colony-was calculated to do infinite harm, since its principal importance lay in the fact that it attempted to establish English civil as well as criminal law, and at the same time required oaths which effectively prevented the French Canadians from serving in the very assembly which it professed a desire on the part of the king to establish. The English-speaking or Protestant people in the colony did not number in 1764 more than three hundred persons, of little or no standing, and it was impossible to place all power in their hands and to ignore nearly seventy thousand French Canadian Roman Catholics. Happily the governor, General Murray, was not only an able soldier, as his defence of Quebec against Lévis had proved, but also a man of statesmanlike ideas, animated by a high sense of duty and a sincere desire to do justice to the foreign people committed to his care. He refused to lend himself to the designs of the insignificant British minority, chiefly from the New England colonies, or to be guided by their advice in carrying on his government. His difficulties were lessened by the fact that the French had no conception of representative institutions in the English sense, and were quite content with any system of government that left them their language, religion, and civil law without interference. The stipulations of the capitulations of 1759-1760, and of the treaty of Paris, with respect to the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, were always observed in a spirit of great fairness: and in 1766 Monseigneur Briand was chosen, with the governor's approval, Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec. He was consecrated at Paris after his election by the chapter of Quebec, and it does not appear that his recognition ever became the subject of parliamentary discussion. This policy did much to reconcile the French Canadians to their new rulers, and to make them believe that eventually they would receive full consideration in other essential respects.

For ten years the government of Canada was in a very unsatisfactory condition, while the British ministry was all the while worried with the condition of things in the old colonies, then in a revolutionary ferment. The Protestant minority continued to clamour for an assembly, and a mixed system of French and English law, in case it was not possible to establish the latter in its entirety. Attorney-General Masères, an able lawyer and constitutional writer, was in favour of a mixed system, but his views were notably influenced by his strong prejudices against Roman Catholics. The administration of the law was extremely confused until 1774, not only on account of the ignorance and incapacity of the men first sent out from England to preside over the courts, but also as a consequence of the steady determination of the majority of French Canadians to ignore laws to which they had naturally an insuperable objection. In fact, the condition of things became practically chaotic. It might have been much worse had not General Murray, at first, and Sir Guy Carleton, at a later time, endeavoured, so far as lay in their power, to mitigate the hardships to which the people were subject by being forced to observe laws of which they were entirely ignorant.

At this time the governor-general was advised by an executive council, composed of officials and some other persons chosen from the small Protestant minority of the province. Only one French Canadian appears to have been ever admitted to this executive body. The English residents ignored the French as far as possible, and made the most unwarrantable claims to rule the whole province.

A close study of official documents from 1764 until 1774 goes to show that all this while the British government was influenced by an anxious desire to show every justice to French Canada, and to adopt a system of government most conducive to its best interests In 1767 Lord Shelburne wrote to Sir Guy Carleton that "the improvement of the civil constitution of the province was under their most serious consideration." They were desirous of obtaining all information "which can tend to elucidate how far it is practicable and expedient to blend the English with the French laws, in order to form such a system as shall be at once equitable and convenient for His Majesty's old and new subjects." From time to time the points at issue were referred to the law officers of the crown for their opinion, so anxious was the government to come to a just conclusion. Attorney-General Yorke and Solicitor-General De Grey in 1766 severely condemned any system that would permanently "impose new, unnecessary and arbitrary rules (especially as to the titles of land, and the mode of descent, alienation and settlement), which would tend to confound and subvert rights instead of supporting them." In 1772 and 1773 Attorney-General Thurlow and Solicitor-General Wedderburne dwelt on the necessity of dealing on principles of justice with the province of Quebec. The French Canadians, said the former, "seem to have been strictly entitled by the jus gentium to their property, as they possessed it upon the capitulation and treaty of peace, together with all its qualities and incidents by tenure or otherwise." It seemed a necessary consequence that all those laws by which that property was created, defined, and secured, must be continued to them. The Advocate-General Marriott, in 1773, also made a number of valuable suggestions in the same spirit, and at the same time expressed the opinion that under the existent conditions of the country it was not possible or expedient to call an assembly. Before the imperial government came to a positive conclusion on the vexed questions before it, they had the advantage of the wise experience of Sir Guy Carleton, who visited England and remained there for some time. The result of the deliberation of years was the passage through the British parliament of the measure known as "The Quebec Act," which has always been considered the charter of the special privileges which the French Canadians have enjoyed ever since, and which, in the course of a century, made their province one of the most influential sections of British North America.

The preamble of the Quebec Act fixed new territorial limits for the province. It comprised not only the country affected by the proclamation of 1763, but also all the eastern territory which had been previously annexed to Newfoundland. In the west and south-west the province was extended to the Ohio and the Mississippi, and in fact embraced all the lands beyond the Alleghanies coveted and claimed by the old English colonies, now hemmed in between the Atlantic and the Appalachian range. It was now expressly enacted that the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Canada should thenceforth "enjoy the free exercise" of their religion, "subject to the king's supremacy declared and established" by law, and on condition of taking an oath of allegiance, set forth in the act. The Roman Catholic clergy were allowed "to hold, receive, and enjoy their accustomed dues and rights, with respect to such persons only as shall confess the said religion"-that is, one twenty-sixth part of the produce of the land, Protestants being specially exempted. The French Canadians were allowed to enjoy all their property, together with all customs and usages incident thereto, "in

as large, ample and beneficial manner," as if the proclamation or other acts of the crown "had not been made", but the religious orders and communities were excepted in accordance with the terms of the capitulation of Montreal-the effect of which exception I have already briefly stated. In "all matters of controversy relative to property and civil rights," resort was to be had to the old civil law of French Canada "as the rule for the decision of the same", but the criminal law of England was extended to the province on the indisputable ground that its "certainty and lenity" were already "sensibly felt by the inhabitants from an experience of more than nine years." The government of the province was entrusted to a governor and a legislative council appointed by the crown, "inasmuch as it was inexpedient to call an assembly." The council was to be composed of not more than twenty-three residents of the province. At the same time the British parliament made special enactments for the imposition of certain customs duties "towards defraying the charges of the administration of justice and the support of the civil government of the province." All deficiencies in the revenues derived from these and other sources had to be supplied by the imperial treasury. During the passage of the act through parliament, it evoked the bitter hostility of Lord Chatham, who was then the self-constituted champion of the old colonies, who found the act most objectionable, not only because it established the Roman Catholic religion, but placed under the government of Quebec the rich territory west of the Alleghanies. Similar views were expressed by the Mayor and Council of London, but they had no effect. The king, in giving his assent, declared that the measure "was founded on the clearest principles of justice and humanity, and would have the best effect in quieting the minds and promoting the happiness of our Canadian subjects." In French Canada the act was received without any popular demonstration by the French Canadians, but the men to whom the great body of that people always looked for advice and guidance-the priests, curés, and seigniors-naturally regarded these concessions to their nationality as giving most unquestionable evidence of the considerate and liberal spirit in which the British government was determined to rule the province. They had had ever since the conquest satisfactory proof that their religion was secure from all interference, and now the British parliament itself came forward with legal guarantees, not only for the free exercise of that religion, with all its incidents and tithes, but also for the permanent establishment of the civil law to which they attached so much importance. The fact that no provision was made for a popular assembly could not possibly offend a people to whom local self-government in any form was entirely unknown. It was impossible to constitute an assembly from the few hundred Protestants who were living in Montreal and Quebec, and it was equally impossible, in view of the religious prejudices dominant in England and the English colonies, to give eighty thousand French Canadian Roman Catholics privileges which their co-religionists did not enjoy in Great Britain and to allow them to sit in an elected assembly. Lord North seemed to voice the general opinion of the British parliament on this difficult subject, when he closed the debate with an expression of "the earnest hope that the Canadians will, in the course of time, enjoy as much of our laws and as much of our constitution as may be beneficial to that country and safe for this", but "that time," he concluded, "had not yet come." It does not appear from the evidence before us that the British had any other motive in passing the Quebec Act than to do justice to the French Canadian people, now subjects of the crown of England. It was not a measure primarily intended to check the growth of popular institutions, but solely framed to meet the actual conditions of a people entirely unaccustomed to the working of representative or popular institutions. It was a preliminary step in the development of self-government.

On the other hand the act was received with loud expressions of dissatisfaction by the small English minority who had hoped to see themselves paramount in the government of the province. In Montreal, the headquarters of the disaffected, an attempt was made to set fire to the town, and the king's bust was set up in one of the public squares, daubed with black, and decorated with a necklace made of potatoes, and bearing the inscription Voilà le pape du Canada & le sot Anglais. The author of this outrage was never discovered, and all the influential French Canadian inhabitants of the community were deeply incensed that their language should have been used to insult a king whose only offence was his assent to a measure of justice to themselves.

Sir Guy Carleton, who had been absent in England for four years, returned to Canada on the 18th September, 1774, and was well received in Quebec. The first legislative council under the Quebec Act was not appointed until the beginning of August, 1775. Of the twenty-two members who composed it, eight were influential French Canadians bearing historic names. The council met on the 17th August, but was forced to adjourn on the 7th September, on account of the invasion of Canada by the troops of the Continental Congress, composed of representatives of the rebellious element of the Thirteen Colonies. In a later chapter I shall very shortly review the effects of the American revolution upon the people of Canada; but before I proceed to do so it is necessary to take my readers first to Nova Scotia on the eastern seaboard of British North America and give a brief summary of its political development from the beginning of British rule.

SECTION 2.-The foundation of Nova Scotia (1749-1783).

The foundation of Halifax practically put an end to the Acadian period of Nova Scotian settlement. Until that time the English occupation of the country was merely nominal. Owing largely to the representations of Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts-a statesman of considerable ability, who distinguished himself in American affairs during a most critical period of colonial history-the British government decided at last on a vigorous policy in the province, which seemed more than once on the point of passing out of their hands. Halifax was founded by the Honourable Edward Cornwallis on the slope of a hill, whose woods then dipped their branches into the very waters of the noble harbour long known as Chebuctou, and renamed in honour of a distinguished member of the Montague family, who had in those days full control of the administration of colonial affairs.

Colonel Cornwallis, a son of the Baron of that name-a man of firmness and discretion-entered the harbour, on the 21st of June, old style, or 2nd July present style, and soon afterwards assumed his, duties as governor of the province. The members of his first council were sworn in on board one of the transports in the harbour. Between 2000 and 3000 persons were brought at this time to settle the town and country. These people were chiefly made up of retired military and naval officers, soldiers and sailors, gentlemen, mechanics, farmers-far too few-and some Swiss, who were extremely industrious and useful. On the whole, they were not the best colonists to build up a prosperous industrial community. The government gave the settlers large inducements in the shape of free grants of land, and practically supported them for the first two or three years. It was not until the Acadian population were removed, and their lands were available, that the foundation of the agricultural prosperity of the peninsula was really laid. In the summer of 1753 a considerable number of Germans were placed in the present county of Lunenburg, where their descendants still prosper, and take a most active part in all the occupations of life.

With the disappearance of the French Acadian settlers Nova Scotia became a British colony in the full sense of the phrase. The settlement of 1749 was supplemented in 1760, and subsequent years, by a valuable and large addition of people who were induced to leave Massachusetts and other colonies of New England and settle in townships of the present counties of Annapolis, King's, Hants, Queen's, Yarmouth, Cumberland, and Colchester, especially in the beautiful townships of Cornwallis and Horton, where the Acadian meadows were the richest. A small number also settled at Maugerville and other places on the St. John River.

During the few years that had elapsed since the Acadians were driven from their lands, the sea had once more found its way through the ruined dykes, which had no longer the skilful attention of their old builders. The new owners of the Acadian lands had none of the special knowledge that the French had acquired, and were unable for years to keep back the ever-encroaching tides. Still there were some rich uplands and low-lying meadows, raised above the sea, which richly rewarded the industrious cultivator. The historian, Haliburton, describes the melancholy scene that met the eyes of the new settlers when they reached, in 1760, the old homes of the Acadians at Mines. They came across a few straggling families of Acadians who "had eaten no bread for years, and had subsisted on vegetables, fish, and the more hardy part of the cattle that had survived the severity of the first winter of their abandonment." They saw everywhere "ruins of the houses that had been burned by the Provincials, small gardens encircled by cherry-trees and currant-bushes, and clumps of apple-trees." In all parts of the country, where the new colonists established themselves, the Indians were unfriendly for years, and it was necessary to erect stockaded houses for the protection of the settlements.

No better class probably could have been selected to settle Nova Scotia than these American immigrants. The majority were descendants of the Puritans who settled in New England, and some were actually sprung from men and women who had landed from "The Mayflower" in 1620. Governor Lawrence recognized the necessity of having a sturdy class of settlers, accustomed to the climatic conditions and to agricultural labour in America, and it was through his strenuous efforts that these immigrants were brought into the province. They had, indeed, the choice of the best land of the province, and everything was made as pleasant as possible for them by a paternal government, only anxious to establish British authority on a sound basis of industrial development.

In 1767, according to an official return in the archives of Nova Scotia, the total population of what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, reached 13,374 souls; of whom 6913 are given as Americans, 912 as English, 2165 as Irish, 1946 as Germans, and 1265 as Acadian French, the latter being probably a low estimate. Some of these Irish emigrated directly from the north of Ireland, and were Presbyterians. They were brought out by one Alexander McNutt, who did much for the work of early colonization; others came from New Hampshire, where they had been settled for some years. The name of Londonderry in New Hampshire is a memorial of this important class, just as the same name recalls them in the present county of Colchester, in Nova Scotia.

The Scottish immigration, which has exercised such an important influence on the eastern counties of Nova Scotia-and I include Cape Breton-commenced in 1772, when about thirty families arrived from Scotland and settled in the present county of Pictou, where a very few American colonists from Philadelphia had preceded them. In later years a steady tide of Scotch population flowed into eastern Nova Scotia and did not cease until 1820. Gaelic is still the dominant tongue in the eastern counties, where we find numerous names recalling the glens, lochs, and mountains of old Scotland. Sir William Alexander's dream of a new Scotland has been realised in a measure in the province where his ambition would have made him "lord paramount."

Until the foundation of Halifax the government of Nova Scotia was vested solely in a governor who had command of the garrison stationed at Annapolis. In 1719 a commission was issued to Governor Phillips, who was authorised to appoint a council of not less than twelve persons. This council had advisory and judicial functions, but its legislative authority was of a very limited scope. This provisional system of government lasted until 1749, when Halifax became the seat of the new administration of public affairs. The governor had a right to appoint a council of twelve persons-as we have already seen, he did so immediately-and to summon a general assembly "according to the usage of the rest of our colonies and plantations in America." He was, "with the advice and consent" of the council and assembly, "to make, constitute and ordain laws" for the good government of the province. During nine years the governor-in-council carried on the government without an assembly, and passed a number of ordinances, some of which imposed duties on trade for the purpose of raising revenue. The legality of their acts was questioned by Chief Justice Belcher, and he was sustained by the opinion of the English law officers, who called attention to the governor's commission, which limited the council's powers. The result of this decision was the establishment of a representative assembly, which met for the first time at Halifax on the 2nd October, 1758.

Governor Lawrence, whose name will be always unhappily associated with the merciless expatriation of the French Acadians, had the honour of opening the first legislative assembly of Nova Scotia in 1758. One Robert Sanderson, of whom we know nothing else, was chosen as the first speaker, but he held his office for only one session, and was succeeded by William Nesbitt, who presided over the house for many years. The first sittings of the legislature were held in the court house, and subsequently in the old grammar school at the corner of Barrington and Sackville Streets, for very many years one of the historic memorials of the Halifax of the eighteenth century.

At this time the present province of New Brunswick was for the most part comprised in a county known as Sunbury, with one representative in the assembly of Nova Scotia. The island of Cape Breton also formed a part of the province, and had the right to send two members to the assembly, but the only election held for that purpose was declared void on account of there not being any freeholders entitled by law to vote. The island of St. John, named Prince Edward in 1798, in honour of the Duke of Kent, who was commander-in-chief of the British forces for some years in North America, was also annexed to Nova Scotia in 1763, but it never sent representatives to its legislature. In the following year a survey was commenced of all the imperial dominions on the Atlantic. Various schemes for the cultivation and settlement of the island were proposed as soon as the surveys were in progress. The most notable suggestion was made by the Earl of Egmont, first lord of the admiralty; he proposed the division of the island into baronies, each with a castle or stronghold under a feudal lord, subject to himself as lord paramount, under the customs of the feudal system of Europe. The imperial authorities rejected this scheme, but at the same time they adopted one which was as unwise as that of the noble earl. The whole island, with the exception of certain small reservations and royalties, was given away by lottery in a single day to officers of the army and navy who had served in the preceding war, and to other persons who were ambitious to be great landowners, on the easy condition of paying certain quit-rents-a condition constantly broken. This ill-advised measure led to many troublesome complications for a hundred years, until at last they were removed by the terms of the arrangement which brought the island into the federal union of British North America in 1873. In 1769 the island was separated from Nova Scotia and granted a distinct government, although its total population at the time did not exceed one hundred and fifty families. An assembly of eighteen representatives was called so early as 1773, when the first governor, Captain Walter Paterson, still administered public affairs. The assembly was not allowed to meet with regularity during many years of the early history of the island. During one administration it was practically without parliamentary government for ten years. The land question always dominated public affairs in the island for a hundred years.

From the very beginning of a regular system of government in Nova Scotia the legislature appears to have practically controlled the administration of local affairs except so far as it gave, from time to time, powers to the courts of quarter sessions to regulate taxation and carry out certain small public works and improvements. In the first session of the legislature a joint committee of the council and assembly chose the town officers for Halifax. We have abundant evidence that at this time the authorities viewed with disfavour any attempt to establish a system of town government similar to that so long in operation in New England. The town meeting was considered the nursery of sedition in New England, and it is no wonder that the British authorities in Halifax frowned upon all attempts to reproduce it in their province.

Soon after his arrival in Nova Scotia, Governor Cornwallis established courts of law to try and determine civil and criminal cases in accordance with the laws of England. In 1774 there were in the province courts of general session, similar to the courts of the same name in England; courts of common pleas, formed on the practice of New England and the mother country, and a supreme court, court of assize and general gaol delivery, composed of a chief justice and two assistant judges. The governor-in-council constituted a court of error in certain cases, and from its decisions an appeal could be made to the king-in-council. Justices of peace were also appointed in the counties and townships, with jurisdiction over the collection of small debts.

We must now leave the province of Nova Scotia and follow the revolutionary movement, which commenced, soon after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, in the old British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, and ended in the acknowledgement of their independence in 1783, and in the forced migration of a large body of loyal people who found their way to the British provinces.

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