If there is a single piece of infrastructure that changed Canada in the early 1850s, the railroad is that single piece the spurred the Province towards a modern industrial location in the British Empire. While the Welland and Rideau Canals provided a fast link they both were tied to the waterways they were built out of. Rail, on the other hand, could cross areas where canals could not. Rail could run nearly the year-round, bridge water, and move faster. But railroads were not new in the province, having existed in some form or another since the early 1820s. Rail technology had been used in theRead More →

Sir Francis Hincks, the proverbial third wheel in the reform movement and a figure that I knew nothing of until I started researching for this project. And while generally overshadowed by the likes of his predecessor in Robert Baldwin and his successor Sir Allan Napier MacNab as Premier of the Province of Canada his role in creating the modern province is fairly essential. The meeting of Robert Baldwin and Louis La Fontaine may have never happened if it was not for Hincks. Born the 4th of December 1807 in Cork Ireland, Francis was the youngest son of Reverend Thomas Dix Hincks. From his youth, HincksRead More →

Politics, in general, can be rather dull. I’m sure only pundits and political science students watch CSPAN regularly. When I attended a question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, it proved so dull that even the Prime Minister appeared to be napping. Yes, tales of military might, bravery, heroism, and battles make for more exciting reading and writing. We cannot ignore the political history that shaped pre-confederation Canada. Because much of this early dealings helped shaped our country’s government today, yet if you look closely you’ll find a bit of exciting. Like how the arrival of democracy resulted in riots only seenRead More →

Slavery is an ugly word and one sadly we here in the 21st Century still struggle with, both as an institution and a sticking point in the history of both Canada and the United States. And in any discussion about the pre-confederation history of Canada slavery is something that is intertwined with the increase in diversity in the population of the province and many who once were slaves impacted the province through their actions. Since the creation of the Act to Reduce Slavery in 1796 and the general emancipation of black slaves in the British Empire in 1833 provinces of the Empire provided new hopeRead More →

The strange part about the arrival of democracy or somewhat responsible government in Canada is that it was not something won by force of arms or through negotiation; instead this first step towards self-government and limited autonomy is one that was granted to the provinces of the Empire in a change of public opinion. By 1848, it no longer made sense to hold onto the empire in the manner that still dated to the 18th Century, even though the Colonial Office and Parliament had tried hard for many years. You have to remember the 1840 Act of Union still found it’s foundation in the 1791Read More →

Like Robert Baldwin, Louis Hypolite-La Fontaine is a figure in Canadian History that I have never learned about or even knew existed until I started researching this project. And even then, he nearly ended up playing a secondary role in my narrative. I quickly realised that if I had done that it would have done a great disservice to his role in Canadian History and his foundational efforts from the run-up to the Lower Canada Rebellions and into the establishment of Responsible Government and the unified reform movement in the Province of Canada. Born the 4th of October, 1807 the fourth son of a BouchervilleRead More →

If you took a close look at Robert Baldwin as a man, it might surprise you to think of the amount of change for the good he brought to Canada in our Pre-Confederation history. And while I have encountered many exciting figures throughout this project, I took time to look at each one as a human. Each one presented not as a hero, but as a human complete with their flaws. None stood out to me more than Baldwin. Baldwin had the chance to have all the power he wanted, yet he did not wish to power for his gain but to put government powerRead More →

From 1846 to 1848, the Reform Association had to take a pause; an external threat seemed to dampen the cause of reform. Robert Baldwin and Louis La Fontaine continued to work hard in the Assembly, taking every chance they could to speak on the purpose of reform. With Metcalfe still in England with his illness worsening, the Reformers had a free hand to continue the work, and it seemed even Draper’s Conservatives were willing to work with them. In Metcalfe’s place, a military governor came in much as Sir Isaac Brock had during the War of 1812 primarily to handle military means and act asRead More →

Despite the setbacks of the rebellion, the reform movement was ready to move on. The radicals were out of reach, imprisoned, dead, or in exile (with the penalty of death if they should return), the moderates were now returning to the political arena many who had never run for public office before. And while Durham’s report had spoken favourable of Responsible Government and many reformers like Robert Baldwin, Louis La Fontaine, and Francis Hincks had spoken in detail to Durham. The trouble remained that even moderate reformers were still viewed through the lens of rebellion by the Colonial Office. And they aimed to use theRead More →

The Welland Canal had brought expansion and growth to the Niagara Region, along the canal work camps flourished into settlements, villages, and towns. But the canal remained under private control, and to maintain the wooden infrastructure they needed income from ship traffic and the fees paid to transit the canal. The trouble with the wooden structures is that they were getting old and starting to fall apart and by the start of the troubles of 1837 many of the locks could no longer function. And with the canal at standstill ships could not transit therefore no money would come to the canal, so the locksRead More →