Lecture 16 –
The Union of the Canada’s and the Struggle for Responsible Government
Beginning around 1840, a seamless web of political and economic expansion turned British
America (a collection of loosely connected colonies) to British North America (a
The beginning of the process can be identified as the Act of Union, which joined Upper and
Lower Canada in July 1840.
In the 1840’s the era of transforming technological change changed the perception of time with
communication happening in seconds and not months.
The Mobile Society
Immigration did not slow down and with the potato famines of Ireland and Scotland forced many
impoverished peoples to move to BNA.
As many as 600,000 British immigrants came to BNA from 1840 – 1860 and many other
European races as well.
As new immigrants were coming in, thousands of disillusioned members of the younger
generation were moving out.
The first sign of serious out-migration came from seigneurial districts of French Canada.
Only males could expect inheritance meaning that several of the disproportionate numbers of
females were sent into the city and did not stay on the farm.
By the 1860’s over one-third of the counties in the Maritime provinces were losing people,
mostly to the United States.
From Mercantilism to Free Trade
By 1840, the mercantile economy of British America had reached its apex and had to undergo
The British government’s dissolution of the imperial trading system and the movement to free
trade had a big impact on BNA. Instead of a transatlantic economy they shifted to a continental one with internal development
and internal markets.
Britain resolved its long-standing differences with the Americans making it possible for the
negotiation of a trade treaty.
Britain’s removal of protectionism especially with corn, wheat, and timber meant that free trade
was on its way