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ECON 2P19 (5)
Chapter 5

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Brock University
Indra Hardeen

Chapter 5 – Quebec and Lower Canada Adjustment to the New Regime, 1760-1802 • The English colonies to the south had become increasingly restive under British Rule, and the removal of the threat of New France made them feel they had no further need for British protection • Armies would once again be invading Quebec, this time, the invaders would be American • The French Roman Catholics had to be won over the British crown, or at the very least, brought to the point where they were unlikely to join their troublesome neighbours to the south • English and French laws competed for pride and place, as did the English and French religious establishment • The British ran the colony by means of a military government • This temporary measure, expedient in the midst of war, was abolished when the colony was formally ceded to England and the British issued the Proclamation of 1763 • The vast river empire that had been so much a part of the French experience and economy in North America was excised • In the Quebec Act of 1774, Quebec’s boundaries were extended to include much of the old hinterland of New France • After the American rebellion, and with the southern part of the old territory lost to the newly formed United States of America, and British implemented the Constitutional Act of 1791 • The St. Lawrence valley-Great Lakes region was split into two • The western part became Upper Canada, the eastern portion – the settled portion of what had been New France – became Lower Canada • Lower Canada and the French Roman Catholics who represented the vast majority of its population were granted a legislative assembly • Divisions of class and language combined with tensions in the constitutional system of lower Canada to exacerbate relations between French and English • By 1837, the colony was in a state of rebellion, and before long, the constitution would be suspended and authoritarian rule once again in place, albeit temporarily • These political approaches were paralleled by British attempts to integrate Quebec into the British imperial economy • The first era opened with economic upheaval that flowed from the constitutional disruption brought by the conquest • The Rouen and Bordeaux merchants were gone • Local French businessmen and agents were cut off from their backers and suppliers • Louisbourg, the one steady export market for agricultural products in previous years, was not destroyed • Merchants from the American colonies had accompanied the army into Quebec in 1759, and many remained once the war was over, hoping so supply the garrisons and to tell to the population of Quebec • Large London based partnerships, such as those headed by Brook Watson but was also active in his own right in both the merchandise and the fur trades • Less wealthy, merchants brought goods in by the shipload or worked with ship captains to carve out a niche for themselves • After American Revolution, the bulk of the import-export trade and of the provisioning of army garrisons was controlled by those large scale operators centred in London, or to a lesser degree, Boston or New York • After the conquest, the fur trade went through considerable adjustment • First, there was the disruption of financial and supply arrangements resulting from the conquest • Second, a two-year Native resistance known as Pontiac’s Rebellion swept much of the western frontier • Third, the American Revolution again disrupted trade to the southwest • By 1780s, the trade out of Montreal had been renewed, as new groups of fur traders emerged • It remained an important economic activity, still accounting for more than three- quarters of the exports of Quebec in the late 1760s, and between two-thirds and three-quarters of those exports in most of the years before 1790 • French Canadians continued to control much of the trade • They owned 80% of the canoes heading west • British capital became increasingly influential • By 1780s, more and more of the furs from the West came through the businesses of Scottish merchants such as the McGills and the Frobishers • In 1780s, when the smaller partnerships started to come together under the large North West Company syndicate, control rested firmly in the hands of the interconnected Scottish clans • Tremendous impact of the English and Scottish merchants on Quebec in these years implies that the historical emphasis should be on the discontinuity brought about by an ascendant British presence in the region • The seigneurial system remained intact until 1854, and until 1791, the British routinely granted new lands in the colony on a seigneurial basis • Non-representative institutions that existed before 1791 enabled the British to look to the seigneurial class as the natural representatives of the French- Canadian population, while tending to ignore the bumptious merchants • Quebec was under an authoritarian form of government should not be overlooked • The failure of British to give Quebec the representative government that was typical in other parts of the continent was anomalous, also meant that there was a degree of continuity between old and new regimes • New France, begun to experience rapid population growth • Aided by rising English immigration, population rose phenomenally from a little than 60,000 people in the 1750s to approximately 165,000 by 1790 and to more than 300,000 by 1815 • During and after the American Revolution, thousands of Loyalists refugees headed northward toward British North America • Many of them settled in Nova Scotia or Upper Canada, but some settled in what became Lower Canada • The area known as the Eastern Townships was largely opened and settled by Loyalists, and later by British immigrants th • Early 19 century, 40% of the population of Quebec City and 33% of that of Montreal were Anglophones • By 1815, these rural and urban inflows had brought the Anglophone population of Lower Canada to only about 15% • Small, straggling population of New France hugging the St. Lawrence River was replaced by a population expanding quickly into new agricultural areas • Existing seigneuries were pushed back from the St. Lawrence valley, while new seigneuries were opened at a regular rate, after 1791, freehold tenure was established for new lands • The edge of settlement receded toward the Laurentian Mountains to the north, and up the Ottawa valley at the western edge of the colony • The rivers would long be at the centre of the colonial transportation system, their impact was lessened by the development of more extensive road systems • Centered on the parish church, local stores, and artisanal shops, these villages were largely service centres for the surrounding agricultural community • Most had a population of fewer than 1000, did little to change the overwhelming dominance of agriculture outside of Quebec City of Montreal • Two or three major changes in the Lower Canadian economy seem central • First, there were direct expenditures by the British government • The army brought with it considerable amounts of specie • Though the largest suppliers of the garrisons were merchants from outside the colony, there were still numerous opportunities for local profits on a smaller scale • Contracts to supply local garrisons with firewood, fresh produce, and other such materials added to the opportunities for profits • After experiencing some lean years in the 1760s, the agricultural sector produced increasing quantities of wheat, potatoes, peas, flax, and some animals • These wheat exports reflected the growth of Britain and the British West Indies as export markets • In 1774, nearly half a million bushels of wheat were exported • By early 1790s, exports were between 400,000 and 600,000 bushels a year • Given the high percentage of the Lower Canadian population that depended on agriculture, this growth in exports was, as Fernand Ouellet noted, the central overall pattern of economic development in Lower Canada in these years • The growing population and the increased amount of cash in rural areas provided opportunities for ancillary activities • Villages that developed with the rising population were logical locations for these merchants and artisans, who in turn were supplied by larger wholesalers and merchants operating out of Montreal and Quebec • First, the domestic market for products was gaining in important • Second, the links were drawn somewhat more closely between town and country than had been case in the ancient regime • Finally, subsistence farming declined as farmers took advantage of the new export market • Participation in the emerging wheat economy was not uniform across the colony, for two main reasons • First, some lands were more suited for wheat than others, just as the sizes of some landholdings were better suited for efficient production • Second, there existed strong traditions of mixed farming in Lower Canada • Dairying was a growing industry • Mixed farming was also becoming more market oriented, and represented a parallel or alternative strategy to a concentration in wheat • Local village and urban markets now existed for the products of mixed farming Agricultural Adjustment and New Staples, 1815-1840 Agriculture • Wheat remained an important crop through to the 1830s, it did not increase as quickly as did total cultivated land population • Mixed farming increased, and beef and dairy cattle, became more and more numerous • More and more farmers were moving into new areas of specialization, while wheat declined in relative importance • Between the years 1800 and 1831, wheat fell from 60% to 21% of all agricultural produce there are three basic explanations of Quebec’s shift from net wheat exporter to net wheat importer • There was a market for Britain for North American wheat throughout the first half of the 19 century, this market represented the best allocation of resources for Quebec farmers, but for a variety of reason, they were unable to take advantage of it • Lower Canada habitant was simply a bad farmer • Others see the failure in the quantity and quality of the land • The filling up of good areas, the division of farms through inheritance until they were too small to be efficient, and the simple necessity of feeding their families drove farmers back toward subsistence agriculture with some side trade in the local communities • After a century, the habitants and Seigneurs of the St. Lawrence valley began to develop an export market • First, in Louisbourg, under the old regime, and then in the West Indies and Britain itself, under the British • The exports could not be sustained, and Lower Canada entered a period of economic uncertainty, and even crisis, that would continue to the 1840s • Second explanation is that there was a market in Britain for North American wheat throughout the first half of the 19 century, but this market did not represent the best allocation of resources for Quebec farmers, quite rationally, located their resources elsewhere • Demand was erratic and undependable • They returned their production to a more mixed type of agriculture to meet the needs of the local population • There was no agricultural crisis, and the standard of living in the agricultural sector may actually • Marvin McInnis argued that there was no reliable market in Britain fo
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