Canada Act 1791
By 1791 the population of the colony known as Quebec had changed considerably. A lot
more English speaking people had added their numbers to the original United Empire
Loyalists who fled the American Revolution. These new settlers weren't happy living under
French law and the Roman Catholic Church. They wanted to hold their lands outright, not as
part of the seigneurial system and they wanted privileges for their Protestant churches similar
to those granted to Roman Catholics. Also they were used to having democratic institutions
like an elected Assembly to give them a say in how they were governed.
The British were faced with a dilemma. A single Assembly for the whole colony wouldn't
work for the English settlers because the French had the majority. And, while the British had
to create the appearance of an Assembly, they didn't really want to give it much power
because they knew from the American Revolution what that would lead to.
So the British answer was to divide the colony into two parts - Upper Canada for the English
and Lower Canada for the French and give each its own Assembly, but in such a way that
the British Governor and his appointed Council still made the final decisions about most
First meeting of the Legislative Assembly in Upper Canada. Today Upper Canada is known as Ontario.