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An Abridged History of Canada
Chapter XXII.-After the War—Lower Canada-To 1828


The close of the War—State of the Country— Sir John Cope Sherbrooke, Governor-General -1816. The Duke of Richmond, Governor-General —1818. His Tragical Death-1819. Death of George III. and accession of George IV.—1820. The Earl of Dalhousie, Governor-General —Union of the Provinces Proposed—1822. Imperial Commission on Canadian affairs—1828. ^Its report—Nova Scotia and New Brunswick after the War.

At the conclusion of the war the fictitious prosperity created by the military expenditure rapidly declined, and its financial burdens, in the form of militia pensions and gratuities to the widows and orphans of the slain, were severely felt. Grants of money were made by the Legislature of Lower Canada for the construction of the Lachine and Rideau canals, and the accurate survey of the country was projected. Domestic manufactures, such as those of leather, hats, paper, and to some extent of iron, had been introduced; and saw mills and grist mills multiplied on the inland streams. From the ashes of the forests, burned in the clearing of the land, a considerable quantity of potash and pearlash was produced. Colonization roads were greatly extended and improved. Shipbuilding was actively prosecuted, especially at Quebec. The Banks of Montreal, Quebec and Kingston were established, and greatly facilitated the trade of the province. Immigration, in consequence of the depression of trade in the old countries, largely increased, and the new settlers were liberally aided by the Government with rations and implements. Steam navigation was extended on the St. Lawrence and the lakes, and the transatlantic trade of Quebec sprang into importance.

Still the population was sparse—averaging in Upper Canada only seven per square mile. Schools, teachers, and medical men were few and not always the most efficient. Lower Canada was divided into parishes, each with its resident cure; but in the upper province the people were dependent for religious instruction largely on the zeal of itinerant missionaries, chiefly of the Methodist and Presbyterian persuasions.

Sir Gordon Drummond, the hero of Lundy's Lane and a native of Quebec, administered the government, in the place of Sir George Prevost, recalled, till the arrival of Sir John Cope Sherbrooke, from Nova Scotia, in 1816.

In 1818, the Duke of Richmond, previously Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, succeeded Sir John Sherbrooke as Governor-General. He made a progress through Upper Canada, and on his return met with a tragical fate. While at, Ottawa he was bitten by a tame fox, and shortly after died amid the pangs of hydrophobia, August 27th, 1819. The administration of public affairs devolved upon his son-in-law, Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.

On the 29th of January, in the sixtieth year of his eventful reign and in the eighty-second year of his age, infirm, blind, beclouded in intellect but beloved by his subjects, King George III. died, and amid the, ringing of joy bells and the firing of cannon George IY. was proclaimed King.

The Earl of Dalhousie, a veteran soldier of distinguished experience, became the new Governor-General. The growing English-speaking population, dissatisfied with the feudal land tenure and inconvenient administration of justice in accordance with the French code, urged the union of the two Canadas, and the suppression of the French language in the legislature, the French laws in the courts, and the French tenure of land. The French resented the union scheme as a denationalizing policy and a violation of their guaranteed rights and privileges. The Assembly strongly protested against the union, and numerously-signed antiunion petitions were sent to the Imperial Parliament. That body withdrew the union scheme, and passed the Canada Trade Act, providing for the distribution of revenue arising from duties more equitably to the increased population of the upper province.

A commission was appointed by the Imperial Parliament to investigate the civil condition of Canada. It reported in favour of liberal concessions and reforms. The report of the% commissioners produced the most lively gratification in Lower Canada. A week before its arrival, Lord Dalhousie sailed for England, and was thus spared the mortification of witnessing a policy of conciliation substituted for one of coercion. He was subsequently appointed Governor-General of India, and there won merited distinction by his vigorous administration.

The provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had felt little of the direct burdens of the late war, but had benefited, the former especially, very greatly by the increased military and naval expenditure. The vast fleets of Great Britain rendezvoused in the spacious harbour of Halifax, the guns of the citadel continually welcomed the arrival of prizes in tow of British cruisers, and the Imperial dockyard was busy with repairs. With the peace all this ceased, the revenue was greatly reduced, and numbers of workmen were thrown out of employment. The Earl of Dalhousie and Sir James Kempt successively administered the affairs of the colony, and wisely fostered education, agriculture, and public improvements. In 1820, Cape Breton was incorporated as a county of Nova Scotia.

In 1818, New Brunswick received its first Governor, General George Tracey Smythe. The irrepressible conflict-between the two branches of the legislature became the occasion of acrimonious disputes till his death in 1823. Sir Howard Douglas, his successor, greatly promoted the internal development of the province, the construction of roads and the cultivation of the soil—too much neglected in the almost exclusive devotion to lumbering and shipbuilding. In the autumn of 1825, a terrible disaster overwhelmed the colony. A long drought had parched the forest into tinder. Numerous fires had laid waste the woods and farms. On the 7th of October, a storm of flame swept over the country for sixty miles—from Miramichi to the Bay of Chaleurs. A pitchy darkness covered the sky, lurid flames swept over the earth, consuming the forest, houses, barns, crops, and the towns of Newcastle and Douglas. One hundred and sixty persons perished in the flames or in their efforts to escape, and hundreds were maimed for life. The loss of property was immense. The # generous aid of the sister provinces, and of Great Britain and the United States, greatly mitigated the sufferings of the hapless inhabitants made homeless on the eve of a rigorous winter.


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