BEING the history of
the Province of Quebec, this work is necessarily limited to what
concerns the territory known now-a-days by that name, and to the
circumstances particular to its population through three centuries, but
we must keep in mind the fact that this province alone was until the
Union of 1841 all that was known as Canada and, therefore, the centre of
both the French and the English colonies of the northern portions of
this continent. It follows that a narrative solely devoted to that
section in the present state of things would tend to obscure the fact
that Quebec was for a long time the pivot for all that was done in these
vast territories. We have been, more than once, on the verge of entering
into the history of the other provinces for the sake of throwing
additional light upon the whole, but finally our scope was confined to
what took place within the political boundaries prescribed by the
In reality, the history
of Quebec is that of all the confederate provinces. Even restricted to
that area we find it difficult to bring forward any important fact
without trespassing upon the Maritime Provinces or Ontario, because
these are closely linked to the surrounding colonies and it seems hard
to isolate them from their connection.
No one would have
believed that New France could ever have formed so many provinces, but
the conquest made this possible. As Quebec remained for a long time the
pivot for such an extensive Dominion, it is certain that its old and
well-settled population played a great part, notwithstanding the
division of territory which gave rise to other colonies.
Judging by the measure
of European prejudices the French could not hold their own after the
conquest, but those who had remained on the land were no more Frenchmen,
they were Canadians, and the Treaty of 1763 made them British subjects
to all intents and purposes. Consequently they did not care for any
other country than Canada, and all they had to do was to get accustomed
to the British administration.
Amongst the common
mistakes which an European government will make, is the idea that men in
the colonies deserve little attention and must be kept in bondage to a
certain extent. Add to that the desire of some individuals who came to
Canada with the hope of making their fortune and to dictate law to a
conquered people, and you have the key to a lot of difficulties and a
long struggle, which could have been avoided by giving the new subjects
enough time to re-assure themselves after the war.
Must we say that the
political troubles were nothing but a misconception of the London
ministry in regard to Canadian affairs and the Canadian people? This is
now well understood. Happily, the introduction of the mercantile class
after the conquest was useful in developing the resources of the
country. It is true also that they were wrong in trying to act as
In due time, men of
remarkable ability and patriotism came to the front, both Canadians of
the old stock and newly established colonists, to do the good work of
loyal and legal resistance, in order to gain for this section of the
British Empire the exercise of liberty as granted to all faithful
subjects of the Crown.
New, yet important,
dominions within the Empire now enjoy the same freedom as we, but who
can deny that it was in Quebec and Ontario that was kindled the spark
which inflamed the hearts of these other colonies? For this we claim an
early mention in the annals of history. Such being the facts, we must
not look upon the Province of Quebec as a mere subdivision in our wide
confederation and still less as merely a small portion of the Great
Unknown to the world
until a very recent date, Canada has now a high place in the
consideration of the powers.
Let us claim for the
oldest settlement on the shore of the St. Lawrence the honour of being
the cradle of political liberty. The Maritime Provinces, as well as
Ontario, have also an honourable and proud origin, so that Canada on the
whole has nothing to regret, and much to its credit.
Every period, whether
long or short, during the last three centuries has been marked by steady
progress. The twentieth century will accomplish threefold.
3rd July, 1908.
chapters below are pdf files.
Part I (Pages 499 to 572)
Part II (Pages 573 to 638)
Part III (Pages 639 to 705)
Part IV (Pages 706 to 769)
Part V (Pages 770 to 833)
Part VI (Pages 834 to 908)