The Canadas

The Canadas is the collective name for the provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada, two historical British colonies in present-day Canada.[1] The two colonies were formed in 1791, when the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act, splitting the colonial Province of Quebec into two separate colonies. The Ottawa River formed the border between Lower and Upper Canada.

The Canadas
British North America

The Canadas, Upper Canada (orange) and Lower Canada (green) prior to 1809, with contemporary Canada in pink surrounding it

The Canadas were merged into a single entity in 1841, shortly after Lord Durham published his Report on the Affairs of British North America. His report held several recommendations, most notably union of the Canadas. Acting on his recommendation, the British Parliament passed the Act of Union 1840. The Act went into effect in 1841, uniting the Canadas into the Province of Canada.

The terms "Lower" and "Upper" refer to the colony's position relative to the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River.


The two colonies were created in 1791 with the passage of the Constitutional Act 1791. As a result of the influx of Loyalists from the American Revolutionary War, the Province of Quebec was divided into two new colonies, consisting of Lower, and Upper Canada. The creation of Upper Canada was a in response to the influx of United Empire Loyalist settlers, who desired a colonial administration modelled under British institutions and common law, especially British laws of land tenure. Conversely, Lower Canada maintained most of the French Canadian institutions guaranteed under the Quebec Act, such as the French civil law system.

In 1838 Lord Durham was sent to the colonies to examine the causes for rebellion in the Canadas. His report on the colonies recommended that the two colonies should be united, and the introduction of responsible government. The British Parliament would eventually act on the former suggestion, with the passage of the Act of Union 1840. The Act of Union went into force in 1841, and saw the Canadas united into the Province of Canada. However, the Act did not establish responsible government, with responsible government not being introduced until 1848.

See also


  1. Wesley B. Turner (4 July 2011). The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock. Dundurn Press Ltd. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-55488-777-4.
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