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HEAR YE!!!
Next Tea Party Friday March 4th

Friday, February 28, 2014

Upper and Lower Canada. Which One's Up?

At the close of the Seven Years War, France agreed to turn over it's lands in northern North America to the British. This was the event known in the United States as the French and Indian War (1763).

At the time, most of the residents north of the Saint Lawrence River were of French ancestry, (typically Catholic) while farther south  were the British colonies (typically Protestant). Much of what had been France's colony was populated by the First People. For the most part, the French settlers were trappers and traders and coexisted. British settlers were generally not so amiable. I'm not looking to cause trouble but the British were not good neighbors. Yes, they felt they had good reason. Did France take advantage of it? Of course.



I've posted before, here and on my other group blog, Inkwell Inspirations, about the relationships between Native tribes and how 'siding' with one colonial power or another only made more problems in the long run.  (See New York's Native People) Along comes the Revolutionary War, and now, without France in the picture, it is Britain against her colonies and both sides are looking for help from the tribes they've done little to ingratiate.

War rages. Thousands of Tories leave the new United States and head for British Canada.  Families split and come back together. An influx of new residents adds to the already strained relationship in the British Colony of Quebec.  Britain's solution is to take the populated areas along the St. Lawrence River and divide it into two large colonies: Lower Canada and Upper Canada.

Keeping the Catholic "French" happy was important when it was hard to tell who was your enemy or friend in the colonies.

Now here's the confusing part if you look at a map.  Lower Canada is farther north. It was the eastern portion of the original Quebec colony and for the most part was populated by Catholics of French ancestry. The capital was Quebec City.



Upper Canada was west and farther south. It became a colony of British subjects and loyalists (Tories) who'd fled the new U. S.

The upper and lower designations come from the fact travel was much easier by water and much of the area was settled via the St. Lawrence River. If you settled in the east, you were in  "Lower Canada". If you went far UP river (to the west, um, actually south) you were in Upper Canada.  Simple, right?

I was confused until I asked a Canadian Reenactor a few years ago.

Although Montreal is now the capital of the province of Quebec, it was once the capital of Upper Canada and administered by the British.

Things had barely settled with the new colonies when war broke out between the United States and Britain in 1812 over naval press gangs, the arming of First Peoples by the British, and continued trade-without-permit along the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes. Upper Canada became central in the American War of 1812.

Forts that had changed hands between British forces and French forces throughout the last fifty years, now were won and lost by British and American forces.

I love the history of this area and I hope this has cleared up confusion or stirred up interest in these areas!

9 comments:

  1. I recently read A Matter of Conscience by Mary Hosmar, which referred to Upper and Lower Canada. I'd never heard the terms before, so this information is most informative. Thank you!

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    1. What did you think of the book? Is it fiction or non?
      thanks for commenting, Iola! (I love your name by the way!)

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  2. Wow, I grew up going into northern Ontario a lot but I'd never heard of the upper and lower Canada designations, Deb. thanks for the great article!

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    1. With the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the fact I'm a Lake Ontario girl, and all the time I spend in a previous century or two, this term is quite common to me. It wasn't until I was at a reenactment that I finally asked about it.

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  3. Very interesting. My daughter-in-law is from Montreal Canada, her parents still live there, Hope to visit there sometime when she visits her parents.
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. Thanks, Tina! I have never been to Montreal as an adult. (Ottawa, yes!) the old portion of Montreal is said to be like going back in time. Thanks Tina! I appreciate your time and your comment. I hope you get to visit as well. I love Canada!

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  4. Thanks for such an interesting post, Debra. Years ago I had some Canadian friends serving in the Diplomatic Corps. She was French Canadian and he was British Canadian. From them I learned a lot about the hostility that still exists between these two groups.

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    1. Yes, but I haven't heard much lately. There was a movement for Quebec to drop out and go solo but it lost steam. It would have also split Canada physically.

      There is a lot of great history there. During the war of 1812, the British commanders had to make some provision for Catholicism in their ranks in Canada from both the Highlanders and the French. All very interesting.

      Thanks Janet!

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  5. Thanks for the maps to help explain this. I've read references to upper and lower Canada while doing research. The maps help to clarify it.

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