Three Most Important Events that Shaped Canada’s Future

Abstract

The interpretation of Canadian history and significance of events may vary person to person but there are still main events that influenced the past, present and future of Canada. This research paper explores essential period in the history of Canada between 1770 and 1820. During this period, Canada was a part of British North America (BNA) and was mostly ruled by British and American governments. This paper argues that the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Quebec Act of 1774 are the most critical events that influenced and shaped Canada’s future between 1770 and 1820. This paper analyzes various secondary sources and history accounts. The examination of secondary sources reveals supporting evidences that the three aforementioned events left an indelible mark that helped shaped Canada’s future between 1770 and 1820.

Three Most Important Events that Shaped Canada’s Future 

It wasn’t easy for Canada to be formed. There were many series of events that eventually led to Canada being the country that it is now. There are three most important events that changed Canada’s future such as the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Quebec Act of 1774. During this time Canada was a part of British North America (B.N.A.) and was mostly ruled by British and American governments while the French-Canadians, First Nations, and other colonies either worked for the two countries or formed an alliance with them. Although Canada was constantly stuck between Britain and Americas conflict, they managed to endure all of the hardships. At this time, the Americans tried getting Canada to be on their side to get control over the St. Lawrence River and to get access to Canadas territory.

The first event that helped shape Canada was the American Revolution, it was during this time that Canadians were under British rule and when the Americans planned on starting a war. Furthermore the Americans felt like they were overpowered by the British because their trading rights were being controlled by them. This has led American rebels to send out an invitation to Quebec indicating that they should leave British rule and to join them when the war begins but Quebec refused which angered the rebels. The invitation was to take control of the sea route from Britain going to the St. Lawrence River, also to drive the British out of Canada, and in November Montgomery “then captured Fort Saint-Jean outside Montréal” (D.N. Sprague, 2006, p. 1). Even though the Americans were lacking proper supplies, starving, freezing from the Canadian winter and were also suffering from diseases they still attacked Quebec during a snowstorm on December 31st, 1775 and Carleton was defending Quebec during the attack with 1,800 British soldiers and militiamen. Montgomery led his troops around the walls attacking Quebec from two different directions and the less secure areas of the town. but when their leader Arnold was wounded and carried to get away from the fighting his forces then surrendered under counterattack. They tried to maintain a siege of the town throughout winter but this wasn’t effective. When they left Montréal, remains of their force was defeated in Trois Rivieres, those who survived retreated and returned to New York which ended their invasion. The American Revolution led to the loyalists flooding BNA, helped populate Maritime Provinces, and created what is now Ontario and Quebec.

The War of 1812 was the second cause of how Canada’s future was formed, it started because the Americans wanted to stop impressment and because of the conflict between the United States and Great Britain and lasted from January 1812 to February 1814. In addition being part of the British colony, Canada was swept up in the War of 1812 that caused most of their territories to be invaded. Great Britain was at was with the French at this time that was led by Napoleon Bonaparte who was a military leader that wanted to subdue Europe, so when the Americans started trading with the French the British weren’t happy about it. Thus resulting to the removal of American sailors off of British ships and they were also forced to serve in the British Navy. In the spite of anger Britain convinced the “Native Americans in the Canadian territory that they needed to help them because the Americans were looking to annex, or add, the territory to the United States” (A. Burke, N.D., p. 1). The war had a significant effect on the local population of those who were living in Upper Canada, it made First Nations suffered great losses such as losing many warriors including the great Tecumseh and made them lose hope of cutting of the Americans expansion in the west. The war was nearing its end and both parties were tired of fighting one another so they signed the Treaty Of Ghent on December 24th and the lands that were occupied and taken from other were given back to its rightful owners. Overall, the war had contributed to Canadas growing national identity also including the idea that the civilian soldiers were responsible for repelling the American invaders.

The Quebec Act was the last major event that helped shape Canada. By passing the act, the British Parliament set a permanent government in Canada that would replace the temporary government that was created during the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This act was created to gain the loyalty of the French-speaking majority of the Province of Quebec which provided religious freedom for Roman Catholics which then established the Roman Catholic Church. It also restored French civil law in the colony of Quebec, allowing Catholic Canadians to be able to hold government positions without giving up their faith. Moreover, it enlarged Quebec’s territory which included unsettled lands that belonged to the Ohio Valley forcing the Americans to expand their colonies westward. The people were also required to pay tithes that were given directly to the churches in order to fund for their religious activities. The creation of this act angered Americans, especially those who lived in the regions of New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania because the lands of the Ohio Valley that were assigned to them by the Parliament have now been given to Quebec in which the seigneurial system would be applied to those new lands and the new areas would now be owned by the British Empire and the wealthy colonists in Quebec. Unlike the wealthy people of Quebec in which they were having no trouble with the act that had been established, the lower class people weren’t very fond of this act so they joined American causes to get rid of the rule the British Empire has established. The Quebec Act caused the Americans to act in a way that caused them to want to inflict war onto Great Britain, which made the Quebec Act to be one of the reasons that caused the American Revolution. Although it helped to bring on the American Revolution, the act, “for which Sir Guy Carleton was largely responsible, was very influential in keeping Canada loyal to the crown during the revolution” (R. Coupland, H.B. Neatby, N.D., p. 1).  As a result, the Quebec act changed B.N.A. in a way that it allowed Catholics to have freedom practicing their religious beliefs, their faith was no longer being questioned and could finally hold a government position as proud Catholics.

In summary, the three events stated above have played a crucial role in shaping Canada’s future and changing B.N.A. Although the events took place mostly because of the conflict between Britain and America, Lower and Upper Canada suffered more than the two empires. There were many losses for Canada there were also some benefits such as, the American Revolution allowed Canada to expand its colony and gain more population which added to Ontario and Quebec’s population, War of 1812 had an idea that the civilian soldiers were the ones responsible for keeping out American invaders and the Quebec Act provided French-Canadian Catholics freedom to practice their religious beliefs. From being in the middle of the constant conflicts of Britain and America, Canada has come a long way to be able to provide the people a safe, accepting, multicultural and a sustainable country for people to live in though it wouldn’t have happened without Great Britain and its colonists.

References

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