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Constitutional Act, 1791
The Constitutional Act, 1791 was an act of the British Parliament. Also known as the Canada Act, it divided the Province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The Act was a first step on the long path to Confederation, but its rigid colonial structures also set the stage for rebellion in the Canadas. (See Rebellions of 1837–38.) The Act was also notable for giving women who owned property in Lower Canada the right to vote — a high level of inclusion by the standards of the time.
Chinese Immigration Act
The Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, known also as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned the entry of virtually all Chinese immigrants for 24 years. Although migration into Canada from most countries was controlled or restricted in some way, only Chinese people were singled out completely from entering on the basis of race. The four exceptions to the exclusion were students, merchants (excluding laundry, restaurant and retail operators), diplomats and Canadian-born Chinese returning from education in China. The limit on absence from Canada was two years, and the consequence for not returning on time was being barred re-entry. Additionally, every person of Chinese descent, whether Canadian-born or naturalized, was required to register for an identity card within 12 months. The penalty for noncompliance was imprisonment or a fine of up to $500. Though the Act was repealed in 1947, immigration restrictions on the basis of race and national origin were not fully scrubbed until 1967.
Letters Patent, 1947
The Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, usually shortened to Letters Patent, 1947, was an edict issued by King George VI that expanded the role of the governor general, allowing him or her to exercise prerogatives of the sovereign. While Letters Patent delegated Crown prerogatives to the governor general, the sovereign remains Head of State.
Mackenzie King and the War Effort
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King guided the country through six painful years of conflict, oversaw a massive war effort and made surprisingly few errors in a period of tremendous turmoil, change and anguish.
Gradual Civilization Act
An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Province was passed by the fifth Parliament of the Province of Canada (formally Upper Canada and Lower Canada) in 1857. The Gradual Civilization Act, as it came to be known, was part of a state effort to use government policy to assimilate Indigenous peoples to the economic and social customs of European settler society.
The term Manifest Destiny was first used in 1845 by New York City journalist John Louis O’Sullivan. He used the term in the context of America’s annexation of the Republic of Texas. Manifest Destiny represented the idea that it was America’s right — its destiny, in fact — to expand across all of North America. Politicians and citizens in the United States called for the US to expand by claiming control of British territory. This included the Province of Canada (formerly Upper Canada and Lower Canada), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Quebec Conference of 1864
There was no media circus surrounding the conference. The press was banned from the discussions, so the newspaper reports said a great deal about the miserable October weather, but precious little about what was discussed in the meetings.
Redrawing the West: The Politics of Provincehood in 1905
One of the interesting characteristics of borders is that they often begin as arbitrary and artificial constructions, but over time they come to define highly significant social, economic and political distinctions.
Election 1891: A Question of Loyalty
In 1891, Conservative Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald won his final election as prime minister — successfully campaigning on the fear, real or imagined, that the Liberal promise of "unrestricted reciprocity" with the United States would lead to American annexation of Canada.
Election of 1896
The election of 1896 divided the country — along linguistic lines — over the Manitoba schools question.
Nova Scotia: The Cradle of Canadian Parliamentary Democracy
On 2 October 1758, Nova Scotia's first Legislative Assembly met in Halifax, and Canadian parliamentary government was born.
Elections of 1957 and 1958
In 1957 and 1958, Canadian voters swept aside 22 years of Liberal rule for the untested Conservatives under John Diefenbaker, whose campaign brilliance won him first a minority government, and then a historic majority.
Elections of 1925 and 1926
Two elections within 12 months. Two leaders fighting for supremacy: one intellectual and cold, the other deliberately vague and hiding his ambition.
Elections of 1979 and 1980
Calling elections is like Goldilocks visiting the three bears — which political stew will turn out to be too soon, too late, or just right? The elections of 1979 and 1980 illustrate the perils of too late, followed by too soon.
Voting in Early Canada
Before Confederation, elections were rowdy, highly competitive and even violent.
Meech Lake Accord
In 1987, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to win Quebec’s consent to the revised Canadian Constitution. The result was the Meech Lake Accord. It was an agreement between the federaland provincial governments to amend (change) the Constitution. The Accord proposed strengthening provincial powersand declaring Quebec a “distinct society.” The Accord was never put into effect. Political support for it unravelled in 1990. Many Québécois saw the Accord’s failure in English Canada as a rejection of Quebec. Support for separatism soared in Quebec and led to the 1995 Quebec Referendum.
Editorial: Baldwin, LaFontaine and Responsible Government
The Baldwin–LaFontaine government of 1848 has been called the “great ministry.” In addition to establishing responsible government, it had an incomparable record of legislation. It established a public school system and finalized the founding of the University of Toronto. It set up municipal governments and pacified French-Canadian nationalism after a period of unrest. Responsible government did not transform Canada overnight into a fully developed democracy. But it was an important milestone along the road to political autonomy. Most importantly, it provided an opportunity for French Canadians to find a means for their survival through the British Constitution. The partnership and friendship between Baldwin and LaFontaine were brilliant examples of collaboration that have been all too rare in Canadian history.
Quebec Act, 1774
The Quebec Act received royal assent on 22 June 1774. It revoked the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which had aimed to assimilate the French-Canadian population under English rule. The Quebec Act was put into effect on 1 May 1775. It was passed to gain the loyalty of the French-speaking majority of the Province of Quebec. Based on recommendations from Governors James Murray and Guy Carleton, the Act guaranteed the freedom of worship and restored French property rights. However, the Act had dire consequences for Britain’s North American empire. Considered one of the five “Intolerable Acts” by the Thirteen American Colonies, the Quebec Act was one of the direct causes of the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). It was followed by the Constitutional Act in 1791.
This is the full-length entry about the Quebec Act of 1774. For a plain language summary, please see The Quebec Act, 1774 (Plain-Language Summary).