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Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst
Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, British army officer (born 29 January 1717 near Sevenoaks, England; died 3 August 1797 near Sevenoaks). Jeffery Amherst was the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America during the Seven Years' War, which saw France surrender Canada to the British. Several streets and towns in North America — including Amherst, Nova Scotia, and Amherstburg, Ontario — were named in his honour. However, Amherst’s legacy is controversial, given his policy towards Indigenous peoples. This included his suggestion in 1763 to deliberately infect Indigenous peoples with smallpox during Pontiac’s War. In 2019, Montreal’s Amherst Street was renamed Atateken Street; Atateken means “brothers and sisters” in Kanien'kéha, the Mohawk language.
Capitulation of Montreal 1760
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the capitulation of Quebec City in 1759 made the strategic situation of New France desperate. Despite a victory at the Battle of Sainte-Foy, the French forces found themselves isolated in Montreal by the British. The French commander, François-Gaston de Lévis, wanted to continue the fight. However, to avoid a pointless loss of life, the Governor of New France, Pierre-Rigaud de Vaudreuil, decided to surrender the city. With the capitulation of Montreal to the British forces on 8 September 1760, Great Britain completed its conquest of New France.
Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial
Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil, (sometimes Vaudreuil-Cavagnial), officer, last governor general of New France 1755–1760 (born in Québec, New-France on 22 November 1698; died in Paris, France 4 August 1778). He was the governor of New France during the Seven Years’ War and the British Conquest of New France. Following the capture of Quebec by British forces, Vaudreuil signed the capitulation of Montreal and New France in 1760.
François-Gaston de Lévis
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Battle of the Plains of Abraham
On the night of Sept 12-13, General James Wolfe led his soldiers up an unguarded footpath and set for battle before the fortress walls. Montcalm attacked in the morning but his line broke, and Québec fell into British hands. Both generals perished.
Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Plain-Language Summary)
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued after the British defeated the French at Québec City in 1759 and Montreal in 1760 (see Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Seven Years’ War). After those defeats, New France (1608-1763) was taken over by the British. The Proclamation brought the new Province of Quebec under British control.
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) included conflict in Europe, North America and India. The military operations in North America are known as King George's War (1744–48).
James Wolfe, British army officer (born 2 January 1727 in Westerham, Kent, England; died 13 September 1759 near Quebec City). Wolfe fought in the War of the Austrian Succession, the suppression of the Jacobite Rebellion and the Seven Years’ War. He is best known for his role in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Both Wolfe and his opponent, Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm, died from wounds sustained during the battle. The British victory was a turning point in the Seven Years’ War, leading to the capture of Montreal in 1760 and the acquisition of Canada by Britain in 1763.
Obwandiyag (Pontiac), Odawa chief (born c. 1720 along the Detroit River; died 20 April 1769 in Cahokia, Illinois Country). Obwandiyag was the leader of a loose coalition of Indigenous nations that opposed British rule in what became known as Pontiac’s War (1763–66). The uprising is regarded by many as a historical antecedent to more contemporary Indigenous rights movements.
Seven Years’ War (Plain-Language Summary)
The Seven Years’ War (1756–63) was the first global war. In North America, Britain and France fought each other with the help of Indigenous allies. At the end of the war, France gave Canada (Quebec) and Ile Royale (Cape Breton) to Britain, among other territories. This is the reason that Canada has a British monarch but three founding peoples — French, British and Indigenous.
(This article is a plain-language summary of the Seven Years’ War. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Seven Years’ War.)
Deborah How Cottnam
Deborah Cottnam (née How), teacher, poet and Loyalist (born in c. 1727, probably in Marblehead, Massachusetts; raised in Grassy Island, Canso, Nova Scotia; died 31 December 1806 in Windsor, Nova Scotia). Poet and educator Deborah How Cottnam established highly respected women’s schools in the Maritimes.
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War (1756–63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea. In North America, imperial rivals Britain and France struggled for supremacy. In the United States, the conflict is known as the French and Indian War. Early in the war, the French (aided by Canadian militia and Indigenous allies) defeated several British attacks and captured a number of British forts. In 1758, the tide turned when the British captured Louisbourg, followed by Quebec City in 1759 and Montreal in 1760. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France formally ceded Canada to the British. The Seven Years’ War therefore laid the bicultural foundations of modern Canada.
This is the full-length entry about the Seven Years’ War. For a plain-language summary, please seeSeven Years’ War (Plain-Language Summary).
Battle of the Plains of Abraham
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759), also known as the Battle of Quebec, was a pivotal moment in theSeven Years’ Warand in the history of Canada. A British invasion force led by GeneralJames Wolfedefeated French troops under theMarquis de Montcalm, leading to the surrender ofQuebecto the British. Both commanding officers died from wounds sustained during the battle. The French never recaptured Quebec and effectively lost control ofNew Francein 1760. At the end of the war in 1763 France surrendered many of its colonial possessions — including Canada — to the British.
(This is the full-length entry about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. For a plain-language summary, please see Battle of the Plains of Abraham (Plain-Language Summary).)
Smallpox in Canada
Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. The disease arrived in what is now Canada with French settlers in the early 17th century. Indigenous people had no immunity to smallpox, resulting in devastating infection and death rates. In 1768, arm-to-arm inoculation became more widely practised in North America. By 1800, advances in vaccination helped control the spread of smallpox. Public health efforts also reduced rates of infection. In the 20th century, Canadian scientists helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Eradication was achieved in 1979, but virus stocks still exist for research and safety reasons.
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Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III on 7 October 1763. It established the basis for governing the North American territories surrendered by France to Britain in the Treaty of Paris, 1763, following the Seven Years’ War. It introduced policies meant to assimilate the French population to British rule. These policies ultimately failed and were replaced by the Quebec Act of 1774 (see also The Conquest of New France). The Royal Proclamation also set the constitutional structure for the negotiation of treaties with the Indigenous inhabitants of large sections of Canada. It is referenced in section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982. As such, it has been labelled an “Indian Magna Carta” or an “Indian Bill of Rights.” The Proclamation also contributed to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. The Proclamation legally defined the North American interior west of the Appalachian Mountains as a vast Indigenous reserve. This angered people in the Thirteen Colonies who desired western expansion.
This is the full-length entry about the Royal Proclamation of 1763. For a plain language summary, please see Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Plain Language Summary).
History of the Armed Forces in Canada
The armed forces are the land, naval and air forces commanded by the federal government for the purpose of defending Canada's security, protecting its citizens, and promoting its strategic interests at home or abroad. The armed forces have evolved since colonial times from small, local militia units to the modern professional military forces of today.