Administrators, officers, traders and seigneurs

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Population under British Rule

The Conquest

The conquest of New France by the British in 1760 suspended French immigration. The change of government also led to the departure of more than 2000 individuals (administrators, officers, traders and seigneurs). The large majority of the inhabitants stayed in the colony and resigned to the change of mother country. From 1760 to 1775, there was few British immigration, mainly officers and administrators. By 1775, immigration from the United States and from the British Isles began to change the makeup of the society. The natural growth of the Canadien population ensure the predominance of a Francophone, Catholic population in the territory of Quebec. But this situation will not be the same everywhere.

Settlement of the Province of Quebec until 1815

French population: Even without immigration from France, the Canadien population grew considerably in the 50 years following the Conquest. This was cause by natural growth. (Panorama p. 44)
Aboriginal population: The number of aboriginal people remained constant during this period. The Algonquin and Inuit settled further north to conserve their way of life.
Anglophone population: After the Conquest, the British authorities try to encourage settlement around the St-Lawrence Valley. The most significant flow of immigrant originated from the Thirteen colonies after the American War of Independence in 1776. The loyalists a person who remained loyal to the British crown and refused to support the insurgents of the 13 colonies. (Panorama p. 46), settled in cities or in the country. Between 1791 and 1812, more than 15 000 Americans settled in Lower Canada.

The expansion of occupied territory.

During the French Regime, the population settled in seigneuries around the St-Lawrence river. After the Conquest, it was important to develop new areas of settlement for the British immigrants. With the arrival of the Loyalists, the government introduced a new system of land distribution called township: A territorial division of the British in which the occupants are landowner. Generally in the shape of a square. (Panorama p. 48)

Social tension following the Conquest

The change of mother country (from French to English) caused a fundamental reorganization of Canadian society. The French Canadians (Canadiens) were still the majority but they had to adjust to a new social hierarchy and to conform to the presence of this new cultural group. During the British Regime, the colonial authority had to make several adjustments to allow for better coexistence of the French Canadians and the British. Throughout British Rule, colonial authorities tried to regulate problems stemming from the coexistence of the Canadiens majority and the British minority.

  1. After the capitulation of Montreal, the military government decided to give certain rights to the Canadiens. They were allowed to :

    1. The people of New France could continue to be Catholic.

    2. Nuns were allowed to stay in North America but priests had to leave

    3. No one living in New France would be deported.

    4. No one living in New France would have their property taken away.

2. With the Royal Proclamation in 1763, the terms were less lenient on the Canadien population. The new constitution introduced British Law and the Protestant religion. The goal of this Act was to assimilate the French population. This created great tension between the two cultural groups.

3. In1774, fearing a rebellion in Quebec, the British Parliament enacted the Quebec Act which granted the Francophone Catholic majority political and religious concessions in order to ensure their loyalty.

4. With the arrival of Loyalists, the accommodations made to the Canadian were not following the political view of those new British immigrants. So once again, the government had to change once again the constitution of the colony and created the Constitutional Act in 1791, which split the Province of Quebec in two colonies: the mostly-Anglophone Upper-Canada and the mostly-Francophone Lower Canada. Each would have their own legislative assembly to represent them.

Settlement of the Quebec Territory from 1815 to 1867.

Beginning in 1815, immigration flows from the British Isles (from England, Scotland and Ireland) increased and changed the composition of the society in Lower Canada. The majority of these immigrants were fleeing difficult living condition such as the great famine in Ireland. New groups of Anglophones joined the mostly-Francophone population. Between 1814 and 1861, the total population of the territory of Québec tripled. Immigration pressures as well as natural growth in the territory of Quebec led to the opening of new regions of colonization as well as emigration toward the United States.

Francophone Population: The population growth was due largely to high birth rate among the Francophone population. The average of children per Catholic family was around seven.
Aboriginal population: The population of Aboriginal peoples reaches its lowest point since the arrival of the Europeans. Around 1850, there was less than 10 000 Aboriginal peoples living in Lower Canada. During this period, the British were also trying to assimilate the aboriginal population using missionaries to teach them the language, religion and values of the white people.
Anglophone population: New immigrants came from England, Scotland and Ireland. While most of the English and Scottish were Protestant the majority of Irish were of the Catholic faith. Most of them were fleeing the difficult living conditions, famines and epidemics in Europe. After the creation of Upper and Lower Canada, most of the British immigrants settled in Upper-Canada.
Emigration to the United States
Around the years 1830s, with the overpopulation of the St-Lawrence Valley, the prices of land were going up. Many families couldn’t keep up and were force to move away from the country side. Many families settled in big cities like Montreal or Quebec to find work, order emigrate to the United States in search for better living condition. This emigration movement was so important that they estimate that between 1840 and 1860, 22 000 to 35 000 French Canadians emigrated to the United States.
The organization of society under British Rule

The change of mother country and immigration transformed the social hierarchy of Lower Canada.

Business class: During the French Regime, the business was control by the French Merchants. With the Conquest, they had to be in competition with the British merchants who were the main suppliers of the British government and had a business network with the mother country. The British merchant were fur traders, exporters of lumber or bankers.
Bourgeoisie: At the end of the 18th century, a new social group made up primarily of notaries, lawyers and doctors emerged. There were many French Canadians among them. Members of the bourgeoisie were also elected representatives at the Parliament in 1792.
Habitants and workers: Immigrants were largely from modest background. Most of them became fisherman in the Gaspésie region, loggers in the Outaouais region and farmers in the Eastern Townships. Another large number settled in cities were they became workers for factories.
The evolution of the French identity under the British Regime.

The sense of belonging to their mother country was gradually shifting from France to Britain.

People born in the colony under the British regime start to call themselves as Canadians (English speakers) or Canadiens (French speakers).

The Canadians were subjects of the British crowns, they identified themselves as British and were loyal to the empire.

The Canadiens continue to practice the Catholic religion and use the French language and this helped them to preserve their identity and culture.

British Rule Part 1

Using your notes and your panorama (pages 43 to 60), answer the following questions:

  1. Which group formed the Anglophone migration flow to the colony following the conquest?

The first group of Anglophone that migrate to the Province of Quebec were mainly members of the elite: colonial administrators, military officiers and merchants.

  1. What cause the Anglophone to migrate?

The most significant migration flow of Anglophone came from the 13 colonies. The loyalists wanted to stay loyal to the British Crown and move to the province of Quebec after the war of independence in 1776.

  1. What effect did the arrival of the Loyalists have on the population of the Province of Quebec?

The arrival of the Loyalists changed the population of the province of Quebec by changing the land division, changing the laws, the language and the religion.

  1. From 1760 to 1815, how was the population distributed across the colony’s territory?

From 1760 to 1815, the Canadien population was settled around the St-Lawrence River in the seigneuries. The British immigrants settled mainly south of Montreal and in the Eastern Township. Some immigrants also settle in city in search of job in the factories.

  1. Why were there tensions between the Canadiens and the British minority?

Royal proclamation of 1763 created tensions. This constitution established a British political and social organization. Also they put the French Canadians (canadiens) under the British law and the Protestant religion.

  1. What caused the Aboriginal population to lower after 1815?

The expansion of the colony territory chased the Aboriginal from their territory. Their way of life was then endangered. The population was declining so the British authorities decided that they must be assimilated.

  1. Describe the population of Lower Canada from 1815 to 1867.

The population of Lower Canada was Canadien due to the steady increase in the francophone population (natural growth). The population also became diverse with the arrival of British immigrants.

  1. Where did immigrants come from and where did most of them settle after 1815?

The new immigrants came from England, Scotland and Ireland. They mainly settled in Upper Canada.

  1. Why did emigration to the United States increase after 1850?

In the 1840-1850s, the seigneuries were overpopulated and people were looking for better living condition and move to the United-States to find work in factories or in farms.

  1. Did the tensions between the Francophones majority and the Anglophone minority persist through the British Rule? Explain why.

Because the Anglophone, who were a minority in the colony, held the power and the wealth. They were also holding important and influential positions in the colonial administration. The Anglophone were also trying to assimilate the Francophone.

British Rule Part 2

Using your notes and your panorama (pages 43 to 60), answer the following graphs:

  1. In the table below, place the corresponding statements in the appropriate space.

    1. Immigration from the United State and the British Isles.

    2. Interruption of French immigration and departure of the French administrators, officers, merchants and seigneurs.

    3. Conquest of New France by the British.

    4. Urbanization.




Conquest of New France by the British.

The change of empire

Interruption of French immigration and departure of the French administrators, officers, merchants and seigneurs.


Changes in the cultural makeup of society.

Tension between the Canadiens and the representatives of British colonial authority.

The first phase of industrialization

Immigration from the United State and the British Isles.

The emigration of many French Canadians to the West and New England.

  1. Complete the table below by describing the French Regime and the British Rule.

French Regime

British Rule



French and English

Common people

Artisans, farmer, priest and nuns

Artisans, farmer, priest and nuns



British Isle : Britain, Scotland and Irland and the 13 colonies



Catholic and Protestant

  1. Complete the two pyramids by putting the different groups in the right place. Some groups may appear more than once.

  1. French merchants 2. Governor and Intendant 3. Artisans

4. Political and religious authority 5. Priest 6. English Merchants 7. Farmer

French Regime British Rule

Political and religious authority

Governor and Intendant

Upper Class

English merchants

French merchants


Artisans, farmer, proest

Artisans, farmer, proest

Common people

  1. Complete the following text using the words suggested below.

countryside  clergy colonization growth manufacturing

jobs  United States  Outaouais  rural  Saguenay

overpopulation  farmland Urban  city

In the first half of the 19th century, the growth of the rural population and the lack of farmland resulted in the overpopulation of the St-Lawrence Valley. This situation forced people to leave the countryside to find better living conditions. Rural dwellers headed towards the city where industry jobs were numerous, or they emigrated to the United States in order to secure a job in the manufacturing sector.
Another possibility was available to those who rejected the urban way of life and did not want to work in factories: colonization Since there was not enough farmland the clergy and the colony’s authorities encouraged families to clear and cultivates new lands in the outaouais and Saguenay regions.

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