Province of Lower Canada
Province du Bas-Canada (French)
Civil ensign (1801 onward)
|Common languages||French, English|
|Government||Château Clique oligarchy
|Lieutenant-Governor and Executive Council of Lower Canada|
|Legislature||Parliament of Lower Canada|
|Historical era||British Era|
|26 December 1791|
|10 February 1841|
|1839||534,185 km2 (206,250 sq mi)|
|Today part of|
The Province of Lower Canada (French: province du Bas-Canada) was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence (1791–1841). It covered the southern portion of the current Province of Quebec and the Labrador region of the current Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (until the Labrador region was transferred to Newfoundland in 1809).
Lower Canada consisted of part of the former colony of Canada of New France, conquered by Great Britain in the Seven Years’ War ending in 1763 (also called the French and Indian War in the United States). Other parts of New France conquered by Britain became the Colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
The Province of Lower Canada was created by the Constitutional Act 1791 from the partition of the British colony of the Province of Quebec (1763–1791) into the Province of Lower Canada and the Province of Upper Canada. The prefix “lower” in its name refers to its geographic position farther downriver from the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River than its contemporary Upper Canada, present-day southern Ontario.
Like Upper Canada, there was significant political unrest. Twenty-two years after the invasion by the Americans in the War of 1812, a rebellion now challenged the British rule of the predominantly French population. After the Patriote Rebellion in the Rebellions of 1837–1838 were crushed by the British Army and Loyal volunteers, the 1791 Constitution was suspended on 27 March 1838 and a special council was appointed to administer the colony. An abortive attempt by revolutionary Robert Nelson to declare a Republic of Lower Canada was quickly thwarted.
The provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada were combined as the United Province of Canada in 1841, when the Act of Union 1840 came into force. Their separate legislatures were combined into a single parliament with equal representation for both constituent parts, even though Lower Canada had a greater population.
The Province of Lower Canada inherited the mixed set of French and English institutions that existed in the Province of Quebec during the 1763–1791 period and which continued to exist later in Canada-East (1841–1867) and ultimately in the current Province of Quebec (since 1867).
Travelling around Lower Canada was mainly by water along the St. Lawrence River. On land the only long-distance route was the Chemin du Roy or King’s Highway, built in the 1730s by New France. The King’s Highway was, in addition to the mail route, the primary means of long-distance passenger travel until steamboats (1815) and railways (1850s) began to challenge the royal road. The royal road’s importance waned after the 1850s and would not re-emerge as a key means of transportation until the modern highway system of Quebec was created in the 20th century.
- Canada East, period after the Act of Union 1840
- Former colonies and territories in Canada
- French and Indian War
- French and Indian Wars
- French colonial empire
- List of lieutenant governors of Quebec
- National Patriots’ Day
- Ottawa River timber trade
- Province of Quebec (1763–1791)
- Republic of Lower Canada
- The Canadas
- Timeline of Quebec history
- Upper Canada