Act of Union | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Act of Union

The Act of Union was passed by the British Parliament in July 1840 and proclaimed 10 February 1841. It united the colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada under one government, creating the Province of Canada.

  1. May 12, 1785

    Act of Union 

    "Negro Frolicks" Prohibited

    Officials in Nova Scotia ordered "50 Handbills [to] be immediately printed forbidding Negro Dances & Negro Frolicks in [the] town of Shelburne."

  2. June 08, 1826

    William Lyon Mackenzie

    Act of Union 

    Mackenzie's Office Raided

    Members of the Family Compact raided the offices of William Lyon Mackenzie's newspaper, the Colonial Advocate, at York.

  3. May 21, 1832

    Act of Union 

    Rioting in Montreal

    Rioting erupted during a by-election in Montreal when the Patriote candidate began to take the lead. British soldiers fired on the crowd, killing 3.

  4. June 24, 1834

    Act of Union 

    St-Jean-Baptiste Society

    The St-Jean-Baptiste Society was founded by journalist Ludger Duvernay, who wanted to stimulate a nationalist spirit among his compatriots and encourage them to defend their linguistic and cultural heritage.

  5. September 05, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Fils de la Liberté (Sons of Liberty)

    The Fils de la Liberté, a party formed by 700-800 Patriotes, held their first public assembly. Inspired by the ideals of the American Revolution, the Fils believed in the right of the people to choose their own government and of a colony to become independent.

  6. October 23, 1837

    Louis-Joseph Papineau (Daguerrotype), politician

    Act of Union 

    Papineau Addresses Rally

    Louis-Joseph Papineau spoke to some 4000 at Saint-Charles at which the Patriotes more or less declared the independence of the Six Counties and their willingness to resort to arms if necessary.

  7. November 06, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Street Fight in Montreal

    Thomas Brown led the Fils de la Liberté in a street fight with members of the English-Canadian Doric Club in Montréal, a prelude to the Rebellions.

  8. November 16, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Patriotes Start Rebellion

    A Patriote force attacked the newly formed Montreal Volunteer Cavalry near Longueuil and started the rebellion in Lower Canada.

  9. November 16, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Insurrection in Lower Canada

    Governor Gosford issued warrants for the arrest of 26 Patriote leaders on charges of high treason, initiating the events of the Lower Canada Rebellion. Troops and Patriotes were in battle a few days later.

  10. November 23, 1837

    Rebellions of 1837, Lower Canada

    Act of Union 

    Battle of Saint-Denis

    General Charles Gore and government forces suffered a minor defeat by Patriote forces at Saint-Denis.

  11. November 25, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Patriotes Crushed

    The Patriotes were crushed by government forces at St-Charles with 56 dead; Papineau fled to the US.

  12. December 05, 1837

    William Lyon Mackenzie

    Act of Union 

    Rebellion in Upper Canada

    William Lyon Mackenzie led a rag-tag contingent of 800 men down Yonge Street toward Toronto. Government loyalists dispersed the rebels with a few shots, ending Mackenzie's erratic attempt to overthrow the colonial government.

  13. December 07, 1837

    Act of Union 

    John A. Macdonald and the Rebellion of 1837

    John A. Macdonald's early professional career coincided with the rebellion in Upper Canada and subsequent border raids from the US. He was in Toronto in December 1837 where, as a militia private, he took part in the attack on the rebels at Montgomery's Tavern. In 1838, he attracted public notice by defending accused rebels, including Nils von Schoultz, leader of an attack on Prescott.

  14. December 11, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Corps of Negroes

    In the early 19th century, few Upper Canada militia units included Blacks. When the Mackenzie Rebellion broke out, the government welcomed Black men into the provincial forces. On 11 December 1837, a militia order authorized Captains Thomas Runchey and James Sears to raise a "corps of Negroes." Four days later, approximately 50 Blacks had joined the corps.

  15. December 14, 1837

    Rebellions of 1837, Lower Canada

    Act of Union 

    Battle of St-Eustache

    Sir John Colborne captured St-Eustache after fierce resistance by the Patriotes during the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  16. December 14, 1837

    Act of Union 

    Chenier Killed

    Patriote leader Jean-Olivier Chénier was killed in combat at St-Eustache.

  17. January 05, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Hunter's Lodges

    A US proclamation forbade Americans from joining in the fighting in the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions. Some American sympathizers organized in secret societies, called Hunters' Lodges, to take part in cross-border attacks in support of the rebellions.

  18. January 08, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Attack at Amherstburg

    A Patriote attack against Amherstburg, Upper Canada (Ontario), was defeated by Canadian militiamen.

  19. February 10, 1838

    Battle of Saint-Eustache

    Act of Union 

    Constitution Suspended

    The Constitution of 1791 was suspended in Lower Canada following the 1837 Rebellion. An "authoritarian" political body, the Special Council, was appointed in its stead. The second Rebellion in Lower Canada soon followed.

  20. February 26, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Frères Chasseurs Attempt Invasion of Lower Canada

    Rebel and Papineau supporter Robert Nelson gathered between 600 and 700 volunteers, the Société des frères Chasseurs (Hunters' Lodges), in an attempt to invade Lower Canada. Hunters' Lodges were the largest of the Secret Societies pledged to liberate the Canadian provinces from “British thralldom.”

  21. March 06, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Blacks in Upper Canada Publicly Praised

    In the spring of 1838, Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond Head addressed the legislature to publicly praise Black Upper Canadians for their loyalty and service during the recent rebellions.

  22. March 30, 1838

    Lord Durham

    Act of Union 

    Durham Appointed

    The Earl of Durham was appointed governor-in-chief of British North America and commissioner to investigate the causes of the rebellions. He served from May 29 to November 1.

  23. April 12, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Lount and Matthews Hanged

    Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews were hanged for treason, at Toronto, for their roles in the Rebellion of 1837.

  24. July 04, 1838

    Nelson, Wolfred

    Act of Union 

    Nelson Deported

    Former House of Assembly member Wolfred Nelson was deported to Bermuda, along with 8 other Patriotes, following the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  25. November 04, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Second Rebellion in Lower Canada

    Robert Nelson and Cyrille Côté led a 2nd rebellion in Lower Canada. Côté's men fled after a skirmish at Lacolle; Nelson retreated to Odelltown, north of the Vermont border, where he was defeated by Charles Taylor on November 9.

  26. November 09, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Battle of Odelltown

    The Patriotes were defeated at the Battle of Odelltown. It was one of the last skirmishes of the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  27. November 12, 1838

    Act of Union 

    Battle of the Windmill

    Colonel Nils Von Schoultz ran the schooner Charlotte aground some miles below Prescott, and took up a position in a windmill and several stone houses nearby. Canadian militia pounded the windmill and resistance collapsed on November 16.

  28. January 18, 1839

    Battle of Saint-Eustache

    Act of Union 

    Rebels Hanged

    Rebels were hanged at Montréal for their part in the Rebellions of 1837.

  29. February 15, 1839

    Act of Union 

    Patriote Rebels Hanged

    Five Patriotes, followers of Louis-Joseph Papineau, were hung at the Pied-du-Courant Prison following a trial for treason and murder.

  30. September 27, 1839

    Act of Union 

    Patriotes Banished to Australia

    The transport ship Buffalo left Lower Canada carrying 58 Patriotes bound for Australia. The Patriotes were exiled for their involvement in the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–38. The rebels were imprisoned at Longbottom Stockade in Sydney, spending their time breaking rocks and collecting oyster shells to make lime. By 1844, all had received pardons. Most returned to Canada.

  31. July 23, 1840

    Act of Union

    Act of Union 

    Act of Union Assent

    The Act of Union joining Upper and Lower Canada received royal assent in England. It came into effect on 10 February 1841.

  32. February 10, 1841

    Act of Union

    Act of Union 

    Act of Union in Effect

    The Act of Union came into effect, uniting Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada, a legislative union with 84 members divided equally between Canada East and Canada West.

  33. February 13, 1841

    Kingston City Hall

    Act of Union 

    Kingston Chosen Capital

    Kingston, Canada West, was chosen capital of the United Canadas. It only remained the capital until 1843.

  34. June 14, 1841

    Act of Union 

    First Parliament in Canadas

    The first session of the first Parliament of the United Canadas opened at Kingston, Canada West.

  35. September 16, 1842

    Baldwin & LaFontaine

    Act of Union 

    La Fontaine-Baldwin Cabinet

    The first La Fontaine-Baldwin cabinet was formed in the Province of Canada. The partnership led to the development of responsible government across the country.

  36. May 10, 1844

    Port of Montreal

    Act of Union 

    Capital Moves to Montreal

    The capital of Canada was moved from Kingston to Montréal, Canada East.

  37. May 26, 1846

    St. John's Town and Harbour

    Act of Union 

    Responsible Government in Newfoundland

    Public meetings at St John's, Newfoundland, adopted resolutions in favour of responsible government.

  38. February 02, 1848

    Responsible Government

    Act of Union 

    Responsible Government in Nova Scotia

    James Boyle Uniake became leader of a new Reform government. Nova Scotia was thus the first colony in the British Empire in which responsible government was in effect. Responsible government meant that a colony enjoyed complete self-government in domestic affairs and that a government ruled only with the support of the majority of the elected Assembly (the origins of today's cabinet government).

  39. April 25, 1849

    James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, politician

    Act of Union 

    Rebellion Losses Bill

    Lord Elgin gave assent to the Rebellion Losses Bill, in effect the first acceptance of the principle of responsible government, over violent Tory opposition. A Tory-inspired mob burned the Parliament buildings that day.

  40. April 25, 1849

    Montréal Riots

    Act of Union 

    Parliament Buildings Burned

    The Parliament Buildings in Montréal were burned down in riots protesting Lord Elgin's signing of the Rebellion Losses Bill. The seat of government was removed from Montréal and the Parliament met alternatively in Toronto and Québec City.

  41. April 25, 1851

    Act of Union 

    PEI Gets Responsible Government

    PEI obtained responsible government, with George Coles as premier.

  42. December 31, 1857

    Ottawa, 1857

    Act of Union 

    Ottawa Chosen Capital

    Queen Victoria announced that she had chosen Ottawa to be the new capital of Canada. It became official on September 24, 1859.