The political leaders
Who was leading Lower Canada?
In 1820, there were two groups fighting for control over the colony: those who supported the British administration and those who wanted more power for the francophone population.
The British Party
The allies of the administration were large merchants, civil servants and the old French seigneurial families. Their careers were strongly linked to the British Empire and the development of exports to Great Britain.
The “Parti canadien”
The opponents were made up of a new group of people, a small middle-class of French Canadian professionals. These sons and grandsons of artisans, and sometimes farmers, had been educated in colleges or seminaries before becoming notaries, lawyers or doctors. They had gained the trust of the French Canadian people.
The political game
Thanks to a strong vote by the people, the Canadian Party held the majority of members in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. They strove to protect the rights of this population while vying for their share of the administrative positions normally reserved for the governor’s “favourites”.
For years, francophone leaders opposed any investments that would benefit large merchants, but be paid for by the francophone population. Conflicts became so great that the political system was totally immobilized.
Author: Léon Robichaud
See also – Traces of the past: