The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

The Quebec Act

Need to Rally Canadians to the British Cause

For Carleton, and for the members of the British government, a massive emigration from Great Britain to Canada seemed unlikely. They were convinced that the "Province of Quebec" would remain a largely French-speaking and Catholic population. Only 2,000 British and Americans lived there - most in Quebec and Montreal - and it was unlikely that their number would increase significantly, for even attempts to populate the province with the military proved fruitless. 33

The only way to assure security, peace and prosperity for the colony was to rally Canadians to the British cause. To accomplish this, the British Parliament eventually, in 1774, passed the Quebec Act. The Act established the continuance of French civil law and freedom of religion; it also made it possible for Catholic Canadians to enter public office, but within the colony only. Native-born gentlemen were still excluded from military careers in the regular army.

The militia was restored the following year, with seigneurs as officers. Influenced by the clergy and the nobility, who sought to consolidate their social position, Carleton concluded that the colony would benefit from a kind of feudal system of government in which seigneurs, members of the clergy and great merchants would advise the governor. Canadians, who were accustomed to an autocratic system, understood nothing, according to Carleton, of legislative assembly, and would be happier obeying their seigneurs and their priests. It was a fundamental error, indicative of a poor understanding of the government of the French regime.