Canadian Politics and British Withdrawal
A Shift in Thinking
Caption: Private Charles Traveller, 70th (the Surrey) Regiment of Foot, 1841
Caption: View Multimedia - Changing Boundaries
During 1840 and 1841 the separate colonies of Upper and Lower Canada were eliminated and the Province of Canada was established. It nevertheless remained divided into Canada East and Canada West, corresponding to the present provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
Nevertheless, the political situation in British North America remained tense and confused. In London, serious questions were being asked about whether the Province of Canada was defensible without the support of a significant proportion of its inhabitants. The Duke of Wellington realized that it was impossible for Great Britain to effectively defend the people under his control. His view was that if the North American colonies could not vigorously defend themselves in the event of an attack it would be wiser, more beneficial and fairer 106 to evacuate the British garrison and to let them negotiate their own arrangements with the Americans!
Although it would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier, the idea of leaving Canada, which was put forward by the commander-in-chief of the army, was attractive to many Britons. Canada was no longer a strategic location and it cost at least twice at much as it raised in taxes. Great Britain changed its policy accordingly and began to disentangle itself from the defence of the Province of Canada.
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