The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

The Quebec Act

A Looming Political Confrontation

Sir Guy Carleton, circa 1763

Caption: Sir Guy Carleton, circa 1763

Although Canada became a British colony in 1763, another latent political problem was ready at any moment to degenerate into confrontation. On August 10, 1764, a civilian government replaced the military regime, but because of the British royal proclamations and laws the governors were faced with virtually insoluble contradictions. Thus on the one hand a small group of American and English adventurers and merchants who had recently settled in Canada vigorously demanded a legislative assembly - this would give them the right to act as lords in a conquered land, because only "former subjects" of the Protestant faith could sit in the assembly. On the other hand the "new subjects" demanded to be governed in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Paris, which guaranteed them free exercise of religion and the continuance of their civil laws. Not least, the militia, which had been indispensable in managing the colony, represented an extremely thorny problem because, in principle, only Protestant British subjects could be officers - a ridiculous rule that the Canadians, who had always been very proud of belonging to the militia, felt was demeaning. At the end of November 1765 the militia was even abolished and the captains replaced by "bailiffs" in each parish. But the bailiffs were asked to discharge their civil duties only, the matter of their military obligations left pending. Years of confusion and administrative disputes were to follow. While Governor Murray was able to handle both camps tactfully, his successor, Sir Guy Carleton, knew that he would soon have to act on the situation, all the more so in view of the worsening political tensions between England and its Thirteen American Colonies in New England.