Reorganization of the Militia

Reluctant Canadian Politicians

Paradoxically, this demographic shift encouraged the establishment of responsible government in 1849, the enshrining principle of the supremacy of the Legislative Assembly. Henceforth the Governor General of Canada would "reign," but the House would govern politically. For national defence, though, Canadian parliamentarians proved to be exceptionally cautious, leaving responsibility and expenses for defence to Great Britain.

In November 1854 the Canadian government nonetheless appointed a commission to investigate ways of improving the militia. In French Canada some even favoured the establishment of a permanent Canadian corps "to replace the regular troops that the English government had to bring home," according to Montreal's La Patrie. The editor added that "it would open a new career to Canadian youth. We are sure that many of our young compatriots would prefer a captain's epaulettes, even with all the dangers involved, to the gown [of a lawyer] or the cassock [of a notary] that are so highly prized these days." 111 Resurfacing here was no less than the old dream of a French-Canadian regiment, which had been proposed as early as 1763 to replace the Compagnies franches de la Marine.