Upper Canada

I really have neglected this.  The declaration of war is about a month away and I am still stuck in 1791.

What happened in 1791?  To accommodate approximately 10,000 English speaking loyalists that arrived following the American Revolution, the British parliament carved out the middle third of the Province of Quebec (1774) and established the Province of Upper Canada. The province was originally divided into four districts: The Lunenburgh District, renamed “Eastern” in 1792; The Mecklenburg District, later “Midland”; Nassau District, later “Home” and the Hesse District, later “Western”. Interestingly, for the last 220 years, these divisions have been continually evolving, changing names and boundaries.

The capital and site of the first parliament was Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), originally settled in 1781 by Col John Butler, and was a haven for loyalists.

In 1792, John Graves Simcoe became Upper Canada’s first Lt Governor, and his wife, Elizabeth kept an illustrated diary of their travels, which provides a glimpse of life in Upper Canada in the 1790’s.  They took up residence at Navy Hall in Newark,

“Navy Hall is a House built by the Navel Commanders on this Lake for their reception when here – it is now undergoing a thorough repair for our occupation but is still to unfinished that the Gov’r has ordered, 3 marquees to be pitched for us on the Hill above the House which is very dry ground & Rises beautifully, in parts covered with oak bushes…”  – July 26th, 1792

The first session of Parliament in this province was also held in a tent nearby and made history by passing the Act Against Slavery, on July 9, 1793, becoming the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to do so.

The seat of government was soon moved to York, as war with the Americans was anticipated as early as 1794. Originally Simcoe planned for the capital to be located at the forks of the LaTranche River in the Hesse District, later to become London.

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