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Secondary IV • 2yr.


I would like someone to explain to me the changes the Act of Union has brought :)



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Explanations (1)

  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 2yr.

    Hello TomateSupra7536,

    Thank you for your question :)!

    Territory: The Act of Union of 1840, in part resulting from the recommendations of Lord Durham's report, unites Upper and Lower Canada and forms the United Canada (Province of Canada) with the aim to assimilate French Canadian. No other modification of the territory resulted from this Act.

    On the map: 

    • In red : English possessions
    • In blue : United Canada
    • In orange : United States

    Religion: During this period, Catholic and Protestant religious groups in United Canada obtained more powers and responsibilities. There is to say that religion does not lose its importance in this society. Moreover, the British government entrusts the education of the French-speaking population to the Catholic Church.

    Political structure : The Act of Union divides the House of Assembly. There was an equivalent weight of deputies for Upper and Lower Canada (42 deputies each), despite the higher demographic weight of Lower Canada. The numerical weight of deputies in the House of Assembly was, therefore, not representative of the population. In addition, among the 42 deputies from Lower Canada, several were English-speaking. The representativeness of Francophones was, therefore, all the more diminished. This new political structure was consistent with the aims of assimilation of the French Canadian population by Anglophones.

    Debt : In addition to merging the governments of Upper and Lower Canada, debts were also merged. Lower Canada, which had a lower debt than Upper Canada, would therefore bear part of the weight of Upper Canada's debt.

    Official language and law : The official language of the Province of Canada became English. All official documents were then drawn up in English. British criminal law was applied throughout the Province, but French civil laws remained applicable in Lower Canada.

    All these consequences created several tensions between the Anglophones and Francophones of the Province of Canada. Two political groups were formed. On one hand, the conservatives (Tories) didn’t want any change in relation to the new political structure of the Province which favored them. This group was mainly constituted of the business middle class and was generally English speaking. On the other side, the Reformists required changes following the new political structure resulting from the Act of Union. They wanted to obtain a responsible government, which is a government in which the members of the House of Assembly are elected by the people and have the power to elect the Executive Council, which would apply the laws and would manage the budget and the territory of the Province of Canada. Therefore, the Reformists of the former Upper and Lower Canada united their forces to increase their political weight and their power in the House of Assembly. This alliance of Robert Baldwin (Upper Canada) and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine (Lower Canada) was elected by majority in 1841. The alliance succeeded and they obtained the responsible government in 1848, allowing greater autonomy to the Province of Canada in its management.

    If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to write to us again! :)

    - Noémie

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