British North America

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For the Canadian Constitution, see British North America Act, 1867.
British North America
Colonies of Great Britain (1783–1800)
Colonies of the United Kingdom (1801–1907)

1783–1907
 


Flag

Anthem
God Save the King
Capital Administered from London, England
Languages English
Religion Anglicanism
Government Constitutional monarchy
King
 -  1783-1820 King George III
 -  1820-1830 King George IV
 -  1830-1837 King William IV
 -  1837-1901 Queen Victoria
 -  1901-1907 Edward VII
History
 -  Treaty of Paris 1783
 -  Treaty of 1818 1818
 -  British North America Act 1867
 -  Rupert's Land Act 1868
 -  British Columbia Terms of Union[1] 1871
 -  Prince Edward Island Terms of Union[2] 1873
 -  1907 Colonial Conference 1907
Currency Pound sterling, Canadian pound, Canadian dollar
Today part of  Canada

British North America referred to the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.

In 1775 the British Empire included 20 territories north of New Spain. These were Newfoundland, Rupert's Land, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Thirteen Colonies (which united to become the United States in 1776), East and West Florida, and the Province of Quebec.

Britain had acquired Quebec from France and East and West Florida from Spain by the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War.

Spain regained the Floridas and the United States of America, upon acknowledgement of their sovereignty, acquired the part of Quebec south of the Great Lakes by the Treaty of Paris.

Nova Scotia was split into modern-day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1784. The part of Quebec retained after 1783 was split into the primarily French-speaking Lower Canada and the primarily English-speaking Upper Canada in 1791.

After the War of 1812, the Treaty of 1818 established the 49th parallel as the United States–British North America border from Rupert's Land west to the Rocky Mountains. Britain gave up Oregon south of the 49th parallel, which was part of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia District, under the Oregon Treaty of 1846.

The boundary of British North America with Maine was finally determined by Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.

The Canadas were united into the Province of Canada in 1841.

On 1 July 1867, an Act of the British Parliament called the British North America Act formed the Dominion of Canada from the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The former Province of Canada was split back into its pre-1841 parts, with Canada East (Lower Canada) renamed Quebec, and Canada West (Upper Canada) renamed Ontario. These were the original four provinces of Canada.

In 1869, Rupert's Land was annexed to Canada as the Northwest Territories (NWT), and in 1870 a part of the NWT, Manitoba, became a province of Canada. The west-coast British colony north of the 49th parallel, British Columbia, joined Confederation in 1871, and Prince Edward Island joined in 1873. The boundary of British Columbia with Washington Territory was settled by arbitration in 1872, and with Alaska by arbitration in 1903. In 1905, large parts of the Northwest Territories became the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In 1907 the sole remaining British North American colony, Newfoundland, was granted Dominion status, although starting in 1934 it was administered by the non-representational Commission of Government, a body chaired by British officials. In 1949 the island of Newfoundland, and its associated mainland territory of Labrador, joined Canada as the tenth province.

Although semi-independent from 1867, and fully sovereign on foreign affairs with the Statute of Westminster 1931, the last vestiges of Canada's constitutional dependency upon Britain remained until Canadians agreed on an internal procedure for amending the Canadian Constitution. This agreement was implemented when the British Parliament passed the Constitution Act of 1982 at the request of Parliament of Canada and the Legislatures of the provinces except Quebec (which objected to the terms to which the others agreed).

British North America colonies[edit]

The colonies that existed before the signing of the 1846 Oregon Treaty:

Administration[edit]

Besides the local colonial governments in each colony, British North America was administered directly via London.

From 1783 to 1801 it was administered by the Home Office and by the Home Secretary, then from 1801 to 1854 under the War Office and Secretary of State for War and Colonies. When the Colonial Office was re-established it was under the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ British Columbia Terms of Union The Solon Law Archive
  2. ^ "Prince Edward Island Terms of Union". Solon.org. 8 December 1995. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailyn, Bernard. The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (1988) excerpt and text search
  • Cooke, Jacob E. Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies (3 vol 1993)
  • Foster, Stephen, ed. British North America in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Oxford History of the British Empire Companion) (2014) excerpt and text search; 11 essays by scholars
  • Garner, John. The franchise and politics in British North America, 1755–1867 (U of Toronto Press, 1969)
  • Gipson, Lawrence Henry. The British Empire Before the American Revolution (15 vol., 1936–70), extremely comprehensive study; Pulitzer Prize
  • Morton, W. L. The Kingdom of Canada: A General History from Earliest Times (1969)