Canada Company

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The Canada Company
Company typeChartered company
IndustryLand development
Founded1826 (by royal charter)
FounderJohn Galt
HeadquartersNo. 13, St. Helen's Place, Bishopsgate Street, London, England
Number of locations
Huron Tract, Queen's Bush, Clergy Reserves
Area served
Upper Canada
Key people
John Galt, William Dunlop, Thomas Mercer Jones, William Allan, Daniel Lizars
ServicesLand, roads, mills
Total equity2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of land

The Canada Company was a private British land development company that was established to aid in the colonization of a large part of Upper Canada. It was incorporated by royal charter on August 19, 1826,[1] under an act of the British parliament,[2] which was given royal assent on June 27, 1825.[3] It was originally formed to acquire and develop Upper Canada's undeveloped clergy reserves and Crown reserves,[2] which the company bought in 1827 for £341,000 ($693,000) from the Province of Upper Canada.[4]

Founded by John Galt, who became its first Superintendent, the company was successful in populating an area called the Huron Tract – an achievement later called "the most important single attempt at settlement in Canadian history".[5]

It is unrelated to the modern-day Canadian charity of the same name, founded in 2006, which assists former Canadian military members and their spouses regain civilian employment after service in the Canadian Armed Forces.[6]

Acquisition of lands[edit]

Acquisition of Canada Company lands
Amount Area Lands
£195,850 ($398,000) 1,384,413 acres (5,603 km2) Crown reserves
£145,150 ($295,000) 1,100,000 acres (4,452 km2) Recently acquired by the government, from the Chippewa First Nation, in what would become the Huron Tract, located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, in substitution for the originally contemplated 829,430 acres (3,357 km2) of clergy reserve lands.[7] One-third of the purchase price went to fund public works and improvements, while the remaining two-thirds was paid to the Crown.[8]


Plan of the town of Goderich, Upper Canada, which was founded by the Canada Company, 1829
The Canada Company's office in Toronto, 1834

The Canada Company assisted emigrants by providing good ships, low fares, implements and tools, and inexpensive land. Scottish novelist John Galt was the company's first Canadian superintendent. He first settled in York (Toronto, Ontario) but selected Guelph as the company's headquarters, and his home. The area was previously part of the Halton Block, 42,000 acres of former Crown land.[9] Galt would later be considered as the founder of Guelph.[10]

The company surveyed and subdivided the massive Huron Tract, built roads, mills, and schools and advertised lots for sale to buyers in Europe. The town of Goderich was laid out on the shores of Lake Huron to be the centre of the settlement of the Huron Tract. The company then assisted in the migration of new settlers, bringing them to the area by means of a steamboat, which the company also owned, on Lake Ontario.[11]

John Galt was dismissed and recalled to Great Britain in 1829, for mismanagement, particularly incompetent bookkeeping.[12] General mismanagement and corruption within the company, and its close alliance with the Tory elites, known as the Family Compact, were important contributing factors to the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837.[13]

In 1833, his colleague William "Tiger" Dunlop took over as Superintendent of the Company and continued Galt's work for a short time before resigning.[14]

Company structure[edit]

Appointed Secretary of the Canada Company in 1824 John Galt helped to obtain a charter for the company on 19 Aug. 1826.[12] On that date, the formal structure of the Canada Company was put into place by the company's Court of Directors. John Galt, as secretary, had the first order of business. Tabling an abstract of the charter, Galt declared the name to be "The Canada Company" with directors and secretary as served on the Provisional Committee and listed in the charter.[15]

At the first meeting of the board, it was declared that four directors would rotate off the Company beginning in 1829.

Structure of Canada Company
Position Persons concerned
  • Thomas Harling Benson
  • Thomas Wilson
  • Thomas Poynder
  • John Woolley
Key Canada Company staff
Person Role
John Galt Founder (1824–26), secretary (1824–1832), and first superintendent (1827–1829).[12]
William Allan Commissioner of the Canada Company (1829–1841).[17]
Frederick Widder Commissioner of the Canada Company (1839–1864).[18]
Thomas Mercer Jones Commissioner of the Canada Company (1829–1852).[19]
William Benjamin Robinson Commissioner of the Canada Company (1852–1865), Senior Commissioner after 1865.[20]
Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop Warden of the Forests, later becoming Superintendent of the Canada Company.
People influential in Canada Company affairs
Person Role
Richard Alexander Tucker Provincial Secretary of Upper Canada, having considerable influence over decisions made concerning the Company in its early years.
Sir Peregrine Maitland Lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. He became associated with the Family Compact. His authoritarian leadership style was one of the causes of the Rebellion of 1837.
Bishop Macdonnell Roman Catholic Bishop attacked by William Lyon Mackenzie.

Alexander Macdonell was a Roman Catholic Scotsman who accepted the government promise of 200 acres (0.81 km2) in Upper Canada to every soldier who emigrated. He had been the chaplain of a Catholic Scottish Glengarry regiment. Macdonell was a conservative legislative councillor from 1831 leading the mainly Irish settlers against the Reform movement and Mackenzie.

Bishop Strachan Protagonist in the Clergy Reserves issue.

An executive councillor in 1817 and legislative councillor in 1820 in the government of Upper Canada, Bishop Strachan sought special status for the Anglican church.


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Plaque. Erected 1929.

The Company retained the mineral rights of the land it sold. In 1919, it quitclaimed and transferred those rights to the Crown. In 1922[21] and 1923,[22] the Legislative Assembly of Ontario authorized the granting of those rights to landholders at a set price.

In 1928, a plaque was erected in Huron county, Pioneers of the Huron Tract 1828-1928, commemorating the work of the men who developed the Huron Tract and the families who lived there, starting in 1828.[23]

By 1938, the Canada Company held just over 20,000 acres (81 km2) of unsold land, while the company shares were valued at 10 shillings. It had become a land company in the process of liquidation.[15] By 1950, only 4,207 acres (17.03 km2) remained in its possession, distributed amongst Lambton County, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and Lanark County.[24]

In 1951, the remaining land was disposed of, and land that was unsold became Pinery Provincial Park.[24]

The company voted to wind up its affairs on August 12, 1953,[25] and was dissolved on December 18, 1953.[24]

See also[edit]


  • Galt, John (1833). The autobiography of John Galt, 1779-1839. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Key & Biddle.
  • Armstrong, Frederick H. (1985). Handbook of Upper Canadian Chronology (Revised ed.). Dundurn. ISBN 1-55002-543-0.
  • Cameron, James McIntyre; Cameron, June Carolyn (1967). The early days in Guelph: Guelph and the Canada Company (PhD). Guelph: University of Guelph. OCLC 670494628.
  • Coleman, Thelma; Anderson, James (1978). The Canada Company. Stratford: County of Perth and Cumming Publishers. ISBN 978-0-88988-029-0.
  • Hall, Roger Dennis (1973). The Canada Company, 1826–1843 (PhD). University of Cambridge. OCLC 500461425.
  • Karr, Clarence (1974). The Canada Land Company : the Early Years, an Experiment in Colonization 1823–1843. Toronto: Ontario Historical Society. OCLC 1230954.
  • Lee, Robert C. (2004). The Canada Company and the Huron Tract 1826–1853: Personalities, Profits and Politics. Toronto: Natural Heritage Books. ISBN 1-896219-94-2.
  • Lizars, Robina; Macfarlane Lizars, Kathleen (1896). In the days of the Canada company: The story of the settlement of the Huron tract and a view of the social life of the period (1825–1850). Introduction by G.M. Grant. Montreal and Halifax: William Briggs.
  • Timothy, H. B. (1984). The Galts, a Canadian odyssey. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-8457-9.


  1. ^ Canada Company: Charter of incorporation, 19th August, 1826. London: W. Marchant. 1832.
  2. ^ a b An Act to enable his Majesty to grant to a company, to incorporated by charter, to be called "The Canada Company", certain lands in the province of Upper Canada, and to invest the said company with certain powers and privileges, and other privileges relating thereto, 1825, c. 75 , later amended by 1916 c. xiv
  3. ^ "No. 18154". The London Gazette. July 12, 1825. p. 1217.
  4. ^ Armstrong 1985, p. 253.
  5. ^ "Wellington County". Historic Plaques. Wayne Cook. 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2017. Plaque #4
  6. ^ "About Canada Company". Canada Company. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  7. ^ Lee 2004, pp. 39.
  8. ^ "The Huron Tract". St Joseph Museum and Archives.
  9. ^ Lee, Robert C. (2011). The Canada Company and the Huron Tract, 1826-1853. Hamilton, Ontario: Dundurn Books. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-89621-994-3.
  10. ^ "The Canada Company". Quebec Gazette. August 9, 1827.
  11. ^ "John Galt; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Hall, Roger; Whistler, Nick (1988). "Galt, John". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. VII (1836–1850) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  13. ^ "John Galt; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  14. ^ "Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop, "the Unforgettable and the Unforgotten"". Guelph Archives. City of Guelph. 2011. Archived from the original on March 23, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Lee 2004, pp. 226–233.
  16. ^ later part of Agra and Masterman's Bank, co-founder of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank
  17. ^ In collaboration (1985). "Allan, William". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. VIII (1851–1860) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  18. ^ Wilson, Alan (1976). "Widder, Frederick". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. IX (1861–1870) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  19. ^ Roger D., Hall (1976). "Jones, Thomas Mercer". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. IX (1861–1870) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  20. ^ Jarvis, Julia (1972). "Robinson, William Benjamin". In Hayne, David (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. X (1871–1880) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  21. ^ The Canada Company's Lands Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 24
  22. ^ The Canada Company's Lands Act, 1923, S.O. 1923, c. 11
  23. ^ "Plaque 24—Huron". Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  24. ^ a b c Lee 2004, p. 216.
  25. ^ "No. 39941". The London Gazette. August 18, 1953. p. 4499.

Further reading[edit]