Canada Company

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Canada Company
Land Settlement
Industry Resettlement from Britain and Europe to Upper Canada
Fate Dissolved
Founded 6th Geo IV, c.75
Founder John Galt
Defunct 1953
Headquarters England: No. 13, St. Helen's Place, Bishopsgate Street, London., Guelph, Upper Canada
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
Services Land, roads, mills
Total equity 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of land

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

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 Indian land 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.[5] One-third of the purchase price went to fund public works and improvements, while the remaining two-thirds was paid to the Crown.[6]


Canada Company Office 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 selected Guelph, Ontario as the company's headquarters, and proceeded to build a town there.[7] The company surveyed and subdivided this massive area, built roads, mills, and schools and advertised it to buyers in Europe. The company then assisted in the migration of new settlers, bringing them to the area by means of a boat, which the company also owned, on Lake Ontario.

The company's mismanagement and corruption, and its close alliance with the Tory elites, known as the Family Compact was an important contributing factor to the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837.

Company Structure[edit]

The formal structure of the Canada Company was put into place August 24, 1826 by the company 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.[8]

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 7.jpg John Galt Founder (1824–26), secretary (1824–1832), and first superindentent (1827–1829).[10]
William Allan Commissioner of the Canada Company (1829–1841).[11]
Frederick Widder Commissioner of the Canada Company (1839–1864).[12]
Thomas Mercer Jones Commissioner of the Canada Company (1829–1852).[13]
William Benjamin Robinson.png William Benjamin Robinson Commissioner of the Canada Company (1852-1865), Senior Commissioner after 1865.[14]
Canmedaj01489-0107-a.gif 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.
Peregrine Maitland Portrait.jpg 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.
Alexander Macdonell.jpg 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.

Johnstrachan.JPG 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.

Dissolution of the Canada Company[edit]

When the Company sold its land to different purchasers, it reserved the mineral rights to itself. In 1919, the Company issued quit claims on such claims, vesting the mineral rights to the Crown. As a consequence, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed legislation in 1922[15] and 1923[16] authorizing the grant of such rights to landholders at a set price.

By 1938, the Canada Company held just over 20,000 acres (81 km2) acres of unsold land, while the company shares were valued at 10 shillings. It had become a land company in the process of liquidation.[8] 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.[17]

In 1951, the remaining land was disposed, and land that was unsold became Pinery Provincial Park.[17]

The company voted to wind up its affairs on August 12, 1953,[18] and was dissolved on December 18, 1953.[17]


See also[edit]


  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, 6 Geo. IV, c. 75
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 18154. p. 1217. 12 July 1825.
  4. ^ Armstrong 1985, p. 253.
  5. ^ Lee 2004, pp. 39.
  6. ^ "The Huron Tract". St Joseph Museum and Archives. 
  7. ^ "The Canada Company". Quebec Gazette. August 9, 1827. 
  8. ^ a b Lee 2004, pp. 226–233.
  9. ^ later part of Agra and Masterman's Bank, co-founder of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank
  10. ^ Hall, Roger; Whistler, Nick (1988). "Galt, John". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VII (1836–1850) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  11. ^ In collaboration (1985). "Allan, William". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VIII (1851–1860) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Alan (1976). "Widder, Frederick". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IX (1861–1870) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  13. ^ Roger D., Hall (1976). "Jones, Thomas Mercer". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IX (1861–1870) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  14. ^ Jarvis, Julia (1972). "Robinson, William Benjamin". In Hayne, David. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. X (1871–1880) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  15. ^ The Canada Company's Lands Act, 1922, S.O. 1922, c. 24
  16. ^ The Canada Company's Lands Act, 1923, S.O. 1923, c. 11
  17. ^ a b c Lee 2004, p. 216.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 39941. p. 4499. 18 August 1953.

Further reading[edit]