Electoral districts of Lower Canada

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The electoral districts of Lower Canada were territorial subdivisions of the British North American Province of Lower Canada serving as the basis of the representation of the population in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, the lower house of the Provincial Parliament of Lower Canada. This house was the first legislative assembly in the history of Quebec. The districts were used between 1792 and 1838, date at which the constitution of the country was suspended as a consequence of the Rebellions of 1837.

The Constitutional Act of 1791 provided for the creation of a House of Assembly or Legislative Assembly, made up of at least 50 elected members. Lieutenant governor Alured Clarke divided the territory of the province into 27 districts each returning one or two Members to the Provincial Parliament. 23 districts were returning two MPPs and 4 were returning a single one. The rural districts were called counties (French: comtés), while the urban ones were called cities (cités) or bouroughs (bourgs). 16 out of 27, bore typically English names, while the others bore French or Indigenous names.

In 1828, governor James Kempt, who was in good terms with the elected House of Assembly, favoured the redrawing of the electoral map: five new districts were created, in total electing 8 new MPPs, in the newly settled Eastern Townships. These elected their first representatives to Parliament in 1829. The following year, the old districts were subdivided into smaller ones, which for the most part were given French names. A last district was created in 1832 and a second seat was added to existing ones, so that when the constitution was suspended in 1838, there were 46 electoral districts in Lower Canada and they were returning 90 MPPs in total. 29 of these bore French names, 11 Indigenous names and 6 English names.

1792 to 1829[edit]

District Location Seats Reform of 1829
Bedford Haut-Richelieu, East shore. 1 Renamed to Rouville.
Buckinghamshire South shore of the St. Lawrence River between Sorel and Lévis. 2 Districts of Drummond (one seat), Missisquoi (2), Shefford (1), Sherbrooke (2) and Stanstead (2) are detached from Buckinghamshire, and are ready to return MMPs as of 1829. What remains is divided into Lotbinière (two seats), Nicolet (2) and Yamaska (2).
Cornwallis South shore of the St. Lawrence River between La Pocatière and Cap-Chat. 2 Divided into Kamouraska and Rimouski (two seats each).
Devon South shore of the St. Lawrence River from Montmagny to Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies. 2 Renamed to L'Islet.
Dorchester Lévis, Saint-Henri and Beauce. 2 The district of Beauce is detached from that of Dorchester.
Effingham The Île Jésus, Blainville and Terrebonne. 2 Renamed to Terrebonne.
Gaspé All of the Gaspésie region from Cap-Chat. 1 The district of Bonaventure is detached from that of Gaspé.
Hampshire North shore of the St. Lawrence River from Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade to Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures. 2 Renanmed to Portneuf.
Hertford The South shore of the St. Lawrence River from Beaumont to Montmagny. 2 Renamed to Bellechasse.
Huntingdon South shore of the St. Lawrence River from the American border to Laprairie, including the West shore of Upper Richelieu River. 2 Divided into Beauharnois, L'Acadie and Laprairie.
Kent Boucherville, Longueuil, Chambly, Blairfindie (L'Acadie) 2 Renamed to Chambly.
Leinster Lachenaie, Mascouche and the Western region of Lanaudière. 2 Divided into Lachenaie and l'Assomption (two seats each).
County of Montreal Island of Montreal except the town of Montreal. 2 No change.
Montreal East 2 No change.
Montreal West 2 No change.
Northumberland North shore of the St. Lawrence River from Beauport to the provincial border. 2 Divided into Montmorency (one seat) and Saguenay (2).
Orléans The île d'Orléans 1 (second seat added in 1830) No change.
County of Quebec Region surrounding Quebec City, on the North shore of the St. Lawrence River. 2 No change.
Lower Town of Quebec 2 No change.
Upper Town of Quebec 2 No change.
Richelieu Lower Richelieu River, East shore: Île Saint-Ignace, île du Pas, part of Saint-Ours, Yamaska, Saint-Denis, Saint-Charles, Saint-Hyacinthe 2 The district of Saint-Hyacinthe (tow seats) is detached from that of Richelieu.
Saint-Maurice North shore of the St. Lawrence River from Maskinongé to Batiscan, except Trois-Rivières. 2 The district of Champlain (two seats) is detached from Saint-Maurice.
Surrey The South shore of the St. Lawrence River from Boucherville to the mouth of the Richelieu River, and the West shore of the same: part of Saint-Ours, Contrecœur, Verchères, Varennes, Saint-Antoine, Belœil. 2 Renamed to Verchères.
Trois-Rivières Town of Trois-Rivières. 2 No change.
Warwick The North shore of the St. Lawrence River from Lavaltrie to Berthierville. 2 Renamed to Berthier.
William-Henry Include Sorel, called William-Henry from 1787 to 1845. 1 No change.
York Vaudreuil, Soulanges, the Île-Perrot, Deux-Montagnes and Rivière-du-Chêne (Saint-Eustache). 2 Divided in Deux-Montagnes (two seats), Ottawa (1) and Vaudreuil (2).

1829 to 1838[edit]

District Seats In the new Province of Canada (1841)
Beauce 2 Disappeared (merged with Dorchester)
Beauharnois 2 Preserved
Bellechasse 2 Preserved
Berthier 2 Preserved
Bonaventure 2 Preserved
Chambly 2 Preserved
Champlain 2 Preserved
Deux-Montagnes 2 Preserved
Dorchester 2 Preserved, merged with Beauce
Drummond 1 [1] Preserved
Gaspé 2 Preserved
Kamouraska 2 Preserved
L'Acadie 2 Disappeared (merged with Laprairie in Huntingdon)
Lachenaie 1 Disappeared (merged with L'Assomption in Leinster)
Laprairie 2 Disappeared (merged with L'Acadie in Huntingdon)
L'Assomption 2 Disappeared (merged with Lachenaie in Leinster)
L'Islet 2 Preserved
Lotbinière 2 Preserved
Mégantic[2] 1 Preserved
Missisquoi 2 Preserved
Montmorency 1 [1] Preserved, merged with Orléans
County of Montreal 2 Preserved
Montreal East 2 Disappeared (merged into Montreal with Montreal West)
Montreal West 2 Disappeared (merged into Montreal with Montreal East)
Nicolet 2 Preserved
Orléans 2 Disappeared (merged with Montmorency)
Ottawa 2 Preserved
Portneuf 2 Preserved
County of Quebec 2 Preserved
Lower Town of Quebec 2 Disappeared (merged into Quebec with Upper Town of Quebec)
Upper Town of Quebec 2 Preserved (merged into Quebec with Lower Town of Quebec)
Richelieu 2 Preserved (merged with William-Henry)
Rimouski 2 Preserved
Rouville 2 Preserved
Saguenay 2 Preserved
Saint-Hyacinthe 2 Preserved
Saint-Maurice 2 Preserved
Shefford 2 Preserved
Sherbrooke 2 Preserved
Stanstead 2 Preserved
Terrebonne 2 Preserved
Trois-Rivières 2 Preserved
Vaudreuil 2 Preserved
Verchères 2 Preserved
William-Henry 1 Disappeared (merged with Richelieu)
Yamaska 2 Preserved

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Second seat added in 1836.
  2. ^ Created in 1832, was part of Buckinghamshire.

References[edit]

  • Reports of Commissioners on Grievances Complained of in Lower Canada. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 20th February, 1837, in Parliamentary Papers, 1837, XXIV, 3-416. (online)
  • Lacoursière, Jacques (1996). Histoire populaire du Québec, tome 2, Sillery: Septentrion (preview)