Upper Canada and the Problem with Land. Socials 10. Introduction. In the 1800s, Upper Canada was the newest colony in British North America.
Upper Canada and the Problem with Land
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In the 1800s, Upper Canada was the newest colony in British North America.
It took a day to travel 30- 40 km on horseback. Most people walked. The forest was dense and clearing the land was an important first task. It took a year to clear an area the size of a modern day city block.
Invasion attempts by the Americans strengthened Upper Canada’s ties with Britain because they needed protection.
Daily Life for the Colonists
Upper Canada was quiet, full of nature, simple and rustic. People depended on each other and formed close communities.
It was hard to farm and people rarely made a profit doing it. Almost everyone was in debt. People traded goods for services which is called a barter economy.
Importance of Social Class
In Upper Canada, family background meant a great deal especially to the upper class. Upper class people wanted to keep their privileges. But life in the colonies seemed to even out the social classes. Everyone needed help with each other and had to work as a team, regardless of how important they were in Britain.
Importance of Social Class
Cheap labour and servants were not as readily available in Upper Canada.
Many upper class people from Britain did not see themselves as Canadians, they saw themselves as British people starting a new British empire.
Britain was trying to copy its own society in Canada complete with gentry, large estates, and tenant farmers.
Unfair land policies and bad government would lead to violent confrontations between classes in the colonies.
The Family Compact
Small group of upper class officials in Upper Canada who made up the Executive Council in the government.
This Council was in charge of the government, who got government jobs, and the spending of tax money
They were snobs, they did not welcome other people into their group
The Problem of Land
Almost everyone wanted to own land. When many colonists arrived, most of the good land was taken by absentee landlords and land speculators.
This is not what the colonists expected- they thoughts there would be lots of available land in good areas.
Members of the Family Compact usually had the best land.
Other colonists resented the money Compact members made at the expense of others.
Crown and Clergy Reserves
Crown reserves were blocks of land set aside to provide income for the government
Clergy reserves were blocks of land set aside to provide income for the Anglican Church
2/7 of all the land was either in Crown or Clergy reserves. Most of these reserves stayed un-cleared and unoccupied
Most reserves tied up prime (the best) farmland
When traveling, the colonists had to build roads around these reserves which was very inconvenient.
Role of the British Government
The upper class people thought that the land ownership should duplicate the English model.
Many immigrants (especially those who came from the US) thought that this was discriminatory and anti-democratic.
By 1815, almost half of all the farmland in Upper Canada was owned by land speculators who were also part of the Family Compact.
The Problem of Land was the root of the anger people felt towards the Family Compact and the colonial government of Upper Canada.