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Settlement in Ontario

The first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, did what he could to strengthen the colony of Upper Canada.

He realized it was imperative to open up this new frontier with good transportation routes that would bring in much sought after settlers. The first challenge to this British colony was on June 8, 1812 when America declared war on Great Britain, and ultimately Canada. Upper Canada was still sparsely populated at that time and it’s future looked particularly bleak. However the colony held out and on Dec 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed putting an end to the conflict.

With the ending of war, Canada was left to sort out how it would govern itself in the future. Up until this point there was a system of elected and appointed officials. Over time the interests of the appointed representatives conflicted with the elected representatives. This group of privileged elite would become known as the Family Compact and many felt they were out of touch with the vast majority of average Canadians. These appointed officials also had the ability to override elected representatives further fueling the flames of discontent. A small group of men began to work towards reforming the present system of government. They wanted to see more representation by the people and they found sympathy for this form of governing with their American neighbours. One such Reformer was William Lyon Mackenzie, who felt that the only solution was through force. Raids and skirmishes on towns and villages along the American border resulted and the British government feared that American sentiment could jeopardize the future of Upper and Lower Canada. With the influx of thousands of immigrants during the 1850’s and 1860’s it was realized that a central unified form of government was needed. On July 1, 1867, The British North American Act was passed and the Dominion of Canada was established and Upper Canada became known as The Province of Ontario.

Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe
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