Empire & Commonwealth: Studies in Governance and Self-Government in Canada

By Chester Martin | Go to book overview

II NOVA SCOTIA AND THE OLD EMPIRE

I

WITH the final cession of Acadie to the British Crown by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Nova Scotia became an integral part of 'the American empire'. By the same treaty the British claims to the Hudson's Bay territories, pursuant to the Charter of 1670, were also finally confirmed. This monopolistic proprietary 'plantation' of Charles II, however, bore little resemblance to the thriving proprietary provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The oldest continuously British territory on the continent of North America slumbered peacefully through the American Revolution in the swaddling charter of the Hudson's Bay Company.

It was at first proposed to annex Nova Scotia to Massachusetts. Every argument of conquest and of provincial rights seemed to warrant that expectation. More than three-quarters of Colonel Nicholson's force against Port Royal in 1710 had been colonial militiamen; and Massachusetts had contributed half as many again as all the other colonies together. Of the garrison which remained under Colonel Samuel Vetch of Boston until the signing of the peace, more than half were colonial volunteers.I Annexation to Massachusetts, in fact, had already been implied in the charter of William and Mary to that province. Stanhope himself, the Secretary of State, conceded that 'it would be a violation of the very words of that Charter to erect a new Government there'. Rivalry in trade and the fisheries, moreover, would render the two provinces 'very ill friends; tho' very near neighbours'; whereas the Governor of Massachusetts if entrusted with the government of Nova Scotia would be 'more independent, and much better able to serve the Crown that he is at present, while he draws all his subsistance from the people and has nothing but his Commission from the King'.2

The sequel for Canadian history had the boundaries of Massachusetts been extended to the Gulf of St. Lawrence would defy calculation; but the British Government decided otherwise. A separate 'royal' province was established upon the model of Vir

____________________
1

Osgood, American Colonies in the 18th Century, i. 436 ff.

2
"Stanhope, to Council of Trade, May 15, 1715", Nova Scotia, A. Series, 6. 199. (Transcripts of C.O. 217, Public Record Office) Pub. Arch. Can.

-56-

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Empire & Commonwealth: Studies in Governance and Self-Government in Canada
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • INTRODUCTORY xiii
  • I - THE OLD COLONIAL SYSTEM 1
  • II- Nova Scotia and the Old Empire 56
  • III - 'NEW SUBJECTS' IN QUEBEC 94
  • IV - NOVA SCOTIA AND THE SECOND EMPIRE 148
  • V - RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN CANADA 240
  • VI - THE COMMONWEALTH AND ITS COROLLARIES 327
  • Index 357
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