The Question of Representation
The demand for a larger representation in the assembly of Lower Canada of the English population of the province was, like the question of tenures, closely linked to problems of settlement. As their hope of controlling elections in the region of the seigneuries sank almost to the vanishing point, the English party turned more and more to plans for the development of the Eastern Townships into which the French-speaking population had shown little inclination to remove themselves. It was often assumed that the failure of the habitants to take advantage of the opportunities for settlement in the Townships was due to the fact that the form of land tenure there differed from that to which they were accustomed, and it was also assumed that English emigrants would be attracted by the prospect of land to be held in freehold.
The fact that most of the population already in the Townships were New England farmers and had little in common in their political views with the British merchants of Montreal and Quebec did not discourage English party leaders. At least these Yankees spoke English and nourished an accumulation of grievances against the assembly in Quebec. If they were reinforced by emigrants from the British Isles and were properly represented in the assembly they might in time build a formidable opposition to the French party. The initial difficulty was that they were not represented at all. The Governor's proclamation of 1792 had divided the Eastern Townships between the counties of Bedford, Bucks and Richelieu all running down to the great rivers and all containing well populated seigneuries.1 Even if the Township settlers could have reached the polls they would obviously have constituted too small a minority to influence an election.
Since the settlement and separate representation of the Eastern Townships was an important objective of the English party, designed to increase their numbers in the assembly, it followed almost inevitably that the French party were opposed to such settlement or to the redistribution