well disposed toward the social oligarchy of which, indeed, he was the head, would have hesitated to withhold the assent of the Crown to such bills unless well assured of the support of the colonial office at home. But, with a friendly legislative council, all measures obnoxious to the Family Compact could be quietly defeated in that chamber. How well they succeeded in securing control of this branch of the legislature will appear from a glance at its composition in the different provinces.
In the Two Canadas.—The legislative council of Lower Canada, as described by John Neilson in 1828 to a committee of the British House of Commons, consisted of twenty-seven members, seven of whom, he said, had ceased to attend its sessions. Eighteen were either office-holders or pensioners. Members of the executive council were eligible for appointment to the legislative council, and in Lower Canada seven of them had seats. Two, at least, of the legislative council were partners in the North-West Company, while several others were described simply as British merchants. Four were French-Canadians, two seigneurs and two office-holders. The chief justice and three of his brother judges were members, the chief justice being the speaker. The Anglican Bishop of Quebec was ex-o cio a member. Nine only of the council were natives of Canada.
In Upper Canada, in the year 1835, those who usually attended the sessions of the legislative council numbered about fifteen. Six of these were executive councillors, four others were government officials, and two—Archdeacon Strachan and Bishop Macdonell—were church dignitaries. Here, too, therefore, the Family Compact had a safe majority.
In the Maritime Provinces.—In the Maritime Provinces, where one council exercised both executive and legislative functions, advocates of reform thought for a time that an improvement might be effected by a division of the council. This was done in New Brunswick in 1832, in Nova Scotia in 1837, and in Prince Edward Island in 1839, but, as Joseph Howe expressed it in some-what robust phrase, it was but " cutting a rotten orange in two in order to improve its flavor." The Family Compact controlled the two councils as they had before controlled the one. In New Brunswick, after the separation, three families formed a clear majority of the legislative council, and the same invidious