Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next

 

HISTORY OF CANADA.   199

 

officials. In 1826, in open daylight, a gang of young men, all of the Family Compact, marched into the Advocate office in Mackenzie's absence, wrecked the furniture and threw the type into Toronto Bay. The perpetrators of the outrage were not only not prosecuted ; they were the lions of the hour with the official society of the capital. When Mackenzie recovered by civil action a large verdict against them, the amount was raised by a private subscription, to which even the leading officials contributed.

Petty Tyranny.—To the abuses in the administration of justice were added others equally glaring in the exercise of the ordinary powers of executive government. Pressure was brought to bear upon all would-be reformers over whom the Family Compact could exercise any authority. Those settlers, including even some of the men of 1812, who complained of grievances, found the patents for their land withheld upon one pretext or another for many years. By way of contrast, the eve of an election—notably the critical election of 1836 in Upper Canada—saw a wholesale distribution of patents among those whose votes were deemed safe for government candidates. There had been a decision in England that all who had remained in the United States after the Peace of 1783 were, in the eyes of English law, aliens, and as such incapable of holding land in a British colony. This decision affected the title to many farms in Canada and the right of several members of the assembly to seats in that body. The law was in some cases harshly enforced, while in others it was allowed to remain a dead letter. Efforts on the part of the assembly of Upper Canada to remedy this grievance were long resisted by the legislative council, and not until 1828, and then only after a mission had been sent to England, was an Act finally passed to remove it.

Free Speech Denied.—In 1818 a Seditious Meetings Act —popularly known as the "gagging bill "—was passed in Upper Canada by a House friendly to the executive. It gave magistrates power to forbid meetings to discuss grievances, or, as the authorities described it, to talk sedition. Colonel Beardsley, who presided at a meeting called in this year to appoint a delegation to England to lay the state of the colony before the colonial office, was deprived of his commission. On New Year's Eve, 1825, some American actors gage a performance at York. Some of the members of the assembly were there ; among others was Captain


Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next