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'Union is Strength'

'Union is Strength': W.L. Mackenzie, The Children of Peace and the Emergence of Joint Stock Democracy in Upper Canada

  • Book Info
    'Union is Strength'
    Book Description:

    Nineteenth-century Canada experienced two other revolutions apart from those of W.L. Mackenzie and Louis Riel: the transition to capitalism, and to responsible government.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8955-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    Albert Schrauwers
  4. Introduction: A Tale of Two Kingdoms
    (pp. 3-34)

    Yonge Street, a thin ribbon of unsurfaced road, stretched between ‘Muddy York,’ Upper Canada’s capital, and the shores of Lake Simcoe and the village of Hope. By 1832 York was an oversized village of six thousand people, notable for only two buildings of any size: the market buildings, then under construction, and the legislative buildings. It was home to many of the colony’s elite, drawn by profit to one or the other building, sometimes both. At the centre of the village stood the district courthouse and gaol; the final leg of the local establishment, the new St James Anglican Church,...

  5. 1 Charity, Owenism, and the Toronto House of Industry
    (pp. 35-65)

    In the decade ending in 1837, the population of Upper Canada doubled, to 397,489, increased in large part by erratic spurts of displaced paupers, the ‘surplus population’ of the British Isles. Historian Rainer Baehre estimates that between 1831 and 1835 a bare minimum of one-fifth of all emigrants to the province arrived totally destitute, forwarded by their parishes.¹ These abjectly impoverished paupers were just the tip of the iceberg, and still larger numbers skated the thin line between just getting by and destitution. The line between the two represented debt, and potentially jail. All but a limited number of farmers...

  6. 2 The Bank of Upper Canada and the Economy of Debt
    (pp. 66-97)

    The scope of the problem of debt in Upper Canada was conveyed in a series of parliamentary reports. As early as 1827 the eleven district jails in the province had a capacity of 298 cells, of which 264 were occupied, 159 by debtors. In the Home District, 379 of 943 prisoners between 1833 and 1835 were being held for debt.² The number of debtors jailed bespeaks both widespread poverty and the relatively paltry amounts for which debtors could be indefinitely detained. Douglas McCalla points out that the province’s economy was predicated on credit, and in so doing ignores its bête...

  7. 3 The Economics of Respectability: The Farmers’ Storehouse (Banking) Company
    (pp. 98-124)

    In 1833 Patrick Shirreff, a Scots farmer, set out on a tour of North America with the aim of evaluating its prospects for emigrants, and more particularly, for his younger brother. He travelled widely within Upper Canada, including taking a side trip to Lake Simcoe, and the village of Hope where he visited the just completed temple of the Children of Peace.¹ Shirreff was a keen observer, and as a practical farmer, particularly concerned with agricultural pursuits. After extensive inquiries, he put the lie to the common propaganda of the emigrant guides of the Canada Company which claimed that ‘the...

  8. 4 Shepard’s Hall and the Canadian Alliance Society
    (pp. 125-150)

    The reform movement in the Home District came to fruition in late 1834 as an embattled coalition, as proclaimed by the name they chose for their new political union, the Canadian Alliance Society. This alliance was composed of disparate elements quite similar to the overlapping Owenite institutions, ‘the cooperative store, the labour exchange and the trade union.’ It included religious dissenters such as the Children of Peace, who strenuously objected to the role of the Church of England and a ‘hireling clergy’ in the Upper Canadian State, and who had organized a co-operative economy based on Christian charity. It included...

  9. 5 The Bank Wars
    (pp. 151-175)

    On 10 July 1832, President – General – Andrew Jackson fired the opening salvo in the ‘bank war’ against the Second Bank of the United States by vetoing the bill for its recharter. The Second Bank of the United States was a private, federally chartered bank serving as the government’s bank of deposit; the U.S. government named a fifth of the directors. Jackson’s complaints against the bank mirrored those of Mackenzie against the Bank of Upper Canada: the bank was a ‘political engine’ utilized by a ‘moneyed aristocracy’ to oppress the common man. In an effort to curb the power of its...

  10. 6 The Constitution
    (pp. 176-210)

    The day that Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head prematurely prorogued the reform-dominated House of Assembly, 16 April 1836, William Lyon Mackenzie announced that he would launch a new newspaper, theConstitution.² TheConstitutionbegan publication on 4 July, a sign of its republican aspirations. The journal was funded by a loan of £275 from the Bank of the People, a loan personally guaranteed by four of the bank’s directors.³ Shortly before he began publication, Dr W.W. Baldwin also adopted the language of loyalty, and transformed the Canadian Alliance Society into the Constitutional Reform Society.⁴ Both theConstitutionand the...

  11. 7 The Promise of Responsible Government
    (pp. 211-244)

    The Baldwins, father and son, are both frequently credited as the originators of this principle of democratic reform, ‘responsible government,’ or cabinet rule. One might question this doctrine on the basis that Dr William Warren Baldwin, in particular, was no radical democrat; although bankruptcy drove his Anglo-Irish gentry family to emigrate to Upper Canada, they quickly regained their fortunes through a fortuitous marriage into the Willcocks family. Baldwin senior retained his patrician sensibilities: ready to duel for his honour, to defend primogeniture, and to advocate a ‘balanced constitution’ for Upper Canada with a strong aristocratic element to offset the colonially...

  12. Conclusion: The Economic Roots of Joint Stock Democracy
    (pp. 245-260)

    Yonge Street tied the pioneering communities of Toronto and Hope in each other’s opposing embrace: two disparate kingdoms, two incompatible experiments on the periphery, embodying all the contradictions of England itself. It is not new to say that the Rebellion of 1837 clearly marks the point of confrontation between these two political and economic visions: Mackenzie’s agrarian vision and anti-corporate rhetoric was itself a clear enough comment on Family Compact-owned institutions such as the Bank of Upper Canada. Throughout this book, I have pointed to the manner in which this local conflict reflected a larger, international movement – the transition to...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 261-298)
  14. References
    (pp. 299-312)
  15. Index
    (pp. 313-320)