The Empire of the St. Lawrence

The Empire of the St. Lawrence: A Study in Commerce and Politics

DONALD CREIGHTON
With a new introduction by Christopher Moore
Copyright Date: 1956
Pages: 464
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1287sz2
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  • Book Info
    The Empire of the St. Lawrence
    Book Description:

    Creighton examines the trading system that developed along the St. Lawrence River and argues that the exploitation of key staple products by colonial merchants along the St. Lawrence River system was key to Canada?s economic and national development.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5988-9
    Subjects: History, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. A RIVER WITH ATTITUDE: THE EMPIRE OF THE ST. LAWRENCE, DONALD CREIGHTON, AND THE HISTORY OF CANADA
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Christopher Moore

    “This book is a study in commerce and politics.” The sober announcement that opensThe Empire of the St. Lawrence¹ does not ring in our ears like a call to revolution. But in its way it was.

    WhenThe Empire of the St. Lawrencefirst appeared in 1937, Donald G. Creighton had been teaching history at the University of Toronto for a decade. He was thirty-five, with educational credentials from the University of Toronto and Oxford. Before this book, he had published little, but he had been learning steadily.²

    Lack of means for frequent travel to Europe had first turned...

  4. PREFACE TO THE RE-ISSUE [1956]
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    D. G. Creighton
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xix-xx)
    D. G. C.
  6. PART I THE FIRST UNITY OF THE ST. LAWRENCE

    • CHAPTER I THE ECONOMY OF THE NORTH
      (pp. 1-21)

      When, in the course of a September day in 1759, the British made themselves the real masters of the rock of Quebec, an event of apparently unique importance occurred in the history of Canada. There followed rapidly the collapse of French power in North America and the transference of the sovereignty of Canada to Great Britain; and these acts in the history of the northern half of the continent may well appear decisive and definitive above all others. In fact, for France and England, the crisis of 1759 and 1760 was a climax of conclusive finality. But colonial America, as...

    • CHAPTER II THE MERCHANTS’ POLITICAL PROGRAMME
      (pp. 22-55)

      The enduring strength of the northern commercial system which had been developed by the French, was revealed in the very nature of the British occupation. There were two occupations of Canada at the conquest, the military and the commercial; and this commercial occupation shows as well as anything could possibly do, the real meaning which the St. Lawrence had for the West-Europeans and Americans of the eighteenth century. For them the conquest was the capture of a giant river system and the transference of commercial power. The first immigration of English-speaking civilians to Canada, which lasted from the invasion of...

    • CHAPTER III CANADA AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
      (pp. 56-84)

      The Quebec Act and the American Revolution shaped the policy of the commercial class in Canada for the next decade. John Brown, the agent of the Boston committee of correspondence, met the merchants of Montreal on April 3, 1775; and on May 1 of the same year, the Quebec Act went into effect. The new constitution and the revolution, which entered Canada together, were in some important respects complementary in their results. The feudal and bureaucratic régime, legalized by the letter of the Quebec Act, was sanctified by the necessities of the war and the spirit of national defence. The...

  7. PART II TRANSITION IN THE REGION OF THE LOWER LAKES

    • CHAPTER IV FIRST CONSEQUENCES OF 1783
      (pp. 87-115)

      The year 1783 was probably the most important year in the entire history of the northern commercial state. Canada then was a sparsely populated and undeveloped country; but the mere simplicity of the society in which the crucial changes of that year occurred should not be allowed to diminish their fundamental importance. Canada was changed both outwardly and in essence. For the year 1783 meant three things: peace, the advent of the Loyalists and the establishment of an international boundary where none had existed before—a boundary devoid of geographical and historical meaning which cut through the commercial empire of...

    • CHAPTER V THE RISE OF THE NEW STAPLE TRADES
      (pp. 116-142)

      The decade which followed the Constitutional Act of 1791 and the establishment of representative government in the Canadas formed an important stage in the great transition through which the commercial state was passing. The decline of the fur-trading society in the region of the Great Lakes was now accompanied by the solid settlement of the fat, rich, forest-covered land. The rise of the new industries and the new staple trades was coincident with the beginnings of parliamentary government. This uninterrupted onrush of change demanded constant effort and adjustment; it inspired the enterprising and perturbed the conservative; and it brought forward...

    • CHAPTER VI THE CLASH WITH THE FRENCH CANADIANS
      (pp. 143-174)

      The Canadian economic revolution, which had begun with the peace of 1783 and the coming of the Loyalists, reached and passed its half-way mark in the first decade of the nineteenth century. It was no longer possible to deny the changes which had taken place or to evade their implications. The new boundary, cutting across the old dominion of the St. Lawrence, was an established fact. The settlers had nearly encircled the lower lakes. Indian culture was failing in a last, losing struggle with the white invasion and the Canadian fur trade was in retreat north-westward towards the prairies. The...

    • CHAPTER VII THE END OF THE FUR TRADE
      (pp. 175-202)

      The War of 1812 was the final episode in the long struggle between settlement and the fur trade in the region of the Great Lakes. Ever since 1805, the Indians and the fur traders, the two elements in the old northern society, had been making their last, their belated effort to break through the Treaty of 1783, the Jay Treaty and the Treaty of Greenville; and it was the suspicion and fear of this alliance between the Indians and the fur-trading state which helped materially to provoke the American declaration of war.¹ There were, of course, other reasons for American...

  8. PART III THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SECOND COMMERCIAL EMPIRE

    • CHAPTER VIII The Failure of the Union
      (pp. 205-230)

      The third, the final period in the history of the northern commercial state opened in 1821 and closed in 1850 with the abolition of the old colonial system and the achievement of responsible government. It differed markedly from the periods which had preceded it. Its economic bases lay definitely in the new staples, timber and wheat. It could not recover the primitive simplicity of the fur-trading days; and it did not repeat the striking contrasts which had featured the great transition from 1783 to 1821. A vastly increased population gave the period a number of subsidiary issues and minor problems...

    • CHAPTER IX THE REFORM OF THE OLD COLONIAL SYSTEM
      (pp. 231-254)

      The Canadian commercial state was left unprepared and vulnerable at the very moment when threatening changes began to multiply beyond its borders. The failure of the Union Bill meant the continuance of a political system which helped to prolong futile disputes and to postpone desirable capital expenditures. In Canada the merchants stood arrested in frustration before a programme of reorganization which was a necessary preliminary to the solution of their problems; but all the while, the gravity and complexity of those problems were steadily increasing as a result of dynamic changes in England and the United States. The American Revolution,...

    • CHAPTER X COMMERCE VERSUS AGRICULTURE
      (pp. 255-287)

      The year 1828 marked a momentary and uneasy pause in Canadian affairs. A concurrence of several events, which was partly but not wholly accidental, implied that the commercial state had finished one stage of its development and was hesitating on the edge of another. The worst of the depression of 1825–1827 was over; and this slow upturn of the business cycle was accompanied by the beginnings of the first great migration of British peoples to Canada. In England, that stoically conservative bureaucrat, Lord Bathurst, left the colonial office; and the new governors, Sir James Kempt in Lower Canada and...

    • CHAPTER XI BREAKDOWN
      (pp. 288-320)

      The two provinces passed from the mood into the act of violence through a few intermediate stages of rapidly increasing militancy. After 1833, the drift towards revolt increased definitely in speed; and this acceleration became noticeable in 1834, which was a year marked by an ominous combination of commercial distress and political excitement. The difficulties under which the Canadas struggled—the strains imposed by their relations with Great Britain and the United States, and the stresses created by their own internal contradictions and disputes—were combined in this year to impose an almost intolerable burden. The Canadian parties, driven on...

    • CHAPTER XII THE LAST RECOVERY
      (pp. 321-348)

      The half dozen years which followed the collapse of the rebellion and the advent of Lord Durham were years of reorganization and recovery. The establishment of the long-desired union, the flotation of the indispensable loan, the work of a few men of constructive genius and a brief burst of material prosperity, all combined to reinvigorate the prostrated colonies. For the first time—and also for the last time—in its history under the régime of the new staples, the commercial state acquired a measure of inward harmony and outward adjustment. The interlocking commercial and political ideas, which made up the...

    • CHAPTER XIII FINAL COLLAPSE
      (pp. 349-386)

      The cracks which in 1842 and 1843 had become apparent in the newly repaired structure of the commercial state, were multiplied and widened in the years which immediately succeeded. The era of reconstruction was as brief in its duration as it was deceptive in its promise; and the forces of disruption, as if renewed by their interval of inactivity, began now to effect the final downfall of the old commercial system of the St. Lawrence. The rivalry of the United States, the defection of Great Britain and the antagonism within Canada itself had been, since 1821, the three great factors...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
    (pp. 387-390)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 391-417)
  11. MAPS
    (pp. 418-420)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 421-441)