Upper Canada

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The Province of Upper Canada (French: province du Haut-Canada) was a Political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the center third of the lands in their Canadian colony at the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars with the former owner of the region, France. The new province remained the government of the colonial territory for the next fifty years of growth and settlement.

Upper Canada officially existed from 26 December 1791 to 10 February 1841 and generally comprised present-day Southern Ontario. The geopolitical prefix "upper" in its name reflected its geographic position higher up the river basin or closer to the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River than that of Lower Canada or present day Quebec to the northeast.

Upper Canada included all of modern-day southern Ontario and all those areas of northern Ontario in the pays d'en haut which had formed part of New France, essentially the watersheds of the Ottawa River, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. It did not include any lands within the watershed of Hudson Bay.

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Background history

All of Canada passed from French control into British control when the Treaty of Paris (1763) ended the French and Indian War in America. The new possession was initially organized under a military governor as distinct British Canadian provinces — initially keeping the modern territories of southern Ontario and southern Quebec as one undifferentiated province of Quebec, as it had been under the French in New France.

Upper Canada, which was located west of Montreal and Quebec in the upper river basin, soon began receiving many English-speaking settlers from Great Britain, and would, barely a decade later, see many other such English-speaking refugees flood the area (originating as Loyalists in the American Revolution). Consequently, this region quickly became culturally distinct but was nonetheless, despite troubles from this ongoing and accelerating cultural clash, the whole territory was maintained by the British colonial government as initially acquired: Today's southern Ontario and southern Quebec were attached under one government and the administered territories were kept in the period 1763–1791 as part of the extant society as the Province of Quebec — which was French speaking, had French cultural behavioral expectations and practices, and especially annoying to Protestants, was subject to the same Roman Catholic–based laws.

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