Quebec Act, 1774

Original Post: Analysis of the Quebec Act using Historical Thinking Concepts


This week in my Canadian History class I was placed in a group and given the task of analyzing a primary source using historical thinking concepts. The primary source we were given was the Quebec Act of 1774. Collectively as a group we each chose our own Historical thinking concept and applied it to the Quebec Act. This is a compilation of what we came up with: 



Historical Significance by Avni Khandelwal:

The Quebec Act was given royal assent on June 22, 1774 and became effective on May 1, 1775. The Act was an important milestone in the constitutional history of British Canada. This was a notable event because it was intended for peace. It represented the importance of the establishment of the French law to be able to govern relations of Canadian subjects in their business and other day-to-day activities. The British criminal law was in charge of punishments that include imprisonment, fines, or cases of death. The Act was an important event because it showed that the gestures made by the English government had finally won the respect of the religious leaders in Quebec and the people themselves. But having the privilege of having an elected member to represent them in the assembly was put on hold. The Act expanded the boundaries of Quebec. The province had expanded to take over part of the Indian Reserve, including a significant portion of what is now southern Ontario; it also included parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota. The Roman Catholic Church was being recognized by the act, and they were given religious freedom. There was also a Test Oath, which omitted references to religion, which allowed the colonizers to enter public office, without worrying they would receive hate for the religious practices. The Act also restored French civil law and British law and continued to provide use for the seigniorial system. The act also allowed for French to be used as one of their official languages. The Act showed Quebecers that the Canadian government cared about the Roman Catholic Church. The Quebec Act has eased tensions between the French and Canadian government.


Ethical Dimension by Zac Bains (Me):

In order to properly judge the outcomes and intentions of the Quebec act, we must pay recognition to the political and socio-economic circumstances that New France was experiencing at the time of its creation (1774). After the French-Indian war, France was forced to surrender a large portion of its colonies to England (this included New France). As a result French colonists were left in a society oppressed by the British. At the same time the 13 American colonies were heading on the path towards a revolution. To summarize the situation, the American colonies were forming protest organizations, such as the Boston Tea Party to protest British occupation. As a form of retaliation, the British passed several “intolerable acts” which put the American Colonists in difficult situations. To try and resolve these two problems, the British passed the Quebec act. This act would improve the lives of French colonists living in Quebec by giving them the ability to freely practice Catholicism and common law. At the same time it acted as a punishment to the American colonists who wanted to separate from Britain. The Quebec act expanded the province of Quebec into the Ohio river valley region which was highly disputed by the American colonists.

After considering these circumstances we can conclude that Britain’s judgement was in fact Ethical to a certain extent. It’s quite clear that there was no wrong in trying to improve the lives of the French. The area of common dispute and doubt would have to be the acts effect on the American colonists. During the 1700’s it was common for people in Western Europe to colonize in North America, however the effort and willingness to separate and form a new government overseas was unheard of. Like most nations at the time, Britain wanted to increase territory and remain a prominent economic power. Holding control over the 13 colonies was one way of achieving this. Britain used the Quebec act to retaliate against the American effort to separate. Due to these circumstances and the fact that the intentions of the Quebec act were justified from Britains perspective, we can consider this act to be ethical. 


Continuity and Change by Shelby Sytnyk:

When it comes to the Quebec act of 1774, continuity and change is one of the most prominent historical thinking skills. The Quebec Act was based off of the continuity of the country, and the changes that needed to be made. To make sense of the flow of history, we must use this historical thinking skill. If Canada had not expanded as it did, the Quebec Act would of never happened, and the province that we now know as Quebec would be very different.

The Quebec Act was created because of the Canadian inhabitants living in Quebec who were not happy with how their province was being run. This is where continuity comes in. Continuity, which refers to “continuous action” or the “constant existence of something” is what Canada was experiencing at this time. The country was constantly growing and developing, and it was now obvious that this was no longer the tiny New France people thought it to be.

By understanding this half of the historical thinking skill, we are lead to understand the other half, which is change. Without continuity, there wouldn’t be a need for change, which is why the two work together. Change applies to the Quebec Act because for one, it was the need for change that made the Act so important, and two, because of the changes the Act caused. Some of the changes the Act brought include the expansion of the province of Quebec, allowing people to practice Catholic Faith and allowing the practice of civil law. The Act also brought along many unintended changes. One of these changes is how the Americans reacted. The American colonies were not happy with this act being passed, and they called it an “Intolerable Act”. The colonies were angry because since the Act expanded Quebec, Americas own expansion plans were limited. This, mixed with the American Revolution, caused a war between the Americans and Quebec in 1775.

As you can see, continuity and change are very important historical thinking concepts to use and apply when it comes to the Quebec Act of 1774. The act not only changed the geographics of Canada, but it changed Quebec politics, population and history too.


Cause and Consequence by Kelsey Thain: 

The Quebec Act of 1774, also known as the British North America Act of 1774, was a set of “procedures of governance” that was given to Quebec at the time. It was passed on June 22nd 1774. Basically, Quebec was given special treatment. This act included many components including that they were allowed to practice their own religion, speak their own language, it also expanded the territory of the province. With this “special treatment” that Quebec was receiving, there was sure enough to be some consequences. The initial purpose of the Quebec Act was to keep the French culture alive and let the people in Quebec do as they please when it comes to religion and culture. With everything, there is cause and consequence. The consequences of the Quebec act is that it angered others (i.e. people in the Thirteen Colonies) that Quebec was receiving special treatment. The people in the Thirteen Colonies were extremely offended that the people of Quebec just got to do what they wanted and they were “special”. Others had felt as though it was unfair that the Quebec Act was created. It also really isolated Quebec. As of today Quebec has still not signed the Canadian constitution. This pretty much states that Quebec isn’t “truly” apart of Canada. Although Quebec is a place anyone can visit in Canada, they still don’t follow our constitution, the Quebec Act influenced this to happen. There is always a consequence to every action a person or group of people decide to make.


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