Constitutional Act

The commonly accepted name for the Canada Act of 1791, which divided the old province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada, with the French of Lower Canada maintaining their own religion, customs, and laws. The people received representative but not responsible government. The legislatures consisted of an appointed legislative council and an elected legislative assembly. The executive powers remained in the hands of the governor, who acted in conjunction with the Crown-appointed executive council. While the assembly voted funds for roads, bridges, and other public projects it was the executive council that administered both the collection and the spending of tax and custom monies. A ruling élite emerged that in Upper Canada was called the “Family Compact” and in Lower Canada was dubbed the Chãteau Clique.