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If we take a view of the increase of population in Upper and Lower Canada for some years past, we shall see that the increase of those speaking English has been much greater, in proportion to the original stock, than of those speaking French; so that, in time, these will be left in the minority. This arises from the great influx of people from Europe, and from the United States, who generally prefer settling either in Upper Canada, or in the Townships of Lower Canada, where land is more easily procured, and the tenures better understood. That you may completely understand the distinction of tenures, it may be necessary to explain to you how lands are granted and held in Canada; this I shall attempt to do in my next letter.
Quebec, 1808. .
At the conquest of this country by the English, the Canadians were allowed to retain their private property, as well real as personal; and as they were afterwards indulged with their own laws, the lands continued to be held by the old French tenures.
All the land on both sides of the river St. Lawrence from the gulf, up to the boundary of Lower Canada, about thirty miles above Montreal, was granted by the French king to certain individuals, who became seigneurs, or lords of the territory. The tenure was of a feudal nature: they held immediately of the king en fief or en roture, and rendered him foi et hommage (fealty and homage) on their accession to the property; on a transfer of the
$eigneurie, they pay a fifth part of the- value, called the Quints. This is still the case; it is paid to the receiver-general, who gives you a receipt on your title, and puts you in possession.
These seigneuries are large tracts of country, and they have from time to time been conceded by the seigneurs in a variety of lots to those who might want to settle on, and improve them. These grants or concessions are also of a feudal nature; the grantees are the vassals of their lord. There is seldom any consideration given at first, but they are bound to pay a small sum, generally about 5s. a year, besides a bushel of wheat, and a couple of fowls in name of rent. They also pay lots et vants (mutation fines) on every subsequent transfer of the property, by sale, or by long lease, called Bail ampheteotiqne. They are to perform certain annual services to their lord, and they must carry to his mill all the corn they wish to have ground, of which he retains a fourteenth part, as mouture, or miller's fee.
Since the English have had possession
of the Canadas, the whole of Lower Canada not before granted to seigneurs has been surveyed by government, and divided into townships. These townships are about ten miles square, and have been granted to a variety of individuals, who have had influence enough with government to procure them. They are held by the English tenure of free and common soccage.
The Quebec act (1791) declares that nothing therein contained shall extend to lands held in free and common soccage; hence it has been argued that the old laws of Canada do not reach such lands: many are still of opinion, however, that the Canadian laws, and common Canadian mort-i gages in particular, do extend to the townships. It is a point on which the learned in the law differ, and I will not pretend to decide it.
The original grantees of the townships are bound by their titles to have a certain number of settlers on their lands in a given time. No mention is made what sort of people these are to be; and as the Americans have in many places cultivated their lands up to the Canadian line of boundary, the townships lie very convenient for them; accordingly, immense numbers of Americans (about 15,000 I have heard) have settled on the townships, and continue to do so. It may be proper here to trace the line of boundary between the United States and Canada.
The boundaries of Canada are very ill defined on the side of the United States.— They have been the subject of much difference of opinion, and of a great deal of unpleasant discussion, from the time of the declaration of American independence, up to the present day. In the discussions on this subject, in a diplomatic point of view, the Americans have uniformly had the advantage of us; and that from many causes. Their local knowledge was perfect; they had the most minute information as to the value of the territory in all its different bearings; and they knew how to estimate the importance of territory, and the use of rivers; for they looked forward to the period when tracts of country, though then covered with almost impenetrable forests, should be cleared and become populous districts. The short space