Page images

the Indians to the terms they saw proper to exact, and so deprive Canada of their support. Only by being able to keep the field successfully could the province hope to retain them in their alliance. On all sides there were indications that their attachment to the British cause was becoming less, notwithstanding the numerous sums expended to retain them : an impression the more unsatisfactory that it was feared the next operations would be against the upper posts. The troops of congress in possession of the Ohio and the Wabash offered a threatening attitude to Detroit, and every exertion would be necessary to keep the upper country in possession. What more immediately caused anxiety to Haldimand was the threatened invasion; and from the information he received it might be looked for the following year as a counterpoise to the losses experienced in the south. The province was indifferently supplied with provisions, and at the end of November he had written expressing his disappointment at the non-arrival of the store-ships. The difficulty of defence lay in the extent of frontier. Thus, if Carleton-island were taken, Niagara and Detroit could make no defence, for they were furnished with provisions until the commencement of spring only, and the supplies were forwarded from Carletonisland.

The province was likewise threatened by an expedition from Missisquoi bay. In such a case it would have been a repetition of the march of Montgomery, Montreal being the objective point. Saint John's being taken, and the attempt would have been made with a powerful force, Montreal could oppose no resistance, and, as a consequence, the western posts would have been forced to surrender from dread of famine. Haldimand saw that the key to the situation was Saint John's, and that a strong well-provided garrison was necessary for its defence. He asked for reinforcements to carry out

this policy; and also, that he might hold Oswego in suffi• I1. cient strength.

In view of victualling the western posts, Navigatie Haldimand had submitted to the council the necessity of 1816 ; tha assigned to termining, arbitrarily, the price of wheat and four. Such





a regulation as it bore upon private life was in accordance with the feeling of nine-tenths of the people, who had no interest in the artificial rise of price, and bread was their daily subsistence. The crops had not been good ; there was such a scarcity of four in Quebec, owing to the non-arrival of the supply ships in the fall, that Haldimand was forced to order back to Quebec the provisions which had been sent to Montreal and Sorel for transportation in the spring to the upper country.

The supply of salted provisions was also limited, so much so, that Haldimand felt bound to husband it. The troops were fed upon fresh meat. The commissaries were instructed to avail themselves of local opportunities to gather food for the troops in the localities where they were quartered. Haldimand likewise resolved, when there was full evidence of the threatened invasion, to issue a proclamation, instructing the habitants on the river Chambly to hold themselves in readiness, when called upon, by a day which would be named, to carry their grain to Sorel, and drive their cattle there, so that they might be placed under the protection of the king's troops, and no supplies could be available to an invading army on its advance.

Haldimand, in his reports to the home government, stated his conviction that there was frequent intercourse between the French at Rhode island and certain priests and jesuits, in which some of the disaffected old subjects also took part, but, with all his industry, he could not discover who they were.* He had generally faith that the higher classes would "behave well,” but he had no doubt that in the parishes many would swerve from their allegiance. In this threatening situation, whatever suspicions had been formed, no arrests had been made. Haldimand has left on record his own feeling. He wrote in anticipation of having to meet these trying times :

Severity and rigour will be necessary, and in proportion as my conduct has been hitherto mild and forbearing, it will

* Haldimand to Germain, 28th November, 1780. Can. Arch., B. 57.2, p. 315. be the reverse, if I find no other means can preserve the province.”

Haldimand, in 1779, made the first attempt to establish a library at Quebec. The money having been collected, he wrote to Richard Cumberland, the dramatist, asking him to intervene to obtain the volumes.* Five cases containing the books were sent from London the following year, and they formed the commencement of the library which subsequently came into the possession of the literary and historical society of that city.

In Montreal the officers in garrison made some efforts to amuse themselves. In 1779, there had been an entertainment, the deficiencies of which had been the want of female performers, and a proper house where they could " set up a theatre in earnest.” Colonel McLean asked for the use of the jesuits' old vestibule for the purpose, the performance to be on the footing of the old “Edinburg theatre.” The attraction was a concert of vocal and instrumental music, and the play to be acted was Molière's “Les Fourberies de Scapin.It was the first occasion that any one of the great French dramatist's works was played in Canada. I almost feel justified in adding that it was also the last.

In 1780, the seigniory of Sorel was purchased by the British government for £3,300 sterling, to admit of Sorel being taken possession of, and fortifications and barracks constructed, without interference with private rights. A house was also purchased in Montreal as a residence for the governor, at a cost of two thousand guineas.

Several expeditions were undertaken to destroy the resources by which the threatened attack on the province could be maintained. They were especially directed to the Mohawk valley, in order to make attempt from that quarter upon Niagara impossible, by the destruction of the supplies it could furnish. After the opening of the navigation, Sir John Johnson passed from lake Champlain into the Mohawk

* Haldimand to Richard Cumberland. [Can. Arch., B. 54, p. 166, 13th of September, 1779.]




district with a force of 500 troops and Indians. One part of his design was to favour the escape of such loyalists as were desirous of reaching Canada. He returned, accompanied by 150 men capable of bearing arms. He destroyed in the expedition a great quantity of provisions and much live stock. The milis he came upon, he burned. A force of 700 men was hastily gathered to intercept him. Johnson, having accomplished his purpose, rapidly retired, followed by the congress troops. The last named, however, only reached Crown Point, on lake Champlain, the day after Johnson's embarkation for Canada.

The letters from Germain to Haldimand, early in 1781, shewed little dread of any such reverse as that which was to be experienced by the capitulation of Cornwallis. Troops were to be sent to Canada, but no attack on the province was to be looked for ; the French and the congress troops had enough to do at the south. The French fleet had sailed to the West Indies to deliver the much needed supplies, and probably de Grasse would sail for North America ; but it was by no means to be looked for that Rodney and Arbuthnot would allow him to act against the king's possessions on the continent. In spite of the urgent representations made by Haldimand of the insufficiency of the means at his command to repel any well organized attack, Germain complacently pointed out that the defensible condition of the province, especially at Quebec, left little fear that it would be assailed. On the contrary, assistance might be sent by Haldimand in any operations against the eastern provinces.

No letter of Germain shews more clearly the fatuous character of his mind. The impression is forced upon the reader, that the principal design in writing it was with the view of its being submitted to the king, and by its hopeful expectation to be agreeable to the monarch, for its tone was entirely at variance with the information sent by Haldimand of the condition of Canada.

The dangers threatening the province were increased by the feeling amounting to certainty among a large portion of


the French Canadian population, that some decisive movement would be made, supported by France. In November the news reached Canada of Cornwallis' desperate situation, followed by the information that he had surrendered. Hitherto the events in the south had been favourable to the British arms and had exercised restraint upon the desire for French interference. The defeat of Cornwallis did not fail to work an undesirable influence. Such was the expressed sympathy with the French in several of the parishes, that Haldimand resolved not to send to many localities the arms necessary for defence. In the early part of the year, it had been only with reluctance that any number had been induced to serve as seamen on the lakes, while it was a prevalent opinion that too many were ready to act as guides to an invading army, and to furnish provisions. The best troops were in the west engaged in defending the posts, and in any emergency Haldimand could not bring 2,500 reliable men into the field. Letters which came into his possession revealed the state of feeling which he described, and if Canada was to be held, strong reinforcements were required, with a fleet, to command the Saint Lawrence.*

Haldimand could obtain no aid from admiral Arbuthnot. As this admiral had failed to second Clinton in his operations in New York, + so he declined to render any assistance to

(Can. Arch., B. 55, p. 129.] “I have for many months observed in the Canadian Gentry Expectations of a Revolution which was to take Place in the Country, and am the more confirmed in this, from a Letter dated Paris the 6th of last March (which has fallen into my hands), from a Monsieur de Lothbinière, (Who after having received the King's Bounty in London went over to the Rebels in Philadelphia), Wherein He tells his Son that he expects to see him in fourteen or fifteen Months from the Date of the Letter, and in a situation to settle all his Affairs to their Mutual Satisfaction. In another part of his Letter, he desires his son to remain “à la campagne quelques mouvements qu'il y eût dans ce Pays, pourvû que vous restiez Spectateur absolu de tout, sans y prendre la moindre part. En ce cas, je vous crois plus en sureté ou vous êtes qu'en aucune ville.” Many Letters are in the same State, and one plain Indication of some dangers against this Province in the which France cannot (now that the rich provinces of Virginia and Carolina are recovered), refuse to give assistance to congress.” [Haldimand to Germain.)

+ Ante., Vol. VI., p. 369.

« PreviousContinue »