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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
NEW SERIES, NO. XXXV.
Art. I.-1. Reports of the Committee of the House of Assembly
on that part of the Speech of His Excellency the Governor in Chief, which relates to the Settlement of the Crown Lands; with the Minutes of Evidence, taken before the Committee. Quebec. 1821. 2. Esquisse des Affaires devant le Parlement Provincial du Bas-Canada, dans la Session qui doit s'ouvrir le 21 Janvier, 1826. (A Pamphlet compiled from articles inserted in the Quebec Gazette. pp. 30). 3. Reflections upon the Value of the British West India Colonies, and of the British North America Provinces. London. 1826.
Among the curiosities of contemporary British legislation, must be reckoned Mr Hume's motion in the House of Commons, in presenting Mr Gourlay's petition, on the plan of extinguishing the national debt of Great Britain, by the sale of the crown lands in the two Canadas. It must be admitted to show a somewhat limited knowledge of the matter in the honorable mover (if not misreported), that nothing was said by him, on that occasion, of the measures long ago adopted by the British government, with a view to the deriving of benefit from the waste lands in question, as well to the colony as to the mother country, or, at least, to the creating by their sale the means of defraying the expenses of the provincial government. It appears from the document which is mentioned at the VOL. XXVII.-NO. 60.
head of this article, that this subject engaged the attention of the British government so early as the year 1775, or twelve years after the conquest of Canada. By the instructions given to Sir Guy Carleton (afterwards Lord Dorchester), dated St James, February 3, 1775, that captain-general and governor in chief was empowered to agree with the inhabitants of the province for such lands, tenements, and hereditaments, as now are or hereafter may be in the king's power to dispose of, to be granted in fief or seigneurie, in like manner, as was practised antecedent to the conquest of the said province, omitting however, in any grant that shall be passed of such lands, the renovation of all judicial powers or privileges whatever.'
Three years after the recognition of the independence of the United States, Lord Dorchester was, by additional instructions, directed to order the surveyor-general to measure and lay out such quantity of land, as, with the advice of the Council, he should deem convenient for the settlement of the loyalists, "such lands to be divided into distinct seigneuries or fiels, to extend from two to four leagues in front and from three to five leagues in depth, if situated upon a navigable river, otherwise to be run square, or in such shape and in such quantities, as shall be convenient and practicable, and in each seigneurie, a glebe to be reserved and laid out in the most convenient spot, to contain not less than three hundred acres, nor more than five hundred acres, the property of which seigneuries shall be and remain vested in us, our heirs, and successors; the said lands to be held under us, our heirs, and successors, seigneurs of the seigneurie or fief, in which the same shall be situated, upon the same terms, acknowledgments, and services, as lands are held in the said province, under the respective seigneurs, holding and possessing seigneuries or fiefs therein, and reserving to us, our heirs, and successors, from and after the expiration of ten years from the admission of the respective tenants, a quit rent of one half-penny per acre.'
The loyalists and those whom these provisions concerned, are defined in the following passage at the beginning of the fortieth section of Lord Dorchester's instructions ; our loyal subjects, inhabitants of the colonies and provinces, now the United States of America, who are desirous of retaining their allegiance to us, and of living in our dominions—and the non-commissioned officers and private men of the forces, which may have been reduced in our said province of [Quebec), and who shall be desirous of becoming settlers therein.'