during the opening years of the nineteenth century, Canada attracted interest in Britain mainly as a destination for emigrants and, especially in the years leading up to and after the War of 1812, as a counterweight to growing American power.
BETWEEN 1791 and 1841, ‘Canada’ referred to the British North American territories of Upper and Lower Canada, which included the southern and eastern parts of modern-day Ontario and Quebec. The Quebec Act of 1774 had permitted the French inhabitants to keep their law, language, and religion; the division of the province in 1791 was intended to encourage British emigration by opening up land for settlement that was governed by English law.
The Edinburgh Review paid relatively little attention either to the Canadas or to the other provinces of British North America; it was far more preoccupied with the United States. Territory covered by present-day Canada features most significantly in discussions of emigration – such as an 1806 account of Lord Selkirk’s colony in Prince Edward Island – and of travel. The travel articles tended to be somewhat lukewarm about the country and its attractions. An 1808 article on George Heriot’s Travels through the Canadas thought the book much too long given the limited interest of the subject mater, while even a generally positive review of Alexander Mackenzie’s account of his voyage from Montreal to the Arctic ocean noted that Mackenzie had ‘no reports of prodigies’ to ‘animate’ his account of the unfamiliar country he was travelling through (ER 1:1, 141).
Pamela Perkins, University of Manitoba