Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada

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Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada
The First Ceremonial Mace of Upper Canada Ceremonial Mace of Upper Canada.png
The First Ceremonial Mace of Upper Canada
The First Ceremonial Mace of Upper Canada
Founded1791 (1791)
Disbanded1841 (1841)
Preceded bynone
Succeeded by Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada

The Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada was the elected part of the legislature for the province of Upper Canada, functioning as the lower house in the Parliament of Upper Canada. Its legislative power was subject to veto by the appointed Lieutenant Governor, Executive Council, and Legislative Council.


The first elections in Upper Canada, in which only land-owning males were permitted to vote, were held in August 1792. The first session of the Assembly's sixteen members occurred in Newark, Upper Canada on 17 September 1792. Shortly before the capital of Upper Canada was moved to York in 1796 the Assembly was dissolved and reconvened for twelve more sessions between 1797 and 1840 in modest buildings in the new capital. Members continued to be elected by land-owning males to represent counties and the larger towns.

During the War of 1812, American troops set fire to the buildings of the Assembly.

Political divisions

Third Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada (1834) Third Parliament Buildings 1834.jpg
Third Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada (1834)

Following the war, the executive and legislative councils became increasingly dominated by the Family Compact, a clique of wealthy individuals led primarily by John Strachan (a member of the powerful Executive Council of Upper Canada), which emerged in 1815. The compact was deeply opposed to American republicanism and favoured full establishment for the Anglican church in Upper Canada. Their increasingly authoritarian style of governance and disregard for the will of the Legislative Assembly led to demands for government that was more responsible to the people and eventually the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Opposing the Family Compact were initially an assortment of anti-establishment members, but it did not gain strength until a more formal group of reformers emerged, initially led by William Warren Baldwin starting 1820s and then by William Lyon Mackenzie in the 1830s.

The 1840 Act of Union united Upper and Lower Canada into the single Province of Canada and, from this point until Confederation in 1867, a joint parliament was held for the united provinces.

List of parliaments


Captain John McDonell 1792–17961st
Sir David William Smith, 1st Baronet 1796–1800 and 1801–18042nd and 3rd
Samuel Street 1800–1801 and 1809–18122nd and 5th
Alexander Macdonell 1805–18084th
Allan McLean 1813–18206th and 7th
Levius Peters Sherwood 1821–18248th
John Wilson 1825–18289th
Marshall Spring Bidwell 1829–1830 and 183510th and 12th
Archibald McLean 1831–1834 and 183611th and 12th
Allan MacNab 1837 and 1837–184013th
Henry Ruttan 183713th

Changing loyalties

A few members of the legislature eventually left Canada. Some left Canada to join the United States Army during the War of 1812. Some were involved in the Rebellion of 1837 and other just simply abandoned Canada. Most moved to the United States, some left for Great Britain.

NameBornDiedReason for leaving Canada
Joseph Willcocks Palmerstown, Ireland, Great Britain Fort Erie, Ontario, CanadaFled Canada – organized Canadian Volunteers within United States Army, rank as Lieutenant Colonel; died in Canada and re-buried in Buffalo, New York
William Macomb Northern Ireland, Great Britain Fort Detroit, Upper Canada Detroit was part of Upper Canada before 1796; died in Detroit
Hugh McDonell Aberchalder Lodge, Scotland Florence (March of Tuscany, Austrian Empire)Left Canada to serve as British diplomat; died in Italy
Robert Thorpe Dublin, Ireland, Great Britain London, United KingdomForced to leave Canada – subdsequently served as chief justice and judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court in Sierra Leone 1808–1811; died in England
Benajah Mallory Vermont (Thirteen Colonies) Lockport, New York, United StatesFled Canada during War of 1812 and subsequently served in Canadian Volunteers with United States Army, died in NY
Abraham Markle Ulster County, Province of New York Terre Haute, Indiana, United StatesLeft Canada during War of 1812 and joined Canadian Volunteers with United States Army as a Major; died in the US
Marshall Spring Bidwell Stockbridge, Massachusetts, United States New York, NY Forced to leave Canada due in involvement in 1837 Rebellion, became New York State lawyer, died in NYC
Peter Perry Ernestown, Upper Canada Saratoga Springs, New York, United StatesDied after visiting Bidwell in the US
Hiram Norton Vermont, United States Lockport, Illinois, United StatesFled Canada due to involvement in 1837 Rebellion; became a flour mill owner/operator; died in US
Charles Duncombe Connecticut, United StatesHicksville, California, United StatesFled Canada due to involvement in 1837 Rebellion, became California State Assemblyman 1859 and later as a county representative of the Sacramento County 1863–1867; died in California
William Lyon Mackenzie Dundee, Scotland Toronto, Province of Canada Fled Canada due to involvement in 1837 Rebellion, became US citizen and later returned to Canada 1849; died in Toronto
Jesse Ketchum Spencertown, New York, United States Buffalo, NY, United StatesRetired and moved from Canada to Buffalo, New York in 1845 and died in there in 1867
Henry Yager Claverack, New York, United States Dane County, Wisconsin, United StatesLeft Canada with family as dairy farmer in Dane County, Wisconsin and died there
Robert Alway Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, Great Britain Republic of Texas Fled Canada due to involvement in 1837 Rebellion and died shortly after arriving in Texas
David William Smith Salisbury, England Alnwick, Northumberland, EnglandLeft Canada and return to England in 1804 and became a property manager; died in England

Buildings housing the Legislative Assembly

From 1824 to 1832, the Assembly sat at temporary locations due to the fire that destroyed the second home:

See also

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