My wonderful lover was trying to explain to his family why historically Canada did not become part of the US. (He is American and I am Canadian)
Here is the wonderful piece of work he came up with in two parts.
1712 Status Quo and the Treaty of Utrecht
Also in 1713, the states of England, Scotland, and Wales united to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
France lost all of its North American holdings except Louisiana, the French West Indies, and two islands off the coast of Newfoundland to England as a consequence of its involvement in the War of Spanish Succession, which ended in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Various portions of this acquisition began to develop into more distinct entities in the following years.
Britain sold the Hudson Bay territory to the Hudson Bay Company, a trade consortium specializing in the extraction of natural resources such as lumber and fur. It became known as Rupert’s Land. Rupert’s Land would eventually grow to encompass most of what is now Canada, serving as a default destination for future British claims in the north and west.
The French territory of Canada was heavily settled by the French prior to 1712, especially along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, and did not take well to British rule.
Newfoundland had few permanent residents in the 18th Century, as Great Britain found its interests in the area served with a largely transient population. Newfoundland served as a way station between the Thirteen Colonies, the English Caribbean, and Great Britain, and became relatively wealthy from this trade. Its links to the former French territory of Canada were tenuous at best.
Acadia saw a steady influx of English colonists, especially after the British renamed it Nova Scotia. It soon became a sort of “14th American Colony,” especially since it was adjacent to the better-known 13.
The Seven Years’ War and the Quebec Act
Britain was concerned that the Acadians still residing in Nova Scotia were not loyal to the British Crown, a concern the Acadians did little to alleviate. They eventually forced most of the Acadians to relocate to the far less strategically important location of New Orleans, on pain of losing their language and culture, giving rise to the US state of Louisiana’s Cajun population and increasing the prevalence of pro-British sentiment in the colony.
In 1769, Prince Edward Island was organized as a separate colony from Nova Scotia.
In 1774, the British government passed the Quebec Act, creating the Province of Quebec out of much of the former French territories of Canada and Louisiana. Within this province, the colonists, mostly Frenchmen living near the St. Lawrence River, could use French customary law alongside British law and could continue speaking French without reprisal. The Quebec Act also asserted the primacy of the Catholic Church, rather than the Church of England, within the province.
The American Revolution
British West Indies
That being said, the American revolutionary forces made an attempt in November of 1775 to capture the major cities of Quebec, both to add them to the growing nation and to keep them from serving as staging grounds for British efforts. Led by the famous generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold (pre-treason), this effort captured Montreal and a handful of smaller cities along the St. Lawrence River, ending in a siege at Quebec City, at the mouth of the river. The American forces suffered a number of setbacks during the attack, but due to support from within and around the city, managed to hold it until the following spring. The support that the American forces received in Quebec was not sufficient to prevent the British from retaking the city, or the rest of the American-held cities in the province, once the weather improved and reinforcements arrived. The British Army expelled the American forces and many of their sympathizers and punished those who stayed behind, quieting any expressions of revolutionary sympathy that may have otherwise erupted later.
It is even more ironic, then, that by the time the principles that the new United States would strive to live by were articulated, during the Constitutional Conventions in 1787, that the Québécois people would almost certainly have found them ideal. The United States established a tradition of letting each of its constituent states largely handle its own affairs, which would have permitted Quebec to maintain its distinctive character. With the Bill of Rights a few years later, the United States officially declared that it would never impose any religion on its citizens, leaving them to make that choice for themselves, which would have permitted Quebec to retain its Catholicism, as well. The United States has also never had an official language, despite the prevalence of English within its borders, and various communities within the United States today treat any number of languages as de facto “official” tongues alongside English, including Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Chinese, and German.
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
The Battle of Fort Cumberland in late 1776 looked poised for success. The fort was located in a portion of the colony where Patriot sympathy was high, which prevented the pro-British government from convincing the locals to keep the fort in good repair. The militia team gathered strength as it moved from Maine to Nova Scotia, and even managed to capture two of the ships in the nearby harbor and keep word of the attack from leaving the area. The Patriot leader tipped his hand by sending a letter to the fort garrison requesting its surrender, which prompted the garrison leader to send another messenger, which the Patriot forces could not stop. Thanks to the garrison leader’s tactical acumen, the Patriot forces could not take the fort before trust in the strike leader’s ability crumbled, reinforcements arrived from elsewhere in Nova Scotia, and his forces were scattered.
As in Quebec the year before, the pro-British administration captured and punished revolutionary sympathizers. Many chose to leave the colony, solidifying Britain’s hold and swelling the Patriot forces further south.
Historians differ on the exact reasons for Newfoundland’s continued loyalty to Great Britain. Certainly, being threatened with starvation by the revolutionaries did not help, but the Newfoundlanders largely solved that problem without Britain. The high Irish-descended population of the island should have driven them to take the opportunity to break with Britain, if anything. More likely, the fact that Newfoundland’s administration was largely handled from Great Britain, rather than through a local assembly, prevented any local authority from becoming the focus of anti-British sentiment or from organizing the locals into a revolutionary militia.
Perhaps more importantly, the war created a situation where Newfoundlanders could profit immensely from remaining aligned with Great Britain. Newfoundland’s access to the Grand Banks fishery and the sugar colonies of the Caribbean, which were forbidden to the rebelling colonists, made the Newfoundlanders disproportionately wealthy. This wealth would become stressed in 1778 when American privateers and Spanish naval vessels began targeting the supply ships leaving Newfoundland for Europe and the Caribbean. Their efforts were so successful that Newfoundland’s local economy grew to largely replace the riches they gained from outside, inculcating in the people of Newfoundland a unique identity of their own, distinct from American and British alike.
A peculiar group of islands, Bermuda is most famous for being the northern- and easternmost corner of the Bermuda Triangle, and for convincing numerous amateur geographers that it’s in the Caribbean. Its central location made it an ideal port for vessels transporting salt from the Turks and Caicos islands and fish from Newfoundland, giving it wealth disproportionate to its size. Unlike the similarly situated Newfoundland, Bermuda was established by the same company that established the Virginia colony and had numerous familial and business ties with the Thirteen Colonies. Those ties might have made Bermuda join the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion, but Bermuda’s position in the Atlantic Ocean left it subject to a total naval blockade by the British. Severed from the previously lucrative colonial trade, Bermuda became a base for privateers attacking American shipping and for trade with the Caribbean colonies. By the time relations between Britain and the United States normalized, the economies and cultures of the new nation and the island colony had diverged too far for a union to remain a political possibility.