Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763.
The Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 has been called the Magna Carta of Indian rights. In part, this Proclamation was intended to end the abuse which had marked dealings with Indians.
The Proclamation legally restricted any westward expansion of American colonies beyond the Appalachian Mountains. However, the Proclamation resulted in what some historians consider the first cause of the American Revolution. More...
Quebec Act (1774)
Act established that property and civil rights were to be resolved
by reference to the French law that had been in force. The seigniorial
land system is continued and calls for a council of 17 to 23 members to
which the French are to enjoy access as members.
Act also established that for criminal law, the law of England
would apply. The Act also enlarged Quebec to include Labrador and the
Roman Catholic population was guaranteed religious freedom.
The Quebec Act angered the Thirteen Colonies, and helped to accelerate the confrontation that became the American Revolution . The Quebec Act is listed as one of the grievances in the Declaration of Independence. The First Continental Congress petitioned Parliament to repeal the Intolerable Acts, which Parliament declined to do. Instead, in February 1775 Parliament passed the Conciliatory Resolution in an attempt to curry favor with the angry colonists. This was too little, too late, as the war broke out before news of its passage could reach the colonies.
The American Revolution (1776 - 1783)
The American Revolution had a profound effect on what would become Canada. United Empire Loyalists moved north after the war thus ultimately ensuring that Canada, for the majority of its territory, would be English speaking with English laws.
Simon Fraser is an example. He was born in New York, the son of loyalist parents. After the war his mother moved the family to Quebec. Simon Fraser joined the North West Company and made extensive and important discoveries in the west. He discovered a route to the Pacific Ocean in 1793. BC's largest river and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby are named after him.
Canada ultimately came to to occupy the largest land mass of North America.
Upper Canada Chooses
English Common Law (1791)
Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada by the Constitutional Act of
1791. The new legislature of Upper Canada (Ontario) used their
first statute to reject French civil law and to introduce English common
law and English rules of evidence.
Common law is
judge-made law. That is, law which exists and applies to a group on the
basis of historical legal precedents developed over hundreds of years.
Because it is not written by elected politicians but, rather, by judges,
it is also referred to as "unwritten" law. Judges seek these
principles out when trying a case and apply the precedents to the facts
to come up with a judgement.
Canada has a parliamentary
system of government. The normal legislative process at the federal level
is for the government to initiate public bills for approval by the elected
House of Commons and the appointed Senate. When both Houses have passed
a bill, the bill is submitted for Royal Assent to the Governor General
or Deputy of the Governor General. Upon Royal Assent, the bill becomes
an Act of Parliament.
Canada has both
federal and provincial courts, but they do not constitute two separate
systems as in the United States. For example, criminal laws are enacted
by the Parliament of Canada, but the laws are administered mainly in provincial
courts. Thus, provincial courts may hear cases involving both federal
and provincial law. Each province has its own hierarchy of courts. The
structure and names vary somewhat from one province to another.
Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada
has been the final court of appeal since 1949. The Supreme Court has exclusive
ultimate appellate civil and criminal jurisdiction within Canada. Appeal
to the Supreme Court is normally by application for leave to appeal. The
federal government may also refer constitutional cases directly to the
Court of Canada
The Federal Court of Canada
continues the old Exchequer Court of Canada. It has both a Trial Division
and a Federal Court of Appeal. The Federal Court's jurisdiction is limited;
it does not have any diversity jurisdiction with the provincial superior
courts, and it is not a parallel court structure to the provincial superior
courts. Although in some matters, the Federal Court and the provincial
courts have concurrent jurisdiction.
The Federal Court's principal
areas of jurisdiction relate to cases arising out of decisions and orders
of federal boards, commissions, and other tribunals, and to such matters
as copyrights, patents, and inter-provincial railways.
Each Canadian province has
superior courts of inherent jurisdiction. Depending on the province, the
trial level courts may be called:
- the Supreme Court,
- the High Court of Justice,
- the Court of Queen's Bench.
The appeal level may be called:
- the Court of Appeal or
- the Appellate Division.
Some provinces have county
or district courts. Most provinces have established special divisions
of the superior court at trial, such as the family division or small claims
The federal government has
established special courts such as the Tax Court of Canada, the Court
Martial Appeal Court, the Citizenship Court, and various boards and tribunals
appointed under federal statutes.
to More Information
Constitution Act - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - 1982
Consolidated Statutes and Regulations
- Many of these government sites have electronic access to their statutes
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Courts - Some of the courts
have electronic access to the text of court decisions.