In 1791, the Colonial Office and the Government of Upper Canada decided to set aside one-seventh of all land as “Clergy Reserve” and an additional one-seventh as “Crown Reserves”. Reserve lands were to be leased rather than sold.

Revenue from the Clergy Reserves was to support a “Protestant Clergy”, which many took to mean the Church of England. Revenue from the Crown Reserves was to finance government expenditures.

In areas where settlement had not begun, the reserve lands were laid out in a checkerboard pattern so that their value would be representative of the average value in the township. This pattern could not be followed in areas already settled. To compensate, entire townships had to be set-aside in new areas to make up for the lack of reserves in settled areas.

For example, in order to compensate for the lack of reserves in Lincoln County, the entire Township of Guelph was set aside as a Crown Reserve and Puslinch Township was designated a Clergy Reserve. Peel and Maryborough Townships remained Clergy Reserves until 1845.

The reserved lands were one of the irritants leading to the unsuccessful rebellions led by Louis Joseph Papineau in Lower Canada in 1837 and by William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada in 1838.

Moreover, very few settlers were willing to make improvements on leased land when there was land that could be purchased outright at a reasonable price. The government eventually acknowledged that the reserve lands impeded settlement and were a significant political liability.

The crown and clergy reserves were abolished in 1854.

On August 19, 1826, the Canada Company was incorporated in London England by Royal Charter. Its creation arose from two sources: the failure of the Crown and Clergy Reserve leases to raise significant revenues and the desire by a number of British capitalists to find an opportunity for profitable land speculation.

John Beverley Robinson, Attorney-General of Upper Canada, wanted to convert the reserves to cash so that a permanent sinking fund could be created to prevent the elected Legislative Assembly from forcing the voters’ will upon the Government and Executive Council through the Assembly’s capacity to cut off tax revenues.

A second plan was to use funds from the sale of reserves to repay Upper Canadians for losses to property suffered during the War of 1812. This included losses from American soldiers who burned and pillaged and from British troops who requisitioned homes, seized grain and produce, slaughtered livestock for food and generally showed little concern for the property of those they were defending.

In 1822, a group of war-damage claimants banded together and hired John Galt, a Scottish novelist, to pursue their claims at Whitehall. Initially, Galt had no success in representing his clients to the British authorities. The British government simply refused to consider any kind of cash settlement. Galt gradually evolved the idea of selling the vacant lands of Upper Canada to compensate his clients. He proposed to raise capital of one million pounds and buy all of the unsold lands in Upper Canada. Although the Canada Company ultimately fell short of this goal, it was still the largest enterprise of its kind in Canadian history.

The Royal Charter of the Canada Company gave it enormous powers. It could purchase, hold, improve, settle and dispose of waste or other lands, make advances of capital to settlers, and open or make improvements to roads through the lands to be opened for settlement. The Company was granted the right to import and export goods free of duty, provided that such articles were brought in for the cultivation and improvement of its lands or exported for the common good of its settlers. The right to own lands elsewhere in the British Dominions was also allowed.

Negotiations for the actual purchase of land took almost a year. Archdeacon John Strachan believed that the price offered for the Clergy Reserves was too low and withdrew from the agreement. Crown Reserves already under lease were retained by the government and used to support Upper Canada College.

The Canada Company was able to purchase 1,322,010 acres, being all Crown Reserves still not leased in townships surveyed before March 1, 1824 plus 1,000,000 acres in the Huron Tract at the rate of 3s. 6d. per acre over a twenty year period. The total purchase money was £2,484,413 sterling.

The Huron Tract consisted of the townships of Easthope North, Easthope South, Ellice, Logan, McKillop, Hullett, Colborne, Downie, Fullarton, Hibbert, Tuckersmith, Goderich, Stanley, Hay, Usborne, Blanshard, Biddulph, Stephen, McGillivray, Williams and Bosanquet. Many of these townships were named after one of the first directors of the Canada Company.

John Galt’s strategy for the Canada Company differed from that of other land jobbers who were content to sell wild land while spending as little as possible on supporting infrastructure. Galt intended to maximize profits through large-scale investment and extensive advertising and promotion. The Canada Company would provide a ready-made settlement with a town, roads and social necessities, such as a school, market and shops, already in place.

With the town in place first, there would be a ready market for the locally grown produce and the Canada Company would obtain prices for land that were otherwise only seen after a long period of settlement and growth.

The Canada Company’s first major development was the Township of Guelph. It was one of the largest vacant blocks of land remaining within trading distance of York and settlement was well established to the east, west and south.

Granny's Genealogy Garden No. 1 originally designed by Granny ( Fay Lucille Bertrand nee Lucas ).
May her memory live on through her work.

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