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Provinces and Territories

Key Terms

Family Compact

Each of the British North American colonies experienced some form of Family Compact rule before the achievement of responsible government.

The term most often refers to a small group of public servants who dominated the decision-making bodies of Upper Canada around 1830. This Family Compact came about through the desire of John Graves Simcoe, first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, to create a local aristocracy by naming his friends to important political and judiciary positions.

Based mainly in York (Toronto), the members of the Family Compact were from Canadian high society, with strong ties to the British Empire. They were cautious of the United States and idealized British institutions.

From about 1830 this practice of the British authorities caused discontent among certain segments of the Upper Canadian population and was one of the factors leading to the 1837 rebellions.


Mills, David.  --  "Family Compact."  --  The 1999 Canadian encyclopedia ; world edition.  --  Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 1998.