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Description found in Archives
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
Added language of material: French
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Adjutant-General's Office, Lower Canada and its predecessors. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.
Copyright belongs to the Crown.
Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)
Biography / Administrative history
The first Militia Act for the British colony of Quebec was passed in 1777 (17 Geo. III, ch. 8) and was largely a re-enactment of the old French laws. All males between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to serve in the militia of the parish in which they resided and were commanded by a captain, appointed from among the more prominent men of the parish. As well as assisting the regular army in the defence of the colony, the militia was required to provide it with transport and other services, known collectively as the corvée. [John Clarke, "Baby, François," Dictionary of Canadian Biography, v. V, p. 44.] Annual musters took place on four successive Sundays in late June and early July.
For the purposes of administration, the province was initially divided into two military districts, Québec and Montréal, but in 1789 the districts of St. Thomas, Trois-Rivières and Boucherville were created. The colonel commanding the Québec district acted as Adjutant General for the province, although the office of Adjutant General of Militia was not mentioned in provincial militia acts until 1796 (36 Geo. III, ch. 11).
Initially militia units developed around cities, towns and seigneuries and were named accordingly. With the passage of a new Militia Act in 1793 for the newly-created province of Lower Canada (34 Geo. III, ch. 4), the battalion became the basic unit of organization. Each county had its battalion, commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, and there were several battalions in both Montréal and Québec City. Later there was provision for more than one battalion in a county, depending on the size and distribution of the population. The 1793 Act contained the usual provision for the embodiment of the militia in the event of "war, invasion or imminent danger," however the act passed in 1803 (43 Geo. III, ch. 1) empowered the Governor to call up by ballot a maximum of 1200 bachelors annually for a period of training not to exceed twenty-eight days. He was also authorized to appropriate a maximum of 2500 rounds of ammunition annually as well as arms and equipment for the men in training.
In May 1812, when war with the United States appeared to be imminent, a new Militia Act was passed (52 Geo. III, ch. 1), which increased to 2000 the number of men called out for annual training and increased the maximum age for this active service element from 25 to 30. The Act also forbade the use of substitutes to perform militia duties. During the late 1820s the Lower Canada counties were given English names although the older French names continued to be used interchangeably until 1829, when many of the counties of Lower Canada were divided, the boundaries restructured, and new names applied.
Prior to and during the Rebellions of 1837-38 several Proclamations were issued regarding the desired conduct and loyalty of militia officers. As a result of lessons learned and problems made apparent during the Rebellions, a general reorganization of the militia and recommissioning of militia officers took place by General Order 7 June 1839, which displaced many of the old, unhealthy, incompetent, and disloyal officers.
From the end of the 18th century to the unification of Lower and Upper Canada, the role of Adjutant-General was considered the most important position in the Canadian militia. He reported to the Governor General and his principal function was to enforce the various militia acts. As intermediary between the Governor and the militia officers, the Adjutant General was responsible to ensure that the militia assembled and trained annually, that returns and nominal rolls were produced regularly, that general orders were issued and transmitted, that the militia played its part in times of war, and finally, that militiamen and veterans were rewarded for their participation in armed conflicts.
The Militia Act of 1846 (9 Vic. ch. 28), the first for the United Province of Canada superseded this organization for defence.
The Adjutants General of Militia for Lower Canada were Lieutenant-Colonel François Baby, 1776 - October 1811 (Colonel, 1794), Lieutenant-Colonel François Vassal de Monviel, October 1811 - March 1841 and Colonel Bartholomew Conrad Augustus Gugy, March 1841 - June 1846.
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