Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2007

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia



[to 1948]


District, a term used from the beginning of British rule in Canada to denote subdivisions of the country, either unorganized or partly organized, created primarily for judicial purposes. During the period of military rule (1760-4), Canada was divided into the districts of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal; and when civil government was set up, in 1764, the province of Quebec was divided into the districts of Gaspé, Quebec, and Montreal. When the "western settlements" (now Ontario) had been opened up, these were organized, in 1788, in four districts, Lunenburgh, Mecklenburgh, Nassau, and Hesse (re-named in 1792 respectively Eastern, Midland, Home, and Western). After 1792 these were sub-divided into counties; but as population spread, new districts for judicial purposes were created, such as the districts of Bathurst, Ottawa, Niagara, Gore, Brock, Huron, etc. These were abolished on the introduction of municipal government in Canada West, in 1849; but subsequently other districts were created, such as the districts of Algoma, Muskoka, Parry Sound, Nipissing, Thunder Bay, Patricia; etc. When Lord Selkirk received in 1811 a grant of land in the valleys of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, this was known as the district of Assiniboia; and when the North West Territories were acquired. by Canada, in 1870, there were later created in the southern part of these territories the districts of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Mackenzie. Of these the Mackenzie district alone remains, the others having been absorbed in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, in 1905. But other districts were created in northern Canada:-Keewatin, Yukon, Franklin, and Ungava. The Yukon was made a territory in 1898; and in 1912 Ungava was made a part of the province of Quebec. Quebec has adopted the term "territory" to describe partially organized areas, such as the territories of Abitibi, Mistassini, Ashaunipi, and New Quebec. In the Prairie provinces and in British Columbia the term "district" is used to the exclusion of the term "county".


Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 216-217.

© 2007 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College