Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

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


Family Compact


Family Compact, a term, derived from the alliances between the crowned heads of Europe. during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which was popularly applied to the governing class of Upper Canada prior to the rebellion of 1837. The phrase was not only inept as applied to Canadian party politics; but, as Lord Durham pointed out in his Report on the affairs of British North America in 1839, it was even less appropriate than party names usually are. "There is, in truth," he wrote, "very little of family connection among the persons thus united". The term appears to have been first used in a letter written by Marshall Spring Bidwell to William Warren Baldwin in 1828; but in the years that followed it came into general use, and it is now employed to describe those members of the Executive and Legislative Councils of Upper Canada who, owing to the terms of the Constitutional Act, dominated the government of Upper Canada. See W. S. Wallace, The family compact (Toronto, 1915), and A. Ewart and J. Jarvis, The personnel of the family compact (Canadian Historical Review, 1926).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 318.


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College