Events from the year 1776 in Canada.


See also:






  • American Revolutionary War. United Empire Loyalists move to Upper Canada and settle (lumbering, farming starts).
  • April 29 – Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase and Rev. John Carroll, a Jesuit, urge Canadians to send delegates to Congress, promising toleration. Franklin brings a printer and press, for a newspaper, to mould public opinion. Canadians regard Franklin as an enemy, and the priests remind Father Carroll that, unlike some of the Provinces, Britain tolerates the Romish Church.
  • May 6 – As a British fleet is in sight, the Continental Army, before Quebec, weakened by disease, retires from a superior enemy, who await reinforcements, behind strong walls.
  • June 8 – Attempting to surprise Three Rivers, General Thompson, with 200 of 1,800 Americans, is taken prisoner.
  • June 16 – Arnold's force has retreated from Montreal.
  • June 18 – General Burgoyne finds that the Continental Army has evacuated St. Johns.
  • The eleventh Article of "Confederation and Perpetual Union" provides that: "Canada, according to this Confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to, all the advantages of this Union; but no other Colony shall be admitted to the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States."
  • October 11 – The British are victorious on Lake Champlain.
  • October 13 – On Lake Champlain, Arnold runs part of his fleet ashore, to avoid capture.
  • The Jesuits' College, at Quebec, converted into barracks.
  • The American colonies declare their independence. The United States Declaration of Independence is signed July 4, 1776.
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1737–1809) appears.
  • Under Guy Carleton, Quebec withstands an American siege until the appearance of a British fleet (May 6). Carleton is later knighted.



Full date unknown



  • March 30 – Jonathan Belcher, lawyer, chief justice, and lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia (b.1710)

Historical documents


American Revolutionary War


Maj. Gen. Schuyler tells Washington that attempt to take Quebec City has failed, Brig. Gen. Montgomery is dead and reinforcements required in Canada[2]

Maryland delegate to Congress recommends Catholic fellow delegate and himself to go to Canada to rally support and raise troops for rebel cause[3]

Commander in occupied Montreal on "many Enemies in this province" (especially clergy), locals commissioned to his forces, and need of heavy arms[4]

Washington emphasizes to Arnold importance of victory in Canada to "crown our virtuous struggles" and "Render the freedom of [our] Country secure"[5]

"Jean Baptist or Ogaghsagighte" and others chiefs, sent by Kahnawake and other First Nations, tell Washington they can send fighters to Schuyler[6]

Montrealer Preudhome La Jeunesse wants Congress to send agents to explain to clergy and gentry their goals in war and their friendship toward Canada[7]

Arnold says his army struggles with smallpox, poor clothing and worse pay, attractions of deserting, and "Trouble of Reconceleing [with] Inhabitants"[8]

Benjamin Franklin, Chase and Carroll sent to form executive commission in Canada and urge Canadians to unite with and adopt American democracy[9]

Logistical, strategic and political challenges "for our little Army and for the Poor Canadians who have taken part with the United Colonies"[10]

John Adams admits "we have been a little tardy in providing for Canada[;] however We have been roused at last, and I hope have done pretty well"[11]

Commissioners in Montreal find Continental money worthless, their people no longer trusted and Congress thought bankrupt and its cause desperate[12]

With newly arrived reinforcements, Gov. Carleton routs rebel force that has besieged Quebec City for five months and seizes their blockade ships[13]

British plans were to include sending Burgoyne with 10,000 troops (Hessians, Hanoverians and British) to Canada to join up with Gage on Hudson River[14]

John Adams says simply, "Our affairs in Canada are in a confused and disastrous situation. But I hope they will not be worse."[15]

Brig. Gen. Sullivan reports "men Women & Children Leaping & Clapping their hands" as he arrives at Sorel to meet British thrust up St. Lawrence River[16]

Maj. Gen. Schuyler receives word that army's attack on British at Trois-Rivières has been defeated, and it must retreat to St.-Jean for return home[17]

Believing "there has been very gross Misconduct in the Management of our Affairs in Canada," Congress orders general inquiry into officers involved[18]

Sullivan reports from upper Richelieu River that his retreat to Lake Champlain is threatened by smallpox pandemic in his troops (Note: "savages" used)[19]

"How happy for us" - Montreal residents congratulate Gov. Carleton and "the brave and loyal Citizens of Quebec" for victory over rebels[20]

"Extraordinary efforts of resolution" - With larger naval force, Carleton defeats Brig. Gen. Arnold to regain control of Lake Champlain[21]

Congress sends home Canadians captured unarmed, but makes Luc de la Corne and another agree not to take up arms against U.S. or aid its enemies[22]

Map spanning regions from Lac St.-Pierre to Cape May, including Montreal, Lake Champlain and eastern Six Nations territories[23]

"A Declaration would have influenced our Affairs in Canada" - John Adams says his pro-reconciliation and anti-independence colleagues lost Canada[24]



Governor, lieutenant governor, chief justice and Council (or any five of them) make up Quebec's new court of appeal[25]

In dispute with governor, Peter Livius accuses Carleton of bypassing Council (by August 8, 1776 order), with five favourites making major decisions[26]

Praise for Carleton's humanity "towards our deluded Countrymen who have been either bullied or betrayed into the present unnatural Rebellion"[27]

With end of U.S. occupation, Gazette printer William Brown happily renews ties with subscribers to "The Most Innocent Gazette in the British Dominions"[28]

Grain in storage and big current crop allow reopening of general wheat exportation, but restrictions remain on shipping flour, biscuits and livestock[29]

"A Citizen of Quebec" requests effective market regulation and prevention of "Huxtering, Engrossing, Forestalling, &c.[...]at a great Height in this City"[30]

Carleton finds nothing to fear from Canadians during prosperity and nothing to hope from them (besides honourable few) during times of distress[31]

Instruction offered "Young Gentlemen[...]in various Literature," including "Locke on the human Understanding,[...]Milton, Shakespeare, Pope, Gay, &c."[32]

Peter Fitzgerald disclaims marriage to (and debts of) "a Woman lately arrived from Halifax, in Nova-Scotia, who calls herself Mary FitzGerald"[33]

Nova Scotia


"I hate the Climate where Rebellion + Fanaticism are ingendred" - Loyalist disowns revolutionary Massachusetts in letter to Edward Winslow[34]

Cumberland County, Nova Scotia resident tells Washington that many there support Colonies and all Acadians do, but troops must be sent to help them[35]

"The rebels[...]obliged Gen. Howe to quit Boston" - British troops and loyalists leave Boston for Halifax[36]

Lt. Gov. Arbuthnot, noting inflation despite departure of fleet and army, declares anyone charging more than set prices for food to be "Extortioners"[37]

Report from Halifax that "a considerable body of rebels" are besieging Fort Cumberland and "people in Halifax are in great consternation"[38]

Arguing how low-cost pre-war governments in North America were, Adam Smith points to Nova Scotia's £7,000 "a year towards the publick expences"[39]

Nova Scotia law allows local court to fine ("amerce") township residents who neglect to vote funds to support local poor people[40]

Haligonian seeks "a Negro Woman named Florimell [who] wears a Handkerchief round her Head, has Scars in her Face[...]and is not very black"[41]

Rev. John Breynton of Halifax sells "Negro Woman Called Dinah about twenty five years of age" to Peter Shey of Falmouth for £23/6/8[42]



"I have learned sorcery, and I have practised it, but that is the road to the greatest darkness" - Inuk named Kingminguse is baptised at Nain[43]

George Cartwright's instructions for building foot bridge, one of his many practical projects for living in Labrador[44]

"Mountaineer" (Innu) way of hunting deer with musket allows them to fire shots more quickly, but "they generally over-charge" with too much gunpowder[45]

Getting "burnt" by touching cold metal, Cartwright recalls lines from "Hudibras": "And many dangers shall environ, The man who meddles with cold iron"[46]

Indigenous nations


At their meeting, Six Nations and "seven Tribes" from Canada agree to remain neutral, though some (Senecas, Mohawks) are ready "to act against Us"[47]

Maj. Gen. Schuyler's early June correspondence on "Attack of the upper Indians against our Western Frontiers" in New York (Note: "savages" used)[48]

Massachusetts General Court signs treaty with Mi'kmaq and "St John's Indians" to recruit fighters for "Service of the United States" (Note: see footnotes)[49]

Thomas Jefferson tells fellow Virginian that Congress has so strongly warned Six Nations against attacking that they "keep their people in quiet"[50]

Letter from Albany says Kanien’kéhà:ka sachems objected to Schuyler's expedition against John Johnson, but admitted it was allowed under their treaty[51]

Henry on Prairies: "The country was[...]a continued level, without a single eminence; a frozen sea, of which the little coppices were the islands"[52]

Henry listens to Assiniboine players of drums, gourds etc. with women singing - "the sweetness of their voices exceeded whatever I had heard before"[53]

"When they move, the sounds keep time, and make a fantastic harmony" - Assiniboine and Cree women put small bells and deer hooves on skirt hems[54]

Chipewyans from Lake Athabasca canoe down to Henry's post on upper Churchill River to trade 12,000 beaver skins (plus slaves) over three days[55]

Continental Congress agent at French court to acquire (along with uniforms and weapons) £40,000 worth of "goods for presents to the Indians"[56]

"I can see thee, My Father; can talk with thee and can invoke thy mercy" - "Sioux chief" shares pipe with Carleton (Note: "savages" and "squaw" used)[57]



Illustration: "Key for Benjamin West's 'Death of General Wolfe'" has detail of figures in painting, including Brig. Gen. Monckton and surgeon Mr. Adair[58]


  1. ^ "Kings and Queens of Canada". aem. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  2. ^ "To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler" (January 13, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Gen. Carleton describing British victory, Continental Congress account of defeat, Arnold's situation in Quebec after setback, and Congress's plans "to repair our losses") Accessed 12 September 2022
  3. ^ "To John Adams from Samuel Chase" (January 12, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also details of this initiative, and its good prospects but need for tact as expressed in Adams' letters here and here and also see Congress's letter to "Inhabitants of the Province of Canada") Accessed 12 September 2022
  4. ^ "To George Washington from Brigadier General David Wooster" (January 21, 1776), U.S. National Archives. Accessed 12 September 2022
  5. ^ "From George Washington to Brigadier General Benedict Arnold" (January 27, 1776), U.S. National Archives. Accessed 12 September 2022
  6. ^ "Speeches of the Caughnawaga, St. Johns, and Passamaquoddy Indians" (January 31, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Washington's letter suggesting Indigenous fighters be called only if needed or "to prevent their taking the side of our Enemies") Accessed 12 September 2022
  7. ^ "The Committee of Secret Correspondence: A Report to Congress" ("on or before 14 February 1776"), U.S. National Archives. (See also payments made by Congress to La Jeunesse and several other Canadians for service to United States) Accessed 12 September 2022
  8. ^ Letter of Arnold to Washington (February 27, 1776), U.S. National Archives. Accessed 14 September 2022
  9. ^ Instructions to Franklin, Carroll and Chase (March 20, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Franklin's comment that trip to Canada may be too much for him) Accessed 14 September 2022
  10. ^ "To John Jay from William Goforth" (April 8, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Schuyler's reference to more "alarming" intelligence) Accessed 15 September 2022
  11. ^ Letter of John Adams (April 27, 1776), U.S. National Archives. Accessed 15 September 2022
  12. ^ "The Commissioners to Canada to John Hancock" (May 1, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also further letter from commissioners suggesting troops withdraw from Montreal if "hard money cannot be procured," soon followed by another letter even more frank) Accessed 15 September 2022
  13. ^ "May 6th" An Impartial History of the War in America[....] (1780), pg. 301. (See also Carleton's report of this relief to siege of Quebec, Admiralty Office report of Navy's role in relief, rebel commander's report on his force's retreat upriver, and letter from Whitehall encouraging Carleton to restore order and good government in Canada) Accessed 8 September 2022
  14. ^ "Interesting Intelligence from Europe" (after May 13, 1776), Library of Congress. Accessed 22 September 2022
  15. ^ Letter of John Adams (June 12, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also John Hancock's mention of "shocking mismanagement" after hearing Chase and Carroll's commission report) Accessed 16 September 2022
  16. ^ "To George Washington from Brigadier General John Sullivan (June 5-6, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Washington's hope that Canadians' friendliness will lead to conciliation with them, but also his warning that they are "an Ingenous, artfull people, and very capable of Finesse & cunning") Accessed 16 September 2022
  17. ^ "To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler" (June 19-20, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Sullivan's report of Trois-Rivières defeat) Accessed 16 September 2022
  18. ^ "To George Washington from John Hancock" (June 21-2, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also exasperated John Adams' demand for "Causes of our Miscarriages" and Thomas Jefferson's notes of testimony made to Congress) Accessed 19 September 2022
  19. ^ "To George Washington from Brigadier General John Sullivan" (June 24, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Arnold's report and summing up of situation by Jefferson and Adams) Accessed 19 September 2022
  20. ^ "To His Excellency Guy Carleton" (June 25, 1776), The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 578 (September 26, 1776), pg. 1. (See also reference in London (June 15) to Quebec sources saying "Canadians have flocked in abundance to the King's Standard") Accessed 27 September 2022
  21. ^ "Engagement near the isle Valicour" An Impartial History of the War in America[....] (1780), pgs. 362-5. Accessed 8 September 2022
  22. ^ Resolution of Congress (October 10, 1776), Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, pg. 865, Library of Congress. Accessed 22 September 2022
  23. ^ "The Provinces of New York, and New Jersey: with part of Pensilvania, and the Province of Quebec" (1776), Library of Congress. Accessed 22 September 2022
  24. ^ "Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams" (July 3, 1776), Massachusetts Historical Society. Accessed 20 September 2022
  25. ^ "Commission for a Court of Appeals" (August 1, 1776), Documents Relating to the Constitutional History of Canada; 1759-1791; Part II (2nd edition; 1918), pgs. 672-3. (See also "Commission for Court of Civil Jurisdiction" with footnote quoting Carleton's explanation for commissions) Accessed 12 September 2022
  26. ^ Proceedings between Sir Guy Carleton[...]and Peter Livius, Esquire, Chief Justice of [Quebec] (1779), pgs. 17-18 Accessed 7 September 2022
  27. ^ "The following Orders" (August 4, 1776), The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 576 (September 12, 1776), pg. 1. Accessed 27 September 2022
  28. ^ "To the Publick," The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 571 (August 8, 1776), pg. 3. Accessed 26 September 2022
  29. ^ "A Proclamation" (August 30, 1776), The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 576 (September 12, 1776), pg. 1. Accessed 27 September 2022
  30. ^ "A Card," The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 576 (September 12, 1776), pg. 3. (See also "Quebec, December 5; A Card" calling out merchants selling necessities at 200% profit) Accessed 27 September 2022
  31. ^ Letter of Carleton to Colonial Secretary (September 28, 1776), Documents Relating to the Constitutional History of Canada; 1759-1791; Part II (2nd edition; 1918), pgs. 675-6. Accessed 12 September 2022
  32. ^ "Belmont Fortune [(Forten in later issues)], A.B.," The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 574 (August 29, 1776), pg. 2. Accessed 27 September 2022
  33. ^ "Avertissemens; Whereas a Woman" (September 5, 1776), The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 576 (September 12, 1776), pg. 3. (See also Mary's proof of marriage to Peter) Accessed 27 September 2022
  34. ^ Letter of Jonathan Sewall to Edward Winslow (January 10, 1776), pg. 4, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick. Accessed 20 September 2022
  35. ^ "To George Washington from a Citizen of Nova Scotia" (February 8, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also Washington's intention to send request to Congress) Accessed 14 September 2022
  36. ^ "Extract of a Letter dated Boston Harbour, New-England, March 18" and following news items, The Quebec Gazette, Nomb. 572 (August 15, 1776), pg. 2. Accessed 26 September 2022
  37. ^ "Halifax, August 20" The Nova-Scotia Gazette: and The Weekly Chronicle Vol. VI, No. 313 (September 10, 1776), Page 1 of 4. Accessed 22 September 2022
  38. ^ William O. Raymond (ed.), "E. Bridgham to Edward Winslow" (excerpt; December 5, 1776), Winslow Papers; A.D. 1776-1826 (1901), pgs. 15-16. Accessed 21 September 2022
  39. ^ Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), pgs. 168-9. Accessed 7 September 2022
  40. ^ "An Act(...)to enable the several Townships(...)to maintain their Poor" 16 George III, Chapter 1 (1776). Accessed 7 September 2022
  41. ^ "Ran Away" The Nova-Scotia Gazette: and The Weekly Chronicle Vol. VI, No. 304 (July 9, 1776), Page 1 of 4. Accessed 22 September 2022
  42. ^ "Bill of sale for slave named 'Dinah'" (November 19, 1776), Nova Scotia Archives. Accessed 9 September 2022
  43. ^ The Moravians in Labrador (1833), pgs. 127-30 Accessed 20 September 2022
  44. ^ George Cartwright, "To construct a Bridge across a River[...]for foot passengers to cross upon," Additions to the Labrador Companion (turn to Item 12), Library and Archives Canada. Accessed 12 September 2022
  45. ^ C.W. Townsend (ed.), "Thursday, September 12, 1776," Captain Cartwright and His Labrador Journal (1911), pgs. 208, 210 Accessed 22 September 2022
  46. ^ C.W. Townsend (ed.), "Monday, January 15, 1776," Captain Cartwright and His Labrador Journal (1911), pg. 187 (See also "Sunday, January 28, 1776" and Cartwright's preference for Labrador winters) Accessed 22 September 2022
  47. ^ "To John Adams from Samuel Chase" (April 18, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also commissioners' report from Montreal that "seven Indian tribes of Canada" confirm their neutrality) Accessed 15 September 2022
  48. ^ "To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler" (June 10, 1776) plus footnotes, U.S. National Archives. Accessed 16 September 2022
  49. ^ "To George Washington from James Bowdoin" (July 30, 1776), U.S. National Archives. (See also "A Treaty of Alliance and Friendship(...)between the Governors of the State of Massachusetts Bay, and the Delegates of the St. John’s & Mickmac Tribes of Indians") Accessed 20 September 2022
  50. ^ "From Thomas Jefferson to John Page" (August 5, 1776), U.S. National Archives. Accessed 20 September 2022
  51. ^ "Letter to Tapping Reeve about General Schuyler's superiority over Sir John Johnson(....)" (January 27, 1776), Boston Public Library. Accessed 22 September 2022
  52. ^ Alexander Henry the elder, "On the seventh [of February, 1776]," Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories[....] (1809), pg. 277 Accessed 8 September 2022
  53. ^ Alexander Henry the elder, "II. The time was now passed in dancing," Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories[....] (1809), pg. 296 Accessed 8 September 2022
  54. ^ Alexander Henry the elder, "Their dress is of the same materials," Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories[....] (1809), pg. 306 Accessed 9 September 2022
  55. ^ Alexander Henry the elder, "The course of the river," Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories[....] (1809), pgs. 321-4 Accessed 9 September 2022
  56. ^ Letter to embassy in Paris (August 16, 1776), British Diplomatic Instructions, 1689-1789; Volume VII, France, Part IV, 1745-1789 (1934), pgs. 151-2. Accessed 7 September 2022
  57. ^ F.V. Melsheimer, Journal of the Voyage of the Brunswick Auxiliaries[....] (1891), pgs. 171-4. Accessed 20 September 2022
  58. ^ "Key for Benjamin West's 'Death of General Wolfe'" (1776), McCord Museum. Accessed 26 September 2022