Family Compact, in Canadian history

Family Compact, name popularly applied to a small, powerful group of men who dominated the government of Upper Canada (Ontario) from the closing years of the 18th cent. to the beginnings of responsible government under the Baldwin–LaFontaine Reform ministry (1848–51). The group, some of whose members belonged to the same family and most of whom were men of wealth, controlled the legislative and executive councils, had a virtual monopoly of political office, and strongly influenced banking, education, the issuing of land grants, the affairs of the Anglican church in Canada, and the courts. New settlers from Great Britain and the United States, finding themselves denied political opportunity, were drawn into an opposition movement, which in time became the Reform party. Religious differences embittered the struggle, since the Family Compact (the term first appeared c.1828) was composed almost entirely of members of the Church of England. The Château Clique was the name given to a similar powerful group in French Lower Canada.

See G. M. Craig, Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784–1841 (1963).

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