British Colonial Era and Industrialization
By 1760, the British had defeated the French in the New World (leaving them only the island of St Pierre & Miquelon, and the lands west of the Mississippi. These lands later became the “Louisiana Purchase” by President Thomas Jefferson from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803. Under British rule, the French were allowed to keep their language and their Catholic religion. British immigration to Montreal expanded, as did the fur trade, now run by the North West Company.
After the American Revolution, Canada (Lower Canada or Quebec) grew quickly from displaced United Empire Loyalists who were granted land. Many settled in Upper Canada (west/upstream) of the Ottawa River, and many also settled in the Eastern Townships, south of the St Lawrence. In 1782 the population was about 6,000 and by 1821 the city has 18,000 residents.
The 14-kilometre-long Lachine Canal was completed in 1825 to circumnavigate the rapids on the St Lawrence, lifting ships through 7 locks. This led to various manufacturing industries locating in Montreal along the canal. Montreal officially became a city in 1832. Montreal was the capital of the United Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, and quickly became the undisputed economic and cultural centre of British North America. Many of those stone buildings around the harbour and the canal are still there today.
Montreal was the eastern terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway which connected Montreal and Toronto. The city was the western terminus of the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railway, which in 1853 connected Montreal to Portland, Maine for year-round shipping when Montreal’s port was locked-in by ice. In 1855, the Grand Trunk line was extended east to Levis (on the south bank opposite Quebec City) and then further to Riviere du Loup. In 1856 the GTR expanded west of Toronto to Sarnia, where Lake Huron emptied into the Detroit River.