How far should Canada go to protect bilingualism?

Topic: Speaking French in Canda

1 Answer
Feb 6, 2018


Bilingualism in Canada is at the core of governance in Canada, stemming from one vital root document -- the 1760 Articles of Capitulation Agreement with the capture of Montreal.


The British capture of New France did not end with the capture of Quebec City in 1759; French authorities and their remaining troops still controlled the St. Lawrence above Quebec City and the issue was still in doubt. In 1760, General Amherst launched three simultaneous offensives towards Montreal to complete the capture of New France.

In late August, with his supplies exhausted and French Canadian militia deserting in droves (to take advantage of British offers of Amnesty), Governor Vaudreuil surrendered to the inevitable, but the surrender of his authority, his armies and Montreal was concluded with the negotiation of a complex surrender document. Amherst, eager to bring 140 years of sporadic frontier warfare to an end, easily accepted terms that outlined protections for French culture, the Catholic Church and Aboriginal peoples (he was less generous towards the dignity of the defeat French Army).

The 1760 Articles of Capitulation were challenged by several parties after the war, but in 1774, the Lord Chief Justice in London ruled that the surrender document was an international treaty. Essentially, it is Canada's founding legal document.

With the protection of the French Canadian identity, it was easy... even in the late 19th Century, for French Canadians to argue in favour of bilingualism. With Quebec Nationalism reaching new heights in the 1960s, recognizing what should have always been there was an easy policy goal for Canada's government in the early 1970s... the legal framework was always there.