Colonial Rulers of Canada

British Governors of Quebec

In 1763 the Treaty of Paris placed the French colony of New France, now called Quebec, under the rule of Great Britain, who had conquered it during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). After a period of military occupation, civilian government was introduced on August 10, 1764.

Name
Title
Tenure
Born/Died
James Murray
none
Aug 10, 1764 - Apr 12, 1768
1721 - 1794
Guy Carleton
none
Apr 12, 1768 - Jun 27, 1778
1724 - 1808
Frederick Haldimand
none
Jun 27, 1778 - Apr 22, 1786
1718 - 1791
Carleton (2nd time)
1st Baron Dorchester
Apr 22, 1786 - Dec 15, 1796
1724 - 1808
Robert Prescott
none
Dec 15, 1796 - Aug 29, 1807
1725 - 1815
Thomas Dunn (acting)
none
Aug 29, 1807 - Oct 24, 1807
1729 - 1818
James Henry Craig
none
Oct 24, 1807 - Jun 19, 1811
1748 - 1812
Dunn (2nd time, acting)
none
Jun 19, 1811 - Sep 14, 1811
1767 - 1816
George Prevost
none
Sep 14, 1811 - Apr 4, 1815
1767 - 1816
Gordon Drummond
none
Apr 4, 1815 - May 21, 1816
1771 - 1854
John Wilson (acting)
none
May 21, 1816 - Jul 12, 1816
?
John Coape Sherbrooke
none
Jul 12, 1816 - Jul 30, 1818
1764 - 1830
Charles Lennox
4th Duke of Richmond
Jul 30, 1818 - Aug 28, 1819
1764 - 1819
George Ramsay
9th Earl of Dalhousie
Aug 28, 1819 - Sep 8, 1828
1770 - 1838
James Kempt
none
Sep 8, 1828 - Oct 20, 1830
1764 - 1854
Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer
5th Baron Aylmer
Oct 20, 1830 - Aug 24, 1835
1775 - 1850
Archibald Acheson
2nd Earl of Gosford
Aug 24, 1835 - Mar 30, 1838
1776 - 1849
John Colborne
none
Mar 30, 1838 - May 29, 1838
1778 - 1863
John George Lambton
1st Earl of Durham
May 29, 1838 - Jan 17, 1839
1792 - 1840
Colborne (2nd time, acting)
none
Jan 17, 1839 - Oct 19, 1839
1778 - 1863
Charles Edward Poulett Thomson
1st Baron Sydenham
Oct 19, 1839 - Feb 5, 1841
1799 - 1841

In 1841 Quebec was reorganized into the United Province of Canada. The highest authority over the United Province became the governor general of British North America, who was given supreme authority over all British colonies on the continent. Each individual colony had its own lieutenant-governor as well.

Governor Generals of British North America

Name
Title
Tenure
Born/Died
Charles Edward Poulett Thomson
1st Baron Sydeham
Feb 10, 1841 - Sep 18, 1841
1799 - 1841
Richard Downes Jackson (acting)
none
Sep 24, 1841 - Jan 11, 1842
1777 - 1845
Charles Bagot
none
Jan 12, 1842 - Mar 29, 1843
1781 - 1843
Charles Theophilus Metcalfe
1st Baron Metcalfe
Mar 30, 1843 - Nov 25, 1845
785 - 1846
Charles Murray Cathcart
2nd Earl of Cathcart
Nov 26, 1845 - Jan 29, 1847
1783 - 1859
James Bruce
8th Earl of Elgin
Jan 30, 1847 - Dec 18, 1854
1811 - 1863
Edmund Walker Head
none
Dec 19, 1854 - Oct 24, 1861
1805 - 1868
Charles Stanley Monck
4th Viscount Monck of Ballytrammon
Oct 25, 1861 - Jun 30, 1867
1819 - 1894

For rulers after 1867, see the data chapter on heads of state.

Political Rulers of the United Province

Officially, the sole ruler of the United Province of Canada was the governor general; there was no prime minister or premier.

The highest ranking elected politician in the colony was the president of the Executive Council, the governor general’s cabinet, whose members were appointed from the United Province’s parliament. Though the presidency was not a very powerful office, the person who held it was nevertheless sometimes informally referred to as the prime minister or premier of Canada.

The most powerful jobs in the Executive Council were the two attorneys general, one for Upper Canada and one for Lower Canada. Beginning in 1848, these positions were given to the bosses of the parliament’s largest political “factions” (there were no parties in those days), and thus often regarded as the true leaders of the government during the United Province period. They are sometimes dubbed the “joint premiers” of Canada between 1841-1867.

Presidents of the Executive Council

Name
Tenure
Birth/Death
R.B. Sullivan
Feb 10, 1841 - Dec 11, 1843
?
Denis Benjamin Viger
Dec 12, 1843 - Jun 17, 1846
1774-1861
Vacant
Jun 18, 1846 - May 21, 1847
William Morris
May 22, 1847 - Mar 10, 1848
1786-1858
James Leslie
Mar 11, 1848 - Sep 14, 1848
1786-1873
William Hamilton Merritt
Sep 15, 1848 - Apr 7, 1850
1793-1862
Joseph Bourret
Apr 17, 1850 - Oct 27, 1851
?
Malcom Cameron
Oct 28, 1851 - Aug 16, 1853
1808-1876
John Ralph
Aug 17, 1853 - Sep 10, 1854
?
Allan Napier MacNab
Sep 11, 1854 - May 23, 1856
1798-1862
Philip Michael VanKoughnet
May 24, 1856 - Aug 1, 1858
1822-1869
J.E. Thibaudeau
Aug 2, 1858 - Aug 6, 1858
?
Sidney Smith (acting)
Aug 6, 1858
1823-1889
John Ross
Aug 7, 1858 - Mar 26, 1862
?
John Beverley Robinson
Mar 27, 1862 - May 23, 1862
1821-1896
Thomas D'Arcy McGee
May 24, 1862 - May 15, 1863
1825-1868
Isidore Thibaudeau
May 16, 1863 - Mar 29, 1864
1819-1893
Isaac Buchanan
Mar 30, 1864 - Jun 28, 1864
1810-1883
George Brown
Jun 30, 1864 - Dec 21, 1865
1818-1880
A.J. Fergusson Blair
Jan 3, 1866 - Jun 30, 1867
1815-1867

On July 1, 1867 A.J. Fergusson Blair was made President of the Privy Council of Canada, a job that would be subsequently held by many prime ministers of Canada. See that data chapter for more information.