Report on the Affairs of British North America

The Report on the Affairs of British North America,[1] commonly known as the Durham Report, or Lord Durham's Report is an important document in the history of Quebec, Ontario, Canada and the British Empire.

The notable British Whig politician John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, was sent to the Canadas in 1838 to investigate and report on the causes of the rebellions of 1837–38. Durham arrived in Quebec City on 29 May.[2] He had just been appointed Governor General and given special powers as high commissioner of British North America.

On the first page of his report he stated that "While the present state of things is allowed to last, the actual inhabitants of these Provinces have no security for person or property--no enjoyment of what they possess--no stimulus to industry."[1] He would return to that theme repeatedly throughout his report.

Enquiry

In Upper and Lower Canada, he formed numerous committees consisting of essentially all the opponents of the Patriotes and made many personal observations of life in the colonies. He also visited the United States. Durham wrote that he had assumed he would find that the rebellions were based on liberalism and economics, but he eventually concluded that the real problem was the conflict between the traditionalistic French and the modernizing English elements. According to Durham, the French culture in Canada had changed little in 200 years, and showed no sign of the progress British culture had made. His 1838 report contains the famous assessment that Lower Canada consisted of "two nations warring within the bosom of a single state".