Charles Poulett Thomson, 1st Baron Sydenham

From Academic Kids

Charles Poulett Thomson, 1st Baron Sydenham (1799 - September 19, 1841) was the first Governor of the united Province of Canada.

He was the son of John Buncombe Poulett Thomson, a London merchant. After some years spent in his father's business in Russia and in London he was returned to the House of Commons for Dover in 1826. In 1830 he joined Lord Grey's ministry as Vice-President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy. A free-trader and an expert in financial matters he was elected MP for Manchester in 1832, a seat which he occupied for many years. He was continuously occupied with negotiations affecting international commerce until 1839, when he accepted the Governorship of Canada.

Sydenham succeeded Lord Durham as Governor of Canada in 1839. He was responsible for implementing the Union Act in 1840, uniting Upper Canada and Lower Canada as the Province of Canada; that year, he was created Baron Sydenham. Upper Canadians were given a choice in the matter, which they accepted; Lower Canada had no say, and as a result many French Canadians were opposed to both the union and Sydenham himself. Sydenham was just as anti-French as Durham had been, and he encouraged British immigration to make the French Canadian population less significant. French Canadians referred to him as le poulet, "the chicken." Realizing he had almost no support in Lower Canada (now Canada East), he reorganized ridings to give the English population more votes, and in areas where that was infeasible, he allowed English mobs to beat up French candidates. Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine was one such candidate who suffered from Sydenham's influence; Lafontaine eventually left Canada East to work with Robert Baldwin in creating a fairer union for both sides.

Sydenham also settled the Protestant land dispute in Upper Canada (now Canada West), which the Family Compact had interpreted to refer only to the Anglican Church. Sydenham declared that half of the land set aside for Protestant churches would be shared between Anglicans and Presbyterians, and the other half would be shared between the other Protestant denominations.

Sydenham wanted to make Canada more financially independent, so that there would less danger of annexation by the United States. He had been working on this policy throughout the 1830s, when he was President of the Board of Trade in Britain, though he had little time to implement any economic reforms once arrived was in Canada. After less than two years as Governor-General, Sydenham died in 1841.

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Preceded by:
Thomas Frankland Lewis
Treasurer of the Navy
Succeeded by:
Viscount Lowther
Preceded by:
The Lord Auckland
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by:
Alexander Baring
Preceded by:
Alexander Baring
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by:
Henry Labouchere
Preceded by:
Sir George Arthur
Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
Succeeded by:
John Clitherow
Preceded by:
The Earl of Durham
Governor General of the Province of Canada
Succeeded by:
Sir Charles Bagot

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Preceded by:
New Creation
Baron Sydenham Succeeded by:
pl:Charles Poulett Thomson

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