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