Niagara-on-the-Lake, a quaint and picturesque town in Ontario, has been the stage for a number of significant ‘firsts’ in Canadian history. From the establishment of the first parliament to the introduction of the nation’s first newspaper, Niagara-on-the-Lake has been a cradle of progress and innovation. This blog post will highlight these historical milestones, emphasizing the pivotal role that Niagara-on-the-Lake has played in shaping Canadian history.

First Parliament of Upper Canada

The establishment of the first parliament of Upper Canada in 1792 marked a turning point in Canadian governance. This parliamentary body convened in Newark, now known as Niagara-on-the-Lake, and was the first form of representative government in the region.

The inaugural session of this parliament saw a series of important enactments, including the establishment of English law as the foundation of the legal system, and the introduction of trial by jury.

Founding of the Law Society of Upper Canada

Another first that took place in Niagara-on-the-Lake was the founding of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1797. This professional body, established to regulate the legal profession in the province, was the first organization of its kind in Canada. Its formation ensured the maintenance of high professional standards, protecting the public’s interest in a proficient and ethical legal profession.

Passing of the Anti-Slavery Laws

Among the most significant legislations passed in Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Act Against Slavery, enacted by the parliament of Upper Canada in 1793. This pioneering legislation, the first of its kind in the British Empire, restricted the importation of slaves and mandated the emancipation of all children born to female slaves upon reaching the age of 25. This was a landmark move towards the eventual abolition of slavery across Canada, showcasing Niagara-on-the-Lake’s long-standing commitment to social justice and human rights.


As we reflect on the historical firsts of Niagara-on-the-Lake, we recognize its essential role in shaping the fabric of Canada. The town’s rich heritage, encapsulated in these pioneering initiatives, has left an indelible mark on the nation’s progress. Niagara-on-the-Lake serves as a vivid reminder of Canada’s journey towards democracy, human rights, and social progress – a testament to the country’s enduring commitment to these values. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a student of law, or a casual visitor, this charming town promises a fascinating journey into the heart of Canadian history.