Social studies 10 horizons chapter caph reform and rebellion companion readings
Social Studies 10 Canada: A People’s History Rebellion and Reform Companion Readings The Economic Situation At the beginning ofthe nineteenth century, the timber industry had replaced the fur trade as theeconomic engine of British North America. Canadas economy depended heavily on its export trade to England. In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte imposed a blockade on all of Europe preventing trade with England. Deprived of wood from Scandinavia, England turned instead to Canadas forests. The wood was mostly used for building ships. England had to build ships in order to pursue its war against Napoleon. In the first half of the 1800s, logging replaced the fur trade as Canadas dominant industry. (AsEach year, hundreds of ships loaded portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) with oak and elm left Quebec City, the capital of Lower Canada, and Saint John, New Brunswick, heading for GreatBritain. The Royal William, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, was built inQuebec, one of the main centres for shipbuilding.In Lower Canada, land became more and more difficult to obtain under theseigneurial regime.The landowners, the seigneurs, demanded ever-higher rents. The shortage of newland to clear forced many peasants to abandon agriculture and look for work in thetowns.By 1830, Montreal had become the principal economic centre of the two Canadas. Itswealth was controlled by a handful of merchants and industrialists from theanglophone upper classes, men such as Peter McGill who became president of theBank of Montreal in 1834. Rue Saint-Laurent / St. Lawrence Blvd. became aninvisible barrier between rich and poor, anglophone and francophone.
Just before the rebellion of 1837, the economic situation became particularly difficultin Upper and Lower Canada. Harvests had been bad. Near Quebec, the situation wasdesperate.On January 9, 1837, a correspondent from the newspaper Le Canadien reported:"Times are so hard that some habitants have taken to eating their own horses.Harvests have fallen short for four years now and many habitants dont have even apotato. It is certain that most of them will die of hunger, if relief is not provided tothem."In 1847, the economy of Upper and Lower Canada sustained a huge blow whenEngland adopted a free-trade policy. England abandoned preferential tariffs, whichgave raw materials from its colonies preferential access to the British market. TheGreat Famine was devastating Ireland. In order to help its victims, England to had tobe in the position to buy food products, above all wheat, at the lowest cost.Since they were no longer forced to pay higher prices for goods from the colonies,English industrialists and merchants hailed the move.They could now procure raw materials where they were the cheapest.The economic future of a united Canada was uncertain: exports had slowed downand jobs were scarce. Businessmen pointed the finger at the free trade policyadopted by the British government. It wasnt until 1849 that Canada becameprosperous again Rising Population and Immigration During the first halfof the nineteenth century, the British colonies in North America experienced a stronggrowth in population. British North America now had about one million inhabitants. This growth was generated by a wave of immigration from the British Isles. About 30,000 immigrants landed each year in Quebec City, the capital of Lower Canada. Some of them remained in Lower Canada but the majority of the new arrivals went on tosettle in Upper Canada.In 1830, Upper Canada had 260,000 inhabitants and the most rapid populationgrowth. On the other hand, Lower Canada still had the larger population with around400,000 inhabitants.In 1832, Quebec had 28,000 inhabitants while Montreal had 27,000. Between 1815and 1851, Montreal s population tripled, increasing from 15,000 to 57,000inhabitants. In Upper Canada the city of York became Toronto in 1834.Between 1832 and 1834 its population doubled, increasing to more than 9,000inhabitants.Immigrants arrived from Liverpool and London in England, from Greenock inScotland and from Dublin and Belfast in Ireland. The majority of them fled countries
that were in the grip of serious economic crises. They all hoped for a better future inNorth America.A young English writer, Catharine Parr Strickland, was dazzled by the beauty of hernew country. She and her husband, Thomas, were part of the thousand or sopioneers who arrived each year to clear fertile lands in the young colony. In herbook, The Backwoods of Canada, she gave this description of her voyage along theSt. Lawrence:"The misty curtain is slowly drawn up, as if by invisible hand, and the wild, woodedmountains partially revealed, with their bold rocky and sweeping bays."At other times the vapoury volume dividing, moves along the valleys and deepravines, like lofty pillars of smoke, or hangs in snowy draperies among the darkforest pines."She had many hopes for her new land as well:"Canada is the land of hope; here, everything is new, everything is moving forward;it is unlikely that sciences, agriculture or industry should ever lose ground; theymust continue to progress."Immigration also brought its misfortunes. In 1832, a cholera epidemic killed more than 9,000 people in the colonies. In 1847, while the Great Famine was reaching its peak in Ireland, the Syria dropped anchor at Grosse Île, a quarantine island. On board were 241 Irish immigrants. During the summer of 1847, 50 people died there each day. Six men worked full time to dig graves. The death toll was tragic: more than 20,000 Irish immigrants died that year. English author Catharine Parr Traill immigrated to Canada in May 1832 and helped develop the By 1849, British North America, United countrys literary culture. (As portrayed by Maxim Roy in Canada: A Peoples History) Canada (Upper and Lower Canada), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland had 2 million inhabitants.
The Countryside of the Two Canadas Between 1810 and1830 the majority of British immigrants settled in Upper Canada. In 1831, the colony already had 260, 000 inhabitants and its population growth was the most rapid in British North America. But Upper Canada wasnt ready for such large numbers. In order to reach Lake Huron the new settlers had to cross great forests and follow difficult roads: "Much as I had seen and heard of the badness of the roads in Canada," In the 1830s, Canadian pioneers appealed to the government to improve services such as roads. (As recounted Catharine Parr Traill, "I was portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) not prepared for such a one as we traveled along this day: indeed, it hardly deserved the name of a road(...) - sometimes I laughed because I would not cry."A string of villages, farms and inns linked Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe but somesettlers felt isolated and forsaken in this vast country.Robert Davis, a farmer of Irish origin,was disappointed:"He had in most instances to make hisown roads and bridges, clear his ownfarm, educate himself and his children.He had his bones broken by the fall oftrees, his feet lacerated by the axe, andsuffered almost everything exceptdeath. He waited year after year inhope of better days, expecting that thegovernment would care less for Receiving no help from the government, pioneersthemselves and more for the people. like Robert Davis were forced to build their own roads and bridges, clear the land and educate theirBut every year he was disappointed." children in early 1800s Upper Canada. (As portrayed by Andrew Simms in Canada: A Peoples History)Lower Canada remained the mostpopulated colony. Settled now for morethan two hundred years along thebanks of the St. Lawrence River, its population now had around four hundredthousand inhabitants. The population growth made for a network of prosperousvillages.
The county of Two Mountains, to the north of Montreal, and the Richelieu valley to the southeast, were good examples of this prosperity: "Its banks, wrote Joseph Bouchette, the surveyor general of Lower Canada, "are diversified on each side by many farms and extensive settlements, in a very high state of improvement; some neat, populous, and flourishing villages, Upper Canada was the fastest growing colony in the handsome churches, numerous mills of British Empire in the early 1830s. various kinds, good roads in all directions, with every other characteristic of a country inhabited by an industrious population."The parish of Saint-Denis on the Richelieu now had three thousand inhabitants.Charles Saint-Germain owned the biggest hatmaking business in the colony.François Gadbois sold his horse-drawncarriages in Quebec City, Montreal andeven in Upper Canada. But noteveryone was as prosperous.In the surrounding countryside,peasants cultivated land that was nottheir own. They lived under theseigneurial regime. Year after year theyhad to turn over a substantial portion oftheir harvest to the landlord. During the1870s and 1830s, land became more By the 1830s, Lower Canada had more than 400,000and more difficult to obtain and the inhabitants.rents became more and moreexpensive. A Petition against the Seigneurial Regime The seigneurialregime had been established during the era of New France, and it was intended topromote the development of agriculture and increase the population of the colony.
The majority of the seigneuries had been distributed along the Saint Lawrence River: near Quebec, Trois- Rivieres and Montreal (Ville Marie). At the end of the seventeenth century, other seigneuries were created along the Richelieu River, in Beauce and around Lake Champlain. The seigneurs, whether English or French, owned the land and demanded In Lower Canada, most farmers did not own their rents from the peasants who cultivated land but gave part of their harvest as payment to and lived on it. At the end of the 18th the landowner. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples century, in Lower Canada, most of the History) good land was taken and the seigneurs demanded higher and higher rents. Most families found this burden tooheavy to bear.The system angered the peasants. On November 23, 1832 the habitants of thecounty of Two Mountains sent a petition to their elected representatives:"(...) a great many seigneurs [...] treated these lands as if they had absoluteauthority over them, selling and transferring them at exorbitant prices, by means ofillegal contracts, while His Majestys Canadien subjects have not, until now, beenprotected against these abuses."The shortage of land forced the young habitants to clear lands in ever more remoteregions or to abandon agriculture altogether and find work in the city.Discontent was growing in thecountryside of Lower Canada. Louis Duquet and his family had to build a new homestead after they were evicted from their farm in Lower Canada for non-payment of rent. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)
The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 In June 1832, twoevents stirred up political conflict in Lower Canada: the Place dArmes by-election,which turned into a tragedy costing several lives, and the cholera epidemic.At the beginning of June, the Carrick, a ship that had come over from Ireland,reached Quebec with a few feverish immigrants on board. Three days later, cholera took its first victim. The illness spread like wildfire all the way to Montreal and then to Upper Canada. It quickly became an epidemic that moved through the shanty neighbourhoods of the urban poor, which were breeding grounds for contagion. The lack of sewers and garbage collection contributed to water Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, wrote contamination. Soon the epidemic was to his cousin during the 1832 cholera epidemic out of control and hundreds died each complaining of, "...the invasion of our uncultivated day, mostly in the large towns. land by British immigrants who threaten to drive us out of our country and reduce our "Canadien" population, year after year, by the spread of On June 14, 1832, La Minerve disease." (As portrayed by Benoit Girard in Canada: A Peoples History) newspaper verified the spread of cholera. "14 June, 1832: Since Monday morningMontreal is in turmoil and the alarm is growing every minute. There is no longerdoubt that cholera is present. We recommend that the public observe strictly theRegulations of the Board of Health."La Minerve tried to prevent panic from spreading, advising that:"There is no use in becoming alarmed.When the illness appears, one must see a doctor and follow his instructions. Theapothecaries have the necessary remedies in stock and their prices are affordable toall pocketbooks."In reality, doctors were overwhelmed and powerless. They thought cholera wastransmitted by fumes carried through the atmosphere. To purify the air, Englishofficers tried firing off cannons and the Sanitary Office burned tar.Alexander Hart, a Jewish merchant from Montreal, saw death all around him:"None of us go into town anymore.Many are moving into the country. Yesterday 34 corpses passed our house. Today,23... not counting those in the old burial Ground and in the Catholic ground. 12 carts
are employed by the Board of Health to carry away the dead who are interredwithout prayers."By the end of 1832, the epidemic had claimed 9,000 lives, more than half of them inLower Canada. Some Canadians held England responsible for this misfortune, citingits emigration policy for negligence, if not malevolence.In a letter to his cousin, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, spoke of thePlace dArmes by-election and the cholera epidemic:"The other subjects that seem to me most worthy of your attention at the presenttime are: the murder of our "Canadiens" on May 21st, which the governor has sinceofficially condoned; and the invasion of our uncultivated land by British immigrantswho threaten to drive us out of our country and reduce our "Canadien" population,year after year, by the spread of disease."This climate of death, fear and loathing helped kindle a political firestorm in LowerCanada. The Colonial Regime and the "Family Compact" In the nineteenthcentury, the colonial regime in Canada angered people who demanded ministerialaccountability. Men such as William Lyon Mackenzie of Upper Canada, Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia and Louis-Joseph Papineau in Lower Canada supported the right of the colonies to self-government. At the time, the ideals of justice and freedom, which spread during the French Revolution and the American Revolution, were also fermenting in the six colonies of British North America: William Lyon Mackenzie, editor of the Colonial Upper and Lower Canada, New Advocate in Upper Canada, advocated more Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova democratic government in British North America. (As Scotia and Newfoundland. portrayed by Martin Neufeld in Canada: A Peoples History) Since 1791, the inhabitants of the colonies except Newfoundland had the right to elect representatives to thelocal Houses of Assembly. (London didnt give Newfoundland the privilege of electinga House of Assembly in 1832). These colonial Houses of Assembly adopted laws buthad no real power.
A governor appointed by London andcouncillors named by him controlled thedecision-making process. As a result,there were constant conflicts betweenthe representatives of the people andan unelected government. Powerremained in the hands of an elite.In 1833, William Lyon Mackenzie, ajournalist, originally from Dundee inScotland, denounced the leaders of thecolony in an editorial in his newspaper, Joseph Howe, editor of the Novascotian, accused thethe Colonial Advocate: Halifax elite of stealing public money. (As portrayed by Randy Hughson in Canada: A Peoples History)"The family connection rules UpperCanada. A dozen nobodies, and a fewplacemen, pensioners and individuals of well-known narrow and bigoted principles:the whole of the revenue of Upper Canada are in reality at their mercy; - they arepaymasters, receivers, auditors, King, Lords and Commons."He denounced the privileged families of Canada who grew rich from the colony andcontrolled its destiny. He coined the expression "Family Compact". Mackenzie used his newspaper to publish the names, income and family connections of this circle of people. The Attorney General of Upper Canada, John Beverley Robinson, bitterly criticized Mackenzies actions and words: "Another reptile has sprung up in a Mr. William Mackenzie (...) a conceited red- The newspapers of British North America were headed fellow with an apron. (...) He small-scale operations but were able to provoke and said that I am the most subtle advocate irritate the colonial authorities. (As portrayed in of arbitrary power (...) what vermin!" Canada: A Peoples History) But remarks from the Attorney General didnt stop Mackenzie, who continuedhis virulent attacks:"I had long seen the country in the hands of a few shrewd, crafty, covetous men,under whose management one of the most lovely and desirable sections of Americaremained a comparative desert.The most obvious improvements were stayed; dissention was created amongclasses; large estates were wrested from their owners in utter contempt of even theforms of the courts."Joseph Howe was the son of a Loyalist but he too attacked the rules in his colony. Hecaused a scandal by accusing the Nova Scotian elite of stealing public money.
"In a young and poor country, where the sons of rich and favoured families alonereceive education at the public expence - where the many must toil to support theextortions and exactions of a few; where the hard earnings of the people arelavished on an Aristocracy, who repay their ill timed generosity with contempt andinsult; it requires no ordinary nerve in men of moderate circumstances and humblepretensions, to stand forward and boldly protest against measures which are fastworking the ruin of the Province."The leaders of the colony dragged Howe into court on the criminal charge ofdefamatory libel. Howe defended himself vigorously."I know them, as you know them - as the most negligent and imbecile, if not themost reprehensible body, that ever mismanaged a peoples affairs.They may expect much from the result of this trial; but before I have done withthem, I hope to convince them that they, and not I, are the real criminals here."When Howe was acquitted by a jury, his popularity was greater than ever and, likeMackenzie, he went into politics."We are desirous of a change, not such as shall devide us from our brethren acrossthe water, but which will ensure to us what they enjoy...Gentlemen, all we ask is what exists at home in England - a system of responsibilityto the people."In Lower Canada, the reformists were members of the Patriote party. Their leadersname was Louis-Joseph Papineau. The Reformers and the Patriotes During the 1830s,the maintenance of the colonial system and the concentration of power and wealth inthe hands of a few families of Upper and Lower Canadas elite fuelled the peoplesdiscontent. The Patriote Party was comprised of Lower Canadas reformers: mainly French Canadians and immigrants from Ireland, who shared a profound distrust of British power. Louis-Joseph Papineau, a seigneur and lawyer, was the leader of the Patriotes. Their main opposition was the English Party, which was mainly supported by Lower Canadians of Scottish, English or Louis-Joseph Papineau was leader of the Parti American origin and defended the Patriote, a group of Lower Canadian politicians who colonial government. controlled the elected but largely powerless Legislative Assembly. (As portrayed by Alain Fournier in Canada: A Peoples History) The reformist leaders, William Lyon Mackenzie of Upper Canada, and Joseph
Howe of Nova Scotia, publicly criticized the ruling families. Joseph Howe went evenfurther and accused the elite in Nova Scotia of stealing public money.In Lower Canada, Louis-Joseph Papineau was an advocate of American-styledemocracy even though he had once been an admirer of the British Constitution.He was particularly angered by thepower of the unelected LegislativeCouncil:"It is certain that in a time not longfrom now, all of America must becomerepublican. We need only to know thatwe live in America and to know in whatcondition we have lived there."The votes and measures adoptedeveryday by the Councillors may only Journalists Daniel Tracey and Ludger Duvernay werebe explained by their impassioned sentenced to 40 days in jail for defamatory libel after criticizing the colonial government. (Ashatred of the "Canadiens", their portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)insatiable lust for money and theirodious selfishness."Papineau rejected Great Britains colonial system in its entirety:"I do not believe it possible to be happy and to be treated fairly under the colonialsystem.How can a governor act justly... even one who sincerely desires to do so... when heis surrounded by such a pack of scoundrels?"Two journalists from Montreal also criticized the Legislative Council, which wasappointed by the governor. Daniel Tracey, an Irishman, was editor of The Vindicator.Ludger Duvernay, a French Canadian, published the newspaper La Minerve."As the present Legislative Council is perhaps our greatest nuisance", Duvernaywrote, "we ought to seize the means to rid ourselves of it and demand its abolition."La Minerve and The Vindicator spoke for the Patriote political movement that wasgathering momentum.For publishing their criticism, they were sentenced to 40 days in jail.
The Place dArmes By-Election In April and May1832, a by-election in Montreal set the Patriote party against the English party. The outcome of this election was three deaths are a farther deterioration of the political climate. The militants in the Patriote party were mostly French-Canadians and Irish immigrants, who shared a distrust of British power. Louis-Joseph Papineau was the leader of the Patriote Party. The English Party (also known as In the spring of1832, violence broke out between Tories) was mostly made up of supporters of the Parti Patriote and the English Party conservative businessmen of Scottish, during a hotly contested by-election. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) English or American origin. Its members supported the colonial government. During the by-election, the poll wouldremain open as long as voters continued to come forward. For the poll to close, onewhole hour would have to pass without a single vote being. An election could go onfor weeks. The Place dArmes election lasted for 22 days."April 26...It being ten oclock in the morning, thepoll has not yet been able to open dueto the tumult going on outside (...)"On May 21, the Patriote candidate tooka narrow lead. Emotions were runninghigh. A fight broke out and soldiersfrom the 15th regiment were called inand then opened fire in order todisperse the crowd.Three French Canadians were mortally Three French-Canadians were killed by gunfire fromwounded: Casimir Chauvin, Pierre Billet British troops in 1832 after fighting broke out between political rivals in Montreal.and François Languedoc. The day afterthe shooting, the Patriote candidate wasdeclared victorious. He won by a marginof four votes.Louis-Joseph Papineau, greatly upset by at the death of his compatriots, wrote to theGovernor, Lord Aylmer:"My heart is filled with sadness and my letter will find you in the same state, as youwill already have heard about yesterdays disastrous events that caused bloodshed in
our streets.The troops sent to protect His Majestys subjects fired upon them. Canada has neverbefore been afflicted with such miseries." The 92 Resolutions In Quebec, thecapital of Lower Canada, the Patriote Party had enjoyed a majority in the House ofAssembly for the last 15 years. However, the reforms it proposed were rarely accepted by the British government. The Patriote politicians demanded more power for the elected Assembly and insisted that the Legislative Council be elected by the people. In 1834, the Patriotes took their cause directly to London with the "92 Resolutions." This list was made up of In 1834, the Patriotes drew up a list of political all the grievances and claims of the grievances, called the 92 Resolutions, and sent it to Patriotes in Lower Canada. They the government in London. (As portrayed in Canada: demanded that the budget be controlled A Peoples History) by the Assembly. They wanted the same powers, privileges and immunities as the British Parliament. Furthermore,the Resolutions contained veiled threats of Lower Canadas independence andannexation to the United States."Resolved, that this House is no wise disposed to admit the excellence of the presentConstitution of Canada..."Louis-Joseph Papineau, leader of the Patriote Party, remained cautious:"We will not cease our demands for full political rights and power.And though we feel uneasy, we hope that the British government will at last grant usjustice. In this hope, we shall do nothing to hasten our separation from the mothercountry, unless it be to prepare and lead the people towards that day, which willknow neither monarchy nor aristocracy.">He hoped that the British government would finally grant the colony full autonomy:"(..). and considers it inappropriate and inaccurate that His Majestys Secretary ofState of the colonial office should claim that he conferred the institutions of GreatBritain on the two Canadas."The Patriotes protests and their landslide victory in the 1834 election brought abacklash from the English Party.John Molson, one of the most powerful businessmen in Montreal, issued a warning to
the Patriotes:"Recent events have roused us to a sense of impending danger (...) the French partymay yet be taught, that the majority upon which they count for success, will, in thehour of trial, prove a weak defence against the awakened energies of an insulted andoppressed people."Julie, Papineaus wife, spent long months in Montreal while her husband was involvedin parliamentary work in Quebec.She was wary of the English Party:"I harbour no idle fears but I can appreciate for what they truly are the rage and thehatred that this party bears towards us, and I see that our position is a lamentableone. They seek to prevail at all costs or trample us and if we do not have the energyto escape from their power they will certainly find ways of doing us harm." The Seventh Report on Grievances In 1835, WilliamLyon Mackenzie was now mayor of the new municipality of Toronto and member ofthe Upper Canada House of Assembly.He and the other Upper Canadian reformers made their protests known to the Britishgovernment in a 500-page document called the Seventh Report of Grievances. Asthe Patriotes did in Lower Canada, this report called the whole colonial system intoquestion:"One great excellence of the English constitution consists in the limits it imposes onthe will of a king, by requiring responsible men to give effect to it. In Upper Canadano such responsibility can exist. The lieutenant-governor and the British ministryhold in their hands the whole patronage of the province; they hold the soledomination of the country, and leave the representative branch of the legislaturepowerless and dependent."Joseph Howe was elected to the legislature in 1836 in Nova Scotia.In Halifax, political tension was mounting."I am approaching now the root of all our evils," wrote Howe in the Nova Scotian onFebruary 23, 1837, "... that gross and palpable defect in our local Government...Compared with the British Parliament, this House has absolutely no power."Howe also drew up a list of demands for political change. But he remained amoderate reformer; his Loyalist roots prevented him from going as far as Papineauand Mackenzie. He did not wish for a complete breaking of ties with Great Britain."I know that I shall hear the cries of republicanism and danger to the constitution...But the idea of republicanism, of independence, of severance from the MotherCountry, never crosses my mind... I wish to live and die a British subject - but not aBriton only in name."
Three years later, the British government refused all change and rejected the Ninety-Two Resolutions. The British government believed that accepting the demands of thePatriotes would mean the end of its colonial hold over British North America. Papineaus Speech at Saint-Charles In 1837, thePatriote Party and its leader, Louis-Joseph Papineau spread revolutionary ideas andappealed to the people to join them. After three years of deliberation, the British government rejected the 92 Resolutions. Many people joined in the protest and numerous public demonstrations were organized in the colony. The protest movement reached its climax at the Six Counties Assembly in October 1837. More than five thousand people gathered at Saint-Charles in the In 1837, the Patriotes started to organize public Richelieu Valley to hear Louis-Joseph rallies in open defiance of the government Lower Papineau speak: Canada. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) "Fellow citizens! Brothers of a common affliction! All of you, whatever origin language or religion you (may) be... Towhom equitable laws and the rights of man are dear..."We enjoin you now to adopt, thru (a) systematic organisation in your parishes andin your respective townships, an attitude which alone can win respect for yourselvesand success for your demands."Papineau urged the Patriotes to elect their own judges and militia officers to replacethose who remained loyal to the British Crown.
However, he harboured no illusions. He (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)knew that, without help from theAmerican republic and progressives inLondon that he and the Patriotes couldnot prevail:"Assemble now!.... and elect your own justices of the peace... as have done yourreformist brothers from Two Mountains, to protect the people from the vengeance ofthe enemy."For the radicals, Papineau had not gone far enough. Some English Canadians, suchas Dr. Wolfred Nelson, an English Canadian who supported the Patriote cause, andcalled for armed insurrection. He was born into an English protestant family from Sorel, had married a French Canadian and raised his children in a French-speaking, Catholic environment. Dr. Nelson called on Canadians to join the Patriotes in armed insurrection: "Well I believe that the moment has come to melt down our tin plates and tin spoons and forge them into bullets." Cyrille-Hector Côté, a doctor from Napierville, spoke at a Saint-Charles rally in 1837, "I also believe the time for speeches has passed, it is lead [bullets] that Cyrille-Hector Côté, a doctor from we must now send to our enemies." (As portrayed in Napierville, was of the same opinion: Canada: A Peoples History) "I also believe that the time for speeches has passed, it is lead that wemust now send to our enemies."While the Patriotes were meeting in Saint-Charles, a severe warning was echoingthrough the streets of Montreal.Peter McGill, President of the Bank of Montreal, spoke to a crowd of four thousandpeople gathered on the Place dArmes."We must admit their constitutional right to meet and discuss (...), and to petitionand remonstrate (...), if they feel or fancy themselves aggrieved; but any and all ofthem who overstep the bounds prescribed by the laws in doing so, who outrage thefeelings of loyal and well disposed peaceable citizens by overt acts verging onrebellion, ought to be made to understand, that such conduct can be no longertolerated with impunity."The Bishop of Montreal, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, believed the Patriotes capable ofrepeating all the excesses of the French Revolution.In a pastoral letter of October 24, 1837, he issued a warning to the Patriotes:
"Have you ever given serious thought to the horrors of civil war? Have you everimagined the streams of blood flooding your streets and countrysides, and thespectacle of the innocent caught up with the guilty in the same awful web ofdisaster? Have you considered that almost without exception, every popularrevolution is a bloodthirsty act? Unrest in Upper Canada In the autumn of1837, while anger was brewing in Lower Canada and the Patriotes were encouragingpeople to rise up and rebel, unrest was also spreading in Upper Canada.William Lyon Mackenzie, a member of the Upper Canada House of Assembly andMayor of Toronto, gave up all his expectations of Great Britain. London had rejected the Patriotes demands, in the form of the 92 Resolutions. Mackenzie saw the events of Lower Canada as a portent of what would happen in his own colony: "People of Upper Canada.... Canadians... Fellow colonists.... Behold the oppressors! In 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie traveled around In order to enslave a free People the Upper Canada countryside to mobilize support encamp soldiers all over their country! for political reform. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) (...) If the British Kingdom can tax the People of Lower Canada against their will, they will do so with you when youdare to be free."For several weeks, Mackenzie travelled through the countryside north of Toronto,mobilized dissatisfied people who for years had been asking in vain for schools,roads, and bridges."Oh, men of Upper Canada, would you murder a free people! Before you do sopause, and consider the world has its eyes on you -- history will mark your conduct -- beware lest they condemn."Oh who would not have it said of him that, as an Upper Canadian, ...
he died in the cause of freedom! To diefighting for freedom is truly glorious.Who would live and die a slave?"Mackenzie organized more than a dozenpublic meetings. He wanted to show theBritish government and the "FamilyCompact", the political and economicalelite of the colony, that people wantedreform. Mackenzie supported the William Lyon Mackenzies supporters began to train with weapons as they moved closer to open rebellionPatriote cause in Lower Canada. The in 1837. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoplesprotest movement gathered momentum History)in Upper Canada. Mackenziessupporters began training withweapons.These activities did not go unnoticed.John Macaulay, the surveyor general of Upper Canada, wrote to his mother:"In the rear of the Town the disaffected meet in squads with arms and are drillingand I have no doubt they are in correspondence with the Lower CanadianMalcontents - The time may not be far distant when our muskets may again (bear)requisition - not in foreign, but civil war - The Papineau and Mackenzie faction seemalmost infuriated and I do not see how matters can end but in a resort to arms."Despite the popular unrest, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Francis BondHead, wanted to show that he had the situation under control and sent all his troopsto Lower Canada, which was considered the real threat.By the late autumn of 1837, not one professional soldier remained in Toronto. Violence in Lower Canadas Countryside Beginning inOctober 1837, violence broke out in Lower Canadas countryside.In the county of Two Mountains and in the Richelieu Valley, Patriotes harassed localofficials who refused to join them.
intimidated local officials who refused to join their At the same time, the unrest was cause. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) spreading in Upper Canada. The spreading violence preoccupied theBritish military commander in North America, General John Colborne, a veteran ofthe Napoleonic wars. On November 12, 1837, he wrote to the Governor General ofCanada, Archibald Acheson, the Earl of Gosford:"(The) revolutionists are running over a large section of the country armed andmenacing every individual who hesitates to join them. (...) If we neglect to profit bythe offers from the Upper Province and those of the inhabitants of Montreal to assistby raising corps, while we permit the declared revolutionists to arm quietly, we shalllose the Province."In Montreal, the arrival of soldiers from the neighbouring colonies heightened thetension.The Patriote leaders retreated to their strongholds: Saint-Benoît and Saint-Eustachein the county of Two Mountains, or Saint-Denis and Saint-Charles in the RichelieuValley.Among them was Louis-JosephPapineau.Arrest warrants for high treason wereissued against them all by theauthorities. General Colborne wanted tocapture the leaders of the revolt:"The civil authorities (...) have called forthe military to assist them inapprehending these persons (...). It isof the greatest importance to drag the General John Colborne commanded the Britishleaders of the revolt from their meeting forces during the 1837 rebellion. (As portrayed by Dennis St. John in Canada: A Peoples History)places."General Colborne ordered troops intothe Richelieu Valley.
He wanted to strike first, before the insurgents could mount a serious milita Patriote leaders retreated to their strongholds in Saint Benoit, Saint Eustache and along the Richeliau River in fall 1837. The Battle of Saint-Denis The first gunshotsof rebellion were fired on November 23, 1837 at Saint-Denis, in the Richelieu Valley. Three hundred English soldiers confronted eight hundred Patriotes. About a hundred of the rebels took up positions in front of the Saint-Germain house on the main road to Sorel. Louis- Joseph Papineau and the other Patriote leaders placed Saint-Denis fate in the hands of Dr. Wolfred Nelson. From a Sorel English family and married to a French Canadian, Nelson was one of the most radical Patriotes. On November 23, 1837, 300 British soldiers confronted 800 Patriotes at St. Denis at the start of Daniel Lysons was a lieutenant in the the armed rebellion. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) First Regiment of Foot, the Royal Scots. They had a reputation for being one of the toughest units in the British Army:"It soon became evident that the rebels were on the alert; the church bells wereheard in the distance ringing the alarm, and parties of skirmishers appeared on ourleft flank."Wolfred Nelson recounted:"I told my companions that their lives were sought after, and that they must sellthem as dearly as they could; to be steady, take good aim, lose no powder and allattend to their duty, their self-preservation."The battle went on for six hours.
But musket fire was not highlyaccurate, and so there were relativelyfew victims. Philippe Napoléon Pacaud,a notary, was in the thick of the action:"I dont know how many I killed, but Ifired without remorse. It was not somuch from a sentiment of insults andinjustices, but the old instinct oftraditional hatred of the races thatawoke in us; we were fightingdespotism, but it was above all the The Patriote rebels surprised the British with aEnglish that we loved to aim at." stubborn resistance at the Battle of St. Denis on November 23, 1837. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)The stubborn resistance took theEnglish by surprise, and theirammunition was running low.Finally, Colonel Charles Gore ordered his men to retreat. Twelve soldiers and 13 Patriotes were dead. Louis-Joseph Papineau was not at Saint-Denis to celebrate the victory. Some said that Wolfred Nelson ordered him to leave the village for his own safety. Others accused him of fleeing the battlefield. While his men were celebrating, Nelson reflected on the consequences of this battle. After six hours of fighting, British soldiers retreated from St. Denis leaving 12 soldiers and 13 Patriotes "We have now passed the Rubicon - our dead. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) very lives are at stake - there is no alternative; even a mean, cringing submission will scarcely protect us fromevery kind of ignominy, insult and injury, worse to bear than death itself, if, indeed,this event do not befall us at once.We see, now, but the painful necessity of taking up arms in good earnest, andmanfully awaiting the occurrences which our attitude may provoke."General John Colborne was shaken by the Patriote victory. He wrote to the lieutenantgovernor of Upper Canada, Sir Francis Bond Head:
"The Civil War has now commenced in this Province. I entreat you, therefore, to callout the Militia of Upper Canada and endeavour to send to Montreal as many corps asmay be inclined to volunteer their services at this critical period."All eyes were now turned to Lower Canada.The battle of Saint-Denis was only the first in a series of bloody confrontations.Rebellion would spread all the way to Upper Canada. Hundreds of men would fall onthe battlefields. Women and children would be dragged into misfortune and despair. The Battle of Saint-Charles In the autumn of1837, armed conflict erupted in Lower Canada after decades of political struggle. In November, at Saint-Denis in the Richelieu Valley, the Patriotes won an unexpected victory. At the same time, encouraged by this news, rebels in Upper Canada decided to march on Toronto. On November 25th, 1837, the British army was determined to crush the Patriote resistance. The fate of the rebellion in Lower Canada would be decided at Saint-Charles, in the Richelieu Valley. British troops killed 150 Patriotes and dealt a severe blow to the Lower Canada rebels at the Battle of Two hundred and fifty Patriotes took up Saint Charles in the Richelieu Valley on November 25, 1837. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples position behind a barricade they had History) thrown up around the seigneurial manor house. Colonel Wetherall was prepared for the attack with his 425 soldiers from Fort Chambly.
Jean-Philippe Boucher-Belleville, a journalist and teacher, was one of the rebels. Inhis Diary of aPatriote, he wrote:"We were on the defensive, there was no doubt about it, and for us the wholequestion came down to this: were we to yield up our property, our women andchildren, to a horde of barbarians, without so much as a struggle? To barbarians whohad come, not to obey the law, but to plunder us by fire and sword and fill their ownpockets?Much as in St.Denis, most of our brave blue-hattedPatriotes showed a zeal and couragethat could only bring us victory. Eventhe women cast bullets and madecartridges; the elderly and childrenwanted to share in the dangers ofcombat."The painter, Charles Beauclerk, was oneof the officers in command of the Britishsoldiers at Saint-Charles. Jean-Philippe Boucher-Belleville was one of the 250"Colonel Wetherall hoped that a display Patriote rebels at the Battle of Saint-Charles. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)of his force would induce somedefection among the infatuated people;but, unfortunately for the sake ofhumanity, it was far otherwise.This gave rise to an order for the three centre companies, to fix bayonets and chargethe works."Covered by their comrades fire, the Royal Scots, one of Britains fiercest regiments,closed ranks and advanced on the barricade.The opposing forces were not equally matched. Most of the Patriotes, who werebadly equipped and inexperienced, surrendered. But others refused to admit defeat.The Battle of Saint-Charles ended in a bloodbath. One hundred and fifty Patrioteswere killed in combat but only seven British soldiers.Louis-Joseph Papineau, Wolfred Nelson, Jean-Philippe Boucher-Belleville andhundreds of Patriotes fled the Richelieu Valley to seek refuge in the United States.Some were captured and ended up in the Prison of Montreal. The Battle of Yonge Street Encouraged by thenews of the Patriote victory at Saint-Denis in the Richelieu Valley, rebels in UpperCanada decided to prepare their attack at the beginning of December 1837.William Lyon Mackenzie, a member of the Upper Canadian Legislative Assembly andMayor of Toronto, was convinced the time was ripe to march on Toronto.
In the absence of British troops, who hade all been dispatched to Lower Canada, he hoped to seize power and form a provisional government in Upper Canada. Most of Mackenzies followers were disaffected farmers. He summoned them to Montgomerys Tavern, a few miles north of Toronto. On December 4th, only 150 men had answered On December 4, 1837, 150 men assembled at Mackenzies call. They were tired, Montgomerys Tavern, just north of Toronto, to plan famished and poorly organized. an armed revolt against British authorities. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) A rebel recounted: "Little Mac conducted himself like acrazy man all the time we were at Montgomerys. He went about storming andscreaming like a lunatic, and many of us felt certain he was not in his right senses."Mackenzie and his second-in-command, Samuel Lount, a surveyor and blacksmith,were unable to agree when exactly they should march on Toronto.They decided to sleep on it. The next day, Mackenzie and Lount decided to act.Twenty militiamen, loyal to the British crown, were waiting for them along YongeStreet. Mackenzie gave this account of what happened next:"Colonel Lount and those in the front fired - and instead of stepping to one side tomake room for those behind to fire, fell flat on their faces. The next rank did thesame thing. Many of the country people, when they saw the riflemen in front fallingdown and heard the firing, they imagined that those who fell were killed by theenemys fire, and took to their heels. This was almost too much for the humanpatience.The city would have been ours in an hour, probably without firing a shot. But 800ran, and unfortunately the wrong way."Two days later, another confrontation took place. This time it was Mackenzies menwho were waiting along Yonge Street to confront the advancing militia. Half therebels had firearms; the rest only had pikes and cudgels.The clash was brief. The rebels dropped their weapons in front of the soldiers andfled. Militiamen and volunteers ransacked Montgomerys tavern and set it on fire.Mackenzie, along with some of his comrades, made his way to the United States toseek refuge. But others were not so lucky. Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews werehanged in front of the Toronto jail four months later.The rebellion in Upper Canada lasted less than a week.
The Battle of Saint-Eustache and its Aftermath After the battles ofSaint-Charles and Saint-Denis, there remained only one rebel stronghold in LowerCanada: the county of Two Mountains, to the north-west of Montreal. On December 14 1837, General John Colborne led an expedition to the village of Saint-Eustache. A young woman, Émélie Berthelot, watched his arrival."At ten oclock in the morning, on a Thursday... a cold, clear beautiful day... theEnglish troops marched down the Kings Road, fifteen hundred strong, infantry,artillery, cavalry, the officers in full dress regalia. (...) The entire parade filed by at aleisurely pace, with a kind of defiance."For most of the Patriotes, resistance against such a force seemed impossible. Theyretreated.One of the Patriote leaders, Dr. Jean-Olivier Chénier, was determined to fight back.He and a few dozen men occupied the village church.General Colborne ordered his artillery tofire on the Patriote stronghold. Theparish priest, Jacques Paquin, who wasopposed to the rebellion, witnessed thecannonade."All the cannons began firing together,battering the church with astonishingrapidity. The masonry was extremelysolid and resisted a tremendous numberof cannonballs as they were fired off,one after the other." Patriote rebels and British troops fought in a church in the village of Saint-Eustache on December 14, 1837. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History)The church held out against the cannonfire for two hours. At dusk, GeneralColborne ordered a detachment of theRoyal Scots to dislodge the Patriotes from their fortress at all costs. LieutenantLysons was among them."We got round to the back of the church and found a small door leading into thesacristy which we battered in (...).We then turned to our left and went into the main body of the church (...) here therebels began firing down our heads. We could not get up to them for the staircaseswere broken down, so Ormsby lighted a fire behind the altar and got his men out."Before leaving the church, the soldiers set fire to the altar cloth. The Patriotes fearedbeing roasted alive and so one by one had to flee.
Father Paquin witnessed the last moments of the battle."Realizing that all hope was lost, Dr. Chenier saw that he could no longer defendhimself from inside the church, for it had completely succumbed to the flames.He gathered up several of his men and jumped out of the windows with them, on theconvent side. He was trying to escape, but he could not get out of the cemetery, andwas soon struck by a bullet and collapsed. He died almost immediately."Seventy Patriotes and 3 soldiers died.In the days that followed, soldiers and volunteers terrorized the county of TwoMountains. Saint-Eustache and Saint-Benoît were looted and burned. In Saint-Joachim, Sainte-Scholastique and Sainte-Thérèse, the army burned the houses ofthe rebellions leaders.Some of the rebels tried to make it to the American border. But hundreds were takenprisoner. Dr.Wolfred Nelson and the journalist Jean-Philippe Boucher-Belleville were among them.Louis-Joseph Papineau, exiled in the United States, wrote to his wife Julie, who hadtaken refuge in Saint-Hyacinthe with their children:"My dear and cherished wife - In my (...) flight I escaped so many and such closedangers, felt such tormenting anguish at the sight of the misfortunes of my country,my family, my friends (...) I sometimes think, in spite of the immense disasterssuffered, that Providence will one day shine on us, liberating our unfortunatecountry, and uniting our family once again."Julie replied to him:When your letter arrived telling us that our future is as uncertain as the present (...)I was utterly disheartened.Now that martial law has been reinstated and the troops to be deployed throughoutthe countryside have arrived, I am terribly afraid that we are to have our share oftroubles, just as we had for a good part of the winter." The Frères Chasseurs (Hunters Lodge) After the battles ofSaint-Charles, Saint-Denis and Saint-Eustache in the autumn of 1837, the Patriotesseemed to have been dispersed forever.
But the beginning of 1838, some radical Patriotes formed a secret society called the Frères Chasseurs (also known as Hunters Lodge). The Frères Chasseurs were preparing a new insurrection when a new Governor General, John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham, was sent to Canada to investigate the causes of the rebellion.The organization recruited members in Lower Canada and among exiled Patriotes inthe United States. But Louis-Joseph Papineau dissociated himself from the group. Hebelieved that the United States would refuse to back a new uprising, and heconcluded that a second rebellion would end in failure.Robert Nelson, a respected Montreal surgeon, led the Frères Chasseurs.He was the brother of Wolfred, who hadparticipated in the battles of Saint-Charles and Saint-Denis and who hadbeen imprisoned in 1837. With him wasChevalier de Lorimier, an idealisticnotary who yearned to take up the fightonce again.The Frères Chasseurs hoped for broadsupport. Recruits had to take an oath:"I solemnly swear, freely and before Lower Canadian rebels called the "Frères Chasseurs"almighty God, to observe the secret and swore to give their lives for freedom before a second rebellion in autumn 1838. (As portrayed in Canada:mysterious signs of the Hunters Lodge, A Peoples History)to obey all the rules and regulations theSociety may establish. I commit to thisunreservedly, failing which I consent tomy property being destroyed and my own neck severed to the bone."Joseph Séné was one of the recruits."(I was told) that the Americans would come...with arms and that they would also be supported by men from other countries, whowould all rise up in unison, and that with these forces we would attack at the sametime in different places, that the present government would be overthrown and thatanother based on the government of the United States would be established."In the autumn of 1838, the Frères Chasseurs sparked a second rebellion in LowerCanada. Another faction of the society organized raids along the American borderincluding at Fort Malden, Fighting Island, the Thousand Islands, Short Hills andPrescott.
The Second Rebellion and its Reprisals In the autumn of1838, while a group of Patriotes, the Frères Chasseurs, sparked a second rebellion inLower Canada. One of the the Frères Chasseurs first targets was the manor house of the seigneury at Beauharnois. Inside were the seigneurs son, Edward Ellice, and his wife Jane, who saw her captors as French revolutionaries: "My sister and I were left seated en chemise de nuit and robe de chambre, in the midst of five or six of the most ruffian looking men I ever saw except in Lower Canada rebel Chevalier de Lorimier wrote, my dreams of Robespierre and without "Long live independence," a few hours before his a single being to give us either advice execution for high treason after the 1837-38 or assistance." rebellion. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) The second revolution was quickly defeated. Julie Papineau, who had joined her husband in the UnitedStates, wrote to her son, Amédée:"You say you do not understand why the country has not risen up en masse? Afterall, the people were told that they would be provided with arms and money and athat a great army would come from the States: they were told...a thousand tales."The whole region south of Montreal paid a high price for the second uprising. Athousand Glengarry Highlanders, militiamen from Upper Canada, burned and pillagedeverything in their path.A Montreal Herald journalist described the reprisals."What an awful sight!...All the country back of Laprairie presented the frightfulspectacle of a vast expanse of livid flame (...) It is sad to reflect on the terribleconsequences of the revolt, of the irreparable ruin of so great a number of humanbeings, whether innocent or guilty.Nevertheless the supremacy of the laws must be maintained inviolate, the integrityof the Empire respected, and peace and prosperity assured to the English, even atthe expense of the whole Canadian people."Jane Ellice also witnessed to the devastation:"The Glengarries boast is "No fear of our being forgotten, for weve left a trail sixmiles broad all thro the country." They seem to be a wild set of men. One of themtold me that the houses they had spared in coming down the country, they wouldsurely burn in going back."
Hundreds of rebels were convicted of high treason. In Upper Canada, 17 men wereexecuted.In Lower Canada, 12 men died on the gallows. Chevalier de Lorimier, an idealisticnotary, was one of them. Before being executed, he wrote these words:"I have only a few hours left to live but I wish to share this precious time betweenmy religious duties and those I owe my compatriots; for them I die the ingloriousdeath of the common murderer, for them I leave behind my young children and mywife who have no means of support, and for them I die crying: Long live freedom!Long live independence!More than 140 prisoners from Upper and Lower Canada were deported. Lord Durhams Mission In the spring of1838, a new Governor General arrived in Quebec, John George Lambton, first Earl ofDurham.His orders were to investigate the causes of the rebellion. He was an aristocrat, aliberal and a reformer. He was charged with a delicate mission:"I beg you to consider me as a friend and arbitrator - ready at all times to listen toyour wishes, complaints, and grievances, and fully determined to act with thestrictest impartiality."Lord Durhams first task was to decide the fate of the Patriotes languishing in prison.On Queen Victorias coronation day, 150 prisoners were freed. In exchange, eightleaders pleaded guilty, and were exiled to Bermuda.Among them was Wolfred Nelson who was preparing to leave the land of his birth:"We belong to our country and we will willingly sacrifice ourselves on the altar of herliberties.We have revolted neither against the person of Her Majesty, nor against hergovernment, but against a vicious colonial administration."Patriote leaders who had taken refuge in the United States were banished for life byLord Durham. In a letter to Queen Victoria, Lord Durham prided himself on havingrestored peace to the colony:"Not one drop of blood has been shed. The guilty have received justice, themisguided mercy; but at the same time, security is afforded to the loyal andpeaceable subjects of this hitherto distracted province."But Lord Durhams mission ended abruptly.In the autumn of 1838, the British government disavowed him. Lord Melbourne, thePrime Minister, criticized him for exceeding his powers by sentencing the Patrioteleaders into exile without trial. He promptly resigned and returned to England.
"I little expected the reward I have received from home, - disavowal andcondemnation. In these circumstances I have no business here - My authority isgone - all that rests is military power, that can be better wielded by a soldier, and SirJohn Colborne will, no doubt, do it efficiently," wrote Lord Durham.As Lord Durham set sail for England, a second rebellion broke out in Lower Canada.This uprising was organized by the Frères Chasseurs, a group of radical Patriotes.Their first victories were fleeting. In less than a week the rebellion was snuffed out. 1839 - Lord Durhams Report By 1839, therebellions were over but Upper and Lower Canada were plunged into a period ofdespair and bitterness.More than two hundred Patriotes and Upper Canadian rebels had died on thebattlefield while others had been hanged or sent into exile. The forces of reform weredecisively defeated and the economy took a turn for the worse. Poor harvestsreduced numerous many farmers to poverty.Upon his return to London in 1838, John George Lambton, the Earl of Durham tabledhis report, which outlined the conclusions he had drawn during his stay in the Britishcolonies of North America. Lord Durham paid particular attention to the relationsbetween the English and the "Canadiens" of Lower Canada. In his opinion, it wasnecessary to give the elected assembly more power."It is not by weakening but in strengthening the influence of the people on theirgovernment," he wrote, "that it will be possible, in my view, to bring about concordwhere discord has so long reigned, and to introduce a hitherto unknown regularityand vigor into the administration of the provinces."He proposed that the Governor choose his advisers - in effect, his cabinet - fromamong men who enjoyed the confidence of the Assembly.In this respect, Durham seemed to agree with the reformists Louis-Joseph Papineau,of Lower Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie, of Upper Canada and Joseph Howe, inNova Scotia.Durham realized there was another, more serious problem, in the case of LowerCanada."I expected to find a conflict between the government and the people: instead, Ifound two warring nations within a single State; I found a struggle, not of principles,but of races.And I realized that it would be pointless to try to improve the laws or institutionswithout succeeding in extinguishing the mortal hatred which now divides theinhabitants of Lower Canada into two hostile groups: French and English."To solve the problem, Durham proposed to unite Upper and Lower Canada, as theEnglish party had previously suggested. By uniting the two Canadas, the Englishwould become dominant and the French Canadians would become a minority. Hethought that French Canadians, whom he described as a people "without history andwithout literature", would gradually abandon their identity.
"The language, the laws and the character of the North American continent areEnglish, and every other race than the English race is in a state of inferiority.It is in order to release them from this inferiority that I wish to give the Canadiansour English character."Despite Lord Durhams recommendations, the British government refused to give thecolonists more power. The British ministers worried that colonial autonomy wouldlead to the disintegration of the British Empire. Nevertheless, the uniting of the twoCanadas was an opportunity to solve the French problem once and for all.In Halifax in 1840, Joseph Howe, who had been a member of the Assembly for fouryears, was in favour of Lord Durhams reforms and wrote to the British ColonialMinister in London to support them.Howe was deeply disappointed when the government refused to reform the colonialparliamentary system."We must hasten," wrote Howe, "to bring to the colonies the principle of self-government, a government accountable to the people. It is the only straightforwardand certain solution capable of curing a deep rooted and far-reaching affliction." The Reform Alliance In 1840, the Britishgovernment decided to unite Upper and Lower Canada. However, it refused to reform the colonial parliamentary system, as recommended by Lord Durham, the former Governor General of the colonies of British North America. Robert Baldwin, a lawyer from one of Torontos richest families, now tried to pick up the pieces of the reform project. He sent a letter to Louis-Hyppolite La In 1840, Robert Baldwin proposed that the Lower Fontaine who, since the exile of most of Canadian Patriotes join Upper Canadian reformers to the Patriote leaders, had become one of form a reform majority in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. (As portrayed by Ted Atherton in the most influential politicians in Lower Canada: A Peoples History) Canada. La Fontaine had risen from modest origins in Boucherville to become a respected lawyer and politician.Baldwin proposed an alliance between the Upper Canadian reformers and the LowerCanadian Patriotes. Together, they would command a reform majority in the newHouse of Assembly when the two Canadas were united."There is, and must be no question of races.
It were madness on one side, and guilt,deep guilt on both to make such aquestion. The Reformers of UpperCanada are ready to make everyallowance for the unfortunate state ofthings and are resolved, as I believethem to be, to unite with their LowerCanadian Brethren cordially as friends,and to afford every assistance inobtaining justice."La Fontaine saw the Union of the French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave aCanadas as a despotic and unjust act, boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayedas far as Lower Canada was concerned. by Robert Daviau in Canada: A Peoples History)But Baldwins letter gave him hope."It is in the interest of the reformers ofboth provinces to come together in the legislature, in a spirit of peace, union,friendship and fraternity.United action is needed now more than ever."In an open letter to voters at Terrebonne on August 28 1840, La Fontaine declared:"I have no doubt that the advocates of reform in Upper Canada feel the need, as wedo, [to join forces] and that, in the first sitting of the legislature, they will show ussome unequivocal evidence of this, which I hope will be the sign of a lasting andmutual bond of trust."In February 1841, United Canadas new constitution came into effect. Kingston waschosen as capital. In the new House of Assembly, the two former provinces had thesame number of representatives; a system designed to reduce the political clout ofFrench Canadians.The reform alliance underwent a baptism of fire in the first election after the defeatof the Rebellions.
1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union In February 1841,United Canadas new constitution came into effect. Upper Canada became West Canada and Lower Canada was known as East Canada. Even though Lower Canada had approximately 200,000 more inhabitants than Upper Canada, the two former provinces had the same number of members in the new Legislative Assembly. The system was designed to reduce the political clout of French Canadians and to facilitate their assimilation. English became the official Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine withdrew from a Lower language of the legislature and Kingston Canadian election when confronted by a mob near was chosen as capital. the only polling place in a mostly English village. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) The British government refused to reform the colonial parliamentary system to make it more democratic. Asit stood, the Governor General and councillors that the British government appointedstill held almost all the power.During the election of 1841, Lord Sydenham, the Governor General, supported theConservative cause: in Lower Canada he modified electoral constituencies and set uppolling offices as far as possible from villages that had a majority French Canadianpopulation.During the election, there waswidespread violence and even death.The army would only intervene todefend candidates from the EnglishParty.Louis-Hyppolite La Fontaine wasseeking re-election in Terrebonne, acounty he represented before theRebellions. In his riding, the pollingoffice had been placed at the entranceto New Glasgow, a village that was In 1841, the Act of Union united Upper and Lowermostly English. When La Fontaine and Canada into one colony - Kingston the capital - with one governor, one elected assembly and onehis supporters showed up to vote, a language, English.mob was waiting. To avoid bloodshed,La Fontaine was forced to withdraw:"And so I informed the reporting officer that in order to avoid bloodshed and themassacre of great numbers, I was withdrawing from the contest."
Without La Fontaine in the House of Assembly, the reform alliance was in danger.Robert Baldwin asked his father, who was running as a candidate in a Toronto riding,to withdraw and to let La Fontaine run in his place:"I think it would be very desirable that you should even tho you may have alreadyaccepted the nomination for North York suggest to them the expediency of acceptingyour retirement and of returning Mr. La Fontaine, if he will accept the nominationinstead of you. I am satisfied that nothing could be done at this conjuncture thatwould have a better effect upon the state of parties in the House than his return justnow for North York."William Baldwin accepted his sons proposition.The francophone candidate won the election in the Upper Canadian riding of NorthYork. In 1849, La Fontaine returned the favour to Robert Baldwin, who was electedin the riding of Rimouski, in the Lower Saint Lawrence.These gestures of goodwill strengthened the alliance between reformers from bothCanadas and the personal friendship of the two men.In the years to come, Baldwin and La Fontaine together led the battle for agovernment run by the peoples elected representatives.And La Fontaine could rely on Baldwins support to restore the French language inParliament. A Responsible Government Once the BritishEmpire adopted a policy of free trade, there was less reason to control the internalpolitics of its most developed colonies.The Great Famine that was devastating Ireland forced England to adopt thismeasure. In order to come to the aid of its victims, England had to be in the positionto buy food products, above all wheat, at the least cost. This measure was hailed bythe merchants and the English industrialists. They could now procure raw materialswhere they were the cheapest.For more than 50 years, the people of Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick,Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had the right to elect representatives to thetheir House of Assembly Newfoundland was not granted this privilege until 1832. Butthe elected representatives had very little power. The Governor, appointed by theBritish government, selected his advisers and none of them came from the House ofAssembly.In November 1847, Lord Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies, declared to JohnHarvey, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia:"It is neither possible nor desirable, to govern any of the British provinces of NorthAmerica in opposition to the opinion of its inhabitants."
In 1848, the British government finally granted British North Americas reformerswhat they had been after for years: the power to govern themselves.Henceforth, even though they were appointed by London, the Colonial governorswere obliged to choose members of the Executive Council from those elected to theHouse of Assembly.Nova Scotia became the first colony of the British Empire to obtain responsiblegovernment. The Reformers Victory At the beginning of1848, Joseph Howes reform party won the elections in Nova Scotia and took power,forming the first colonial government within the British Empire to be popularlyelected. Henceforth, the party that held the majority in the Assembly would lead the colony. Howe became Premier: "It will be our pride to make Nova Scotia a Normal School for the rest of theColonies," wrote Joseph Howe, "showing them how representative Institutions maybe worked, so as to insure internal tranquility, and advancement, in subordination tothe paramount interest and authority of the Empire."A few weeks earlier, in December 1847, United Canada was in the middle of anelection. The reformers, led by Baldwin and La Fontaine, were victorious there aswell.La Fontaine wrote:"...the goal of the union of the two provinces was the destruction of the FrenchCanadians.Since then, things have changed. Theauthor of this measure was mistaken.He wanted to lay low a whole categoryof citizens. But today the facts showthat everyone is on an equal footing."It was a great victory for RobertBaldwin. While addressing voters in theriding of York, he declared:"The Province has passed through along and arduous struggle for the French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave aestablishment of a system of boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayedgovernment founded on the broad basis by Robert Daviau in Canada: A Peoples History)of British Constitutional principles. Yourfavour, and the confidence of a largeportion of the people of my country,placed me in a position in which I was called upon to perform no unimportant part in
the great battle of the constitution.The battle has been fought. The victory has been achieved."Louis-Joseph Papineau received amnesty in 1845 and returned to Canada. Theformer leader of the Patriotes was elected in the county of Saint-Maurice in the 1848election, and called for repeal of the Union. But times had changed. He did not findmany supporters for his views, apart from the young radicals of the newspaperLAvenir. His former allies had moved over to support La Fontaine. Wolfred Nelson,the hero of Saint-Denis, accused his former leader of cowardly flight from thebattlefield in 1837. Newspapers circulated rumors in the hopes of discreditingPapineau. He abandoned public life and withdrew to his manor at Montebello.By now, almost all the Patriotes and Upper Canadian rebels had been grantedamnesty. In 1849, William Lyon Mackenzie was the last to request and obtainamnesty. The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test In 1848, UnitedCanadas Parliament was now located in Montreal. The Baldwin-La Fontaine reform government introduced a bill that would put self-government to its first, crucial test. It proposed paying compensation to Lower Canadians whose property had been destroyed during the Rebellions. All those who could prove their losses, and had not been convicted of sedition, would be compensated. Self-government was put to a crucial test in 1849 when politician Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine proposed In the spring, the new Governor paying compensation to Lower Canadians whose General, Lord Elgin, a skillful diplomat property was destroyed during the Rebellions. (As portrayed in Canada: A Peoples History) from a powerful Scottish family, was faced with a difficult decision. If he did not accept the Rebellion Losses Bill, he would undermine the foundation ofresponsible government. If he did approve the bill, then he would antagonize a goodpart of the English population of Lower Canada, who saw it as a measure to rewardtraitors:"A good deal of excitement and bad feeling has been stirred (...) The oppositionleaders who are very low in the World at the moment, have taken advantage of thecircumstance to work upon the feelings of the old loyalists as opposed to Rebels, ofBritish as opposed to French, and of Upper Canada as opposed to Lower, and thus toprovoke from various parts of the Province the expression of not very temperate ormeasured discontent."Lord Elgin finally decided to accept the bill.
As he left Parliament, an angry mobawaited him.Many of the English in Montreal feltbetrayed by the governor and byEngland.On April 25 1849, the Montreal Gazetteissued a call to arms:"The Disgrace of Great Britainaccomplished! Governor General Elgin approved the controversial Rebellion Losses Bill proposed by political reformersCanada Sold and Given Away! (...) in 1849. (As portrayed in Canada: A PeoplesThe End has begun. History)Anglo-Saxons you must live for thefuture.Your blood and your race will now besupreme (...)A Mass Meeting will be held on the Place dArmes this evening at 8 oclock.To the struggle, now is your time."That evening, the crowd marched in fury on Parliament.The rioters broke down the doors and set fire to the building, which housed both theParliament and the parliamentary library