While the idea of cutting a channel to safely carry cargo and people across the Niagara Penisula was not a new one by the time William Hamilton Merritt came along and pushed the idea forward to completion, Merritt is the one credited with the concept. William’s father, Thomas Merritt served under Sir John Graves Simcoe in the Queen’s Rangers during the American Revolution. After the war ended Thomas and his wife Catharine Hamilton settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick for some time. But the call of home beckoned and the two returned to Bedford, New York. In Bedford, on the 3rd of July 1795 thatRead More →

Of the four fathers of confederation, I’ve explored in these blog posts the one with the strangest story, and the youngest in both age and political experience is Thomas D’Arcy McGee. Born the 13th of April 1825 in Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland. Raised by Irish Roman Catholic Patriots, much of his early education came from his mother, who as a Dublin Bookseller filled McGee with the stories of the Irish heroes of old. His knowledge continued in the illegal Hedge Schools where he learned of the past and ongoing struggles for Irish independence from British Occupation. His experience continued when his family moved to WexfordRead More →

It should come as no surprise that at the mention of Sir John A MacDonald, you get a lot of negative feedback. He managed to in his time attract a lot of controversies. Like his law career, he drew as much positive attention as he does negative today. Born the 11th of January 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of a somewhat successful business owner by age five he and his family had immigrated to Canada settling in Kingston, Upper Canada. While his father continued to see moderate success in running various mills and businesses, most of the family income would go towards John’s education.Read More →

Sir Francis Hincks, the proverbial third wheel in the reform movement and a figure that I knew nothing of until I started researching for this project. And while generally overshadowed by the likes of his predecessor in Robert Baldwin and his successor Sir Allan Napier MacNab as Premier of the Province of Canada his role in creating the modern province is fairly essential. The meeting of Robert Baldwin and Louis La Fontaine may have never happened if it was not for Hincks. Born the 4th of December 1807 in Cork Ireland, Francis was the youngest son of Reverend Thomas Dix Hincks. From his youth, HincksRead More →

Like Robert Baldwin, Louis Hypolite-La Fontaine is a figure in Canadian History that I have never learned about or even knew existed until I started researching this project. And even then, he nearly ended up playing a secondary role in my narrative. I quickly realised that if I had done that it would have done a great disservice to his role in Canadian History and his foundational efforts from the run-up to the Lower Canada Rebellions and into the establishment of Responsible Government and the unified reform movement in the Province of Canada. Born the 4th of October, 1807 the fourth son of a BouchervilleRead More →

If you took a close look at Robert Baldwin as a man, it might surprise you to think of the amount of change for the good he brought to Canada in our Pre-Confederation history. And while I have encountered many exciting figures throughout this project, I took time to look at each one as a human. Each one presented not as a hero, but as a human complete with their flaws. None stood out to me more than Baldwin. Baldwin had the chance to have all the power he wanted, yet he did not wish to power for his gain but to put government powerRead More →

John Lambton is the single man who shaped our view of the rebellions of 1837-8 for better or worse and can take the blame for the general mistrust between English and French Canada, born on the 12th of April 1792 in the City of Westminster, where the centre of the British Parliament sits even to this day. He knew little of his father who passed away in 1797 when John was only five. His mother quickly remarried but his step-father had little desire in raising John and his brother. Instead, the boys were raised by a family friend. Nevertheless, John was well off, being theRead More →

William Lyon MacKenzie, not to be confused with William Lyon MacKenzie King (remember that for later), is more myth and legend that man. Cloaked in a persona often of his own making, MacKenzie was at the heart of the Upper Canada Rebellion, his push towards radical reform and public speaking skills caused many to flock to his cause. His use of twisting the facts, overblowing situations and the ability to turn men against each other and himself forced the issue in 1837. But much of what we know of MacKenzie is often more myth than fact, which has like much of Canadian history of theRead More →

If there is a single figure in the lead up to the Upper Canada Rebellion, the opposite of William Lyon MacKenzie, a Tory among Tories, that figure is Sir John Beverly Robinson. There is no better example of a loyalist and the perfect man to head up the Family Compact and pull the strings of the Provincial Government for many years. While having no love of power, he was a man of strict ideals, and for that, he took the role seriously and refused to allow anyone to deviate from his moral compass. John’s family’s legacy traced back to the Robinsons who were among theRead More →

George Armistead, one of the great defenders of the United States of America, stalwart commander of Fort McHenry, an action that would lead him to an early grave. George was born in New Market, Virginia on 10 April 1780. He along with his five brothers would all serve their country in the armed service. But for George, his service began at the age of 19 as an Ensign in the 7th US Infantry. He proved himself an excellent officer and promoted to First Lieutenant by the turn of the century. However, with the end of the Quasi-War with France, the army was reduced in size,Read More →