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 →

Despite the setbacks of the rebellion, the reform movement was ready to move on. The radicals were out of reach, imprisoned, dead, or in exile (with the penalty of death if they should return), the moderates were now returning to the political arena many who had never run for public office before. And while Durham’s report had spoken favourable of Responsible Government and many reformers like Robert Baldwin, Louis La Fontaine, and Francis Hincks had spoken in detail to Durham. The trouble remained that even moderate reformers were still viewed through the lens of rebellion by the Colonial Office. And they aimed to use theRead 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 →

The violence caused by the rebellion had been a direct result of political discord and dissatisfaction, however many in the Colonial Office refused to believe this and did little to appease the troubles outside of direct military intervention. They needed to investigate the rebellions, discover the root cause, and determine the best way to prevent such a rebellion from happening again. British authorities were lucky that the rebellions in Upper Canada were poorly lead and poorly armed and even in Lower Canada the aggressive nature of Sir John Colborne put the rebellion down in an equally violent manner. The British Prime Minister, Sir William LambRead More →

There was much more to the Upper Canada Rebellion than just the armed engagements that I discussed in the past three entries. Underlying the entire year of 1838 the government continued to operate and the biggest issue facing them would be prosecuting the rebels and their American allies after their capture. The whole matter would have been a lot cleaner if an actual war was declared. The treatment of Prisoners of War was an internationally understood law, but to the British, there was no war, they were dealing with a rebellion. And in the case of the Upper Canada Rebellion, the Provincial Government and theRead More →

It was the 6th of November 1837, and Lower Canada had erupted in open armed revolt against the Colonial Government. The Patriotes under Louis-Joseph Papineau and many others fuelled by the ideals of the American Revolution, French Liberty, and Republicanism. They decided that they would only rid themselves of the influence of the British Ruling Class, a group of Tory elites organised into a group known as the Chateau Clique was to begin a revolution when their demands for reform were ignored. There had been some communication between Lower Canada Patriotes and the radicals in Upper Canada under William Lyon MacKenzie. And while a coordinatedRead More →

Up until 1834, there had been a conflict between those in Upper Canada who were reform-minded and those who were allied with the Conservative Family Compact. But those in the reform movement had no desire for radical change or an American style republic, but there were also some that were. The same remained on the Tory side, there were those who were moderates who thought that some change might not be a bad thing, but others who wanted stricter controls, those who wanted to turn Upper Canada into a perfect England, where English was supreme, and the only church was the Anglican church. But likeRead 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 →

If there is a singular group that I had a clue about going deep into this project, that group would be the Family Compact. And how you view them relies on your view of Canadian History. To some they are the antagonist of this particular branch of Canadian history, to others, they represent Canadian loyalty to the British Crown in the rebellions. But for me, they now stand as the opposite side of the same coin during the Upper Canada Rebellion. The Compact represented the colonial elite, the new ruling class. They controlled every aspect, every part of the government, the law, and the church.Read More →