Rebellions of 1837 Upper and Lower Canada

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[File Name: Rebellions of 1837 Timeline]

Horizons, pp 39-42

Upper and Lower Canada



  • Lower Canada, Papineau and other reformers in Assembly submitted Ninety-two Resolutions (called for complete change in way colony was governed) to anti-French governor James Craig

  • Lord John Russell, in charge of Colonial Office in Britain, replied with Ten Resolutions denying rights of Assembly

  • Patriotes, led by Papineau, openly rebelled against government


  • Upper Canada, John Russell’s Ten Resolutions & appointment of Governor Sir Francis Bond Head (sided with Family Compact) disappoint moderate reformers

  • no chance of responsible government for moderate reformers

  • Governor Bond Head dissolved House and went on to win election by advocating loyalty to Britain

  • Mackenzie took defeat of reform movement as call to arms and to rebellion

  • rebellion began with attempted arrest of Papineau (Lower Canada)

  • Papineau flees to Montreal

6 November 1837

23 November 1837

  • St. Denis, Lower Canada, British army + Colonel Gore attack Patriote headquarters to capture Papineau; Patriote victory

25 November 1837

  • St. Charles, Lower Canada, government troops raid this Patriote stronghold; town burnt; 40 rebels killed; government victory

14 December 1837

  • St. Eustache, Lower Canada, 2000 British government troops under Sir John Colborne, former governor of Upper Canada + Loyalist volunteers versus Patriotes (in village church)

  • 250 Patriotes shot

  • town looted; families turned out of homes to freeze in snow

  • rebels scatter; most rebel leaders arrested

  • Yonge Street, Upper Canada

  • militia + Sheriff Jarvis cross paths with rebels + Mackenzie

  • militia run away

  • rebel forces in front row kneel to reload; rebel forces feared their comrades dead & retreat to Montgomery’s tavern

  • rebels defeated by militia + Colonel Alan NacNab at Montgomery’s tavern

  • Upper Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie escaped, disguised as a woman, to the United States

  • 12 years after rebellion, Mackenzie was officially pardoned

  • returned to Toronto, died in 1861

  • William Lyon Mackenzie King (grandchild of William Lyon Mackenzie) became Canada’s 11th prime minister in 1921.

  • major leaders of the revolt were publicly hanged; others transported to Bermuda for 7 years (used as slave labour for Britain)


Upper Canada

  • Mackenzie could not convince other radicals to joint him; unable to count on widespread support. Mackenzie and radical leaders wanted an American-style democracy. This approached distanced them from many English immigrants, who thought of the United States as an enemy power.

  • Rebels lacked military experience.

  • Revolts not well coordinated.

Lower Canada

  • Catholic Church did not support Patriotes; it did not approve of armed rebellion; church advised parishioners to stay loyal to Britain

  • Lack of planning; revolts not well coordinated; no skills to plan a battle.

  • Lack of military leadership.

  • 1 in 10 Patriotes had a gun; Patriotes not trained soldiers.

  • Patriotes must fight 2000 British troops and Loyalist volunteers.


  • did not become involved in armed attacks on government

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