Thursday, December 17, 2009

Liberty! Equality! Freedom!

This was the slogan of French-Canadian reformers in Lower Canada when they demanded responsible government. They changed the name of their political party from Le Parti Canadien to the Patriote Party. This was a major snub to Britain because it was a reference to the Patriots in the American Revolution. As it turns out the British were not eager for a reminder of the Boston Tea Party or any subsequent events. In fact it was the American Revolution that made Britain so uneasy about giving Canadian colonists political power. The British Government believed it was their being to slack with the American colonies that had caused the Revolution when they introduced more cumbersome bills.

The Patriote Party, lead by L.J. Papineau drew up the 92 Resolutions, outlining their demands for control of revenue, responsible government and control of patronage. Lord John Russell, Colonial Secretary in British Government, responded with the 10 Resolutions, basically stating that there would be no changes and sending British troops into Lower Canada. The result was a more radical movement. The Sons of Liberty and other such groups sprang up. Protest meetings were held in the summer of 1837. There were riots and street fighting. British military commander Sir John (Yes everyone English was named John) Colburn was planning unrestrained military force against the reformers. The Richelieu district seemed a likely target! 800 Patriotes (only 200 armed) fought 300 British soldiers. Papineau runs to the United States at the first sign of trouble. 152 die. The Patriotes were butchered at St Dennis! Then at St Eustache martial law is imposed. 99 rebels are condemoned to death although only 12 were executed. 58 rebels were sent to Australia. Of all the fighting in Lower Canada there were a resulting 325 deaths, only 27 were British soldiers.

In Upper Canada it is much the same after the War of 1812-14 the colonists began to focus on the Alien Question. (The British Crown has instructed that no land be given to Americans, a problem for the Late Loyalists that stream into Upper Canada some time after the American Revolution. The British Crown also says that the Oath of Allegiance is not to be administered to Americans meaning that citizenship is in question for 50% of the population and these people are not allowed to vote). After 1815 new immigrants came from Britain, but they were well-educated and accustomed to British institutions. They are shocked to find that there is no responsible government in Upper Canada! Robert Gourlay does a survey in Upper Canada and calls for a commission of inquiry... but he is banished. His supporters fuel rebellions in Upper Canada.


Thus ends today's awesome Canadian history lesson! Hope you enjoyed!


  1. Not everyone from England is named John.... only the best of us!

    Happy Christmas

    John (Gabriola - Island Blog)

  2. I'll take your word for it John! :-)

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!