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Les Patriotes de 1837@1838 - The roots of Political dissatisfaction in Upper Canada<br>
The roots of Political dissatisfaction in Upper Canada

Article diffusé depuis le 01 août 2000

The roots of the grievances lay in the Constitutional Act of 1791 which had been drafted only 15 years after the beginning of the American Revolution. Hence the British crown was obsessed with the need to inhibit any semblance of republican or independent spirit. Consequently the elected Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada was made largely powerless and under the control of an appointed upper house, the Legislative and Executive Councils and the Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the British Government and responsible to it.

The oligarchy tended to appoint public officials from their own ranks. The corruption and abuses of the "Family Compact" were rampant. Schools were not being built. Roads were impassable due to the necessity for the hard pressed settlers to assume responsability for their own road frontages as well as those held by the established Church of England. The Clergy Reserves were invariably on the best land. It began to look like "Taxation Without Representation," - the spark that had lit the American Revolution sixty years earlier.

Ironically, many of the growing bands of families discussing rebellion had demonstrated their allegiance to the British crown in 1776 and again in the War of 1812. Even more ironically, most of the principles espoused are today accepted principles of our modern democratic system, defended by Tory and Reformer descendents alike. In 1836, the spark that lit the powder keg in Upper Canada, was the disastrous appointment of Sir Francis Bond Head as lieutenant-Governor. By 1837, rebellion was guaranteed.

In the summer months preceding that fateful December, the formerly peaceful streets of Lloydtown echoed to the shouts of marching men: farmers, shopkeepers and blacksmiths preparing for a march on York (Toronto), the seat of colonial government. The disgruntled citizens had assembled at Lloyd's grist mill (since demolished) from all over York and adjacent counties because "Lloyd's Town" was at the time the most important centre between York and the lake port of Collingwood.

Pennants with such stirring slogans as "Liberty or Death" festooned the streets of the village. Weapons were scarce and local blacksmiths and handymen toiled to manufacture axes and staves. From the hill overlooking this fevered activity (Lot 24, Concession 9) loyalist Arthur Armstrong spied on his dissident neighbours, and bided his time for an ultimate revenge.

In late November Jesse Lloyd, asting as MacKenzie's intelligence officer, reported that the rising in Lower Canada (the Papineau Rebellion) seemed to be on the verge of success. Sir Francis had hastily dispatched his army regulars, refusing to believe that serious trouble was also brewing in the backwoods of his own little fiefdom. His capital, York, seemed ripe for the picking.



Recherche parmi 16 491 individus impliqués dans les rébellions de 1837-1838.


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