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Rebellions of 1837 and 1838 Collection (C179)

1837-1988. - 5 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

The Rebellions that shook Lower Canada from 1837 to 1838 were caused in part by the first British and Irish immigrations of 1815. Tensions soon built up between the new immigrants and Canadians. The English had ambitions that clashed with those of the Canadians, who were exasperated and upset at seeing the English take possession of agricultural land. In 1832, close to 10,000 people died in a cholera epidemic, harvests were poor and political disagreements that arose exacerbated already existing economic differences.

In 1834, ninety-two resolutions that had begun as an initiative of the Parti Canadien were submitted to Denis-Benjamin Viger, a permanent delegate in London. The main points of the resolutions concerned the necessary conditions for independence: the accountability of the Executive Council, the control of public funds by the House, etc. Unfortunately, the initiative bore little fruit for the citizens of Lower Canada. In March 1837, Lord John Russell, Home Secretary in London, ordered the rejection of the 92 Canadian resolutions and, subsequently, in response, issued 10 resolutions authorizing the Governor to spend public revenue without the House's authorization. Lord Russell's 10 resolutions were passed by the House of Commons in London. A wave of protest swept through Lower Canada as events gathered pace. Mass protest meetings were held throughout the province, but especially in the Montreal region: St. Ours, St. Laurent, St. Marc. The protesters organized a boycott of British goods, and the public mood worsened. Some people, such as Louis-Joseph Papineau, advocated constitutional measures to resolve the conflict, while others, like the physicians Wolfred Nelson and Cyrille-Hector-Octave Côté, were in favour of taking up arms at any cost. Faced with this situation, the bishops of Montreal and Quebec City, Jean-Jacques Lartigue and Joseph Signay, publicly urged the dissenters not to let themselves be tempted into rebellion. Reformist and loyalist troops clashed, nevertheless, in what were often unequal battles or skirmishes. The reformists were beaten, with many of them being killed or taken prisoner. At the same time, two nationalist associations were established: one on the English side, the Doric Club, and the other on the Patriot side, the Fils de la Liberté. On November 6, 1837, the two groups clashed at Place d'Armes in Montreal. During this time of major conflict, some Patriots, such as Louis-Joseph Papineau and his family, went into exile, while others, like Fils de la Liberté leader André Ouimet and his comrade Georges de Boucherville, were charged with high treason and arrested.

Scope and Content:

This collection concerns the Rebellions of 1837 and 1838 in Upper and Lower Canada.

It contains a diary of General James Thompson, a letter from A. W. Cochran, a patriot's diary, a special issue of Le Devoir newspaper, a copy of the list of F. G. Griffin's volunteers who were wounded or killed in combat, part of a diary attributed to H. H. Miles, a list of the volunteers at the Battle of Odelltown, a history portfolio published by Imperial Oil and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.