Les Rébellions 1837-38
Back view of the church of St. Eustache and dispersion of the insurgents
Lord Charles Beauclerk (1813-1842)
1840, 19th century
Ink and watercolour on paper - Lithography
26.5 x 36.6 cm
Gift of David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Military (334) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
While some patriote leaders went into exile, Jean-Olivier Chénier, a local doctor, barricaded his men in the Church of St. Eustache. Seventy patriotes were killed at St. Eustache and 118 others were taken prisoner. In the days that followed, other patriotes and their sympathizers were hunted down mercilessly, particularly by militia volunteers. Rebellions in Upper Canada were less bloody. In the main skirmish, on December 5, 1837, some 800 rebels marched unsuccessfully on Toronto. With the destruction of radicalism in both colonies and the exile or execution of the main leaders, Lord Durham was appointed to examine the situation in the Canadas.
Source : The Aftermath of the Rebellions [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)
The battle of St. Eustache along with the destruction of its church and patriote defenders became a symbolic moment in the history of French Canadian nationalism.
After the bombardment of the village, British infantry advanced in house-to-house combat. Soon the whole village was in flames and British troops began pillaging homes.
By 4 p.m. on the afternoon of December 14, 1837, 60 houses had been burned to the ground and the last patriotes were being killed as they fled the burning church. In the days that followed, the militia continued the slaughter, hunting down patriotes as they tried to get back to their villages.
Patriote losses were much higher than those of the British, and an additional 100 of them were captured. Their trials for treason, followed by their execution or deportation to Bermuda or Australia, ultimately gave the patriotes the status of heroes.