Rebellion in Lower Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Rebellion in Lower Canada

French Canadian militants in Lower Canada took up arms against the British Crown in a pair of insurrections in 1837 and 1838. The twin rebellions, which killed more than 300 people, followed years of tensions between the colony's anglophone minority and the growing, nationalistic aspirations of its francophone majority.

Battle of St. Eustache
  1. October 07, 1786

    Papineau: A Divided Soul


    Birth of Louis-Joseph Papineau

    Politician Louis-Joseph Papineau was born in Montréal. As a key member of the French Canadian reformers, Papineau’s political celebrity grew in the late 1840s. He clashed with fellow reformer Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, opposed the Act of Union and championed American annexation.

  2. October 13, 1803


    Birth of Augustin-Norbert Morin

    Politician and lawyer Augustin-Norbert Morin was born in Saint-Michel, Lower Canada. Morin drafted the 92 Resolutions in 1834, a series of demands for political reform the Patriotes addressed to the British colonial administration. Though he was active in the 1837–38 rebellions and charged for his involvement, he did not stand trial. Morin stepped back from politics for a time to recuperate and to practise law.

  3. November 22, 1806


    Le Canadien Published

    The Parti canadien newspaper, Le Canadien, was first published in Québec City

  4. January 21, 1815

    Louis-Joseph Papineau, politician


    Papineau Elected

    Louis-Joseph Papineau was elected speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

  5. January 01, 1832


    Cholera Epidemic Spreads

    Grosse Île, near Québec, was opened as a quarantine station during the cholera epidemics and all ships stopped there for inspection. This station was a futile attempt by the government to control the disease that killed up to 10% of the population.

  6. January 01, 1834

    Louis-Joseph Papineau (Daguerrotype), politician


    Ninety-Two Resolutions

    The Ninety-Two Resolutions were adopted by the Assembly of Lower Canada, 56 to 32, expressing grievances against the colonial administration.

  7. June 24, 1834


    St-Jean-Baptiste Society

    The St-Jean-Baptiste Society was founded by journalist Ludger Duvernay, who wanted to stimulate a nationalist spirit among his compatriots and encourage them to defend their linguistic and cultural heritage.

  8. September 05, 1837


    Fils de la Liberté (Sons of Liberty)

    The Fils de la Liberté, a party formed by 700-800 Patriotes, held their first public assembly. Inspired by the ideals of the American Revolution, the Fils believed in the right of the people to choose their own government and of a colony to become independent.

  9. October 23, 1837

    Louis-Joseph Papineau (Daguerrotype), politician


    Papineau Addresses Rally

    Louis-Joseph Papineau spoke to some 4000 at Saint-Charles at which the Patriotes more or less declared the independence of the Six Counties and their willingness to resort to arms if necessary.

  10. November 06, 1837


    Street Fight in Montreal

    Thomas Brown led the Fils de la Liberté in a street fight with members of the English-Canadian Doric Club in Montréal, a prelude to the Rebellions.

  11. November 16, 1837


    Insurrection in Lower Canada

    Governor Gosford issued warrants for the arrest of 26 Patriote leaders on charges of high treason, initiating the events of the Lower Canada Rebellion. Troops and Patriotes were in battle a few days later.

  12. November 16, 1837


    Patriotes Start Rebellion

    A Patriote force attacked the newly formed Montreal Volunteer Cavalry near Longueuil and started the rebellion in Lower Canada.

  13. November 23, 1837

    Rebellions of 1837, Lower Canada


    Battle of Saint-Denis

    General Charles Gore and government forces suffered a minor defeat by Patriote forces at Saint-Denis.

  14. November 23, 1837

    Rebellions of 1837, Lower Canada

    Battles  People 

    Cartier Fights in Rebellions of 1837

    In 1837 at Saint-Denis, George-Étienne Cartier fought bravely alongside Wolfred Nelson and the rebels as they successfully routed Colonel Charles Gore's force of British regulars in the Rebellions of 1837.

  15. November 25, 1837


    Patriotes Crushed

    The Patriotes were crushed by government forces at St-Charles with 56 dead; Papineau fled to the US.

  16. December 14, 1837

    Rebellions of 1837, Lower Canada


    Battle of St-Eustache

    Sir John Colborne captured St-Eustache after fierce resistance by the Patriotes during the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  17. December 14, 1837


    Chenier Killed

    Patriote leader Jean-Olivier Chénier was killed in combat at St-Eustache.

  18. January 05, 1838


    Hunter's Lodges

    A US proclamation forbade Americans from joining in the fighting in the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions. Some American sympathizers organized in secret societies, called Hunters' Lodges, to take part in cross-border attacks in support of the rebellions.

  19. January 08, 1838


    Attack at Amherstburg

    A Patriote attack against Amherstburg, Upper Canada (Ontario), was defeated by Canadian militiamen.

  20. February 10, 1838

    Battle of Saint-Eustache


    Constitution Suspended

    The Constitution of 1791 was suspended in Lower Canada following the 1837 Rebellion. An "authoritarian" political body, the Special Council, was appointed in its stead. The second Rebellion in Lower Canada soon followed.

  21. February 26, 1838


    Frères Chasseurs Attempt Invasion of Lower Canada

    Rebel and Papineau supporter Robert Nelson gathered between 600 and 700 volunteers, the Société des frères Chasseurs (Hunters' Lodges), in an attempt to invade Lower Canada. Hunters' Lodges were the largest of the Secret Societies pledged to liberate the Canadian provinces from “British thralldom.”

  22. March 30, 1838

    Lord Durham

    People  Politics 

    Durham Appointed

    The Earl of Durham was appointed governor-in-chief of British North America and commissioner to investigate the causes of the rebellions. He served from May 29 to November 1.

  23. July 04, 1838

    Nelson, Wolfred


    Nelson Deported

    Former House of Assembly member Wolfred Nelson was deported to Bermuda, along with 8 other Patriotes, following the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  24. November 04, 1838


    Second Rebellion in Lower Canada

    Robert Nelson and Cyrille Côté led a 2nd rebellion in Lower Canada. Côté's men fled after a skirmish at Lacolle; Nelson retreated to Odelltown, north of the Vermont border, where he was defeated by Charles Taylor on November 9.

  25. November 09, 1838


    Battle of Odelltown

    The Patriotes were defeated at the Battle of Odelltown. It was one of the last skirmishes of the Lower Canada Rebellion.

  26. February 15, 1839

    People  Politics 

    Patriote Rebels Hanged

    Five Patriotes, followers of Louis-Joseph Papineau, were hung at the Pied-du-Courant Prison following a trial for treason and murder.

  27. September 27, 1839


    Patriotes Banished to Australia

    The transport ship Buffalo left Lower Canada carrying 58 Patriotes bound for Australia. The Patriotes were exiled for their involvement in the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–38. The rebels were imprisoned at Longbottom Stockade in Sydney, spending their time breaking rocks and collecting oyster shells to make lime. By 1844, all had received pardons. Most returned to Canada.

  28. July 23, 1840

    Act of Union


    Act of Union Assent

    The Act of Union joining Upper and Lower Canada received royal assent in England. It came into effect on 10 February 1841.

  29. February 10, 1841

    Act of Union


    Act of Union in Effect

    The Act of Union came into effect, uniting Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada, a legislative union with 84 members divided equally between Canada East and Canada West.

  30. July 27, 1865


    Death of Augustin-Norbert Morin

    Politician and judge Augustin-Norbert Morin died in Sainte-Adèle, Canada East. Morin championed responsible government alongside fellow French reformer Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine. He joined forces with English counterparts Robert Baldwin and Francis Hincks to see it achieved.

  31. September 25, 1871

    Louis-Joseph Papineau, politician


    Death of Louis-Joseph Papineau

    Politician and defender of French Canada’s national heritage Louis-Joseph Papineau died in Montebello, Québec. Initially a supporter of British government systems, Papineau’s perspective changed, believing that the English merchant class directly opposed French Canadian interests. His increasingly radical approach greatly influenced the actions of the Patriotes in the Rebellion of 1837.