Rebellion of Lower Canada

The seat of power in Lower Canada at the time of the rebellions was "the Chateau Clique". This ruling elite was made up of mostly wealthy English business men and some wealthy French-Canadians in Montreal, and received authority through the governor and British establishment.This group did not represent the majority of the colony who were French-Catholic farmers. The Chateau Clique encouraged resentment as it favoured the interests of the English business men over those of the majority, using taxes to build canals while ignoring the farmer's demands for roads. A Crisis in agriculture during the 1820s and early 1830s caused by a slump in demand for Canadian wheat hit the Lower Canadian farmers especially hard, and added to the resentment many already had to the autocratic and unresponsive establishment in the colony. The French in Lower Canada were also concerned about losing their culture and language, and the increasing privileges given to the Anglican church when the majority were Catholics. Like the elected assembly in Upper Canada, Lower Canada's Legislative Assembly was soon full of elected reformers, the most famous of which, Louis Joseph Papineau, would become leader. After having served under the British in the War of 1812, Papineau entered the Legislative Assembly in 1814. In order to force concessions from the government, Papineau's reformers used the assembly's control of taxes to bring the government to a standstill. Refusing to pass a bill for the collection of taxes needed for government salaries until grievences were addressed, the assembly presented a list of demands in the form of 92 resolutions calling for political and economic reforms in the colony. Ignoring legal procedure, the governor continued to have salaries payed. At this point reformers became more radical, and talk of republicanism and revolution became louder.

      1837: Rebellions begin

       March 1

The British government rejects the 92 Resolutions drawnup by Papineau and his supporters, the patriotes.


       Assemblies are held throughout Lower Canada to protest the British rejection of reform in the colony.

             September 5

A republican organization called Fils de la Liberté, (Sons of Liberty) is organized in Montreal by about 500 young patriotes. They meet at the Nelson Hotel.

       October 4

       The Fils de la Liberté publish their manifesto calling for the election of a republican government in Lower Canada.

       October 23-24

       patriotes hold the Grande Assemblée des Six-Comtés at Saint-Charles-sur-le-Richelieu.

       November 6

       Patriotes raise a liberty pole with the inscription: "A Papineau, ses compatriotes reconnaissants, 1837."

Clashes occur in Montreal between the Fils de la Liberté and the anti-patriotes groups. The loyalists smash the workshops of the English-language patriote newspaper The Vindicator, and the house of the president of the Fils de la Liberté, André Ouimet.

       November 23

leading six companies of infantry and a detachment of artillery, the British commander, Gore, launches an attack against the patriote force led by Wolfred Nelson at Saint-Denis. After a fight lasting seven hours, Gore retreats, losing six men killed and 11 wounded. Rebel forces lost 12 killed and eight wounded.

       November 25

A loyalist force led by Wetherall attacks the patriotes at Saint-Charles. Barricaded
       around the manor of Saint-Charles, the patriotes are routed after two hours of fighting and a loss of 28 men, and more than 30 wounded. British forces lost seven men and 23 wounded.

       November 30

Wetherall and his soldiers return to Montreal with 30 prisoners and the rebel's Liberty Pole from Saint-Charles. Girod and Chénier,patriote leaders with about 200 men attempt to arm themselves at Oka.

       Papineau leaves the colony.

       December 2

       Gore burns Saint-Denis to the ground.

       December 5

       The government declares Martial law in Montréal.

        December 10

       British troops threaten Saint-Eustache and Saint-Benoît in Lower Canada.

        December 13

       Governor Colborne heads for Saint-Eustache with an army of 1300 men.


       The last main rebel army is crushed by British forces at Saint-Eustache.


       The last patriote resistance is crushed at Saint-Benoît.

1838: Rebellions continue

       January / February

January 5

       The United States government affirms its neutrality. In Lower Canada the exiled rebels and their American supporters called themselves the Frères Chasseurs.

February 26-27

       Patriotes raid Potton in the Eastern Townships.

       February 28

       Commanding a patriote army, Robert Nelson and Dr.Côté march to Lower Canada at Week's House, declaring the
       independence of the colony from Britain.

       March 1

       Facing loyalist militia,Nelson and the patriotes retreat back to the United States, where American
       authorities arrest Nelson and Côté.

April 27

       Martial law is finally repealed in Montréal after 501 people in the city were jailed for"treasonous" activities.

       May 27

       Lord Durham becomes the new governor of Lower Canada.

June 28

A partial amnesty is proclaimed in Lower Canada for those involved in the rebellion.

November 3

       The Frères Chasseurs continue to organize outside of Montreal.

       November 4

Robert Nelson (along with 700 patriotes) again proclaims the independence of Lower Canada, this time at Napierville.

       November 9

The main patriote army is crushed by British forces at Odelltown. Robert Nelson escapes.

 November 13

       Patriotes at Boucherville retreat without a fight. The second rebellion in Lower Canada ends.