Thursday, July 2, 2009

1837 and all that

You'll all remember it, of course? The rebellion of 1837. No?

Well, as you recover from being in your cups on Canada Day, hearken back to those events a mere 172 years ago. Many of our forefathers in Ontario were miffed as the British colonial government took care of its own, allocating land to wealthy supporters of newly crowned Queen Victoria and to the Anglican Church, generally deemed at the time to be one and the same.

The French were, as usual, causing problems, so Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond Head, sent his single British battalion to Montreal to settle things down.

While the cat's away, the mice will play, and hothead reformer and journalist William Lyon Mackenzie saw his chance. He, and a large group of disaffected associates, liberated weapons from the Toronto armory, then repaired to Montgomery's Tavern at Yonge and Eglinton, where merriment and self-congratulation doubtless ensued.

Suitably refreshed, Mackenzie's men headed back down Yonge Street to meet the foe and, sad to say, were sent scurrying into disarray by 27 determined loyalists. Rebel desertions were rife. 1500 loyalists came up from Hamilton (even then Hogtown's bĂȘte noire). These included future Prime Minister of Canada and Father of Confederation Sir John A. Macdonald (Well, you don't get to be a "Sir" by siding with the rebels). And that, as they say, was that.

Hardly the American Revolution, but an interesting speedbump on the road to Confederation 30 years later.

Note to revolution planners: Arrange to have the cocktails after the victory.

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