4 November

Nelson Claims Presidency of Lower Canada

Some of the saddest stories in Canadian history date from the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838. The chief issue was the right of the people, English-speaking or French, to have self-government. King William IV was completely opposed to any concessions, and told Lord Gosford, the Governor from 1835 until shortly before the outbreak of the rebellion: "By God, I will never consent to alienate the crown lands or to make the council elective." Faced with such an attitude, many Canadians felt that their only hope was to use violence.

The rebellion in Upper Canada was ended quickly, and its chief leader, W. L. Mackenzie, fled to the United States in December, 1837. Louis Joseph Papineau, one of the greatest French-Canadian orators, was the political leader of the rebellion in Lower Canada. Here the situation was complicated because there was racial bitterness as well as a demand for self-government. There was some sharp fighting in the Montreal area in the autumn of. 1837 during which a British officer, Lieutenant Weir, was brutally murdered. Loyal troops, who found Weir's mangled body near St. Denis, burned the village and slaughtered a number of its inhabitants. "Remember Weir" was their slogan.

Papineau, who said later that he had never intended rebellion, fled to the States. So did a number of other French-speaking leaders, including Conservative George Etienne Cartier, and Liberals Hippolyte Lafontaine and Augustin Morin, who later became prime ministers of Canada, receiving honours from Queen Victoria.

The rebellions might have ended in 1837 if the leaders who escaped to the States had not received financial help from the Americans and formed the Hunters' Lodges (see January 5) . With this help Robert Nelson, an English-speaking rebel leader in Lower Canada, arrived at Napierville, Quebec, on November 4, 1838, and proclaimed himself President of the Republic of Lower Canada. Three thousand habitants volunteered to join his "army" although many of them were armed only with clubs and pikes. What happened to them will be told on November 9.


4 November

-1775    The Halifax garrison was reduced to 390 men. George Washington missed a chance to capture the Maritimes.

-1809    The steamer Accommodation, the first on the St. Lawrence, carrying John Molson as a passenger, arrived at Quebec from Montreal. The trip took 66 hours at a speed of five knots but 30 hours was spent at anchor. The fare was $8.

-1838    Sir Francis Hincks founded the Toronto Examiner.

-1873    The famous clash between Sir John A. Macdonald and Donald A. Smith took place in the House of Commons.

-1879    It was ruled that the Queen or the governor-general had the sole right of appointing Queen's Counsels.

-1889    Large deposits of coal were discovered in Nova Scotia.

-1952    Canada advised the United States of its intention to build the St. Lawrence Seaway.

-1959    The province of Alberta banned trading stamps and similar promotion schemes.

              An agreement on the exchange of science experts was signed in Moscow by the President of the National Research Council of Canada and the President of the Soviet Academy of Science.

-1960    A fifteen-year program for the rehabilitation of inmates in federal prisons was announced by Justice Minister Fulton.