9 November

Sir John Colborne (1778-1863)

Nelson Deserts His Men

During the uprisings in Canada in 18371838, the rebels received financial aid from a secret American organization, the Brotherhood of Hunters (see November 4). The sequel was very sad, and was perhaps one of the most pathetic stories in Canadian history.

Robert Nelson had obtained the services of the two French soldiers-of-fortune, Hindenlang and Touvrey. They were to lead the army of 3,000 habitants to Montreal, where it was Nelson's intention to seize the banks. He also planned to capture wealthy citizens and hold them for ransom. If Nelson had been successful there might have been war between Britain and the States, because the rebels were receiving aid from Americans.

When Nelson proclaimed himself President of the Republic of Canada on November 4, 1838, he made Hindenlang commander of the military force with the rank of brigadier-general. A force of 500 men was sent to the American border to obtain a supply of arms and ammunition from a Hunters' depot.

In the meantime, Sir John Colborne had crossed the St. Lawrence from Montreal with about 5,000 regular troops and loyal volunteers. The small rebel force going to get arms at the border was cut off and decimated in a fight that lasted half an hour. Most of the survivors fled into the States, leaving their guns and wounded companions on the field. When the news became known, Hindenlang's army dwindled rapidly until he was left with only 1,000 men. As he had been cut off from his supply base, Hindenlang knew he could not attack Montreal, and decided to try to get his men across the border.

Their way was blocked at the Odelltown crossroads on November 9, by 200 loyal militia who had taken up a position at the Methodist church. Hindenlang ordered an attack, but many of his men refused to fight and dropped to their knees in the snow to pray. Of those who did attack, about 100 were killed or wounded. Robert Nelson deserted his followers and managed to escape into the States. Hindenlang was captured and hanged with 11 others. Fifty-eight other rebels were sent to convict settlements in Tasmania. The political leaders escaped scot-free. Two of those who escaped, Cartier and Lafontaine, later became Prime Ministers of Canada!


9 November

-1613    An expedition from Virginia under Captain Al-gall left Port Royal, Nova Scotia, after destroying French settlements.

-1864    The first shipment of lumber from British Columbia to Australia marked the beginning of a big export trade.

-1872    An Order-in-Council authorized the building of the Inter-colonial Railway between Montreal and Halifax.

-1928    The Imperial Privy Council ruled that gold and silver in land still held by the Hudson's Bay Company (seven million acres) belonged to the Dominion government and not to the company.

-1942    Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Vichy France.

-1943    Canada signed the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agreement known as UNRRA.