24 November

Lieutenant-Governor Bond Head Resigns

Many factors contributed to the outbreak of rebellion in Upper Canada in 1837. One was a clash of personalities. Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond Head and Reform Leader William Lyon Mackenzie (see January 2) just could. not see eye to eye. Head was a veteran of Waterloo who looked down on Mackenzie. He described him as a tiny creature, restless like a squirrel in a cage, and not daring to look him in the face. Actually both men were emotional, wild in speech, and apt to stir up bitter, personal hatreds.

It is possible that Sir Francis Bond Head was never intended to be Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He received the appointment when he was living in Kent as a Commissioner of the Poor Law. It is said that Colonial Secretary Glenelg intended to appoint Sir Edmund Head, a competent man who later became Governor-General of Canada. The messenger went to Sir Francis Bond Head's home by mistake and asked him if he would be willing to become Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He accepted immediately, and it was too late for Glenelg to correct the mistake.

Head came to Canada as a liberal, claiming to be a reformer, although he had never even voted in Britain. For a time he was welcomed by leading Upper Canada reformers including Robert Baldwin, but the honeymoon ended quickly. Head insisted that he must make the decisions, and that the council was there only to serve him. He would not be controlled by the Assembly. The Assembly tried to curb Head by refusing to pay his personal supplies amounting to (7,000. Head retaliated by withholding his consent to the Assembly's money bills, amounting to 162,000! Payment could not be made for road-building and other public services, and the Assembly was blamed.

Head then dissolved the Assembly and called a general election which he won, and in which Mackenzie was defeated. He claimed that he had proved that the people of Canada detested democracy!

Although Head resigned on November 24, 1837, owing to a dispute with the British Government about an entirely different matter, he stayed long enough to repel Mackenzie's rebellion in December.


24 November

-1648    The first white child was born in Montreal.

-1784    A mail route was established between Montreal and Quebec. Fredericton, New Brunswick, was established by Loyalists.

-1807    Joseph Brant, Chief of Six Nations Indians, died (see September 25).

-1817    An award under the Treaty of Ghent gave the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay to Britain, except for Moose, Dudley and Frederick which became American. Grand Manan was included in the British award.

-1845    Governor Metcalfe appointed a commission to determine losses suffered during the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions (see April 25).

-1852    The Normal School of Ontario was opened.

-1888    William O'Connor of Toronto won the American rowing championship at Washington.

-1890    The Cape Breton Railway was opened as part of the Inter-colonial Railway.

-1896    The Bering Sea Commission met at Victoria, British Columbia.

-1905    Edmonton, Alberta, obtained its first direct transcontinental railway service when the Canadian Northern Railway was completed.

-1956    The first Canadian contingent in the United Nations force arrived in Egypt.