8 December

Rebels marching down Young Street

Rebellion Fails

William Lyon Mackenzie (see January 2) met his "Waterloo" on Yonge Street, Toronto, on December 8, 1837. The Upper Canada rebel leader had established his headquarters in Montgomery's Tavern. He intended to capture the city hall where the Government had stored several thousand muskets. When Mackenzie revealed that he \vas prepared to lead an armed rebellion, most responsible members of the Reform party would have nothing to do with what was, they realized, nothing less than treason.

Mackenzie had got out of hand by this time and was beginning to act like a demented man. For months he had gone through the countryside urging his followers to take up arms. They had trained in fields at night, armed with clubs, sticks, and old muskets. The only properly trained military man Mackenzie could rely on was Colonel Van Egmond, who had served in Napoleon's army as a young man. The colonel was supposed to meet Mackenzie at Montgomery's Tavern on December 7, but Mackenzie was too excited to wait for him. Mail intercepted at Peacock Inn had included information about government plans, and after reading them Mackenzie decided to lead a mob into the city right away. During the march his irresponsibility verged on madness as he rushed into the home of a Toronto banker and set it on fire.

Mackenzie had some knowledge of government plans, but Lieutenant-Governor Bond Head knew all about Mackenzie's intentions —he had been informed by James Hogg of Hogg's Hollow. Sir Francis regarded Mackenzie almost as a joke, and sent most of his regular troops to Kingston so that they could help Sir John Colborne quell the rebellion in Lower: Canada, if necessary. Mackenzie's march on city hall on December 5 was easily repelled by Sheriff Jarvis and twenty-six soldiers. Both sides fired a few shots and fled from each other! One man was killed.

When Colonel Van Egmond arrived at Montgomery's Tavern on December 7, as planned, most of Mackenzie's followers had fled. Nevertheless, he led a force down Yonge Street to Gallow's Hill, where they met a strong government force. Fighting lasted only a few minutes. The government forces blew up Montgomery's Tavern, and Mackenzie fled to the United States by way of Niagara. Later in the month he established a base on Navy Island and proclaimed a provisional government.


8 December

-1764    The second registration of paper money took place.

-1838    Von Schultz and nine other Hunters were hanged at Kingston (see November 13) .

-1859    Laval University, Quebec, received a royal charter.

-1891    Canada put duty on fish from Newfoundland in retaliation for Newfoundland's having restricted bait for Canadian fishermen.

-1897    Pope Leo XIV urged Catholics to accept the settlement proposed for Manitoba separate schools.

-1913    An Order-in-Council prohibited the landing of skilled or unskilled labour at British Columbia ports.