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CHAPTER VII

UPPER CANADIAN REBELLION, 1837-38

 

THE really remarkable feature of the Rebellion of 1837—38 in Upper Canada was not the ease with which it was suppressed, but the fact that it was suppressed at all. By all the laws of chance the rebels should have been successful, at least until Sir John Colborne could muster sufficient troops to march against them without leaving Lower Canada at the mercy of Papineau. They certainly could not complain that the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, did not offer them every opportunity to succeed. That curious mixture of cleverness and egotism outdid himself in his quite original method of discouraging insurrection. A little over a month before the rebellion actually broke out he wrote Colborne, who had asked him to send down to Lower Canada any regulars he could spare: "What I desire to do is completely to upset Mr. Papineau, so far as Upper Canada is concerned, by proving to the people in England that this province requires no troops at all, and consequently that it is perfectly tranquil. I consider that this evidence will be of immense importance, as it at once shows the conduct of Lower Canada to be factious." Head therefore begged Colborne to take the 24th and 66th Regiments out of Upper Canada, lock, stock, and barrel. Even the guards at Government House were to be withdrawn. "I have not the slightest occasion for them [the two regiments]," and he added, with curious solicitation, "I am afraid you may find difficulty in finding room for them in the lower province." He had a large quantity of arms and ammunition in Toronto, but would not allow a man to be kept there to guard it. "The arms," he writes, "I have put under the charge of the mayor!" Yet Toronto was seething with

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