The Canadian Civil Wars of 1837–1838

Type of resource
The Canadian Civil Wars of 1837–1838
The author explains that Canadian historians have traditionally stressed that the rebellions of 1837 and 1838 in Lower and Upper Canada were revolts against British imperial authority. He notes that less stressed has been the fact that the rebellions were also civil wars and that British troops were aided by substantial numbers of loyalists in defeating the rebels. In recent years, he points out, historians have tended to downplay the importance of French-Canadian nationalism, but by 1837–8 the rebellion in Lower Canada was essentially a struggle between French-Canadian nationalists and a broadly-based coalition of loyalists in Lower Canada. Outside Lower Canada there was no widespread support for rebellion anywhere in British North America, except among a specific group of American immigrants and their descendants in Upper Canada. The author argues that it is a myth that the rebellions can be explained as a division between the older-stock inhabitants of the Canadas and the newer arrivals. He believes it is also a myth that the rebels in the two Canadas shared the same objectives in the long run and that the rebellions were part of a single phenomenon. French-Canadian nationalists wanted their own state; most of the republicans in Upper Canada undoubtedly believed that Upper Canada would become a state in the American Union. He notes that annexation was clearly the motivation behind the Patriot Hunters in the United States, who have received an increasingly favourable press from borderland historians, despite the fact that they were essentially filibusters motivated by the belief that America had a manifest destiny to spread across the North American continent.
London Journal of Canadian Studies
Vol. 35
no. 1
Buckner, Phillip A. “The Canadian Civil Wars of 1837–1838.” London Journal of Canadian Studies Vol. 35, no. 1 (2020): 96–118.
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