CHAPTER 5: Demobilization
The 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion
The Situation Explodes
Map of the Montreal area at the time of the 1837-1838 Rebellions
(Click image to enlarge)
On November 6, 1837, in Montreal, members of the Doric Club attacked the Fils de la Liberté, and the confrontation spread. After being called in to quell the riot, Lieutenant-Colonel George Augustus Wetherall's troops were able to disperse the crowd. The response from the Fils de la Liberté was quick: squads of armed Patriotes sprang up from everywhere to guard the house of their leader, Papineau, and in the neighbouring counties hundreds of others mobilized, disarming government supporters, intimidating magistrates and demanding neutrality from militia officers. The situation got out of control.
The governor-in-chief called for reinforcements, and on November 16 he issued warrants for the arrest of 36 Patriote leaders. Companies of volunteer militiamen were mobilized to bring them in. Papineau and Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, who had been warned in time, were able to flee, but the president of the Fils de la Liberté, André Ouimet, was arrested and imprisoned. That very day a detachment of the Royal Montreal Cavalry, which was bringing to Montreal Patriotes arrested in Saint-Jean, was attacked and forced to release its prisoners. It had become clear to the Patriotes that the armed forces were giving full support to the oligarchy in power. To Sir John Colborne the essential thing was to restore order. But to do so he could not depend on the militia, which had been discredited and had fallen apart.