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Subject > Wars, Battles and Conflicts > British Colonial Period, 1760-1867

Organization > National Defence

An old Patriote of 1837

Type: Image

This image of an aged Patriote of 1837 is famous in Quebec. It was created in 1887 as one of a series of 110 by Henri Julien as part of his work as staff illustrator for the "Montréal Star". Much later, the image became a symbol for the Quebec independence movement. Apart from its fame, it is also a good reconstruction of the appearance of a Patriote, agreeing with drawings made at the time. This man wears the everyday clothing of Lower Canadians of the period. The famous ceinture flèche, (literally 'arrow sash') around his waist is an item copied by the French Canadian voyageurs from the Amerindians. (Library and Archives Canada, C-017937)

Site: National Defence

Louis-Joseph Papineau, 1840

Type: Image

The leader of the Patriote movement is shown in this 1840 lithograph. At this time he was in France, having fled Canada at the start of the 1837 Rebellion. (Library and Archives Canada R9266-P2601)

Site: National Defence

Entrance to the Rideau Canal at Ottawa, circa 1838

Type: Image

The Sleigh Bay entrance to the Rideau Canal is a spectacular sequence of eight locks climbing 25.3 metres from the river to the plateau above. This watercolour of circa 1838 shows the entrance from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Construction work on the canal began here in 1827. Alongside the locks can be seen two stone buildings - the Commissariat on the west side (here, to the right) and the Ordnance (or Royal Engineers) Building on the east side. The former survives today as the Bytown Museum. Barracks Hill, just to the west of the locks, is now the site of the Canadian Parliament Buildings, built starting in 1859. (Library and Archives Canada, C-011864)

Site: National Defence

Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer, 5th Baron Aylmer; Governor General of Canada, 1830-1835

Type: Image

Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer, 5th Baron Aylmer (1775-1850) is shown wearing the uniform for colonial governors. Governors and governor generals wore army general’s uniforms until 1824 when assigned a special blue and scarlet military-style dress uniform last worn by Governor General Roland Michener in the early 1970s. Aylmer had a distinguished military record during the Napoleonic Wars. One interesting coincidence is that he served briefly in the Netherlands with the 49th (the Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot under command of Isaac Brock, future hero of the War of 1812. Not an experienced politician when he was sent to take up the governorship, Aylmer was caught in the middle of a bitter ethnic conflict in Lower Canada. In the end, despite wanting to convince French Canadians of his good intentions, the Governor had set in train events that would lead to the Rebellion of 1837. (Library and Archives Canada, C-004809)

Site: National Defence

British iron guns mounted on iron carriages, circa 1815

Type: Image

Iron carriages were introduced in the British artillery in 1810. They were to be placed ‘in such parts of fortifications as are least exposed to the enemy’s fire’ as it was feared they would shatter if hit by enemy artillery. The examples seen in this photograph are found at the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

Trooper, Royal Montreal Cavalry, 1824

Type: Image

This 1824 silhouette of a trooper of the Royal Montreal Cavalry unit is one of the earliest known images of a Canadian unit. These militia light cavalry were dressed in the same style as British light dragoons. The uniform was blue faced with scarlet and trimmed with gold buttons and lace. The original silhouette is in the collection of the Musée d'Argenteuil, Carillon, Quebec. The Royal Montreal cavalry was recruited from the Anglophone middle class of Montreal, and was something of a military wing of the Montreal Hunt Club.

Site: National Defence

Fort Henry, Kingston, 1839

Type: Image

Fort Henry was the largest and most modern fort built by the British Army in Upper Canada and was nicknamed ‘the citadel of Upper Canada’. This watercolour was made in April, 1839, during the aftermath of the 1837-1838 Rebellions in Canada. Restored in the 1930s, the Kingston, Ontario structure is now one of the major historic sites in Canada. (Library and Archives Canada, C-000510)

Site: National Defence

York Redoubt, 1882

Type: Image

York Redoubt, built east of Halifax, was the first major fort guarding the harbour’s entrance. The first batteries on the site were constructed in 1793. Over the years, the site was improved. Advances in weapons technology made the site obsolete in the 1860s, and a substantial rebuilding process began, incorporating rifled muzzle loading guns. This engraving shows the Redoubt in 1882. The site is now a National Historic Site.

Site: National Defence

Officer and gunner, Royal Regiment of Artillery, 1840

Type: Image

This unit always had several companies posted in Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1840 for example, officers and men wearing the uniforms shown could be seen in Halifax, St. John’s (Newfoundland), St. John (New Brunswick), Quebec, Montreal, Chambly, Drummondville, Kingston and Toronto with detachments in smaller towns and outlying forts.

Site: National Defence

Coat of Captain William Wells, Grenville Regiment, Upper Canada Militia, circa 1820

Type: Image

From 1814 until the 1830s, militia infantry officers in Upper Canada were supposed to wear, apart from a few exceptions, a scarlet uniform faced with dark blue, trimmed with gilt buttons and gold lace edging the collar and cuffs. This surviving coat of circa 1820 belonged to Captain William Wells (1809-1881) of the Grenville Regiment. It is preserved at Fort Wellington National Historic Site. Wells himself was a prominent Reform politician.

Site: National Defence