Attack on Saint-Charles


This engraving depicts a scene from the rebellions of 1837−38 in Canada, which were sparked by dissatisfaction with the political status quo. Discontent raged in particular over British dominance of the affairs of what were then still two separate colonies, Lower Canada (the southern portion of the present-day province of Quebec) and Upper Canada (the southern portion of the present-day province of Ontario). In the rebellion, the reform leaders of Lower Canada, the most prominent being Louis Joseph Papineau (1786−1871), drew on long-simmering political tensions to recruit a large number of supporters. The rebels presented little challenge to the government military forces, which included a sizable loyal militia under the command of General John Colborne coming from Upper Canada. Patriote (rebel) forces faced British troops and militia on three occasions: at Saint-Denis, Saint-Charles, and Saint-Eustache. Martial law was declared and many rebels, including Papineau, fled to the United States. Hundreds were arrested, many were transported to Australia, and others were hanged at the Pied-du-Courant prison in Montreal. The original artist of the work from which Nathaniel Hartnell made this engraving, Lord Charles Beauclerk (1813−61), was an officer commanding British soldiers at Saint-Charles.

Last updated: January 8, 2018