Last updated on October 3rd, 2022 at 12:13 pm
Last Updated on October 3, 2022 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
1837 isn’t a particularly noteworthy year in the archives of history. Yet in Canada, which was not officially Canada at the time, two rebellions took place that were part of the events that led to the country’s nationhood. Lower Canada tokens are part of the history of that time frame, but they don’t tell the whole story of the uprisings. Here’s the importance of these tokens that represent what was happening in Lower and Upper Canada.
Historical Context For The Rebellions of 1837
The United States had recently been born. Britain was not very popular in the original 13 American colonies. Quebec had recently been granted more autonomy by the British Parliament, recognizing its French heritage and possibly avoiding a war much like the American Revolution. The United States wasn’t the only country experiencing a rebirth. Rebellions had been happening in France, Haiti, Ireland and the Spanish Americas. The settlers in Canada wanted responsible government instead of it being led by the Crown, religion and local oligarchies.
The Lower Canadian Rebellion
The rebellion in Lower Canada was also called the Patriots’ War. Louis-Joseph Papineau and his followers led the rebellion, but they had been trying to change the status quo peacefully for over 30 years before it got violent. Papineau had been challenging the authority of the Church and the British governors, asking for more control over the revenues in the colony. The Crown rejected their requests. The French-Canadian settlers and anglophiles were at odds. Protests and rallies led to more unrest. The Patriotes rebelled and attacked the British regulars, who were much more experienced in warfare. Papineau and his followers fled to the U.S. and waited another year before trying again. Almost 300 Patriotes died in the two attempts that failed. Another 27 British regulars were killed. Papineau fled to Paris. Some of the Patriotes were sent to work camps in Australia.
The Upper Canadian Rebellion
The Upper Canadian Rebellion was driven more by corruption and injustice in local politics than it was against the Crown. The rebellion in Lower Canada gave the insurgents in Upper Canada a push to move forward with their grievances. William Lyon Mackenzie led the revolt, which wasn’t nearly as deadly as the Lower Canada Rebellion, but again, the rebels were untrained and unable to do much more than cause unrest for a year. Although not many rebels died in the raids, many of them were executed by the government after they were captured.
Habitant Tokens – One Legacy of the Rebellion
Neither rebellion was successful in and of itself, but they did lead to more reforms. The Upper and Lower Canadas were merged into the Province of Canada, which, with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, would later become modern-day Canada. Papineau and Mackenzie are now recognized as folk heroes for their willingness to fight for democratic reform.
The Habitant token is one of the remnants of the era. In 1837, the Bank of Montreal received permission to issue tokens. The obverse of the coin features a Habitant dressed in winter clothing. Habitants were the French settlers/farmers in the community. The reverse of the coins featured the issuing bank’s emblem. Some thought the farmer on the obverse of the token represented Papineau. The tokens began to be called “Papineaus” in honour of the leader. Even though these tokens are over 150 years old, so many were minted that collectors can still find them.
If you’re looking for Canadian coins for sale that tell the story of history, these tokens, used in Lower Canada in the 1830s, are a great reminder of the rebellion that helped Canada become what it is today. Colonial Acres has a wide selection of Canadian coins that fit any themed collection, whether you’re interested in history, economics, art or pop culture. Shop online to find the coins that fit your collection.