The Oligarchy of the Family Compact and the Rebellions in Upper Canada

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Between 1815-1840 Upper Canada was under the influence of a few elite individuals known as the ‘Family Compact’. These individuals held sway through their control of large amounts of land and their dominance of the governments various branches. With their hold on the government of Upper Canada, the family compact aimed to create a government that regulated all aspects of society. However the people of Canada disliked the family compacts dominance of Upper Canada’s political system and when attempts to reform the Canadian political system through democratic means the people resorted to rebellion. The rebels lead by primarily William Lyon Mackenzie a prominent member of the reform party and newspaper owner who was inspired by the American Revolution. The British government acted swiftly bringing an end to the rebellion. Although the rebellion was quashed the family compact began to lose its influence in Canadian politics and was squeezed out by moderate parties. By looking at sources from and written on the times we can observe that the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-1839 was caused by the oligarchic rule of the Family Compact in Upper Canada. This can be observed to be true by looking at the socio-economic differences that divided the family compact from the settlers, how the family compact held power and how that power was gained and maintained, and the religious conflict between the settlers and the family compact. The social and economic differences that divided the Family Compact and the common people of Canada can be traced back early immigration into Canada and a the socio-economic divides that rose before, during and after the period of rapid population growth that Canada underwent from 1815-1840. Before this period of po... ... middle of paper ... ...en/article/rebellion-in-upper-canada/ C.W. Jeffereys, “The Rebels March Upon Toronto”,, accessed November 26, 2013 Francis et. all, 313 Colin Read and Ronald J. Stagg, “The Causes of the Rebellion,” in Visions: The Canadian History Modules Project, (Toronto:Nelson, 2011), 322-323 Francis et. all, 314 Francis et. all, 324 William Lyon Mackenzie,“W L Mackenzie on Resistance to Oppression,” in Visions: The Canadian History Modules Project, (Toronto:Nelson, 2011), 306 Constitutional Act of 1791 Francis et. all, 314 Francis et. all, 323-324.

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