Date: May 1st – November 1st, 2021
Partner: Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum
Location: 18974 Leslie St, Sharon, ON L0G 1V0
Project Members: David Lichty
Would you be willing to stand against oppression and fight for responsible government? Would you be willing to put your life on the line? Many countries, territories, and peoples across the globe are currently fighting for a more democratic system. Living in the Greater Toronto Area, it is easy to take our freedoms for granted. However, democracy in Canada was not always a given.
The Rebellions of 1837-1838 were two armed uprisings that occurred in Lower and Upper Canada in 1837 and 1838. The purpose of the rebellions was to instate responsible government in the Canadian colonies. The aftermath of the uprisings led to the political reform of Lower and Upper Canada through the 1840 British North America Act, instating the Province of Canada. These changes eventually led to the 1867 British North America Act, establishing Canada as a federal dominion with its own government and sovereignty.
The Road to Rebellion exhibition will open in May 2020 at the Sharon Temple Museum. The Road to Rebellion exhibition focuses on the individual rebels from the religious group known as the Children of Peace, rather than the names that are commonly mentioned in history textbooks. The Children of Peace’s support of William Lyon Mackenzie in the 1834 elections was a forerunner to many from the denomination supporting him during the 1837 rebellions. Some of those involved in the rebellions participated in the Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, while many others participated in activities that led to political punishment. Some members of The Children of Peace spent the winter of 1838 in the Toronto jail because of their involvement during the rebellions. Other political punishments after the rebellions consisted of execution by hanging and deporting rebels to the Australian colonies. By using letters, personal accounts, and mementos, the exhibition presents the stories of those individuals that were willing to take arms and march for a more democratic government in Canada.
As a team of one, David has researched, written the text for, and designed the exhibition. This exhibition even includes an interactive jail cell that has been constructed in the middle of the exhibition to give visitors a feeling of what the rebels might have experienced while facing political punishment. The exhibition aims to teach visitors about this often overlooked part of Canadian history. The exhibition promotes the idea that the Rebellions of 1837-1838 were the beginning of Canada’s journey to becoming a free and democratic country for its citizens. Also, it gives acknowledgment to those unnamed individuals that were willing to put their lives at risk for the benefit of Canadian democracy.