He Met His “Waterloo” in Toronto

08 Dec
English: 1837 Proclamation for the arrest of W...

1837 Proclamation for the arrest of William Lyon Mackenzie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Battle of Montgomery's Tavern in ...

The Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern in Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Lyon Mackenzie met his “Waterloo” on Yonge Street, Toronto, on December 8, 1837. The Upper Canada rebel leader had established his headquarters in Montgomery’s Tavern.

He intended to capture the city hall where the Government had stored several thousand muskets. When Mackenzie revealed that he was prepared to lead an armed rebellion, most responsible members of the Reform party would have nothing to do with what was, they realized, nothing less than treason.

Mackenzie had got out of hand by this time and was beginning to look like a demented man. For months he had gone through the countryside urging his followers to take up arms. They had trained in fields at night, armed with clubs, sticks, and old muskets. The only properly trained military man Mackenzie could rely on was Colonel Van Egmond, who had served in Napoleon’s army as a young man.

The colonel was supposed to meet Mackenzie at Montgomery’s Tavern on December 7, but Mackenzie was too excited to wait for him.

Mail intercepted at Peacock Inn had included information about government plans, and after reading them Mackenzie decided to lead a mob into the city right away.

During the march his responsibility verged on madness as he rushed into the home of a Toronto banker and set it on fire.

Mackenzie had some knowledge of government plans, but Lieutenant-Governor Bond Head knew all about Mackenzie’s intention — he had been informed by James Hogg of Hogg’s Hollow. Sir Francis regarded Mackenzie almost as a joke, and sent most of his regular troops to Kingston so they could help Sir John Colborne quell the rebellion in Lower Canada, if necessary. Mackenzie’s march on city hall on December 5 was easily repelled by Sheriff Jarvis and twenty-six soldiers. Both sides fired a few shots and fled from each other! One man was killed.

When Colonel Van Egmond arrived at Montgomery’s Tavern on December 7, as planned, most of Mackenzie’s followers had fled. Nevertheless, he had a force down Yonge Street to Gallow’s Hill, where they met a strong government force. Fighting lasted only a few minutes. The government forces blew up Montgomery’s Tavern, and Mackenzie fled to the United States by way of Niagara. Later in the month he established a base on Navy Island and proclaimed a provisional government.


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4 responses to “He Met His “Waterloo” in Toronto

  1. kimsimard

    December 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

    People say that Canadian history is boring. I beg to differ. =)

    • tkmorin

      December 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

      I agree! :). Thanks for stopping by!


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