Loyalties in Conflict: A Canadian Borderland in War and Rebellion, 1812–1840.


200 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-8020-9525-1
DDC 971.03'4





Reviewed by George Sheppard


While the Eastern Townships of Quebec remained largely removed from the main events of the War of 1812 and the Rebellions of 1837–8, this study examines their impact. Settled mostly by English-speaking Loyalists and American land-seekers, the region developed a well-deserved reputation for inactive militiamen led by incompetent officers, surrounded by counterfeiting and smuggling neighbours. Keen neither to serve the king outside the region in the Frontier infantry, nor to help their former countrymen across the line in Vermont, most settlers in l’Estrie could only be stirred into action once Colonel Isaac Clark actually invaded the region in October 1813. After the war the region experienced limited population growth, and residents began to develop their own civic culture distinct from the French Canadians to the north and Americans to the south. The curtailment of Yankee preachers led to the spread of the Church of England, and other imports—such as Freemasonry and temperance movements—developed a local flavour as well. By the 1830s then, most residents of the area were neither “British tories nor American republicans,” and instead were simply “political pragmatists.” The Rebellions, however, seemed to have contributed to the conservative strain in the region. Little observes that radicals and rebels either fled or abandoned their beliefs, and the Hunter raids that bedeviled the border dwellers into the 1840s ensured the region remained within the British fold. Based largely on archival research (particularly RG 8, 9, and 23 dealing with British military and militia records in Lower Canada), as well as contemporary newspapers and little-known local histories, this work surely fits the mandate of the Canadian Social History series with its devotion to “exploring neglected areas in the day to day existence of Canadians.”


Little, J.I., “Loyalties in Conflict: A Canadian Borderland in War and Rebellion, 1812–1840.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32670.