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Sunday, January 29, 2006

My Grandfather's Grandfather 1837 rebel

Have you ever researched your family tree?
If you know Canadian history at all you may have heard of the rebellion of 1837. You may think it was only the French Canadian that were "up in arms" about the Government. The British ruled Canada giving little regard for anyone who was not ruling class, or followers of Church of England.
Steps had to be taken to make it fair trade for all.
Protests had to made so that a persons rights were not trampled.
Reform was needed to make the Country of Canada what her people envisioned for her.
Sound familiar?
Mackenzie was the most famous leader of the Upper Canada portion of this drama but, Dr Duncombe was a person my ancestor most likely met up with.
Dec 08 1837 Brantford Ontario - Dr. Charles Duncombe with a rousing speech launches open rebellion in the western half of Upper Canada; gathers a force of rebels at Scotland Township and Oakland (Malcolm's Mills) on the road to Dundas, southwest of Brantford; the force will reach 500 to 600 in number by Dec. 13.

The outcome was not good for the rebels. The rebellion was put down in short order.

On April 14th 1838, nine prisoners from Dr. Duncombe's uprising near Brantford, Ontario, were sentenced to death. Three were reprieved and the six remaining were to be hung on 20 April 1838. Tensions ran high, and on the 13th of April the hanging of Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews in Toronto, added to the resentment of the local populace.

Fortunately, my ancestor was only suspected of being a rebel, but never found guilty. Many of the leaders were banished, some were hung for their participation. The reforms came in time. Thomas settled down with his American born bride and founded the family in Canada. Six generations so far.
This is what we have uncovered about our first generation 'founding father'.
Thomas Wheeland was a young blacksmith and farmer in the town of Scotland, Ontario. He was born in Ireland but came to Canada as a youth. He was noted in the town's history as having donated his blacksmith shop to be the first school in that town. To this day the modern school still stands on that same plot of land. The land he farmed , no longer in the family, is still to this day a working farm. His family gravestone can be found in Scotland Ontario in the graveyard across from that school.
I now look at Canadian history in terms of "hmmm, what was my family doing in that year".

be respectful of how we got here.
Barbara Wheeland

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