A Brief Bibliography of Books

About the 1837-38 Rebellion in Upper Canada.

Compiled and annotated by Chris Raible


The York Pioneer and Historical Society marked the 150th anniversary of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion with an issue of The York Pioneer, Volume 82 (1987) containing a number of Rebellion-related articles. An extensive bibliography of more than 500 published works related to the Rebellion in Upper Canada is scheduled for publication in Ontario History (Autumn 2009).

This bibliography lists books that are available at libraries or through interlibrary loan. A number of them are still in print and all are currently offered by used book dealers through the internet.

Broader views

Clark, S. D. Movements of Political Protest in Canada, 1640-1840. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959. Helps to put the 1837 Rebellions in a larger context.

Craig, Gerald M. Upper Canada: The Formative Years 1784-1841. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart,1963. The only general history of the province for this period – not sympathetic to the Rebellion.

Dunham, Aileen. Political Unrest in Upper Canada 1815-1836. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1963 – first published London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1927. A fascinating, albeit highly critical study of events leading up to the Rebellion.

Gourlay, Robert. Statistical Account of Upper Canada, abridged and with an introduction by S. R. Mealing. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1972 – first published in 1822. Gourlay was a precursor of the Rebellion in Upper Canada.

Landon, Fred. Western Ontario and the American Frontier. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1967 – first published Toronto and New Haven, Connecticut: Ryerson Press and Yale University Press, 1941. A very useful study putting the discontent in one area into a larger North American context.

McNairn, Jeffrey L, The Capacity to Judge: Public Opinion and Deliberative Democracy in Upper Canada 1791-1854. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. An extraordinarily insightful consideration of the role of public opinion in the political process – relies heavily on contemporary newspapers and other published works.

Wilton, Carol, Popular Politics and Political Culture in Upper Canada 1800-1850. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000. A detailed examination of reform public political activity – petitioning, meetings, parades and demonstrations – and the political violence it aroused in response.


Dent, John Charles. The Story of the Upper Canada Rebellion. Toronto: C. Blackett Robinson, 1885. A thorough history of the Rebellion from a late 19th century perspective. Although sympathetic to the Rebellion, highly critical of Mackenzie.

Fryer, Mary Beacock. Volunteers & Redcoats, Raiders & Rebels: A Military History of the Rebellions in Upper Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press for the Canadian War Museum, 1987. Well illustrated and highly useful as a military history of the Rebellion.

Guillet, Edwin. The Lives and Times of the Patriots. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968 – first published Toronto: Thomas Nelson, 1938. Despite its errors and limitations, it is perhaps the best single, readable volume on the whole of the U.C. Rebellion including the border incidents of the year following.

Head, Sir Francis. A Narrative. Abridged and edited by S. F. Wise. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969 – full text published London: John Murray, 1839. Head’s work defending himself immediately after the Rebellion – this condensed edition has a useful introduction.

Kilbourn, William. The Firebrand: William Lyon Mackenzie and the Rebellion in Upper Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2008 – first published Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1959. A lively and readable – but shallow and unreliable – biography of Mackenzie written a half century ago and now back in print. This edition has a brief new introduction by Ronald Stagg and reprints the Mackenzie Narrative listed below.

Lindsey, Charles. The Life and Times of Wm. Lyon Mackenzie. Toronto: P.R. Randal, 1862 – reprinted Coles Publishing, 1971. Written a year after Mackenzie’s death by his son-in-law, this is the only comprehensive biography of Mackenzie. It also contains many details about the Rebellion itself.

Mackenzie, William L. Mackenzie’s Own Narrative of the Late Rebellion with Illustrations and Notes, Critical and Explanatory: Exhibiting the Only True Account of What Took Place at the Memorable Siege of Toronto. Ottawa: Golden Dog Press, 1980 – originally published Toronto: Palladium Office, 1838. Fascinating because it is Mackenzie’s own brief account written for a New York newspaper less than two months after the Rebellion.

Ontario Historical Society. 1837 Rebellion Remembered (Willowdale, Ontario: Ontario Historical Society, 1988). A collection of eighteen papers presented at a conference marking the 150th anniversary of the Upper Canada Rebellion.

Read, Colin. The Rising in Western Upper Canada 1837-8: The Duncombe Revolt and After. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. The only thorough study of this chapter in the Rebellion – highly recommended.

Read, Colin & Ronald J. Stagg, editors. The Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada. Toronto: Carleton University Press for the Champlain Society, 1988. A detailed and comprehensive compilation of material – essential for all serious students of the Rebellion.

Tiffany, Orrin Edward. The Canadian Rebellion of 1837-38. Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1980 – first published Buffalo: Buffalo Historical Society, 1905. Of interest because it presents a late 19th century perspective from just south of the border.