The British government in Lower Canada had generated a considerable amount of discontent in the colony. The Legislative Council, a body appointed by the governor, was composed of wealthy English and French businessmen and merchants. It ignored the elected Legislative Assembly, and many citizens referred to it contemptuously as the "Château Clique." By 1837, many colonists, led by Louis Joseph Papineau and "Les Patriotes," were openly demanding reform. In September, Sir John Colborne, commander of the British forces in Lower Canada, warned the British government that the discontent might escalate into hostilities.
On 6 November 1837, fighting broke out in the streets between reformers known as the Fils de la Liberté and reactionary members of the Doric Club. Colborne reacted by posting military guards and calling out the Montreal Royal Artillery. He banned all public assemblies on 12 November. The show of force did nothing to discourage the reformers, and open clashes soon occurred between troops and Les Patriotes.
On 22 November, companies of the 24th, 32nd, and 66th regiments brutally quelled the uprising. In confrontations at St. Denis, Sorel, St. Charles, and St. Eustache, British troops killed many Patriotes. During the rebellion, 27 soldiers and 298 rebels were killed in battle. Over 750 rebels were imprisoned. Some 99 were sentenced to death by courts martial (trial by jury having been suspended). Of these, 12 went to the gallows, 58 were transported to the penal colony of Tasmania, and another 27 were simply banished.