Museum of Civilization adds Rebellions to Confederation module and a black history schoolhouse to Canada Hall

October 28, 2010

Posted on: 28/10/2010

Museum of Civilization adds Rebellions to Confederation module
and a black history schoolhouse to Canada Hall

Gatineau, Quebec, October 28, 2010 — The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) has added two important chapters in Canadian history to its largest and most popular permanent exhibition hall. Visitors to the Museum’s famous Canada Hall can now learn about events leading from the 1837–1838 Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada to Confederation in 1867, and they can also visit a one-room schoolhouse from rural western Canada during the 1940s.

“The Canada Hall is our most popular exhibition, with close to half a million visitors every year. It is constantly evolving as we continue to layer in new information from our history,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We aim to reflect the complex history of Canada’s people, to reveal the hopes shared by generations of immigrants, and the political, social and economic struggles that led to our development as a nation.”

From Rebellions to Confederation, 1837–1867 looks at the widespread discontent that led to uprisings against the British colonial governments in these years. These became part of the events that eventually led to political reforms that created Canadian parliamentary democracy.

From Rebellions to Confederation, 1837–1867 introduces visitors to the historical characters that led the nineteenth-century rebels and Patriotes in confronting colonial powers in Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). It brings Museum visitors to Montgomery Tavern in Toronto, where William Lyon Mackenzie and his rebels plotted against the elite leaders of the colony. The Tavern re-creates the tense atmosphere of 1837, and includes a display of a musket, sword and other weapons wielded during the Upper Canada Rebellion.

Next, visitors enter Montréal’s Pied-du-courant Jail, where 1,367 Patriotes were imprisoned for their role in the Lower Canada Rebellion. This stark place recalls the hardships of the prisoners, and introduces their leaders and heroes, such as Louis-Joseph Papineau, whose pocket watch and snuffbox are on display.

While the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions failed, the rebels’ demands for democratic reforms paved the way for many political changes. Years later, even the negotiation to create Canada’s confederation was influenced by the ideas of the Rebellions. A wall-sized multimedia timeline explains the sequence of events and decisions that led John A. Macdonald, George-Étienne Cartier and other leaders to unite the colonies of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island under the banner of Confederation.

The second new installation, known as Toles School depicts a one-room schoolhouse in rural Alberta. In the 1940s, schools were still heated with wood stoves and attended by students who sometimes came on horseback. The