The Canadian Militia

AuthorCraig Forcese
Chapter 4
The Canadian Militia
To thee! high-hearted Drew,
And thy viorious band
Of heroes tried and true,
A nation’s thanks are due;
Defenders of an injured land
Well ha thou taught the daard foe
That British honor never yields
To democratic inf‌luence low
The glory of a thousand f‌ields.
—   18381
O   the Navy Island invasion, Lieutenant-Governor
Head dispatched Allan Napier MacNab to command a mil-
itia tasked with confronting the insurgents. By then a mem-
ber of the Upper Canada elite, the thirty-eight-year-old MacNab had
fought along the frontier during the War of 1812, and then practised
law in Hamilton, becoming an important business f‌igure in the region
by the late 1820s.
Though an outsider among and an economic competitor to
the Tory Family Compact that controlled the province, he preferred
these Tories to Mackenzie’s reformers. Indeed, both before and
after his election to the assembly as a Tory in 1830, MacNab clashed
repeatedly with Mackenzie, and led ef‌forts to expel the reformer
from the assembly. He also opposed responsible government in Can-
ada, fearing it would degrade ties to Britain. Still, MacNab was more
independently minded than most of his party, a status that led to his
election as speaker of the assembly in 1837.
He had also maintained ties to the militia, reaching the rank of
lieutenant colonel in the Gore militia by 1830. And so, when Mackenzie

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