Canadian Exiles

The Canadian Exiles were a group of 88 American and Canadian political prisoners (sometimes known as the Patriots) transported by George Arthur, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, to Van Diemen's Land in 1839 and 1840 for their part in the abortive Canadian rebellions of 1837 and 1838. They were part of several armed groups who entered Upper Canada to support Canadian rebels and were captured.

These men spent from three to five years in Van Diemen's Land, beginning as workers in road-building probation gangs and ending as ticket-of-leave men. Upon returning home, six individuals wrote autobiographical accounts and two published collections of letters concerning their convict experiences. These are among the best accounts of Vandemonian penal servitude from the convict viewpoint.

Further reading: C Pybus & H Maxwell-Stewart, American citizens, British slaves, Melbourne, 2002.

Tom Dunning