Canadian Exiles anniversary

Monument unveiling (Small)

This month marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Canadian Exiles in Australia.

In 1837 and 1838 there were revolts in Lower Canada (now Quebec) by French Canadian Patriotes who held a number of grievances against British government rule. The uprising was severely crushed with some rebels being executed while others were sentenced to transportation. In 1840 the ship Buffalo transported 91 English speaking rebels to Port Arthur in Tasmania and another 58 French speaking Canadians to New South Wales, who arrived at Port Jackson on 25 February 1840. Originally the French Canadians were destined for Norfolk Island but the intervention of the Roman Catholic Bishop, Dr John Bede Polding resulted in the more humane option of the convicts working in Sydney, although conditions were still harsh. On 11 March 1840 the French Canadians were transferred to Longbottom Stockade, a convict depot near the present site of Concord Oval.

Their presence along the Parramatta River is recalled by the names Exile Bay, France Bay and, our city’s namesake, Canada Bay. A memorial to the Canadian Exiles was unveiled by Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, in Cabarita Park in 1970. The photograph shows some of the descendants of Joseph Marceau who was the only one of the exiles to remain in Australia when pardons were granted to the convicts in 1843-1844.

The memorial is now located in Bayview Park, Concord, close to where the French Canadians stepped ashore in 1840. Local Studies holds a range of reference material relating to the Canadian Exiles.

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Posted on February 18, 2015, in Canada Bay, Concord and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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