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The Upper Canada Rebellion and Osgoode Hall

The Upper Canada Rebellion had a significant impact on the Law Society and the development of Osgoode Hall. The Minutes of Convocation from December 4th, 1837, state “Mckenzie’s [sic] insurrection broke out this night and in consequence of which Convocation assembled no more during this term.” The government’s perception of an ongoing threat from rebels meant the need for a stronger military presence in York. Consequently, by June 25th, 1838, the Law Society had signed a two-year lease with the government to allow Osgoode Hall to serve as an army barracks. This agreement saw the permanent removal of student boarders and a temporary move of the Law Society’s library and operations out of Osgoode Hall and into the nearby parliament buildings.

Soldiers from the 93rd Highlanders occupied the centre range of Osgoode Hall, while officers occupied the East Wing. The original two-year lease was extended, and the soldiers did not leave Osgoode Hall until 1843. At that time, the Law Society received compensation from the government of £500 to repair the East Wing and the centre range due to the extreme damage caused by the soldiers. The following year, renovations to the centre range began as well as construction of the West Wing.
OH1856.jpgOsgoode Hall, 1856

In 2001, during renovations to the Treasurer’s office in the Benchers’ Quarters (East Wing), a cache of calling cards was discovered behind the fireplace. The cards, dating from the period of the officers’ residence in the East Wing, provide a glimpse into some of the social activities of the officers housed in the building during that period.

Reverse of calling card for Buckmaster & Co., Tailors, London
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