Wolfred Nelson, by Théophile Hamel, 1848
|8th Mayor of Montreal|
|Preceded by||Charles Wilson|
|Succeeded by||Henry Starnes|
|Born||10 July 1791
Montreal, Lower Canada
|Died||17 June 1863
Montreal, Province of Canada
Wolfred Nelson (10 July 1791 – 17 June 1863) was from 1854 to 1856 the mayor of Montreal, Quebec.
Nelson was born in Montreal the son of William Nelson, an immigrant to Colonial America from Newsham, North Yorkshire, England. His mother, Jane Dies, was a teacher and daughter of an important land owner in the New York area.
Nelson studied at the school of his father in William Henry (today Sorel, Quebec). He became a doctor in January 1811, and subsequently served in that capacity with the British troops on the War of 1812.
In 1827, he was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, but gave up active politics in 1830, without disavowing his reformist allegiance. He became a Patriote leader in the region of the Richelieu River valley, and supported the use of arms at the Assemblée des Six-Comtés in 1837.
In a prelude to the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837, Nelson led 5,000 Patriotes in the two-day Assembly of the Six Counties in Saint-Charles, Lower Canada (present-day Quebec), on 23 and 24 October 1837, to protest the government's Russell Resolutions, taking place despite the 15 June Proclamation forbidding public assemblies. The conference delegates approved the Thirteen Resolutions, based on the republican document Rights of Man written by British and later American Revolutionary Thomas Paine, which was also adopted by proponents of both the American Revolution and the French Revolution. A Column of Liberty was also erected in Saint-Charles' Square.
On 16 November 1837, he and 25 others were charged with high treason. The following month, on 4 December 1837, Louis-Joseph Papineau and Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan joined Nelson at Saint-Denis where they decided to resist arrest, procure arms and ammunition for the people and declare the independence of Lower Canada. It was around this time that Nelson exclaimed, "The time has come, to melt our spoons into bullets."
On 28 February 1838, after having crossed the border from Vermont, Nelson, along with 300 to 400 Patriotes from a secret group called Frères Chasseurs, distributed copies of a declaration of independence written by Nelson’s brother, Robert Nelson. Drawn from the American Declaration of Independence, the document listed the crimes that Great Britain had committed against Lower Canada, as well as the right to overthrow the government.
Exiled to Bermuda in 1838, Nelson was granted amnesty by the British colonial government and came back to Montreal in 1842. In 1844, he was elected to the new Parliament of the Province of Canada. In 1854, he became mayor of Montreal, and he died in June 1863. He is interred in the Anglican cemetery in Sorel-Tracy and is commemorated by a park in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough.
- Report of Dr. Wolfred Nelson, one of the inspectors of the provincial penitentiary, on the present state, discipline, management and expenditure of the district and other prisons in Canada East, 1852 (exist also in French)
- Rapport des Drs. Nelson et Macdonnell, et Zéphirin Perrault, ecr., avocat, sur l'Hôpital de marine et des émigrés de Québec, et correspondance relative aux services du Dr. Robitaille dans le dit hôpital, 1853
- Practical views on cholera, and on the sanitaty, preventive and curative measures to be adopted in the event of a visitation of the epidemic, 1854 (exist also in French)
- Canada Channel: Content Summary for Rebellions of 1837–38
- http://northernblue.ca/canchan/research/result sreb.php
- Wrong, George M.; Langton, H. H. (2009). The Chronicles of Canada: Volume VII – The Struggle for Political Freedom. Fireship Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-934757-50-5.
- Library and Archives of Canada http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=4624
- Library and Archives of Canada http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=5184
- "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
- Thompson, John Beswarick (2000). "Nelson, Wolfred". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto and Université Laval. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- Lemire, Jonathan (20 May 2000). "Nelson, Wolfred (1791–1863)". Les Patriotes de 1837@1838. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- Aubin, Georges (1998). Wolfred Nelson. Écrits d'un patriote (1812–1842). Montréal: Comeau & Nadeau. pp. 177 pages. ISBN 2-9804963-8-3.
- Chartier, Jean (5 April 1999). "Le médecin du peuple". Le Devoir (in French). Retrieved 15 November 2010. (via Vigile.net)
- "Wolfred Nelson en 1849". Vieux-Montréal. 23 September 2005. Retrieved 15 November 2010.