Rebellion by Marianne Brandis  

A young-adult historical novel by Marianne Brandis about Mackenzie’s rebellion of 1837, published to co-incide with the celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Yonge Street.

Adam Wheeler is a fourteen year-old who arrives in Toronto in the autumn of 1837 after crossing from England on a filthy and crowded immigrant ship. He has emigrated in company with his uncle’s family, but, once in Upper Canada, he quarrels with his uncle and sets out on his own. Adam finds work in a paper mill at the village of Todmorden on the banks of the Don River.

Adam soon learns that William Lyon Mackenzie is mounting a rebellion. When the uprising begins, he is drawn into the conflict both because his employer sends him to deliver paper to the rebel camp at Montgomery’s Tavern, and also because his uncle joins Mackenzie’s force.

Among those Adam befriends are two teenage girls, Cornelia and Charlotte de Grassi. These historical figures, aged thirteen and fourteen at the time, served as spies and messengers for the government side during Mackenzie’s Rebellion.

Although this book is a work of fiction, it is solidly based on real history. The events of the 1837 Rebellion have been carefully researched and are presented as accurately as possible. Captain and Mrs de Grassi and their daughters, and several other characters, were real people and, improbable as it may seem, the girls’ work as spies and messengers during the rebellion days is fully authenticated.

When it comes to presenting human beings however, historical documents are usually uninformative. To bring the characters to life, the author has invented certain scenes and details, all of which she based carefully on what she learned about the de Grassi family, and on the life and circumstances of the time.


1996—Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction,

Review quote

‘Marianne Brandis provides evidence of her usual meticulous research in re-creating the lives of ordinary people.’

—Canadian Children’s Literature


Marianne Brandis was born in the Netherlands in 1938 and came to Canada in 1947. After earning her BA and MA from McMaster University, she worked in radio and taught at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now University) before becoming a full-time writer. Most of her work has a historical element. She is the author of award-winning historical fiction and has also written biography and memoirs. Pursuing her interest in the relations between people and their surroundings, she has researched and written about Toronto’s ravines, environmental and social issues in Malawi, and urban design and planning projects in her current hometown of Stratford, Ontario.

For more information please visit the Author’s website »

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Canada / Pre-Confederation

HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation

ISBN-13: 9780889841758

Publication Date: 1996-05-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 228

Price: $16.95