Brawling Bytown – The Shiners’ War

Conflict and Confrontation: The Shiners War and Violence in Early Bytown

by Grant Vogl
at the Royal Canadian Legion – Stittsville Branch
on Saturday Nov. 16, 2019, 1:30pm

“A greater set of ruffians than the whole population of Bytown would be hard to find…”
Founded in 1826 as a canal worksite, Bytown (now Ottawa) quickly gained a reputation as one of the most violent towns in all of British North America. Conflict was everywhere.
 When work on the Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 the burgeoning lumber industry became one of the few means of employment. Many canal workers, who had little experience felling trees or sawing timber, sought to open up employment opportunities through intimidation of the existing and largely French-Canadian workforce. In 1835 the conflict became organized under leaders like Peter Aylen, the self-styled “King of the Shiners.”
This presentation will explore the conditions that created conflict in Bytown from the early days of the Rideau Canal through the period known as the “Shiner’s War” and to the town’s re-branding as Ottawa in 1855.


Grant Vogl is the Collections and Exhibitions Manager of the Bytown Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. Grant manages the Museum’s historic artefact collection, permanent, temporary, and community galleries, and has curated numerous special exhibitions highlighting the events, people and stories that have made Ottawa history.

This  free event is open to everyone. It is being held in the Stittsville Legion on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 1:30pm. Parking and refreshments are free. Please tell a neighbour and bring a friend.