Siste Lavoy: Les Rébel

October 14, 2017

In the late hours of October 12th, 1837, Siste Lavoy lay hiding in the woods near the western shore of Lake Champlain, New York, in fear for his life. Just hours before he had taken up arms as a Patriote in the Canadian Rebellion and was now wanted by English soldiers. How had this simple farmer with a wife and three children come to this?

Louis Joseph Papineau

Siste’s path to becoming one of Les Rébels of the Patriote movement began years earlier as he and fellow French habitants (early French settlers) cultivated a growing discontent of British rule. The habitants felt under-represented within the government and were concerned about being forced to abandon their French culture and language. They wanted to throw-off the yoke of British rule as the United States had done decades earlier during the American Revolution. During this time, Louis Papineau, a Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, became a voice for the concerns of the French Patriote movement.

According to an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, “When, in 1834, Louis Joseph Papineau drew up the list of the demands and grievances of his countrymen, known in Canadian history as the ninety-two resolutions, Siste Lavoy became an enthusiastic adherent. Early in 1837 Papineau’s speeches in the parishes aroused the people to even greater fury than he desired and an armed revolt was determined upon. Farmer Lavoy’s house was one of the many secret meeting places, and when Papineau gave, in October of that year, his assent to the fiery “Appeal to the People” which resulted in actual rebellion, Siste Lavoy shouldered his gun. He and some thirty other insurgents met at Rouso’s Point [sic]. Not more than half a dozen were armed with guns, the remainder having such rude weapons as they had been able to hastily improvise. They had scarcely met before a body of English soldiers appeared. The rebels intrenched [sic] themselves behind some strawstacks, but from the first volley from the soldiers they dispersed and fled across the American frontier. Not daring to enter the United States bearing arms Mr. Lavoy, as did the others, threw away his gun and for three days hid in the woods. Then he cautiously made his way back to Lacadi [sic], reaching his farm at night. For days he lay concealed there.”

Though horribly outnumbered, Siste and his fellow Patriotes seemed to hold to the French saying “For a valiant heart nothing is impossible.” After the uprising, a proclamation was made by Montreal authorities prohibiting unlawful meetings. In fear for his life, Louis Papineau fled through the Vermont countryside, eventually making his way back to France to petition the French government, unsuccessfully, for assistance. Siste passed the next few decades peacefully on his farm.

George Remi Lavoy

In 1857, Siste’s oldest son, George (Remi) Lavoy (our ancestor), settled on a farm in Kankakee Valley, Illinois and Siste’s youngest son J. Lazare Lavoy moved to Chicago. Siste divided his later years between the homes of these sons. According to the Chicago Tribune article, Siste retired “passing the evening of his life, according to old-fashioned French ways, with his children and Grandchildren, resting.”



Quick Facts: Siste Lavoy was born in 1808 in L’Acadie, Quebec, which lies south of Montreal. He was the youngest of Joseph and Monique (Hedouin Laforge) Lavoy’s fourteen children. In 1829 he married Marguerite Mailloux and settled on a farm near the current day town of Napierville, where they had five children. He passed away at his youngest son’s home in Chicago, Illinios on February 14, 1895.


Click on the image above to view Siste's profile in the family tree.
Siste Lavoy relationship to the Gregoire family.
More about Michelle

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *