December 14, 1837 will be forever remembered in the memories of the people of St-Eustache.
On this cold winter day, Doctor Jean-Olivier Chénier and a hundred or so patriots of Saint-Eustache and surrounding parishes bravely faced 2000 men led by British General Colborne.
Barricaded in the church, the presbytery, the convent, the manor, and some houses in front of the town square and along main street, Chénier’s companions were not able to oppose for a very long time Queen Victoria’s troops.
In less than two hours, all of the village was encircled and became an easy prey. Between the first canon shot from le chemin de la Grande-Côte and the crackling of last rifle shots, the battle was over in less than five hours.
Using primitive weapons and being captive in their own fortress, the patriots were doomed. If not asphyxiated or burned to death, they would die from the bullets shot by the English soldiers or the volunteers while trying to flee. This is how those who believed in a just cause died: Jean-Olivier Chénier, Joseph Paquet, Jean-Baptiste Lauzé, Nazaire Filion, Séraphin Doré, François Dubé, Joseph Guitard, Pierre Dubeau, Joseph Bonnet, Jean-Baptiste Toupin and Alexis Lachance. With these men of Saint-Eustache several others from the surrounding region and from Sainte-Scholastique would also die.
In his Journal historique, the curé Paquin tells what he saw the day after the battle…
All the beautiful part of the village was nothing more but one big pile of smoking ruins where we could find here and there disfigured corpses, all covered with blood and half-burned. The church was reduced to ashes…
The number of burned houses totaled 60, most of them being amongst the most beautiful. This entire scene of desolation pointed out to carnage and revenge. Saint-Eustache all laid in ruins and the ashes were still smoldering. However there were enough cruel people to completely destroy what the fire had saved. Even pieces of the church bell became easy prey for these looters.