Stories of Girls Making a Difference

Biography of Charlotte De Grassi and Cornelia De Grassi

Street sign that indicates De Grassi St

Name: Charlotte De Grassi and Cornelia De Grassi
Date: 1823 –1872 and 1825 –1885 respectively
Role: Heroines, Spies
Girlhood achievement: Helping the Loyalists stop the 1837 Rebellion

In December 1837, a group of rebels began planning an uprising against the Loyalist government of early Upper Canada. When Captain Filipo De Grassi, who had previously served in Napoleon's army and had moved to York, Upper Canada, in 1831, heard about it, he left immediately for Government House, taking along his two daughters. Teenagers Charlotte and Cornelia De Grassi risked their lives to support the government by spying on the rebels, carrying messages and sounding the alarm. They didn't let gunshots or the risk of kidnapping stand in their way.

The information the sisters carried and gathered was considered very important to the outcome of the rebellion. The New York Albion wrote about their bravery and their loyalty to their country in the face of danger.

Lifelong heroines, Charlotte and Cornelia De Grassi were noted for their courageous actions by the Globe and Mail newspaper and are featured in the Canadian Encyclopedia. There is also a plaque commemorating the De Grassi family at the Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve in Toronto.

Charlotte and Cornelia De Grassi – history-making Canadian girls and great Canadian women.

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