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United Empire Loyalists

(Loyalist Lineages of Canada 1783-1983)

  • The American Revolution (1775-1783) created not one country but two. Without the infusion of almost 60,000 American Loyalists into the remaining British North American colonies, Canada could have offered little resistance to the expansion of the American Republic.
  • Canada has been the haven for many political refugees, of which the United Empire Loyalists were first. Representing varied ethnic and religious groups who had left Europe to settle in the American Colonies since the early 1600s, they brought with them to Canada their common loyalty to the Crown, their respect for the rule of law and their determination to make new lives for themselves and their families.
  • The Toronto Branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada in a review of its records where national origin of the member's Loyalist ancestor could be ascertained found that 28% were from Germany, 23% from Scotland,18% from England, 12% from Ireland, 8% from Holland, 5% from France,4% from Wales, 1% from Switzerland and less than 1% from Denmark and Sweden.
  • In what has been called the 'first' American Civil War, more than 50 provincial corps of Loyal Americans opposed the rebellion. Loyalist corps were raised in all colonies from Georgia to Massachusetts and fought with the British throughout the war. To name only a few, there were the 1st Battalions of DeLancey's Brigade, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of Skinner's New Jersey Volunteers, Simcoe's Queen's Rangers (1st American Regiment), the Pennsylvania Loyalists and the Maryland Loyalists. These and other Loyalist corps fought in the skirmishes and battles around New York City, Philadelphia and in the southern colonies until hostilities ended at Yorktown Virginia, in 1781.
  • In the Northern Department, Johnson's King's Royal Regiment of New York, Butler's Rangers, Jessup's Loyal Rangers and McLean's Royal Highland Emigrants 84th Regiment),were raised from among the Loyalists of the northern frontier. The troops of the Northern Department were stationed at posts from Sorel east of Montreal, to Fort Michilimackinac. They fought in General Burgoyne's campaign that ended at Saratoga and led many excursions into the Mohawk Valley of New York Province.In most of these forays they were joined by Iroquois Indians led by such chiefs as Joseph Brant and John Deserontyn.
  • During the hostilities, Loyalists had left the colonies for England, Florida, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Quebec. It is estimated that 100,000 American colonists, loyal to the Crown, were driven into exile by persecution, confiscation of their properties and threats upon their lives.
  • At the end of the war, Sir Guy Carleton, later Lord Dorchester, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British forces and was responsible for the evacuation of the troops and Loyalists remaining in New York City. Approximately 35,000 Loyalist troops and civilian Loyalists, 'Incorporated' or 'Associated' into groups,were transported to Nova Scotia by ship. The influx of disbanded troops and Loyalists into the St. John River valley brought demands for their own government. In 1784, the 'Loyalist' Province of New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia and Thomas Carleton, brother of Sir Guy Carleton, was appointed Governor.
  • In the spring of 1784, 6,000 of the 10,000 disbanded troops and Loyalists who had gathered in Quebec, were settled in townships along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, west of Montreal, and around the Bay of Quinte. Some 900 'Associated' Loyalists, the Van Alstyne and Grass groups,who were taken by ship from New York City to Quebec where they wintered at Sorel,were settled at Adolphustown and Kingston. Butler's Rangers, stationed at Fort Niagara, had settled some Loyalists across the Niagara River in what later became Ontario as early as 1781, and when disbanded in 1784, settled mainly in the Niagara Peninsula and along the north shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
  • Transportation, provisioning, and settlement of the disbanded troops and civilian Loyalists was conducted by the military establishment. The method of raising troops and assembling the civilian groups had brought together neighbours, friends, and relatives who were later settled together for their mutual benefit.
  • On the 9th of November 1789, in Council at Quebec City, Lord Dorchester, Governor-in-Chief of British America, gave particular recognition to the 'First Loyalists' by differentiating them from other Loyalists and settlers, i.e. 'Late' Loyalists,'Treasury' Loyalists, 'Simcoe' Loyalists, and from regular British and German soldiers who were considered to be 'Military Claimants'. The 'Dorchester Resolution proved by the Council-Defined the 'U.E. Loyalists' as those "who had adhered to the United of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard in America before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783".
  • "Put a mark of Honor upon the Families" of the U.E. Loyalists. Approved the granting by the Land Boards of 200 acres of land (without fees) to the sons and daughters of the U.E. Loyalists. Accompanying the resolution to London to be laid before the King, was attached a "Form of Militia Roll for the Western Districts to discriminate the Families before mentioned"which included the following heading: "N.B. Those Loyalists who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire, and Joined the Royal Standard [in America] before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783, and all their Children and their descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following Capitals, affixed to their names: U.E. Alluding to their great principle The Unity of the Empire."In the covering letter, Lord Dorchester explained: "Care has been taken to reward the spirit of loyalty and industry, to extend and transmit it to future generations…".
  • The Loyalists in the newly settled western part of Quebec were not satisfied to be governed by the terms of the Quebec Act of 1774. Their petitions for English civil law, freehold tenure of land and elected assembly brought about the separation of the Old Province of Quebec into Lower and Upper Canada in 1791, with John Graves Simcoe, former colonel of the Queen's Rangers (1st American Regiment), as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, now Ontario. From 1783 to 1812, the U.E. Loyalists of Upper Canada were joined by many U.E. Loyalists from the Maritime provinces; by 'late' Loyalists who may have supported the Crown but who were not within the British lines until after 1783; and those who came to swear allegiance to the Crown to escape what one settler termed the "Chaos, Taxes and Anarchy" of the new republic.
  • When the United States declared war on Great Britain in 1812, Upper Canada had a population of nearly 100,000,four-fifths of whom were American-born. The Upper Canada Militia and Indians who joined the British regular troops to resist the invasion were defending their homes and farms, as had their fathers and grandfathers in the American Revolution. Their success in turning back the invaders who would have severed the eastern provinces from the future western provinces ensured the development of Canada as a nation.

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