At Simcoe in February, the Norfolk Historical Society dedicated the excellent Loyalist display in the Eva Brook Donly Museum, which shows the Loyalist Journey and story by murals and panel displays.

Many members of the Grand River Branch were there to witness the proceedings, as they also were a major partner. The large display, which encompasses the stairway and upper foyer area, was made possible by a Federal Millennium 2000 Partnership grant.

Above left to right: Shelia Hastie, President of the Norfolk Historical Society; Gentleman in costume; Marilyn Branch, President of the Grand River Branch; Bill Terry, UELAC President and the Hon. Toby Barrett,  MPP (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant).

At left, Doris Lemon admires the Loyalist display.

The following is the complete text from the display panels, which

is visible behind our members and friends in the above picture.


    " Over 200 years ago the American Revolution shattered the British Empire in North America. Not all inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies were in favour of Independence and sought to continue to live under the British flag. Some believed the differences would be resolved between the Colonies and Britain and order restored.

    In the Thirteen Colonies, the Loyalists were branded as traitors, and persecuted by their Rebel neighbours. Loyalists could not vote, sell land, sue debtors or work as lawyers, doctors or school teachers.  Farm buildings were burned or confiscated. Some Loyalists were mistreated, tarred and feathered or tortured, and others lived in mortal fear for their lives. They were stripped of their property and goods and banished upon pain of death should they ever return.

    The Loyalists who remained faithful to the Crown were North American by experience. Those who wished to live in the New World left, or were forced to leave, their homes and settle in the remaining British territory, Canada. "


    " The Loyalists came from every class and walk in life.  Some depended on the Crown for their livelihood and status and had considerable wealth and property.  Many were farmers, craftsmen, clerks, clergymen, lawyers, blacksmiths, labourers, soldiers and slaves.  They were a diverse multicultural group with different religions and ethnic backgrounds:  English, Scottish, French, Welch, Dutch, German, Native North American, Black American and etc..  Some were newcomers.  Others had been in America for generations.  The common denominator was that they were British subjects living in the Thirteen Colonies who lost everything:  they lost homes, possessions, occupations and a way of life.

    It is estimated 70,000, or perhaps 100,000 or more, Loyalists fled the Thirteen Colonies.  Of these, roughly 50,000 came to Canada.  Some, with connections still, returned to Britain.  Others went to the Caribbean.

    In 1789, Guy Carleton, as Lord Dorchester, Governor-in-Chief of Canada, knew first-hand of the suffering and losses of the Loyalists.  Since other newcomers were receiving free grants of land, he wished to honour the Loyalists for their sacrifices and therefore decreed:

" Those Loyalists who have adhered to the unity of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Separation in 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. .... "


   " Some Loyalists and their families, fearing for their safety or having lost their homes, fled to Canada during the Revolution.  The Six Nations Indians were allies of Britain and when their forty-one Villages in the Mohawk Valley were burned, they camped in Niagara and assisted other Loyalists as they arrived.

    After the surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the major exodus occurred.  Some escaped to safety in New York City, which was still held by the British and great fleets of sailing ships transported them to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Some escaped by canoe up the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. Others followed the Mohawk River and crossed at Niagara.  Loyalists settlements were created in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, along the St Lawrence River, Bay of Quinte, the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Niagara, the Long Point Settlement and across the border at Windsor and Lake Erie.  The loyal Six Nations were granted, by the Haldimand Deed of 1784, six miles on either side of the Grand River from its source to its mouth, comprising approximately 675,000 acres.

    The Loyalists journeyed for weeks by boat, wagon and on foot with few possessions and little food or shelter, and often through hostile territory.  More fortunate refugees had a yoke of oxen, or a cow tethered at the rear of the wagon.  Children of all ages rode or walked alongside wagons until they too made their way to safety in Canada. "


    " The Loyalists who settled in the Long Point area were part of this large migration.  Most journeyed to Niagara, crossed the River on rafts and made their way through unbroken wilderness to Norfolk County know then as the Long Point Settlement.  Some followed the Lake Erie shoreline to Port Ryerse where Samuel and Joseph Ryerse, who had previously settled in New Brunswick, were enticed with a large grant of land by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to create a settlement and encourage other New Brunswick Loyalists to settle.  Simcoe desired a loyal population on the north side of Lake Erie as he believed the Americans would attack one day.

   Many Long Point Loyalists fought in one of fifty Loyalist regiments such as: The King's Royal Regiment of New York, The Queen's Rangers, New Jersey Volunteers, Rogers' Rangers, Jessup's Corps, Butler's Rangers and Loyal Guides and Pioneers.  They were from all walks of life and, whether or not they were experienced frontier farmers, craftsmen or professionals from the Thirteen Colonies, they found themselves isolated in a virgin forest on a land grant with regulations to clear it and build buildings.

   Among the terms of the free grant of land, usually two hundred acres for Privates and larger for officers, three acres had to be cleared of trees, a habitation 16' x 24' erected and a road cleared and maintained along the front boundary.  Then they could apply to have the deed registered in their names. They were given an axe, spade, tent, seeds, flour and a kettle to cook in.  They built rude buildings for immediate shelter and helped each other. "


   " At the time of the arrival of the Loyalists, this part of Ontario was known as Québec. On June 19, 1791 the British Parliament passed the Canada Act, known as the Constitutional Act, which divided Quebec into Lower and Upper Canada.  Upper Canada (now Ontario) was granted an elected assembly and the freehold system of land tenure.  John Graves Simcoe, who had commanded the Queen's Rangers in the Revolution, was appointed as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.  He called the first Parliament at Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) in 1792.

   Lumber, grist and carding mills were built including the Austin, Bakus and Ryerse mills. All of the mills in the settlement, except two, were burned when an American force under Captain Campbell sailed across Lake Erie and raided, plundered and burned the Long Point Settlement in the War of 1812-14.

    The Van Norman Foundry was built.  Churches were founded. An education system was established under the guidance of Egerton Ryerson and schools were built.  Vittoria was named as the first capital and courts were held there until the court house burned and the Capital of the District was moved to London.

    The fame of the Norfolk area's good soil and moderate climate soon spread, and other pioneers arrived and joined the Loyalists of the Long Point Settlement.  The settlement of the Loyalists created an English-speaking, multi-cultural society based on a Constitutional Monarchy with a motto of "law, order and good government" and maintained a British Colony in North America. "

   BACK to Grand River Archives       NEXT Page