Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada

 

 

 

 


Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches



"The Sesquicentennial Celebration of Brantford  :  1847-1997"

Angela E.M. Files, February 1997, Vol.9 No.1, Page 10


    One hundred and fifty years ago, on 28 July 1847, the village of Brantford , population 3000, was incorporated as a town.  William Muirhead was selected as the first mayor at Bradley's Inn.  Many of the early settlements of Upper Canada were founded and developed by Loyalist families.  Captain Joseph Brant and his Native allies of the British during the Revolution settled on the valley of the Grand River.  The early Native settlers under Brant built Mohawk Village which included the Mohawk Chapel, the Council House and Brant's House surrounded by about twenty-four log homes.  White settlers eventually settled on the fringe of the Mohawk community and cornfields surrounded the area.

  Shortly after the arrival of the Six Nations, John Stalts, one of the first known residents, erected a log hut on the high bank of the Grand River a short distance from the location where Brant had crossed the Grand River, known as Brant's Ford.  On 15 December 1912, and elderly woman, Annie Thompson of Brantford, described this site:

" ... A tavern stood close to the river bank which was surrounded with heavy stones.  At this tavern, Joseph Brant stopped on his journeys from the east or west to old Mohawk Village. "

  The site was named Brant's Ford in 1827.  Some of the early Loyalist families who settled in the area were Barton, Files, Hawley, Smith, Thomas, Vanderlip and Westbrook.

  On 19 April 1830, the Six Nations, under Chief John Brant, youngest son of Captain Joseph Brant, surrendered some of their land which was then surveyed by Lewis Burwell, also of Loyalist descent.  English, Irish, Scottish settlers and a sprinkling of United Empire Loyalists, Americans and Native Canadians and some escaped slaves from the United States settled the area.

  The town suffered during the cholera outbreaks in the 1840's and victims were buried in the rear of Greenwood Cemetery and at St. Basil's Cemetery and also in an old cemetery located on the site of Central School.

  The town was made more accessible by the completion of the canal built by the Grand River Navigation Company.   Nine churches representing all Protestant and Roman Catholic branches of Christendom were established in the ensuing years and the population continued to grow.  On 31 May 1877, Brantford had 11,000 citizens and it was incorporated as a city.

  Today, the descendants of Native and Loyalist families can be proud of the founding efforts of the ancestors.  Brantford grew from a small Mohawk Village to a city of more than 82,000 people today.

This line sketch, our traditional title page depiction of early Loyalist settlement along the Grand River, was originally drawn by our longstanding member, Doris Marcellus, U.E.  The drawing was screened for printing in 1988.  A Loyalist family gazes at the Mohawk Chapel across the river while Natives are canoeing in the foreground.  Perhaps no visual image captures our heritage and the origins of Brantford quite as well as this modern print.