United Empire Loyalists Association
( Originally Published 1924 )
THERE is no occasion to tell Canadians who the Empire Loyalists were, but as this book may fall into the hands of those whose knowledge of Canadian history is limited, it may be well to write a few paragraphs in explanation.
During the agitation which led to the Declaration of Independence by the British Colonies in America, there were two parties to the dispute, the Continentalists, who were for separation and independence from Great Britain and the British Empire, and the United Empire Loyalists, or "Tories," who were for a continuance of the connection with the mother country. That there were grievances, was admitted by both parties, but the Continentalists were determined on separation at any price, even by the force of arms. The Loyalists, on the other hand, were for settlement of the differences by negotiation without recourse to force.
Taxation without representation was the main subject of dispute, but before the Declaration of Independence this objectional law of taxation had been withdrawn by the British Government, but the Continentalists were determined on separation notwithstanding. War ensued. This was in reality a civil war, because it was a war between two branches of the British race and it took on all the bitterness of a family quarrel. As is well known the Continentalists won in the end, with the aid of the French.
During the war and following it the "Tories" were treated with the greatest inhumanity by the mobs. Men were hanged at their own door posts, were tarred and feathered, their cattle were driven off, their houses burned and their families driven away, and when the war was over several of the States of the new Union passed confiscatory laws, so that the Loyalists were reduced to poverty and want. Life for them in the new States became impossible. There was no other recourse but emigration. Hence more than a hundred thousand Loyalists migrated to the wilds of Canada, settling in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Upper Canada (now known as Ontario). They took with them only what they could carry, most of their furniture and household effects were left behind. They landed as winter was approaching, poor and almost penniless, in a region inhabited by Indians and wild animals. And this they did for conscience sake. They sacrificed themselves for an idea, the idea of British connection. I do not propose in this place to detail their sufferings, their hardships and their struggles for an existence. Suffice it to say that they won the battle with rude nature and the untitled wilderness and founded British Canada.
Up to the time of the Loyalist migration, Canada had been exclusively French, having been conquered by the British forces in 1750 to 1760. Now a new element had come in and British laws, customs and ideals pertained in the portions of the country occupied by the immigrants.
The memory of the United Empire Loyalists is held in great honor by Canadians, and while the old U.E.L.'s have all passed to their rest, their descendants, who now are believed to number over a million souls, are a powerful element in the population and occupy important places in the State, the Bench, the Church, the Bar, the Army, the professions and in commercial life.
The spirit of the Loyalists lives and was dem^nstrated in the loyalty of Canada in the Great War, when nearly half a million of Canadians voluntarily enlisted for service in defence of the Empire.
When a hundred years had passed it was determined to celebrate the event by public demonstrations, hence, in June, 1884, committees were organized and a large meeting was held in the Horticultural Building, Allan Gardens, Toronto, at which the Hon. John Beverley Robinson, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Ontario, presided. Among the speakers were Colonel George T. Denison, Bishop Fuller, lion. G. W. Allan, Rev. Dr. Scadding, Rev. Hugh Johnson and S. J. Vankoughnet, Q.C. Receptions and entertainments were given and a happy reunion was brought to a successful close. Celebrations were also held at Niagara and Adolphustown.*
It was proposed at the time to form a permanent society, but nothing was done.
It was not until 1896 that Lieut.-Colonel William Hamilton Merritt and I got together and with the assistance and co-operation of Messrs. Allan Maclean Howard, E. A. Maclaurin, John McBean, W. H. Eakins, William Roaf, John A. MacDonell, Q.C., S. C. Biggs, H. H. Cook, C. E. Ryerson, Rev. C. Thomson, Lieut.-Colonel George A. Shaw, Mrs. Clarkson, Mrs. Stearns-Hicks, Mrs. Montgomery Bereton, Miss Laura Clarke, Miss Alerritt, Mrs. Grant Macdonald, Mrs. Henry Cawthra, Mrs. Forsyth Grant and Mrs. J. 17. Edgar-, formed a society called the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Ontario.
At the organization meeting the lion. John Beverley Robinson was elected president; myself, vice-president, and Colonel W. Hamilton Merritt, secretary-treasurer. Unfortunately for the new society, Governor Robinson died during the summer, hence at the meeting in October 1 became president.
The objects of the Association are :
1. To unite together, irrespective of creed or political party, the descendants of those families who, during the American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783, sacrificed their homes in retaining their loyalty to the British crown; and to perpetuate this spirit of loyalty to the Empire.
2. To preserve the history and traditions of that important epoch in Canadian history by rescuing from oblivion the history and traditions of the Loyalist families before it is too late.
3. To collect together in a suitable place the portraits, relics and documents relating to the United Empire Loyalists, which are now scattered throughout the Dominion.
4. To publish an historical and genealogical journal or annual proceedings.
It is essential to membership to be descended from a United Empire Loyalist on the male or female side, but such ancestor must have come to Canada prior to 1796.
A badge for the members of the association was designed by Mr. E. M. Chadwick and myself, and it was desired that this badge should have some
official recognition. Accordingly, when I was in England in 1897 H sought an interview with Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, but got no farther than the Under-Secretary, a noble Lord who was very polite, but who had never heard of the Loyalists and could not see any reason why the State should acknowledge our existence.
Our application was based on the Order in Council passed by the Executive Council at Quebec under the presidency of Lord Dorchester, Governor-General, on November 9th, 1789. His Lordship expressed a desire to put a "mark of honor" upon the families who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire and had joined the royal standard before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783. A resolution was therefore passed by the Council, " and it is accordingly ordered:
"That the several land boards take course for preserving a Register of the names of all persons falling under the description mentioned to the end that their posterity may be discriminated, from future settlers, in the Parish registers and Rolls of the Militia in their respective Districts, and other public Remembrancers of the Province, as proper objects, by persevering in their Fidelity and Conduct so Honourable to their ancestors for Distinguished Benefits and Privileges."
it was also ordered that both the sons and daughters of Loyalists should be granted two hundred acres of land. " U.E. " lists were accordingly prepared,
Some time later I visited England and took with me a letter of introduction from the Governor-General (Lord Grey) to the Right Honorable Lewis Harcourt, Colonial Secretary. I discussed the matter with him, but he held the view that it was impolitic to revive a Colonial Order in Council which had lain dormant for more than a century.
In 1919 the House of Commons of Canada passed a resolution requesting the King to refrain from bestowing titles of honor upon Canadians. As this included decorations without titles, many officers who would have received a decoration for services in the Great War were deprived of their fairly-won honors. The resolution did not reach the Senate, so that it cannot be said that it was passed by the Parliament of Canada. This resolution has been acted upon, and until it has been rescinded, no person born in Canada or permanently residing there, may receive official recognition for his services to the Empire, to science, art, or literature.
I was elected seven times to the presidency of the Association. During my occupancy of the office we extended the scope of the Association to embrace all Canada. We had also the honor of receiving and entertaining two Governor-Generals and their wives, the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen, and later T. R. H. the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, accompanied by FL R. H. the Princess Patricia.
The Association continues to grow and prosper under the able leadership of Mr. W. S. Morden.
On June 20th, 1914, the centenary of the Battle of Beaver Darns was celebrated, I was president of the United Empire Loyalists' Association and was adopted into the Bear Clan of the Mohawk indians under the style and title of Ra-re-ri-yoch The Great Warrior. 1\-Ty sponsor was Chief Blue Sky.