Famous Canadians

Brief profiles of some famous people encountered on these trips




Adams Brothers

Ebenezer Allan

Barber Brothers

Richard Beasley

Joseph Brant

Sir Isaac Brock

John Burch

Mahlon Burwell

John Butler

Butler's Rangers

Thomas Clark

James Crooks

William Dickson

Tiger Dunlop

Benjamin Eby

James FitzGibbon

John Galt

William Gilkison

Robert Hamilton

Richard and Samuel Hatt

Kennedy Family

Robert Land

William Lyon Mackenzie

Sir Allan MacNab


William Hamilton Merritt

Morden Family

Queen's Rangers

Daniel Rapelje

St John Rousseaux

Secord Family

Absalom Shade

John Graves Simcoe

Samuel Street Sr. & Jr.

Thomas Talbot

Gideon Tiffany

United Empire Loyalists

James Wilson


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Some of these people might not have considered themselves Canadian. Some are not even famous but perhaps they should be. They all made a significant contribution to their time and place, and they all have a story to tell. You will come across them in these trips.

The Adams Brothers

Ezra Adams

The founders of the town of Acton were deeply religious and dedicated public servants. The most famous of them was Ezra, a saddlebags preacher on the Methodist Episcopal circuit. Preachers like Ezra and his brother Zenas spent years going from place to place bringing Christianity to the backwoods shanties and rudimentary villages of Upper Canada. This very hard life took its toll on the preachers and both Ezra and Zenas were forced by ill-health to retire for long periods.

Eliphalet Adams fought on the side of the Americans in the Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, he married Patience Rice and settled in Cambridge NY, a short distance northeast of Albany on the border with Vermont. There Rufus was born in 1783, Ezra in 1788, and Zenas in 1792. In 1798, the Eastern Townships in Lower Canada presented an opportunity for immigrants to obtain good land so Eliphalet and his family moved north to Canada. They settled in the Westbury area northeast of presentday Sherbrooke, in the backwoods miles from anywhere.

In 1811, Ezra heard a Methodist saddlebags preacher and was inspired. By March 1812, he had become a schoolteacher near Newmarket, Ontario. Two years later, he was a saddlebags preacher himself, working with David Culp on the Ancaster circuit. For the next eight years, he worked in the Bay of Quinte, Hallowell, Ottawa, Thames, and Niagara circuits. Finally, in 1822, he was forced by ill health to retire from the grind of the circuit. By then, he had married Isa Proctor and he and his family settled in Esquesing Township, probably working for Silas Emes to clear his land on lot 28 concession 2. By 1829, he had bought the eastern half of lot 28 concession 2 from Emes.

Meanwhile, in 1825, Ezra persuaded his brother Rufus to move to Esquesing from Westbury. Rufus obtained lot 28 concession 3, just across the road (now Main Street Acton) from Ezra. Most of present Acton is built on what was once Rufus' land. Rufus built his house at the end of what is now St Alban's Drive, which was the driveway to the house. Maria, Rufus' wife, wanted a schoolhouse for her children, so she built one across the road from her driveway on the land where Knox Church now stands. This school doubled as a chapel and the land behind became the family cemetery.

In 1827, Zenas Adams decided to join his brothers. He, like Ezra, had been a saddlebags preacher, but south of the border. Also like Ezra, he had burned out and needed to refresh himself, so he obtained land south of Ezra on lot 27 concession 2. Zenas first built a log cabin, then he built a frame house. When Asa Hall moved to the area in 1833, the only houses belonged to Rufus and Zenas. Zenas must have been the businessman of the family because he, in addition to his land south of Ezra, he bought l;and from his brothers. From Rufus, he bought all the land south of Mill Street, which is why the streets south of Mill Street are named after Zenas' children: Agnes, John, Frederick, Maria, and Wilbur. That is also why his second house was built at the corner of Church and Main Streets. The second house is still there but looks a bit worse for wear.

Zenas Adams House

In those early days of Canada, it was easy to clear land and build a house only to find that you had put in all that hard work on somebody else's property. That is what happened to Eliphalet Adams in Westbury, Lower Canada. After failing to get any satisfaction from the government, he decided in 1829 to pack up and move his family to be near his sons in Upper Canada. The next year, his youngest son Phineas, who had accompanied him from Westbury, died at 31 and was buried in the family cemetery. Two years later Eliphalet's wife Patience joined her son there.

By 1830, Ezra had recovered his health enough to take part in local politics, becoming Warden of Esquesing Township. Then, later in the year, he decided to become a saddlebags preacher again, taking up the Newmarket circuit. From there he went to the London District and then the Muncey mission, where his wife died in 1832. The next year, he married Amy Curtis, the widow of another preacher. Being on the circuit didn't stop Ezra from taking care of his Esquesing property. He returned in 1836 and built a gristmill and a sawmill. The gristmill was on the same site as the present flour mill and the sawmill was located where the stream crosses Main Street, south of Church Street. The present Fairy Lake was created when Ezra dammed the stream for his mill.

Ezra continued on the circuit until his final retirement in 1843, when he moved to Dayton, Ontario to be near his stepdaughter. Once again he was a pioneer, building his home in the backwoods of Peel Township. His home became known as the Methodist Inn for the hospitality it offered to travellers. When his second wife, Amy, died in 1864, he married her sister Betsy, the widow of Smith Griffin, the nephew of the founder of Smithville, Ontario. He died in Dayton in 1871.


Ebenezer (Indian) Allan

The stuff of legends, Allan (or Allen) was an adventurer and frontiersman who refused to let ethics or scruples get in his way. Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1752, he lived with the Seneca nation of the Iroquois Confederation for a time before the Revolutionary War. He stole Sally or Kyen-da-dent, the sister of Seneca chief Captain Bull, away from her husband in about 1775. During the Revolutionary War, Allan served as sergeant and lieutenant with Butler's Rangers, but, unusually, this does not seem to have been held against him by the Americans, despite his reputation of inflicting murder and mayhem to families on both sides.

At the end of the war, he moved to the Genesee area of New York State and lived with Mary Jemison, the white woman who was kidnapped at age 15 and raised as a Seneca. Allan's charm seems to have created problems with women throughout his life. While staying with Mary Jemison, he caused a problem between another man and his native wife but, unlike Sally, this woman stayed with her husband. In 1783, he moved to the Mount Morris area where he became a trader and farmer. Meanwhile, the Iroquois and the British on the Niagara frontier were dissatisfied with the terms of peace with the Americans. They were preparing to resume the war when Allan found out about it. He obtained some wampum fraudulently and approached the nearest American post stating that he brought the wampum as a token of peace. The Americans accepted his offer of peace, and this enraged the Iroquois and British, who were obliged by the power of the wampum to accept peace. They captured him and put him on trial in Montreal, where he was acquitted of being a traitor.

In 1786, he moved to Scottsville NY and settled on Allan's Creek (now Oatka Creek). In 1789, agents from N. Gorham and O. Phelps and Co. approached him to build a gristmill and a sawmill for them in what is now Rochester NY in return for 100 acres of what is now the heart of Rochester. He sold his Scottsville farm and built the mills, but they were ultimately unsuccessful because there simply were not enough people around to keep the mills in business. He borrowed money from his former commander, Colonel John Butler, and somehow failed to repay it. While building the mills, he found time to marry Lucy Chapman, the daughter of a man on his way to Niagara. In 1792, after his venture at Rochester, he returned with Lucy to Mount Morris and there she found out that he was already married. Eventually he was to have four wives: two native and two white.

Allan did not stay long at Mount Morris because he had applied for a grant from Lt. Gov. Simcoe because of his service in Butler's Rangers during the war. He was given 2200 acres in Delaware Township on condition that he build a gristmill and a sawmill and some church buildings where Dingman's Creek joins the Thames River at what is now Delaware Village. The mills were to belong to him but the church buildings and the land they were on were the property of the Government. Between 1797 and 1807, he was building the mills. Running out of money, as he had done in Rochester, he could not borrow any more from Col. Butler, who had died in 1896, so he began to counterfeit some. He was discovered and sent to prison. After he was released, he returned to Delaware Village, where he completed the mills and buildings. During the War of 1812, he was distrusted by his neighbours, who regarded him as an American sympathizer. He died in 1813 and was buried on the north side of the Thames. Three of his children were horse thieves and one was murdered by natives while on his way to California.

Allan was no hero but he was instrumental in the founding of three communities: Rochester and Mount Morris in New York State, and Delaware Village in Ontario.


The Barber Brothers

Thrifty, shrewd, and enterprising, the Barber brothers, Joseph, Robert, William, and James, built up huge businesses in two locations. They are the real founders of both Georgetown, now part of the Town of Halton Hills, and Streetsville, now part of the City of Mississauga.

The Barber brothers were born on County Antrim in Ireland and immigrated to Niagara with their family in 1822. In 1824, their father had obtained work as a stonemason for James Crooks near what is now Dundas. The family moved to Crooks Hollow and the brothers began to learn the mill trade.

It took thirteen years for them to learn the ropes and to save enough money but at last in 1837 they were able to open their own mill. They decided that the Credit River was a suitable source of water, so they started at its mouth and worked their way upstream until they found the right spot. This happened to be near George Kennedy's old mill in Georgetown. They bought the land from George Kennedy and built their mill. They must have learned very well under James Crooks because in six years they opened a second mill. This mill was in Streetsville because Silver Creek in Georgetown could not provide enough power to drive all of their machinery. In another nine years, 1852, they had so much business that they built another mill in Streetsville to consolidate all of the wool mills into one place. The new mill contained all of the machinery from the previous two mills and added more.

So, in 1852, the old Barber mill in Georgetown closed. However, just after the old mill closed, James Barber helped David Forbes to build a brand-new, state-of-the-art, paper mill on the Credit River near Georgetown. After only a few months, Forbes decided for some reason that he could not keep the mill going, so James Barber risked his other businesses to buy Forbes out. That meant there was a new Barber mill in Georgetown. You can still see the Barber paper mill in Georgetown although it is now empty and disused. The mill is located on River Drive, just east of Mountainview Road.

Old Barber Paper Mill

In 1869, the partnership of William Barber & Bros. finally broke up. Joseph retired, Robert and William shared the Streetsville mill, and James operated the Georgetown mill.

You can also see a house built by William Barber in Streetsville; it is now a restaurant called The Old Barber House. You can read about it on the Internet at www.oldbarberhouse.com. Willowbank, Joseph Barber's family home is located on Park Avenue. just east of Main Street. Just south of Willowbank, at the corner of Park Avenue and Main Street is Berwick Hall, the house built by James Barber's son John, to replace James' family home after it buirned down in 1881. It is now an apartment house. Both of these houses look down on what used to be the old Barber mills at the bottom of the hill on Park Avenue.


Richard Beasley

History has come up with mixed reviews for Richard Beasley. On one hand, he was a shrewd and visionary businessman, becoming a founder of Ancaster, fur trader, owner and operator of various businesses, and owner of vast areas of land. On the other hand, he had the reputation for not paying bills and he sold land to Mennonites under very dubious circumstances.

Beasley was born in 1761 in Albany NY and was cousin of Richard Cartwright, partner of Robert Hamilton. In the 1780s, Beasley used his connection with Cartwright and Hamilton to build a business, in partnership with former Butler's Ranger Peter Smith, to trade in the Toronto area. About this time, he built his home on the Burlington Heights, at the site where Dundurn Castle now stands.

In 1791, Beasley bought a lot in what is now Ancaster Village. The next lot was owned by James Wilson, a millwright, and through both lots ran a stream. The two men became partners in what was to become an industrial complex leading to the founding of Ancaster. Wilson supplied the know-how and Beasley the capital to build a mill at what is now the intersection of Wilson and Rousseaux Streets in Ancaster.

As a trader, Beasley had done business with the Iroquois, and so, when the Six Nations decided to divide and sell their land on the Grand River, they turned to Beasley. Under the terms of the treaty that gave the Six Nations the land, the Iroquois could not sell land directly but only through agents, who were required to take out a mortgage with the government. They gave Block 2 to Beasley, James Wilson, and St John Rousseaux to sell but Beasley took over the block of land from his partners.

The mortgage Beasley had to take out became a problem when he eventually sold parts of the land to Mennonites from Pennsylvania. The Mennonites could not own the land until the mortgage was discharged and so they felt they had been cheated. The Mennonites and Beasley came up with a system that would satisfy everybody. If the Mennonites could come up with money for the whole of Block 2, Beasley could pay off the mortgage and the Mennonites would own the whole block. The Mennonites formed a company called the German Company, found the money in donations in Pennsylvania, and so bought Block 2 from Beasley.

Beasley had later financial problems and eventually was forced to sell his house on the Burlington Heights to Sir Allan MacNab. Until his death in 1842, Beasley felt that MacNab had cheated him on the deal. MacNab eventually built Dundurn Castle on the site, incorporating part of the foundations of the Beasley home into the castle. If you visit Dundurn Castle, ask to see the foundations of Beasley's house in the basement of the Castle.


Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)

Joseph Brant was a bridge between his people, the Iroquois Confederation, and the British. Not universally beloved by either side, he was nonetheless the most powerful leader of the Iroquois and guided the confederation in its dealings with the British.

Thayendanegea was born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River where his parents had gone on an expedition into Wyandot territory. There is confusion about several things concerning Brant: what his Mohawk name means, where the name Brant came from, and what happened to his father. His father was Tehowaghwengaraghkwin and he was a leading sachem of the Wolf clan of the Mohawks. His father was the son of Sagayeathquapiethtow, one of the four "kings" who were presented to Queen Anne in 1710.

His sister Molly became the mistress of the most powerful man in the Mohawk Valley, Sir William Johnson, and later became his Mohawk wife when Johnson's wife Catherine died. In 1755, when he was 13, he accompanied Johnson on the British expedition to Lake George and later against Fort Niagara, a triumph for Johnson. In 1757, Brant was commissioned Captain in the Royal American Regiment.

In 1761, Johnson sent him, at age 19, to Moor's Charity School for Indians in Lebanon, Connecticut where he studied under Dr. Eleazer Wheelock. This school later became Dartmouth College. He was there for two years, receiving an education that was very beneficial to him throughout his life. He left the school in 1761 to fight in Pontiac's War, when Pontiac, a chief of the Ottawas, led a general uprising of all Western tribes. Brant helped Johnson to persuade the Iroquois not to join Pontiac.

About 1768, Brant married Owaisa (Christine) the daughter of an Oneida chief. The couple had two children, Isaac and Christine. Owaisa died seven years later of tuberculosis and, to give his young children a mother, Brant married Owaisa's sister, Onogala (Susannah). She unfortunately died within a year. Isaac always held his mother's death against Brant and came to hate him, although Isaac was Brant's favourite son. Brant remained single until 1775, when he married Catherine Croghan, the daughter of a famous frontiersman, George Croghan, and his Mohawk wife.

In the Revolutionary War, Brant fought with the British and carried the Mohawks with him. Brant feared that the rebels would take the Iroquois lands if they won, which proved to be the case. There was never any love lost between the Iroquois and the Americans and this led to atrocities on both sides. Brant was not blameless. He participated with Butler's Rangers and other groups in various attacks, including one battle at Oriskany Creek. The American commander, General Herkimer, tried to murder Brant, but Brant smelled it out. He set up an ambush for Herkimer and virtually destroyed the American force, mortally wounding Herkimer.

After the war, the Iroquois found themselves without a home land and appealed to the British. Brant negotiated with General Frederick Haldimand, the Governor-General, for a grant of land that turned out to be six miles each side of the Grand River from source to mouth. However, Brant was not universally loved by the Mohawks. A large group of Mohawks elected to move to land at the Bay of Quinte under Chief John Deseronto rather than follow Brant to the Grand River. When the Royal Chapel of the Mohawks was built at what is now Brantford, the communion silver that Queen Anne had given to the original Royal Chapel in the Mohawk Valley was shared between the Grand River Mohawks and the Bay of Quinte Mohawks.

In addition to serving his people in war, Brant served them in religion. He had been converted while in Moor's School and became very devout. He helped to translate the Gospel of St Mark into Mohawk and, with Daniel Claus, translated the Book of Common Prayer into Mohawk.

Brant visited England and had an audience with King George III. There is a story that he refused to kiss the King's hand, saying,"I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."

Brant was given a personal grant of land at Wellington Square in what is now Burlington. He built a home and spent the last years of his life there. In 1795, he suffered a personal tragedy. His son Isaac had hated him from an early age and this hatred made Isaac into a jealous, uncontrollable drunkard who had murdered a man in a drunken rage. After the murder, Isaac threatened his father, who despite everything still loved his oldest son. Brant went to Isaac's room to try to calm him down but Isaac lunged at him with a knife. Reacting instinctively from a life of war and violence, Brant struck back with his own knife, cutting Isaac in the scalp. If it had been treated, the wound would have been minor, but Isaac, full of hatred, refused to have it treated. The wound became infected and Isaac died a few days later. Brant never really forgave himself, considering that he killed his son.

He died in 1807 at his home in Wellington Square. His last words were, "Have pity on the poor Indians; if you can get any influence with the great, endeavour to do them all the good you can."


Sir Isaac Brock

Brock would have preferred to fight in Europe against Napoleon but he was assigned instead to Upper Canada with his regiment, the 49th. Here he died and became a hero.

He was born in 1769 on Guernsey, the Channel Island then called Sarnia, a British possession off the coast of France. He was an exceptional youth, tall at over six feet, broad and muscular to go with the height. At fifteen, he joined the 8th Regiment of Foot as an ensign and later became a captain in the 49th. After serving with the regiment in the Caribbean, he bought the regiment commander's lieutenant colonel's commission. He then spent his energy revitalizing the regiment, turning it into one of the best regiments in the Army. In 1802, his regiment was ordered to Upper Canada.

In the next ten years, Brock worked to improve the state of the military in Canada. He was convinced that war between Britain and the US would occur soon and his opinion of the preparedness of the military was not high. Brock built and repaired military fortifications, trained the militia, and generally prepared Canada for the war that he regarded as inevitable.

In 1811, he was promoted to major general and took control of all troops in Upper Canada. When the Lt. Governor of Upper Canada, Francis Gore, returned to England temporarily, Brock became the administrator in his absence. This was the situation when the United States declared war in 1812.

The Commander-in-Chief in Canada was Sir George Prevost, the Governor-General, who was more a cautious politician than military man. Prevost was of the opinion that Canada only had enough forces to defend Quebec, and so he wanted Brock to defend Upper Canada and conserve his forces. Brock's view was that the best way to cover up a weak defence was to attack, so, against the wishes of Prevost, he attacked and took Fort Mackinac, near Sault Ste Marie. When the Americans attacked Sandwich, now part of Windsor, he typically took that as an excuse to override Prevost's caution again. He allied himself with the leader of the native forces, Tecumseh, and attacked Detroit, forcing the surrender of the American general, William Hull, and 2000 of his men. When Tecumseh heard of Brock's intention to attack Detroit, he said, "Now here is a man!"

Prevost, however, stopped Brock's momentum by signing an armistice with the American commander, Henry Dearborn. This allowed the Americans some breathing space, which they used to build up their forces around Niagara. American general Stephen Van Rensselaer attacked at Queenston and Brock was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights. He had received a knighthood only a few days before his death but never knew of the award.



John Burch

Tinsmith, miller, politician, and Loyalist, John Burch was born in England in 1741 and immigrated to New York City in 1772. He started in business making and selling tinware and very soon became so successful that he was able to buy an estate at Papakunk, New York, on the Delaware River. At the start of the Revolutionary War, he was forced to move to Albany in 1775 and then to Fort Niagara in 1778. Because he was not fit for war service, he became keeper of the Indian stores and sutler to Butler's Rangers. In 1783, he and his family moved across the Niagara River and settled on the north bank of the Chippawa Creek (Welland River). On the opposite bank of the creek settled Thomas Cummings, who had been Burch's farm manager in Papakunk.

A little later, Burch wanted to build a sawmill and a gristmill but the military, who controlled this area, refused to allow him to build the mills on his land. Instead they directed him to a less-suitable site further north near the rapids, where the Toronto Power House is located. Burch's customers would have to take a roundabout route from the creek along the ridge near to where the Rankine Generating Station is located before they could reach a road that would take them down the ridge to Burch's Mills. Still, because there was no competition, Burch prospered. After his death, the mills were sold to Thomas Clark and Samuel Street Jr.

Burch also became a partner of Robert Hamilton in the Portage Syndicate, which received the control of the portage on the west bank of the Niagara River.

Then, in 1794, Simcoe's aide, John McGill, and his partner, Benjamin Canby, succeeded in getting permission to build mills between Burch's Mills and the Welland River, at the place where Burch had originally wanted to build his mill. The mills were named the Bridgewater Mills, and were located where Burning Springs Hill meets the Niagara Parkway. The new mills ate into Burch's business but not mortally. He was again dealt a blow when the military took most of his property at the mouth of the Welland River to build Fort Chippawa.

Burch was an important man in the region, becoming justice of the peace in 1786 and member of the Lincoln County Land Board in 1792. By the time he died in 1797, he had become very respectable. He and his wife were the first people buried in the Drummond Hill cemetery.


Mahlon Burwell

Mahlon Burwell was an aristocrat by North American standards. He was descended from two families of Burwells who landed in the American colonies in the early 1600s: Major Lewis Burwell settled in Virginia and John Burwell in Milford Connecticut.  He became the right-hand man and close friend of the Irish aristocrat, the Lake Erie Baron, Colonel Thomas Talbot.

Mahlon was born to Adam Burwell and his wife Sarah on Long Island, New York, on February 18, 1783. Adam was a Loyalist who moved to Bertie Township near Fort Erie before 1797. He made sure that his son Mahlon had a good education, which in those days included practical subjects such as land surveying.

In those days, surveyors used a primitive tool called a theodolite. Having established the correct direction of the line to be surveyed, the surveyor had his assistants mark the line with surveying poles. Then chainmen with their 66-foot chains would walk along the line, using the chain to measure distance and directing axemen who would clear the line as much as possible and blaze marks on trees to indicate lot lines.

In 1809, with backing from Col. Talbot, Burwell received a commission as Deputy Surveyor for Upper Canada and in the same year married Sarah Hawn. His first job as Deputy Surveyor was to  survey the Talbot Road from Dunwich Township (Port Talbot)  to Middleton Township (Delhi).

When he started surveying, Burwell was paid seven shillings and sixpence per day but in 1819 this was changed to a payment in land of 4½% of all lands surveyed. This led to Burwell holding large plots of land in widely separated areas. Besides owning land in what became Port Burwell, he also had land at Burwell's Corners, and a huge parcel south of Delaware and the Longwoods Road.

In 1811, he was instructed by Surveyor General Ridout to survey a road from Westminster Township (London) to Kettle Creek Village (St Thomas) and to survey a line from the west edge of Dunwich Township to Essex County. Quite a handful! For some reason, Ridout was at odds with Col. Talbot and this now extended to Burwell, so he was apoplectic when Burwell changed the Westminster survey without permission. After surveying from Westminster to Five Stakes, now Talbotville, Burwell veered west to survey a new line parallel to the Talbot Road. This line was called the Back Street and is now Highway 3 west of St Thomas.

In 1811, again with support from Col. Talbot, he was appointed Registrar of Deeds for the County of Middlesex, which at that time also included what became the County of Elgin, where Talbot ruled. The next year, he began to survey the Talbot Road west from Dunwich to Howard Township.

Burwell was an officer in the militia called out by Col. Talbot in the face of an attack by the Americans. He had to suspend his survey of the Talbot Road for the duration of the war. He was captured in Port Talbot in 1814 by the traitor Andrew Westbrook and sent as a prisoner to Ohio. In return for a partial parole that allowed him to move freely within limits, he promised not to escape, a promise that he kept where many others on both sides reneged. Eventually he received a full parole and returned home to take no further part in the conflict.

In 1816, he tried to resume his survey of the Talbot Road but discovered that all the directions he had received from Ridout had been destroyed so he had to wait until they could be recreated. Other surveys he performed were: the Middle Road in Howard, the Talbot Road west to Essex, the eastern end of the Middle Road in Orford Township, the town plot for London, and a trial line from near Wellesley in Wilmot Township through Monkton and Blyth to Lake Huron.  After Burwell's survey of the town plot for London, Ridout was able to extract a little revenge for Burwell's failure to follow orders on the Westminster survey by naming the main street through the town plot for himself and relegating Talbot Street to a "back street".

Burwell died in 1846 and is buried in St Stephen's Churchyard in Burwell's Corners.


John Butler

John Butler was born in New London, Connecticut in 1725. His father, Walter, was a British officer stationed in the American colony. When John was 14, his family moved from New London to Fort Hunter, now Fonda, NY, where Walter Butler became useful to Sir William Johnson. In turn, Johnson helped to promote his children. Walter Butler died in 1760 aged 90 and having been a lieutenant in the British Army for 70 years.

When Johnson was given command of the expedition against Crown Point in 1755, he made John Butler a captain in the Indian department. John Butler could speak several Iroquois languages and respected, and was respected by, the Iroquois. Butler fought in several campaigns in the French and Indian Wars. In the expedition against Fort Niagara, Butler was second-in-command of the Iroquois to Johnson, and succeeded to the command when Johnson took overall command of the expedition after General Prideaux was accidentally killed. During Pontiac's War, Butler had the difficult job of restraining the Iroquois from joining with the western tribes in support of Pontiac.

Perhaps it was because of Butler's ability, the respect he could command from the Iroquois, and his stature as second to Johnson that Butler was disliked and even hated by Johnson's son, Sir John, and his sons-in-law, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus. These three were constantly trying to belittle Butler's achievements and trying to put the worst interpretation on everything he did, especially after Sir William Johnson died suddenly in July 1774.

At the start of the Revolutionary War, Butler and his eldest son Walter had to flee to Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), leaving the rest of Butler's family as prisoners. Butler had a price on his head of $250. Early in the war, the leaders of the Indian Department, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus, wanted to use the Iroquois to attack the rebels in New York Province but were refused by the Governor-General, Sir Guy Carleton. Johnson and Claus then left for England to the disgust of Carleton, who then appointed Butler as deputy head of the department. Butler's job was then to keep the Six Nations neutral in the war.

This all changed in May 1777 when Carleton was ordered to use the Iroquois against the rebels. Butler was neither for nor against this policy shift; he just obeyed orders. Butler and Colonel Barry St Leger organized a strike against Fort Stanwix. Just then, Claus arrived back from England with a commission as superintendent of the Indians. Carleton had no choice other than to ratify it but appointed Butler as deputy. The operation never did take the fort but Butler and Joseph Brant managed to ambush a relieving force at Oriskany and destroyed it.

In 1779, refugees from the war were becoming a problem for the commandant of Fort Niagara who was trying to feed them from his supplies. Sir Frederick Haldimand ordered Butler to negotiate with the Mississaugas to obtain land on the west bank for settlement, and in the summer of 1780, ex-Rangers Peter and James Secord, Michael Showers, Samson Lutes, and Isaac Dolson and their families moved to the west bank. Later, these families were followed by other families, mostly belonging to ex-Rangers.

After the Rangers were disbanded in 1784, Butler remained a leader of the communities on the Niagara Peninsula. He was appointed head of the Nassau Militia, which later became the Lincoln Militia with the formation of Lincoln County. The present-day Lincoln and Welland Regiment, a reserve infantry battalion, is the successor to the famous Butler's Rangers.

Colonel John Butler died in 1796, a great leader in war and peace, and a great friend and patron of the Six Nations.


Butler's Rangers

Although John Butler had been using a number of men, including his son Walter, as rangers employed by the Indian Department, in 1777 he received permission to recruit a corps of rangers consisting of eight companies. Two of the companies were to consist of men "speaking the Indian languages and acquainted with their customs and manner of making war." The corps were paid well but were responsible for providing their own clothing and arms. Butler's Rangers fought in many engagements, usually in units of one or two companies and usually accompanied by natives.

In 1778, six companies of Rangers went into winter quarters in new barracks on the west side of the Niagara River. The barracks can be seen today but they are not on the original site; at some later time they were moved further away from the Niagara River to reduce their exposure to fire from Fort Niagara after that fort was returned to the Americans.

In 1782, several Rangers and their families were given permission to move to the west bank of the Niagara River to reclaim land that had been granted by the Mississaugas to Sir William Johnson. The Rangers chosen were older or had large families and could be spared by Col. Butler. The families were not given the land but were to settle on it as tenants. The idea was that they were to farm the land, and the produce in excess of their needs was to be sold to the commander of Fort Niagara. Among these first settlers were Peter and James Secord and Daniel Servos. By the next year, there were sixteen families on the west bank, and the Secords wanted to build saw and grist mills but were denied permission. Instead, the government assigned Lieutenant David Brass to build three mills, two for the Secords at present-day St Davids and another mill further down the Forty Mile Creek for Servos.

When the corps was disbanded in 1784, many of the Rangers decided to join their colleagues on the west bank. The government eventually decided to survey the land and to grant lots to former Rangers. The history of Niagara is dotted with the names of these former Rangers like Dolson and Phelps, who settled at Queenston; Bender, at Niagara Falls; Burch, at Chippawa; Secord, at St Davids; and Nelles, at Grimsby.

Today the tradition of Butler's Rangers is carried on by the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The web site is at http://www.iaw.com/~awoolley/lincweld.html.


Thomas Clark

First brought over to Canada by his uncle, Robert Hamilton, Thomas Clarke (he later dropped the "e") became a merchant and land speculator in his own right. He was born in Dumfries in Scotland about 1770 and arrived in Niagara in about 1792 as an apprentice to his uncle. After four years, part of which was spent in Hamilton's Queenston store, he left Hamilton to set up his own business as a merchant in Queenston in partnership with Samuel Street Jr. Robert Hamilton arranged for Clarke and Street to share a portion of the portaging contracts along the new Portage Road on the west bank of the Niagara River.

In 1799, Street left the partnership and was replaced by Robert Nichol, a close contact of Hamilton and possibly another Hamilton relative from Dumfries. This partnership lasted for four years, at which time Clarke went on his own. By 1805, he had bought the Falls Mills on the Niagara River from John Burch, and two years later sold them to Samuel Street Jr.. In 1810, he turned over his business to his clerk, James Kerby, and Robert Grant. Having dropped the "e" from his name sometime before, he again went into partnership with Samuel Street Jr., this time in the milling business. Clark and Street started with the Falls Mills and later bought the Bridgewater Mills, between the Falls Mills and Chippawa.

Clark also got into land speculation. He bought the Six Nation Block 4 in 1806 and sold the southern part to Robert Addison two years later. In 1811, he bought Block 1 with his cousin, William Dickson and transferred his part of the block to Dickson in 1816.

In the War of 1812, Clark was Lt. Col. of the 2nd Lincoln Militia, seeing action at Queenston Heights and Frenchman's Creek. He was present at the surrender of the American forces at Beaver Dams and took part in the raids on Fort Schlosser and Black Rock. At Black Rock, he suffered a wound that led to his return to Scotland to recover. During the war, Clark and Street had lost their Bridgewater and Falls Mills, which were both burned by the Americans. Only the Falls Mills were rebuilt.

Clarke married the daughter of the surgeon to the Indian Department but never had children. His great wealth went to Thomas Clark Street, the son of his partner. TC Street went on to become Canada's first millionaire.


James Crooks

James Crooks arrived from Kilmarnoch Scotland and settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1791. He opened a store, which was so successful that soon he has a ship called Lord Nelson operating on Lake Ontario, carrying goods between his store at Niagara and Cataraqui. By about 1805, he had made enough money in his store to buy Lot 5 Concession 2 in West Flamborough through which flowed Spencer's Creek. In 1808, he married Jane Cummings, daughter of Thomas Cummings, former Butler's Ranger and founder of Chippawa.

In 1812, the Lord Nelson was attacked on Lake Ontario and sunk. As this was before the war was declared, Crooks protested and demanded repayment from the American government. The family finally received compensation—123 years later.

During the War of 1812, his store and home in Niagara (located in the present Chautauqua Park) were destroyed, so after the war he turned his attention to his property in West Flamborough. In 1813 he finished construction of a gristmill incorporating a dam and a sluice on Spencer's Creek and named the mill after his hero, Lord Darnley. The ruins of the mill are located at Crooks Hollow, northwest of Dundas.

He expanded his business to an astonishing size, including a distillery, linseed oil mill, cooperage, tannery, woollen mill, clothing factory, foundry, agricultural implement factory, and general store. In 1826, he was awarded 125 pounds offered by the Upper Canada government to the first person to build a fully operational paper mill. The first book printed on Canadian paper was produced in this mill in 1830.

At one time, Crooks Hollow was one of the villages in consideration to be named county town for Wentworth County but the honour went to what became Hamilton. After Crooks died in 1860 aged 82, the Darnley Mill was bought by Stutt and Sanderson and continued to operate as a paper mill until 1934. The house built by Stutt is next to the ruin of the Darnley Mill in Crooks Hollow.


William Dickson

A merchant who became a lawyer, a confidant of the Six Nations, and founder of Galt, William Dickson was one of three brothers brought from Dumfries in Scotland to Niagara by Robert Hamilton, their cousin. Like his brothers, Robert and Thomas, before him, William served an apprenticeship with the firm of Hamilton and Cartwright. Part of William's apprenticeship was spent on Carleton Island, near Kingston, as a forwarding agent under Richard Cartwright, and part was spent as manager of Hamilton's mills and store at Twelve Mile Creek (St Catharines).

After the apprenticeship, Hamilton set Dickson up in his own business, dealing with the military and trading along the new Portage Road on the west side of the Niagara River. Dickson was so successful that, in 1790, at the age of 21, he was able to build the first brick house on the Niagara Peninsula. He became a land speculator and, as a result, got involved with land agency and so gravitated into law. By 1795, he was acting for Richard Beasley and James Secord, Cartwright's cousin and brother-in-law. In 1803, Robert Hamilton arranged for Dickson to become a lawyer even though he had not gone through the usual training.

As a lawyer, Dickson acted for the Six Nations in many of their transactions to sell the blocks of land on the Grand River. In 1811, with his cousin Thomas Clark, he bought Block 1 (Dumfries Township) and five years later Clark sold his portion to Dickson for about a dollar an acre. At that time, Dickson was Chairman of the Quarter Sessions of Niagara and was concerned with building a new courthouse. For the job, he interviewed Absalom Shade, a young builder with ambition and business acumen. Shade made such a good impression that Dickson asked Shade to accompany him on a tour of his new property. Where Mill Creek joins the Grand River, they stopped for a night at an abandoned squatter's cabin. Dickson decided that this area was to be the site for his planned community, first called Shade's Mills and later Galt.


William "Tiger" Dunlop

A huge man with fiery red hair and a gargantuan appetite for whisky and tall tales, William Dunlop was born in 1792 in Greenock, Scotland, the son of a local banker. He studied medicine in Glasgow and London, and was appointed assistant surgeon to the 89th Foot Regiment in 1813. The regiment was posted to Upper Canada during the War of 1812 in time to participate in the battles of Crysler's Farm and Lundy's Lane. In 1815, he heard that the war had ended while he was in charge of the construction of the Penetanguishene Road. After going on half-pay in 1817, he went to India, attempting to clear tigers from Sagar Island and earning himself the nickname "Tiger". From 1820 to 1825, Dunlop flitted from project to project, writing articles for magazines, giving lectures on medical jurisprudence, and editing newspapers.

In 1825, John Galt of the Canada Company appointed Dunlop Warden of the Woods and Forests, his job being to inspect the company lands to protect them for being spoiled and to select land that could be sold quickly for funds. He arrived in Upper Canada in 1826 and from then acted as second-in-command to Galt. He was present at the founding of Guelph, cut a road to Goderich, and built his home just north of Goderich. When Galt resigned in 1829, Dunlop managed to keep his job. In 1833, he was appointed general superintendent of the Huron Tract. In the same year, he published Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada, an interesting and amusing book that attempted to lure clever young people to Canada.

In 1833, he was joined in Canada by his brother Robert, a retired naval captain and much quieter personality. During the rebellion in 1837, Dunlop raised a military unit nicknamed The Bloody Useless. He commandeered supplies and food from Canada Company stores, leading Galt's successor, Thomas Jones, to demand his withdrawal from militia activities. Dunlop refused and resigned from the company in 1838.

There is a story about the Dunlop brothers that involves Robert's marriage. They had a live-in housekeeper, Louisa McColl, for some years and apparently this had been the subject of gossip that was causing a great deal of distress to her. To end the speculation and to keep Louisa, the brothers proposed that one should marry her. Tiger tossed a coin and Robert lost, mainly because the coin had two heads. So Robert had to propose to her. She accepted and that was that. There is no evidence that she was anything but a housekeeper before or after her marriage, but she was well known to run a strict house. She continued to rule the house after Robert's death.

Robert became Huron's first representative in Parliament in 1835 and held the seat until his death in 1841. William ran in his brother's place in the General Election that year and lost in the vote but won on appeal. He was re-elected in 1844 but resigned in 1846. He died two years later.

Tiger Dunlop had a fund of stories to tell and there are a fund of stories about him. He once gave three reasons for not going to church: first, a man was sure to find his wife there; second, he could not bear to be at a meeting where one man dominated the conversation; and, third, he never liked singing without drinking. He loved his liquor, which he kept in a cabinet on wheels called The Twelve Apostles. One bottle contained water and was called Judas.


Benjamin Eby

In 1806, two young men from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Benjamin Eby and Henry Brubacher, made a trip to meet relatives in Block 2. For years at his home in Lancaster Pennsylvania, Benjamin had heard stories about his relatives settling in Canada and he wanted to go and see what it was all about. His father supported him but his mother would have nothing to do with the idea. In 1806, he came of age and was old enough to make up his own mind, so with his friend Henry Brubacher he set out on his great adventure. In what is now Waterloo, he visited a cousin, George Eby, who decided to show the two young people some of the country. In dense forest, they followed the route of the present Highway 85 into what is now Woolwich Township, then Block 3 of the Six Nations Lands. Eventually they reached the Conestogo River, which George Eby named for a river in Pennsylvania. They made their way northeast to the Canagagigue, then followed it to the Grand River. They followed the Grand River south until they heard someone shouting on the other side of the river. It was old Yoch Schneider working in his clearing at what is now Bloomingdale. Yoch's wife Mary was Henry Brubacher's aunt. Yoch's land was the northernmost of the first wave of settlers.

When they returned to Pennsylvania, they carried a map of Block 3 prepared by Augustus Jones. The map showed the block divided into 130 lots of 350 acres each. The success of the first German Company aroused the interest of the people in Lancaster County and they invested in the new company by placing their names in the lots on the map. Benjamin Eby returned to Canada in 1807 bearing a barrel half full of coins to pay for the new German Company Tract. He later became business agent for the new company, and was also a bishop of the Mennonite Church. The First Mennonite Church of Kitchener-Waterloo stands on what was his land.


James FitzGibbon

James FitzGibbon was a rarity in the class-conscious British Army of the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was a man who rose from the lowly rank of private soldier to the exalted rank of Colonel. He did it through a combination of luck, intelligence, hard work, determination, and sheer physical presence.

Born in 1780 in Glin, on the south bank of the River Shannon in County Limerick, Ireland, FitzGibbon was the second son of Gerald FitzGibbon, a freehold farmer. As a young boy, James was a voracious reader, reading any book he could find in any time he could spare. There is a story that the parish priest found him reading a New Testament he had bought from a pedlar. The priest and the boy had an argument that the boy won, but then lost, because the priest confiscated the book. This would not be the last time that speaking up got him into trouble.

When James was fifteen, his father enrolled himself, his eldest son John, and James in the local militia in response to a call to arms to defend Ireland against an invasion by the French. Always quick to learn, James was quickly promoted to sergeant because of his ability to drill the men. After three years, he was persuaded to join the Tarbert Fencibles and was shipped with them to England to replace a regular unit on garrison duty. Although he had promised his mother faithfully that he would not join the regular army, he thought that he would be considered a coward if he refused when asked. So, at the age of eighteen, he found himself a sergeant in the 49th Regiment of Foot.

With the 49th, he arrived in Canada in 1802 and stayed for forty-five years. His good luck was that his commanding officer was Isaac Brock, then the senior Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. Brock thought highly of FitzGibbon and taught him how to be a "gentleman". Brock had him promoted to Sergeant Major, and, in 1806, succeeded in getting FitzGibbon a commission as ensign. In 1809, FitzGibbon became a Lieutenant.

After the war started in 1812, Lt. FitzGibbon distinguished himself by escorting supply bateaux down the St Lawrence River under the noses of the Americans, and, the following winter, by escorting 45 sleighs from Montreal to Kingston. He took part in the Battle of Stoney Creek as a company commander.

After Stoney Creek, he formed a unit of 50 volunteers from the 49th as a quasi-Ranger unit to disrupt American communications and harass the groups of renegades who were looting and burning farms. The 49th Regiment was known as the Green Tigers for the green facing on their coats; FitzGibbon's men were known as FitzGibbon's Green'uns or the Bully Boys. They were dressed in grey fustian jackets to cover their red coats, and were trained to move silently and invisibly through the woods.

The success of the Bully Boys led to their, and FitzGibbon's, greatest triumph. The Americans, frustrated by FitzGibbon's activities, determined to take him out of action. They sent an expedition to attack FitzGibbon at his headquarters at the DeCew house near DeCew Falls. With the help of Laura Secord and bands of Iroquois under Joseph Brant, Dominique Ducharme, and William Kerr, FitzGibbon bluffed the Americans into surrendering at the Battle of Beaver Dams. FitzGibbon became a hero that day and as a result was promoted captain in the Glengarry Fencibles until the end of the war. He became a Lieutenant Colonel of Militia in 1821 and a Colonel in 1826.

After the war, he began his public service, becoming clerk in the office of the Adjutant-General of Militia for Canada, Assistant Adjutant-General, then, in 1827, clerk of the Upper House of Assembly. He was used on many occasions to restore order when Irish immigrants went on a rant. FitzGibbon used the same talent to break up a riot outside William Lyon Mackenzie's printing house in 1832.

In the rebellion of 1837, FitzGibbon tried to get the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, a stubborn and malicious nincompoop, to take action but could not persuade him to do so. So FitzGibbon took action on his own initiative, irritating Head in the process. Finally Head seemed to recognize the urgency, appointing FitzGibbon acting Adjutant-General of Militia. FitzGibbon then irritated Head further by posting a unit of militia on Yonge Street. It was fortunate that he did, because the unit intercepted a rebel force that was marching into Toronto and dispersed it.

Finally Head decided to take action against the rebels, appointing Allan MacNab to lead it, to the annoyance of FitzGibbon, who was senior to MacNab. MacNab persuaded Head to allow FitzGibbon the command, and FitzGibbon led his troops up Yonge Street to rout the rebellion. FitzGibbon then resigned as Adjutant-General of Militia to protest his treatment by Head.

The rest of FitzGibbon's life was downhill from there. He never received the compensation he deserved from the people of Canada and, after the death of his wife in 1847, returned to Britain and became a Military Knight at Windsor Castle, a kind of retirement home for old heroes. He died in 1863 and was buried at Windsor Castle, still thinking of Canada.


John Galt and the Canada Company

During the War of 1812, many Canadian families suffered great losses of property and possessions through depredations of the military on both sides. By 1820, most of the claims had still not been honoured and the claimants were very distressed. They engaged John Galt to lobby for them with the British Government.

Galt was an extraordinary man. The son of a sea captain, he was born in 1779 in Irvine, Scotland and was a cousin to Captain Robert Gilkison, later a landowner in Upper Canada. Although he was involved in business from the age of 16, he was a prolific writer of plays, poems, biographies, novels, and travel guides. The turning point in his career came in 1819 when he was hired to lobby for the Glasgow-Edinburgh Canal with the British Government. This brought him to the attention of the Canadian claimants, who then hired him for a similar role.

Meeting with little interest from the government, Galt sought to solve the problem in a different way. One of the reasons why Galt was making little headway initially was that Britain had just gone through about twenty years of war with France and was broke. So Galt thought he might be able to sell the solution of the problem as a way to have the British Government receive money instead of paying it out. His proposal was to form a company, raise capital, and buy all available land in Upper Canada from the Crown. Then the company would settle people on the land, and use the money they got from the settlers to pay off the claimants. Any profits would go back to the company. So was born the Canada Company.

After receiving its charter in 1823, the company eventually was to buy more than two million acres of land including the Huron Tract, an area of land between the present Kitchener and Lake Huron, and containing Goderich and Stratford. Most of the townships in the Huron Tract were named after directors of the Canada Company (Bosanquet, Williams, and so on).

Galt was appointed to represent the company in Canada and he arrived there in January 1827. He appointed Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop as the Warden of the Forests, virtually his deputy. Right from the start, Galt clashed with the directors. Galt took the long view that helping settlers and putting money into developing the property would result in large profits in the future. The directors were more interested in reaping gains as quickly as possible by spending less and selling more. After only two stormy years in Canada, Galt was replaced in 1829. He returned to England and was promptly imprisoned for debt. He managed to regain his freedom but for the rest of his life was forced to write to live. He died in 1839 and his widow moved back to Canada to join her three sons who were already there.


William Gilkison

Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1777, William Gilkison was a sailor, adventurer, land speculator, and founder of Elora. When he was a young man, he was a merchant seaman and was captured by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. After he escaped, he decided to emigrate to America, taking with him letters of reference to John Jacob Astor, founder of the great North West Company. Astor gave him command of a schooner on Lake Erie and he sailed her until 1803, when he married Isabella Grant, the daughter of Alexander Grant, commodore of the Great Lakes in 1777 and Administrator of Upper Canada in 1805.

After his marriage, he worked with his father-in-law. Gilkison's brother-in-law was Thomas Dickson, cousin of Robert Hamilton, brother of William Dickson, the founder of Galt, and a prominent businessman in his own right. Gilkison had a famous cousin of his own; he was John Galt, the superintendent of the Canada Company and founder of Guelph.

Gilkison served in the War of 1812 and was at the Battle of Crysler's Farm. After the war, he returned to Scotland to educate his six children. The air must have suited him because his other five children were born there. His wife died in 1826, and, in 1832, he decided to join his children, some of whom had returned to Canada. He bought a large lot on the west bank of the Grand River in what is now West Brant in the City of Brantford. There he established a farm, which he called Oak Bank. The house he built is still standing as 71 Gilkison Street but the farm has been split up and covered in houses.

He must have liked the land on the Grand River because, when he heard that land was available further upriver, he bought about 14,000 acres of land in Nichol Township. After visiting the area, he commissioned Lewis Burwell to lay out a town, which he named Elora, at the Falls of the Grand. Unfortunately, he never got to see the results, because he died suddenly in April 1833.


Robert Hamilton

In the years following the Revolutionary War, when people, money, and cultivated land were scarce on the Niagara Peninsula, Robert Hamilton managed to build a huge mercantile empire. When he died in 1809 aged only 56, he was owed £69,000 (or $276,000 at the rate of 4 dollars to a pound), an enormous sum for those days. He had also acquired 83,000 acres of land.

He was born in a small town in East Lothian, Scotland in 1753 to a Presbyterian minister. He was an educated man and may have, like his father and brothers, had an education at the University of Glasgow. In 1775 he joined the firm of the Ellice brothers and spent time at their office in Montreal, learning the business and making contacts that would last his lifetime. One of the most important contacts was Isaac Todd of the firm Todd & McGill, a supply house in Montreal. In 1780, Hamilton became a partner with Richard Cartwright in the firm of Hamilton & Cartwright based in Niagara.

At that time, most trading involved barter; the only sure source of money was trade with the military, who, until 1796, still occupied Fort Niagara on the east side of the Niagara River. Hamilton was able to establish a good relationship with the officers because he came from the same class, knew how to deal with them, and understood their requirements. Where other merchants had to scramble to get business from the military, Hamilton & Cartwright were able to impress the officers and build a reputation for respectability and reliability. The firm used Todd & McGill as a supplier in Montreal and, in turn, became a supplier for one of Todd & McGill's oldest customers, John Askin in Detroit. Eventually, Hamilton established the business in Queenston while Cartwright built up the business in Cataraqui (Kingston).

Hamilton, besides building links to his suppliers, began to build personal links. He brought his cousins over from Dumfries in Scotland to learn the business and eventually start businesses of their own. Their names were Robert, Thomas, and William Dickson, and Thomas Clarke. Robert Dickson eventually established himself in the fur trade, and Thomas Dickson had his own retail business. William Dickson also became a merchant, but then became a lawyer, land speculator, and developer. He bought Block 1 of the former Six Nations Reserve and founded the city of Galt. Thomas Clarke became a partner of Samuel Street Jr. in milling at Bridgewater near Niagara Falls, Ontario. Like William Dickson, he became a land speculator and his wealth enabled his partner's son Thomas Clarke Street to become Upper Canada's first millionaire.

Richard Cartwright also used cousins in the business. One cousin he helped was Richard Beasley, one of the founders of Ancaster and the owner of the land upon which Dundurn Castle was built. Cartwright married Magdalen Secord, sister of James Secord, the husband of the famous Laura Secord.

Hamilton's first wife was Catharine Askin Robertson, the daughter of his business client, John Askin of Detroit. The City of St Catharines was named after her. One of his sons was George Hamilton, a founder of the City of Hamilton.


Richard and Samuel Hatt

Richard and Samuel Hatt were sons of Richard Hatt, a well-to-do woollen draper from London, England. Richard, the son, came to the Niagara region in 1792, setting himself up as a merchant. After his mother died, his father and brother Samuel joined Richard in Canada in 1796. Richard and Samuel then decided to move away from Niagara to Ancaster, where they opened a general store. They also built a mill, the Red Mill, just north of Ancaster on the road called the Devil's Elbow. To drum up business for the Red Mill, they built a road from the Red Mill to Dundas, a road that still exists as the Old Ancaster Road.

Still ambitious, the Hatt brothers decided that the Red Mill was not successful enough so they looked for something better They found it in Edward Peer's Dundas Mill, which they bought in 1804 in partnership with Manuel Overfield. The partnership did not last long because, by 1807, Richard Hatt had bought out the others. Richard now turned his full attention to Dundas, buying more land and building more businesses until he owned a cooperage, all of the water rights of Spencer's Creek from Webster's Falls to Main Street, a distillery to use up all the grain unfit to grind, and a pig pen to use up the mash produced by the distillery.

He opened up Hatt Street and built a store. The street and the store are still there. The former end of Hatt Street at Governor's Road has been closed off and Hatt Street now bends east to end at Main Street. The store is now an electrical store. It was originally the last building on Hatt Street but is now in the closed-off part of the street behind the Town Hall. The address is still 2 Hatt Street.

The village growing around Richard's mills became known as Dundas Mills and gradually spread until it overwhelmed the old village of Coote's Paradise. Richard built a grand house, which he called Ogilvie Terrace; Ogilvie Street was once his front driveway.

In the War of 1812, both brothers fought and both were captains in the 5th Lincoln Militia. Samuel took a major part in repelling the Americans at Queenston Heights. He commanded a battery located at Vrooman's Point on the Niagara River north of Queenston. The battery was perfectly sited to be able to fire on the American invaders as they crossed from Lewiston to Queenston before the Battle of Queenston Heights. The major American force was never able to break out of the area of the Queenston Landing and this contributed to the eventual American defeat in the counterattack by Major General Sheaffe. There is a historical marker recognizing this incident on the east side of the Niagara Parkway just north of Queenston.

After the war, Samuel was a commissioner administering oaths of allegiance. In 1816, he moved to Chambly, Quebec, built mills, and became prosperous. He died in 1842 in Quebec.

Richard did not have as famous a role as his brother but he did return home in 1814 having been severely wounded. About the time Richard came home, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that the government was to establish a post office named Dundas in Richard's store. The bad news was that Dundas had not been chosen as the county seat for the new Gore District; that honour went to the growing village on George Hamilton's farm. The bad news was not all bad for Richard because he was appointed the first magistrate for the new district.

After the war, Richard started Dundas' first, and the province's fourteenth, newspaper, The Upper Canada Guardian or Freeman's Journal. He hired Richard Cockerel to do two things: publish the newspaper and teach his children. Unfortunately the newspaper did not last long. Its last issue was on September 28 1819 and told of the death of its owner. Richard died on September 16 1819 aged 50. He had just been elected to the House of Assembly and was looking forward to becoming a father again. The child, Margaret, was born after his death.

Richard's grave was lost for many years. His gravestone was found in 1947 on an Ancaster farm, obviously not where his grave was located. His grave and that of his wife Polly have been recently located in the old Cooley graveyard on the farm once owned by his father-in-law, Preserved Cooley.


The Kennedy Family

John Kennedy, the grandfather of the founder of Georgetown, emigrated to North America about 1750 and settled in New Jersey. His son, also John, was born in New Jersey in 1761. His religious principles and age did not allow him to take part in the Revolutionary War and the American attitude of "if you weren't with us, you were against us" made it very difficult for the younger John after the war. So he and his wife Charity and their five children headed north in 1795, settling in Gainsborough Township near present St Anns. Their children were John, Elizabeth, Anny, Charles, Morris, Samuel, and George. At least four sons fought in the War of 1812; John at Queenston Heights, Charles at Lundy's Lane.

The surveying of the northern part of Esquesing Township was under the control of Captain Abraham Nelles. He subcontracted it to Charles Kennedy, who received property on Silver Creek as payment. Charles' brothers John, Morris, Samuel, and George all bought land close to Charles in the Silver Creek Valley.

Charles owned land on Lot 21 Concession 9. He also came to own Lot 19 Concession 8. Charles built a mill at what is now Main and Wildwood on the northern perimeter of modern Georgetown. He married Elizabeth Williams of the family that founded Glen Williams. In 1845, he transferred Lot 19 to his son John, who built a home on the family farm. This home, known as Cleave House for later owners, is still there on Cleaveholm Drive. John later subdivided his land but kept a lot on James Street. On this land in 1871, he built the small cottage that still stands at 16 James Street.

John Kennedy House

In 1823, George bought Lot 18 Concession 9 from John Moore and built a sawmill in Hungry Hollow. The mills were on what was once Silver Creek and is now parkland between Main Street and Guelph Street (Highway 7). Seventeen years later, in 1837, there were still only three families in the area. With a name like Hungry Hollow, it's hardly surprising that there was no rush to grab the land. Perhaps that is why the place was renamed Georgetown shortly afterwards, in honour of George Kennedy, who had stuck it out for seventeen years.

The opening of the York-to-Guelph Road by the Canada Company spurred the growth of the hamlet at George Kennedy's mill because the road connected the McNab mills in Norval with the Stewart mills at Esquesing (Stewarrttown). Kennedy was able to add grist and woollen mills to his complex. In 1837, he sold land south of his mills to the Barber brothers. In the 1850s, he had the rest of his land surveyed and laid out, naming many of the streets after his children. He died in 1870.


Robert Land

The story of Robert Land and his family has everything: war, love, hate, death, love lost and found. The story starts in the Delaware River valley near present Milansville, Pennsylvania. There, in the 1770s, lived Robert Land and his family. In 1757, he had married Phoebe Scott, member of a family that would become famous after the war of 1812. By 1776 they had a family of seven, ranging from John aged 19 to a young baby, and Robert was a justice of the peace.

With the coming of the Revolutionary War, all that changed. Robert was loyal to the Crown and soon volunteered for service. Because of his knowledge of the area, he was ordered to carry dispatches for the British forces. Soon thugs and louts calling themselves Patriots began to persecute his family, imprisoning John and roughing up another son, Abel. In 1778, one of the daughters was woken up by a friendly native, who told her to go to her neighbours, the Kanes, who were also loyalists. When she got there, she found they had all been murdered. The native advised her that the Lands would be next.. With that, the family left their home and fled to the woods. As they left, they looked back to see the smoke rising from what had been their home. The family made their way to New York City, where they were protected by the British Army until the army evacuated the city. Then the family, except John who was still in prison, was evacuated to New Brunswick.

Meanwhile, Robert had managed to get a break from service and returned home only to find his home burned and his family nowhere to be found. Suspecting that they may have been murdered, he returned to duty. As a courier, he was always in danger of being captured, and one day he found he was surrounded by the enemy. He asked his friend and neighbour Ralph Morden to guide him through them. Unfortunately, the enemy had heard that Land was in the area and took off in pursuit. When they caught up with Land and Morden, they shot Land in the back and captured Morden, who was confidant that he was safe because he was a Quaker. Alas he was wrong. He was tried and executed.

Land had been shot inn the back but the bullet had only hit a knapsack, causing some minor bleeding, enough to convince the pursuers that he was dead or badly injured. He made his way to Fort Niagara and found shelter there. When the war ended, he received a Loyalist grant of 200 acres near Niagara Falls but soon left to go to Burlington Bay. There he built a log cabin. He periodically visited Ralph Morden's family, who, after Ralph's execution, had escaped from Pennsylvania and now lived in the Dundas Valley, about eight miles away.

John Land, Robert's eldest son, was released from prison in Pennsylvania and, because he had not taken up arms, he was accepted back and allowed to keep his property in the Delaware Valley. His brother, Robert (designated Robert II to distinguish him from his father), had become disenchanted with New Brunswick. So, at the age of 17, he persuaded his mother to move to Upper Canada, where Loyalists were welcomed. They sailed for New York and made their way back to the Delaware Valley, where they met John, now married and settled on the old land. Like them, John had heard about Ralph Morden and reconciled himself that his father had died in the war. John decided that he was not going to move so the rest of the family made its way to Niagara without him.

After living in Niagara for about a year, Robert Land II happened to hear of another Land who was living alone at Head-of-the-Lake. He thought it was unlikely that it could be a relation of his but he decided to investigate anyway. Eventually, he, with his mother and brother Ephraim, arrived at the log cabin to find their long lost father sitting outside smoking. The family had been separated for eleven years.

Robert Land died in 1818 and his wife, Phoebe died in 1826. Both were still alive when Phoebe's nephew led American forces in an invasion of Upper Canada at Queenston in 1812. He was also the victor in the Battle of Chippawa in 1814. He went on to become, arguably, the greatest general in United States history. His name: Winfield Scott.


William Lyon Mackenzie and the Upper Canada Rebellion

William Lyon Mackenzie was born near Dundee, Scotland, on March 12, 1795. Both grandfathers had been Jacobites, followers of Bonny Prince Charlie, who fought for the English throne in 1745. William's father died when he was only three weeks old and so he and his mother lived without much money for the early part of his life. He, however, managed to get a good education, and he even put aside enough money to open a small store in nearby Alyth. The store included a circulating library, indicating his life-long interest in reading and writing. This first venture, however, was not successful.

In 1820 he left Scotland for Quebec and then York (Toronto), where he started a business with John Lesslie. After a disagreement with Lesslie, Mackenzie moved to Dundas, where in 1822, he married Isabel Baxter. His house in Dundas is still there. Next he moved to Queenston, where he started the Colonial Advocate in May 1824. The Mackenzie house in Queenston is a reconstruction of the original house except for the trees in front, which were planted by Mackenzie.

In the Advocate, Mackenzie wrote about the abuses of the system of government. Upper Canada at that time was governed by a lieutenant-governor with supreme power. He was officially advised by an appointed Executive Council and an elected Legislative Assembly. In fact, the Lieutenant-Governor could and did ignore the Legislative Assembly as he felt necessary. The Executive Council was more effective but was drawn from the upper ranks of society. This "upper crust" regarded any so-called reforms as disloyal and to be resisted at all costs. Mackenzie's newspaper then and later was not characterized by restraint; he did not hesitate to attack the system or the people who were part of the system.

In November, 1825, he moved the Colonial Advocate to Toronto. He attempted to get a copy of the newspaper buried in the first Brock Monument, but the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Peregrine Maitland, had part of the monument torn down to retrieve the newspaper. The Family Compact, as the "upper crust" were known, made a mistake when they attacked Mackenzie's printing press. Mackenzie had decided to close it down just before it was attacked. Instead, Mackenzie sued for damages and received enough money to keep the newspaper running.

Next, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. There he made an enemy of Allan Napier MacNab, an up-and-comer from Hamilton. Several times Mackenzie was expelled from the Assembly, mostly due to the urging of MacNab, but each time he was voted back in again. In 1832, he went to England and received a hearing by the Colonial Office. In 1834, he became Toronto's first mayor. In 1835, the Reformers, including Mackenzie, won control over the Assembly and promptly sent a report of grievances to Britain. The Colonial Office decided to replace the lieutenant-governor with someone they hoped would be more tactful. What a mistake they made! They appointed just about the worst person for the job, a stubborn, opinionated, malicious nincompoop named Sir Francis Bond Head.

Head appointed three reformers, Robert Baldwin, Dr. John Rolph, and John Dunn to the Executive Council, then ignored their advice, so they and the rest of the Executive Council resigned. The Assembly then withheld supplies, and so Head prorogued Parliament. However, he was smart enough to use the loyalty weapon; he accused anyone who opposed him as being disloyal to the mother country. Now reformers were in a fix: if they criticized him, they were disloyal; if they didn't criticism him, they were virtually on his side. This split the reformers. Many important people who wanted some reform did not want to appear to be disloyal to the Crown, and so they felt unable to support Mackenzie. This effectively caused the failure of the rebellion in Upper Canada in 1837.

The rebellion itself was a shambles. One swift blow by militia led by Col. James FitzGibbon was enough to shatter the mish-mash of non-soldiers assembled by Mackenzie to overthrow the government. Even so, Head nearly managed to make the rebellion a success. At first, when told by FitzGibbon of the uprising, he refused to acknowledge it. Only FitzGibbon's prompt action in posting Sheriff Jarvis and his men near College and Yonge Streets saved Toronto from a band of rebels that was advancing down Yonge Street. The rebels, seeing Jarvis and his men, fired at them. The front row of rebels, having fired, lay down for the second row to fire over them. But the rebels at the rear, seeing the front row fall down, thought they had been shot and immediately panicked and ran away.

Finally, Head came to realize there was a problem. He organized an army of militia, but then, instead of giving command to his Adjutant-General of Militia, FitzGibbon, a professional soldier, hero of the War of 1812, and senior commander, he gave command to Mackenzie's archrival MacNab. MacNab, to his credit, refused the command, which then went to FitzGibbon. Despite being miffed, FitzGibbon then organized the army and led it up Yonge Street to Montgomery's Tavern, where resistance melted away.

Mackenzie escaped by back roads, across the Humber River on a small footbridge, to Streetsville. Pursued by soldiers, he managed to reach Wellington Square, now Burlington. From there he rode by horse to Ancaster, where he changed horses and carried on. At one point he was arrested as a horse thief. When taken to the local magistrate, he found that the magistrate was in favour of reform, so he decided to reveal who he was. The magistrate then decided to let him go. Still pursued, he managed to reach Smithville. There he met Samuel Chandler, who guided him across the Welland Canal and the Chippawa Creek to Captain Samuel McAfee's house on the Niagara River. The next morning, Mackenzie had a narrow escape when, just before he was to sit down for breakfast, he looked out the window and saw a posse of militia approaching. McAfee, Chandler, and Mackenzie darted out of the house, pulled a rowboat across the road to the river, and rowed off as fast as they could. Mackenzie always felt that someone in the militia saw them but decided to keep silent.

Mackenzie finally made his way to the US. There he found enough support that he could try again, this time by setting up a base on Navy Island. A steamboat, the Caroline, was engaged to supply Mackenzie's troops on the island. Colonel MacNab was not amused by this. By now in charge of all forces in Upper Canada, he decided that the Caroline had to go. He ordered Captain Drew to take a raiding party to get rid of the steamboat. This they did by putting the Caroline's crew ashore, towing her out into the river, then setting fire to her. The Caroline did not go over the Falls as shown in some illustrations; she burned and broke up in the river, and only small parts of her eventually went over the Falls.

Mackenzie's fortunes did not get better after that. He was imprisoned in the US for 18 months for violating the neutrality laws and the conditions in the prison destroyed his health. After his release, he worked with little success as a journalist in the US until 1849, when a general amnesty allowed him to return to Canada. From 1851 to 1858, he was a member of the Legislative Assembly for United Canada, defeating George Brown, the founder of the Globe newspaper, in the process. But he was never the same force. Plagued with health and debt problems, he died on August 28, 1861.


Sir Allan Napier MacNab

Lawyer, politician, and land speculator are words that describe Sir Allan Napier MacNab but somehow fail to convey the complexity of the man who could be brave yet sneaky, charming yet bullying, moderate yet extreme. He continued to baffle people right up to his death.

MacNab's father, also Allan, had been born at Dundurn, a farm on Loch Earn, in Perthshire, Scotland. The older MacNab joined the Army at an early age and became a lieutenant in Simcoe's Queen's Rangers during the Revolutionary War. After the war, he went on half pay and moved to Quebec. In 1792, he married Anne Napier, and hearing that his old commander had been appointed to Upper Canada, he decided to move there to improve his fortunes. They settled in Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake). However, by the time the MacNabs got to Newark, all of the best jobs had been taken. The older MacNab had to take such jobs as he could find. After the capital of Upper Canada moved to York (Toronto), the MacNabs moved with it. That was where Allan Napier was born in 1798, the first child to survive infancy. The family lived reasonably prosperously and young Allan was educated at the Home District Grammar School under the Rev. Strachan and alongside many of the other future leaders of the Family Compact.

When the Americans attacked York during the War of 1812, McNab fought with the defenders and joined them in the retreat to Kingston. Young MacNab managed to get appointed midshipman aboard Sir James Yeo's flagship, the Wolfe. The Navy did not suit him so Yeo recommended his transfer to the Army. He eventually ended up in the 100th Regiment. He was in the storming of Fort Niagara in December 1813, followed by the burning of Black Rock and Buffalo. For this work, he was commissioned ensign in the 49th Regiment, in which rank he remained until going on half pay in 1814.

After the war, MacNab came under the influence of D'Arcy Boulton, the Attorney General of Upper Canada and became a lawyer. He also married Elizabeth Brooke, a sister of one of his schoolfriends, in 1821. They had three children before Elizabeth suddenly died in 1826. He moved to Hamilton and set up his own law office, which prospered, soon leading him into land speculation.

In 1830, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and immediately, with the style of oratory that made him a success as a lawyer, began to exert an influence on the Assembly. Two years later, to highlight his success, he bought the estate of Col. Richard Beasley on Burlington Heights and built a magnificent house, now known as Dundurn Castle. In the meantime, he had married again, to Mary Stuart.

When William Lyon Mackenzie was elected to the Assembly, MacNab saw a natural enemy. By hook or by crook, he schemed to get Mackenzie expelled from the Assembly. Three times Mackenzie was expelled and each time he was re-elected by the voters. When Mackenzie and his supporters eventually rebelled, MacNab was called upon by the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, to lead government forces against the rebels. At first, MacNab demurred, giving way to Col. James FitzGibbon, but when FitzGibbon resigned, MacNab assumed command over the Upper Canada militia against the rebels. After the defeat of the rebellion, MacNab was knighted for his part in suppressing it.

Soon after the rebellion ended, Upper and Lower Canada were united once more. MacNab became leader of the Conservatives in opposition to the reformist Baldwin-Lafontaine government. When the government was defeated in 1844, MacNab became Speaker until 1848, when the Conservatives were defeated. Once again MacNab became leader of the Conservatives. In 1854, the Governor-General, the Earl of Elgin, asked MacNab to form a cabinet. He managed to form a coalition cabinet, becoming premier of Canada until he became too ill to carry on in 1856. When he left office, he was created a baronet.

He died in 1862 but did not go without a parting shot at Upper Canada society. His sister-in-law, Mrs. Sophia MacNab, was with him at the end and she revealed that he had had a death-bed conversion to Roman Catholicism. So he was buried according to Roman Catholic rites.



Mennonites are descendants of a revolutionary Anabaptist wing of the Protestant Reformation, and are followers of Menno Simons, who lived from 1492 to 1559. Anabaptists believe that only adults should be baptized, when they are at an age where they know what they are doing. They also refuse military service and the swearing of judicial oaths. For this, they endured centuries of persecution in Europe before a group of Rhinelanders accepted William Penn's invitation to go to Pennsylvania, where all nonconformists would be guaranteed civil liberties. In 1683, they founded Germantown, now Philadelphia. They were the first of more than 3000 Mennonites from Switzerland and Germany to travel to Pennsylvania over the next fifty years. However, being pacifists, Mennonites were not popular with some people during the American Revolution, and some had their animals, wagons, and produce confiscated. At the end of the war, Mennonites were once again guaranteed their religious freedom but some began to look north, where Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was inviting Mennonites, Quakers, and other groups to Upper Canada.

The founders of the village of Ancaster, James Wilson, St John Rousseaux, and Richard Beasley bought Block 2 of the Six Nations Reserve from Joseph Brant. This block of land contains the present cities of Kitchener and Waterloo and the surrounding area. Soon after, Beasley bought out his partners. To try to sell the land quickly, he promoted the land to some Mennonites who had come to Canada from Pennsylvania. A group of them created a settlement near Doon and soon more settlers began to make the trek from Pennsylvania to Block 2.

It came as a great shock to these honest, hardworking people to find that Beasley had taken out a mortgage on the land. When confronted by a group of angry settlers, Beasley suggested that they organize a company to buy all of Block 2 so that he could discharge the mortgage. Sam Bricker returned to Pennsylvania to try to raise £20,000 from the Mennonites there. These Mennonites soon organized a company that came to be known as the German Company. Bricker and the Erb brothers, John and Jacob, returned with 200 bags, each containing £100, to buy 60,000 acres of Block 2 from Beasley. With the money, Beasley discharged the mortgage and the block of land belonged to the German Company.

Later, looking for future expansion, some Mennonites from Block 2 began to think about Block 3. They were assisted by two reputable men who were also friends of Joseph Brant: William Dickson, a lawyer and owner of Block 1, and Augustus Jones, Deputy Surveyor and son-in-law of a Mississauga chief. Brant had originally sold the block to William Wallace, who unfortunately had not paid for it. So Augustus Jones helped John and Jacob Erb form a second German Company to buy Block 3.


William Hamilton Merritt

War hero, visionary, and businessman, William Hamilton Merritt was born in Bedford, Westchester County, New York in 1793, the only son of Thomas Merritt, member of Simcoe's Queen's Rangers in the Revolutionary War. After the war, Thomas Merritt and his family had tried to live in the land where they had been born but found that they could not endure the persecution. So the Merritts decided in 1796 to move to the Niagara region, where they settled on Twelve Mile Creek near present-day St Catharines.

In the War of 1812, Merritt was the leader of a troop of militia cavalry and took part in the attack on Detroit and the Battles of Queenston Heights and Stoney Creek, but was captured at the Battle of Lundy's Lane. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. After the war, he returned home but not alone. In Maysville New York, he married Catharine Prendergast, whom he had known before the war when her father was a doctor in the Beaver Dams area.

He resumed his life as a farmer but started other businesses including a sawmill, a flour mill, and a distillery. In 1818, his businesses suffering from a lack of water in Twelve Mile Creek, he and other businessmen in the area decided to look into the idea of diverting some of the water from the Welland River to Twelve Mile Creek. They made a rough survey and estimated that it was feasible. Sometime after that, the idea changed from diverting water to building a canal, After all, if you have to dig a canal to divert some water, why not dig a bigger canal and pull barges through it?

Merritt and his partners formed a company to build the canal. To get the money for the scheme, Merritt travelled to the US and Britain, using his powers of persuasion to convince hard-headed businessmen to invest. The company succeeded in building the canal, which eventually opened in 1829.

After the canal was built, Merritt became a member of the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly as the Member for Haldimand, a member of the Executive Council, and, briefly, Minister of Public Works. He was interested in railways and, on a picnic with his wife at the Niagara River, conceived the idea of a bridge across the gorge. The bridge was built in 1849 and trains ran across it in 1855.

Merritt died in 1862 aged 69. His contemporaries had mixed views of him. Some people thought he was shrewd in business but overrated. Others thought he was basically honest but unscrupulous when presenting facts and figures (a 19th Century spin doctor). Others praised him for his determination to succeed despite many failures. It took a very special man to get the first Welland Canal built despite all the odds against it.

There is one story that seems to sum him up. When he was in Britain to drum up money for the canal, he had an appointment with the editor of the London Times. The editor did not really want to see him so gave him only five minutes to make his pitch. Merritt spread out a map of Canada and said, "Here is Lake Erie. Here is Niagara Falls. This is the St Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the route of the Welland Canal." Then Merritt folded up the map. The interview was over. A couple of days later, the editor, impressed by the short presentation, gave the canal a favourable comment, which helped Merritt to raise money for it.


The Morden Family

Ralph, Jonathan, George, James, and Joseph Morden were sons of George Morden, a Yorkshireman who had immigrated to Pennsylvania about 1743. In 1755, the family owned 55 acres on the Delaware River in Northampton County just north of Easton, Pennsylvania. In 1765, Ralph married Ann Durham and adopted her Quaker religious beliefs. They had four sons and five daughters.

One of Ralph's neighbours on the Delaware River was Robert Land. In 1780, Land, by now a courier for the British forces, asked Ralph to guide him past some sentries. Ralph, being a Quaker, had taken no part in the war but was always ready to help a friend, and so he agreed to help Land. Somehow the Patriots found out about Land's plans because they laid a trap; Robert Land was shot in the back but escaped. Ralph Morden was caught. Despite being a Quaker, Morden was tried, found guilty of treason, and executed.

Ann and the rest of the Morden family then were persecuted by the Patriots, who made life intolerable. Her sons James and John joined Sir John Johnson's King's Royal Regiment of New York, the regiment in which their uncle James had served until his death in Montreal in 1777. Her son Moses joined the New Jersey Volunteers. At the end of the war, the three sons met by chance at Fort Niagara in 1786 and decided to bring their mother and the rest of the family to Fort Niagara. Earlier in the year, John had visited Robert Land, who had settled on Burlington Bay. John had found that most of the good land had been taken so he had moved on to the Dundas Valley. Consequently, in 1787, after wintering over in Fort Niagara, the Morden family moved to the valley, where they became the first settlers.

As Loyalists, Ann and her sons David and Ralph were granted all of the land on which the older part of Dundas has been built. Ann's son Moses settled at what is now Rock Chapel and built a sawmill on Borer's Falls. Her brother-in-law George received land up on the mountain where Bullock's Corners stands. Another brother-in-law, Jonathan Morden, built a mill on Spencer's Creek in 1798 near the Crooks Hollow Conservation Area. His house still stands on a hill on Crooks Hollow Road near Cramer Road.

T. Roy Woodhouse adds a nice ironic twist to the story when he states, in his compilation of the History of Dundas, that a century and a half after the Americans hanged Ralph Morden, they gathered together to honour his descendant, Charles Lindbergh.


Queen's Rangers (1st American Regiment)

Raised by Major Robert Rogers in 1755 as Rogers' Rangers during the Seven Year (French and Indian) War, the green-clad Rangers were famous in pre-Revolution North America for fighting in the Indian style, known today as guerilla fighting, specializing in ambushes and moving silently through the woods. They performed many dangerous operations in the New England and New York region and were admired and feared by the French and their Indian allies. The Rangers' most famous feat was their midwinter attack on the Abenaki village of St Francis under the nose of the French at Montreal.

During the Revolution, Rogers remained loyal, resurrecting his Rangers as the Queen's Rangers. The Robert Rogers of the French and Indian War, however, had become a drunken, complaining Robert Rogers, who was replaced after less than a year in command. The best thing that happened to the Queen's Rangers was Major-Commandant John Graves Simcoe, who took over in 1777. Simcoe transformed a demoralized corps into a fighting machine. His success was rewarded when he was awarded the provincial rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1778 and the same rank in the British Army in 1781.

Among the officers of Simcoe's Queen's Rangers were two notable future Canadians that you will encounter in these web pages: Lieutenant Allan MacNab, father of a provincial premier, Sir Allan Napier MacNab; and Ensign Thomas Merritt, father of the builder of the first Welland Canal, William Hamilton Merritt. Other famous people in the Queen's Rangers were Ensign William Jarvis, who became Civil Secretary for Upper Canada and had Jarvis Street in Toronto named after him; Captain John Saunders, who became Chief Justice of New Brunswick; and Captain David Shank, who became commander of the Rangers in 1798 and reached the rank of Lieutenant-General in the British Army.

After the war, the unit was disbanded as the 1st American Regiment but was rebuilt in 1791 by Simcoe when he became Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. The re-formed corps is most remembered for building two roads: Yonge Street from Toronto to Lake Simcoe, and the Dundas or Governor's Road from the Head of Lake Ontario (Dundas) to the Forks of the Thames (London). In 1802, they were disbanded again.

In 1866, following the Fenian invasion, the corps was re-formed and has remained part of the Canadian Army every since under different names. The current name is The 25th Armoured Regiment (Queen's York Rangers). For more information about the Queen's Rangers, visit the regiment's museum at Casa Loma in Toronto or the Canadian Army web site at www.army.dnd.ca/Queens_Own_York_Rangers. Incidentally, Rogers Rangers are also the ancestors of the famous US Army Rangers and the Green Berets.


Daniel Rapelje

Daniel Rapelje was descended from a Huguenot named Jean Rapareillier, who was born in Valenciennes, France, in the late 1500s. His son emigrated to New Netherlands (now lower New York State) and his name became Dutchified to Joris Janssen Rapalje. Daniel Rapelje (as his name had been modified again) arrived in Upper Canada in 1802, settling in Norfolk County before moving to the Talbot Settlement in 1810. Daniel applied for and got Lot 1 of Concession 8 in Yarmouth Township. This lot contains all of the land on which Kettle Creek Village was eventually built but had not much farming land apart from that. Rapelje wanted the land for the creek, Kettle Creek, that ran through it. During the War of 1812, his property was burned by the Americans and he had to wait until the end of the war before he built a mill at the bottom of what is now Stanley Street Hill. Shortly after, he lost two of his sons within a year of each other and he buried them on his farm. He later donated that part of his farm for a church so that his sons would be buried on consecrated ground. The new mill was the magnet that drew settlers to the area and, in 1821, Rapelje commissioned Mahlon Burwell to survey the 35 acres of his farm that fronted on the Talbot Road. Rapelje is buried near his two sons in the churchyard of St Thomas' Church.


Jean Baptiste Rousseaux

The first Canadian Jean Rousseaux was born in Paris in 1570 and died in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, in 1643. His great great grandson, Jean Baptiste Rousseaux, nicknamed like all his forebears St Jean or St John, was born in 1758. His father operated a trading post on the Humber River, where he traded with the local natives. Rousseaux learned to speak native languages and was to become an interpreter for the Upper Canada government.

When his father died in 1774, Rousseaux became the owner of the trading post. Six years later, he married Marie Reine Martineau in Montreal and settled in Cataraqui, spending summers at the trading post. Bored by being left alone in the summer, Marie deserted him in 1786. Being Catholics, they could not divorce, even though Marie admitted to being the guilty party.

In 1787, Rousseaux met Margaret Cline or Klein. She had been captured by the Iroquois when she was young and had been adopted by them. She was attracted to Rousseaux, who was one of the few white people she had met who could speak her language. To marry Margaret, Rousseaux had to give up the Catholic Church. Eventually they were married three times; the first was an aboriginal ceremony in 1787; the second was an Anglican wedding in Ancaster in 1795; the third was in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1807 after Marie died.

The Rousseaux family moved to Ancaster in 1794 after Rousseaux bought James Wilson's share of Wilson's Mills. He built a 1½-storey log home, which doubled as an inn called the Rousseaux Hotel. After expanding the mills, Rousseaux sold the company in 1809 to a consortium called the Union Mill Company. With the money, Rousseaux rebuilt the house/hotel as a 2-storey frame building on what is now Wilson Street. He named the hotel the Union Hotel after the source of his wealth.

In addition to keeping a hotel, Rousseaux speculated in land. At one time, Rousseaux owned land in Hamilton between what is now Queen and Locke Streets and from Main Street to Aberdeen Avenue. In 1796, Rousseaux, James Wilson, and Richard Beasley bought Block 2 of the Six Nations Grant (now Waterloo County) on a 999-year lease. However, Beasley soon bought his partners out.

Rousseaux died in 1812 of pleurisy while on active service against the Americans in the War of 1812. His wife continued to run the hotel until 1815, when his son George took over. The old Union Hotel was the site of the Bloody Assize. The old Union Hotel was later renamed, and burned down in 1844. George Rousseaux built another hotel called the Union Hotel across the street at 386 Wilson Street. This building was made of stone and is still there. Rousseaux's grandson, George Brock Rousseaux, built a house near the site of the first Union Hotel and it too is still there. Known as the Rousseau House, it is a fine restaurant (see www.rousseauhouse.ca for more information).


The Secord Family

In the late 1600s, Ambroise Sicard, a French Huguenot born in Mornac, France in 1631, fled from the persecution that followed the Treaty of Nantes, and ended up at New Rochelle in New York Province. Most of the Secords in Southwestern Ontario are descended from four of his great-grandchildren, John, Peter and James Secord. These brothers fought in the Revolutionary War, James as a lieutenant, Peter as a sergeant, and John as a private in Butler's Rangers.

At the end of the war, many Loyalists ended up at Fort Niagara, having left all their money and property to avoid persecution. The government of the Province of Quebec, as all of British land to the north of the new United States of America was called, was worried about being able to support these people. Governor Haldimand gave permission for selected families to move to the western bank of the Niagara River to settle as tenants of the Crown. The families were those of older and wounded Butler's Rangers and included Peter and James Secord and their families.

Peter moved to the important crossroads where the Iroquois Trail crosses the trail along Four Mile Creek. The Iroquois Trail started at Queenston and went through St Catharines to Hamilton and eventually became Highway 8. James settled nearby. After a couple of years, Peter wanted to build a sawmill and a gristmill but, because he did not own the land, he had to ask for permission. This was refused, but the government decided that the mills were needed so the government would build them. They hired Lieutenant David Brass of Butler's Rangers to build a sawmill and a gristmill to be operated by Peter Secord. These mills were built between 1782 and 1783 on the Four Mile Creek. Of the two mills, only the Secord gristmill survives.

For the next ten years, Peter and his family worked on the property but, despite many petitions to the government, he was not awarded the property. In the end, he gave up and moved to the Charlottesville area of Norfolk County, where he had land. Peter had three sons, Peter, David, Daniel, and Silas. Silas was a sergeant in Butler's Rangers. They all moved with him in 1793. Of the sons, Peter ended up in Ohio, and David (called Captain David to distinguish him from his cousin) in Norfolk County.

Peter's mills and property were awarded to him in 1796 but by then he was gone. His property was bought by James' son David (known as Major David) in 1799. Major David had been a sergeant in Butler's Rangers at the age of 17 and had been wounded at the ambush at Oriskany. He later became a politician and soldier, fighting at Queenston Heights, Beaver Dams, Chippawa, and Lundy's Lane as a major of the 2nd Lincoln Regiment. The village that grew up around his property was named after him: St Davids.

Major David's three brothers, Simon, Solomon, and Stephen also fought in the Revolutionary War. Simon was killed in 1777, Solomon was a second lieutenant, and Stephen was a sergeant in Butler's Rangers.. Their younger brother, James, was too young to fight in the Revolutionary war but fought in the War of 1812.

The most famous Secord of all is Laura, the heroine of the Battle of Beaver Dams. Laura was the daughter of another famous Canadian, Major Thomas Ingersoll, the founder of the town of Ingersoll. She married James, the brother of Major David Secord, and began married life in St Davids. Two years later, the couple moved to Queenston, where they were living when the War of 1812 began. James was wounded at Queenston Heights and invalided home. They were there when the Americans occupied Queenston in 1813.

One evening, Laura heard some Americans talking about an expedition that was about to get underway against the unit commanded by Lt James FitzGibbon. The Secords knew right away that FitzGibbon must be warned. Because her husband could not walk very far, Laura had to do it. Pretending to chase a cow that she wanted to milk, she managed to evade the American guards and set out for St Davids to find her brother-in-law. But Major David was away from home so she carried on herself. Eventually, after stumbling through the woods for hours, she was found by a group of natives. She managed to convey her message to them and they escorted her to FitzGibbon. The battle was won but there was no glory for Laura.

Even though FitzGibbon acknowledged her part in the victory, her heroic act was forgotten for fifty years until a visit to Canada by Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1860. By then, she was 85, impoverished, and living in Chippawa. Now, of course, all Canadians have heard of her, even if only because of the chocolates named in her honour. Her home in Queenston has been restored by the chocolate company and is open during the summer.


Absalom Shade

William Dickson, originally from Scotland and a cousin of Thomas Clarke and Robert Hamilton, settled in Niagara and became a lawyer. He bought Block 1 of the Six Nations Grant with the intention to build a community there. So he asked Absalom Shade to help him. Shade was a 22-year-old builder and Dickson wanted him to build a sawmill and gristmill that would be the foundation for the new community. In 1816, at the junction of Mill Creek and the Grand River, they found the perfect spot. Dickson decided to call the whole block of land Dumfries after his hometown in Scotland.

A man of great foresight and ability, Shade ensured that the sawmill was operating by the time the millwright who was to build the gristmill arrived on site with the millstones. This meant that the sawmill could provide the lumber required by the gristmill. By 1819, the gristmill, called the Dumfries Mill, was working. Dickson called on John Telfer to go to Scotland to recruit settlers for his land, and by 1832 every plot of land was taken. At first, the community was called Shade's Mills by the settlers but eventually became known by its official name, Galt, after the Commissioner for the Canada Company, John Galt.

At about the same time as he was building the saw and grist mills, Absalom Shade built a home and store in the new settlement. After he completed the mills, he built a bridge over the Grand River near his store and followed this with a distillery. In 1824, actual cash being in short supply, he built the Red Store, where farmers could trade their produce or use credit to buy goods for themselves and their farms. The Red Store was at the southeast end of the bridge. Also near the bridge, he built a pier for barges that would transport his produce down the Grand River. He was one of the main pillars behind the Grand River Navigation Company. In 1832, he built the White Store across the street from the Red Store. The White Store sold goods at a lower price but for cash only. Six years later, he bought the original Dumfries Mill from Dickson but only on condition that, for a period of time, Dickson would sell no property that would be used to compete with Shade's businesses. Was this the original Shadey deal?


John Graves Simcoe

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, John Simcoe was a courageous leader in war and in peace. As Upper Canada's first Lieutenant-Governor, he set the style and direction of the administration of Upper Canada for at least forty years. He founded York, now Toronto; abolished slavery in the province years before it was abolished in Britain; set up institutions such as courts and trial by jury; and named rivers, villages, towns, and counties, all of which are still with us today.

John was born in 1752, the son of Captain John Simcoe, a naval officer who died in 1759 while on service with General Wolfe's expedition in Canada. Young John joined the British Army at age 18 as an ensign in the 35th Foot Regiment. Five years later, at 23, he was posted to Boston at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. During that war, he took part in several actions and received promotions. In 1775, he was promoted to Captain and bought command of the Grenadier Company of the 40th Foot. In 1777, he was appointed Major-Commandant of the Queen's Rangers, a corps originally founded by the famous Robert Rogers of Rogers Rangers. In 1778, he was appointed to the provincial rank of Lieutenant Colonel and, in 1781, he was made Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army.

After being wounded several times and captured in 1781, Simcoe was invalided home, but recovered sufficiently to marry Elizabeth Postuma Gwillim in December 1782. For the next nine years, he was on half-pay. During this time he bought and managed the estate of Wolford Lodge in Devon.

1790 was a big year for Simcoe for three reasons: he was promoted to Colonel, he was elected to Parliament, and he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province of Upper Canada. After arriving in Canada, he reinstated the Queen's Rangers, with many of his former men rejoining. He used them to, among other things, build Yonge Street and the Dundas Road. On arriving in Niagara in July 1792, he found that the only accommodation was in tents he had brought with him. The tents had belonged to the famous Captain Cook, who had served under his father in Captain Simcoe's last voyage. His personal secretary was an Irishman, Lieutenant Thomas Talbot, who would go on to bigger and better things.

He set up the parliamentary system of an elected Assembly and an appointed Executive Council advising the Lieutenant-Governor. This system lasted fifty years. He organized surveys of townships, towns, and villages and he named rivers. Many of the names come from Lincolnshire in England. Others recognize people who would have been well known to Simcoe. His work was rewarded when he was gazetted Major-General in 1794.

Simcoe, however, did not get on with the Governor-General Lord Dorchester, with whom he had had a dispute dating back to Simcoe's time with the Queen's Rangers. In 1796, he had had enough, so he returned to England on a leave of absence. He never returned to Canada. He was appointed instead to Santo Domingo to restore order. He was there seven months and then returned to England, where he was made Lieutenant-General in 1799. He spent most of his time between 1799 and 1806 preparing defences in England against an expected invasion by the French. In 1806, he was appointed commander-in-chief in India, but before he could take up that post he was ordered to Portugal to fend off an expected attack by Napoleon. He became ill on the voyage and died on the way home.


Samuel Street Senior and Junior

Indian trader, businessman, land speculator, and politician, Samuel Street (referred to as Senior to distinguish him from his nephew) was born in 1753 in Wilton, Connecticut. In his early twenties, he traded with the Indians on the Susquehanna River. In 1778, as a Loyalist, he moved to Fort Niagara to become a merchant, provisioning the British and their Indian allies at Fort Niagara in competition with Robert Hamilton and Richard Cartwright. Unlike Hamilton, Street never developed close ties with the garrison at Fort Niagara and never formed a close relationship with a Montreal trader, and at the end of the war had to revert back to trading with the Indians and Indian Department. In 1785, he formed a partnership with John Butler's son, Andrew to build a store in Fort Niagara, importing goods. They also built a sawmill on Fifteen Mile Creek. Later he went into land speculation without any conspicuous success. He did manage to obtain a grant of 1200 acres in Willoughby Township by 1796 and later extended that by another 3600 acres. By his death in 1815, he had sold most of his land and only retained Grove Farm in Willoughby.

In 1796, he was appointed a justice of the peace, a position he held until his death. He was elected to the Upper Canada Parliament in 1796 and was elected Speaker in 1800. He did not hold the position long because he was defeated in the election that year. Returning to Parliament in 1808, he again became Speaker. About 59 years old when the War of 1812 started, he was not active in the war, serving as acting deputy paymaster of the militia.

Samuel Street Junior was a smarter businessman than his uncle and became one of the wealthiest men in Upper Canada. He was the son of Samuel Street Sr.'s brother Nehemiah and was born in 1775 in Farmington, Connecticut. He came to live with his uncle in 1787 at Chippawa after Nehemiah had been murdered in Cold Springs, New York. As a Loyalist, he was entitled to 200 acres but his uncle managed to get this increased to 600 acres.

He started working in his uncle's business at Niagara but was on his own by 1797. The next year, he formed a partnership with Thomas Clark but this ended a year later. By 1803, he was a clerk at the Bridgewater Mills on the Niagara River, just north of Chippawa. In 1807, he bought the Falls Mills from Thomas Clark, and by 1808 he was doing so well that he talked Clark into re-forming their partnership. This was to become one of Upper Canada's biggest businesses. The partners bought the Bridgewater Mills from James Durand in 1810 and so controlled both milling complexes on the Niagara River. Both were burned by the Americans in the War of 1812 but only the Falls Mills were rebuilt. With the money made from milling, Clark and Street went into moneylending. Eventually most of the businessmen in the Niagara Peninsula, such as Hamilton Merritt and James Crooks, owed them money. This led them into land and stock speculation at which they were very successful. Unlike his partner Clark, Street kept well away from direct participation in politics, preferring to keep his focus on business. When he died at Port Robinson on the Welland Canal in 1844, he left his fortune to his son, Thomas Clark Street, and his four daughters. Samuel Street Jr., his wife, and son Thomas Clark Street are buried in the Drummond Hill cemetery.


Thomas Talbot

The Lake Erie Baron, Thomas Talbot, is an enigma in that opinions of him vary so much. The same facts have been interpreted in different ways according to the small "p" political views of the interpreter. Was he a hero or a villain? Drunk or sober? Malicious or prudent?

Thomas Talbot was born in Ireland on July 17, 1771 at Malahide in the County of Dublin to aristocratic parents Richard Talbot and Margaret, Baroness Talbot. He was commissioned at age 11 in the army and became an aide-de-camp to the Marquis of Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. A fellow aide was Arthur Wellesley, who was to go on to fame and fortune as the Duke of Wellington. The two men were very good friends to the ends of their lives, which occurred within months of each other in 1852.

When Colonel John Graves Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, Lieutenant Talbot joined him as his private and confidential secretary. In 1793, after Major Talbot was ordered back to England, Simcoe wrote to Lord Hobart asking that Talbot be granted 5000 acres in Yarmouth Township as a resident field officer. (Yarmouth Township is now part of the Municipality of Central Elgin. It is just east of, and once included, St Thomas.) This request was granted although not in Yarmouth Township, because the southern part of the township had been granted to Col. James Baby and the northern part to the Canada Company.

In 1796, Talbot was Lt. Col. of the 5th Regiment of Foot and was present in the Duke of York's disastrous expedition to Holland.

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of a hill
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down;
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.

On May 21, 1803, Talbot returned to Canada and landed at what was to be Port Talbot on Lake Erie. With him was George Crane, the first settler in Elgin County. At that time, the area was covered in unbroken forest with the nearest hint of civilization at Long Point. The arrangement Talbot worked out with the government in Britain was that, for every settler he located on 50 acres of land, Talbot was to receive 150 acres, up to 5000 acres.

His plan was to deal only with settlers, not with speculators, and only with settlers who looked as though they were going to be hardworking. Many grants had been given to military men and speculators, and few of these grants were settled. Because the government of Upper Canada derived revenue from the selling of land patents, and these patents were only given to people who had fulfilled the conditions for settling on the land, the government was not getting revenue from these unsettled grants. So Talbot was given a free hand to control the settling of Dunwich Township, which included Port Talbot.

In 1809, settlers began to arrive. The first were John Pearce, Leslie Paterson, and their families. They were United Empire Loyalists and brothers-in-law (Pearce was married to Paterson's sister Frances). Paterson's widowed sister, Mary Storey, and Stephen Backus came with them. Mahlon Burwell and his family arrived later that year. Burwell was also a Loyalist, having been born and raised in New Jersey. Burwell became Talbot's right-hand man and close friend.

Even during his lifetime and certainly after, Talbot came under intense criticism. When he placed settlers names in lots, he wrote the names in pencil. Did he do that so he could cheat them or was it because it was easier to remove the name if the settler failed to fulfill his obligations in the time allowed? He was arbitrary in the way he accepted some people but rejected others. Was that because he was a bigot and corrupt, or was it because he would not accept speculators and people he thought were going to fail?

He dealt with applicants through a window of his home. If the window was closed, applicants had to wait. If he did not approve of an applicant, he would simply slam the window shut and that would be that. If a settler did not complete his work in an approved time, Talbot simply erased his name from the map and his rights disappeared. However, there is no doubt that, whatever people thought of his methods, they worked. The areas he settled were very much in demand. His roads were the best in Upper Canada and his settlements successful. So much so that the area he controlled expanded until it covered most of Southwest Ontario west of Port Burwell and south of London.


Gideon Tiffany

The Tiffanys were wanderers. For six generations leading up to Gideon, each generation had been born in a different place. Gideon's father, also Gideon, was born in Attleborough, Massachusetts but moved to New Hampshire before the Revolutionary War. Gideon, the son, was born in Keene, New Hampshire in 1774 but moved with the family to Hanover, New Hampshire when he was about 12. When he finished school, he became a printer, probably with his eldest brother, Sylvester, in Troy, New York.

In 1794, he learned from his brother-in-law, Davenport Phelps, that the position of King's Printer for Upper Canada was available in Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake). In November, he was appointed and in December published his first edition of the Upper Canada Gazette. He also started job printing, publishing in 1795 a pamphlet by Richard Cockerel, the first non-government publication in Upper Canada. The following year, he was joined by Sylvester as his assistant. Unfortunately, because they had been born in the US, the government began to regard them as pro-American. As a result, Gideon and Sylvester resigned in 1797 and were succeeded by Titus Simons. Simons knew nothing about printing and the government had no press, so the Tiffanys continued to print the Gazette from their print shop. This situation continued until the Gazette was transferred to York (Toronto) in 1798.

The following year saw the Tiffanys begin publication of Upper Canada's first independent newspaper, the Canada Constellation. By 1800, Gideon was publishing the Constellation alone, but not for long, because by the next year he had given up printing for good.

He used the money he had made from printing and, with another brother-in-law Moses Brigham, bought land in Delaware Township from Ebenezer Allan. In November 1806, possibly as a solution to a legal problem, Tiffany, Brigham and Allan had the whole property conveyed to Gideon's older brother, Dr. Oliver Tiffany, who was living in Ancaster. Gideon and Brigham continued to live in Delaware and operate the two sawmills on the property for Oliver. Gideon himself bought additional land in the surrounding area. He continued to live quietly except for a period in 1837 when he briefly got involved in a reformist movement, was prosecuted, acquitted, and freed. His neighbours found him full of old stories, and liked and respected him. He died in 1854, and is buried in the Tiffany cemetery in the village of Delaware.


United Empire Loyalists

Even today there are many misconceptions about the Loyalists; that they were British-born upper-class snobs who spoke with a hoity-toity accent, and they wanted to force British ways upon down-trodden Americans.

Bruce Wilson states that most Loyalists, 54 per cent of those claiming loses in the Revolutionary War, were not born in Britain. Nor were they upper-class. Only 42 per cent of claimants had more than 10 acres of land cleared. Most were, in fact from the lower and middle classes. John Burch is an example; when he arrived in New York City, he was a tinsmith, selling tin cups, saucers, and plates that he made himself. Some were from families that had prospered in America. John Butler's father was a lieutenant in the Army and on half pay but managed to create a large estate in the Mohawk Valley. Many Loyalists such as the Young and Nelles families were descended from people who had fled to America to avoid religious persecution. The immigrant Young (Jung) and Nelles families were Palatinate Germans who were grateful to the British for accepting them into New York Province. They were afraid that the Dutch, who had always hated the British, would steal their land if they won the war.

The reasons why people chose the British side in the war are not simple. This was, after all, America's first civil war. Some people had prospered and liked things the way they were. Others made their choices based on personalities, just as today people vote for candidates based not on policies but simply on whether they like the candidate. Others had suffered at the hands of zealots and people who were just after their money or land. Some tenants followed their landlords, others went in the opposite direction to their landlords.

Some Loyalists had political views not too different from the Whig or Patriot view. Many Loyalists raised in America were opposed to the concept that superiority and quality were inherited by birth rather than earned by deeds. So people like Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie wrote about some Loyalists as "insolent Yankees" who would not knuckle their heads to their "superiors". Aristocrats like Thomas Talbot could never really accept Loyalists such as Mahlon Burwell as being his equal.

The main entry point for Loyalists into southwestern Ontario was Fort Niagara. Although some families, notably those of former Butler's Rangers, had settled on the west side of the Niagara River, it was not until 1781 that land was bought from the Mississaugas for settlement. The early Loyalist settlers were non-paying tenants and received one year's provisions and all tools from the government. In return, settlers were to sell all surplus produce to the garrison of Fort Niagara. This guaranteed an income for the settlers and a local, cheap supply of food for the garrison. In 1782, the government hired Butler's Ranger Sergeant David Brass to build a gristmill and a sawmill on Four Mile Creek, near the junction of Four Mile Creek Road and Lake Shore Road to the west of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most of the early settlers were former Butler's Rangers, especially after 1784, when the Rangers were disbanded. Other Loyalist settlers were from other military units and the Indian Department. Eventually, after the area was surveyed, settlers were granted the lots on which they had settled.

So what exactly is a Loyalist? When, in 1783, the British government decided to compensate Loyalists for their losses, it defined a Loyalist as a person: American by birth or living in the colony in 1775, who had rendered substantial service to the Crown during the war, and who had left the colony during or shortly after the war. This definition was different from that used to grant land claims. For this, the definition of a Loyalist was stretched to almost anyone who would swear an oath of allegiance. Since this would rule out all Quakers, Tunkers, and Mennonites, who did not believe in swearing oaths, even this definition was stretched by 1794 to allow them to qualify. A third definition was used by Lord Dorchester to define those who were entitled to affix U.E. to their names to recognize their contribution to the Unity of the Empire. This defined a Loyalist as a person who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Peace in 1793, and all their descendants of either sex. It assumed residence in Canada but gave no cutoff date. A cutoff date was eventually added; all Loyalists must have been residing in Canada before July 28, 1798.


James Wilson

James Wilson could be considered the person who created Ancaster Village when he and his partner Richard Beasley built a gristmill in 1791 and sawmill in 1792. Wilson owned Lot 45 Concession 2 and Beasley Lot 46, both lots in a forest, miles away from anywhere but with a stream running through them. Wilson was a millwright and had the know-how to build a mill; Beasley was a fur trader and had the money. These mills were so successful that soon Wilson had built a store, a blacksmith's shop, a tavern, and a distillery. In those days, workers had to walk to work so Wilson had to build houses for his workers. Soon this group of houses became a community around Wilson's businesses, and the community was called, naturally, Wilson's Mills. After 1795, because the village was the largest community in Ancaster Township, it became known as Ancaster Village.

The Wilson mills were located very close to the junction of Rousseaux Road and Wilson Road in Ancaster. If you walk a little way northeast along Wilson Street from Rousseaux Road, you cross a bridge over the creek. If you look down from the right side of the road toward the creek, you may be able to see the foundations of Wilson's Mills. The mills burned down several times over the years and were rebuilt at different sites. In the 1860s, they were rebuilt at the site of the Ancaster Old Mill Restaurant at 548 Old Dundas Road between Ancaster and Dundas.