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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
now part of the Town of Halton Hills,
and Streetsville, now part of the City of
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
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
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
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.
History has come up with mixed reviews for
Richard Beasley. On one hand, he was a shrewd and visionary
businessman, becoming a founder of
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
Beasley was born in 1761 in Albany NY and
was cousin of Richard Cartwright, partner of
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
The mortgage Beasley had to take out
became a problem when he eventually sold parts of the land to
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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
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
Sir Isaac 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Burch also became a partner of
in the Portage Syndicate, which received the control of the
portage on the west bank of the Niagara River.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
First brought over to Canada by his uncle,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
the Falls of the Grand. Unfortunately, he never got to see the
results, because he died suddenly in April 1833.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
He opened up Hatt Street and built a
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
St John Rousseaux, and
bought Block 2 of the Six Nations Reserve from
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Incidentally, Rogers Rangers are also the ancestors of the
famous US Army Rangers and the Green Berets.
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
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.
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.
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
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
for more information).
The Secord Family
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
originally from Scotland and a cousin of
Thomas Clarke and
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.
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
John Graves Simcoe
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
1796, Talbot was Lt. Col. of the 5th Regiment of Foot and was
present in the Duke of York's disastrous expedition to Holland.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 could be considered the
person who created Ancaster Village when he and his partner
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.
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.