Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Loyalists

Many of the Loyalists who went to Quebec travelled by land.  This map shows the major routes they used.  Most of them arrived between 1776 & 1785.  The Loyalists who went to Nova Scotia travelled by sea.

The Loyalists

The Loyalists were the people living in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution (1775-1783).  Many of their families had lived in the colonies for generations, while others were relatively recent immigrants from England or other European countries.  During and after the Revolutionary War, they left the United States rather than become American citizens.  Thousands of them chose to settle in Canada.

Many families were harassed, driven from their homes, fined, jailed and some were even killed since they were viewed as traitors by the American rebels.  They fled the Thirteen Colonies to find safety and a new life in other British Territories.  Other Loyalists were influenced to come to British North America (Canada) by the offer of free land for new farms.
The Loyalists came from many different backgrounds.  There were poor and rich Loyalists, and people from towns as well as rural areas.  Businessmen, farmers, soldiers, escaped slave and slave owners; men, women, and children left in large numbers.  Many of them had British ancestry and were loyal to the king.  But some people  from other cultures feared that if they stayed in the United States they would be forced to give up their religions and customs - they thought that the British Government would be more inclined to protect their way of life.  Some of these were First Nations who had fought as Loyalists alongside the British troops.  They feared that American settlers would take over their lands.  When the British lost the war in the Thirteen Colonies, many of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy moved into Canada for British protection and lands.


Two main groups of Loyalists came to Canada: the first waves came during the actual fighting of the American Revolution, followed by a later wave that fled north after the British lost the Revolutionary War.  At first, most settled in the Maritime region, Quebec City, and Montreal.  In total, more than 30,000 Loyalist refugees arrived in Nova Scotia in the early 1780s resulting in the formation of a new colony, New Brunswick, in 1784.   The Loyalists quickly became the majority of the population in the Maritime region, and their needs and political demands overshadowed those of the original inhabitants.

The governor of Quebec at the time feared that if large numbers of English-speaking Protestants (the Loyalists) settled amongst the French-speaking Catholics of the colony of Quebec, trouble would follow.  The Loyalist refugees were therefore encouraged to head further west into the then-unsettled regions near Lakes Ontario and Erie.  Some continued to settle in the Eastern townships of Quebec and around Montreal and Quebec City, but most took up the offer of large tracts of free land "out west".  By 1784 at least  5000 had travelled to the western region.  The population grew rapidly and in 1791 two colonies were created.  Lower Canada (what is now Quebec) was predominantly populated with French-speaking Catholics.  Upper Canada (now Ontario) was created to better represent the needs of its mainly English-speaking inhabitants.  Almost 2000 Six Nations refugees also settled near the Great Lakes.

To encourage the Loyalists to open new areas of settlement, the government offered each family or individual a piece of land (approximately 80 hectares) and farming supplies to start their new life in British North America.


It is not known exactly how many Loyalists came to Canada but the best estimates suggest that about 40,000 people came north in the 1770s and 1780s.  New colonies and governments were created as a result of their arrival.  The settlers in rural areas cleared the lands and established farms and towns that later grew into large cities in a relatively short time.  New businesses spring up and the trades and industries flourished, attracting  even more settlers.  The British systems of individual land ownership and grid surveys were introduced to give registered title to the farmlands settled by the Loyalists.

The Loyalists and their descendants also changed the ethnic makeup of Canada.  Before their arrival, the population had been mainly French-speaking Catholics.  They brought with them traditional British values on politics, religion, education, and the structure of society - some of these values would pave the way for conflict between the French and the English for many years to follow.  The leaders at the time also believed that the Loyalists would help protect the British colonies from any future threats of American invasion or expansion.

Sources: The Canadian Encyclopedia & Canada Revisited (1992)

Compiled by Judith Powell (2003)

1.  Who were the Loyalists?
2. Why did they leave the Thirteen Colonies?
3. Give two reasons why some of the non-British people decided to leave?
4. Name the two regions of Canada where most of the Loyalists settled.
5. What were the Loyalists promised by the government?
6. What new colonies were created as a result of the Loyalist migration?
7. How many Loyalists in total came to Canada?
8. Name at least five results of the Loyalists settling in Canada.
9. Now that you know the results of the Loyalist immigration into Canada, write a paragraph describing what you think Canada might be like in 200 years from now, taking into consideration the quantity and type of immigration we see today.

1 comment:

  1. 1 Reason non-britsish people left is beacuse they wern't happy with they're living status
    2 They wanted to be an idependent counrty or nation