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United Empire Loyalists

American immigrants into Canada, known as United Empire Loyalists, were the result of the American Revolution (1775-1783). Canada, which at the time was the British Province of Quebec, became a refuge for those wishing to remain loyal to the British Crown. During the war, there was a trickle of immigration into Canada, but when the war ended, this trickle turned into a rush.

Sir Frederick Haldimand, the Governor of Quebec (1777-1786) was very astute in recognizing the potential this flood of new immigrants would have, and was instrumental launching Loyalist settlement initiatives. Three main areas were chosen for settlement, the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, near Kingston; the Bay of Quinte; and the Niagara Peninsula. As the American Revolution drew to a close, it was realized that more land would be needed to settle these new immigrants, and so it was that the Rideau region was surveyed in the summer of 1783, in preparation for Loyalist land grants.

The immigrants included those who fought on the British side during the Revolution (including several thousand Iroquois natives), those fleeing minority and religious persecution in the states, free blacks and escaped slaves, and later, simply those in search of new land to settle. In total, some 80,000 to 100,000 Loyalists fled the newly created United States, about half of them to Canada. Some 7,500 settled in what is present day Ontario.

Although many arrived in Canada in destitute shape, the British Crown was very generous with these new immigrants, granting them land, and suppling them with three years of clothing, tools and provisions. The land settlements were based on service to the Crown as follows:

To Loyalists who fought for the Crown:
  • To every field officer - 1,000 acres
  • To every captain - 700 acres
  • To every subaltern, staff, or warrant officer - 500 acres
  • To every non-commissioned officer - 200 acres
  • To every private - 100 acres
  • For each member of their families - 50 acres

To non-combatant Loyalists:
  • Every master of a family - 100 acres
  • Every person in the family - 50 acres
  • Every single man - 50 acres

The Loyalist imigration made a large impact on Canada. It sparked the division in 1791 of the British Province of Quebec into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Québec) under the Constitutional Act. Many of the Loyalists were very politically active, but they brought with them a concept of political evolution rather than revolution, a concept still at the heart of the Canadian political system today.

Loyalist Information

Although I have created this section for my website, I have no personal knowledge of loyalists in this region. So, for those planning to send me emails asking about Loyalist information (and I have received quite a few) .. here is what I will tell you.

For local information you can send an email to: Sue Warren ( a local historian. She may be able to point you to areas of local research.

For Internet resources check out:

Comments: send me email: Ken Watson

©1996-- Ken W. Watson