London-Western Ontario United Empire Loyalist Association

All about Loyalists & the American Revolution

The American Thirteen Colonies

You will recall studying history in public school and learning all about Sir Walter Raleigh, discovering tobacco, and about the 13 colonies settled by Britain along the east coast of the United States.  Many Loyalists, left Britain and began their new life as American colonist

The American Revolution 1775 - 1783

A number of citizens of the 13 colonies revolted and wanted to establish an independent country separate from Britain.  As the name suggests, a portion of the population were Loyalists and did not share the American independence views.  Neighbours were pitted against neighbours, and on behalf of Britain, Loyalists took up arms against the Revolutionists.  Over 19,000 Loyalists served in militias, attempting to put down the rebellion.  However, the last major campaign, under British General Charles Cornwallis, ended in defeat at the the Battle of Yorkton (Virginia) in 1781.  Scrimmages continued in New York State for some time, but negotiations between the Crown and the Americans concluded in 1783, resulting in the Treaty of Separation.

Canada's first refugees

Loyalists were punished for defying the revolutionary cause.  They were subject to mob violence and their property was vandalized or confiscated.  Most of the Loyalists were forced to leave.  The Loyalists were refugees who had sacrificed their homes and belongings to retain their loyalty to the British Crown and King George III

Canada's population explosion

Between 80,000 to 100,000 Loyalists fled to territories under British control.  The majority migrated in the years 1783 & 1784.    Some 40,000 fled to Canada by ship to the Maritimes or north through the wilderness to the north shore of St. Lawrence River.

Meanwhile in Canada

Loyalist camps rapidly grew along the St. Lawrence River.  In 1791 this population increase hastened the division of Canada into two provinces, Upper and Lower Canada.  The new province was formed under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe.

To assist with settlement, Loyalists were given land grants, most often 200 acres of land around Prescott to Kingston.  They were given tools and assistance in clearing the land and establishing farms.  Simcoe also encouraged settlement in Niagara and parts of Western Ontario.  

Guy Carlton, Commander & Chief of British Forces in North America

Lord Dorchester said in 1783

Sir Guy Carleton was Lord Dorchester, the Governor of Quebec.  He stated, “Those Loyalists who have adhered to the unity of the empire and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Separation in 1783, and all their children and descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following capitals, affixed to their name; UE, alluding to their great principle of, the unity of the empire.”

Loyalist Act of Parliament passed in 1914

In the 19th Century many third generation Loyalists were forming Loyalist organizations in various provinces.  They soon realized there needed to be a Dominion organization.  In 1914 an act of parliament was passed to create a federal charter for the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada (UELAC).  This legislation brought the Loyalist groups together under one patriotic, historical and genealogical organization.