A FEW nights after the
talk about the wolves, John said to his father, "In that new country
to which I am going, and where I expect to spend my days, I shall
meet with people from different countries. Some of them will, to a
great extent, be ignorant of the character and doings of the first
settlers on the Canadian frontier, and many who come from the Old
Country will have prejudices against the U. E. Loyalists and their
descendants. You know, according to history, there were a large
number in Britain who, if they did not go so far as to justify the
revolting Americans, did, at least, strongly sympathize with them.
Now, I would like to be as well prepared as possible to meet those
objections, whether they originate in ignorance or prejudice. Can
you relate some facts and incidents in connection with the early
settlement of the Niagara District?"
"Yes," replied the
father; "I am glad to have an opportunity to enlighten your mind on
this subject, and I trust that your loyalty will be strengthened by
a knowledge of what your immediate ancestors and their suffering
fellow-subjects did and suffered to win the title of United Empire
"But, father," said the young Canadian, "where and how did those
people get the name of U. E. Loyalists? Did they take it to
themselves, or did the Americans give it to them?"
Answer, "Neither. The name was given, as
a title, by the British Government, to those who stood by the royal
cause in the War of Independence. In the Treaty of Paris it was
stipulated that the American Congress should use its influence, and
exert its authority with the State Governments, to have the
Loyalists dealt with as conquered people, who had been faithful in
their allegiance to the Government that is -overthrown, are always
treated in civilized countries.
"But, if the Congress ever attempted to
fulfil this engagement, their efforts were not successful. So far as
mitigating the punishment of the Loyalists was concerned, if the
Congress spoke, its voice was not heard. Perhaps it was the clamor
of Tom Paine, who just then was screaming his anti-British and
anti-Christian bombast into the willing ears of the new Republic,
that made the words of the people's representatives fall uselessly
upon ears that were dull to hear the right.
Whatever may have been the cause of it,
one thing is certain, that is this: The Loyalists could not have
been more cruelly treated, unless they had been massacred without
regard to age or sex. And there were many cases in which death
itself would have been less cruel than the treatment to which the
sufferers were subjected.
"They were driven from their homes—and
many of them were the owners of good homes. They had their property
taken from them, and some had large estates."
inquired John, "why could they not have stayed where they were,
instead of starting on such long and tedious journeys, as some of
them did? You said once that they travelled hundreds of miles
through dense forests, having no roads but Indian trails to foIlow."
"Your question, John," said the father,
"is a natural one; but there were two very potent reasons why the
Loyalists did not remain in the States. They could not stay if they
would, and they would not stay if they could. Every State passed
laws against them—some more severe than others, it is true; but not
one of them proposed to deal either kindly or justly with them.
"And there were two reasons why these
people would not stay in the States. They were British in all their
sympathies and in all their aspirations. The system of government,
secured by the British Constitution was, to them, the best in the
world, and they would not voluntarily change it for any other. And,
besides this, these people would not consent to stay and become mere
serf,, among those who had robbed them of their property and driven
them from their homes."
"How many of those people left the
States to no to British territory?"
"About forty thousand came to the
British provinces in 1784, and more went to Florida, the Bahama
Islands, and British West Indies.
"Ten thousand of the number cause to
this Province, and settled along the frontier in different
localities. Some went as far west as Long Point, on Lake Erie,
others settled in the Niagara Peninsula, while others went north of
Lake Ontario, about where York County and the town of York now is."
"When did the first settlers come into
the County of Lincoln? " asked John.
"In or about 1780," replied the father.
"Where did the first settlers come
from Maryland and Pennsylvania; though a number of families came
from New York and some from Virginia," was the answer.
"Well," said John, "there is one thin(,
that I cannot understand, Why were the Quakers interfered with,
seeing they are non-combatants?"
"They refused to pledge themselves to
the new order of things. And they would not promise to hold no
intercourse with the Loyalists, hence some of them suffered about as
much persecution as the Loyalists themselves."
"Why did not the British Government
reward these people for their sacrifices and sufferings, in a more
honorable way than to leave them to the merciless treatment of their
bitter enemies?" asked the young man.
"As soon as the British Government
became aware of the facts of the case, they acted very honorably by
the Loyalists. You must know that Englishmen are very much set in
their ways, but once they are convinced that they are wrong, or that
they have made a mistake, there are no people in the world that will
acknowledge the wrong, more gracefully or correct a mistake more
promptly or cheerfully. So it was in this case.
"When the people of England came fully
to realize the exposed condition in which the Treaty of Paris left
the Loyalists, all parties agreed that the mistake must at once be
corrected as far as it was possible to do so. The feeling on this
subject may be gathered from extracts from speeches of British
statesmen and others. Lord North, who was Premier during the war,
said: ' Now let me, sir, pause on a part of the treaty which awakens
human sensibility in a very irresistible and lamentable degree. I
cannot but lament the fate of those unhappy men who, I conceive,
were in general objects of our gratitude and protection. They have
exposed their lives, endured an age of hardships, deserted their
interests, forfeited their possessions, lost their connections and
ruined their families in our cause.
"Mr. Wilberforce said, in the House of
Commons, that 'when he considered the case of the Loyalists, he
confessed he felt himself conquered.'
"Lord Mulgrave said: `The article
respecting the Loyalists he never could regard but as a lasting
monument of national disgrace.'
Mr. Burke said: `At any rate it must be
agreed on all hands, that a vast number of Loyalists had been
deluded by this country, and had risked everything in our cause; to
such men the nation owed protection, and its honor was pledged for
their protection at all hazard.'
"The Lord Advocate said: ` With regard
to the Loyalists, they merited every possible effort on the part of
"Mr. Sheridan, said: 'He execrated the treatment of those
unfortunate men, who without the least notice taken of their civil
and religious rights, were handed over to a power that would not
fail to take vengeance on their for their zeal and attachment to the
religion and government of this country.'
"Sir Peter Burrill said: 'The fate of
the Loyalists claimed the compassion of every Duman breast.'
"Sir William Booth said: `There was one
part of the treaty at which his heart bled, the article in relation
to the Loyalists. Being himself a man, he could not but feel for men
so cruelly abandoned to the malice of their enemies. It was
scandalous. It was disgraceful. Such an article as that ought
scarcely on any condition to have been admitted on our part. They
had fought for us, and run every hazard to assist our cause, and
when it most behoved us to afford them protection we deserted them.'
"In the House of Lords, Lord Walsingham
said: `He could neither think nor speak of the dishonor of leaving
these deserving people to their fate with patience.'
"Lord Townsend said that, `To desert men
who had constantly adhered to loyalty and attachment, was a
circumstance of such cruelty as had never before been heard of.'
"Lord Stormont said that, `Britain was
bound in justice and honor, gratitude and affection, and by every
tie, to provide for and protect them.'
"Lord Sackville regarded the abandonment
of the Loyalists as a thin; of so atrocious a kind, that the
sacrifice of these unhappy subjects must be answered for in the
sight of God and man.
"Lord Lough borough said: `The fifth
article of the treaty had excited a general and just indignation,
and that neither in ancient nor modern history had there been so
shameful a desertion of men, who had sacrificed all to their duty,
and to their reliance on British faith.'
"At the close of this discussion, the
Commons passed a direct vote of censure against the Government for
neglecting to protect the Loyalists in the Treaty of Paris."
"Father," said John, "I am very much
pleased that you have told us so many things about the Loyalists,
and also about the way in which the home Government took up their
cause at the last. I never knew that they had endured so much."
"The time will come," said the father,
"when people in this country will be as proud to be able to trace
their ancestry back to the United Empire Loyalists as ever people in
England were to be able to trace theirs hack to the heroes of the
Norman Conquest. These people formed the nucleus of a distinct
nationality, and one that will yet make itself heard among the
nations—a nationality that is different from the American or the
English type, but one that shall exhibit the best traits of both
"The first settlers in this country must have experienced many
hardships here, after all the ill-treatment they endured before they
carne here," said John.
"Yes," answered his father, "that is so.
Now, it seems like a big undertaking for you and others to go to the
New Purchase or toy Talbot District to settle. But light will be
your trials as compared with those of the first settlers of this
you (,et into any kind of trouble, there are those who are able and
willing to help you. They had to help themselves or go without, no
matter what came in their way. If you need supplies, you can get
them. They had to supply themselves or go without. If they were
sick, they had to be their own doctor. If they needed medicine, they
went to nature's great laboratory of herbs and roots and flowers to
"Well," said John, "it must have been very difficult to keep house
at all in those clays, where there were no mills, no stores, no
blacksmiths, no shoemakers, no tanners, no weavers, no tailors, no
tinsmiths, nor coopers. How could they manage to live?"
"Your questions are very natural ones,
John," said his father. "In a country where none of these are found
people have to do the best they can. They must use what ingenuity
they have to provide for themseIves. For instance, I can remember
when I was a young man, I often helped my mother to grind both wheat
and Indian corn on the top of a large oak stump.''
On the top of a stump! Of all things,
who would ever think of doing that? Why, how did you manage it,"
broke in Betsy, who had come into the room in time to hear a part of
"I don't know who first thought of it,
but I know that it was a very common practice at one time. We would
scoop out a sort of butter tray in the top of the stump with a
hollow adze; then we took a stone or a piece of hardwood and, after
fitting it to the dish, we pounded the grain until we made it as
fine as we could, then we run the meal through a sieve. The finest
was made into johnny cake or bread, and the coarsest into porridge
can remember, .John," said his mother, "when your wife's grandmother
used to grind corn and wheat in a large pepper mill, to make bread
and mush for a family of eight."
"Where did they get salt to put into
their mush and other things, mother?" asked John.
"At first," she replied, "we found a
great deal of hardship in doing without salt; but, after a while,
some friendly Indians showed our people where there was a salt
spring. We used to boil our own salt out of this water until the
home Government sent out salt from Liverpool."
"Father," said John, "how did these
people keep themselves in clothes and shoes?"
"The most of them brought a pretty good
supply with them when they came. But for sonic years there was a
great deal of suffering, especially in the winter time. But they
soon got into the way of raising flax and wool. The women became
very expert in carding and spinning, and weaving, and making up
garments for their families," was his answer.
"Did the women do the carding?" asked
Betsy, who was very much interested in the conversation.
"Yes; they used hand cards. It was a
slow arid, tedious work, but it had to be done. I tell you, Bet,
that with the vast range of work that these old women had to do, and
the heavy burdens they had to carry, it is no wonder that they
became stoop-shouldered and hard-handed. The wonder is, that there
was one bit of feminine sweetness or womanly tenderness left in
them. They had to be housekeeper, cook, servant, mistress, carder,
spinner, weaver, tailor, dressmaker, nurse, doctor, gardener, butter
and cheese maker, and whitewasher, all in one."
"How did the men do their part of the
work?" asked John.
"'Their jobs were just as various, and
no less numerous, than the women's were. They had to raise the flax,
and rot it, and crackle it, and swingle it, and hatchel it for the
women. They must raise the wool, and shear the sheep; they must chop
and clear the land ; they looked after the cattle; they must attend
to the sugar-bush in the spring; they must be their own tanner, and
currier, and shoemaker, and carpenter, and sleighmaker, and
blacksmith. In a word, they must be both boss and hired man, Jack
and his master, landlord and tenant, all in one, or, if they did not
do this, they would come in behind in the race."
"Father," said John, "you have not told
me since I came home how that Scotchman came off in his trial, that
was to come on in August, I think. Were you at the trial?"
"You refer to the agitator, Robert
Gourley, I suppose? Yes, I heard the trial," was the answer.
"You see, I went to town on business,
and when I learned that the ` troublesome Scotchman ' was to be
tried that day, I went to hear the trial and see the man who had
made such a noise in the country. And I am sure that I never pitied
a roan more than I did poor Gourley that day.
"It did seem to inc that the whole thing
was a burlesque on the sacred name of justice. There was the
prisoner, in a box, looking like a ;host more than like a man. There
was the Chief-Justice, looking and acting more like some despotic
ruler than like a new country judge. There sat the twelve men in the
jury-box, looking as though they wanted to do right, if some one
would only tell them what was right in this case. They had the fate
of the prisoner in their hands, but they did not know what to do
were the lawyers, hopping about like red squirrels in the top of a
chestnut tree, and trying to look wise, as lawyers always try to do,
but sometimes they make sad failures.
"There sat the witnesses, looping as if
they would like to retain the good opinion of the two convicting
magistrates, who sat there, enjoying the torture of their victim
with as little tenderness of feeling as a cat enjoys the fruitless
struggles of the poor little squeaking prisoner that is held fast in
its merciless claws.
"When the jury brought in a verdict of
guilty, the judge asked the prisoner if he had anything to say. He
said something about British law and British generosity. But he soon
learned, to his sorrow, that the court had no ear for logical
argument or pathetic appeal. The judge ordered him to leave the
country in the short space of twenty-four hours, and to suffer death
as a felon if he ever dared to come back to Upper Canada."
"How could these U. E. Loyalists so soon
forget the cruelty to which they had been exposed, and the unfeeling
treatment the Americans had subjected them, to only one generation
back? It seems to one, that in their treatment of Gourley they were
exhibiting the same spirit and performing the same acts against
which they and their fathers had so loudly protested during, and
after, the Devolutionary War." This was said by the young man with
The father answered, "The Loyalists were
not wholly responsible for what was done. Two at least of Gourley's
persecutors were his own countrymen, namely, Dickson, of Niagara,
and the afterwards notorious Dr. Strachan, of York. And I do not
think the Chief-Justice is a U. E. Loyalist, though I am not certain
as to that.
"And you know it sometimes happens that servants become the hardest
masters, and it often occurs that persons who are elevated from the
lower to the higher positions in society become the most overbearing
and tyrannical. This is one of the ways in which the rebound or
strike-back that there is in human nature manifests itself. You know
it is easy for a coward to be brave when there is no danger. And a
weak man may act like a strong one when he has a weak or helpless
victim to deal with. Bearing these facts in mind, we can account for
a great many things that would otherwise be very difficult to
seems that Gourley's enemies dare not face hire in court until they
had tried, for seven months, what the foul air of a prison cell, and
the scanty sustenance of prison fare could do towards taming the
wild, restless spirit of the clear-headed, vigorous Scotchman. When
they had the lion chained they could extract his teeth at their
leisure. It was a strange scene that presented itself in our Iittle
town on the 20th day of August, in the year 1819, for Robert Gourley
had cornmitted no crime either against the state or any individual
in the state."