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The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter VII. What Britain Did for the Loyalists

The money indemnification has been referred to in the preceding chapter. This sum of over $15,000,000 does not include the value of land grants, implements and supplies of food.

Land was ordered to be surveyed for the Loyalists in New Brunswick, and afterwards in Nova Scotia and in Upper Canada.

These grants were free of expense, and made on the following scale: 5,000 acres to a field officer, 3,000 to a captain, 2,000 to a subaltern, and 200 to every private soldier, and 200 to sons and daughters of Loyalists on coming of age.

In regard to Upper Canada, however, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, in 1792, reduced the grants of land to be given to future settlers, still preserving the rights of those who had settled previously. By this regulation no lot was to be granted of more than 200 acres, except in such cases as the Governor should otherwise agree; but no one was to receive a quantity of more than 1,000 acres.

[It seems that, in the few years following, many persons obtained still larger grants of land, for in 1797 the Executive Council investigated the matter, and on the basis of their findings, made the following recommendations to the Legislature under date of 28th August: “(1) That all appropriations for townships or other tracts of land heretofore made in this province be immediately rescinded, and the townships or other tracts thrown open to other applicants. (2) That all persons who were really and bona fide. located in any township or tract, by the nominee, before the first of June, 1797, and since (if there be no appearance of fraud), be confirmed in that location to the amount of two hundred acres, but that no recommendation made by any nominee for a greater quantity be attended to, not precluding, however, the settler himself from exercising the right common to all His Majesty’s subjects of making such applications to the Executive Government for an addition as he shall think proper. (3) That twelve hundred acres, including former grants (except on military lands) be granted to each of the four principal nominees, in case there should be four, whose names are subscribed to the petition for an appropriation ; those persons, however, who happen to be nominees of more than one township, are not to receive this donation more than once. (4) That the unsurveyed tract be surveyed and the unlocated be located as soon as possible.” (“Dominion Archives,” State papers Upper Canada, Q. 285.)]

Each settler had to make it appear that he or she was in a condition to cultivate and improve the land. It is related of Colonel Talbot, in the settlement of his own reservation, that he put the claimant through a somewhat severe examination, and by this process of separation of the sheep from the goats, obtained a very fine class of settlers for the Talbot district.

It was obligatory on the settler to clear five acres of land, to build a house, and to open a road a quarter of a mile long in front of his property.

The oath of alletnance had to be taken in the following terms: “I. A. B., do promise and declare that I will maintain and defend, to the utmost of my power, the authority of the King and his Parliament, as the supreme Legislature of this province.”

As to provisions. The Government had pledged itself to their support for three years; but, despite its promise, the rations were given out spasmodically and generally in insufficient quantities. They consisted of flour, pork, beef, a very little butter, and a little salt. In the distribution of these rations the commissariat officer (to avoid the appearance of partiality), after duly weighing and tying up the provisions in bundles, would go round with a hat, and each of the claimants present would put into it something which he would again recognize— such as a knife, pencil, button, or a marked chip. Then taking the articles out of the hat as they came uppermost, he would place one on each of the piles in rotation, and the settler would come and claim his property. To the early settlers material for garments was given also— a coarse cloth for trousers, Indian blankets for coats, and also shoes; but the clothing was even more uncertain than the food.

A certain quantity of spring wheat, peas, corn and potatoes was given for seed, and certain agricultural implements, to wit: an axe, a hoe, a sickle for reaping, and a spade. In regard to the axes, a grievous mistake was made in sending out the short-handled ship axes, which, in addition to the defect of inferior quality, strained and wearied the backs of the colonists in the use thereof, for the short handles unfitted them for felling trees. A letter of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe to the Home Government (September 23rd, 1793), complains in strong terms of the axes sent out, saying: “they are of bad quality, too short in the handle, and altogether too blunt. They should be made like the model sent herewith. Those that have come are absolutely useless.” (“Dominion Archives,” Q. 279, p. 325.)

In addition to the supplies given to every family, a plough and a cow were allotted to every two families, a whip-saw and a crosscut saw to every four families, and a portable corn mill in every settlement or district.

A quantity of nails, a hammer, and a hand saw for building was given to each family, and to every five families a set of tools, which included a full set of augers and draw-knives, and also a musket and forty-eight rounds of ammunition. Four small panes of glass, 7x9 inches, were allowed for each house, and a small quantity of putty.

Such were the supplies allowed by the British Government in the early years of the Loyalist settlement in Canada; but it must be remembered that, although the Loyalists who came to New Brunswick enjoyed this provision which had been made for them, yet when they made their second migration into the wilderness of Long Point, they were dependent on their own resources, and except the grant of land and the glass and ironware for their houses, did not receive Government aid. Hence we have the fearful struggle for subsistence in Norfolk County in the latter years of the century, the cry of the children for bread and the anxious waiting for the first harvest.

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