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The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter VIII. Loyalist Emigration

Although the treaty of Peace recommended the Loyalists to the mercy of the different states, the Americans, being secured in their independence, used their victories to the blind and selfish punishment of the “traitors” to their traitorous cause.

Consequently, instead of an entire cessation of hostility, as should follow the conclusion of peace, the most bitter and rancorous mob law under the sanction of the different legislatures, was employed against the Loyalists. They were driven from the country by a process of organized persecution. Thus the wretched and short-sighted policy of the majority of the states depleted them of their very best blood. Those who had been the doctors, lawyers, judges and often ministers of the community, men of culture and refinement, men of worth and character, were driven into hopeless and interminable exile.

And indeed, the migration into Canada was considered by them as exile, though unfalteringly they chose its hardships. They believed that they were coining to the region of everlasting snow and ice. They understood that New Brunswick had at least seven months of winter in the year, that but few acres of that inhospitable land were fit for cultivation, and that the country was covered with a cold spongy moss instead of grass, and devoid of any kind of fodder for cattle.

Lower Canada was known as a region of deep snow, a nine months’ winter, a barren and inhospitable shore.

Upper Canada was not thought of in the early years of the migration, except as the “great beyond,” a tangled wilderness, the Indians’ hunting ground, covered with swamps and marshes and sandy hills, the forests full of bears and wolves and venomous reptiles. The only favorable report of Upper Canada that had reached them was of its abundance of fish and game.

The British commander of New York, in his work of transportation, when no more could be accommodated in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, sent for a Mr. Grass, who had been a prisoner at Fort Frontenac among the French, and anxiously inquired if he thought “men could live in Upper Canada,” and on a favorable reply being given Mr. Grass was sent as the founder of a colony to Cataraqui in 1784.

The mere fact that thirty-five thousand Loyalists left their native land for a country which they regarded as a land of exile, is the best proof of two things—first, that they were barbarously treated by the victorious side; and second, that they were not a mere set of office-holders influenced simply by mercenary motives, as is charged against them, or that they came to Canada for what Britain provided. To enter the unbroken forests, chop, hew, “log” and “after many days” sow the seed among the blackened stumps was a herculean task for any one, but was even more difficult for these men—judges, lawyers, commissioners, and others—who were not used to farm life, much less to the kind of toil required to change the acres of forest land into fields of waving grain.

But their courage rose with their difficulties, and in spite of their dangers there was much to encourage them. They were not, it is true, entering on a land “flowing with milk and honey,” but it abounded in fish and game; and, above all, it was a land over which waved the banner under whose folds their sons and fathers had fallen in disastrous war, and to which they clung with the love that passeth not away, but endureth “through all the years.”

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