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The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter IX. Routes of the Loyalists


In addition to the promise of the British Government to indemnify the Loyalists for their losses, was the promise to send ships to carry them into Canada. Consequently in the spring of 1783 crowds of the hapless exiles awaited in the Atlantic seaports the British vessels.

They came at last, and the first contingent of refugees arrived on the 18th of May, 1783, off the mouth of the River St. John, and by the end of the year about 500 had been safely transported to the land, over which waved the “meteor flag of England.”

But for those living inland other means had to be provided, and they were asked to rendezvous at different stations along the Canadian frontier, for example, Oswego, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Isle aux Noix on Lake Champlain. The distance travelled by most of the Loyalists before reaching Lake Ontario was about 500 miles. From New York to Albany, the Hudson is navigable about 175 miles. North of Albany, the river forks into two branches, the western of which is the Mohawk. About the ancient Fort Stainwix (now Rome) the Mohawk is joined by Wood Creek. This was followed up for some miles, then a portage of ten miles was necessary to Lake Oneida, from which Lake Ontario could be reached by the Oswego river. This was by far the more generally followed, hence in our classification of routes it is to be put first.

Second.—The eastern branch of the Hudson was sometimes followed, the mountains crossed and Sackett’s Harbor reached by the Black River, which empties into the lake at that point. Occasionally the Oswegotchie was reached from the Hudson, and followed to its mouth at the present town of Ogdensburg, then called “La Presentation.” Third.—The old military road which ran along the west shore of Lake Champlain, thence down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence, or west to Cornwall.

Fourth.—Others again travelled more directly westward from the rendezvous on Lake Champlain, and striking Lake Ontario at its eastern extremity, proceeded westward along the southern shore of the lake to the settlement on the River Niagara.

But it must be remembered that nearly all the Loyalists who came to the Long Point country settled first in New Brunswick. This province became rapidly overcrowded, and of necessity their thoughts were turned westward, and most opportunely came the messages from Governor Simcoe and President Peter Russell urging them to settle in Western Canada, and promising liberal grants of land. Hence it was, that in the last decade of the century, many availed themselves of their offers, and moved their families up the St. Lawrence, and lakes Ontario and Erie, to the Long Point country. This was therefore the common route of the Loyalists who settled in Norfolk.

Still there were some who came direct, via the Hudson and Black rivers to Sackett’s Harbor, and thence by boat to Long Point. Others again came in a north-westerly direction overland through Pennsylvania and New York, and crossed Lake Erie in frail skiffs.

These were the routes of the Loyalists.

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