Dedicated to the history and genealogy of the early families in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. This site was created to help family researchers in their quest for ancestral knowledge. Use "search this site" above to
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Pioneer Settlement

 

Our Multicultural Province


Ontario has a long tradition of welcoming peoples of many nationalities dating right back to our first settlers – the United Empire Loyalists. Even two hundred plus years ago, in the 1780’s and 1790’s, we had a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan province. The ethnic origins of our first settlers included German, French, English, Swiss, Portuguese, Irish, Scottish, Prussian, Dutch and African. Some descended from families who lived in the American Colonies for generations; others had been there for just a few years. A number came directly to Canada from the old country, making a diverse mixture of customs and languages.

Even many of the Indians had been non-native to this province, having lived in New York, then serving with the Loyalist forces. The government officials of the day had to search carefully to find a few scattered tribes of the Mississauga and other nations from whom they purchased the land here.

The primary occupation ran decidedly to agrarian, followed by merchants, tanners, tailors, innkeepers, blacksmiths, barristers, millers, physicians, shoemakers and numerous others. Many combined their trades with farming.

 

Post-War Settlement


As is often the case of immigrants today, those of the late 1700’s fled their earlier homes as refugees of war. At that time, they faced the War of the American Revolution and its aftermath. Then as now, Ontario’s lure came as a haven for the war weary and the peaceful. Although these men and women derived from many different backgrounds, all had one thing in common during those formative years of the late 1700’s. They felt a deep rooted desire to live with the orderly laws and security they had known under the British Crown in pre-Revolutionary times, now promised in Canada.

Many immigrants could be described as peaceful farming and business folk alarmed by the mob scenes that occurred in the larger American cities prior to and during the Revolution. They had been alienated by the wanton destruction of the urban and rural property of those suspected supporting the British cause both during and after the war. Anyone who did not espouse either side militarily became accused of Loyalist leanings by the republicans and fell under ostracism in their community. Also, after the Revolution, further uncertainty developed as the federal Congress of the United States struggled to establish its identity in the face of demands for individual states’ rights. Further, the unsavoury threat existed of yet another war with Britain espoused by elements of the American population. The United States proved not to be a place congenial to the peaceful immigrant from the “Old Country” to set down roots. The peaceful immigrant required a land devoid of the political and religious wars that rent the Europe of their forebears.

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The Upper Canada Land Petition of Jacob Ball

The Upper Canada Land Petition of Lieutenant Jacob Ball late of a Corps of Rangers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Butler dated at Lincoln on 17 Jun 1794

“Most Humbly Sheweth That your Memorialist served as a Captain of Militia in the Province of New York from the year 1760 till the commencement of the Rebellion, and that he faithfully kept his allegiance, and persevered in his Loyalty to the Crown, and by his exertions and the interest he had among his neighbours, he was enabled with the assistance of his son to join His Majesty’s forces by the earliest opportunity with a number of Men nearly sufficient to compleat two Companies according to the establishment of the Corps in which they served. That your Memorialist when he joined His Majesty’s Forces, conceived that he had some right to expect a Company, but the obtaining of which he found would be attended with more difficulty & trouble than he wished to undergo, particularly as his motives in coming off were purely the effect of Loyalty, and that neither [Rank] or pay would have induced him to leave a large Family of mostly small children. Your Memorialist therefore Humbly hopes that your Excellency will be pleased to take this matter into consideration, and should it in your Excellencies wisdom appear reasonable to grant him (with what he has already received) the same quantity of Lands which is allowed by His Majesty’s proclamation to Captains who served during the Rebellion, and that he might be allowed to locate the same, or as much thereof as your Excellency will be pleased to allow him, where it can be found vacant and your Memorealist as in Duty bound will ever pray. [Signed] Jacob Ball” Received at the Executive Council Office on 18 Jun 1794 and read in Council on 28 Jun 1794. No order recorded. [Upper Canada Land Petitions LAC “B” Bundle 1, Petition Number 65]


The Upper Canada Land Petitions

of the Niagara Settlers

 


Transcripts of the Upper Canada Land Petitions relating to the Niagara Settlers will be added here over time. These include some pioneers who later settled elsewhere in the province but lived in the Niagara district during its early formative period. Click on a link at the right to view the transcripts for the surnames starting with that letter.

The major advantage of this transcript of the Upper Canada Land Petitions for the family genealogist is that it includes under the name of each Niagara Settler, mentions in the petitions of other settlers. There is an expression that “no man is an island unto himself.” This cross-referencing of settlers came as a result of conscientious copying of material from one settler to another. Additionally, women are listed under both their maiden and married names when given. These two items provide more records of each family than would otherwise be found and a greater insight to the circumstances of each of the Niagara Settlers.

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The Niagara
Settlers Genealogies

Over the past twenty-five years, R. Robert Mutrie has compiled more than 600 genealogies of ancestral families across Southwestern Ontario. Those for the Niagara Settlers are listed under the headings at the right. Each includes four to six generations of family members starting with the first pioneer ancestor to settle in Upper Canada and tracing down to the generation born around the turn of the twentieth century. He has followed the descendants all across North America and elsewhere.

Much more than just a family tree, each genealogy includes fully sourced biographical notes and genealogical information. The names, vital dates, and residency of descendants and their spouses are an integral part of these genealogies. When found, earlier eighteenth century Colonial or “Old World” ancestral information is also included.

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