This web site is 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.

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Pioneer Settlement in Ontario
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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Over the past thirty years, R. Robert Mutrie has compiled more than eight hundred Ontario Pioneers Genealogies featuring some of the founding families who arrived in Southwestern Ontario during the late 1700’s and early 1800's. Biographical summaries of the pioneers may be found by clicking an alphabetical letter. More will be added and announced at the left and in "New Additions" on the home page.

Available genealogies may be ordered and will be sent by email. Each compilation starts with a biography of the first pioneer couple who made their mark during the province’s formative years. The genealogies then track the descendant generations through the 1800’s down to those born during the early decades of the twentieth century wherever they lived in North America. The reader may be able to find a grandparent or great-grandparent in these pages linking them to their first ancestor in Ontario.

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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]


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.


Introduction


The land petitions of the earliest settlers of Upper Canada (present Ontario) are a vital resource for researching those who lived in this province during the 1780’s through the early 1800’s. They stand unique as first person accounts justifying the pioneers’ request for a Crown grant of a farm or of a town lot. At times the petitioners included information about the individual’s colonial background, services during the American Revolution and their current circumstances. These descriptive petitions came about as a result of a declaration by the first Chief Executive of the province, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe...


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of the Niagara Settlers

and the Long Point Settlers



The Loyalist Claims Commission

 

The British Parliament, aware of the services and sacrifices of the Loyalists passed an Act appointing a Commission to hear Loyalist claims and investigate their real and personal property losses during the war. The Act received Royal Assent on July 15, 1783. This event preceded the formal signing of the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution on September 3, 1783 and the last evacuation of the Loyalists to Nova Scotia in the Fall Fleet of November 1783.

 

Under the Act the period allowed for filing claims was from July 15, 1783 to March 25, 1784. This period was adequate for Loyalists that had sought refuge in Great Britain but was totally inadequate for Loyalists in Canada. Word only reached the colony of Quebec for publication on October 23, 1783 and the last boat of the season sailed from Quebec City to England on November 16. Many in backwoods areas of the Canadian colonies never did hear of the opportunity to claim, or heard too late.

 

A second Act in 1785 renewed the powers of the Commissioners of Claims and specifically appointed Jeremy Pemberton Esquire and Colonel Thomas Dundas to receive claims and hear evidence in British North America. These two Commissioners stayed in Canada for an extended time, hearing claims in Halifax and Shelburne, Nova Scotia, St. John, New Brunswick and in Quebec City and Montreal in the colony of Quebec. From late August to early September 1787 Pemberton and Dundas made visits to Niagara and examined the claims for losses by settlers in that area...


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Soldiers and Supporters

In The American Revolution


Introduction
In the early years of the American Revolution many supporters of the British cause in the American colonies were outspoken in their loyalty, expecting the King’s troops would march through early on and crush the opposition. The defeat of British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in upstate New York on October 17, 1777 and the subsequent British failure to penetrate beyond the coastal areas of America left these vocal Loyalists in the rural areas exposed and vulnerable to the local Rebels. Lacking organization and a British military presence to defend the loyal adherents, they were persecuted, fined and imprisoned then forced to flee their colonial homes, leaving land, livestock and possessions behind.

Most of the future Niagara Settlers joined Butler’s Rangers or the Indian Department stationed in Fort Niagara, located near present Youngstown, New York at the confluence of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The listings for soldiers and British sympathizers on these web pages were extracted from a number of sources, including militia payrolls, provisioning lists, post war claims for Revolutionary War losses and the Upper Canada Land Petitions filed by the men and women who served and supported.

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