The Niagara Settlers
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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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.
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.
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.
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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