Saturday, 18 November 2017

A Time in Old Ontario part 2

The first records that I found for Charles Tripp, Lottie Tripp’s great grandfather, were land records. There he was on a list of settlers in 1797 in Percy, Northumberland in Upper Canada. According to the same record, most of the settlers were Americans. They were considered “settlers” once some improvements had been made to the land. So, they had probably been at that location prior to the list being drawn up to do the work to the land; improvements which were not that onerous. “As of 1794, a settler had only to occupy the lot and build a house to get a patent.”[1]
American settlement was not new. British North America had begun to open up to refugees about 1883 after the American Revolution was over. Loyalists headed north in droves. While some made their way to the Atlantic provinces, others ended up in the western part of Quebec. Loyalists were granted land in their new country but these land grants were basically done by 1786. But still the settlers came. By 1791 the old province of Quebec was split into Lower and Upper Canada with the former western part of the province predominantly populated with English speaking newcomers.

The Loyalists were granted land in strategic positions. “Three main areas were selected: along the Upper St. Lawrence; around Kingston and the Bay of Quinte; and the Niagara Peninsula.”[2] The Americans were still perceived as a potential threat so men with military experience, such as the Loyalists, were to be the first line of defense. This attitude towards Americans changed with the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. His policy was to actively welcome Americans to settle the new province with an aim to recruit them back into the British fold. Some historians have labelled these settlers “Late Loyalists”. 

Even after Simcoe left in 1796, new governors were content to continue to recruit new settlers from south of the border. After all, people who were used to the rigors of frontier life were best able to cope with the demands of opening up new areas as settlement crept westward in Upper Canada. Besides, immigrants from Europe were few and far between since there was a war on. 

New territories had opened up in North America. Around the same time that Upper Canada was promoting settlement, the Ohio territory was recruiting settlers. For many Americans looking for new land in the west, it was easier just to cross the lake to access Upper Canada than to make the trek to Ohio.  Lottie Tripp’s great grandfather was among these settlers. Did this mean that Charles Tripp was a “Late Loyalist”?

House of early settlers found at Fanshawe Village, Ontario

Bumsted, J.M. The Peoples of Canada: A Pre-Confederation History. Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1992

Craig, Gerald M. Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784-1841. Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario, 2013

Hall, Roger and Gordon Dodds, Ontario: 200 Years in Pictures: A Celebration of Ontario, 1791-1991. Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 1991 

[2] Hall, Roger and Gordon Dodds, Ontario: 200 Years in Pictures: A Celebration of Ontario, 1791-1991. Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 1991 p 10

Monday, 13 November 2017

A Time in Old Ontario

When I began my family research quite a few years ago, I quickly found that my Scottish ancestors had settled in Ontario. Helpfully, the 1901 census provided the years they had immigrated which made it easy to discover that my Mathesons and Gilchrists had immigrated in 1843 and 1853, a time before Confederation and as the country was opening up, but not a time that harked back to the true pioneers. So, no research into the very early days of the province was needed.

My Scottish lines had come from Skye and Islay and were united when James Gilchrist married Charlotte in 1889. Charlotte’s mother was Kate Matheson who died soon after the girl was born and Lottie, as she was known by her family, spent her formative years with her Matheson relatives, first with her grandfather and aunt Henrietta and later, after the death of her grandfather, she and her aunt Henrietta went to live with Henrietta’s sister Margaret and Margaret’s family. But it was who Kate Matheson had married, or at least, had children with, that would provide me with a family link to an earlier time in Ontario’s history. 

Before she was married, Lottie’s last name was Tripp. I followed the Tripp line back through Lottie’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather and found that they had been living in Ontario since at least 1797. Here was a reason to find out about early days in Ontario.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

It's November, time to remember

So many communities, large and small, have monuments to the men lost in the World Wars. The monument pictured is to the fallen of World War I from the parish of Kildalton and Oa on Islay in Scotland . It is located close to the water in Port Ellen.

The discovery of Cpl John Hunter’s connection to my family made Remembrance Day on November 11 even more significant to me.