|Statue of a Loyalist family at Hamilton City hall, Hamilton Ontario, |
Photo from "The Loyalist" website
Canada's first veterans weren't Canadian, they were American.
Well, after the French and English armies met in 1759 on the Plains of Abraham and the French were sent packing, the good folks who lived in Protestant New England were tickled pink.
Until the Brits sent them the bill.
Grumblings about things like taxation and representation grew into a full scale revolution. The problem for some of the locals was that the British Army was still a large presence in the colonies and many people who probably didn't care one way or the other about the king, did depend on the army for their livelihood.
But there was no sitting on the fence. New Englanders were forced to choose.
Those who figured the British Army was invincible and chose wrong soon found themselves in very deep doo doo.
'Tory parasites' as they were called were beaten, some were hanged. Their homes were looted and burned. Property and possessions confiscated. Women were not safe.
Fearing for their lives, many Loyalists rode north to the British outpost at Fort Niagara.
Once there they joined Colonel John Butler.
Butler's Rangers engaged in raids and skirmishes against the Continental Army and gained a fearsome reputation.
Eventually the war ended, but not well for the good guys.
How sad when the Loyalists realized they couldn't go home.
How daunting it must have been when Fort Niagara was handed over to the Americans and the first settlers crossed the Niagara River into the wilderness that was Canada.
But not only did the Loyalists build a country, some of them, like my ancestor Francis Weaver* who fought with Butler's Rangers at age 14, lived long enough to take up arms against their former countrymen again in 1812.
The new 'Canadians' refused to be driven from their homes again.
In 1814 the Americans retreated to their side of the Niagara River where they have stayed ever since.