Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some of the Greatest Canadians Were Americans

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.

A veteran from the War of 1812.
Note the silver maple leaf
and Canadian flag. 

We honour the Loyalist veterans this Remembrance Day.

 *Francis Weaver died of injuries sustained during the War of 1812 but many of his descendants still live in this area. 

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Anonymous said...

... and that would be where you received your namesake from :-) yes?

Monikaeh said...

... oops that wasn't meant to be anonymous ...

The Dancing Crone said...

No, but it looks good on my U.E. certification. (The document that allows descendants of Loyalists to put UE after their names.)

Monikaeh said...

... is there a reason your parents chose Frances (other than liking it), then?

Doug Jamieson said...

So, if I've done the math right, old Francis would have been about 67 when he fought in the war of 1812, an advanced age at that time. Hearty chap, that.

The Dancing Crone said...

No he was 50 or so.(about 14 in 1776) And considered quite ancient by his fellow militiamen.

The Dancing Crone said...

Nmed for my paternal grandfather.

Unknown said...

I concur with Michael’s personal feelings/comments whole-heartedly, noting your deeply, poignant observations of Grave Faces around the Niagara area. Yet, the poem In Flander’s Fields (which many were required to memorize in school) has never struck a romantic nerve within me. From the very first time of hearing it, I loved this poem and it is ever etched in my mind and heart. The attached Link is interesting, showing Lt. McCrae’s original hand-written poem as well as a brief history of its origin.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Unknown said...

... oops, the Link:


The Dancing Crone said...

That is odd it has a link to Arlington Cemetery. John McCrae was a Canadian soldier. Do they memorize it in American schools too?

Monika said...

Do students have to memorize anything these days ;-) I don't think Americans kids had to learn this (maybe it is an invidual teacher's thing). Anyway the Arlington web site states: Obtained From The McCrae Museum of The Guelph Museum.
There is an huge American cementary and memorial in Flanders, Belgium (that you may have visited yourself, back in the day.) Karlee had the opportunity to do so on her exchange.