Grand River Branch
United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada
Selected Reprints from the
Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches
"The Long Point Settlement"
Doris Ann Lemon, May 2003, Vol.15 No.1, Pages 5-7
On June 19, 1791, the Constitutional Act was passed which separated Québec into Upper and Lower Canada. Québec retained its Seigneurial land-holding system and French Civil Law and Upper Canada adopted our present Constitutional Parliamentary system of government. The first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, held the first Parliament at Newark, present-day Niagara-On-The-Lake, on September 17, 1792.
As Colonel of the Queen's Rangers, Simcoe commanded a Loyalist regiment during the American Revolution. Carlton, known as Lord Dorchester, Commander-In-Chief of Canada, preferred another candidate for Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, but Simcoe was chosen. As a result, there was often unresolved conflict between them.
In a letter from Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to Lord Dundas dated August 20th, 1792 which accompanied the proclamation dividing Upper Canada into counties, Simcoe announces his intention to occupy, in the following spring, a post near Long Point.1
About a year afterwards, Simcoe again sends to the Home Government a favourable notice of Long Point say, "The survey of the communication between Lakes Ontario and St. Clair is completed. The surveyor has discovered an admirable harbour on Lake Erie, near the very place he wished it, namely, Long Point, opposite (U.S.) Presqu'Isle."
On September 20, 1793, Simcoe submitted to the Home Government an actual survey of the Thames so far as it serves to communicate between Lakes Ontario and St. Clair, referring to the tract of land as "one of the finest in America" and, accompanying it a survey of Long Point on Lake Erie, and the establishment of one here would counteract the one held by the United States at Presqu'Isle. A harbour could be constructed on the island near it. It possesses every facility necessary for an important centre of military operations."2
Towards the close of this letter he refers to the settlement at Long Point... "The settlers to be brought in should be brave and determined Loyalists, such as those from Pennsylvania and Maryland, who at the end of the war were associated to support the cause of the King, and who had sent an agent to ascertain what arrangements could be made for their removal to the province..."
On July 31, 1795, Simcoe wrote the Earl of Portland emphasizing the importance of the occupation of Long Point as a naval arsenal, saying, "I am thoroughly convinced that it is absolutely necessary that military establishments should precede settlements, and hence I have withheld all grants on the centre of Lake Erie. There should be a military organization established there at once, and around it a strong settlement could group itself. The half-pay Loyalist officers with their followers will form a proper basis for the settlement of Long Point. In view of the fact that three hundred U.S. troops of Pennsylvania are at Presqu'Isle to construct a fort at the entrance of the harbour, Simcoe asks leave to send a detachment of the Queen's Rangers (100 rank and file) to Turkey Point, which is considered to be the most eligible situation.
During the summer months of 1795, lieutenant-Governor Simcoe made his long-deferred visit to Long Point and the Grand River. In a letter to Lord Dorchester he describes his route and the country through which he passed. His favourable preconception of the district was not disappointed, and he became more tha ever anxious to found a settlement there. "The country is thickly timbered, the chief trees being oak, beech, pine and walnut. Making our way through the forest, we reached the lake at a place which, from the abundance of wild fowl, is named Turkey point. A ridge or cliff of considerable height skirts the shore for some distance. Between this and Lake Erie is a wide and gently sloping beach. The long ridge of hard sand (Long Point proper) encloses a safe and commodious harbour. The view from the high bank is magnificent. Although the place presents a combination of natural advantages and natural beauty but seldom found. Here we have laid out a site of six hundred acres for a town, with reservations for Government buildings, and called it Charlotte Villa, in honor of Queen Charlotte." In this letter was enclosed a sketch of Long Point and a plan for the proposed town.
In a dispatch from the Earl of Portland to Governor Simcoe on December 6, 1795, the proposed settlement of Long Point was formally approved, as was also the class of settlers proposed. "The gentlemen mentioned in your letter of the 30th July, as desirous with their followers of settling there, cannot fail to lay the best foundation of attachment to the Crown and Constitution."3 On January 6, 1796, His Lordship urges that the occupation of Long Point should take place with as little delay as possible.
The intention of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe to found a settlement at Long Point was frustrated by Lord Dorchester. His Lordship, in a dispatch from Québec on April 4th, 1796, declares that "the present posture of affairs would condemn growing expense or leaving troops in Upper Canada to increase the growth and prosperity of the colony. The policy of placing so many troops out of the way which would abuse the public expenditure for twenty years, is not the only objection to this mode of encouraging settlements. The principle itself is erroneous, as evidenced by the improvement in provinces where neither extraordinary expenses were incurred nor troops were employed for civil purposes. We have no intention of authorizing public works of great expense, but reserves of land should be made at every place likely to become of consequence, where they may be required for public purposes."
In a dispatch to the Earl of Portland, June 18th, 1796, Simcoe states plainly that his plan as to Long Point has been frustrated by the interference of Dorchester. "It is my public duty to observe, that in the civil administration of this government, I have no confidence whatsoever in any assistance from Lord Dorchester. His economical ideas are contrary to the real principle of public saving."
It is unfortunate that this difference of opinion existed , for it prevented the early establishment of strong military posts at such places as Long Point, London and Chatham. The settlement of Long Point was assuredly tedious in the beginning, but it was not thereby doomed to be forgotten.
Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe obtained a leave of absence, owing to ill-health in the summer of 1796 and sailed for England. Molly Brant, in one of her last acts as a medicine woman, attended him in Kingston. The Honourable Peter Russell, President of the Executive Council, was appointed Acting Governor.
The Norfolk Townships in various countries were surveyed into allotments and among them were Walsingham, Windham, Townsend and Charlotteville. Up to this time no grants of land had been formally assigned in Norfolk County. There were a few squatters already there: Dr. Troyer, Frederick Mabee, Peter Secord, Lucas Dedrick, Edward McMichael, Abraham Smith and Solomon Austin. These were confirmed in the possession of the farms they had already chosen. Now proclamations were issued inviting settlers to the Long Point Settlement, and appealing especially to the Loyalists.
Peter Russell and The Council Office, 25th October, 1798 approved "..that grants be issued in consequence of Orders in Council... to U.E. Loyalists and their children of the first generation, to the extent of 200 acres each, are not to be charged the expense of a survey..."
The fame of the Long Point district had reached Eastern Canada, and when it was opened for settlement there was for a few years a steady influx of settlers, chiefly Loyalists from the Lower Province, for whom it was a second migration. The great majority had lived already in New Brunswick, some for ten years or longer. That province was over-crowded and the allotments unsatisfactory; and so, being influenced by the offers of land in Upper Canada, they came west, for the most part in open boats, to make their homes in that district.
But this removal was a work of stupendous difficulty. The roads were simply blazes through the forests. Those who came by land had to find their way over the trail of the Indian. The length of their journey precluded their brining much with them, and thus the building of new homes in the County of Norfolk was just as tedious and a severe as it had been years before in their settlements on the St. John River. Only one man came to Long Point in the later years of the century who had been here before, that is, the old Scotch soldier, Donald McCall.
There were 1,978 lots in the Long Point Settlement. In 1798, Rainham and Walpole became a part of Norfolk and remained until 1826 and then were transferred to Haldimand. Oakland, for a time, was part of Norfolk and then became Brant. Burford was part of Old Norfolk until 1803 when it joined Oxford County.
Footnote: Carlton, or Lord Dorchester, Governor in Chief of Canada, did not approve John Graves Simcoe's appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. His opposition to Simcoe's proposal for fortifications and naval stores at Long Point proved disastrous during Colonel Campbell's raid on Dover Mills during the War of 1812 - 14.
Ref. Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records Vol. II Annual Report 1900. pp. 45-47
1 Dominion Archives Q.278. p 197
2 Dominion Archives Q.278-82. p 483
3 Dominion Archives Q.281,2