Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"The Loyalist Land Holdings in Brantford's Surrounding Areas" (With Surveyor Lewis Burrell's Map of 1830 - PART II)

Angela E.M. Files, August 1993, Vol.5 No.2, Pages 9-12


   Many Canadian historians agree that the Loyalists were the founders of Southern Ontario's permanent non-indigenous settlements.  The first historical document affecting the land along the Grand River was Sir Frederick Haldimand's proclamation of 25 October, 1784.  Some 675,000 acres of land "six miles in depth on each side of the Grand River", from its source to its mouth, was transferred to the Mohawks and others of the Six Nations, for their loyalty to the British during the American Revolution.

  Captain Joseph Brant realized that hunting and fishing were vanishing occupations and that his nearly 2000 Native people would need the assistance of additional settlers to farm this vast area.  He deemed it necessary to give, lease or sell parts of the holdings specified in the original Haldimand deed, in order to raise finances for his people and to clear and cultivate the land.

 From this decision, dating back more than 200 years, unfolded a legal entanglement, which is still being sorted out today by the Six Nations Land Claims Office.  There were Chief Joseph Brant Leases, Chief John Brant Leases, Widow Catharine Brant Leases and Chiefs' Leases.  Some of the families who held Chief Joseph Brant Leases were: Burtches, File-Files, Fowlers, Gates, Nelles, Olmsteads, Perrons, Phelps, Secords, Smiths, Thomas, Westbrooks.  Widow Catharine Brant Leases were conveyed to: Cornwalls, Days, Langs and Dr. Oliver Tiffany.  Some early American residents of the village of Brantford were: Consider Crandons, (Bedford, Mass.), Captain Marshal Lewis (N.Y.) and Reuben Leonard (Springfield, Mass.).

  On April 19, 1830, Chief John Brant and the Chiefs of the Six Nations deeded 807 acres for the site of the village of Brantford.  The first public land auction was held on 14 May, 1831, when lots were purchased on Colbourne Street.  In 1832, lots on Darling Street sold for $109 to $140 each.  There were about 300 houses in the vicinity.

  The map of the plan of Brantford, by Surveyor Lewis Burwell, is crucial to an understanding of the post-loyalist land holdings in the town and its environs.

Click on map to enlarge; opens in a new window.

1. William Kennedy Smith

  Smith held a 999 year, Joseph Brant Lease of 1200 acres.  (See Branches, February, 1993).


Robert Biggar


  Robert Biggar, of Biggartown, Scotland, moved to Brantford in 1816, secured by purchase 100 acres near Mt. Pleasant, Ontario.



Village Streets

  The streets of Brantford were named after British people.  Eight main streets ran from the west to the easterly limit of the village.  Colbourne street was named after Sir John Colbourne, veteran of the Napoleonic Wars and Governor-General of Canada.  Dalhousie, named after the Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General of Canada.  Darling street was named after H.C. Darling, a friend of John Graves Simcoe.  Wellington street was named, of course, after the "Iron Duke" and great British military commander during the Napoleonic Wars.  North of and running parallel to Wellington Street, but not shown on this early plan, are Nelson, Chatham, Sheridan and Marlborough streets.  Nelson street is named after Horatio Nelson, 1758 - 1805, the naval hero of Trafalgar; Chatham after the great British statesman and orator, William Pitt, 1708 - 1778, 1st Earl of Chatham; Sheridan after the brilliant Irish dramatist, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Marlborough street, named after the first Duke of Marlborough and famous military leader.

  Crossing these eight streets, are King and Queen so named in honour of the British monarchial system.  Market street clearly identified the location of the local public market.  George street was named after George IV, 1762 - 1830.  Charlotte remembers Princess Charlotte, the mother of King George IV.  Clarence is named for the Duke of Clarence and Alfred after Alfred the Great, early King of England.  Canning honours the British statesman, George Canning, 1770 - 1827 and Peel street was named after another famous statesman, Sir Robert Peel.  Brock is obviously in remembrance of Sir Isaac Brock, 1769 - 1812, the hero of the War of 1812.  Murray, Drummond and Rawdon streets are named in honour of military leaders.


School Reserved

  The School Reserve simply indicates land set aside for the building of a school.


County Court House

  The Court House was built during the formation of Brant County.


Public Square (Victoria Park)

  The public square was used for various community activities and was copied from the American custom of a public commons.


Church of England

  Chief Joseph Brant had set aside land for the Anglican Church.


Market Area

  The market area was used for the sale of farm produce and as a trading post for the Six Nations.


James Wilkes Distillery

  James A. Wilkes came from Birmingham, England.  Mr. Wilkes built a distillery on the banks of a creek, in 1830 and also opened a trading store.


Kirk of Scotland

  Land was held for the establishment of a Presbyterian Church.


Market Reserved Area

  Land was pit aside at the corner of Canning and Dalhousie for the sale of farm produce.  It is now Alexandra Park.


Jebediah Jackson

  Jebediah Jackson purchased the Lewis grist mill in 1826 and owned two lots in the village.  He was the first white man to pay cash for his wheat.  In 1840, Jackson was killed by a falling tree.


Asabel Hulbert

  Asabel Hulbert operated a sawmill and owned 7.5 acres in what was known as Hulbert's Flats.

  After the completion of the survey in 1830, more immigrants entered the region.  Escaped slaves from the United States were followed in 1832 by the "Kingston Settlers", who included among their ranks such families as the Downs, Gardhams, Girvings, Hawkins, Kendels, Mairs, Matthews, McDonalds, McDougalls and Sprouls.

  Together with the United Empire Loyalists, the later land holders in the Grand River valley, including English, Irish, Scots, Welsh, Americans, Native people, escaped slaves from the United States and many others from varying backgrounds.  The multi-national mosaic, so characteristic of Canada today, had its origins in early Canada.  This familiar pattern of immigration and settlement was clearly evident in the first communities along the Grand River watershed and in Brantford and its immediate environment.