Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"The Celebration of the Coming of the Loyalists in 1784 at Fort George"

Rev. James W. Files, Chairman, February 1994, Vol.6 No.1,

Page 3


   On August 14, 1884, a crowd of about two thousand people met at the historic ground on the glade of Oak Grove, a short distance from the ruins of Fort George, to celebrate the centennial of the United Empire Loyalists' arrival in Upper Canada.  The largest group in the assemblage were forty-eight chiefs and warriors, headed by Mohawk Chief A. G. Smith from the Six Nations Reserve.  Two of the elderly chiefs were survivors of the War of 1812.  Chief John Smoke Johnson, 93 years old, had fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights, at Lundy's Lane, Black Rock, etc.  Also present was 91 year old Chief John Tutelle of the few remaining Tutella Indians of the Grand River.  There were five aged and principal chiefs of the Cayuga and Onondaga tribes, led by Chief Buck, the venerable head chief of the Onondagas.  Mohawk Chief Hill, grandson of Chief Joseph Brant, from the Tyendinaga Reserve, Bay of Quinte, was also present for the celebration.

  The Native chiefs and warriors had assembled to honour their loyalist heritage.  Mohawk Chief A. G. Smith told the gathering that a large representation of his people were anxious to be identified as descendants of the United Empire Loyalists of 100 years ago.

 For the celebrations, the Tuscarora Band played patriotic tunes and the FireKeepers performed ceremonial dances.  The Native participants brought their own Union Jack to show that their ancestors had fought under the British flag during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

 Chiefswood from the river side.

Chiefswood, built by Chief George H. M. Johnson, was the Johnson family home from 1853 to 1884.  Chief Johnson and his English bride, Emily Susannah Howells had four children.  The youngest, Emily Pauline, received wide acclaim in the late Victorian period for her poetry, celebrating her Mohawk and English roots.

  Nearly 109 years later, on October 7, 1993, Mrs. Glen Bell, Mrs. Doris Marcellus and I presented a cheque for three thousand dollars, on your behalf, to the Chairman of the Chiefswood Restoration Fund, former elected Chief (1979 - 1985), Wellington Staats.  The presentation was made in front of Chiefswood, which was built by the son of Chief John Smoke Johnson, Chief George Henry Martin Johnson for his English bride, Emily Susannah Howells.  Chiefswood needs a new foundation and roof before winter and your donation together with matching government funds, will be used to pay for the repairs.  Thank you members for the generous gift!

  On Saturday, November 27, 1993, Dr. Vera Vanderlip and I attended the meeting of the Dominion Council at our headquarters located on the fourth floor of the George Brown House, 50 Baldwin Street, Toronto.  Some of the topics discussed were as follows:  defraying the rental costs of Dominion Headquarters, increasing the memberships of the U.E.L. organizations by inviting family members to join the branches, the Huff bequest, life membership, the McLaughlin Trust, the "I Care" project, the Young Loyalists and the Family Tree contest.  Outlines of our 1993 programmes were placed on the display table.  We sold one package of our Loyalist cards.

  Again, I wish to thank you for your interest and cooperation in continuing to make the Grand River Branch a friendly, kind and generous heritage organization.  May God continue to bless us in our endeavours to preserve the history of our ancestors and our Canadian history.


James W. Files

Reverend James Files, Chief Wellington Staats, Mrs. Glen Bell