Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"Port Ryerse Bicentennial - July 9 & 10, 1994"

Doris Lemon, February 1995, Vol.7 No.1, Pages 7-8



  Grand River Branch, U.E.L. participated in the two-day, bicentennial celebrations commemorating the arrival of Colonel Samuel Ryerse at Port Ryerse.  The Branch genealogy committee consisting of Eleanor Chapin and Doris Lemon arrived at noon and set up our booth in the entry of the church.  It was an excellent location as all guests passing into the church to see local and family artifacts, also had an opportunity to view our book display and become acquainted with our organizations.  A great deal of interest was shown in our Branch and the United Empire Loyalists' Association.

  We closed at 6:00 p.m. when the fish supper was served to 500 people.  The main street had been closed off and a stage erected.  Children of the town performed a skit on the diary of Amelia Harris, Colonel Ryerse's daughter.  A musical concert followed and at 8:00 p.m. there was a street dance.

  On Sunday morning we joined the Ryerse family and townsfolk again for the reenactment of the landing of Colonel Samuel Ryerse on the beach at the mouth of the creek.  A descendant representing Col. Ryerse was rowed ashore, amid some laughter when his hat blew off and the oarsman had a difficult time "fishing for it".  he was received by the welcoming committee consisting of actors portraying Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe and Lady Elizabeth Simcoe dressed in a deep green velvet gown with matching hat and floating ostrich plumes.  Native people were also represented.  After the speech, the central characters had some light-hearted comments on the Loyalists' landing in comparison with today's interpretation of this historic occasion!

   A parade then followed to the plaque commemorating Col. Samuel Ryerse and then the parade continued to Vern Ryerse's farm for the reunion's picnic lunch.  Our Branch booth was in the picnic tent and members of the family were very interested in our display.  Eleanor Chapin and Doris Lemon were joined by Glen Bell, Angela Files, Doris Marcellus and Ronald Fink.  We closed the display at 4:30 p.m. after a most successful two days.

  Among the highlights of the festivities were:

  • Tugs-of-war, Ryerse-Ryersons versus the townspeople;

  • Pansy Ryerse (age 97), a direct descendant, cut the 3' x 5' cake with the sword used by Col. Samuel Ryerse;

  • A yard-high genealogy chart of the family stretched the entire length of the barn at Vern Ryerse's farm and across the end;

  • The handsomely bound, recently published history of the Ryerse-Ryerson Family 1574 - 1994, by Thomas A. Ryerson and Phyllis A. Ryerse, was on display and drew much attention from everyone.

  The two-day bicentennial festival was a wonderful, celebratory event honouring family, roots and history.

The memorial plaque, on the right side of Port Ryerse Anglican Church, honours the bicentennial of Port Ryerse:

Port Ryerse

1794 - 1994

"This memorial commemorates the bi-centennial of Port Ryerse, its past and present.  The local shipping industry was the foundation for the village and progressed most during the mid-1800's exporting lumber with grain.  The forged anchor was recovered from the original pier by divers in 1977, the millstones were discovered near the site of the Grist Mills on Young's Creek in Port Ryerse.  Samuel Ryerse built the first mill circa 1797; it was burned in 1814 by invading Americans during the War of 1812.  Two other Grist Mills were built on the site, both burned, one in 1860 and the other in 1890.  the brick wall is from the school houses built in 1871.

The millstone was donated by Levi Brown Atkins, Bill and Betty Calder, Michael J. Sparks.  Dale stone donated by Cookson."

Memorial erected 1994, by D. H. Environment Association, Assistance by Ryerse Ryerson Family and Ontario Heritage Committee.

The memorial plaque on the left side of Port Ryerse Anglican Church yard, facing the road, was erected in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Ryerse, 1752 - 1810.  It reads:


Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Ryerse

(1752 - 1812)

"A United Empire Loyalist, Ryerse was commissioned in the 4th New Jersey Volunteers during the American Revolution, following which he took refuge in New Brunswick.  In 1794 he came to Upper Canada and the following year received 3000 acres of land in Woodhouse and Charlotteville townships.  Settling at the mouth of Young's Creek, he erected a grist-mill around which he grew the community of Port Ryerse.  As Lieutenant of the County of Norfolk and chairman of the Court of Quarter Sessions, he took an important part in the early military and civil administration of this area."

Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board