Biographies of the Petitioners to form a Canadian UEL Association
Those who signed the petition to unite the Loyalists across Canada under one organization hailed from seven of Canada’s provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia).
As third generation descendants; ancestors of the Loyalists who retired to Canada before, during and after the American War of Independence 1775, for their belief or desires, to uphold the pride of the country and the heritage bestowed to them – Unity of Empire – to defend the new nation’s principles. Parliamentary government under the Crown.
Ottawa – May 27, 1914
Act of Parliament (Cha. 146, 4-5) the incorporation of the Loyalist Societies into one body
“The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada”
Col. The Hon. George Ansel Sterling Ryerson, MD, LRCS, UE (1855-1925)
Dr. Ryerson was born at Toronto, grandson of an UE Loyalist and nephew to the Rev. Egerton Ryerson (founder of Upper Canada’s schooling system). George Ryerson was educated at the Galt Grammar School; Trinity and Victoria Universities, Toronto, majoring in medicine. In 1878 he was appointed to the staff of the Toronto General Hospital as oculist and aurist, two years later to become professor of Opthomology and Otology at Trinity Medical School. Other medical activities were as member of the Canadian Medical Association; honorary member of the Association of Military Surgeons of the USA; founder of the Canadian Red Cross (1896); Commissioner serving the Canadian Red Cross in South Africa (1900).
Dr. Ryerson married Mary A. Crowther of Toronto, a loyal lady of distinction and understanding who encouraged her husband to pursue his dreams for humanity and not to neglect his pride for Canada, to keep it a nation with unity toward the Empire.
Other notes of interest are that Dr. Ryerson served as medical officer in the Fenian Raids, Niagara District and, the North West Rebellion at Saskatchewan.
His greatest tribute though was serving as President of the Ontario UEL Association upon the death of The Hon. John Beverley Robinson, Bart.
Dr. Ryerson’s belief in family unity and the upholding of traditions never faltered, thus, he continued to pursue the task of uniting the Loyalist descendants to consider the formation of one organization. The UEL Association today is proud to have had the leadership of this distinguished gentleman as its first President.
“An able and meritorious soldier and a devoted servant of Canada and its Empire”
– Hon. Wm. McDougall
Lt. Col. George Taylor Denison, LLB, FRSC, UE (1839-1925)
George Denison was born and educated at Toronto; attending Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto. His Loyalist descendancy is claimed through his mother’s line, Esther B. Lippincott of Belleville.
George Denison’s career spans as soldier to later writer. His military schooling at the Royal Military College placed him as a scholar of honorable distinction. He served in the Upper Canada Rebellion; organized the Toronto Militia, the cavalry and rifle division, co-founded the “Queen’s Own Rifles”; Commander of an outpost on the Niagara River during the Fenian Raid; served as cavalry officer in the North West Rebellion.
Although much of George Denison’s career was spent serving as a volunteer in the militia he practiced law in Toronto; wrote books, and gave lectures across Canada on the UE Loyalists. He was the founder of the Ontario Historical Society.
Of interest George Denison helped to outfit the newly recruited men. Queen’s Own Rifles, with uniforms to attend, by special invitation. Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, London, England. He served as Vice President of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (1914).
“Her Majesty’s most loyal colonial born subject”
– Douglas Staden, The Queen
Lieut. Col. George Alexander Shaw, R.L., UE (1844-1939)
George Alexander Shaw, great grandson of Major-Gen. The Honourable Aeneas Shaw UEL, was born 24 June 1844. A well-known citizen of Toronto, he gave twenty-two years of military service to his country, as had his forebears. His record was one of steady promotion. His first commission dates from 1861, as Ensign in the 4th Battalion, and he later became Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, York Regiment. He served with the 10th or Royal Regiment in 1866, and throughout the Fenian Raid, becoming a Captain in 1867. He was Adjutant of the Regiment from 1871 to 1874, served as Major and retired as Lieut. Colonel in April 1881, handing over the colors of the Regiment to Lieutenant-Colonel Grassett. He was also commissioned to the Vice-Consulate of the Hawaiian Islands in Toronto.
In 1882, Col Shaw married Marion Christina, daughter of Gilbert Tice Bastedo, County Crown Attorney, Halton and 2x great granddaughter of Jacob Bastedo UEL. Lieut. Col Shaw died at his residence, 189 Dunn Ave., Toronto, on 29 March 1939. Marion C Shaw passed away on 29 Sept. 1946 in Toronto.
John Beverley Robinson of Edgewater, NJ
Fourth signer of the Charter, son of The Hon. John Beverley Robinson, Bart., Chief of Justice for Upper Canada.
The Hon. Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, KCMG, LLB, KC, UE (1855-1925)
Charles Tupper was a lawyer and statesman born at Amherst, NS, second son of The Hon. Charles Tupper, MP, Prime Minister of Canada and Father of Confederation.
Charles’ education began in Nova Scotia where he attended the Windsor Academy. His university education was received at McGill University where he was the recipient of the Governor-General Scholarship; continued his education at Harvard University, Boston. He practiced law at Halifax and later Vancouver until his retirement.
As a statesman he served as member for the federal government under Sir John A. Macdonald as assistant Minister of Marine & Fisheries. The same portfolio he continued under Prime Ministers Sir John Abbott and Sir John Thompson. High praise was received by Lord Ripon, Britain, for the work Charles Tupper contributed to the fisheries protection treaty. As Minister of Justice under Sir Mackenzie Boswell’s government he worked to solve the Roman Catholic School System issue of Manitoba. This Bill was unsuccessful when presented before the House of Commons for vote.
“Young, attractive and bold, with an excellent record, fine ability and thorough grasp of affairs”
– Mail & Empire
Sir The Hon. Allan Bristol Aylesworth, KC, PC, MP, UE, MA (1854-1952)
Allan Aylesworth was born and educated at Camden Township, Upper Canada, Newburgh Academy. He also attended Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto majoring in Law. He was called to the bar in 1878 to practice law in Toronto until he entered politics. He was elected for North York, and served as the cabinet of Sir Wilfred Laurier’s government – Postmaster General and Minister of Labour.
Other accomplishments as a statesman were to be appointed to represent the government at the Imperial Alaskan Boundary Tribunal, 1903. He disagreed with the principles of the Treaty and thus refused to sign the agreement. He also served as agent for Great Britain, 1910, on the Hague Tribunal, North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Arbitration. For his work he was created KCMG.
Interest: Allan Aylesworth introduced the first electric trolley cars in Canada at Winnipeg.
Allan Aylesworth kept the land at heart and, as a devote Canadian he looked forward with hope for a closer union with the Motherland, making Canada an important integral part of the Empire.
William Napier Keefer, MD, FRCS, UE (1844- )
William Keefer born at Thorold, ON, was educated at the Galt Grammar School, the University of Toronto, agricultural science; McGill University, medical science, and the University of Edinburgh, College of Surgeons.
Dr. Keefer served for fifteen years as medical officer for the British Army, in India during the Afghan War and the Egyptian Campaign. After retiring from the British Army he returned to Canada to continue medical practice at Toronto.
President of the UEL Association of Ontario, 1910.
Canon Alexander Wellesley Macnab, UE (1850- )
Alexander Macnab was born at Cobourg, ON, receiving his education at the Bowmanville Grammar School and the University of Western Ontario, Huron College.
As minister for the Church of England his ministry began at the historic church of St. George’s Church, St. Catharines. He later lectured for the Society for the Preparation of the Gospel in England, Switzerland and Italy. Upon his return to Canada he continued in the ministry. He was soon called to the United States serving as rector in Omaha, NK and TX. Canon Macnab was a renowned lecturer throughout Western Ontario on Church and Bible history.
President of the UEL Association of Ontario, 1906.
Lt. Col. William Hamilton Merritt, UE (1855-1918)
William Merritt was born at St.Catharines, ON, the grandson of Wm. H. Merritt promoter of the Welland Canal. His education was received at Trinity College School, Upper Canada College and the Royal College of Mines, London, England where he studied engineering science.
His engineering career began in Toronto. He soon received the appointment as professor at the School of Mining, Kingston, and later served the Government of Canada as resource person to report upon the mining resources of Ontario.
Other interests were the military. He attended the Royal Military College, and was the first officer to attain the rank of Lt. Col. in the Governor-General’s Body Guard. He served in the North West Rebellion, the siege of “White Cap” resulting in the retreat of the Sioux Indians. In 1899 to 1902 he served in the Boer War in South Africa.
William Merritt’s life was noted as a mining engineer, a cavalry officer, a lecturer, and a writer. However, he also was a renowned rugby player to be President of Ontario Rugby Union and the Canadian Football Union.
“No more enthusiastic cavalry soldier exists”
– Canadian Military Gazette
His Hon. Hedley Clarence Taylor, LLB, UE, MA (1864-1919)
Hedley Taylor was born at Sheffield, NB. He received his university studies in Law at Mt. Alison University and the University of Michigan.
Hedley Taylor practiced law at Edmonton where he was appointed district judge for the Edmonton area. He served on the Edmonton School Board; and was chairman of the Board of Governors for Alberta College and Senator, University of Alberta.
George Durnford, UE (1838- )
George Durnford was born at Toronto and educated at Montreal as a chartered accountant.
President of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Montreal, 1899-1914.
Rufus Shorey Neville, KC, UE
Rufus Neville was born at the Camden District, Upper Canada, receiving his education at Cobourg Collegiate Institute, Victoria University and the Toronto Law School.
He was a successful barrister in Toronto. He helped to organize the Empire Club of Canada and served as Vice President of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario.
He was a distinguished lecturer and writer on topics which related to British Influence in History; The School and the Empire emphasising on Canada as being the most imperialistic nation in the world.
Mary Ella Williams Dignam, UE (1857-1938)
Mary Dignam born at Port Burwell, ON, received her education from private tutors. She pursued her studies as an oil, watercolour and pastel artist at the Art Students’ League, NY, which led her to studies in Holland, France and Italy.
She held exhibits at the Royal Canadian Academy; at the National Academy of Design, NY and in England. Other interests were serving as president of the Association of Artist’s School of Art and Design; the Women’s Art Association of Canada; member of the executive for the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and – Vice President Ladies Committee, 1911, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario.
John Stewart Carstairs, UE, MA
John Carstairs, born at Kingston, was educated at Arnprior, Iroquois High School and the University of Toronto. His career as a teacher began at the Iroquois High School teaching the classics. He eventually became principal of Sterling High School.
Of note, John Carstairs was frequently asked by the Dominion government to write articles on the educational problems in the schools across Canada. He later became librarian at the Military Institute, Toronto, and lecturer of modern history, University of Toronto.
As a writer he wrote articles pertaining to the History of Upper Canada; the Late Loyalists of Upper Canada and was co-author with A. C. Casselman of “History of Canada and the Canadian People”.
Allan Ross Davis, UE, BASc (1858- )
Allan Davis born at Adolphustown was educated at Upper Canada College graduating as a civil engineer from McGill Universary.
He was a railway engineer for twenty years, and then became a land surveyor for the governments of Ontario’s north land and Manitoba. As a writer, he was praised by Dr. Gordon (Ralph Connor) for his book The Old Loyalists, published in 1908 noting with truth and fidelity the description of heroism, courage and endurance faced by the United Empire Loyalists in 1783. He served as a legal advisor for the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, 1913 – 1914.
Charles Egerton Macdonald, , LLD, UE (1837- )
Charles Macdonald born at Gananoque received his education at Queen’s Preparatory School, Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute, NY, and Queen’s University.
His career as a civil engineer began in partnership with Samuel Keefer as land surveyor of the Grand Trunk Railway. He worked on the construction of railway bridges. Charles was assigned by the Australian government to supervise the construction of bridges for that country. At retirement he returned to Gananoque to have a gift erected, the clock tower.
“A man whose name is known and honored all over the Continent”
– Sir Sandford Fleming
Helen M. Merrill, UE
Helen Merrill, a Huguenot descendant, was born at Napanee receiving her education at Picton and the University of Toronto.
Her career as journalist, literaturist and poet provided excellent coverage of the peoples of Canada. She wrote articles for American magazines and monthly articles for the Picton newspaper giving the history for Prince Edward County and its settlers, the Loyalists.
Helen Merrill was honored when asked to sign the 1914 Charter. She continued her service for the UEL Association as its secretary from 1913 to 1936, and was Ladies Committee president, as well as social events chairperson.
Victor A. Hall
Canon Alfred Brown, UE, BA (1842- )
Alfred Brown was born at Halifax receiving his education at the Halifax Grammar School and King’s College, Windsor, NS, graduating as a minister for the Church of England. He was rector in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and the United States. In Ontario he served as Canon at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
He was the author of social, religious and political subjects for Canadian and foreign journals. His contributions were to form the Anglican Young People’s Association of Western Ontario and Canada; and to promote Religious Instruction in the Public Schools of Ontario.
George Henry Ham, UE (1847-1926)
George Ham was born at Trenton, ON, receiving his education at the Whitby Grammar School. His career began as a railway worker, later he became a journalist and editor for the Winnipeg Times and Nor’Western newspapers. During the North West Rebellion he was correspondent for the Toronto Mail for which he wrote about the Indian rising in the Rebellion. After retirement, he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as its advertising manager; serving as well on the City of Winnipeg Council and as trustee for the city’s school board.
John Alexander Macdonell, KC, PC, MP, UE, MA (1854-1952)
John Macdonell was born and educated at Kingston. At sixteen he served in the Canadian Civil Service as private secretary in the government of Sir John A. Macdonald.
As a lawyer he served as registrar of Upper Canada but returned to federal politics serving Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald as Conservative party organizer and supporter. He was rewarded by the Prime Minister with the Grand Cross of Bath title for the services he contributed to the government and party.
John Macdonell founded the United Empire Club and the Albany Club, later to become the Canadian Club. In 1893, he served as Vice President of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario.
“An able lawyer, and accomplished gentleman”
– Mail & Empire
Albert J. Hill, UE, MA (1836- )
Albert Hill was born at Sydney, Cape Breton, NS, educated at home, worked from the age of twelve as a coal miner, a schooner builder, and a sailor delivering the coal from Cape Breton to Boston. At the age of thirty he gave up sailing to return to school to graduate from Acadia University as a civil engineer.
His career turned from sailing to railway building and, map making as a geologist recording areas for coal deposits in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Land transportation was the path for the future, thus, his plans to unite the two provinces with railways began at the Miramichi to Halifax and Cape Breton. In 1880 the Dominion Government asked him to help to build the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia.
We remember this gentleman as a nation builder who grew up in the east as a miner, a sailor, a map maker to rail builder in Canada’s west.
Lt. Col. John Johnson Gregory, UE
John Gregory was born and educated in the Niagara District. He was a farmer, however, he was also active in municipal politics serving at Niagara, later North Bay to finally Lacombe, Alberta. In North Bay he helped to start the first school in the district.
At the age of sixteen, he served with the St. Catharines militia in the Fenian Raid. As resident of Alberta he served in the North West Rebellion attaining the rank of Lt. Col.
Throughout John Gregory’s life in Ontario and Alberta he strove to protect provincial autonomy – the rights to determine the school system for education and the administration of resources.
Capt. Arthur Edward Preston Hill, UE, Bsc (1845- )
Arthur Hill was educated at Sydney, NS, graduating as a civil engineer from McGill University. His working career as an engineer took him to British Columbia to work under his brother on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The latter part of his career was spent working for the city of New Westminster’s Waterworks Corporation as planner for the city’s water system.
In Nova Scotia Arthur Hill served with the militia attaining the rank of captain. He was an advocate for reform as he opposed Asian migration to British Columbia, especially for those people from China and Japan.
(note: The Charter records the name as Arthur Edward Breton Hill – the correct name is as recorded. A. E. Preston Hill).
Eugene Alexander Maclaurin, UE
UEL Transactions vol5 p.89 notes the following:
- President of the UEL Association of Ontario 1904-5-6
- Treasurer UELAC 1915 to 1916
- Vice President UELAC 1918
Holly Skiff Seaman, UE (1884-1952)
Holly Seaman born in Ontario lived his working life in Winnipeg as an accountant. He wrote in 1920 a documentary booklet, “Manitoba, Red Letter Days 1610 to 1920.”
“A wise nation foster national pride and love of country in perpetual reference to the sacrifices and stories of the past”
– Joseph Howe
The following books were used to compile the biographies for the signers of the United Empire Loyalist’s Association, 1914.
- S.J. Clarke, British Columbia Biography Vol. III, Howay & Schofield, British Columbia, 1914.
- H.J. Morgan, Canadian Men and Women of the Time, Books 1898 and 1912.
- W. Stewart, The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Macmillan Canada, 1963.
- The Canadian Who’s Who, The Times, London, England, 1910.
— Elizabeth Richardson, UE, UELAC Historian, 1997
Next in the History of the UELAC – Presidents of the UELAC.