“Loyalist Trails” 2016-30: July 24, 2016

In this issue:
The Case of the Missing Loyalist Heroes, by Stephen Davidson
JAR: March to Quebec and the Fog of War
The Impossible Task of Subduing the Colonies
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post
      + Reverend Ainslie “Ibbs” Avery, UE
      + R.E. “Gene” Corbet, UE
      + Frank Victor Edward Crosswell, UE
      + Seagoing Loyalists and the Royal Navy


The Case of the Missing Loyalist Heroes

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In 1992, James D. Harbic wrote Profiles in Nobility: The 125 Greatest Canadians. Given that at least 50,000 loyalists found refuge in Nova Scotia and the future provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec following the American Revolution, it is reasonable to assume that a number of them would be found in Harbic’s list of Canadian heroes. However, only one person from the loyalist era is given a “profile of nobility”. That lone hero is Joseph Brant –Thayendanega– of the Mohawk nation.

Born in Ohio in 1740, Thayendanega had sided with the British during the Seven Years War against New France. His command of English was such that he was able to translate a number of religious works — including the gospel of Mark—into Mohawk. During the American Revolution, Brant led a band of indigenous warriors and white loyalists against rebel forces, becoming in time the “dread and terror of the whole country”. In 1784, he brought the loyal Six Nations people north to the Grand River (in what became Upper Canada) where they settled on land granted to them by the British crown in appreciation for their allegiance during the revolution. Brantford, Ontario bears Thayendanega’s English name to this day.

Joseph Brant certainly deserves recognition as a hero of the loyalist era. Given a choice of allies, he sided with the British crown. His loyalty was demonstrated time and again in battles against American rebels. In defeat, he continued to be a leader to his people and helped to shape the early history of Ontario.

But is Brant the only loyalist hero? Approximately 60,000 Americans became political refugees after the revolution. When we add in the 15,000 slaves they took with them, this means that one out of every forty people who lived in the rebelling thirteen colonies left as part of the loyalist evacuation. Not all loyal Americans became refugees. Anywhere between 440,000 and 773,330 loyalists were able to stay in the new United States of America. It seems inconceivable that only one person out of so many should be considered a hero.

American history proudly recognizes a wide spectrum of patriot heroes. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams were articulate political thinkers who gave an intellectual rationale for the revolution. George Washington, John Paul Jones, and Nathanael Greene became the new republic’s military heroes, Nathan Hale is remembered for his inspirational words before being hanged as a spy.

Betsy Ross only became a heroine after 1870 when her grandson wrote that she had made the first Stars and Stripes flag. No documentation exists to substantiate this claim. Paul Revere’s 1775 ride was not considered noteworthy in the years after the revolution; it only became so thanks to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem in which the writer purposely set out to create an American legend.

So whether by merit or by myth, patriot history has a large pantheon of heroes. Why, then, did loyalist history not recognize the noteworthy men and women who served the British crown during the revolution? Why did folk lore fail to embellish fact with fiction and turn loyalist stories into legends? The very human tendency to create martyrs out of those who died for a lost cause is completely absent when it comes to Canada’s refugee founders.

There was certainly the opportunity for heroes to be recognized or created. About nine per cent of all loyalist refugees appeared before the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists. As they sought compensation for their wartime losses, loyalists from all walks of life wre given a forum in which to tell their stories with friends and family as supporting witnesses. Yet no heroes emerge from the transcripts of the RCLSAL hearings.

New Brunswick and Upper Canada were new colonies created by the loyalist refugees in the wake of the American Revolution. Uprooted from their ancestral lands in the United States, these settlers could be forgiven for weaving legends of sacrifice and heroism around particular individuals as the founders of their new societies in the same way that their patriot contemporaries were building a mythology of noble rebels resisting the oppression of an evil empire. And yet this did not happen.

Canada’s artists and writers in the century following 1783 found nothing inspirational in loyalist history. (Look in vain for statues or portraits of loyalists who are regarded as heroes in New Brunswick and Ontario. They simply do not exist.) There is nothing in Canadian literature regarding the loyalists that begins to approach the poetry and prose written about American patriots.

To his credit, Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander in chief who oversaw the evacuation of loyalist refugees from the United States in 1783, recognized the sacrifice and courage of these underappreciated Americans. As Lord Dorchester, the governor general of British North America, Carleton issued a proclamation in 1789 that awarded a hereditary title to every descendant of “those loyalists who have adhered to the Unity of the Empire and joined the royal standard before the treaty of separation”. However, this title was given to all loyalists and their descendants. No particular refugees were singled out as deserving of particular recognition. Individuals were not honoured as heroes.

The mystery of why loyalists and their descendants failed to designate particular men and women as their heroes in the years following the American Revolution remains unsolved. Were they so scarred by being driven from their homes that they could not appreciate the heroes in their midst? Was the revolution something that they desperately wanted to forget — and so they purposely decided not to honour those who died in the service of their king? Did circumstances force the loyalists into a form of “group think” * that preoccupied them with surviving in the wilderness, recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and seeking compensation rather than recognizing their heroes — a preoccupation that gave them a herd mentality**, stifling the very human penchant for singling out individuals for special attention?

It is a mystery that merits further investigation. In the meantime, join me in next week’s Loyalist Trails to consider some loyal Americans who deserve to share hero status with Joseph Brant — those who are the lost heroes of loyalist history.


* the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

** a mentality characterized by a lack of individual decision-making or thoughtfulness, causing people to think and act in the same way as the majority of those around them.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

JAR: March to Quebec and the Fog of War

(By Ray Raphael; July 21, 2016) On June 13, 1775, writing from Crown Point on Lake Champlain, Benedict Arnold reported to the Continental Congress that Britain had only 550 “effective men” guarding all of Canada. Further, according to his intelligence, “great numbers of the Canadians” were “determined to join us whenever we appear in the Country with any force to support them.” Why not take advantage of the situation, before Britain could send reinforcements? “If the honourable Congress should think proper to take possession of Montreal and Quebeck, I am positive two thousand men might very easily effect it …. I beg leave to add, that if no person appears who will undertake to carry the plan into execution, (if thought advisable,) I will undertake, and, with the smiles of Heaven, answer for the success of it, provided I am supplied with men, &c, to carry it into, execution without loss of time.”

Congress liked the idea but chose Philip Schuyler, not Arnold, to lead the expedition. Arnold would not be left out, however. George Washington soon gave him command of a second invading force, “a Detachment of 1000 or 1200 Men” that would proceed through Maine, upstream along the Kennebec River until it reached the St. Lawrence watershed. This would “make a Diversion,” Washington explained to Schuyler, forcing the British Gen. Guy Carlton to “break up” his forces. Read more.

The Impossible Task of Subduing the Colonies

Today’s selection — from The War for America by Piers Mackesy. Some scholars believe that England never had much chance to prevail in the 1776 American Revolution. First and foremost, Britain was spread thin militarily in securing a global empire, and if it overcommitted troops to America it would leave itself vulnerable to an attack from the French and Spanish in Europe. In fact, after the Americans prevailed early in the Revolutionary War at a battle in Saratoga, the French seized the opportunity and entered into war against their old nemesis, and there was an immediate call for a reprioritization of military resources for this new war against France. Furthermore, the British could never contemplate total war against the Americans since the goal was not destruction but reconciliation. Perhaps the biggest obstacle was a shortage of manpower — a problem occasionally and temporarily overcome with the purchase of foreign mercenaries — and the herculean task of sending and supplying troops to a destination 3000 miles away. Read more.

Where in the World?

Where are Nancy Conn (Gov. Simcoe Branch), Linda Young and Diane Reid (Toronto Branch)?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • On Tuesday, August 2, 2016 starting at 6:00 PM at the Fort Plain Museum located at 389 Canal Street in Fort Plain for a commemoration/memorial of the August 2, 1780 raid on Canajohary. Immediately following the commemoration, Wayne Lenig, a member of the Fort Plain Museum Board of Trustees, will give a detailed presentation about the 1780 Raid of Canajohary starting at 7:00 PM. The Museum will also provide light refreshments and free tours will be available. Original accounts of the August 2nd raid began appearing in major newspapers about two weeks after the attack. A London newspaper dated October 21, 1780 reprinted an August 17, 1780 article from Pennsylvania Gazette which stated the following: “accounts of the damage done by the motley allies of Great Britain, up the Mohawk River, are very imperfect. It is reported they have burnt the principal part of Canajohary, a fine settlement about 36 miles from Albany.” Another accounted dated September 9, 1780 stated the following: “At the fort now called fort Ransalaer (Fort Plain), Sir John Johnson and Captain Brant have burnt 51 houses, 42 barns, 17 killed, and 52 prisoners.” For further information, call 518-774-5669 or email fortplainmuseum@yahoo.com. You can also check us out on Facebook under “Fort Plain Museum”.
  • Her Majesty the Queen has reached her 90th birthday. It seems appropriate to celebrate Her Majesty’s gifts of service, dedication, loyalty and love for our Nation as our Head of State. A committee has organized a community Garden Party in Victoria Park Kitchener on 13 August 2016, 2 – 4:00pm to commemorate and celebrate her birthday. Tickets are $5, $10 for a family. Contact queengardenparty@gmail.comsee flyer.
  • Monday 8 August, 7 pm — Community Room, William Callbeck Centre, Central Bedeque. Paul H. Schurman, the well-known former broadcaster, will give an illustrated talk about the events that led to the building of the Loyalist monument in Central Bedeque in 1985 and the persons involved. He will show many photographs of the building of the monument and of the official and festive events connected with its unveiling.
  • Monday 15 August, 7 pm — Community Room, William Callbeck Centre, Central Bedeque. David Walker, Loyalist historian and BAHS member, will reprise the talk that he gave to the national conference of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada in Summerside in July. Titled ‘Researching Loyalists on Prince Edward Island‘, David will describe resources on P.E.I., on-line and on-site, for researching your Loyalist interests. He will also suggest procedures for documenting cemeteries. A selection of Loyalist-related books from the David’s personal library will be available to peruse.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • On July 11, 1976, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Old State House in Boston. Her remarks included: “If Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and other patriots could have known that one day a British Monarch would stand beneath the balcony of the Old State House from which the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston and be greeted by the mayor and others in such kind and generous words – I think they would have been extremely surprised. But perhaps they would have been pleased…. (photo). (click on graphic to separate the two parts)
  • William Jarvis’ 1791 Queens Rangers uniform being photographed before going to Tort York, Toronto, visitor centre.
  • Brian McConnell UE, President Nova Scotia Branch, visits U.E.L. Museum at Adolphustown, Ontario and has a ride M.V. Quinte Loyalist
  • Today’s recipe is from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, “American Cookery.” These delicious pancakes were called “Indian Slapjacks” because the recipe used cornmeal (called “Indian corn” in the 18th century) in addition to wheat flour. Watch video.

Last Post

AVERY, Reverend Ainslie “Ibbs” UC CD BA M.Div. Ibbs passed away on May 27th, 2016 at the age of 90 years. Ibbs left the following remembrances: Ainslie Ibbs and his identical twin, Charles Ian were born in Shackleton, Saskatchewan. Ibbs was born September 10th, 1925. Ian was born one day later. Their Dad was a general merchant, their mother a former school teacher. The great depression drove the Avery’s north to Paddockwood in 1931. The twins reached the nearest one room school, a mile and a half away by dog team in the winter and spent summers at the family’s Emma Lake cottage. Both Ian and Ibbs played hockey and fast ball.

Shortly after completing their last years of school in Regina, both joined the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve and entered World War II along with tens of thousands of their fellow Canadians. Ibbs served on the H.M.C.S Whitby, crossing the Atlantic on convoy duty, Ian served on the H.M.C.S Ontario.

On Feb. 25, 1950 Ibbs married the love of his life, Minnie Christina Goplen, R.N. in St. James United Church, Montreal. Six months later, they returned to Saskatchewan where Ibbs took his theological training. Four sons and a daughter followed as the family moved from Dundurn, to Norway House, St. Aidan’s (Victoria, BC), Knox United (Prince George, BC), St. John’s United (Pointe Claire, Quebec) and City View United (Ottawa). Ibbs enjoyed the outdoors lifestyle tremendously during his time in Norway House and Prince George – travelling by dog team in the winter and canoe in the summer at Norway House and managing a scout troop in Prince George – camping in the snow included. Ibbs said that each of these postings was a glorious little touch of heaven.

Ibbs and Min retired to their beloved Victoria in 1987, a long cherished dream, but before bowing out from active preaching for good, they served at the Ahousat First Nation reserve near Port Alberni for several years. In Ibbs’ words “It’s been a glorious ministry, thanks to God’s continual blessings, and a perfect wife.” Dad was proud to be a member of the Saltaire’s, the Sons of Norway and the United Empire Loyalists. He received his Loyalist certificate from the Sir Guy Carleton Branch in 1983, having proved his descent from William Avery. A long time member, he also served as President of the Victoria Branch.

Left to mourn Ibb’s passing, is his loving wife Minnie, her sisters Jenny Gjesdahl and Elsie McLeod, sons John (Nancy), Cameron (Laurie), Howard (Sheila), David (Meow) and daughter Lonni-Marie (Michael), and many grandchildren. Ibbs’ funeral was held at St. Aidan’s United Church, Victoria, BC on June 30th.

…Karen Borden, UE

Gene passed away suddenly at the end of his 85th year. He leaves behind his beloved and adoring wife of 59 years, Barbara, and his children Heather Vouvalidis (husband John), Ann and Geoffrey, his much-loved grandchildren Erik, Jennifer and Blythe, and lots and lots of books. He will be dearly missed by Barbara’s sisters’ families.

Retiring in 1989, his career as a high school History teacher began at Wheable, then moved to Lucas and ended at Oakridge. Born in Tweed, Ont, he lived in Sulphide, Valleyfield, Que, Niagara Falls and Deep River before attending the University of Western Ontario where he met Barb.

He was a proud United Empire Loyalist, served on the executive of the London Branch UELAC, and a faithful member of First-St. Andrew’s United Church. His family and friends knew him to be articulate, loyal, and compassionate. He was a gentleman. Visitation on Monday from 7 – 9 pm at HARRIS FUNERAL HOME , 220 St. James St. at Richmond. The funeral service will be conducted at First-St. Andrew’s United Church, 350 Queen’s Ave. at Waterloo St., on Tuesday, July 26 at 11 am, with visitation preceding at the church from 10 – 11 am. Interment at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to First-St. Andrew’s United Church.

…Carol Childs, London and Western Ontario Branch

Surrounded by his immediate family, Frank passed away peacefully on 10 July 2016. Born on 24 November 1937 in Niagara Falls, a proud descendant of loyalist stock, Frank moved to Windsor in 1957. A dedicated union leader and member of Local 200 UAW/CAW, Frank, among other elected posts, served as skilled trade chairperson and as an executive board member. Like the other Frankie sang, Crosswell always did it his way—and always full bore—be it racing stock cars, hunting and fishing, boating, camping, or on the computer. Blissfully married to his bride of 58 years, Marilyn (Pond), they are the proud parents of David Ross (Sue) and James Frank (Sheryl) and grandparents of Jenn and Jason. Frank was preceded in death by his parents—”Flip” and Kathleen—and siblings David (1951) and Suzanne (2012). He is survived by siblings Dan (Karen), Barry, and Anna Marie. Visitation: Families First 1065 Lauzon Rd., East Windsor, 519-969-5841. THURS 14 July, 3-5, 7-9. Memorial: same venue, FRI 15 July, 11 am. Interment: Lundy’s Lane Cemetery, Niagara Falls, at a later date. In lieu of memorials, if so disposed, please direct donations to Hospice of Windsor and Essex County. Share memories, photos or make a donation at www.FamiliesFirst.ca.

Frank received his UEL certificate through ancestor Lt. Daniel Shannon on August 18, 2008. This was done with the Col. John Butler Branch although Frank and his wife Marilyn became members of the Bicentennial Branch and attended meetings there.

…Margie Luffman U.E. for the Bicentennial Branch


Seagoing Loyalists and the Royal Navy

Dr. Bonnie Huskins of the Loyalist Research Network (LRN) received this query: The historian Tom Allen is working on a chapter about seagoing Loyalists for a book, “Yankees in Nelson’s Navy,” for the U.S. Naval Institute. Does anyone know of Loyalists who joined the Royal Navy? The only book he has found is “Nelson’s Yankee Captain,” (Boston Loyalist Benjamin Hallowell).” If you can help Tom, his email address is tballen@tballen.com; more about Tom at the LRN site.