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Inventing the Loyalists

Inventing the Loyalists: The Ontario Loyalist Tradition and the Creation of Usable Pasts

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 256
  • Book Info
    Inventing the Loyalists
    Book Description:

    Showing that the past is often written into present concerns, and that many groups in Ontario, both powerful and disempowered, have invoked the experience of the Loyalists, Knowles significantly revises earlier interpretations of the Loyalist tradition.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7629-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    Throughout the summer of 1884 celebrations were held across Ontario to commemorate the centennial of the settlement of the province by the United Empire Loyalists. During these celebrations the Loyalists were remembered variously as the province’s first settlers, hard-working pioneers, principled defenders of the British Empire and constitution, persecuted refugees, and members of an educated and cultured elite. Twelve years later, Loyalist descendants founded the United Empire Loyalist Association to preserve the history and to defend the traditions of their ancestors. The years between the 1884 celebrations and the First World War witnessed the publication of an extensive body of...

  5. 1 ‘Chiefly landholders, farmers, and others’: The Loyalist Reality
    (pp. 14-25)

    In his 1861 workThe History of the Settlement of Upper Canada, the Belleville physician and amateur historian William Canniff described the United Empire Loyalist as ‘one who advocated, or wished to have maintained, the unity of the British Empire’ and ‘who felt as much a Briton in the colony of America, as if he were in old England.’ Guided by ‘higher motives,’ Canniff proclaimed, many of ‘this noble class relinquished comfortable homes, rather than live under an alien flag’ and ‘preferred, above all measure, to enter a wilderness and hew out a new home.’ They would live anywhere, endure...

  6. 2 ‘An ancestry of which any people might be proud’: Official History, the Vernacular Past, and the Shaping of the Loyalist Tradition at Mid-Century
    (pp. 26-47)

    ‘No people,’ the TorontoGlobeobserved in October of 1856, ‘has made a figure in the life of nations, without its heroes.’ Fortunately, Upper Canada could claim heroic foundations. ‘United Empire Loyalists,’ theGlobeasserted, ‘form an ancestry of which any people might be proud. They had every characteristic which can go to constitute an enduring substratum for a coming nation.’ It was a matter of considerable concern to theGlobe, however, that Upper Canadians displayed a decided ‘ignorance’ and ‘indifference’ towards the province’s ‘Loyalist Fathers.’ ‘No ignorance of history,’ theGlobewarned, ‘can be more reprehensible than that which...

  7. 3 ‘Loyalism is not dead in Adolphustown’: Community Factionalism and the Adolphustown Loyalist Centennial Celebrations of 1884
    (pp. 48-66)

    Throughout the summer of 1884 celebrations were held in Adolphustown, Toronto, and Niagara to commemorate the centennial of the settlement of the Loyalists in what is now Ontario. In the past, historians have frequently looked to the celebrations surrounding significant anniversaries of individuals and events to provide insight into the mind-set of a period or people. Treated in this fashion, celebrations often appear as public expressions of a widely accepted popular consensus. This approach has been challenged in recent years by historians such as Eric Hobsbawm and George Mosse who interpret such events as exercises in political and cultural hegemony....

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 ‘A sacred trust’: The 1884 Toronto, Niagara, and Six Nations Loyalist Centennial Celebrations and the Politics of Commemoration
    (pp. 67-90)

    On the morning of 3 July 1884 hundreds of Torontonians gathered at the city’s horticultural pavilion to commemorate the centennial of the settlement of the province by the Loyalists. Between speeches delivered by William Canniff, Senator George W. Allan, Lieutenant-Colonel George Taylor Denison, and Chief Sampson Green of the Six Nations reserve at Tyendinaga, the crowd joined in singing ‘Rule Britannia,’ ‘Who’s for the Queen?’ and ‘If England to Herself Be True.’ Charlotte Morrison recited Rev. LeRoy Hooker’s poem ‘The United Empire Loyalists’ and Etheline Kittson’s poem ‘Loyalist Days.’ The proceedings concluded with a benediction by Rt Rev. T.B. Fuller,...

  10. 5 ‘Fairy tales in the guise of history’: The Loyalists in Ontario Publications, 1884–1918
    (pp. 91-114)

    In the years following the 1884 Loyalist centennial celebrations a plethora of publications dealing with the Loyalists appeared. The large volume of Loyalist publications reflected an unprecedented interest in the Loyalist past, which did not begin to subside until the end of the First World War. Although commemorative celebrations temporarily caught the public’s attention and received considerable coverage in the press, it was political pamphlets, textbooks, local histories, and genealogies that were the principal means by which the Loyalist tradition was sustained and disseminated to the public. The wide range of material published during this period provides considerable insight into...

  11. 6 ‘Object lessons’: Loyalist Monuments and the Creation of Usable Pasts
    (pp. 115-138)

    The years between the 1884 centennial celebrations and the First World War saw the erection of a number of public monuments commemorating individuals associated with Ontario’s Loyalist past. The significance of these monuments has largely been ignored by historians.¹ Such neglect is surprising given the importance attached to such memorials by their contemporaries. A circular addressed to prospective members of the Ontario Historical Society observed in 1901 that ‘there is nothing better [than monuments] to promote patriotism’ and ‘their educational influence can hardly be overestimated.’ Monuments, the circular declared, ‘are at once an index to the character of a people...

  12. 7 ‘A further and more enduring mark of honour’: The Middle Class and the United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario, 1896–1914
    (pp. 139-162)

    ‘This is an age of societies and combinations,’ observed William Hamilton Merritt, the secretary-treasurer of the newly formed United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario, in 1896.¹ As North America evolved into an urban and industrial society in the final decades of the nineteenth century, numerous historical, patriotic, and hereditary organizations were created. Economic growth produced a level of prosperity sufficient to facilitate associational activity on a broad scale. At the same time the wide scope of the social and economic changes created both a sense of anxiety about the present and a nostalgia for a simpler, more stable past. Confronted...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 163-172)

    The Loyalist tradition occupied a prominent place in the social and political discourse of Upper Canada and Ontario in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most studies characterize the Loyalist tradition as a static body of beliefs and assumptions carried by the Loyalist pioneers and passed on to succeeding generations. The Loyalist tradition was in fact much more fluid. Shaped and reshaped by the political, social, and economic currents affecting successive generations, the Loyalist tradition evolved with changing concerns and conditions. This study has demonstrated the ways in which the Loyalist past was constructed and remade by various groups interested...

  14. APPENDIX I The Adolphustown Loyalist Centennial Committee, 1884
    (pp. 175-175)
  15. APPENDIX II The Committee of Management of the 1884 Toronto Loyalist Centennial Celebrations
    (pp. 176-177)
  16. APPENDIX III General Membership, United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario, 1896–1913: Sex, Religious Affiliation, Political Affiliation, Occupation
    (pp. 178-179)
  17. APPENDIX IV Officers: United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario, 1896–1913: Sex, Religious Affiliation, Political Affiliation, Occupation
    (pp. 180-181)
  18. APPENDIX V Membership: United Empire Loyalist Association of Ontario, 1896–1916
    (pp. 182-182)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 183-212)
  20. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 213-234)
  21. Picture Credits
    (pp. 235-236)
  22. Index
    (pp. 237-244)