History of the Settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario)
History of the Settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario). Subtitle: With special reference to the Bay of Quinte
Here is a fascinating and informative study of the settlers in Canada. Written, in 1869, by William Canniff, a medical doctor with a passion for Canadian history, it is one of many books he wrote about history and medicine. If there were one criticism to be made about this book it is that it lacks a certain focus - if you happen to consider this a shortfall. In our view - while making the book a little hard to follow in places - Williams willingness to explore all the sidetracks and byways his research took him into more than make up for any lack of a more restrictive and confining "focus." In his Preface, William admits that he started out to study just the settlement in the Bay of Quinté area but found it impossible to properly treat his subject in such narrow confines.
For instance in his opening paragraphs there is an insightful study of the motivations and consequences of the American War of Independence as a source of "Canadian" settlers, in their desire to escape persecution for their loyalties to Britain. In fact these so called Empire Loyalists, both individually and as a group, are a major and recurring topic throughout the book forming, as they did, the early core of settlers in the undeveloped Upper Canada area.
Nor are the aboriginal Indians ignored. As a group they suffered at least equal persecution in the US and so also desired new grounds where they could live and raise their families in peace and security. Upper Canada filled this need and while they didn't receive the same recognition as the "white" loyalists by the British, they were at least granted settlement lands.
One could be forgiven for assuming that a subject such as this, when it ranges widely over geography and time, would be impersonal, and written with an eye to the "grand events." William though had the insight to realize that the story is about the individual at least as much as about the Country so throughout this book you will find that every subject is examined for the impact on the individual and this impact is illustrated with countless snatches of the personal histories of early settlers and their families. It would be a truly heroic task to manually index all the individuals William manages to weave into his story so it is fortunate indeed that our computer search-ability provides complete access to all the personal histories laid out for us here.
As a bonus for those whose primary interest in the book is their own ancestral connections, the last chapter is devoted to recording known facts from the family histories of many settling United Empire Loyalists. This is closely followed by an appendix supplying a complete listing of the Roll of the 2nd. Battalion King's Royal Regiment, New York, on 28th February 1784.
For a complementary, and equally edifying book on the administration of Upper Canada Settlement we recommend, "Land Settlement in Upper Canada 1783-1840 ," our catalogue number CA0227.
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