View Full Version : Canadians with American ancestry: What is your story?

10-12-2016, 04:58 PM
I've noticed a few Canadian members on here have added American flags to their ethnic identity thingamajig. What is the story there?

10-13-2016, 02:47 AM
Well, historically, the Tories/Loyalists moved to Canada after the Revolutionary War. They received land in Canada from the Crown to compensate for their loss in the 13 colonies. Or that's what I remember reading somewhere.

10-13-2016, 03:26 PM
This reminds me of a crazy story...

Some years ago, I was working in an Indian Reservation school and one of my colleagues taught the kids the local Native American language. Although his father was a white man, in many ways, he was a traditionalist and wary of white people. Still, we became friends. Knowing I was interested in his background, he brought to school a thick book of genealogy that his dad's family had put together. As I thumbed through the pages, I was stunned to discover he and I were 10th cousins. We both came from an early New England settler family (named Doane) but during the Revolution, his branch of the family had moved to Canada. I can only assume they were United Empire Loyalists. My branch were Patriots. His grandparents had only moved back to the USA in the early years of the 20th Century, if I remember the story correctly. The plot thickened when my son married a local Native girl. Their son my grandson was not only related to my friend through the white side of his family but turned out to be also related through his Native mother.

10-13-2016, 04:57 PM
don't forget, getting to North America often had to do with which Port had the cheapest tickets for the voyage, so some of the movement between the US and Canada was a purly practicle affair

....I know for a few decades in the 1800's, Montreal had the cheapest prices of all north america so many came there, and then traveled by land to where ever their kin had settled, including the states

as a reverse, due to researching my own Whalens and Collins emmigration, I also know some protestant Irish families from Tipperary Co., long before the potato famine had come to Canada (Ont.) on a couple of British Gov. immigration schemes-they settled in the Ottawa and Toronto area
-key to the OP post, the next generation of thiers in Ireland found the cheapest tickets to NA in some American ports, (Philadelphia was a big one for a while) and so they sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia and then traveled up to Canada via the 'corduroy log road' that the infamous General Benedict made when he invaded Canada 50 years earlier during the American Revolutionary War

as for my lines, my fathers mothers line (Holley), seems to have had 3 brothers immigrate from Ireland to N.A., with 2 branches going to the US and one going to Canada...a generation later, it seems the Ontario one was clearly the more successful and one, if not more branches of the Holley family (including my specific one) moved from the Pennsylvania area to western Ontario area

anyway, the main point of this post is a reminder that I believe many of our ancestors that emigrated from the 'old country' to N.A. were very very pragmatic, and things like cheapest ticket & most successful bunch of kin already moved were critical for much of the later movement.

Of course, the previous point about Loyalists is quite correct, a large influx of people did come to Canada after the Crown lost the US revolutionary war
...sometimes the number or influence of the 'loyalist's' in Canada is a bit overstated I think, as that is really more a 'pockets of southern Ontario' thing in my experience

no one in my neck of the woods ever talked about or gave a damn about the Loyalist experience, but when I moved to Southern Ontario for University, I started to notice there were some area's were that was a big deal...in part due to US invasions in the 1812 war and such I think (the Windsor Ontario area for instance)

what is still fascinating to me is how moving huge distances seemed to be a 'normal' thing for many of our ancestors, and that they would pick up their whole family and move hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles with only the most rudimentary of transportation
...as a small example, I know a oxen wagon train of over 50 of my kin moved several hundred kilometers in 1851, from the Ottawa Valley to the shores of Lake Huron in Western Ontario, mostly through rough bush roads or game trails they had to hack through
...I have a wonderful contemporary letter from one who was on the trek retelling the story and the most interesting detail was they were fairly pleased that they only lost '1 little girl' during the several month trek, due to Indians or wild animals, they weren't sure which.


10-13-2016, 06:34 PM
Only one of my American lines was Loyalist while the others came later (late 18th/early 19th centuries), mainly for the free land which the Canadian, i.e. British, government offered Americans, though one came because he was originally born in England and found Canadian life more English-like and familiar than American.

In the early 19th century the government was attempting to suppress what was a French-speaking majority in the settled parts of the nation by importing English-speaking farmers en masse, including a huge number of Americans. These are sometimes referred to disparagingly as "late Loyalists." My 3rd great-grandfather ended up dying of wounds in the War of 1812, in which he was a reluctant participant, having been born in Massachusetts and immigrating from the US only a decade before. His wife and half his children were also American by birth, having been born in upstate NY/VT, while the younger ones were born just south of the island of Montreal. He literally fought in a war against some of his brothers, and his father had been a veteran of the US War of Independence/American Revolution. But having said Yes to the free farm, he could not say No to the war, since loyalty to the British monarch was a prerequisite for the land.

11-09-2016, 11:46 AM
Well, historically, the Tories/Loyalists moved to Canada after the Revolutionary War. They received land in Canada from the Crown to compensate for their loss in the 13 colonies. Or that's what I remember reading somewhere.

Compensate is a novel term unfortunately. As a friend can attest, as it happened to his own ancestors, a number of Canadians had their land fragmented or outright taken from them to make room for the Loyalists. Some would call it theft and that doesn't quite look pretty in the history books.