A collaborative genealogy of VanValkenburgh branches in Canada
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Post-Revolution Migration to Canada & Settlement

Some factors that brought VanValkenburgs to Canada

Most of the New York State VV families who came to Canada, came as political refugees during and following the American Revolution.  However, not all migrants to Upper and Lower Canada were Loyalists - some were groups of settlers who wished to receive free land grants for the British Government's purpose of establishing 'instant communities' along the new borders.  Some settlers were captives who had been taken during the war for prisoner exchanges and had no sources of support to return to - these "Patriots" were sheltered in the same "refugee camps" as Loyalist families (perhaps some were cousins).  Clues regarding origins within the States may be found in Land Petitions, military records and refugee camp provision lists.  Disbanded military settlers tended to be allocated land with others of the same regiments when finally settled in 1784.

The VV's / Vollicks who made petitions for land seemed to have been from the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys.  From the Schoharie area were VV's with Palatine heritage who spoke German and were Lutheran.  An 1885 book "Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884" describes the most common Loyalist routes to Canada:



The map below shows some important locations, as well as a fourth route - along which captives were marched to Niagara to be used for prisoner exchanges ... via the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers through the various Indian Castles in the Wyoming Valley and the Finger Lakes areas. 


[See a larger map]


For a general history of United Empire Loyalists: 

The Chronicles of Canada, 1915 


Apparently, Loyalist families were instructed to make their ways to the temporary settlements at Sorel, Chambly, etc. near Montreal.  It seems that some Loyalist families did not see the need to remove so far north, and tended to stay near the forts where their men were stationed, in fact, according to the KRRNY (Royal Yorkers) website

 " the end of the American Revolution the Mohawk valley was battered and useless.  Anything north of the valley was clearly under British control.  The reality of this fact should not be lost upon us in modern times.  Imagine Northern New York being a part of Canada today!  Imagine the shock and despair of the loyalists and Six Nations at discovering their lands had been written off ... With the Treaty of Paris which ended the war, all of the areas which the Yorkers and others had fought for were lost with a stroke of a pen..." 

Settlements had been established and homes and mills built around Lake Champlain (Alburgh, Stanwick) which was now, incredibly, on the 'wrong side'.  At least two branches of the VV family were found in Lower Canada on the new border at Mississquoi Bay, wishing to remain there in the settlements they had established.  With heavy pressure to move to the Upper Canada townships set aside by the government, it seems after some time, one VV did move to Ernestown and only then made an application for free land as a Loyalist, whereas the other was able to stay in Quebec.


Loyalist and other Settlement in Quebec
Loyalists in the Eastern Townships (Quebec)
The earliest house still standing in Mississquoi Bay area
The "Associate" system of land petitions in Lower Canada
Museum in Stanbridge East: Keeping Loyalist Memories Alive


Loyalist bands were "raised" within the home areas / estates of their organizers, and then added to / reorganized as the war progressed "on location", so tracing an ancestor's origins by military association is not foolproof.  Here are some notes and links on the various Loyalist militias and where they were settled.

To me, it is still not clear on how being declared an "enemy of the State" impacted family relations across borders.  An edict such as this Bill of Attainder against NY Loyalists is pretty clear - "and don't come back".  Yet many sons and daughters of Loyalists remained in the States until married and ready to claim the lands provided for them in Canada, and it seems that many children of Loyalists were baptized and married in their home churches in New York state well past the end of the Revolution.  Of the accounts told after the war, mention is made of family visits with memorably bad weather for the journey.  Having interviewed a number of UEL historians, it seems that a 200 acres land grant wasn't such a huge deal, as much as desiring to be settled nearby one's relatives and friends with lots of room to spread out as the generations unfolded.  Peel County historian Willam Perkins Bull definitely stated this to be the case of the sons and daughters of UEL in the Niagara area choosing to take up land claims as a group in the newly opened tracts near York.


Helpful for Further Research:



Olive Tree Genealogy:  Finding Your Loyalist Ancestor  Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five 

Bill Martin's Early Ontario (search) 




Lake Champlain / Upper Hudson 1775  

Eastern Ontario and Northern New York following the American-British War of 1775-1783  

New York Frontier in Revolution

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