For seventy-five years the Loyalists continued to agitate for justice. As early as 1790 the island legislature passed an act empowering the governor to give grants to those who had not yet received them from the proprietors. But this measure did not entirely redress the grievances, and after a lapse of fifty years a petition of the descendants of the Loyalists led to further action in the matter. In 1840 a bill was passed by the House of Assembly granting relief to the Loyalists, but was thrown out by the Legislative Council. As late as 1860 the question was still troubling the island politics. In that year a land commission was appointed, which reported that there were Loyalists who still had claims on the local government, and recommended that free grants should be made to such as could prove that their fathers had been attracted to the island under promises which had never been fulfilled.
Such is the unlovely story of how the Loyalists were persecuted in the Island of St John, under the British flag.
THE LOYALISTS IN QUEBEC
It was a tribute to the stability of British rule in the newly-won province of Quebec that at the very beginning of the Revolutionary War loyal refugees began to flock across the border. As early as June 2, 1774, Colonel Christie, stationed at St Johns on the Richelieu, wrote to Sir Frederick Haldimand at Quebec notifying him of the arrival of immigrants; and it is interesting to note that at that early date he already complained of ’their unreasonable expectations.’ In the years 1775 and 1776 large bodies of persecuted Loyalists from the Mohawk valley came north with Sir John Johnson and Colonel Butler; and in these years was formed in Canada the first of the Loyalist regiments. It was not, however, until the defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1778 that the full tide of immigration set in. Immediately thereafter Haldimand wrote to Lord George Germain, under date of October 14, 1778, reporting the arrival of ’loyalists in great distress,’ seeking refuge from the revolted provinces. Haldimand lost no time in making provision for their reception. He established a settlement for them at Machiche, near Three Rivers, which he placed under the superintendence of a compatriot and a protege of his named Conrad Gugy. The captains of militia in the neighbourhood were ordered to help build barracks for the refugees, provisions were secured from the merchants at Three Rivers, and everything in reason was done to make the unfortunates comfortable. By the autumn of 1778 there were in Canada, at Machiche and other places, more than one thousand refugees, men, women, and children, exclusive of those who had enlisted in the regiments. Including the troops, probably no less than three thousand had found their way to Canada.