Over twelve thousand Loyalists, largely drawn from the disbanded loyal regiments of the old colonies, settled in New Brunswick. The name of Parrtown was first given, in honour of the governor of Nova Scotia, to the infant settlement which became the city of St. John, in 1785, when it was incorporated. The first landing of the loyal pioneers took place on the 18th of May, 1783, at what is now the Market Slip of this interesting city. Previous to 1783, the total population of the province did not exceed seven hundred souls, chiefly at Maugerville and other places on the great river. The number of Loyalists who settled on the St. John River was at least ten thousand, of whom the greater proportion were established at the mouth of the river, which was the base of operations for the peopling of the new province. Some adventurous spirits took possession of the abandoned French settlements at Grimross and St. Anne’s, where they repaired some ruined huts of the original Acadian occupants, or built temporary cabins. This was the beginning of the settlement of Fredericton, which four years later became the political capital on account of its central position, its greater security in time of war, and its location on the land route to Quebec. Many of the people spent their first winter in log-huts, bark camps, and tents covered with spruce, or rendered habitable only by the heavy banks of snow which were piled against them. A number of persons died through exposure, and “strong, proud men”—to quote the words of one who lived in those sorrowful days—“wept like children and lay down in their snow-bound tents to die.”
A small number of loyal refugees had found their way to the valley of the St. Lawrence as early as 1778, and obtained employment in the regiments organised under Sir John Johnson and others. It was not until 1783 and 1784 that the large proportion of the exiles came to Western Canada. They settled chiefly on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence, in what are now the counties of Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville, Leeds, Frontenac, Addington, Lennox, Hastings and Prince Edward, where their descendants have acquired wealth and positions of honour and trust. The first township laid out in Upper Canada, now Ontario, was Kingston. The beautiful Bay of Quinte is surrounded by a country full of the memories of this people, and the same is true of the picturesque district of Niagara.
Among the Loyalists of Canada must also be honourably mentioned Joseph Brant (Thayendanega), the astute and courageous chief of the Mohawks, the bravest nation of the Iroquois confederacy, who fought on the side of England during the war. At its close he and his people settled in Canada, where they received large grants from the government, some in a township by the Bay of Quinte, which still bears the Indian title of the great warrior, and the majority on the Grand River, where a beautiful city and county perpetuate the memory of this loyal subject of the British crown. The first Anglican church built in Upper Canada was that of the Mohawks, near Brantford, and here the church bell first broke the silence of the illimitable forest.