Peace and Plenty
Hosted by Brenda and Bill Miller, 3515 Longwoods Road, Glencoe, Southwest Middlesex, ON
The Empire Loyalists dreamed of Peace and Plenty. Most had come from the British Isles and Europe to seek a new life in the Thirteen Colonies. They sought personal freedom, freedom of religion, and the freedom to own land — a privilege often limited to the rich.
Then came the American Revolution and the dream of Peace and Plenty was put on hold. After the war, life for those loyal to the British Crown became intolerable. Viewed with suspicion, Loyalst families were harrassed. Many were forced to leave property,possessions, family and friends.
For their loyalty and military service, Britain granted them land in Upper Canada. Carrying their few possessions and tools, they came to a wilderness that had only recently been opened
to settlement. There were no towns, villages or roads. The early settlers received the most desirable land along the Thames River. For a few years, the Loyalists lived in a time of relative peace, carving a life out of the dense forest.
This same river that was considered such an asset would bring war, this time to their very doorstep. The War of 1812 brought two and a half years of fear and anxiety to the Thames river valley. Settlers devised ingenious ways to hide food and valuables from travelling strangers. This war declared by politicians and governmentswas far removed from the Thames but the settlers bore the brunt of it. Men were called to the local militia ill-equipped and shoeless. Farms and crops were left in the hands of the women and children.
The Battle of the Thames in October 1813 brought devastation to the river settlements.
Thousands of soldiers, warriors, and refugees passed through, taking what they needed. Fields and farms were ravaged. They had worked all year to produce their meagre provisions for the coming winter and now they had nothing. Famine loomed.
After the war, petitions were made for compensation but it took years to recover from the losse
s. Especially hard hit were widows and orphans. With peace, these same courageous people forged on to rebuild towards their dream of Peace and Plenty.
Canadians today should honour the memories of these stalwart, hardworking Loyalists
who along with First Nations, the French and immigrants from other countries pursued their dreams with great courage and determination. Today we reap the benefits of their efforts for Canada is truly a land of Peace and Plenty.
Written by By Chris Crawford
Sources:The Valley of the Lower Thames byFred Coyne Hamil
Romantic Kent by Victor Lauriston
Greater Evils:The War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario by Glenn Stott
When Chatham Was Woods,Reminiscences of the Pioneers by John Rhodes
There was a Time by Jim and Lisa Gilbert