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Present-day monument by <a href="/content/Sydney_March" style="color:blue">Sydney March</a> to the United Empire Loyalists in <a href="/content/Hamilton,_Ontario" style="color:blue">Hamilton, Ontario</a>
Present-day monument by Sydney March to the United Empire Loyalists in Hamilton, Ontario

United Empire Loyalists (or just Loyalists) is an honorific given in 1799 by Lord Dorchester, the governor of Quebec and Governor-general of British North America, to American Loyalists who resettled in British North America during or after the American Revolution.

They settled primarily in Nova Scotia, the Province of Quebec (including the Eastern Townships and modern-day Ontario), and New Brunswick.


Following the end of the Revolution and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, both Loyalist soldiers and civilians were evacuated from New York City, most heading for Canada.

The Crown-allotted land in Canada was sometimes allotted according to which Loyalist regiment a man had fought in.

An unknown but substantial number of individuals did not stay; they eventually returned to the United States.


The arrival of the Loyalists after the Revolutionary War led to the division of Canada into the provinces of Upper Canada (what is now southern Ontario) and Lower Canada (today's southern Quebec).

Loyalists soon petitioned the government to be allowed to use the British legal system, which they were accustomed to in the American colonies, rather than the French system.

Realizing the importance of some type of recognition, on 9 November 1789, Lord Dorchester, the governor of Quebec and Governor General of British North America, declared "that it was his Wish to put the mark of Honour upon the Families who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire".

Because most of the nations of the Iroquois had allied with the British, which had ceded their lands to the United States, thousands of Iroquois and other pro-British Native Americans were expelled from New York and other states.

The government settled some 3,500 Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but they faced discrimination and inadequate support.

When Great Britain set up the colony of Sierra Leone in Africa, nearly 1300 Black Loyalists emigrated there in 1792 for the promise of self-government.

Numerous Loyalists had been forced to abandon substantial amounts of property in the United States.


Slave-owning Loyalists from across the former Thirteen Colonies brought their slaves with them to Canada, as the practice was still legal there.

The settlers eventually freed many of these slaves.

War of 1812

In Canada, the War of 1812 is considered a victory.

After the war, the British government transported to New Brunswick and settled about 400 of 3000 former slaves from the United States whom they freed during and after the war.


While the honorific"United Empire Loyalist" is not part of the official Canadian honours system, modern-day descendants of Loyalist refugees may employ it, sometimes using "U.E."

The influence of the Loyalists on the evolution of Canada remains evident.

The word "Loyalist" appears frequently in school, street, and business names in such Loyalist-settled communities as Belleville, Ontario.

On 1 July 1934, Canada Post issued "United Empire Loyalists, 1776–1784" designed by Robert Bruce McCracken based on a sculpture "United Empire Loyalists" by Sydney March.

In 1996, Canadian politicians Peter Milliken (a descendant of American Loyalists) and John Godfrey sponsored the Godfrey-Milliken Bill, which would have entitled Loyalist descendants to reclaim ancestral property in the United States which had been confiscated during the American Revolution.

In 1997, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed a bill declaring 19 June, "United Empire Loyalist Day" in the province of Ontario.

Memory and historiography

The Loyalists paid attention to their history, developing an image of themselves that they took great pride in.

According to Margaret Conrad and Alvin Finkel, Coyne's memorial incorporates essential themes that have often been incorporated into patriotic celebrations.

Conrad and Finkel point up some exaggerations.

From the 1870s their descendants returned to the United States in the hundreds of thousands to settle all over the US.


In Canadian heraldry, Loyalist descendants are entitled to use a Loyalist coronet in their coat of arms.

List of Loyalist settlements in Canada

18th-century names are listed first, alongside their present-day equivalents.

See also

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