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Consolidating British Rule, Loyalist Immigration

The British were immediately confronted with a dramatic increase in population. Some 40,000 Loyalists—people from 13 colonies who were loyal to Britain—came as refugees during and immediately after the revolution. Others, called late Loyalists, arrived in subsequent years. Some of the Loyalists were former members of the urban elite of the 13 colonies, but most were ordinary farmers or townspeople. A tenth of the Loyalists in Atlantic Canada were blacks, mostly escaped slaves who had joined the British cause. Part of the Iroquois confederacy that had allied itself with Britain also joined the migration. Thayendanegea, or Joseph Brant, founded an Iroquois community on the Grand River north of Lake Erie.

Britain supported Loyalist refugees for several years and provided them with generous land grants in British North America. Almost overnight, Loyalists tripled the population of Nova Scotia. Their arrival caused two new colonies to be carved out of Nova Scotia: New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island (reunited with Nova Scotia in 1820). In Quebec, which received about 10,000 Loyalists, Governor Frederick Haldimand decreed that the English-speaking newcomers should not be merged into the French communities. At his direction, most Loyalists in Quebec migrated in 1784 to new settlements on the upper St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, creating the nucleus of the future Ontario.

 

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