Wallace and Area Museum
Wallace, Nova Scotia

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The United Empire Loyalists of Remsheg; refugees from the American Revolution.

 

 

In the fall of 1782 a preliminary agreement to end the hostilities of the American Revolution was signed between Great Britain, France and the new independent American colonies.

The agreement, referred to as "the Treaty of Paris" was officially signed in September, 1783, and it laid out the principles for peace.

Although American negotiator Benjamin Franklin demanded the cessation of Canada to an independent America, he knew that the British Government of Prime Minister Lord Shelburne was opposed to the American independence and would be unprepared to accept that offer. The months of hard bargaining resulted in a preliminary agreement with the articles for peace.

Primary to the agreement was, the British negotiators agreed to the evacuation of New York City, which was the main British stronghold in the American Colonies.

The preliminary articles of agreement were signed on November 30, 1782. Soon after the preliminary agreement was signed the British patriots urgently became aware of their situation and their potential treatment in the future. British supporters began to hold meetings and signed petitions for land grants in areas still under British rule.

These British supporters, who for many years were the heart of Colonial America, thought they were now being forced to leave for their own safety. Some other reasons for leaving ranged from loyalty to Britain and a rejection of the republican ideals of the American Revolution, to simply the offer of free land in British North America. Many were prominent Americans whose ancestors had originally settled there in the early 17th century. Many had already lost their property, confiscated by the revolutionary Sons of Freedom.

They felt forced to move north, into present day Canada and to other areas of British North America and the British Colonies in the Caribbean for the safety of living under British Rule.

The name, "United Empire Loyalist", is an honorary title, given to those people who were refugees of the American Revolution. Many stories are recorded about these Loyalist people

and their circumstances.

The future "Westchester Refugees" were from just north of New York City, in the County of Westchester. Some of the Westchester Loyalists were granted properties in Remsheg, on a 20,300 acre property of Crown land. The proposed parcel of land was situated on the Northumberland Strait, about 50 miles from Fort Cumberland.

Between 80,000 and 100,000 loyalists migrated from the American Colonies. Approximately 35,000 came to the Maritimes. The Remsheg Grant was for 109 farm lots of about 200 acres each and 239, 3 acre town lots in Fanningboro a site for the proposed community given to families coming to Remsheg.

Two ships carrying over 450 refugees destined for Cumberland County, left New York City during the first week of June 1783. They travelled up the Bay of Fundy, with one stop in the Annapolis Valley; they landed on July 15 at Fort Cumberland, near present day Amherst.

Over the past two hundred years, these Loyalist's descendants have made remarkable contributions to Nova Scotia's government, education, agriculture, business and religion. Many people in Cumberland County can trace their ancestry to the Loyalist settlers.

 

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