Who Were the Loyalists?

United Empire Loyalists were American colonists who supported the British cause and Crown during the American Revolution (1775–83). About 40,00050,000 migrated to British North America during and after the revolutionary war — boosting the population and heavily influencing the politics and culture of what would become Canada.

In 1789, Lord Dorchester, governor-in-chief of British North America, proclaimed that the Loyalists and their children should be allowed to add "UE" to their names, "alluding to their great principle, the Unity of Empire." As a result, the phrase "United Empire Loyalist," or UEL, was applied to Loyalists who migrated to Upper and Lower Canada.

Tens of thosuands of Loyalists also migrated to the Maritimes, swamping the existing population. In 1784 the separate colonies of New Brunswick and Cape Breton were created to deal with the influx.

Association

The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada was incorporated on 27 May 1914. Since that time it has worked to unite the descendants of families of Loyalists; promote Loyalist memory and history; collect memorabilia and artifacts; support historical research and the assembly of databases of Loyalist family names and other records; maintain buildings and monuments; and publish semi-annually a journal, The Loyalist Gazette.

The organization's national head office is in Toronto, and there are local branches in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador. Membership is open to anyone who supports the organization's aims, regardless of whether or not they have Loyalist family heritage. Many of the group's members reside outside Canada, particularly in the United States.

Among recent projects, the association and its branches have helped restore a Black Loyalist church site in Nova Scotia; identified and marked Loyalist burial sites in New Brunswick; created digital records of Loyalist papers, photographs and artifacts in eastern Ontario; participated in community parades in Edmonton; and planted Loyalist gardens in Victoria.

The Association motto is "Ducit Amor Patriae" (Patriotism Leads Me).