Loyalists were the colonists who remained devoted to Great Britain during the American Revolution. John Adams, a future American president, estimated that about one-third the
population of the Thirteen Colonies were Loyalists. At least 20,000 of them joined the army to defend the British cause. These factors turned the Rebellion into a bitter civil war.
Histories of the period tell of atrocities on both sides. For example, Revolutionaries tarred and feathered many Loyalists and hanged some as traitors. They took the view that a
Loyalist was "a thing whose head is in England and its body in America, and its neck ought to be stretched." Colonies passed laws disenfranchising Loyalists and confiscating their
property. The treaty of 1783 which ended the war, failed to stop these persecutions, so while the majority of Loyalists quietly made their peace with the victorious regime,
approximately 100,000 fled. Of these, some 50,000 chose what is now Canada. About 35,000 arrived in the future Maritime Provinces and the rest settled in what became Quebec and
Ontario. While a portion of the refugees were merchants, labourers, public office holders or professionals, most were farmers, an occupation that helped their pioneering efforts
here in Canada. Loyalists included Germans, Swiss, Dutch, British, Indians and Blacks as well as groups of Quakers and Mennonites. The Imperial government helped these people
get established by giving them food, land and equipment. Loyalists opened up wide areas of Canada. Loyalist pressure led to the creation of New Brunswick and Upper Canada.
Thus the Loyalists in overcoming personal tragedy, benefited Canada and changed its character.
Canada Post Corporation. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1984.
Tom Meyerhof, 28 Jan 2008