History of Kawartha Branch

Kawartha Branch began in 1979, two hundred years after the American Revolution, when a group United Empire Loyalists descendants met with John Chard U.E. a representative of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, to examine the feasibility of forming a branch in the Peterborough/Lindsay/Port Hope area. A charter was applied for and it was granted to the Branch at the Annual Meeting of the U.E.L.A.C. on June 23rd, 1979.

Interim officers were: Chairperson Guy Thompson, UE, Treasurer Jack Brownscombe UE, Genealogist Stuart Hagerman UE and Secretary Elizabeth Richardson UE. On October 14, 1979, 14 people attended an organizational meeting. The first order of business, to officially form a branch, was carried by an unanimous vote. Membership fees were established at $8.00 per year. Three certificates were presented for “Regular Membership.” Mr Ken Armstrong was the first guest speaker for the Branch.

At the second meeting, February 24, 1980, an executive was named with Guy Thompson, President, Joan Lucas UE Vice President, Jack Brownscombe Treasurer, Stuart Hagerman Genealogist and Elizabeth Richardson Secretary. Four Regular Memberships were presented. In May, a Loyalist Encampment was held on Armour Hill. The first Annual Banquet took place October 4th. Mr. John Eamon, President of the UELAC, officially presented the Kawartha Branch with its charter.

By 1981, the branch had grown to 30 members with another 20 working on their family histories. This was an eventful year. Guy Thompson left the organization for employment in England and Joan Lucas became Acting President. In June, Wellington Borland arranged a bus trip down the Mohawk River Valley of New York, an area of several American Revolutionary conflicts and a region of some members' ancestral families. His Honour John Black Aird, Lt. Gov. of Ontario attended the second annual banquet, at which time he presented the Union Flag to the branch. Our Loyalist ancestors fought under this flag during the American Revolutionary War. The guest speaker was Sheriff Stanley McBride of Peterborough.

During 1982, under the Presidency of Joan Lucas, the branch became a member of the Ontario Historical Society with all its rights and privileges including insurance. Members enjoyed a bus trip to Niagara on the Lake where they toured Fort George and the Laura Secord House and attended the Shaw Festival. Members participated in the 125th Anniversary of Lindsay by putting a float, consisting of a log cabin, trees, flags and Loyalist settlers in costume, drawn by beautiful Belgian horses, in “The Homecoming Parade.”

Professor Russ Waller spoke on the Life of a Loyalist Settler at the 1983 annual fall banquet.

Elizabeth Richardson became President in 1984. This year commemorated the 200th Anniversary of Loyalist settlement in Ontario. Display Storyboards and a continuous slide presentation were prepared and used at the Annual General Meeting in Kingston. The branch sponsored a flowerbed in the Peterborough Cenotaph Park across from City Hall in celebration.

Kawartha Branch entertained 30 members of the Governor Simcoe branch in 1985.

In 1986 several members attended the re-enactment of the Landing of the Mohawks at Deseronto in 1784.

Kawartha Branch hosted the Annual Convention in May 1987. Elizabeth Richardson prepared a “Guide to Holding U.E.L.A.C. Conventions” as previously there was little information on the subject. Stu Hagerman was made a Life Member in recognition of his service as Branch Genealogist for 8 years. The Branch Newsletter, The Periodical, was begun with Mary Scott as editor.

In 1988, Jean Lake was elected President and Joan Lucas became the Branch Genealogist. Membership had reached 66 but 1989 fell to 59.

In 1990 Elizabeth Richardson was elected Dominion Historian. Kawartha Branch held an essay contest on the subject "Being a Loyalists. Three high school students were awarded prizes. An “In Memoriam” book donated by branch members Elizabeth Richardson, Mary Scott, Jean Lake and Joan Lucas was presented to the U.E.L.A.C. in which to record the names of deceased members. Individuals and branches may send a monetary donation to the In Memoriam Fund, U.E.L.A.C. in memory of someone whose name will then be written into the Book.

Commencing in 1991, Branch meetings were held in St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Peterborough. Connie Crook authored her first book "Flight", a historical children's novel telling the adventurous story of a United Empire Loyalist Family through the eyes of the young son left to take care of the family farm. Connie generously donated 10 copies to the branch.

Elizabeth Richardson was again elected as President in 1992 Paul Clark, Dominion President, spoke at the branch. David Rumball arranged a trip to the Military Institute in Toronto. A joint Christmas party was held with the Monarchist League.

The Kawartha Branch and the Toronto Branch held a Tea in Port Hope in 1994 to thank Mrs. Elizabeth Rawls, Louisiana U.S.A. for unveiling the plaque in the Union Cemetery, Port Hope in memory of her Loyalist ancestors, the James Allen Family. Kawartha and Governor Simcoe Branches held a joint picnic at Lang Pioneer Village. Stu Hagerman passed away.

United Empire Loyalist Day was celebrated for the first time in June 1997. Members of the Branch held Flag Raising Ceremonies in Peterborough, Lindsay and Port Hope. In Peterborough, pupils from grades 7 & 8 from Adam Scott School sang and were presented with small Loyalist flags. This event was to become an annual event and has been repeated each year since with members wearing period dress, a piper, local dignitaries and often re-enactors and different school groups.

Pam Dickey and her nephew, Brian Dickey, were presented with their certificates in 1998. Brian constructed a prize winning model of a Loyalist farm. Pam was the first membership chairperson. Brian completed a new display depicting the early settlement of the Loyalists in Upper Canada which was used to bring awareness of the organization.

In 1999 Paul Clark was elected Branch President. Charles Ross became Branch Secretary.

In 2001 Robert McBride was elected President. Grietjie McBride, as education advisor, set up a program where members in period dress would visit schools to tell the story of the Loyalists. She created a young Loyalist book of puzzles for the children. John Chard UE was invested as Honorary Patron on April 29, 2001.

A resolution passed by the Peterborough City Council February 11, 2002 has ensured that the annual flag raising of the Union Flag at Peterborough City Hall is to be continued as an annual event. The flag flies for the entire week. The Kawartha Branch Constitution & By-laws were ratified at the general meeting April 21, 2002.

In 2003 Grietjie McBride was elected President.

The Dominion Conference “Water Links to our Glorious Past” was hosted by our branch in June 2004. Our logo, depicting Loyalists in a bateaux, designed by David Kemlo, was first used at this conference.

In 2006 members attended the re-enactment of the Loyalist landing at Adolphustown. Cogeco TV taped the annual Flag Raising Ceremony at Peterborough City Hall. The Norwood District High School 1812 student re-enactors presented their skit on the War of 1812. Cogeco made DVDs and presented them to the branch as educational aids for elementary schools. Members manned information booths at the Kinmount fair and the International Plowing Match held near Keene. The displays told the story of the UEL from 1784 to 1850, their arrival in Quebec and Peterborough County from 1817 to 1825. 125 people signed up to find more information about their Loyalist family roots.

The branch began organizing the Garrison Cemetery Project. This cemetery located at Lot 3, Conc 3, Tyendinaga Township Hastings County was known for years as the Blessington Cemetery due to its location in proximity to the four corners of Blessington. It contains 102 known burials of Loyalists: Ross, Cole, Robinson, Sherman and Hagerman. The discovery of the original survey “Plan of Garrison Cemetery” with the authentic statement “This Plan is correct and is prepared under the provisions of the Registry Act by P.L. Surveyors, Belleville December 3, 1886,” prompted a request for a name change. The Tyendinaga Township was approached and on December 20, 2006 the name was officially changed to the “Garrison Pioneer Cemetery” and registered with the Ontario Ministry of Government services, Registrar of Cemeteries. As a result of the clearing of the site, six previously unknown graves were discovered. The branch raised funds to repair and preserve grave markers, install posts, steel gates and erect a sign showing the date of establishment 1834.

In 2007 Charles Ross designed a new letterhead incorporating the branch logo. The 1812 re-enactors from Norwood and the Armour Heights School Choir attended the Annual Flag Raising Ceremony in June. A committee was formed to upgrade and replace the storyboards.

In 2008 the Branch received The Samuel Armour Award from the Peterborough Historical Society for increasing public awareness of Canada's history and ensuring the importance of education for youth and community. Branch member, Connie Brummel Crook, was presented with a Career Achievement Award from The Word Guild. Connie has authored 9 young adult novels and three children's picture books portraying Canadian history which are widely used in school classrooms and libraries.

In 2009 Robert McBride became regional Vice President of the U.E.L.A.C. In May Tyendinaga Township presented a Lilac Tea Art Show which included a heritage tour visiting several sites among them the Garrison Pioneer Cemetery. Chuck Ross was on site to answer questions regarding the on-going restoration. In June the Dominion Conference was hosted by the Bay of Quinte Branch. We, along with other branches, set up a display. The National display was given to the Quinte branch on permanent loan.

In 2010 the Garrison Pioneer Cemetery Project was completed. A plaque was unveiled by Chuck Ross and Dominion President Fred Hayward at a re-dedication ceremony attended by 54 people.

In 2011 Doreen Thompson was elected President of Kawartha Branch. Robert McBride became Dominion President. Three new story boards were ready for use. Displays were presented at Trent University, Settlers Village, Bobcaygeon, and Heritage Day in Lindsay. Members visited various schools promoting the Loyalists. With 191 members Kawartha Branch was in top spot on the membership chart by averaging 129% increase.

In 2012, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal was awarded to Joan Lucas in honour of her work helping numerous people trace their roots and promoting Loyalist history. At the February meeting we were honoured to have special guests Regional Vice President Roy Lewis, Regional Councillor Myrtle Johnston and National President Robert McBride and our Honorary Patron John Chard in attendance. Robert and Grietjie McBride and Doreen Thompson attended the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth at Rideau Hall. Elizabeth Richardson 1931-2012 passed away.

In 2013, William Atkinson was elected President. Sadly we lost two valued members, Frank Rodgers 1921-2013 and John Chard. On June 19th we had our annual Flag Raising Ceremony in Peterborough and at the Olde Goal Museum in Lindsay. The annual banquet featured an interesting presentation by Dominion President, Bonnie Schepers. In November we braved the rain to participate in the Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremony at the Peterborough Cenotaph. Our numbers continue to fluctuate. In 2013 we maintained a high of 91 members.

Since the beginning Kawartha Branch has been well served by all its members.

Presidents of Kawartha Branch