History of Kawartha Branch

Kawartha Branch began in 1979, two hundred years after the American Revolution, when a group of United Empire Loyalists descendants met with E. John Chard UE 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 UELAC on 23 June 1979.

Interim Officers were: Chairperson Guy Thompson UE, Treasurer Jack Brownscombe UE, Genealogist Stuart Hagerman UE and Secretary Elizabeth Richardson UE. On 14 October 1979, fourteen 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.” Ken Armstrong was the first guest speaker for the Branch.

At the second meeting, 24 February 1980, an Executive was named with Guy Thompson UE, Branch President, Joan Lucas UE, Vice President, Jack Brownscombe UE, Treasurer, Stuart Hagerman UE, Genealogist, and Elizabeth Richardson UE, Secretary. Four Regular Memberships were presented. In May, a Loyalist Encampment was held on Armour Hill. The first Annual Banquet took place on 04 October. John Eamon UE, Dominion President of the UELAC, officially presented the Kawartha Branch with its Charter.

By 1981, the Branch had grown to thirty Members with another twenty working on their family histories. This was an eventful year. Guy Thompson UE left the organization for employment in England and Joan Lucas UE became Acting Branch President. In June, Wellington Borland UE 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, Lieutenant Governor 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 UE of Peterborough.

During 1982, under the Presidency of Joan Lucas UE, 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, 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 UE spoke on the “Life of a Loyalist Settler” at the 1983 annual fall banquet.

Elizabeth Richardson UE became Branch 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 thirty 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 UE prepared a “Guide to Holding UELAC Conventions” as previously there was little information on the subject. Stu Hagerman UE was made a Life Member in recognition of his service as Branch Genealogist for eight years. The Branch Newsletter, The Kawartha Periodical, was begun with Mary Scott UE as its Editor.

In 1988, Jean Lake UE was elected Branch President and Joan Lucas UE became the Branch Genealogist. Membership had reached sixty-six but, by 1989, it fell to fifty-nine.

In 1990, Elizabeth Richardson UE was elected as the Dominion Historian. Kawartha Branch held an essay contest on the subject “Being a Loyalist”. Three high school students were awarded prizes. An “In Memoriam” book, donated by Branch Members: Elizabeth Richardson UE, Mary Scott UE, Jean Lake UE and Joan Lucas UE, was presented to the UELAC in which to record the names of deceased Members. Individuals and Branches may send a monetary donation to the In Memoriam Fund, UELAC, 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 UE authored her first book, Flight, an 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 ten copies to the Branch.

Elizabeth Richardson UE was again elected as Branch President in 1992, and Paul Clark UE, Dominion President, spoke at the Branch. David Rumball UE 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, USA, for unveiling a 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. Founding Member, Stu Hagerman UE, 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, students from Grades 7 and 8 from Adam Scott Intermediate Public School sang and were presented with small Loyalist flags. This ceremony 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 UE and her nephew, Brian Dickey UE, 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 that was used to bring awareness about the organization.

In 1999, Paul Clark UE was elected Branch President. Charles Ross UE became Branch Secretary. Bob McBride UE and David Kemlo set up the Kawartha Branch web site in February 1999. Connie Crook UE helped with contacting speakers. Pam Dickey UE and David Kemlo designed a moveable display booth and efforts were made to set up this booth at many nearby locations between Adolphustown and Kinmount.

In 2001, Robert McBride UE was elected Branch President. Grietje McBride UE, as Education Advisor, set up a programme where Members in period dress would visit schools to tell the story of the Loyalists. She and her husband, Bob McBride UE, created a young Loyalist book of puzzles for the children, entitled Celebrating Our Loyalist Past: An Activity Book For All Ages. E. John Chard UE was invested as Honorary Patron on 29 April 2001.Working with Kirk Wipper, our Branch toured the new Canadian Canoe Museum. Bob began investigations into proposing to the city of Peterborough that a By-law be passed establishing 19 June of each year to be designated United Empire Loyalist Day, accompanied by an annual flag raising ceremony.

A resolution, passed by the Peterborough City Council on 11 February 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 on 21 April 2002.

In 2003 to 2005 Grietje McBride was elected as Branch President. The Dominion Conference “Water Links to our Loyalist Past” was hosted by our Branch in June 2004. Our logo, depicting Loyalists in a bateau, was designed by David Kemlo, and first used at this conference. We attended history fairs in Bobcaygeon, Kinmount and Lang Pioneer Village. Our efforts in 2003 and 2004 focussed on preparations for the national conference held at the Holiday Inn in Peterborough.

In 2005, Pam Dickey UE became our Branch President. 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. Our Members manned information booths at the Kinmount Fair and the International Plowing Match in 2006, held in Mather’s Corners near Keene. The displays told the story of Loyalists from 1784 to 1850, as well as their arrival in Quebec and Peterborough County from 1817 to 1825. One hundred and twenty-five people signed up to find more information about their Loyalist family roots.

From 2007 to 2009, Chuck Ross UE served as Branch President for Kawartha Branch.The Branch began organizing the Garrison Cemetery Project. This cemetery, located at Lot 3, Concession 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 one hundred and two 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. On 20 December 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 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 UE, was presented with a Career Achievement Award from The Word Guild. Connie has authored nine young adult novels and three children’s picture books portraying Canadian history that are widely used in school classrooms and libraries.

In 2010, during the time when Wimpy Borland UE was the Branch President, the Garrison Pioneer Cemetery Project was completed. A plaque was unveiled by Chuck Ross UE and Dominion President, Fred Hayward UE at a re-dedication ceremony attended by fifty-four people. Kawartha Branch took part in the Trent University Heritage Expo display and the Buckhorn Heritage Day event.

In 2011, Doreen Thompson UE was elected President of Kawartha Branch. Doreen led our delegation to the annual conference in Brockville where Robert McBride UE was installed as the Dominion President. Three new story boards were designed by a committee consisting of Pam Dickey UE, Joan Lucas UE and Grietje McBride UE. Displays were presented at Trent University, Settlers Village, Bobcaygeon, and Heritage Day in Lindsay. Members visited various schools promoting the Loyalists. With one hundred and ninety-one Members, Kawartha Branch was in top spot on the UELAC Membership chart by averaging 129% increase. Our Branch took part in the Victoria County Historical Society Summer Fair and attended the Adolphustown picnic lunch. In 2012, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal was awarded to Joan Lucas UE 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 UE, Regional Councillor Myrtle Johnston UE, and Dominion President Robert McBride UE, along with our Honorary Patron, E. John Chard UE, in attendance. Robert and Grietje McBride and Doreen Thompson attended the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth at Rideau Hall. Dominion Archivist / Historian and Kawartha Branch founding Member, Elizabeth Richardson UE, 1931-2012, passed away.

In 2013, William Atkinson UE was elected President. Sadly we lost two valued members: Frank Rodgers UE, 1921-2013, and E. John Chard UE 1922- 2013. On 19 June 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 UE. 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 ninety-one Members. Bill Atkinson UE organized the flags and poles and attended all display opportunities in Bobcaygeon, Kinmount, Peterborough and Lindsay.

In 2015, Grietje McBride UE was elected Branch President. Following the flag-raising ceremony held at Peterborough City Hall and the Olde Lindsay Gaol, a delegation from our Branch travelled to Prince Edward Island for the annual conference and AGM. At the banquet in 2016 Joan Lucas UE was presented with the Dorchester award for her tireless support of genealogy at the local and national level. We began our Canada 150 project of designing our Hearth and Home second edition cookbook and authorized the production of a series of Loyalist mugs. We continue to tap into local experts at Trent University and authors writing about the Loyalist period.

Bob McBride UE was elected to be President of Kawartha Branch from 2017 to 2019. In this time period St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church was sold and we followed the congregation to begin meeting at the Mount Community Centre. Kawartha Branch began working on a Commemorative plaque to honour E. John Chard UE, to be displayed in Adolphustown.

In 2019, Grietje McBride UE was elected President of Kawartha Branch. June 2019 marked the fortieth anniversary of Kawartha Branch and the twenty-third Loyalist Flag Raising ceremony at Peterborough City Hall. To commemorate this milestone, we held a Loyalist Mother’s Day tea in the Conference room at the Holiday Inn, Peterborough, with special guests, Dominion President, Sue Hines UE and the UELAC Promotions Chair, Patricia Groom UE.

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Branch meetings could no longer be held in person after mid-March. At a virtual UELAC Annual General Meeting and Conference, Past Dominion President, Robert McBride UE, was presented with the Dorchester Award for his outstanding contributions to the UELAC across Canada and his role as Editor of the Loyalist Gazette, the semi-annual magazine of the UELAC, for the past sixteen years. Our Branch was able to follow protocols and put on a scaled-down ceremony for Flag-Raising Day at Peterborough City Hall on 19 June. On, Sunday, 20 September, at the McBride farm, we held a physically distanced outdoor gathering to honour the retirement of Joan Lucas UE, as Branch Genealogist for the past thirty-two years, attended by Dominion Vice-President, Patricia Groom UE, Dominion Genealogists, Angela and Peter Johnson UE, and twenty-three guests. Kawartha Branch presented Joan with a bronze plaque commemorating this event. On Remembrance Day, Grietje McBride UE, Bob McBride UE, and William Atkinson UE, laid the Kawartha Branch wreath at the cenotaph in Peterborough. We held our first virtual meeting via ZOOM on 15 November, where Captain David Rumball UE spoke about the history of Remembrance Day.

Bob Ough was the guest speaker at the virtual ZOOM meeting on Sunday, 21 February 2021, his topic being "The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis: RCAF's unheralded FINEST HOUR." Mr. Ough explained that the Crisis took place from mid-October until the end of the month in 1962 and could to lead to nuclear war. Mr. Ough and his team flew observation flights that supported American action in causing Cuban missiles to be removed. Bob out pointed that the Canadian participation should not be downplayed.

On Tuesday, 15 March 2021, Michael Sloboda, from Cogeco TV, interviewed both Grietje and Bob McBride about the United Empire Loyalists, for his weekly show entitled "All Around The Town" that aired on 02 May 2021 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Then, on Sunday, 18 April 2021, Kawartha Branch UELAC held its virtual ZOOM meeting with guest speakers, Diane Berlet and Axel Thesberg, who spoke about "St. Alban's United Empire Loyalist Memorial Church: A Rich Past & Promising Future". With the closing of St. Alban's as an Anglican Church, the Friends of St. Alban's, a not-for-profit charity, was established to preserve this significant heritage site. They are hoping to partner with the Hay Bay Church and the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.

Our Annual General Meeting followed where the revised Constitution and By-laws was passed unanimously. Bob McBride then read the list of the persons standing for election and, after asking for further nominations three times, he declared the list as named to be the Officers and Executive for 2021-2022.

On Friday, 18 June 2021, starting at 10:00 a.m. EDT, we held a virtual ZOOM flag raising ceremony.

Master of Ceremonies Graham Hart, UE, welcomed everyone to the ZOOM meeting that featured greetings from dignitaries, and Dominion President, Trish Groom UE. Greetings were followed by contributions from Branch Members, Trish and Dr. Richard Staples, Bob and Grietje McBride and Bill Russell. A series of slides depicting past flag-raising ceremonies at Peterborough City Hall and Lindsay County Gaol provided interest and entertainment.

Because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, all of our planned meetings and events were cancelled, so our Fall lineup was as follows:

On Wednesday, 15 September 2021, a Member of Kawartha Branch, Daphne (Rogers) Molson UE, held a book launch of her latest book – Peterborough Ontario, Canada, City Hallowed in Centennial Fame, Remember You and Your Famous Name – in her backyard.

On Sunday, 19 September 2021, Kawartha Branch UELAC held its first Fall Meeting virtually with our guest speaker being the Dominion President, Trish Groom UE, who is also a Member of Kawartha Branch.

Then, on Thursday, 11 November 2021, Members of Kawartha Branch UELAC visited the cenotaph in Peterborough, Ontario, where Branch Past President, Bill Atkinson UE, laid our wreath at 10:00 a.m., prior to the service that was held at 11:00 a.m. ET.

On Sunday, 21 November 2021, Kawartha Branch UELAC held its next virtual meeting with our guest speaker being Brian McConnell UE, who stepped in at the last minute, replacing Debra Turrell, who was having technical difficulties, and spoke about the Old St. Edwards Church & the Loyalists, in Clementsport, Nova Scotia.

Presidents of Kawartha Branch