Painting of two burning ships in a harbour

As a result of the Seven Years War, Britain acquired Canada, a mostly French-speaking land. Meanwhile, the 13 colonies south of Canada’s border were grasping for independence from the Crown. A rebellion seemed unavoidable.

Attributed to Richard Paton (U.K., 1717-1791)

Royal Ontario Museum 956.94
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


For the majority of civilians, the results of conquest and civil war include famine, disease, migration, refugees, and displaced persons. These words can be seen in newspaper headlines describing what’s happening around the world today.

However, such terrible challenges also marked this period of Canada’s history.

Canada – the former New France – was now under British rule, following the Seven Years War. But the 13 British colonies south of Canada’s border increasingly desired independence from the Crown. A revolt seemed inevitable.

The British feared losing power because they faced two potential conflicts: one with France in Europe and one with the 13 colonies.

In an effort to stop discontent from the 13 colonies spreading to the French-Canadians, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act (1774). It declared that the French-speaking population could retain their language, their religion (Catholicism), and their social structure (the seigneurial system). However the Act also limited their political power; they would have neither an elected legislature nor a representative form of government. Read More
For the majority of civilians, the results of conquest and civil war include famine, disease, migration, refugees, and displaced persons. These words can be seen in newspaper headlines describing what’s happening around the world today.

However, such terrible challenges also marked this period of Canada’s history.

Canada – the former New France – was now under British rule, following the Seven Years War. But the 13 British colonies south of Canada’s border increasingly desired independence from the Crown. A revolt seemed inevitable.

The British feared losing power because they faced two potential conflicts: one with France in Europe and one with the 13 colonies.

In an effort to stop discontent from the 13 colonies spreading to the French-Canadians, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act (1774). It declared that the French-speaking population could retain their language, their religion (Catholicism), and their social structure (the seigneurial system). However the Act also limited their political power; they would have neither an elected legislature nor a representative form of government.

This is an early example of the growing need for accommodation between the people of Quebec and the British Crown.

As the British tried to reconcile with the French-Canadians, they were also recruiting support south of the boarder. Their key allies included First Peoples, United Empire Loyalists, and Black Loyalists.

Most United Empire Loyalists descended from Scottish, English, Irish and German colonists. The Black Loyalists were made up of free citizens and enslaved persons. Many of these slaves had belonged to high profile Americans like George Washington.

The Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca Peoples were (and are) part of the Six Nations Alliance. They chose to fight together on the side of the British.

The British Empire, the Loyalists, and the First Peoples had a lot at stake. In the 13 colonies, the American Revolution actually meant civil war. The opponents of the Loyalists were called ‘rebels’. If the rebels won, it would mean a great loss for the British Empire, for the Loyalists, and also for the First Peoples that had land claims that were recognized by the British Crown.
_________________________

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Dueling Pistols: Joseph Brant's Flintlock Pistols

The two pistols are provided with grips that terminate in classic examples of the so-called ram’s-horn or scroll butt. This type of design was prevalent in the Scottish Highlands in the second half of the 18th century. The signature refers to Thomas Murdoch, born in Doune, Scotland, and baptized there in 1735. The Murdochs were a family of gunsmiths. According to the ROM’s accession files, these pistols were made for the Duke of Northumberland. According to tradition, the Duke presented the pistols to Joseph Brant of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) in 1791. The engraved, inlaid silver decoration includes details of a ducal crest with the letter “N” and the curious inscription “GUINEAS”. Steel-hilted belt pistols, like these two by Thomas Murdoch, formed a unique facet of Scottish gunsmithing. Scottish steel-hilted pistols, which featured engraved inlay in silver, were unique, and during the 18th century were without parallel elsewhere in Britain or in Continental Europe. The two pistols were purchased for the ROM in 1924 from Miss W. M. Cartwright. According to the ROM’s records, the items bought from Miss Cartwright formed part of the Joseph Brant Collection. As a gift from the Duke of Northumberland to Joseph Brant, the two pistols fall into the realm of presentation pieces associated with high levels of international diplomacy. Gifts of engraved firearms were sometimes exchanged among foreign rulers as marks of respect or to commemorate treaties and alliances. ________________________________________________________________ Historical Advisor: Keith Jameison, Woodlands Cultural Centre

Maker: signed “T. MURDOCH”. The signature refers to Thomas Murdoch, born in Doune, Scotland.
1791
924.46.1.A and 924.46.1.B
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dueling Pistols: Joseph Brant's Flintlock Pistols

The two pistols are provided with grips that terminate in classic examples of the so-called ram’s-horn or scroll butt. This type of design was prevalent in the Scottish Highlands in the second half of the 18th century. The signature refers to Thomas Murdoch, born in Doune, Scotland, and baptized there in 1735. The Murdochs were a family of gunsmiths. According to the ROM’s accession files, these pistols were made for the Duke of Northumberland. According to tradition, the Duke presented the pistols to Joseph Brant of the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) in 1791. The engraved, inlaid silver decoration includes details of a ducal crest with the letter “N” and the curious inscription “GUINEAS”. Steel-hilted belt pistols, like these two by Thomas Murdoch, formed a unique facet of Scottish gunsmithing. Scottish steel-hilted pistols, which featured engraved inlay in silver, were unique, and during the 18th century were without parallel elsewhere in Britain or in Continental Europe. The two pistols were purchased for the ROM in 1924 from Miss W. M. Cartwright. According to the ROM’s records, the items bought from Miss Cartwright formed part of the Joseph Brant Collection. As a gift from the Duke of Northumberland to Joseph Brant, the two pistols fall into the realm of presentation pieces associated with high levels of international diplomacy. Gifts of engraved firearms were sometimes exchanged among foreign rulers as marks of respect or to commemorate treaties and alliances. _____________________________________________________________ Historical Advisor: Keith Jameison, Woodlands Cultural Centre

Maker: signed “T. MURDOCH”. The signature refers to Thomas Murdoch, born in Doune, Scotland.

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Joseph Brant's duelling pistols were originally made for the Duke of Northumberland. Yet these guns represent Haudenosaunee sovereignty. The name Haudenosaunee refers to the Six Nations, also known as Iroquoian people.

In 1791 the Duke gave them to Joseph Brant, a Mohawk war chief who fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. The Mohawk Nation was (and is today) one of the Six Nations.

At this time, all land claims had been established with the British Crown. Joseph Brant knew that the 13 colonies were not going to respect those agreements if they won their war of independence. Therefore Brant believed that fighting on the side of the British was the only way to protect Haudenosaunee land claims.

Brant was an extremely important British ally. Proof of his status amongst the British can be found in this gift. Pistols like these would only be given to a sovereign leader or to high-ranking royalty. These pistols were given to Brant after the British had lost the American Revolutionary War.

They represented an agreement between Brant and the British. Part of this agreement was the Haldimand Land Grant, along th Read More
Joseph Brant's duelling pistols were originally made for the Duke of Northumberland. Yet these guns represent Haudenosaunee sovereignty. The name Haudenosaunee refers to the Six Nations, also known as Iroquoian people.

In 1791 the Duke gave them to Joseph Brant, a Mohawk war chief who fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. The Mohawk Nation was (and is today) one of the Six Nations.

At this time, all land claims had been established with the British Crown. Joseph Brant knew that the 13 colonies were not going to respect those agreements if they won their war of independence. Therefore Brant believed that fighting on the side of the British was the only way to protect Haudenosaunee land claims.

Brant was an extremely important British ally. Proof of his status amongst the British can be found in this gift. Pistols like these would only be given to a sovereign leader or to high-ranking royalty. These pistols were given to Brant after the British had lost the American Revolutionary War.

They represented an agreement between Brant and the British. Part of this agreement was the Haldimand Land Grant, along the Grand River in Upper Canada (now Ontario).

After the war, Brant and many First Nations people moved from Ohio to the Grand River. Not all Iroquoian People who came to Canada in the aftermath of the American Revolution were followers of Brant.

Even though Joseph Brant was a Mohawk war chief, he was not a true chief or sachem because he was not born into a sachem blood line, which follows the mother’s side. Therefore regardless of his popularity with the British he could never be a true Mohawk chief.

The original Haldimand land grant was quite large. The First Nations people occupied only a small area of this grant. Joseph Brant leased off some of the unused portions of land.

The controversy started here, because leasing off some of this land did not necessarily please all people of the Six Nations. After Brant’s death, further losses of land took place. Today, the Six Nations reserve is the most populous reserve in Canada, yet it covers less than 5% of the size of the original Haldimand tract.

Controversies over First Peoples’ land in the 18th and 19th centuries continue to influence current land claims all across Canada.
_________________________

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Keith Jamieson explains the controversy behind Joseph Brant.

Keith Jamieson is a Mohawk and a Six Nations of the Grand River Cultural Consultant. He lectures internationally and is also a curator and is an advisor for various exhibits on First Nations. He is a published author and has done many media publications. He explains the controversy behind Joseph Brant.

And in fact in the end Brant becomes a very controversial figure primarily because of his land dealings. His intent? I don’t think anybody questions his intent, which was to secure our future. He was acting, I believe, seriously, I believe he was acting in the best interest of the people, I think his methods were poor and I think they were a bit self serving at times. But Brant is really, he’s a British hero. He’s not, he’s not a First Nations’ hero he’s not a Six Nations’ hero. He is still very much considered a controversial figure.

Royal Ontario Museum
Keith Jamieson: Woodlands Cultural Centre

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Keith Jamieson explains the controversy behind Joseph Brant.

And in fact in the end Brant becomes a very controversial figure primarily because of his land dealings. His intent? I don’t think anybody questions his intent, which was to secure our future. He was acting, I believe, seriously, I believe he was acting in the best interest of the people, I think his methods were poor and I think they were a bit self serving at times. But Brant is really, he’s a British hero. He’s not, he’s not a First Nations’ hero he’s not a Six Nations’ hero. He is still very much considered a controversial figure.

Royal Ontario Museum
Keith Jamieson: Woodlands Cultural Centre

© 2007, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Set of children's shackles.

These shackles were purchased from a collector in Essex County, Ontario, who acquired them at an auction in Georgia, U.S.A. It is not known who actually wore them. From their size we know that they are children's ankle shackles. ____________________________________________________ Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, North Buxton, Ontario

Maker: unknown, U.S.A.
Historical Advisor: Buxton National Historic Site and Museum
1800 - 1850
Buxton Museum 2002.2
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Children's shackles

These shackles were purchased from a collector in Essex County, Ontario, who acquired them at an auction in Georgia, U.S.A. It is not known who actually wore them. From their size we know that they are children's ankle shackles. ____________________________________________________ Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, North Buxton, Ontario

Maker: unknown, U.S.A.
Historical Advisor: Buxton National Historic Site and Museum
1800 - 1850
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


The stories of Canadian settlers of African descent are complex and dynamic.

During the American Revolutionary War an estimated 100,000 Black Loyalists
fled to the British side.

The first large wave of Africans to arrive in Canada consisted of free Black Loyalists invited by the British government after the American Revolutionary War. Those who came as slaves were brought by United Empire Loyalists who also sought refuge after the war.

Our story begins with an enslaved girl from Queenstown, Upper Canada. Her name was Chloë Cooley. In March of 1793, she was beaten and bound by her owner and then sold to an American.

At the time, the law that was in force here in British North America made prosecution of the man who beat her impossible because it defined Chloë as his property.

However, the incident had a powerful political effect. The first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Simcoe, was an abolitionist – he believed that slavery should be abolished. What was done to Chloë Cooley reinforced Simcoe’s belief that the abolition of slavery was necessary.

On June 19th, 1793, A Read More
The stories of Canadian settlers of African descent are complex and dynamic.

During the American Revolutionary War an estimated 100,000 Black Loyalists
fled to the British side.

The first large wave of Africans to arrive in Canada consisted of free Black Loyalists invited by the British government after the American Revolutionary War. Those who came as slaves were brought by United Empire Loyalists who also sought refuge after the war.

Our story begins with an enslaved girl from Queenstown, Upper Canada. Her name was Chloë Cooley. In March of 1793, she was beaten and bound by her owner and then sold to an American.

At the time, the law that was in force here in British North America made prosecution of the man who beat her impossible because it defined Chloë as his property.

However, the incident had a powerful political effect. The first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Simcoe, was an abolitionist – he believed that slavery should be abolished. What was done to Chloë Cooley reinforced Simcoe’s belief that the abolition of slavery was necessary.

On June 19th, 1793, Attorney General White introduced Simcoe's anti-slavery measure in the legislature of Upper Canada and it passed. The law did not go far enough; it did not outlaw slavery immediately but it stated that all children born into slavery had to be freed when they turned 25. This was one of the first laws to be passed in Upper Canada.

On August 1st, 1834, slavery was abolished in all British colonies. The last known private advertisements for slaves appeared in Halifax in 1820 and in Quebec City in 1821.

By the end of the 18th century there were more than 40 black communities in Upper Canada.
_________________________

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Sheet music for "The Sacred Spot"

Hattie Rhue Hatchett was a talented pianist and composer. She directed a Baptist Church choir and was a church organist for many years. As a composer, Hattie Hatchett is best known for her religious songs. She wrote both the words and the music of her compositions. Among them was the hymn "Jesus Tender Shepherd Lead Us", and one of her songs, "The Sacred Spot", was adopted as the official marching song of the Canadian First World War soldiers. _____________________________________________ Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, North Buxton, Ontario

Hattie Rhue Hatchett
Historical Advisor: Buxton National Historic Site and Museum

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


The obstacles and hardship facing slaves, Black Loyalists, and those who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad were numerous. Despite this, Canadian settlers of African descent still managed to make many positive contributions to the shaping of this country.

Hattie Rhue Hatchett is one example. She was a talented composer, singer, and pianist. Hattie was one of ten children born in Raleigh Township, Canada West (now Ontario), in 1864. Her parents were escaped slaves from the Miles plantation in Virginia.

As a child, Hattie attended piano lessons at the Elgin Settlement School. The Elgin settlement school was built in 1861, and it was an integrated school – children of both African and European descent attended it. It is the only remaining school in Canada that was built by former fugitive slaves.

Hattie met her husband Millard Hatchett in Kentucky where she was teaching former slaves and their children. Shortly after they married they returned to North Buxton, Ontario.

As a composer, Hattie Hatchett is best known for her religious songs. One of her songs, called "The Sacred Spot", was the official marching son Read More
The obstacles and hardship facing slaves, Black Loyalists, and those who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad were numerous. Despite this, Canadian settlers of African descent still managed to make many positive contributions to the shaping of this country.

Hattie Rhue Hatchett is one example. She was a talented composer, singer, and pianist. Hattie was one of ten children born in Raleigh Township, Canada West (now Ontario), in 1864. Her parents were escaped slaves from the Miles plantation in Virginia.

As a child, Hattie attended piano lessons at the Elgin Settlement School. The Elgin settlement school was built in 1861, and it was an integrated school – children of both African and European descent attended it. It is the only remaining school in Canada that was built by former fugitive slaves.

Hattie met her husband Millard Hatchett in Kentucky where she was teaching former slaves and their children. Shortly after they married they returned to North Buxton, Ontario.

As a composer, Hattie Hatchett is best known for her religious songs. One of her songs, called "The Sacred Spot", was the official marching song of Canadian WWI soldiers.
_________________________

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Dwayne Morgan speaks about the importance of learning about collective Canadian histories

Dwayne Morgan is a spoken word artist or slam poet. He has written several books and won a number of spoken word competitions both in Canada and internationally. He addresses the importance of learning about Canada's collective histories.

I think, there’s always things to learn from the past and mistakes made in the past or things that you don’t want to make again. I think, more important though, I think we need to look at what’s happening in other parts of the world and try to see what we can do to avoid some of those things happening in our country. There are parts of the world that are so volatile right now, around various issues around equality and acceptance and these things that’s it’s really important for a country that says it’s multicultural to really look at these things and say, “what can we do so that people here feel safe, they feel included they see themselves as Canadians” because a lot of times especially you know, when people say, “Hey, where are you from?” that automatically just makes you feel as though you’re not a Canadian and you have to be from somewhere else. I mean people ask me that and I’m from here and I’m born here. So I mean, how do I answer that question? And you know, when I’m in Nova Scotia, with my friends, I mean there are friends that I have there who have that experience of generations of black people who have been in Nova Scotia for hundreds of years and they can say their great, great, great, great, grandfather and stuff like that were there but people don’t know and people don’t recognize that yeah, you know what, black people have been here for a really long time in this country. It’s almost a belief that everybody here who’s of a darker hue is a recent immigrant from somewhere but we do have a long history and until we can start teaching and embracing our collective histories then, you know, we run the risk of really repeating or following in the footsteps of some of the things that we see happening in other parts of the world.

Royal Ontario Museum
Dwayne Morgan, Spoken Word Artist

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dwayne Morgan speaks about the importance of learning about collective Canadian histories

I think, there’s always things to learn from the past and mistakes made in the past or things that you don’t want to make again. I think, more important though, I think we need to look at what’s happening in other parts of the world and try to see what we can do to avoid some of those things happening in our country. There are parts of the world that are so volatile right now, around various issues around equality and acceptance and these things that’s it’s really important for a country that says it’s multicultural to really look at these things and say, “what can we do so that people here feel safe, they feel included they see themselves as Canadians” because a lot of times especially you know, when people say, “Hey, where are you from?” that automatically just makes you feel as though you’re not a Canadian and you have to be from somewhere else. I mean people ask me that and I’m from here and I’m born here. So I mean, how do I answer that question? And you know, when I’m in Nova Scotia, with my friends, I mean there are friends that I have there who have that experience of generations of black people who have been in Nova Scotia for hundreds of years and they can say their great, great, great, great, grandfather and stuff like that were there but people don’t know and people don’t recognize that yeah, you know what, black people have been here for a really long time in this country. It’s almost a belief that everybody here who’s of a darker hue is a recent immigrant from somewhere but we do have a long history and until we can start teaching and embracing our collective histories then, you know, we run the risk of really repeating or following in the footsteps of some of the things that we see happening in other parts of the world.

Royal Ontario Museum
Dwayne Morgan, Spoken Word Artist

© 2007, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

  • Explores the impact of the American Revolution on the migrations to Canada with the examples of the Loyalists and the Iroquois
  • Assesses the significance of their migrations in the development of identities in Canada
  • Analyzes the principal characteristics of Black immigration including the Underground Railroad

Learning Activity:
Dueling pistols

These pistols represent the roots of one land claims dispute making newspaper headlines today. When Joseph Brant received these pistols as part of his agreement with the British to hand over the Haldimand land grant, many people within the Six Nations believed he had no right to do so. More than 200 years later, the rights to this land are still being disputed.

There are hundreds of land claims disputes before the courts at this time, all across Canada. Choose one and research its historical roots. Can you describe how this conflict might have been prevented?

Learning Activity: Child’s slave shackles and The Sacred Spot sheet music

Freed and escaped Black slaves, as well as Black Loyalists, made important contributions to shaping Canadian identity. From the early settlements in the Maritime provinces to the Ontario towns that sprang up around the underground railroad, Black communities grew to become a vibrant part of the Canadian landscape throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

But the history of Black communities in Canada stretches back long before the American Revolutionary War. Mattieu da Costa, Olivier Le Jeune, and Marie-Joseph Angélique were three early Black residents of Canada whose stories are well-documented. Choose one and tell his or her story.


Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans