History, Heritage, Legacy
Out of the struggle between the Thirteen Colonies and their mother country emerged two nations: the United States and what would later become Canada.
The United Empire Loyalists were those colonists who remained faithful to the Crown and wished to continue living in the New World. Therefore, they left their homes to settle eventually in what remained of British North America.
UEL Edmonton is dedicated to preserving the history of the United Empire Loyalists, their contribution to Canadian Heritage, and the legacy of these first refugees.
The most populous of the northern British colonies was Quebec, won from the French in the Seven Years' War. Previous attempts to impose British laws and government had failed to change the nature of the colony or to attract British colonists.
The arrival of the UEL refugees from the Thirteen Colonies changed that. The Loyalists petitioned for the British laws and elected assemblies they were used to.
In 1791, the Constitution Act was passed, dividing the colony into Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). The Act established freehold land tenure and British laws in Upper Canada, preserved the seigniorial land system and French laws in Quebec, established elected assemblies in both colonies, and as a consequence set the future Canada on a path to being a bilingual country.
Canada is a country of immigrants and refugees. All of these groups have shaped the country Canada is today.
The United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution were, arguably, the first refugees to arrive in Canada. They had significant impact on the young colony's government and political boundaries which can still be seen today.
The antipathy toward republicanism and the American rebels that the Loyalist brought with them was an influencing factor in British North America developing separately into an independent Canada.
The common British heritage shared with the United States has undoubtedly influenced the modern relationship with the United States, which is one of friendship and partnership despite political and cultural differences.