Chapter 7 - The Canadas <


The Charter-Hemphill Story


Chapter 7

Signing of the Treaty of Paris giving the territories of New France to Great Britian.

As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris which ended the Seven Years' War global conflict and the French and Indian War in North America, Great Britain retained control over the former New France, which had been defeated in the French and Indian War. The British had won control after Fort Niagara had surrendered in 1759 and Montreal capitulated in 1760, and the British under Robert Rogers took formal control of the Great Lakes region in 1760.

The territories of contemporary southern Ontario and southern Quebec were initially maintained as the single Province of Quebec, as it had been under the French. From 1763 to 1791, the Province of Quebec maintained its French language, cultural behavioral expectations, practices and laws. The British passed the Quebec Act in 1774, which expanded the Quebec colony's authority to include part of the Indian Reserve to the west (i.e., parts of southern Ontario, and other western territories south of the Great Lakes including much of what would become the United States Northwest Territory, including the modern states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota.

After the American War of Independence ended in 1783, Britain retained control of the area north of the Ohio River. The official boundaries remained undefined until the Jay Treaty was signed in 1795. The British authorities encouraged the movement of people to this area from the United States, offering free land to encourage population growth. For settlers, the head of the family received 100 acres and 50 acres per family member, and soldiers received larger grants. These settlers are known as United Empire Loyalists and were primarily English-speaking Protestants.

Upper Canada, became a political entity in 1791 by an act that divided the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada so that Loyalist American settlers and British immigrants in Upper Canada could have English laws and institutions, and the French-speaking population of Lower Canada (now Quebec) could maintain French civil law and the Catholic religion. Later, in 1841, they would be renamed Canada East and Canada West. Then in 1867 they would receive their present names, Quebec and Ontario. Along with the name changes were shifts in boundaries and the uniting of other provinces into

The 1795 Jay Treaty officially set the borders between British North America and the United States north to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. On 1 February 1796, the capital of Upper Canada was moved from Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) to York (now Toronto), which was judged to be less vulnerable to attack by the US.

Eviction of Irish peasants


Harassed by prejudice, crop failures and intolerable increases in rent, the Ulster-Scots had been leaving—two or three thousand each year—for New England and the southern colonies, as their cousins in Scotland were doing. Emboldened by ministers “bellowing from the pulpit that God had appointed a country for them to dwell in,” the first 750 sailed for Boston in five ships in 1718. Within a decade 15,000 had taken up land, from the Carolinas to New Hampshire.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, there were Ulster-Scots almost from the time the town was founded; in 1760, they numbered a thousand, a third of the population. Most of them lived in Irishtown, south of Citadel Hill, and a magistrate, who had studied law in Dublin, said, “The common dialect spoken in Halifax is wild Irish.” The Nova Scotia government desired Protestants, and their advertisement was answered by a flamboyant land speculator named Alexander McNutt from Londonderry in Ulster. He was living in Boston at the time, having first tried his luck among Ulstermen in Virginia.

Whereas few Catholics were emigrating to America colonies, regarding them as hotbeds of Protestantism, Ulster-men had been arriving there in a steady flow for more than a generation. These were Ulster-Scots, whose Presbyterian grandfathers had, like McNutt’s family, been translated from the Scottish Lowlands by the English Crown to colonize lands that belonged to native Catholic Irish. Despised as dissenters by the Anglican Establishment in Dublin, they were victimized in Ireland by many of the same laws that oppressed the Catholics. They were denied public office, and as their ministers held no status in law, even the most respectable of married Presbyterians were regarded by the state as unwed fornicators. They regarded themselves as Scots, strangers in a strange land.

Early settlers in Nova Scotia

It was from New Hampshire that Alexander McNutt drew the first fifty Ulster-Scots to settle the vacant French farms in Nova Scotia in 1761, but since they were so few, he offered to recruit 8,000 direct from northern Ireland. In the end he brought fewer than 400 before authorities in Dublin called a halt to his plans on grounds the full number would deplete too many Ulster parishes. Unlike most pioneers, they had no forests to fell, no roads to build, the French habitants having prepared and dyked the rich, red tidelands in the belief the French would be there for a lifetime, and their children and grandchildren after them.

The Provincial Surveyor, visiting the Ulster-Scot settlers in 1764, found the sixty families of Truro Township were “a very industrious set of people; have large stocks, and tho’ they have settled but two years will this year raise grain sufficient for their support, save for a few families.” All but ten of these families had come from New Hampshire with McNutt. The fifteen Ulster families in the township of Londonderry north of Cobequid Bay were also industrious, ‘doing extremely well, considering they had neither money nor stock.” At Onslow, where McNutt’s brother William built the regions first Presbyterian church, the Surveyor was disappointed. “Onslow has about fifty families. These are the most indigent as well as the most indolent people in the colony. Several families suffered severely last winter, and some were famished. If they are not relieved this winter, there will be great danger of their starving or quitting he colony. They have but a small portion of stock, compared with the other inhabitants of the province, and there are very few people of any substance among them.”

“The first five families that I settled in Irishtown, I am sure had not five shillings amongst them,” recalled a founder of the Charitable Irish Society in Halifax, “They subsisted upon potatoes and herrings and things I gave them. They had about six miles to go, into the wilderness from the road; but then the first inhabitants, whom I begged to go and assist them, helped to cut them out a path and they chopped the wood and raised their houses. In the spring they got some potatoes and seed; and those families are now increased to at least twenty-five in the course of about five years; for the people who come out write home to their friends saying how comfortable they are placed, and those friends raise heaven and earth to come.”


The last Irish record of Andrew Hemphill found is the 1831 Ireland Census showing him in Aghadowey, County Londonderry. Sadly, nearly all public records were lost during the Irish Civil War on 30 June 1922 when, after a two-day bombardment, an explosion and fire ravaged the building holding the Irish Censuses of 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851, apart from a few fragments. There are a few records that provide hints at what his life may have been.

The first reliable record found is of his marriage in Quebec in 1854, which reveals he is a widower. No record of his first wife has been discovered. It is possible she died in the epidemics. There is a record of an Elizabeth Hemphill’s 1864 marriage to James Hynds in Coleraine, Derry [Londonderry], Ireland; the father of the bride is Andrew Hemphill. Could this be a daughter from his first marriage?

Andrew float-left Ireland, arriving in Canadain 1850, fortunately missing the horrors at sea and at Quebec in 1847. Grosse Isle, Canada's Ellis Island,was especially ghastly. But he didn't miss the Great Famine, sometimes called the Great Hunger or Irish Potato Famine and he could well have lost his wife then. This will be seen in the next chapter.

Primary Sources:

  • Hanna, Charles A. The Scotch-Irish; or, The Scot in North Britain, North Ireland, and North America. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2010, N.Y. and London
  • Bardon, Jonathan. A History of Ulster.The Blackstaff Press, 1992, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Bardon, Jonathan. A History of Ulster.The Blackstaff Press, 1992, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
  • Library and Archives Canada.