Frederick Haldimand (1718–1791) political leader

2011-02-15 10:43:37

As governor of Quebec (1778–84), Sir Frederick Haldimand was most responsible for the resettlement of British Loyalists following the American Revolution (1775–83) (see Canada—immigration survey and policy overview). The decision to settle them in the wilderness of western Canada eventually led to the separation of the colony into two provinces in 1791.
The Swiss-born Haldimand was a distinguished career soldier who rose to the position of lieutenant-general and was appointed governor of Quebec. He had the formidable task of finding homes for some 10,000 Loyalists, mostly farmers from the backcountry of the former Pennsylvania colony and New York colony who had begun to congregate in Montreal and Quebec after 1775. He first looked to settle them on Cape Breton Island, though he soon determined this to be impractical since most did not have a seafaring background. Instead, he negotiated land purchases from the Missisauga and other Indian tribes in 1782 and 1783. Supplemented by additional purchases as necessary, these lands enabled Haldimand to resettle more than 6,000 Loyalists in the wilderness of western Quebec, north of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Free land was granted according to military rank and social status, and food, tools, and other supplies were provided until after the crop of 1786. Although this resettlement largely separated the English-speaking Loyalists from the French speakers of eastern Quebec, it also led to considerable dissatisfaction from settlers who longed for British laws, customs, and institutions. By the Constitution Act of 1791, Quebec was separated: The western area of settlement became the province of Upper Canada; the eastern part, the province of Lower Canada.