John Graves Simcoe (1752–1806) government official

2011-02-27 09:32:02

John Graves Simcoe was the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (1792–96) and was responsible for crafting a policy that encouraged extensive immigration into the newly formed province. Believing in the superiority of English culture, he determined to build a model British colony, weaned from French law and influence and attractive to Americans dissatisfied with the newly formed republic.
As commander of Loyalists of the New York and Connecticut campaigns during the American Revolution (1775–83), Simcoe developed an admiration for these men. Intrepid and ambitious, Simcoe devised a plan that established a strong British military presence on the frontier with the United States and encouraged migration to Upper Canada. In addition to building roads and settlements, Simcoe issued a proclamation (February 7, 1792), offering land grants of 200–1,000 acres, subject only to minor fees, a commitment to improve the land, and an oath of loyalty to the British Crown. Although several thousand settlers took advantage of the land grants, the offer did little to attract settlers from Britain. The majority of settlers came from New York and Pennsylvania, prominently including members of pacifist groups such as the Quakers, Mennonites (see Mennonite immigration), and Dunkers, enticed by the promise of exemption from military service. Most settlement soon fell into the hands of aristocrats, most notably Colonel Thomas Talbot and Thomas Douglas, Lord Selkirk, who were seen as the foundation of a new model England.