Our First Settlers – Part Four

Burlington Gazette – History by Helen Langford

Our First Settlers – Part Four
Tues., November 8, 1977

To claim Joseph Brant as the founder of Burlington may be romantic, but it is not historically correct. He was only one of the United Empire Loyalists and British who pioneered our area.

Following the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, a steady trickle of harassed courageous colonists arrived at Fort Niagara. Gradually they began to clear land to supply both their families and the fort with food. As more arrived, they spread out from Niagara up to Fort Erie and inland to Stoney Creek. From the beginning, the settlers hoped to return to their homes but with the end of peace negotiations in 1783 and the terms of this settlement, their hopes vanished. Their security was further threatened by lack of land leases or titles in Upper Canada.

The first survey in the Niagara area began immediately. Soon the settlers were secure in their land allotments. There were 46 families alloted land of which 713 acres were already cleared in 1783.

At the same time Robert Land and Richard Beasley had staked their claims on Burlington Bay, much ahead of the government survey and 15 years prior to the grant of land to Joseph Brant in 1798. (It is very likely that Joseph Brant had established some form of abode prior to this registered date as had most of our settlers).

By 1787, most of the best land around Niagara had been allotted. The newest arrivals pushed along the shore to the Grimsby area and by 1790 our city ‘father’, James Gage (16 years of age) had to travel as far as Stoney Creek for a clear land title.

Land was purchased and surveyed as needed. By 1795, the area around the lake and the bay was available up to the Purchase Line, approximately marked by Francis Road and Job’s Lane north to Arthur. The area east from this line to the Humber River was retained by the Mississauga Indians. A special treaty was arranged with them for Joseph Brant to be granted the most southwesterly corner bordering Lake Ontario and bounded by Rambo Creek, Dundas Highway and the Purchase Line.

This 3450 acres is still known as Brant’s Block. That is what B. B. means on some of your land titles. The creation of this large tract without internal survey has been a nightmare for the registry office, surveyors and land title searches ever since; but it certainly is one of our most unique features here in Burlington.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 8 Nov. 1977. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library – Central Branch. Reel 50.

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