The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
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JUNE 20, 2009

Twenty six years ago, in 1983, a group of ladies from Kingsville attended the Ontario Genealogical Society's annual conference in Windsor to get ideas for researching their family histories. At that meeting they met several Windsor ladies who told them about the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada and that each of them had received certificates proving their descent from pioneers who had come to Canada to settle after the American Revolution ended in 1783.

Having been told by their parents that they were descended from United Empire Loyalists, these Kingsville ladies learned the process for applying for UE status, sent applications to the Grand River Branch UELAC, and by 1983 year's end some had received their UE certificates. They kept in touch with the Windsor UEL ladies and in 1984 decided to form a UEL branch for Windsor and Essex County naming it the Bicentennial Branch to acknowledge the 200 year anniversary of the arrival of the Loyalists to Upper Canada in 1784.

They were greatly assisted in the process by Mr. E. John Chard, a member of the Dominion Council UELAC in Toronto, and a patron of this branch, and in May 1984, the Charter Meeting was held at the Main Branch of the Windsor Public Library. Bicentennial Branch has, since that day, assisted several hundred Windsor and Essex County people to receive their UE certificates, as well as Loyalists who have contacted us from various places across Canada and the U.S. - even a family living in London, England.

In 1984 very little was known by local citizens about the rich history of our New Settlement, but we have learned in researching local family histories that the early pioneers were proud of their heritage. The New Settlement was given its name to distinguish it from the old English and French settlements on the north shores of Essex County along the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair.

On June 7th, 1784, the Huron and Ottawa Indians who claimed ownership or proprietary rights in the country surrounding Detroit gave by treaty, a tract of land seven miles square at the mouth of the Detroit River to British officers who had been associated with them in the recent war. This grant was later confirmed by the Crown. The first survey was made in 1787 and updated in 1793-94 by Patrick McNiff whose name is found on many old records. It was settled almost 10 years after the Revolution ended as it took that long for the British Indian Department to make the proper treaties with the Indians so that land ownership could be given to the settlers.

The New Settlement stretches along the shore of Lake Erie westward beginning here on Lot 1, Western Division, with 97 two hundred acre lots being laid out up to the mouth of the Detroit River in the long, narrow French style. This lot, Lot 1 stretched inland as far as the Second Concession. 12 more lots were laid out to the east about as far as Union, in shorter, wider lots. Division Street is named as the dividing line between the Western and Eastern Divisions.

We must realize that these surveys were done before any thought of a town was ever conceived - actually 60 years before Kingsville became a village. However, many of the first settlers were desperate for a mill to grind their wheat in those early days of the 1790s, so they petitioned the land board to settle Andrew Alcock, now known to us as Andrew Ulch, on Lot 1, at the mouth of Mill Creek. We are pleased to have descendants of Andrew Ulch here with us today. He was well known as an expert miller. His mill was in what is now known as Lakeside Park, situated just east of the present day pavilion. The pioneers would come to his mill by boat, their best means of transportation. Alvin Scratch, one of our oldest members to get his certificate through Butler's Ranger Leonhard Scratch tells the story that when he was a boy in the early 1900s he played on the foundations of that old mill.

Ever since the Bicentennial Branch was formed it has been our dream to mark the beginning of the New Settlement with a permanent plaque that will withstand the weather and the ravages of time so that future generations of this area will know and not forget our rich history. We feel it is most fitting, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary as a Branch, that we also dedicate this Memorial Plaque on Lot 1, Western Division, The New Settlement. We are indeed grateful to the owners of this Kingsville Square to allow us to place our plaque in such a conspicuous location for all locals and visitors to enjoy.

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