Branching Out 1995

Spring 1995

Grand River Branch 

In June, the Branch worshipped in the New Credit United Church, Ohsweken, in the Grand River Valley, and enjoyed an old-fashioned Methodist Church Service prepared by Mr. Bill Kunder, Student Minister, Mr. Lloyd King, Native Educationist, told the history of his loyal Mississauga people who were also considered loyalists by British officials.  This was the church of Rev. Pter Jones, the first Native minister in Upper Canada.  A traditional supper was served by the ladies of the church.

Education Outreach:

The Branch transported and displayed historical and genealogical books and assisted the public at the following:  Heritage Days, Kitchener and Wellington County, Fergus; Port Ryerse Bicentennial, Woodstock; Guelph; Markdale; Grimsby; Kitchener; and Norfolklore, Simcoe.  The Branch continued its interest in and support of Chiefswood, the home of Pauline Johnson; Loyalist Lane at the Taquanyah Nature Centre, Grand River Conservation Authority; Loyalist Library in the Norfolk Historical Society Collection, Eva Brook Donly Museum, Simcoe; a memorial book for deceased members of the Branch to Loyalist Library; and a donation to the “I CARE” at Dominion Headquarters.  The Branch gratefully acknowledges the grant from the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation which permits this outreach.

Bus Tour of Mohawk Valley:

(The tour) to Albany was conducted by Miss Eleanor Chapin and Mrs. Dora Mae Blayney and Mr. Fred Blayney.  Points of interest: battle sites of the American Revolution; the Palatine Church; the site of the Queen Anne Chapel; Herkimer House; Johnson Hall, Johnstown; Schuyler Mansion, etc.  A warm reception and lunch by Nelles descendants in the family church was especially enjoyed.

Col. Samuel Ryerse Celebration:

In July, the Branch attended the Ryerse/Ryerson reunion and Port Ryerse bicentennial.

The Branch set up a display of history and genealogical books in the entrance of the Church and answered many questions during the days.  We closed at six o’clock when the famous fish fry was served to 500 people.

The Port Ryerse main street was closed off and a stage erected for the evening program.  Children of the town performed a skit based on the diary of Amelia Harris, daughter of Col. Ryerse.  A musical concert followed and at eight o’clock there was a street dance.

On Sunday morning we joined the Ryerse/Ryerson family and townsfolk again for the re-enactment of the landing of Col. Samuel Ryerse on the beach at the mouth of the creek.  A descendant, presenting Col. Samuel, was rowed ashore and received on the beach by actors representing Lt. Gov John Graves Simcoe and Lady Elizabeth Simcoe (gowned in deep green velvet with matching hat and floating ostrich plumes.)  Native peoples were also represented.  After the welcoming, the actors had some tongue-in-cheek comments to make about the Loyalists’ landing with today’s interpretation of this historical occasion.

The Company then paraded to the Church for a ceremony of the commemorative plaque and then on to Vern Ryerse’s farm for the reunion’s picnic lunch.  Interesting highlights:

  • Tugs of war, Ryerse/Ryersons versus towns people.
  • Pansy Ryerse (97), a direct descendant, cut the 3′ x 5′ cake with Col. Samuel Ryerse’s sword.
  • An amazing yard-high Ryerse genealogy chart stretched the entire length of the barn and across the end.
  • The handsomely bound history of the Ryerse/Ryerson Family 1574-1994 ; a joint effort of Thomas A. Ryerse and Phyllis A. Ryerse.
  • A wonderful celebratory atmosphere honoured family, roots and history.

Ryerse descendants added names to the family chart which ran the length of Vern Ryerse’s barn.  Actors represented Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe & Lady Simcoe at Ryerse landing re-enactment.

Fall 1995

Grand River Branch 

A cotton Old Union Flag and a framed chart of Billy Bishop’s three Loyalist ancestors were presented to the Billy Bishop Heritage Museum, Owen Sound, May 31, 1995.

The chart was researched and prepared by Helene Weaver who planned a special day.  Frank Weaver, not Helene, descends from these ancestors.  This permanent display creates a visible Loyalist presence in this part of Ontario.

Costumed Branch members were joined by members from London Branch and they followed a piper in a parade from City Hall and were met at the Museum by Mrs. Dorothy Vick, President of the Board and recipient of the Owen Sound Volunteer of the Year award.

The Royal Canadian Legion provided a colour guard and Mayor Stewart Taylor brought greetings from the City.  A splendid Victorian tea was provided by costumed volunteers.

The Edison Museum, Vienna Ontario was visited in August for a tour of the house, on lands once retained by the Edison family, which was donated as a museum to the village by Helen and Douglas Howard.  The furniture and many other artifacts were donated by the late Mrs. Nora Edison Coomb, first cousin of inventor Thomas Alva Edison.  The old Edison house was removed to Deerfield Village.

Flag and plaque presentation to Billy Bishop Heritage Museum. 

The Branch presented the museum with a copy of Loyalist families of Members of the Grand River Branch U.E.L. which has a chapter of Samuel Edison U.E.L..

Members of London Branch joined in the picnic which followed.

The Canadian Military Heritage Museum, 327 Greenwich St, Bldg. 19, Brantford, hosted speaker, Gavin Watt, dressed as a Royal Yorker in uniform of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York.  This new museum has an excellent Loyalist exhibit “The best in the country”.  The Branch highly recommends that you see it!  [Editor’s Note: See The Loyalist Quill, page 2 and also page 18.]

[Loyalist Quill – David K. Dorward, UE, Editor, Loyalist Gazette

“I was fortunate enough to visit the Canadian Military Heritage Museum in Brantford Ontario.  They have an absolutely super display on Loyalist military units during the American Revolution complete with uniforms and colour photographs.  It is simply the best display I have seen on the subject.  I would urge anyone in the area to make sure they visit the museum.  An extract from their brochure is reproduced on this page.  There is further information on the museum on pages 18 and 39.

Speaking of Brantford, Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks is located there on Six Nations Land.  This is well worth a visit and Loyalists should pay particular attention to the grave of Captain Joseph Brant who is buried beside the chapel.  I noted with pride the plaque which states the grave of Captain Brant was restored with financial help given by Toronto Branch, UEL, in 1971.

Nearby are many small Indian galleries such as the Two Turtle Art Gallery and Studio, east of Brantford on Highway 54.  The gallery features the work of local Iroquois artists such as Arnold Aaron Jacobs.

Sergeant & Drummer, Kings Royal Yorkers (1776 – 1784)….”

1996 Bicentennial of St. John’s Anglican Church, Woodhouse and Bicentennial of the Founding of Vittoria:

Details are not complete but Grand River Branch hopes to celebrate these occasions. 

Submitted by Doris Lemon

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