History of the Grand River Branch

The Branch was originally formed in the early 1930s as Brantford Branch, with the Rev. J.A.Bloodsworth as President at the time of chartering, and a membership of twenty.  It became inactive on the outbreak of war, in 1939. 

The Branch was re-activated on February 24th, 1973 as Grand River Branch, Dr. Vera Vanderlip receiving the Charter from Mr. John A. Aikman, then Second Vice President of UELAC.  Also present were representatives of the Provincial and Federal governments, at the Brant County Museum.

A History of Grand River Branch
F. E. Chapin, March 1997

The charter was granted to Grand River Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada on February 24th, 1973.

The organizational meeting was held on April 15th, 1973 at the home of Dr Vera Vanderlip, pro tem President, Waterloo, Ontario.  Those present were Jack Aikman of Hamilton,Keith Casselman of Kitchener, Miss Opal Howey of Brantford, Mrs Mary Pirie of Waterloo, Marvin Rush of Waterloo, Mr and Mrs Bob Sanders of Cambridge, Mr and Mrs Michael Spohn of Toronto, Mrs James Welsh of Cambridge, Dr. J. G. Dillane of Hamilton and Mrs Edna Habel of Kitchener.

In June, a picnic was held at Waterloo Park, Waterloo, with eight present.

In September, a meeting was held at the home of Ruth Gould, Waterloo, with 26 present.  Officers chosen were Dr. Vera Vanderlip, President and Secretary; Wilma Burns, Genealogist; and Noel Thompson, Treasurer.  Members were present from Toronto, Governor Simcoe and Hamilton Branches.  John Chard was a great help in organizing and establishing the branch.  John Aikman and Mrs C. C. Strahm helped us to process our genealogies.

The Charter Presentation meeting of the Grand River Branch held on September 29th, 1974 in the Brant County Museum, Brantford, Ontario, opened with President Mr. E. John Chard in the chair.  Philip Smart, Toronto Branch, E. Murray Billings, London Branch, and Mack Elliott, Hamilton Branch, brought greetings.  The Charter was presented by John A. Aikman, genealogist Hamilton Branch and a Dominion Vice President, to Dr. Vera Vanderlip, founding President of the Grand River Branch.  The main speaker was W. Stafford Johnston, Kitchener whose topic was the history of the Grand River.

The November meeting was held at the Kitchener Public Library with 45 present from Kitchener, Waterloo, Brantford, Mount Pleasant, Delhi, Hamilton, Ancaster, Rockwood, Woodstock, Mitchell, Paris, Simcoe, Oakland, London and Toronto.

The branch covers the area from Georgian Bay to Lake Erie along the Grand River watershed, west to Woodstock and east to Guelph.  To cover such a large territory we have our meetings in different communities from March to November, usually on the third Sunday at 2:30pm.

Presidents have been Dr Vera Vanderlip, E. John Chard, Robert B. Burns, Ruth Gould, Doris E. Marcellus, Robert Morden, Doris Wilson, Gary Cooper, Irene MacCrimmon, Doris Lemon, James W. Files and the current president Ronald Fink.

The Armorial Bearing of the U.E.L. Association was presented to the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford.  The Joseph Brant’s 114th Battalion Flag at the centre was restored.

In 1991 with a grant from the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s New Horizons Programme, we published our book “Loyalist Families of the Grand River Branch U.E.L.” which includes 98 families.  With grants from the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture we have given donations to:

1) Chiefswood, the home of E. Pauline Johnson which is being restored.

2) A Loyalist Lane Fund was established with the Grand Valley Conservation Foundation at Taquanyah Nature Interpretation, Decewsville. Rail and stump vintage fences, Carolinian forest trees, shrubs and vines have been planted yearly.

3) Donations are given to the E. B. Donly Museum, Simcoe, for the Loyalist Library to purchase Upper Canada Land Petitions on micro-film.  Books are given to the library in memory of deceased members.

4) For 20 years we have had our books at the Norfolk Genealogy Fair and assisted many in their ancestral searches.  Many other fairs, festivals, family reunions have been attended, which has involved numerous volunteer hours.

5) In September 1995 we were at International Ploughing Match in Ayr, Ontario, for five days.

6) A Union Flag was presented to the Billy Bishop Museum, Owen Sound and also to St John’s Anglican Church, Woodhouse (near Simcoe) on the 175th Anniversary of the church.

7) Loyalist books are given to small branch libraries of the Grand River watershed.

We have taken 9 or 10 bus bus tours. In 1983 we took a 19 day tour and attended the U.E.L. convention in the Maritimes.  We have arranged historical tours to the Mohawk Valley and New England.  In 1976 we went to the Sigmund Samuel Gallery, Canadiana Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Our peak membership was 209 the year we published our book.  Our present membership is 162 (1997).

We have had meetings with Hamilton and London Branches. Picnics are held with our summer meetings.  A number attend dinner after other meetings, at a local restaurant before going home.  This has fostered a close relationship which is necessary when we live in different communities.