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Borders & Frontiers (1800-1820)

Defending the New Homestead

After the initial struggle faced by the Loyalists to clear the land, large areas of the new frontier were tamed and cultivated, and many began living quite comfortably. Along with the Loyalist families, later American immigrants arrived to take up land grants. With the sons and daughters of the original Loyalists, they began to open up the northern concessions of the front townships.

Wood frame and stone houses began replacing log cabins, and churches, taverns, and storefronts began to define communities. Demand for formal furnishings was growing rapidly. Empire furniture became popular in Canada, remaining fashionable until the 1840s. Families enjoyed fine china, scroll and pillar clocks, and many more comforts of the nineteenth century.

Their lives were disrupted in 1812 when Upper Canada became a target after the United States declared war on Great Britain, angry that the Royal Navy's blockade of French ports was interfering with their Atlantic trade and that the Royal Navy persisted in searching for British deserters on their ships.

As border tensions increased, the homes of Loyalists and their descendants were once again in jeopardy. The citizens of Upper and Lower Canada were determined not to lose their homes a second time, and their resistance surprised the Americans who had incorrectly assumed their invasion force would be perceived as liberators. Local volunteer militias were raised to guard the borders, and those that were not sent to Kingston or York, set up encampments along the Bay of Quinte. Although local land units saw little action, the efforts of the volunteer militias throughout Upper and Lower Canada to defend the border, created a new patriotism and political identity. A new confidence in the future began to replace the uncertain prospective of the first settlers.

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