Toronto Branch, UELAC endeavours to fulfill our mandate to preserve, promote and celebrate the history and traditions of the Loyalist epoch in Canadian history by uniting the descendants of Loyalist families. As a collective group we can increase the public awareness of the Loyalist contributions to Canada, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area. We do this by developing and participating in projects and activities which honour, perpetuate and celebrate the United Empire Loyalists.
The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Ontario 1896-1913
On 28 February 1896, a group of like-minded Loyalists’ descendants, most of them residents of the Toronto area, met to promote “the preservation of the United Empire Loyalists’ historical records and the spirit of loyalist”. A committee of nine members, chaired by Mr. Allan Maclean Howard (a future president of Toronto Branch), formed a provincial association, drafted a constitution and bylaws, and prepared a submission to the Ontario Government.). The province granted Letters Patent incorpororating the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Ontario on 1 December 1897 “with its chief seat Toronto”. Thus the system of a Toronto-centered association was born and has remained based in a provincial rather than a national capital.
The first general meeting of the new association was convened in the Canadian Institute Hall on 11 May 1896. The Hon John Beverley Robinson was unanimously elected president, and Mr. William Hamilton Merritt was the recording secretary. Unfortunately, Robinson died of a stroke three months later and was replaced by Dr. George Sterling Ryerson. Associations in Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick came into being in the late 1890’s. Branches across Ontario were formed.
The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada
At Ottawa on 27 May 1914, The Parliament of the Dominion of Canada passed “An act (chapter 146 4-5 Geo. V, 1914) creating the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada”. The Act made provision for the Association to operate in all the provinces and territories with the “Chief Seat in Toronto”.
The “Birth Certificate” of Toronto Branch
A document quoted the original charter of 1914, and then proceeded to the adoption, by the UELAC on 9 April 1931, of a resolution for the establishment of the Toronto branch of the UELAC, “hereinafter referred to as the ‘Toronto Branch'”. The Branch actually came into being in January 1933.
Our first “home” to house our library, office and meeting rooms was 30 Prince Arthur Avenue. in 1945. After the sale of the house in 1969, we rented space at 21 Prince Arthur. By 1983, under the guidance of Dorinne Macnab, the branch moved to larger quarters at 234 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 601, and later to Suite 406. With the rent increasing, Toronto Branch chose in 2003 to purchase again, the result being our present “home” at 40 Scollard Street, Suite 300.
Over the years Toronto Branch has done much to fulfill the aims of the UELAC: tree plantings at Queen’s Park, the establishment of a research library, the branch newsletter “Fidelity”, publications such as “Loyalist Lineages”, the purchase and gift of the King George IV portrait to the Toronto Historical Board in 1990, the purchase and gift of Military General Service medals to the City of Toronto, buttons and other loyalist memorabilia.