The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Ontario was founded at a meeting February 28, 18961. The meeting, having been called by Mr. William Hamilton Merritt and others, was held in the Canadian Institute in Toronto. A committee was appointed to draft a constitution. Sir John Beverly Robinson was elected President and Mr. Merritt secretary. The constitution and by-laws were revised in April 1897 by a special committee. On December 1, 1897 the United Empire Loyalists’ Association (UELA) of Ontario was incorporated under the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1897, chapter 1722.
A Branch of the UELA of Ontario was formed in Toronto, one at Virgil, a town near Queenston, and another Branch was formed at Hamilton, Ontario in 1902 with Judge Snider as President. The Hamilton Branch at this time was known as “The Head of the Lake Branch”3. Another account states that the latter Branch was formed in 1898 and disbanded in 1903; however, a summary of the Hamilton Branch Minute Book 1902 to 1907 would suggest that the Branch was formed in 1902.
Because the descendants of the Loyalists were scattered throughout Canada a petition requesting “to be incorporated by the Parliament of Canada so that they may extend their operations to all the provinces and territories of Canada under the control of one central body, — His Majesty, by and with the consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts —”. Therefore, on May 27, 1914, the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada was pleased to pass an Act creating the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada4 (UELAC). There were five purposes set out in the Act at this time.
A petition was conducted by Mr. Stanley Mills5 and others in 1931 with the result that the Central Council was pleased to grant authority to constitute and organize a Branch of the UELAC at Hamilton. The organization meeting was held Wednesday September 30th, 19316at the residence of Mr. Stanley Mills, Esq. U.E., Hamilton, Ontario. Over 150 members attended, including a delegation “of some Forty Members from the Toronto Branch of the Association”. Officers and Committees were elected with Stanley Mills being made President of the Hamilton Branch. The “First Regular Meeting was held in the auditorium of the YWCA building, 17 Main Street W, Hamilton, November 12th, 1931″. It is also noted in the same Loyalist Gazette that the United Empire Loyalists planted a Canadian hard sugar maple tree in front of the Hamilton Court House on the morning of Remembrance Day, November 11th, 1931. Judge Colin G. Snider, K.C., B.A., U.E., officiated. “All Loyalists present grasped the tree, so that it may be truly recorded that this maple tree was planted by the United Empire Loyalists. This ceremony was in remembrance of the Members of Loyalist Families who served their King and Country during the Great War of 1914-1918, and many of whom made the Supreme Sacrifice”.
By May 19337 membership had increased to approximately 175 members including honourary and executive officers. Mr. Stanley Mills served as President of the Hamilton Branch from 1931 to 1935. During 1935 Mr. L. Leland Merrill was Dominion President and Dominion Council met in Hamilton. In 1936 Mr. Merrill became President of Hamilton Branch, then in 1937 Judge Henry Carpenter was elected President.
- Catherine Tanser
1 Annual Transactions of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Ontario Vol III 1889-1900 page 6
2 Exhibit A 4-5 George V Chap. 146
3 Summary of the Hamilton Branch Minute Book 1902 to 1907, Archives, Hamilton Branch
4 Exhibit A 4-5 George V Chap. 146 An Act to incorporate The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada
5 The Loyalist Gazette, Vol. I, No.1, page 1
6 The Loyalist Gazette, Vol. I, No.1, page 3
7 The Loyalist Gazette, Vol. III, No.3, page 9