Forgotten Settlers: The Migration, Society and Legacies of British Military Veterans to Upper Canada (Ontario), from 1815-1855

Smith, Shane (2018) Forgotten Settlers: The Migration, Society and Legacies of British Military Veterans to Upper Canada (Ontario), from 1815-1855. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis examines the settlement of British military veterans in Upper Canada (modern-day Ontario) in the period between 1815 and 1855. It presents five settlement schemes which were introduced by successive British governments to facilitate the migration of the veterans and the women and children who accompanied them to the colony. This thesis uses petitions for land, appointments and assistance to discover how the veterans presented themselves as potential settlers to the colonial authorities. It also reveals networks of patronage and connections which linked the veterans with the military men who administered the colony. This research builds on existing works which detail the process of petitioning in the colonies. It also expands on the historiography to demonstrate that support networks encompassed officers as well as the rank-and-file.

When the veterans interacted with the colonial authorities through their petitions, they highlighted their military past and their status as a former soldier or sailor. However, a contradiction emerges between the way they presented themselves in the closed world of petitioning and the way the men behaved in public in their day-to-day lives. Veterans became influential figures in agriculture, business and local government; yet their prominence was based on their status as leading civic figures, rather than military men. In addition, we will see that anniversaries of Waterloo or battles of the Peninsular War passed without the veterans commemorating them. This contradiction in behaviour reveals details about the nature of colonial society. In private, the veterans benefited from a society based around patronage, connections and hierarchy. Yet this power was publicly challenged by civilians, and the early Canadian scholars who emerged in the later part of the nineteenth-century overlooked the veterans as they did not fit their narrative that the colony was built on hard work, individual effort, and a pioneer spirit.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: V100 History by period
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 16:01
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 16:49

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