Jumping The Border


Early Canadian Land Petition
Those that dismiss the practice of genealogy likely see the hobby as dull and tedious; a pastime for the gray-haired sedentary set. But I shake my head, keenly aware of the head-spinning adventure they smugly resist.

My experiences over the years have certainly been a testament to the knee-slapping thrills of ancestral exploration. And even to this day, I am shocked with new discoveries; constantly reminding myself to keep my eyes open and my net wide.

Many of you have followed my expedition into my Hobbs' lineage as I have discovered a wealth of records and knowledge unselfishly provided by an Internet Hobbs cousin. But I have yet to reveal my recent discovery that has lead me north into the Canadian Archives.

Thumbing through a stack of miscellaneous papers once again mailed by my Hobbs' contact, I paused at a digitalized copy ofa 1796 Late Loyalist List of Lower Canada. The signatures were men from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont and I spied my Hobbs ancestors on the list. Searching further through the collection, my ancestors were again found on land applications for the Province of Quebec.

Thrilled with the discovery, I went straight to the Canadian Archives website, finding the records for myself. But my curiosity pressed me further as I wondered: what on earth were my Vermont ancestors doing north of the border and why was my American Revolutionary ancestor, Isaac Hobbs, signing an oath of allegiance to Canada?

Perplexed and bewildered, I researched this Late Loyalist List of Lower Canada along with the history of the land petitions for Upper and Lower Canada in 1792. I zipped an e-mail to an historian at the Canadian Archives and received a very informative summary:

"The term Late Loyalists were for those American settlers in Upper and Lower Canada who failed to conform to the definition of United Empire Loyalist. They were the so-called Late Loyalists who responded to invitations in 1792 by the governors of Upper and Lower Canada to file petitions for titles to lands. Many from the New England Border States were attracted by inexpensive and accessible land, as well as low taxes."

It was a Canadian land rush that brought settlers from the States into Canada. Their signage of the Late Loyalist List was required before petitioning for the lands.

My Hobbs ancestors, like many signers of the Late Loyalist List, never followed through with pioneering Canadian land, but their brief stint into Canada, add a fun and surprising twist to their history.

While browsing the Canadian Archives website, I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of the site. It is ripe with searchable census, vital and land records and I was awe-struck with the potential of locating records of New England ancestors.

I learned that many of our ancestors freely hopped north and south of the border for marriages, divorces, land, etc, making the Canadian Archives a must for anyone with New England ancestors.

So take a peak through the genealogical collections of the Canadian Archives--better yet, place it on your bookmark list.

Like me, you may be surprised to find your ancestors jumping the border, willing to cast loyalty to the States aside, for cheap land easy fortunes.

Keep searching for answers,