Settling down

The majority of East Flamborough Township’s early Patentees who requested land before 1800 received grants in the Lower Concessions (present-day Aldershot) and were mainly government officials and military officers. Without exception, these people remained absentee landowners, choosing to locate elsewhere and to use their East Flamborough property as a source of cash – only Charles King and George Chisholm, whose Patents were awarded in 1802, settled in the township.

Among the most notable absentee owners were the Reverend Robert Addison, the Honourable Peter Russell, Surveyor, Augustus Jones and brothers, Lieutenant Alexander McDonnell and Deputy Provincial Surveyor, Angus McDonnell. Each received several lots between the Broken Front and the Third Concession, and in various other townships between Niagara and the Head-of-the-Lake.

Rev. Addison (1754-1829), was sent to Canada in 1791 as a missionary by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, but only after repeated requests were made to the authorities in England for a clergyman to minister to the loyalist refugees housed at Niagara. The Hon. Peter Russell (1733-1808) succeeded John Graves Simcoe as Lt. Governor of Upper Canada in 1796 and was responsible for many of the early decisions of the government.

The largest awards were made to the McDonnell brothers. Angus was awarded more than 1,200 acres in the first five concessions, while Alexander received more than 2,400 acres, much of it concentrated along Dundas Street and the future site of Waterdown. The award can be partly explained by the strategic importance of this early road and the need to defend it, for Lt. McDonnell, while still only a teenager, had been cited for his exploits with Joseph Brant during the Revolutionary War.

Lots north of Waterdown and in the middle concessions were largely awarded to settlers from the British Isles. Some early arrivals, such as John Glasgow and Andrew Hall, were awarded Crown grants, but received no deeds to the property until many years later, while others had to purchase from the absentee landowners.

In the northern part of East Flamborough, in Concessions 10 to 14, 5,657 acres were awarded to the four brothers of General Sir Isaac Brock, who had been killed at Queenston Heights during the War of 1812. Besides the East Flamborough property, the brothers, living in the Channel Island and England, received more than 6,000 acres in other townships. Over the next four decades, Brock lands were slowly sold off and by 1865 every lot in the township was in the ownership of a resident settler.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 14 September 2007.


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