The Bates Brothers

Only a year after the King and Chisholm families settled in East Flamborough Township, Lt. Governor John Graves Simcoe ordered the construction of a small inn, later to be called The King’s Head Inn, at the Stoney Creek end of the Beach Strip – this was part of a line of fortifications, together with the layout of the Dundas Street Highway that Simcoe saw as important to the development of Upper Canada and as part of his defense plans against the possible threat from the Americans. Needing an innkeeper, Simcoe chose William Bates, who had served as a sergeant for eight years in the Queen’s Rangers under Simcoe.

Bates’ appointment began in 1800 and besides operating as an inn, the building also became known as “Government House” and was used to house military officers and supplies. Its location made it an important strategic site that was demonstrated during the War of 1812.

During the winter of 1813, the First Nation warriors attached to General Proctor’s army were ordered to “winter at the head of Lake Ontario.” They appear to have camped on the farms of nearby settlers, which resulted in numerous claims for losses and damages. Among the submissions was one by Augustus Bates, William’s brother, who had built a two-storey frame building close to the King’s Head Inn. He reported considerable losses, including most of his rail fences from this “winter over”, and claimed £10 for a cow taken by the Chippawa, £28 for five swine and £59 for a barrel of spirits containing 38 gallons, taken by the Delaware Indians. However, when claims were finally settled, Augustus was only awarded a small percentage.

On May 10, 1813, a week after American forces had managed to land at York and burn part of the town, American Admiral Chauncey detached two schooners from his fleet of ships, cruising off the entrance to the Niagara River for the task of destroying the King’s Head Inn, allowing the Americans to land at the Head-of-the-Lake and attack the British on two fronts.

At the time, the inn was garrisoned by 50 men of the 2nd York and 5th Lincoln militias, but they were without the support of any artillery. From their two ships, the Americans subjected the building to a heavy bombardment of “hot shot,” which the militias were unable to respond to. The garrison was forced to retire until reinforcements came from Burlington Heights and were sufficient in number to send the Americans retreating to their boats.

At the conclusion of the war, members of the Bates family moved to East Flamborough Township, receiving Lot 1, Concession 10 as a Crown Grant for their services – property that has been continuously in the ownership of descendants of the family ever since.

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, 21 February, 2013.


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