The Loyalists were colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) between Great Britain and the united former Thirteen Colonies. Many fought on the British side in Loyalist regiments that were raised in all of the colonies from Georgia to Massachusetts.
Eventually, between 80,000 - 100,000 Loyalists fled the former Thirteen Colonies. While some went to England, Florida, Jamaica and the Bahamas, roughly half settled in the British North American colonies that later became the Dominion of Canada. Many were soldiers who had fought in the Loyalist regiments. The Loyalists were not only of English origin. Many were immigrants from Scotland and the German states; others were of Dutch or Iroquois ancestry or were former African-American slaves.
The main waves of Loyalists arrived in 1783 and 1784, settling in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the Island of St. John (later Prince Edward Island). In Nova Scotia, the two chief settlements were in the Saint John Valley and at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The influx of population overwhelmed the previous population and led to the creation in 1784 of two new colonies, New Brunswick and Cape Breton (Cape Breton returned to the jurisdiction of Nova Scotia in 1820).
Significant numbers of Loyalists also went to the Province of Quebec, which at the time encompassed the area of modern Ontario and Quebec. Most went to the western part. The influx gave the region its first large European population and led to the creation of the separate province of Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1791, while Quebec became Lower Canada.
Many Loyalists were entitled to land grants and received compensation related to their service in the Revolutionary War and their family needs. Documents associated with land grants and claims for compensation provide an important record for genealogists and other researchers.
Today more than two million Canadians trace their ancestry to the Loyalists. The Vancouver Public Library has many resources for genealogists interested in exploring Loyalist roots. Additional resources are available online and there is an active United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada with a branch in Vancouver.
Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) is a popular electronic genealogy research source available at all Vancouver Public Library locations. It includes several searchable electronic databases containing thousands of references to Loyalists. The following is a list of Loyalist related databases in ALE.
There are no comprehensive online databases comprising nominal information associated with Loyalists. The websites listed below vary greatly. Many are basic listings of soldiers in Loyalist regiments that were disbanded and settled in Canada.