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Episode 7: The Lymburner Loyalists

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Episode 7: The Lymburner Loyalists

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WELCOME to the Maple Family Treehouse, Episode 7: The Lymburner Loyalists In this episode I discuss the location I occupy as well as the location my ancestors occupied in larger structures of violence and power used to build the colonial empire of Britain. Today you will hear about the migration that the Lymburner family made from Scotland to Canada. I will lead you through the chain of cause and consequence, to understand how everyday citizens like my ancestors, faced violence, and acted violently to uphold colonial power. My way out of this mess? To understand my own location in it, to understand my family’s migration stories. Come along. As I stated in Episode 1, one of my goals for the podcast is to learn. It is my hope that the things I am learning will be reflected in this podcast, and as such, the format and delivery of the podcast will inevitably change. That change begins today. I want the land acknowledgement for this podcast not only to reflect where I am now on the land, but also how I got here: down the St. Lawrence Seaway. It has taken 300 years for both sides of my family to make their way down the St. Lawrence to the Detroit River. From Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Maine, New York, and finally to Ontario, from Niagara Falls to Sandwich Town in Windsor. The land acknowledgement that needs to happen for this family tree covers just under 23 hundred kilometres. So, I want to acknowledge the land my ancestors have been inhabiting and migrating on for 300 years. This is my first draft: <LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT> Hear these words as an act of disruption – I give my unreserved gratitude to those who shared the land. The land in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Maine is the traditional territory of the Wabanaki Confederacy who negotiated the Peace and Friendship Treaty. The land now known as New York to the Niagara region within Canada is the traditional land of the Mohawk within the Iroqouis confederacy London and the St. Catherine’s Region are the land of the Mississaugas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation who negotiated the Between the Lakes Treaty of 1792. These are the vast lands of the Hoh-dee-noh-shawn-eee and west of London, Ontario to Sandwich Town in Windsor, is the land of the Attiwonderon people. For the last 300 years many of my ancestors have settled on and travelled through land that sustained them. I pledge to show unreserved gratitude to the Hoh-dee-noh-shawn-eee and Attiwonderon peoples with peace, sharing, and caring on and for this land. <STORY> The story I want to tell you today is about the Lymburner branch of my tree. The Lymburners were from Kilmarnock, Scotland, just southwest of Glasgow. Mathew Lymburner immigrated to Canada in 1767. I do not know EXACTLY what prompted Mathew Lymburner and his new family to come to Canada, but I do know that during this period, Scotland’s cultural, economic and political system was drastically changing. The clan system was breaking down, along with access to land. Profits from the transatlantic Slave Trade were making large scale herding, farming and industry possible. But large-scale herding and farming required land. The demand of this new economy was raising the value of the land, displacing traditional small subsistence farmers. These powerful push-factors were paired with frequent advertisements for land in the mid to late 1700s, ads that would have most certainly made Mathew Lymburner aware of more attractive possibilities, and in 1767 he made his way to New Brunswick. Shortly after arriving in New Brunswick, Mathew and his family made their way to Penobscot, Massachusetts, an area now within the borders of Maine. Mathew made a successful petition for land on the grounds that he would be loyal to the British crown. He was granted 150 acres of uncleared land, 30 acres of which he cleared for a farm. He built a house, a barn, and a sawmill. Just as he had set himself up for the life that he had always dreamed of, his land was sieged by American rebels for a 3-week period, during which time he reported that his family was treated very cruelly, and most of his supplies and livestock were taken. After the British Navy arrived, the Rebels were driven back. Mathew was given protection by British forces, but he was afraid to return to life on his farm. In 1783 he returned to St. Johns, New Brunswick. His petition for land in New Brunswick was successful. He claimed to need refuge as he feared prosecution for acting as a guide for British forces during battle. So he started out life anew once again. Mathew and Margarit had a son born in 1793 – John Lymburner is my paternal 4-greats Grandfather and at the young age of 18 years old, John served in the War of 1812, with the fourth Lincoln Regiment in the Niagara region, where the entire family now lived. So it seems that from the time the Lymburner family left Scotland, it was one hurdle after another for each generation. For Mathew Lymburner it was having his dream homestead destroyed by American rebel soldiers and serving in the British Navy during the American Revolution. For his son John it was serving in the war of 1812. Through it all though they found love, had children, kept their families together, and pursued their passion to find land to settle on. 60 years after Mathew Lymburner pack up his family and immigrated to North America, it seems as though all the hard work had paid off. Out of the 9 children that John and Elizabeth Lymburner had, 5 filed Upper Canada Land claims petitions in the year of 1837. Each petitioner was granted 200 acres, for a grand total of 1000 acres of beautiful land on the Niagara Escarpment. Every one of those petitions was in a small town called Caister, in Lincoln County, Ontario. The county of Lincoln still exists and is just northwest of Niagara Falls. For those of you not from this area, you may have only heard of Niagara Falls. The image of Niagara Falls is a pretty good visual image to begin to understand the landscape that Lymburners lived on. The Falls are part of the Niagara Escarpment, a magnificent rocky ledge that is 725 kilometres long. This land formation began to take shape over 450 million years ago. Over millions of years, sediments compressed into limestone and shale. The progressive action of glaciers, water flows and the elements caused the more resilient limestone to weather at different rates than the shale, resulting in the very dramatic landforms. The Lymburners lived among: sea stacks, caves, valleys, scenic waterfalls, hills, and perhaps most remarkable, the spectacular cliffs along the Niagara Escarpment itself, which can reach heights over 510 meters. John Lymburner senior died in 1866. For almost 30 years his children and their growing families had been settled together with more than enough land to sustain them, on the beautiful Niagara landscape. I like to think that Mathew Lymburner, who made the trek from Scotland, would have been just wee bit proud. But let’s not forget the larger context here in North America. All this was made possible as a result of the Between the Lakes Treaty of 1792. The community website of the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation provides the following explanation for the Between the Lakes Treaty: The arrival of Loyalists during and after the American Revolutionary War placed pressure on the British Crown to find lands on which to settle the newcomers. Among the Loyalists were approximately 2000 members of the Six Nations who had lost their homes fighting on behalf of the Crown in the United States. Governor Haldimand offered homes to the Six Nations refugees in the remaining British colonies. Under the terms of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 the land needed to be purchased from its owners before the resettlement could begin. Colonel John Butler negotiated with the Mississaugas at the western end of Lake Ontario. On May 22, 1784, for the sum of £1180 worth of trade goods, the Mississaugas of the Credit ceded to the Crown approximately 3 000 000 acres of land located between Lakes Huron, and Lake Erie. Of the land ceded, some 550 000 acres were granted to the Six Nations in the Haldimand Proclamation of October 25, 1784, with the 2 450 000 acres remaining to be utilized for the settlement of non-Native, mostly white Loyalists. Let’s pause here to bring all the information in this story together. Profits from the Transatlantic slave trade prompted changes in Scotland that directly influenced my ancestors. At the risk of making the understatement of the millennium here, I need to state that 400 years of enslaving African people had horrific consequences that included African people being separated, isolated, exploited, and abused--as individuals and as families, as well as geographically and culturally. And that is just the tip of the iceberg – I know. But we pay less attention to the trans-atlantic slave trade’s ripple effect that forced families like the Lymburners to immigrate away from their homelands in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles. The colonial efforts of Britain in competition with Americans to seize land from Indigenous people all over the Americas, which tore apart Indigenous cultural networks across the continent, again ripping families away from one another in a multitude of ways, again isolating people geographically and culturally. I find it a very small comfort that the Mississaugas of the Credit were able to remain in this region. My ancestors may have been driven from their homeland, and faced adversity upon arrival, but larger colonial structures that created the slave trade, and the wars here in North America, ensured that when my ancestors arrived on these shores, they would be REWARDED for participation in the violence with the very thing they needed most - land. Land that brought and kept the Lymbourner family together. What is at the heart of anti-racist work for me, is recognizing the pain and the trauma of the past, but also recognizing how my ancestors and I have benefited from colonialism, a force that is not just racist, but uses violence to seize that which makes those structures more powerful. I do not think I am simplifying things by saying that violent people should not have power of any kind. My personal responsibility is to ensure that I see the larger forces at work that may be rewarding me for doing the violence that keeps larger colonial structures in power. They are around today, open your eyes and look. <OUTRO> Oh HEY, before you go, I want to give a shout out to 2 of my family members who helped me out with the story I put together today – Cody and Brenda. I mentioned before that I have shared my DNA on a few genealogical research platforms, and this is how I met both Cody and Brenda. Cody is an excellent researcher and storyteller. He volunteers with the Westminster Archives. His work on the Lymburner branch of our family trees was invaluable and so appreciated. Cody, the family stories you shared with me have inspired me to keep chipping away at the some of the branches of my tree that have presented challenges – thank you. And to Brenda, your energy and enthusiasm is contagious. I want to thank you so much for the information you have shared with me so far. Your understanding of the general movements of the Lymburners allowed me to piece together today’s story. Together, Cody, Brenda, and I represent 3 generations of researchers in our family. When I consider our combined efforts to find the story of how we came to be here in Canada, it reaffirms my belief that doing this work gratifies the soul and brings peace. What I didn’t expect is that this research would connect me with living extended family members who are doing the same work – Thank you both! S1 Episode 7: The Lymburner Loyalists Kael Sharman

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