Jeptha Hawley was born 22 September 1740 in Arlington, in the Colony of New York (now State of Vermont), the son of Jehiel Hawley (son of Ephraim, son of Samuel, son of Joseph) and Sarah Dunning. He was sixth born out of nine children and one of five sons.
In 1784 he settled in Ernesttown Township, on the Bay of Quinte, off Lake Ontario, having been employed as a Captain in the bateaux service. Bateaux, or flat boats, were used to transport the Loyalist settlers from the refugee camps in Quebec, down the St Lawrence River to settle in the wilderness that is now Ontario. The house he built in 1785 on the land granted him by the Crown for his Loyalist service is one of the oldest houses still used as a private residence today.
The Loyalists brought the English language and system of laws to British North America which previously had been French in language, law and custom. In fact, the territory had been ceded by France to Great Britain in 1763 as a result of the Seven Years War.
This influx was the beginning of Canada’s development as a bilingual nation and its paper strewn path to independence. This path was slow and relatively calm, without the violence of the American Revolution. Canada finally became an independent nation from Great Britain in 1867, but remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Check out the video we posted on our Facebook page. It depicts Jeptha Hawley and his family clearing land on the Bay of Quinte in what is now Ontario.
Video Courtesy of The United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, Bay of Quinte Branch