Some time ago it was suggested that the descendants of the United Empire Loyalists, who first settled the Bay of Quinte district, should celebrate the centennial of the first landing of that hardy, loyal band of refugees in a becoming manner. The suggestion was very favorably noticed at the time by most of the journals published in the district, and different localities were mentioned as the proper places for the celebration. Since then the matter has been lost sight of or forgotten. We are quite sure that there is sufficient respect for the memories of the dead heroes and heroines who, though in an humble capacity, did so much to lay a sure and honorable foundation for the civil and religious institutions of our country, to call forth a ready response to the request for action. By reference to the records we find that the first settlement of the original ten townships surveyed about the Bay was made in the spring of 1784 by Captain Michael Grass, who with
THIS BAND OF LOYALISTS
took possession of the "1st Town" or Kingston Township. But Capt. Grass visited the locality in the fall of 1783 and selected the site where he purposed settling those under his charge. We may mention here that the Capt., when a prisoner with the French, had been at Cataraqui, and hence was chosen to lead the first company of Loyalists from New York. He left them at Sorel during the winters of 1783, and as previously mentioned brought them to the chosen site for future homes early in the spring of 1784. The question therefore remains to be decided whether actual settlement dates from 1783 or 1784. The choice of locality was certainly made in 1783, when Capt. Grass and a number of others ascended the St. Lawrence with batteaux and landed at the mouth of Little Cataraqui Creek. It is related that the party prospected as far west as Collin's Bay, and that on the west side of this indentation Capt. Grass attempted to drive a stake in the ground and found it rocky. Remarking that he had come too far to settle on a rock, he retraced his steps to the east side of the bay and took possession of the first township. Writing to the Kingston Gazette in 1811,
THIS GRAND OLD LEADER
pictured the view that met his gaze when he first looked upon the shores of the beautiful Bay of Quinte. We will quote his words as showing that we have not much to boast of when comparing our style composition with that practised by our forefathers: - Seven and twenty years, Mr. Printer, have rolled away since my eyes, for the second time, beheld the shores of Cataraqui. In that space of time, how many changes have taken place in the little circle in which fate had destined me to move! How many of the seats of my old associates are now vacant! How few of them, alas! to mourn with me the loss of the companions of our sufferings, or to rejoice with me at the prosperous condition of this our land of refuge! Yet will I not repine. They are gone, I trust to a better land, where He who causeth the wilderness to smile and blossom as the rose, hath assigned to them a distinguished place, as a reward for their humble imitation of his labors. Yes, seven and twenty years ago scarcely the vestige of a human habitation could be found in the whole extent of the Bay of Quinte. Not a settler had dared to penetrate the vast forests that skirted the shores. Even on this spot, now covered with stately edifices, were to be seen only the bark-thatched wigwam of the savage or the newly-erected tent of the hardy loyalist. Then when the ear heard me it blessed me for being strong in my
ATTACHMENTS TO MY SOVEREIGN,
and high in the confidence of my fellow subjects. I led the loyal band, I pointed out to them the site of their future metropolis, and gained far persecuted principles a sanctuary - for myself and followers at home." Later in the year 1784 Fredericksburgh and Adolphustown were settled, but the first landing was made at or near Kingston. The only point to decide is, whether settlement began when Capt. Grass and his associates surveyed and selected their farms in 1783, or when they brought their families there in 1784. We are disposed to make the first date the beginning of settlement by the U.E. Loyalists in the Bay of Quinte district. This being the case, the centennial will be next year, and it is now time to begin the agitation for a movement. Kingston is certainly entitled to the honor of being selected for the demonstration, if demonstration there be. It is near the spot where Capt. Grass and his company landed and pitched their tents in the autumn of 1783 and has other claims to preferment that cannot be disregarded. We ask our confreres in the district to notice this proposition, and call the attention of their readers to the principles involved. The descendants fo the "Pilgrim Fathers of Canada" will not be backward, we believe, in showing their respect for memories that must be dear to them, because they are dear to the people of the whole Dominion. - Belleville, Ontario.
Capt. Grass's descendants are numerous in Kingston Township and the city itself, and we can speak on their behalf, and as one of them, in furtherance of a hearty demonstration, in memory of the pilgrim fathers.