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Community News Students walk in the footsteps of United Empire Loyalists

Students walk in the footsteps of United Empire Loyalists

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

On Tuesday, November 22nd, students in the Grade 11 American History course at Trinity College School went on a United Empire Loyalists walk around Port Hope.

Our town was founded by United Empire Loyalists and is steeped in UEL tradition! Led by Ms. Renée Hillier, Mr. Andrew Walker and special guest Father Don Aitchison, a group of over 20 students visited St. Mark’s Anglican Church and the family gravesites of Myndert Harris and Elias Smith. As a settler, Myndert Harris was given the land on which TCS now sits. The Smiths were among the first families of Port Hope, having come from New York, and Elias was responsible for organizing the settlement here. The bell of St. Mark’s even has UEL origins, having been given to St. Mark’s by the Walton family who hailed from Schenectady, New York.

Then students headed south on King Street to the Bluestone House, built by John Smith, son of Elias Smith. While on King Street, we were hosted by the Mathew family for hot chocolate and cookies! Thank you to Mrs. Jo Mathew and Grade 11 student Kieran Mathew for organizing this. This was the students’ favourite destination on our walk!

Later, we headed towards downtown, crossing the Ganaraska River. The river was originally named Smith’s Creek after Peter Smith, a trapper and member of Butler’s Rangers during the American Revolution.

Over the river, students had the chance to head indoors at the Port Hope Public Library, where they viewed watercolour paintings of the original town, saw Elias Smith’s tool chest and checked out the Local History Room to find all the Port Hope UEL resources.

The trip included a stop at the Town Hall which bears a plaque dedicated to the town’s UELs and a drawing of Peter Hope, for whom the town is named (a funny historical note, since he never even visited Port Hope!).

Prior to the walk, the students had a special lesson on local history, and the walk was a unique opportunity to connect what they had learned in class with the town in which they live. Based on the walk, the students, acting as historical research consultants, will be presenting proposals to the town or the UEL Society to improve our collective memory regarding this piece of local history. The town of Port Hope’s history is built upon the backs of those United Empire Loyalists who fled the U.S. following the revolution and must be remembered.

Click here for more photos from the day.

- By Ms. Renée Hillier, social sciences teacher


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