I am currently learning about the American Revolution and I have some questions about the loyalists.

I know that they were supportive of the British Empire, but why did they leave the U.S. and, when they got to Canada, what were they promised for their loyalty? All I know is that they were promised land because of their loyalty to go to Canada. And one reason why they went to Canada was to settle there. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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    Have you checked the Wikipedia article on Loyalists (American Revolution)? (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalist_(American_Revolution) What is you want to know that is not already there? Jan 11, 2018 at 0:37
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    @LarsBosteen Sorry my english not very good, I don't really understand the article.
    – iiRosie1
    Jan 11, 2018 at 0:41
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    Have you tried translating (Google translate)? Or you may be able to right click on the article and translate into your own language. Jan 11, 2018 at 0:47
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    There's also a Simple English version of that article, which might help. There are Simple English versions of many articles and it can be useful if English is not your native language. Look at the sidebar for the list of languages on an article or change en.wikipedia.org to simple.wikipedia.org in the address bar.
    – isanae
    Jan 11, 2018 at 5:48
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    There's a French version of the article at fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (assumption based on "come to Canada"in the question title, but English not being your first language, also your profile's refernce to poutine. Apologies if it's wrong)
    – Chris H
    Jan 11, 2018 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


Loyalists who lived in the 13 colonies fled to Canada because Canada was part of the British Empire. In Canada they could still be British. If they stayed in the colonies they would be traitors to the King.

When their cause was defeated, about 15% of the Loyalists (65,000–70,000 people) fled to other parts of the British Empire, to Britain itself, or to British North America (now Canada). Wikipedia

There was much more land available in Canada than in Britain. As @reirab points out,

The entirety of Great Britain fits inside the province of British Columbia alone... 4 and a half times! Granted, most of the land in Canada is also much colder than Britain for a large portion of the year.

Land was very important; land was wealth. Land was more important than income. Land was vital for economic and political rights - the true importance of owning land is difficult to explain without a long article on the theory of British rights & politics.

Simplified since OP said that the Wikipedia article presented linguistic challenges

  • They used to lived in the 13 colonies correct?
    – iiRosie1
    Jan 11, 2018 at 0:54
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    Yes. I have edited my answer.
    – MCW
    Jan 11, 2018 at 2:23
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    "There was much more land available in Canada than in Britain." This is a significant understatement. :) The entirety of Great Britain fits inside the province of British Columbia alone... 4 and a half times! Granted, most of the land in Canada is also much colder than Britain for a large portion of the year.
    – reirab
    Jan 11, 2018 at 17:33
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    @reirab: Nothing west of Sault Ste. Marie was part of Canada in the 1780's; everything further west (and north) was Rupert's Land, later the North-West Territory, and run as a fur-trapping preserve by the Hudson's Bay Company until circa 1870. However, substantial land grants were granted in what is now Southern Ontario, where the former inhabitants, Huron/Algonquian peoples, had been largely destroyed by disease and warfare with the Iroquois. Southern Ontario is substantially hotter than everywhere in Britain for the summer months, June to September. Jan 11, 2018 at 18:45
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    @PieterGeerkens Yes, I'm aware. That's why I said "for a large portion of the year," not "all year." Eastern (and Central) North America does not enjoy the moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean being upwind that exists in Great Britain.
    – reirab
    Jan 11, 2018 at 19:20

The Loyalists supported the losing side during the American Revolution. That's because they represented only about 15% of the American population, versus 45% for the Revolutionaries. After the Declaration of Independence, most pro-British officials were chased out of the colonies, and most Loyalists hid their views, at least until the British army came to their communities.

During and immediately after the war, Loyalists were mistreated and shunned by the winning and later victorious Patriots. Some attempts were made to conciliate them after the war, but many felt that it would be better to start fresh under British rule elsewhere, with some financial assistance from Britain for their loyalty.

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    See "United Empire Loyalist" for a Canadian perspective...
    – DJohnM
    Jan 11, 2018 at 5:22
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    Who made up the last 40% of the American population?
    – Nosrac
    Jan 11, 2018 at 14:17
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    @Nosrac what I've always read was that there was a 33/33/33 split between Revolutionaries, Loyalists and "Indifferents". I'm skeptical, though, since that many Loyalists could have easily helped to defeat the Revolutionaries.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 11, 2018 at 15:30
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    @RonJohn that many sufficiently motivated Loyalists. It's one thing to say you like the king, it's another to die for him.
    – Jeutnarg
    Jan 11, 2018 at 16:10
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    @Nosrec: The last 40% were "fencesitters" or "Undecided."
    – Tom Au
    Jan 11, 2018 at 16:32

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