Pioneer Settlers

York Region Pioneer Settlers

The names of the many early pioneer settlers of York Region are scattered throughout various published local histories, biographies and articles. We have attempted to gather the names of all York Region Pioneer Settlers into this one comprehensive list, with enough information to establish when they came to the area, and where they settled.

If you have information about a pioneer settler that has been missed, please forward the details to [email protected] so the name might be added to make this list as complete as possible.

The area we now refer to as York Region was originally a part of a much larger area known as The Home District. The townships of East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Vaughan, Whitchurch, and the towns contained within these townships were gradually opened for settlement following the American Revolution. The opening of Yonge Street to settlers from York to Holland Landing was reported in February, 1797, and early settlers began to journey into the bush north of the little town of York.

Some of these early pioneers were familiar with carving a new home out of the wilderness, but some, such as the group of 40 exiled French Royalists who emigrated from England in 1798 to the de Puisaye settlement of Windham, just north of Richmond Hill, were sadly ill-equipped for roughing it in the bush. Those better suited to make a new home in the bush included some Loyalist families that left the United States following the American Revolution; a group of German-Lutheran settlers brought in by William Van Moll Berczy, in 1794; groups of Quakers and Mennonites arriving in the early 1800’s and others arriving from the British Isles.

Some stopped briefly in a more settled area, before moving on to the newly-opened forest areas of York Region. Due to the delays in finalizing the land granting process by the Executive Council, and the settlement duties required, some of the early pioneers did not receive their actual land grant until some time after their actual date of settlement.

Some of the information included in our list comes from various published sources. Some information comes from submissions of Branch members. We have included at the end of our list a number of published sources which might prove useful for anyone researching one of York Region pioneer settlers. No attempt has been made to verify the information contained in these published accounts, nor of the information submitted by individuals. We would recommend that those interested in more details conduct their own additional research, or contact members who have indicated the family name in our Branch Surname List.