The most famous person from Burlington’s past died on this day in 1807

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Published November 24, 2023 at 3:26 pm

Brant Burlington revolution American
Joseph Brant as depicted by Canadian artist William Berczy (circa 1807) is part of the National Gallery of Canada collection.

His name is known across Canada but in Burlington his imprint is significant.

Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, famous for his loyalty to Britain during the American Revolution and significant for his leadership in Indigenous land rights claims, lived his final years in Burlington and died on this day, Nov. 24, in 1807.

Historical accounts of Brant’s life are exhaustive. Several books and articles have been written about him and his impact on the culture of both colonial life and those whose ancestry he shared.

Although born in the United States in 1743 and originally named Thayendanegea, his mother remarried while he was still young and he took the name of his adoptive father who, despite various spellings, was commonly known as Brant.

Sent away to be educated at what would become Dartmouth College in Connecticut, Brant soon had to choose sides with the outbreak of the American Revolution but his family ties to Britain were strong and his loyalty to the Crown remained.

Brant soon became known as a great soldier and led his own band of Indigenous-Loyalist fighters into several battles.

Following the war, Brant found himself at odds with Britain over several issues mostly over indigenous land and broken promises.

Around 1802 he settled on land that is now Burlington, building a large home and farming his large property. The Joseph Brant Museum today is designed to look like his original home

His legacy in Burlington continues in many other, obvious ways.

Joseph Brant Hospital now occupies the space where he once lived. One of Burlington’s main roads, Brant St., also carries his name. The Tyandaga community and golf course are derived from his birth name. Beyond Burlington the City of Brantford and the County of Brant also honour him.

During the course of his life, Joseph Brant brought influence and passion. He met a British King and dined with an American president but he never forgot his heritage and his dying words conveyed that commitment to his people.

“Have pity on the poor Indians,” legend says were his words. “If you have any influence with the great, endeavour to use it for their good.”

 

 

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