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Five of the six Tolpuddle Martyrs emigrated to Canada. After their return from transportation in Australia the London to Dorchester Committee rented a farm in Essex for them. It would have been very difficult for them to return to Tolpuddle and find employment.

Why they went to Candada is not clear. Perhaps they had gained a taste for the challenges of establishing themselves in a new colonial country from their experience in Australia. Perhaps they just wanted to make a fresh start.

Only James Hammett returned to Tolpuddle, able to get building work and help from his brothers.

It would have been a hard life in Canada and they would have had to learn how to farm in new conditions. A lot of big trees were felled to clear the ground for crops. They had to learn how to make maple syrup!

The building pictured was buiilt by John Standfield in 1864. It is located in Bryanston a small village just north of London and the area in which the Loveless and Standfield families first settled. It was on the South West corner in Bryanston recorded as Lot 9, conncession XI.

In 1874 the family moved to East London where John Standfield opened the Dominion Hotel.

John’s occupations are listed as:

  • 1st postmaster at Bryanston, July 1, 1863 – May 12, 1874
  • Also Justice of the Peace in 1871
  • Hotel keeper in London East
  • Deputy Reeve of London East in 1877

It is interesting that he served as a Justice of the Peace.

Tolpuddle remembered in Canada

Canadian unions are proud of their connections and have their own celebrations to remember the episode that was key for unions around the world.

In 1934 a handful of earth was swapped between Tolpuddle and the graves in Ontario. In 1959 the Premier of Ontario, Leslie Frost attended when the Archaeological and Historic Site Board was erected. There is a memorial stone in the London Peace Park and every year on May Day the local Labour Council holds a picnic in the park and makes the Tolpuddle Award to trade union activists.

A park and bridge are named after the Martyrs and the London and District Labour Council helped establish the Tolpuddle Housing Cooperative.

Memorial sign, stone and arch to the Tolpuddle Martyrs in Canada