One of the earliest names mentioned in Niagara’s history is the surname Tice. Mrs. Simcoe, in her diaries, mentions visiting Mrs. Tice for afternoon tea. It is as though she longs for the company of another English woman with whom she can sit down and discuss the news of the week. She never mentions Mr. Tice, however. Nor does she indicate precisely where the Tice home was located, although it seems to have been only a short distance from where she herself lived.
Major Tice receives little mention in Niagara’s history in spite of the fact that he was one of the earliest settlers. We cannot pinpoint the house he built. There do not appear to have been descendants who carried on the name. The name Tice has been given to a single road and that is remote from where the Tices lived when Mrs. Simcoe knew them.
Little is known about the background of Gilbert Tice. He was born of English parents in the New England States. He apparently was quite well to do when living in New York State, until he met some personal reverses and was imprisoned for debt and his land sold.
During the Seven Years War when the British and French were fighting for the possession of North America, Tice served in the British army. After peace was signed he joined Butler’s Rangers. He was a friend of Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Britain. Johnson built an inn at the entrance to Johnstown and put Tice in charge.
Johnson died in 1775, just before the outbreak of the American Revolution. His successor, Sir Guy Johnson had to flee along with other Loyalists and Tice went with him. When it was decided to send a delegation to England to represent the Colonial situation before the British parliament, Joseph Brant went to represent the cause of the aboriginal people and Tice accompanied him.
When he came back to Canada, Tice returned to his military command and was promoted to the rank of major. He served with distinction and when the war ended and the Rangers were disbanded, he was granted 1500 acres of land. He selected the north end of what was called Mount Dorchester, later called Stamford Township. He was appointed Sheriff of Nassau as the County was still called. He was the only officer to settle in Stamford Township.
Although the site of his house is not known, it appears to have been near the Halfway, or where Portage Road joins Stanley Avenue. Mrs Simcoe refers to the comfortable house of Mrs Tice. No information has been discovered about her husband, but there is a record in 1792 to “the late Major Tice.”
see Coombs History of the Niagara Peninsula and the Welland Canal p.171
Article by Fred Habermehl
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