Fairfield on the Thames National Historic Site of Canada

Bothwell, Ontario
General view of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada cairn and plaque showing the location of Fairfield, 1989. (© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.)
Address : Longwood Road, Moraviantown, Bothwell, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1945-05-16
Dates:
  • 1792 to 1792 (Construction)
  • 1813 to 1813 (Significant)
  • 1940 to 1946 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Delaware  (Person)
  • Moravian missionaries  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Fairfield on the Thames  (Designation Name)
  • Old Fairfield  (Other Name)
  • Hat Hill Cemetery  (Other Name)
  • Fairfield Museum and the Avenue of Peace  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 2009-CED-SDC-040

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  Longwoods Road, Moraviantown, Ontario

Here stood the village of Fairfield, destroyed by invading American forces following the Battle of the Thames, 5th October, 1813. Its inhabitants, Delaware Indian exiles brought from Ohio to Canada in 1792 by Moravian missionaries, were re-established on the opposite bank of there river after the Peace of 1814.

Description of Historic Place

Fairfield on the Thames National Historic Site of Canada is located on the north bank of the Thames River in Zone Township between Thamesville and Bothwell, Ontario. The village of Fairfield, of which there are no extant remains, was originally located on the north bank of the river. It was founded in 1792 as a community for Aboriginal refugees and Moravian missionaries from Ohio. The site is comprised of a large plot of land containing a cemetery, the Fairfield Museum and a plaque and cairn erected by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1948. Official recognition refers to the area known as Old Fairfield as well as Hat Hill Cemetery.

Heritage Value

Fairfield on the Thames was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1945 because: the village of Fairfield, a community of Aboriginal refugees brought from Ohio to Canada by Moravian missionaries in 1792, was destroyed by invading American forces following the Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813.

The village of Fairfield was founded in 1792 by Aboriginal refugees and Moravian missionaries who came to Canada from Ohio. They were fleeing persecution in the United States after refusing to take sides during the American Revolution. The Moravian missionaries were a German-speaking religious sect that originated in the early 1700s in Eastern Europe as the Church of the Brethren. Their settlement in Upper Canada, called Fairfield, was on the north bank of the Thames River and has been described as the first Protestant mission in Ontario. The Delaware represented the largest Aboriginal group in the community, yet other nations were also present. The Hat Hill Cemetery associated with the Fairfield Mission was established the same week as the village.

Fairfield on the Thames stood for 21 years, until the War of 1812. On 5 October 1813, British forces and their Native allies were defeated by invading American forces during the nearby Battle of the Thames, also called the Battle of Moravian Town. Following the battle, the Americans accused the pacifist residents of Fairfield of hiding English officers. Although the Americans found no evidence of this offense, the village was plundered and burnt to the ground after residents were allowed to escape. The village was subsequently rebuilt on the opposite bank of the Thames River.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1945, 2009.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: its location in Zone Township between Thamesville and Bothwell, Ontario; its setting on the north banks of the Thames River, and straddling Longwoods Road; the location of the 1948 Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque and cairn marking the location of the village of Fairfield; the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including structural remains, cultural remains and remains from the Hat Hill Cemetery; viewscapes from the site across the Thames River to the surrounding farmland.