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Re-dedication Ceremony at Mount Johnson

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--September 2, 2014.

larger__mg_5704_johnson_krr.jpgA very unique and special event took place Saturday, August 23rd, 2014, the Ceremony of the burial of the remains of Sir John Johnson and members of his family at Mount Johnson (today Mont Saint-Grégoire). Sir John Johnson died in Montreal in January 1830 and was buried beside the remains his wife and members of his family in the family vault on the south side of Mount Johnson. It was this crypt that was accidentally bulldozed 57 years ago and that has now been restored.

Attended by more than 125 people, the Ceremony was opened by a word of welcome by Ms. Michelle Durand, representing CIME Haut-Richelieu (Centre d’interprétation du milieu écologique), an organization dedicated to the preservation of Mont Saint-Grégoire that used to be called Mount Johnson. CIME is the owner of the site and without their support and their help, the project of restoring the burial vault of the Johnson family could not have been done.

The remains of Sir John Johnson and Lady Johnson were brought to the vault by a funeral procession led by Josh Lord, a piper from the 78th Fraser Highlanders, followed by members of King’s Royal Yorkers, the 84th Royal Highland Emigrants and members of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Quebec. The funeral urn was carried by Claude Neveu, President of the Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson, Bonnie L. Schepers UE, President of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC) and two former UELAC Presidents, Frederick H. Hayward UE and Robert C. McBride UE. Closing the funeral procession was the Venerable Peter D. Hannen UE who conducted the Blessing Ceremony.

Two speakers were invited to talk about Sir John Johnson, Second Baronet of New York. First, the UELAC President, Mrs. Bonnie L. Schepers UE told the people attending about the importance of Sir John as a Loyalist Leader during the American Revolution. Forced to leave his home in the Province of New York, Sir John came with his family to Montreal. Upon his arrival in Montreal in 1776, he was commissioned to form the first battalion of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. At the end of the revolution, Sir John took under his guardianship hundreds of Loyalists in exile and helped them settle in what is now Eastern Ontario.

larger__mg_5767_johnson_krr.jpgSecond, the Right Worshipful Brother Dr. Jacques G. Ruelland, Past District Deputy Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Quebec gave a very informative talk about Sir John Johnson and his life as a Freemason. Most of his adult life, Sir John Johnson was a Mason. At the end of his life, he was Provincial Grand Master of Quebec.

In November 2009, Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch UELAC proposed that the United Loyalists’ Association of Canada adopt the vault restoration as a 2014 Legacy Project. On March 5, 2011, UELAC accepted the proposition and approved a major grant to support the vault restoration project. Mr. Frederick H. Hayward UE, 2014 UELAC Centennial Celebration Chair addressed the audience about the importance of supporting the restoration of the vault as a Legacy Project, a key part of UELAC Centenary. “One of the key directives in our mission statement is to preserve, promote and celebrate the history and traditions of the Loyalist epoch in Canadian History”.

The restoration of the burial vault of Sir John Johnson and of members of his family has been the top priority project of la Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson, of la Société d’histoire du Haut-Richelieu and of Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch UELAC. The President of the Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson, Mr. Claude Neveu gave the highlights of the history of the restoration project and presented all the people who through the years, contributed to the project. “The Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson was created in September 1998, after two years of reflections at the request of Mr. Jean-Paul Lasnier, past mayor of Sainte-Brigide. Mr. Lasnier assembled around him collaborators of great talent, Richard Eldridge, Brian Allen, Charles Harbec, Marie Deschênes, Nicole Poulin, Michel Daunes, Adelaide Lanktree, Raymond Ostiguy, Gerald Thomas and myself, Claude Neveu.”

The speakers were followed by the Blessing Ceremony conducted by the Venerable Peter D. Hannen UE. As the two urns containing the remains of Sir John Johnson and members of this family were put inside the restored vault, a three-volley salute was fired by the members of the King’s Royal Yorkers and the 84th Royal Highland Emigrants. Finally, the door of the vault was closed and locked by Mr. Claude Neveu. The group retired a short distance down the road to the Érablière Charbonneau to enjoy a delicious buffet.