Victory in Caledonia – Chris Syrie & John Findlay lead the way


This post is based on a letter from Caledonia resident, Chris Syrie, regarding his efforts to have the courts affirm that he has clear title to a vacant lot he owns in town that is adjacent to the occupied Douglas Creek Estates.

This story – unlike so many others from Caledonia – has a very happy ending.


Thursday March 27th, 2008 Chris Syrie in Cayuga Court 9AM

Hi Everyone, I want to express my deepest thanks to everyone of you that have taken the time out of your lives to encourage and support my family in our endeavours.

nov207.jpgI thought I might offer some insight and clarity to my situation as of late. We have asked for what is called a declaration from the province. This is a court process that is a non-disputed certificate. Simply put, we have asked the government to take a position in regards to the title of my property. They have the right to dispute the fact that we are putting them through the courts, but we won’t dispute their position. If they declare the property title to belong to me free and clear of any encumbrances, land disputes, easements etc. and notice is served to Six Nations, Haldimand County, Haudenosaunee Council, and the Federal government, the ‘Colour of Right’ is removed from the equation.

(‘Colour of right’ is a term that once was used in our criminal law in relation to charges of theft, dishonesty and fraud. We now use the term “Claim of Right”.

Claim of right, in relation to any criminal act, means a belief that the act is lawful, although that belief may be based on ignorance or mistake of fact or of any matter of law other than the actual Crimes Act or the Act under which you are charged.

Ignorance of the law is never an excuse but a genuine mistake as to a set of facts can be an excuse.

A genuine mistake as to the true facts of a situation may provide you with a valid defense to a criminal charge.

If a person is acting under a genuine mistaken view relating to a set of facts which would give him a defense to a criminal charge if those facts were correct, then he is said to be acting with “Claim of right”.)

nov206.jpgI know this sounds like a lot of jargon, but it simply means the last fellow who entered my property without my consent was not charged because the OPP were certain he would use his colour of right as a defense. He believed in his heart-of-hearts he had some right to ask me to leave what he thought was his land. As difficult it may be for some to accept, on that day he may have succeeded with that defense. That said, after this Thursday, if the province comes forward certifying that I have fee simple enjoyment of my property and no other party enters a dispute, I will have succeeded in forcing the OPP into a situation were they must defend my property against anyone who tries to gain unsolicited entry to My parcel of land.

I will proceed with a press release to all media streams, as well a letter to Fantino and McLean that we will be hosting a March to the property where a pot-luck lunch will commence, and possibly begin building. I will ask for police protection, and also inform the OPP that should they block the shoulders of Argyle Street with pylons surrounding my property that they will be in breach of the declaration, as it would impede any guest from safely parking their vehicles attempting to attend my property.

I will also strongly suggest the OPP inform the A.R.T and M.E.L.T teams in advance so that all parties are aware of this event. It would be unfair for any protesters to show up thinking they had some Divine immunity only to find themselves in the back of a police car mystified as to why the rules of the game have finally changed!

Anybody wishing to stand beside me is welcome to join us, including friends and neighbors from Six Nations. 

Cheers everyone…this is an emotional roller coaster ride I didn’t buy a ticket for. Your support gives our family strength. Sincerely, Chris and Lisa Syrie


Congratulations Chris and Lisa Syrie!

knight-w-sword.jpgOn March 27/08 the court held that Chris did, in fact, own his land as per his title deed.

“A Caledonia couple was won what could be a precedent-setting court declaration that they own the land they paid for, and that no one can trespass and claim they have an interest in the land.”

Hamilton Spectator, March 28/08: Caledonia pair own their land [reprint]

Caledonia owes a big thankyou to Chris Syrie and his wife Lisa for standing up for his rights, in and out of the courtroom. 

And, let’s not forget Lawyer John Findlay who helped make it happen. He is a Caledonia resident and author of the Caledonia Class Action lawsuit who recently had an article published in the National Post called, ‘Sacrificial lambs at the alter of Ipperwash.’ If you’re worried about title to your land, you might want to give him a call. See ref item #3 for his contact info.

P.S. Unfortunately, other projects and some sick time prevented me from getting this post up sooner.

Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Co-author, The Ipperwash Papers



One response to “Victory in Caledonia – Chris Syrie & John Findlay lead the way

  1. Good to have you back on the air. Syrie’s appeal is interesting but we all know that nothing will change for him when the Indians decide to harrass or worse. The OPP/ Native alliance against Canadian citizens is growing by it’s effects as it plays out on the ground. No one will stop the OPP. The few who try will be persecuted relentlessly as the population is essentially stupid or ill informed.