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Toronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario online

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success against the Iroquois, he informed the minister, 3000 men would
be required. Of such a force, he observes, he has at the time only one
half; but he boasts of more, he says, for reputation's sake: "for the
rest of the militia are necessary to protect and cultivate the farms of
the country; and a part of the force," he then adds, "must be employed
in guarding the posts of Fort Frontenac, Niagara, Toronto, and
Michilimackinac, so as to secure the aid which he expects from Illinois
and from the other Indians, on whom however he cannot rely," he says,
"unless he shall be able alone to defeat the five Iroquois nations."

The campaign which ensued, though nominally a success, was attended with
disastrous consequences. The blows struck, not having been followed up
with sufficient vigour, simply further exasperated "the five Iroquois
nations," and entailed a frightful retaliation. In 1689 took place the
famous massacre of Lachine and devastation of the island of Montreal.
Denonville was superseded as his predecessor de la Barre had been. The
Count de Frontenac was appointed his successor, sent out for the second
time, Governor General of New France.

[Sidenote: 1749.]

Some years now elapse before we light on another notice of Toronto. But
at length we again observe the familiar word in one of the Reports or
Memoirs annually despatched from Canada to France. In 1749 M. de la
Galissonière, administrator in the absence of the Governor in Chief, de
la Jonquière, informs the King's minister in Paris that he has given
orders for erecting a stockade and establishing a royal trading post at
Toronto.

This was expected to be a counterpoise to the trading-post of Choueguen
on the southern side of the Lake, newly erected by the English at the
mouth of the Oswego river, on the site of the present town of Oswego.
Choueguen itself had been established as a set-off to the fort at the
mouth of the Niagara river, which had been built there by the French in
spite of remonstrances on the part of the authorities at New York.

Choueguen at first was simply a so-called "beaver trap" or trading-post,
established by permission, nominally obtained, of the Iroquois; but it
speedily developed into a strong stone-fort, and became, in fact, a
standing menace to Fort Frontenac, on the northern shore of the Lake.
Choueguen likewise drew to itself a large share of the valuable peltries
of the north shore, which used before to find their way down the St.
Lawrence to Montreal and Quebec. The goods offered at the English
trading-post of Choueguen were found to be superior to the French goods,
and the price given for furs was greater there than on the French side
of the water. The storekeeper at Niagara told the Abbé Picquet, of whom
we shall hear again presently, that the Indians compared the
silver-trinkets which were procured at Choueguen with those which were
procured at the French Stores; and they found that the Choueguen
articles were as heavy as the others, of purer silver and better
workmanship, but did not cost them quite two beavers, whilst for those
offered for sale at the French King's post, ten beavers were demanded.
"Thus we are discredited" the Abbé complained, "and this silver-ware
remains a pure loss in the King's stores. French brandy indeed," the
Abbé adds, "was preferred to the English: nevertheless that did not
prevent the Indians going to Choueguen. To destroy the trade there," he
affirms, "the King's posts ought to have been supplied with the same
goods as Choueguen and at the same price. The French ought also," he
says, "to have been forbidden to send the domiciliated Indians thither:
but that" he confesses, "would have been very difficult."

Choueguen had thus, in the eyes of the French authorities, come to be a
little Carthage that must be put down, or, at all events, crippled to
the greatest possible extent.

Accordingly, as a counterpoise in point of commercial influence,
Toronto, as we have seen, was to be made a fortified trading post. "On
being informed" says M. de la Galissonière, in the document referred to,
bearing date 1749, "that the northern Indians ordinarily went to
Choueguen with their peltries by way of Toronto on the northwest side of
Lake Ontario, twenty-five leagues from Niagara, and seventy-five from
Fort Frontenac, it was thought advisable to establish a post at that
place and to send thither an officer, fifteen soldiers, and some
workmen, to construct a small stockade-fort there. Its expense will not
be great," M. de la Galissonière assures the minister, "the timber is
transported there, and the remainder will be conveyed by the barques
belonging to Fort Frontenac. Too much care cannot be taken," remarks the
Administrator, "to prevent these Indians continuing their trade with the
English, and to furnish them at this post with all their necessaries,
even as cheap as at Choueguen. Messrs. de la Jonquière and Bigot will
permit some canoes to go there on license and will apply the funds as a
gratuity to the officer in command there. But it will be necessary to
order the commandants at Detroit, Niagara, and Fort Frontenac, to be
careful that the traders and store-keepers of these posts furnish goods
for two or three years to come, at the same rates as the English. By
these means the Indians will disaccustom themselves from going to
Choueguen, and the English will be obliged to abandon that place."

De la Galissonière returned to France in 1749. He was a naval officer
and fond of scientific pursuits. It was he who in 1756, commanded the
expedition against Minorca, which led to the execution of Admiral Byng.

[Sidenote: 1752.]

From a despatch written by M. de Longueil in 1752, we gather that the
post of the Toronto portage, in its improved, strengthened state, is
known as Fort Rouillé, so named, doubtless from Antoine Louis Rouillé,
Count de Jouy, Colonial Minister from 1749 to 1754. M. de Longueil says
that "M. de Celeron had addressed certain despatches to M. de
Lavalterie, the commandant at Niagara, who detached a soldier to convey
them to Fort Rouillé, with orders to the store-keeper at that post to
transmit them promptly to Montreal. It is not known," he remarks, "what
became of that soldier." About the same time, a Mississagué from Toronto
arrived at Niagara, who informed M. de Lavalterie that he had not seen
that soldier at the Fort, nor met him on the way. "It is to be feared
that he has been killed by Indians," he adds, "and the despatches
carried to the English."

An uncomfortable Anglophobia was reigning at Fort Rouillé, as generally
along the whole of the north shore of Lake Ontario in 1752. We learn
this also from another passage in the same despatch. "The store-keeper
at Toronto, says," M. de Longueil writes to M. de Verchères, commandant
at Fort Frontenac, "that some trustworthy Indians have assured him that
the Saulteux (Otchipways,) who killed our Frenchman some years ago, have
dispersed themselves along the head of Lake Ontario; and seeing himself
surrounded by them, he doubts not but they have some evil design on his
Fort. There is no doubt," he continues, "but 'tis the English who are
inducing the Indians to destroy the French, and that they would give a
good deal to get the Savages to destroy Fort Toronto, on account of the
essential injury it does their trade at Choueguen."

Such observations help us to imagine the anxious life which the lonely
occupants of Fort Rouillé must have been leading at the period referred
to. From an abstract of a journal or memoir of the Abbé Picquet given in
the Documentary History of the State of New York (i. 283), we obtain a
glimpse of the state of things at the same place, about the same period,
from the point of view, however, of an interested ecclesiastic. The Abbé
Picquet was a doctor of the Sorbonne, and bore the titles of King's
Missionary and Prefect Apostolic of Canada. He established a mission at
Oswegatchie (Ogdensburg) which was known as _La Presentation_, and which
became virtually a military outpost of Fort Frontenac. He was very
useful to the authorities at Quebec in advocating French interests on
the south side of the St. Lawrence. The Marquis du Quesne used to say
that the Abbé Picquet was worth ten regiments to New France. His
activity was so great, especially among the Six Nations, that even
during his lifetime he was complimented with the title of "Apostle of
the Iroquois." When at length the French power fell he retired to
France, where he died in 1781. In 1751 the Abbé made a tour of
exploration round Lake Ontario. He was conveyed in a King's canoe, and
was accompanied by one of bark containing five trusty natives. He
visited Fort Frontenac and the Bay of Quinté; especially the site there
of an ancient mission which M. Dollières de Kleus and Abbé d'Urfé,
priests of the St. Sulpice Seminary had established. "The quarter is
beautiful," the Abbé remarks, "but the land is not good." He then
visited Fort Toronto, the journal goes on to say, seventy leagues from
Fort Frontenac, at the west end of Lake Ontario. He found good bread and
good wine there, it is stated, and everything requisite for the trade,
whilst they were in want of these things at all the other posts. He
found Mississagués there, we are told, who flocked around him; they
spoke first of the happiness their young people, the women and children,
would feel if the King would be as good to them as to the Iroquois, for
whom he procured missionaries. They complained that instead of building
a church, they had constructed only a canteen for them. The Abbé
Picquet, we are told, did not allow them to finish; and answered them
that they had been treated according to their fancy; that they had never
evinced the least zeal for religion; that their conduct was much opposed
to it; that the Iroquois on the contrary had manifested their love for
Christianity. But as he had no order, it is subjoined, to attract them,
viz., the Mississagués, to his mission at _La Presentation_ - he avoided
a more lengthened explanation.

The poor fellows were somewhat unfairly lectured by the Abbé, for,
according to his own showing, they expressed a desire for a church
amongst them.

A note on the Mississagués in the Documentary History (i. 22) mentions
the neighbourhood of Toronto as one of the quarters frequented by that
tribe: at the same time it sets down their numbers as incredibly few.
"The Mississagués," the note says, "are dispersed along this lake
(Ontario), some at Kenté, others at the river Toronto (the Humber), and
finally at the head of the Lake, to the number of 150 in all; and at
Matchedash. The principal tribe is that of the Crane."

The Abbé Picquet visited Niagara and the Portage above (Queenston or
Lewiston); and in connection with his observations on those points he
refers again expressly to Toronto. He is opposed to the maintenance of
store-houses for trade at Toronto, because it tended to diminish the
trade at Niagara and Fort Frontenac, "those two ancient posts," as he
styles them. "It was necessary," he says, "to supply Niagara, especially
the Portage, rather than Toronto. The difference," he says, "between the
two first of these posts and the last is, that three or four hundred
canoes could come loaded with furs to the Portage (Queenston or
Lewiston); and that no canoes could go to Toronto except those which
cannot pass before Niagara and to Fort Frontenac - (the translation
appears to be obscure) - such as the Ottawas of the Head of the Lake and
the Mississagués: so that Toronto could not but diminish the trade of
these two ancient posts, which would have been sufficient to stop all
the savages had the stores been furnished with goods to their liking."

In 1752, a French military expedition from Quebec to the Ohio region,
rested at Fort Toronto. Stephen Coffen, in his narrative of that
expedition, which he accompanied as a volunteer, names the place, but he
spells the word in accordance with his own pronunciation, Taranto. "They
on their way stopped," he says "a couple of days at Cadaraghqui Fort,
also at Taranto on the north side of Lake Ontario; then at Niagara
fifteen days."

[Sidenote: 1756.]

In 1756, the hateful Choueguen, which had given occasion to the
establishment of Toronto as a fortified trading-post, was rased to the
ground. Montcalm, who afterwards fell on the Plains of Abraham, had been
entrusted with the task of destroying the offensive stronghold of the
English on Lake Ontario. He went about the work with some reluctance,
deeming the project of the Governor-General, De Vaudreuil, to be rash.
Circumstances, however, unexpectedly favoured him; and the garrison of
Choueguen, in other words, of Oswego, capitulated. "Never before," said
Montcalm, in his report of the affair to the Home Minister, "did 3,000
men, with a scanty artillery, besiege 1,800, there being 2,000 enemies
within call, as in the late affair; the party attacked having a superior
marine, also, on Lake Ontario. The success gained has been contrary to
all expectation. The conduct I followed in this affair," Montcalm
continues, "and the dispositions I made, were so much out of the
ordinary way of doing things that the audacity we manifested would be
counted for rashness in Europe. Therefore, Monseigneur," he adds, "I beg
of you as a favour to assure his Majesty that if he should accord to me
what I most wish for, employment in regular campaigning, I shall be
guided by very different principles." Alas, there was to be no more
"regular campaigning" for Montcalm. His eyes were never again to gaze
upon the battle fields in Bohemia, Italy and Germany, where, prior to
his career in Canada, he had won laurels.

The success before Choueguen in 1756 was followed by a more than
counterbalancing disaster at Fort Frontenac in 1758. In that year a
force of 3,000 men under Col. Bradstreet, detached from the army of
Abercromby, stationed near Lake George, made a sudden descent on Fort
Frontenac, from the New York side of the water, and captured the place.
It was instantly and utterly destroyed, together with a number of
vessels which had formed a part of the spoil brought away from
Choueguen. On this occasion we find that the cry _Hannibal ante Portas_!
was once more fully expected to be heard speedily within the stockade at
Toronto. M. de Vaudreuil, the Governor-General, informs the Minister at
Paris, M. de Massiac, "that should the English make their appearance at
Toronto, I have given orders to burn it at once, and to fall back on
Niagara."

[Sidenote: 1759.]

One more order (the last), issuing from a French source, having
reference to Toronto, is to be read in the records of the following
year, 1759. M. de Vaudreuil, again in his despatch home, after stating
that he had summoned troops from Illinois and Detroit, to rendezvous at
Presqu'isle on Lake Erie, adds, - "As those forces will proceed to the
relief of Niagara, should the enemy wish to besiege it, I have in like
manner sent orders to Toronto, to collect the Mississagués and other
natives, to forward them to Niagara."

[Sidenote: 1760.]

The enemy, it appears, did wish to besiege Niagara; and on the 25th of
July they took it - an incident followed on the 18th of the next
September by the fall of Quebec, and the transfer of all Canada to the
British Crown. The year after the conquest a force was despatched by
General Amherst from Montreal to proceed up the country and take
possession of the important post at Detroit. It was conveyed in fifteen
whale-boats and consisted of two hundred Rangers under the command of
Major Robert Rogers. Major Rogers was accompanied by the following
officers: Capt. Brewer, Capt. Wait, Lieut. Bhreme, Assistant-Engineer,
and Lieut. Davis of the Royal Train of Artillery. The party set out from
Montreal on the 12th of September, 1760. The journal of Major Rogers
has been published. It includes an account of this expedition. We give
the complete title of the work, which is one sought after by
book-collectors: "The Journals of Major Robert Rogers, containing an
Account of the several Excursions he made under the Generals who
commanded on the Continent of North America during the late War. From
which may be collected the most material Circumstances of every Campaign
upon that continent from the commencement to the conclusion of the War.
London: Printed for the Author, and sold by J. Millan, bookseller, near
Whitehall, MDCCLXV."

We extract the part in which a visit to Toronto is spoken of. He leaves
the ruins of Fort Frontenac on the 25th of September. On the 28th he
enters the mouth of a river which he says is called by the Indians "The
Grace of Man." (The Major probably mistook, or was imposed upon, in the
matter of etymology.)

Here he found, he says, about fifty Mississaga Indians fishing for
salmon. "At our first appearance," he continues, "they ran down, both
men and boys to the edge of the Lake, and continued firing their pieces,
to express their joy at the sight of the English colours, until such
time as we had landed." About fifteen miles further on he enters another
river, which he says, the Indians call "The Life of Man."

"On the 30th," the journal proceeds: - "We embarked at the first dawn of
day, and, with the assistance of sails and oars, made great way on a
south-west course; and in the evening reached the river Toronto (the
Humber), having run seventy miles. Many points extending far into the
water," Major Rogers remarks, "occasioned a frequent alteration of our
course. We passed a bank of twenty miles in length, but the land behind
it seemed to be level, well timbered with large oaks, hickories, maples,
and some poplars. No mountains appeared in sight. Round the place where
formerly the French had a fort, that was called Fort Toronto, there was
a tract of about 300 acres of cleared ground. The soil here is
principally clay. The deer are extremely plenty in this country. Some
Indians," Major Rogers continues, "were hunting at the mouth of the
river, who ran into the woods at our approach, very much frightened.
They came in however in the morning and testified their joy at the news
of our success against the French. They told us that we could easily
accomplish our journey from thence to Detroit in eight days; that when
the French traded at that place (Toronto), the Indians used to come
with their peltry from Michilimackinac down the river Toronto; that the
portage was but twenty miles from that to a river falling into Lake
Huron, which had some falls, but none very considerable; they added that
there was a carrying-place of fifteen miles from some westerly part of
Lake Erie to a river running without any falls through several Indian
towns into Lake St. Clair. I think Toronto," Major Rogers then states,
"a most convenient place for a factory, and that from thence we may very
easily settle the north side of Lake Erie."

"We left Toronto," the journal then proceeds, "the 1st of October,
steering south, right across the west end of Lake Ontario. At dark, we
arrived at the South Shore, five miles west of Fort Niagara, some of our
boats now becoming exceeding leaky and dangerous. This morning, before
we set out, I directed the following order of march: - The boats in a
line. If the wind rose high, the red flag hoisted, and the boats to
crowd nearer, that they might be ready to give mutual assistance in case
of a leak or other accident, by which means we saved the crew and arms
of the boat commanded by Lieutenant M'Cormack, which sprang a leak and
sunk, losing nothing except the packs. We halted all the next day at
Niagara, and provided ourselves with blankets, coats, shirts, shoes,
moccasins, &c. I received from the commanding officer eighty barrels of
provisions, and changed two whale-boats for as many batteaux, which
proved leaky. In the evening, some of my party proceeded with the
provisions to the Falls (the rapid water at Queenston), and in the
morning marched the rest there, and began the portage of the provisions
and boats. Messrs. Bhreme and Davis took a survey of the great cataract
of Niagara."

[Sidenote: 1761.]

At the time of Major Rogers' visit to Toronto all trading there had
apparently ceased; but we observe that he says it was most convenient
place for a factory. In 1761, we have Toronto named in a letter
addressed by Captain Campbell, commanding at Detroit, to Major Walters,
commanding at Niagara, informing him of an intended attack of the
Indians. "Detroit, June 17th, 1761, two o'clock in the morning. Sir, - I
had the favour of yours, with General Amherst's despatches. I have sent
you an express with a very important piece of intelligence I have had
the good fortune to discover. I have been lately alarmed with reports of
the bad designs of the Indian nations against this place, and the
English in general. I can now inform you for certain it comes from the
Six Nations; and that they have sent belts of wampum and deputies to all
the nations from Nova Scotia to the Illinois, to take up the hatchet
against the English, and have employed the Mississaguas to send belts of
wampum to the northern nations. Their project is as follows: - The Six
Nations, at least the Senecas, are to assemble at the head of French
Creek, within five-and-twenty leagues of Presqu'isle; part of the Six
Nations (the Delawares and Shawnees), are to assemble on the Ohio; and
at the same time, about the latter end of the month, to surprise Niagara
and Fort Pitt, and cut off the communication everywhere. I hope this
will come time enough to put you on your guard, and to send to Oswego,
and all the posts in that communication. They expect to be joined by the
nations that are to come from the North by Toronto."

[Sidenote: 1767.]

Eight years after the occupation of the country by the English, a
considerable traffic was being carried on at Toronto. We learn this from
a despatch of Sir William Johnson's to the Earl of Shelburne, on the
subject of Indian affairs, bearing date 1767. Sir William affirms that
persons could be found willing to pay £1,000 per annum for the monopoly
of the trade at Toronto. Some remarks of his that precede the reference
to Toronto give us some idea of the commercial tactics of the Indian and
Indian trader of the time. "The Indians have no business to follow when
at peace," Sir William Johnson says, "but hunting. Between each hunt
they have a recess of several months. They are naturally very covetous,"
the same authority asserts, "and become daily better acquainted with the
value of our goods and their own peltry; they are everywhere at home,
and travel without the expense or inconvenience attending our journey to
them. On the other hand, every step our traders take beyond the posts,
is attended at least with some risk and a very heavy expense, which the
Indians must feel as heavily on the purchase of their commodities; all
which considered, is it not reasonable to suppose that they would rather
employ their idle time in quest of a cheap market, than sit down with
such slender returns as they must receive in their own villages?" He
then instances Toronto. "As a proof of which," Sir William continues, "I
shall give one instance concerning Toronto, on the north shore of Lake
Ontario. Notwithstanding the assertion of Major Rogers," Sir William
Johnson says, "that even a single trader would not think it worth
attention to supply a dependent post, yet I have heard traders of long
experience and good circumstances affirm, that for the exclusive trade
of that place, for one season, they would willingly pay £1,000 - so
certain were they of a quiet market - from the cheapness at which they
could afford their goods there."

Although after the Conquest the two sides of Lake Ontario and of the St.
Lawrence generally were no longer under different crowns, the previous
rivalry between the two routes, the St. Lawrence and Mohawk river
routes, to the seaboard continued; and it was plainly to the interest of
those who desired the aggrandisement of Albany and New York to the
detriment of Montreal and Quebec, to discourage serious trading
enterprises with Indians on the northern side of the St. Lawrence
waters. We have an example of this spirit in a "Journal of Indian
Transactions at [Fort] Niagara, in the year 1767," published in the
documentary History of New York (ii. 868, 8vo. ed.), in which Toronto is
named, and a great chieftain from that region figures - in one respect,
somewhat discreditably, however. We give the passage of the journal to
which we refer. The document appears to have been drawn up by Norman
M'Leod, an Indian agent, visiting Fort Niagara.



Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 2 of 59)