Henry Scadding.

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

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somewhere on the premises of Mr. J. S. Baldwin, the gentleman who had
been honoured with the salute, and that if he desired to recover his
property he must despatch some men thither to fetch it. (We shall have
occasion to refer hereafter to the _Richmond_, when we come to speak of
the early Marine of York Harbour.)

Passing on our way eastward we came immediately, on the north side, to
one of the principal hotels of York, a long, white, two-storey wooden
building. It was called the Mansion House - an appropriate name for an
inn, when we understand "Mansion" in its proper, but somewhat forgotten
sense, as indicating a temporary abode, a place which a man occupies and
then relinquishes to a successor. The landlord here for a considerable
time was Mr. De Forest, an American who, in some way or other, had been
deprived of his ears. The defect, however, was hardly perceptible, so
nicely managed was the hair. On the ridge of the Mansion House roof was
to be seen for a number of years a large and beautiful model of a
completely-equipped sailing vessel.

We then arrived at the north-west angle of King and Princes streets,
where a second public well (we have already commemorated the first,) was
sunk, and provided with a pump in 1824 - for all which the sum of £36
17_s._ 6_d._ was paid to John James on the 19th of August in that year.
In the advertisements and contracts connected with this now obliterated
public convenience, Princes Street is correctly printed and written as
it here meets the eye, and not "Princess Street," as the recent
corruption is.

Let not the record of our early water-works be disdained. Those of the
metropolis of the Empire were once on a humble scale. Thus Master John
Stow, in his _Survey of London, Anno 1598_, recordeth that "at the
meeting of the corners of the Old Jurie, Milke Street, Lad Lane,
Aldermanburie, there was of old time a fair well with two buckets; of
late years," he somewhat pathetically adds, "converted to a pump."

Just across eastward from the pump was one of the first buildings put up
on King Street: it was erected by Mr. Smith, who was the first to take
up a building lot, after the laying-out of the town-plot.

On the opposite side, a few steps further on, was Jordan's - the
far-famed "York Hotel" - at a certain period, the hotel _par excellence_
of the place, than which no better could be found at the time in all
Upper Canada. The whole edifice has now utterly disappeared. Its
foundations giving way, it for a while seemed to be sinking into the
earth, and then it partially threatened to topple over into the street.
It was of antique style when compared with the Mansion House. It was
only a storey-and-a-half high. Along its roof was a row of dormer
windows. (Specimens of this style of hotel may still be seen in the
country-towns of Lower Canada.)

When looking in later times at the doorways and windows of the older
buildings intended for public and domestic purposes, as also at the
dimensions of rooms and the proximity of the ceilings to the floors, we
might be led for a moment to imagine that the generation of settlers
passed away must have been of smaller bulk and stature than their
descendants. But points especially studied in the construction of early
Canadian houses, in both Provinces, were warmth and comfort in the long
winters. Sanitary principles were not much thought of, and happily did
not require to be much thought of, when most persons passed more of
their time in the pure outer air than they do now.

Jordan's York Hotel answered every purpose very well. Members of
Parliament and other visitors considered themselves in luxurious
quarters when housed there. Probably in no instance have the public
dinners or fashionable assemblies of a later era gone off with more
_eclat_, or given more satisfaction to the persons concerned in them,
than did those which from time to time, in every season, took place in
what would now be considered the very diminutive ball-room and
dining-hall of Jordan's.

In the ball-room here, before the completion of the brick building which
replaced the Legislative Halls destroyed by the Americans in 1813, the
Parliament of Upper Canada sat for one session.

In the rear of Jordan's, detached from the rest of the buildings, there
long stood a solid circular structure of brick, of considerable height
and diameter, dome-shaped without and vaulted within, somewhat
resembling the furnace into which Robert, the huntsman, is being
thrust, in Retzsch's illustration of Fridolin. This was the public oven
of Paul Marian, a native Frenchman who had a bakery here before the
surrounding premises were converted into a hotel by Mr. Jordan. In the
_Gazette_ of May 19, 1804, Paul Marian informs his friends and the
public "that he will supply them with bread at their dwellings, at the
rate of nine loaves for a dollar, on paying ready money."

About the same period, another Frenchman, François Belcour, is
exercising the same craft in York. In _Gazettes_ of 1803, he announces
that he is prepared "to supply the ladies and gentlemen who may be
pleased to favor him with their custom, with bread, cakes, buns, etc.
And that for the convenience of small families, he will make his bread
of different sizes, viz., loaves of two, three, and four pounds' weight,
and will deliver the same at the houses, if required." He adds that
"families who may wish to have beef, etc., baked, will please send it to
the bake-house." In 1804, he offers to bake "at the rate of pound for
pound; that is to say he will return one pound of Bread for every pound
of Flour which may be sent to him for the purpose of being baked into

After the abandonment of Jordan's as a hotel, Paul Marian's oven,
repaired and somewhat extended, again did good service. In it was baked
a goodly proportion of the supplies of bread furnished in 1838-9, to the
troops, and incorporated militia at Toronto, by Mr. Jackes and Mr.

As the sidewalks of King Street were apt to partake, in bad weather, of
the impassableness of the streets generally at such a time, an early
effort was made to have some of them paved. Some yards of foot-path,
accordingly, about Jordan's, and here and there elsewhere, were covered
with flat flagstones from the lake-beach, of very irregular shapes and
of no great size: the effect produced was that of a very coarse, and
soon a very uneven mosaic.

At Quebec, in the neighborhood of the Court House, there is retained
some pavement of the kind now described: and in the early lithograph of
Court House Square, at York, a long stretch of sidewalk is given in the
foreground, seamed over curiously, like the surface of an old Cyclopean
or Pelasgic wall.

On April the 26th, 1823, it was ordered by the magistrates at Quarter
Sessions that "£100 from the Town and Police Fund, together with
one-fourth of the Statute Labour within the Town, be appropriated to
flagging the sidewalks of King Street, commencing from the corner of
Church Street and proceeding east to the limits of the Town, and that
both sides of the street do proceed at the same time." One hundred
pounds would not go very far in such an undertaking. We do not think the
sidewalks of the primitive King Street were ever paved throughout their
whole length with stone.

After Jordan's came Dr. Widmer's surgery, associated with many a pain
and ache in the minds of the early people of York, and scene of the
performance upon their persons of many a delicate, and daring, and
successful remedial experiment. Nearly opposite was property
appertaining to Dr. Stoyell, an immigrant, non-practising medical man
from the United States, with Republican proclivities as it used to be
thought, who, previous to his purchasing here, conducted, as has been
already implied, an inn at Mrs. Lumsden's corner. (The house on the
other side of Ontario Street, westward, was Hayes' Boarding House,
noticeable simply as being in session-time, like Jordan's, the temporary
abode of many Members of Parliament.)

After Dr. Widmer's, towards the termination of King Street, on the south
side, was Mr. Small's, originally one of the usual low-looking domiciles
of the country, with central portion and two gable wings, somewhat after
the fashion of many an old country manor-house in England.

The material of Mr. Small's dwelling was hewn timber. It was one of the
earliest domestic erections in York. When re-constructed at a subsequent
period, Mr. Charles Small preserved, in the enlarged and elevated
building, now known as Berkeley House, the shape and even a portion of
the inner substance of the original structure.

We have before us a curious plan (undated but old) of the piece of
ground originally occupied and enclosed by Mr. Small, as a yard and
garden round his primitive homestead: occupied and enclosed, as it would
seem, before any building lots were set off by authority on the
Government reserve or common here. The plan referred to is entitled "A
sketch showing the land occupied by John Small, Esq., upon the Reserve
appropriated for the Government House at York by His Excellency Lt. Gov.
Simcoe." An irregular oblong, coloured red, is bounded on the north side
by King Street, and is lettered within - "Mr. Small's Improvements."
Round the irregular piece thus shewn, lines are drawn enclosing
additional space, and bringing the whole into the shape of a
parallelogram: the parts outside the irregularly shaped red portion, are
colored yellow: and on the yellow, the memorandum appears - "This added
would make an Acre." The block thus brought into shapely form is about
one-half of the piece of ground that at present appertains to Berkeley

The plan before us also incidentally shows where the Town of York was
supposed to terminate: - an inscription - "Front Line of the Town" - runs
along the following route: up what is now the lane through Dr. Widmer's
property: and then, at a right angle eastward along what is now the
north boundary of King Street opposite the block which it was necessary
to get into shape round Mr. Small's first "Improvements." King Street
proper, in this plan, terminates at "Ontario Street:" from the eastern
limit of Ontario Street, the continuation of the highway is marked "Road
to Quebec," - with an arrow shewing the direction in which the traveller
must keep his horse's head, if he would reach that ancient city. - The
arrow at the end of the inscription just given points slightly upwards,
indicating the fact that the said "Road to Quebec" trends slightly to
the north after leaving Mr. Small's clearing.





We now propose to pass rapidly down "the road to Quebec" as far as the
Bridge. First we cross, in the hollow, Goodwin's creek, the stream which
enters the Bay by the cut-stone Jail. Lieutenant Givins (afterwards
Colonel Givins), on the occasion of his first visit to Toronto in 1793,
forced his way in a canoe with a friend up several of the meanderings of
this stream, under the impression that he was exploring the Don. He had
heard that a river leading to the North-West entered the Bay of Toronto,
somewhere near its head; and he mistook the lesser for the greater
stream: thus on a small scale performing the exploit accomplished by
several of the explorers of the North American coast, who, under the
firm persuasion that a water highway to Japan and China existed
somewhere across this continent, lighted upon Baffin's Bay, Davis
Strait, the Hudson River, and the St. Lawrence itself, in the course of
their investigations.

On the knoll to the right, after crossing Goodwin's creek, was Isaac
Pilkington's lowly abode, a little group of white buildings in a grove
of pines and acacias.

Parliament Street, which enters near here from the north, is a memorial
of the olden time, when, as we have seen, the Parliament Buildings of
Upper Canada were situated in this neighbourhood. In an early section of
these Recollections we observed that what is now called Berkeley Street
was originally Parliament Street, a name which, like that borne by a
well-known thoroughfare in Westminster, for a similar reason, indicated
the fact that it led down to the Houses of Parliament.

The road that at present bears the name of Parliament Street shews the
direction of the track through the primitive woods opened by Governor
Simcoe to his summer house on the Don, called Castle-Frank, of which
fully, in its place hereafter.

Looking up Parliament Street we are reminded that a few yards westward
from where Duke Street enters it, lived at an early period Mr. Richard
Coates, an estimable and ingenious man, whose name is associated in our
memory with the early dawn of the fine arts in York. Mr. Coates, in a
self-taught way, executed, not unsuccessfully, portraits in oil of some
of our ancient worthies. Among things of a general or historical
character, he painted also for David Willson, the founder of the
"Children of Peace," the symbolical decorations of the interior of the
Temple at Sharon. He cultivated music likewise, vocal and instrumental;
he built an organ of some pretensions, in his own house, on which he
performed; he built another for David Willson at Sharon. Mr. Coates
constructed, besides, in the yard of his house, an elegantly-finished
little pleasure yacht, of about nine tons burden.

This passing reference to infant Art in York recalls again the name of
Mr. John Craig, who has before been mentioned in our account of the
interior of one of the many successive St. Jameses. Although Mr. Craig
did not himself profess to go beyond his sphere as a decorative and
heraldic painter, the spirit that animated him really tended to foster
in the community a taste for art in a wider sense.

Mr. Charles Daly, also, as a skilful teacher of drawing in water-colours
and introducer of superior specimens, did much to encourage art at an
early date. In 1834 we find Mr. Daly promoting an exhibition of
Paintings by the "York Artists and Amateur Association," and acting as
"Honorary Secretary," when the Exhibition for the year took place. Mr.
James Hamilton, a teller in the bank, produced, too, some noticeable
landscapes in oil.

As an auxiliary in the cause, and one regardful of the wants of artists
at an early period, we name, likewise, Mr. Alexander Hamilton; who, in
addition to supplying materials in the form of pigments and prepared
colours, contributed to the tasteful setting off of the productions of
pencil and brush, by furnishing them with frames artistically carved and

Out of the small beginnings and rudiments of Art at York, one artist of
a genuine stamp was, in the lapse of a few years, developed - Mr. Paul
Kane; who, after studying in the schools of Europe, returned to Canada
and made the illustration of Indian character and life his specialty. By
talent exhibited in this class of pictorial delineation, he acquired a
distinguished reputation throughout the North American continent; and by
his volume of beautifully illustrated travels, published in London, and
entitled "Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America,"
he obtained for himself a recognized place in the literature of British

In the hollow, a short distance westward of Mr. Coates's, was one of the
first buildings of any size ever erected in these parts wholly of stone.
It was put up by Mr. Hutchinson. It was a large square family house of
three storeys. It still exists, but its material is hidden under a
coating of stucco. Another building, wholly of stone, was Mr. Hunter's
house, on the west side of Church Street. A portion of Hugill's Brewery
likewise exhibited walls of the same solid, English-looking substance.
We now resume our route.

We immediately approach another road entering from the north, which
again draws us aside. This opening led up to the only Roman Catholic
church in York, an edifice of red-brick, substantially built. Mr. Ewart
was the contractor. The material of the north and south walls was worked
into a kind of tesselated pattern, which was considered something very
extraordinary. The spire was originally surmounted by a large and
spirited effigy of the bird that admonished St. Peter, and not by a
cross. It was not a flat, moveable weathercock, but a fixed, solid
figure, covered with tin.

In this building officiated for some time an ecclesiastic named O'Grady.
Mingling with a crowd, in the over-curious spirit of boyhood, we here,
at funerals and on other occasions, first witnessed the ceremonial forms
observed by Roman Catholics in their worship; and once we remember being
startled at receiving, by design or accident, from an overcharged
_aspergillum_ in the hands of a zealous ministrant of some grade passing
down the aisle, a copious splash of holy water in the eye.

Functionaries of this denomination are generally remarkable for their
quiet discharge of duty and for their apparent submissiveness to
authority. They sometimes pass and repass for years before the
indifferent gaze of multitudes holding another creed, without exciting
any curiosity even as to their personal names. But Mr. O'Grady was an
exception to the general run of his order. He acquired a distinctive
reputation among outsiders. He was understood to be an unruly presbyter;
and through his instrumentality, letters of his bishop, evidently never
intended to meet the public eye, got into general circulation. He was
required to give an account of himself, subsequently, at the feet of the
"Supreme Pontiff."

Power Street, the name now applied to the road which led up to the Roman
Catholic church, preserves the name of the Bishop of this communion, who
sacrificed his life in attending to the sick emigrants in 1847.

The road to the south, a few steps further on, led to the wind-mill
built by Mr. Worts, senior, in 1832. In the possession of Messrs.
Gooderham & Worts are three interesting pictures, in oil, which from
time to time have been exhibited. They are intended to illustrate the
gradual progress in extent and importance of the mills and manufactures
at the site of the wind-mill. The first shows the original structure - a
circular tower of red brick, with the usual sweeps attached to a
hemispherical revolving top; in the distance town and harbour are seen.
The second shows the wind-mill dismantled, but surrounded by extensive
buildings of brick and wood, sheltering now elaborate machinery driven
by steam power. The third represents a third stage in the march of
enterprise and prosperity. In this picture gigantic structures of
massive, dark-coloured stone tower up before the eye, vying in colossal
proportions and ponderous strength with the works of the castle-builders
of the feudal times. Accompanying these interesting landscape views, all
of them by Forbes, a local artist of note, a group of life-size
portraits in oil, has occasionally been seen at Art Exhibitions in
Toronto - Mr. Gooderham, senior, and his Seven Sons - all of them
well-developed, sensible-looking, substantial men, manifestly capable of
undertaking and executing whatever practical work the exigencies of a
young and vigorous community may require to be done.

Whenever we have chanced to obtain a glimpse of this striking group
(especially the miniature photographic reproduction of it on one card),
a picture of Tancred of Hauteville and his Twelve Sons, "all of them
brave and fair," once familiar as an illustration appended to that
hero's story, has always recurred to us; and we have thought how
thankfully should we regard the grounds on which the modern Colonial
patriarch comforts himself in view of a numerous family springing up
around him, as contrasted with the reasons on account of which the
enterprising Chieftain of old congratulated himself on the same
spectacle. The latter beheld in his ring of stalwart sons so many
warriors; so much good solid stuff to be freely offered at the shrine of
his own glory, or the glory of his feudal lord, whenever the occasion
should arise. The former, in the young men and maidens, peopling his
house, sees so many additional hands adapted to aid in a bloodless
conquest of a huge continent; so much more power evolved, and all of it
in due time sure to be wanted, exactly suited to assist in pushing
forward one stage further the civilizing, humanizing, beautifying,
processes already, in a variety of directions, initiated.

"Peace hath her victories,
No less renowned than war;"

and it is to the victories of peace chiefly that the colonial father
expects his children to contribute.

When the families of Mr. Gooderham and Mr. Worts crossed the Atlantic,
on the occasion of their emigration from England, the party, all in one
vessel, comprised, as we are informed, so many as fifty-four persons
more or less connected by blood or marriage.

We have been told by Mr. James Beaty that when out duck shooting, now
nearly forty years since, he was surprised by falling in with Mr. Worts,
senior, rambling apparently without purpose in the bush at the mouth of
the Little Don: all the surrounding locality was then in a state of
nature, and frequented only by the sportsman or trapper. On entering
into conversation with Mr. Worts, Mr. Beaty found that he was there
prospecting for an object; that, in fact, somewhere near the spot where
they were standing, he thought of putting up a wind-mill! The project at
the time seemed sufficiently Quixotic. But posterity beholds the large
practical outcome of the idea then brooding in Mr. Worts's brain. In
their day of small things the pioneers of new settlements may take
courage from this instance of progress in one generation, from the rough
to the most advanced condition. For a century to come, there will be
bits of this continent as unpromising, at the first glance, as the mouth
of the Little Don, forty years ago, yet as capable of being reclaimed by
the energy and ingenuity of man, and being put to divinely-intended and
legitimate uses. - Returning now from the wind-mill, once more to the
"road to Quebec," in common language, the Kingston road, we passed, at
the corner, the abode of one of the many early settlers in these parts
who bore German names - the tenement of Peter Ernst, or Ernest as the
appellation afterwards became.

From these Collections and Recollections matters of comparatively so
recent a date as 1849 have for the most part been excluded. We make an
exception in passing the Church which gives name to Trinity Street, for
the sake of recording an inscription on one of its interior walls. It
reads as follows: - "To the Memory of the Reverend William Honywood
Ripley, B.A., of University College, Oxford, First Incumbent of this
Church, son of the Rev. Thomas Hyde Ripley, Rector of Tockenham, and
Vicar of Wootton Bassett in the County of Wilts, England. After devoting
himself during the six years of his ministry, freely, without money and
without price, to the advancement of the spiritual and temporal welfare
of this congregation and neighbourhood, and to the great increase
amongst them of the knowledge of Christ and His Church, he fell asleep
in Jesus on Monday the 22nd of October, 1849, aged 34 years. He filled
at the same time the office of Honorary Secretary to the Church Society
of the Diocese of Toronto, and was Second Classical Master of Upper
Canada College. This Tablet is erected by the Parishioners of this
Church as a tribute of heartfelt respect and affection. Remember them
that have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God:
whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."

Canadian society in all its strata has been more or less leavened from
England. One of the modes by which the process has been carried on is
revealed in the inscription just given. In 1849, while this quarter of
Toronto was being taken up and built over, the influence of the
clergyman commemorated was singularly marked within it. Mr. Ripley, in
his boyhood, had been trained under Dr. Arnold, at Rugby; and his father
had been at an early period, a private tutor to the Earl of Durham who
came out to Canada in 1838 as High Commissioner. As to the material
fabric of Trinity Church - its erection was chiefly due to the exertions
of Mr. Alexander Dixon, an alderman of Toronto.

The brick School-house attached to Trinity Church bears the inscription:
"Erected by Enoch Turner, 1848." Mr. Turner was a benevolent Englishman
who prospered in this immediate locality as a brewer, and died in 1866.
Besides handsome bequests to near relations, Mr. Turner left by will,
to Trinity College, Toronto, £2,000; to Trinity Church, £500; to St.

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 20 of 59)