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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recently in another paper. To have the debates in Parliament reported
with any fulness was then a novelty. The _Observer_ was a folio of
rustic, unkempt aspect, the paper and typography and matter being all
somewhat inferior. It gave in its adherence to the government of the
day, generally: at a later period it wavered. Mr. Carey was a tall,
portly personage who, from his bearing and costume might readily have
been mistaken for a non-conformist minister of local importance. The
_Observer_ existed down to about the year 1830. Between the _Weekly
Register_ and the _Observer_ the usual journalistic feud sprung up,
which so often renders rival village newspapers ridiculous. With the
_Register_ a favourite sobriquet for the _Observer_ is "Mother C - - y."
Once a correspondent is permitted to style it "The Political Weathercock
and Slang Gazetteer." Mr. Carey ended his days in Springfield on the
River Credit, where he possessed property.

The _Canadian Freeman_, established in 1825 by Mr. Francis Collins was a
sheet remarkable for the neatness of its arrangement and execution, and
also for the talent exhibited in its editorials. The type was evidently
new and carefully handled. Mr. Collins was his own principal compositor.
He is said to have transferred to type many of his editorials without
the intervention of pen and paper, composing directly from copy mentally
furnished. Mr. Collins was a man of pronounced Celtic features, roughish
in outline, and plentifully garnished with hair of a sandy or reddish
hue.

Notwithstanding the colourless character of the motto at the head of its
columns "Est natura hominum novitatis avida" - "Human nature is fond of
news," the _Freeman_ was a strong party paper. The hard measure dealt
out to him in 1828 at the hands of the legal authorities, according to
the prevailing spirit of the day, with the revenge that he was moved to
take - and to take successfully - we shall not here detail. Mr. Collins
died of cholera in the year 1834. We have understood that he was once
employed in the office of the _Gazette_; and that when Dr. Horne
resigned, he was an applicant for the position of Government Printer.

The _Canadian Freeman_ joined for a time in the general opposition
clamour against Dr. Strachan, - against the influence, real or supposed,
exercised by him over successive lieutenant-governors. But on
discovering the good-humoured way in which its fulminations were
received by their object, the _Freeman_ dropped its strictures. It
happened that Mr. Collins had a brother in business in the town with
whom Dr. Strachan had dealings. This brother on some occasion thought it
becoming to make some faint apology for the _Freeman's_ diatribes. "O
don't let them trouble you," the Doctor replied, "they do not trouble
me; but by the way, tell your brother," he laughingly continued, "I
shall claim a share in the proceeds." This, when reported to the Editor,
was considered a good joke, and the diatribes ceased; a proceeding that
was tantamount to Peter Pindar's confession, when some one charged him
with being too hard on the King: "I confess there exists a difference
between the King and me," said Peter; "the King has been a good subject
to me; and I have been a bad subject to his Majesty." - During Mr.
Collins' imprisonment in 1828 for the application of the afterwards
famous expression "native malignity" to the Attorney-General of the day,
the _Freeman_ still continued to appear weekly, the editorials, set up
in type in the manner spoken of above, being supplied to the office from
his room in the jail.

In the early stages of society in Upper Canada the Government
authorities appear not only to have possessed but to have exercised the
power of handling political writers pretty sharply. In the Kingston
_Chronicle_ of December 10th, 1820, we have recorded the sentence
pronounced on Barnabas Ferguson, Editor of the Niagara _Spectator_, for
"a libel on the Government." Mr. Ferguson was condemned to be imprisoned
eighteen months; to stand in the pillory once during his confinement; to
pay a fine of £50, and remain in prison till paid; and on his liberation
to find security for seven years, himself in £500, and two sureties in
£250 each. No comment is made by the _Chronicle_ on the sentence, and
the libel is not described.

The local government took its cue in this matter from its superiors of
the day in the old country. What Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer says in his
sketch of the life of Cobbett helps to explain the action of the early
Upper Canada authorities in respect to the press. "Let us not forget,"
says the writer just named, "the blind and uncalculating intolerance
with which the law struggled against opinion from 1809 to 1822. Writers
during this period were transported, imprisoned, and fined, without
limit or conscience; and just when government became more gentle to
legitimate newspapers, it engaged in a new conflict with unstamped ones.
No less than 500 venders of these were imprisoned within six years. The
contest was one of life and death."

So early as 1807 there was an "opposition" paper - the _Upper Canada
Guardian_. Willcocks, the editor, had been Sheriff of the Home District,
and had lost his office for giving a vote contrary to the policy of the
lieutenant-governor for the time being. He was returned as a member of
parliament; and after having been imprisoned for breach of privilege, he
was returned again, and continued to lead the reforming party. The name
of Mr. Cameron, the publisher of the _Gazette_ at York was, by some
means, mixed up with that of Mr. Willcocks, in connection with the
_Upper Canada Guardian_ in 1807, and he found it expedient to publish
in the _Gazette_ of June 20, the following notice: "To the
Public - Having seen the Prospectus of a paper generally circulated at
Niagara, intended to be printed in Upper Canada, entitled the _Upper
Canada Guardian or Freeman's Journal_, executed in the United States of
America, without my knowledge or consent, wherein my name appears as
being a party concerned; I therefore think it necessary to undeceive my
friends and the inhabitants of Upper Canada, and to assure them that I
have no connection with, nor is it my most distant wish or intention in
any wise to be connected with the printing or publication of said paper.
John Bennett." - When the war of 1812 broke out the _Guardian_ came to an
end; its editor at first loyally bore arms on the Canadian side, but at
length deserted to the enemy, taking with him some of the Canadian
Militia. He was afterwards killed at the siege of Fort Erie.

The newspaper which occupies the largest space in the early annals of
the press at York is the _Colonial Advocate_. Issuing first at Queenston
in May, 1824, it was removed in the following November to York. Its
shape varied from time to time: now it was a folio: now a quarto. On all
its pages the matter was densely packed; but printed in a very mixed
manner: it abounded with sentences in italics, in small capitals, in
large capitals; with names distinguished in like decided manner: with
paragraphs made conspicuous by rows of index hands, and other
typographical symbols at top, bottom and sides. It was editorial, not in
any one particular column, but throughout; and the opinions delivered
were expressed for the most part in the first person.

The _Weekly Register_ fell foul of the _Advocate_ at once. It appears
that the new audacious nondescript periodical, though at the time it
bore on its face the name of Queenston, was nevertheless for convenience
sake printed at Lewiston on the New York side of the river. Hence it was
denounced by the _Weekly Register_ in language that now astonishes us,
as a United States production; and as in the United States interest.
"This paper of motley, unconnected, shake-bag periods" cried the Editor
of the _Weekly Register_, "this unblushing, brazen-faced _Advocate_,
affects to be a Queenston and Upper Canadian paper; whereas it is to all
intents and purposes, and radically, a Lewiston and genu-wine Yankee
paper. How can this man of truth, this pure and holy reformer and
regenerator of the unhappy and prostrate Canada reconcile such barefaced
and impudent deception?"

Nothing could more promote the success of the _Colonial Advocate_ than a
welcome like this. To account for the _Register's_ extraordinary warmth,
it is to be said that the _Advocate_ in its first number had happened to
quote a passage from an address of its Editor to the electors of the
County of Durham, which seemed in some degree to compromise him as a
servant of the Government. Mr. Fothergill had ventured to say "I know
some of the deep and latent causes why this fine country has so long
languished in a state of comparative stupor and inactivity, while our
more enterprising neighbours are laughing us to scorn. All I desire is
an opportunity of attempting the cure of some of the evils we labour
under." This was interpreted in the _Advocate_ to mean a censure upon
the Executive. But the _Register_ replied that these words simply
expressed the belief that the evils complained of were remediable only
by the action of the House of Assembly, on the well-known axiom "that
all law is for the people, and from the people; and when efficient, must
be remedied or rectified by the people; and that therefore Mr.
Fothergill was desirous of assisting in the great work."

The end in fact was that the Editor of the _Register_, after his return
to parliament for the County of Durham, did not long retain the post of
King's Printer. After several independent votes in the House he was
dismissed by Sir Peregrine Maitland in 1826, after which date the
awkwardness of uniting with a Government Gazette a general newspaper
whose editor, as a member of the House of Assembly, might claim the
privilege of acting with His Majesty's opposition, came to an end. In
1826 we have Mr. Fothergill in his place in the House supporting a
motion for remuneration to the publisher of the _Advocate_, on the
ground that the wide and even gratuitous circulation of that paper
throughout Canada and among members of the British House of Commons,
"would help to draw attention in the proper quarter to the country."

Here is an account of McKenzie's method in the collection of matter for
his various publications, the curious multifariousness of which matter
used to astonish while it amused. The description is by Mr. Kent, editor
of a religious journal, entitled _The Church_, published at Cobourg in
1838. Lord Clarendon's style has been exactly caught, it will be
observed: "Possessed of a taste for general and discursive reading,"
says Mr. Kent, "he (McK.) made even his very pleasures contribute to the
serious business of his life, and, year after year, accumulated a mass
of materials, which he pressed into his service at some fitting
opportunity. Whenever anything transpired that at all reflected on a
political opponent, or whenever, in his reading, he met with a passage
that favoured his views, he not only turned it to a present purpose, but
laid it by, to bring it forward at some future period, long after it
might have been supposed to be buried in oblivion."

The Editor of the _Advocate_, after his flight from Canada in 1837,
published for a short time at New York a paper named _McKenzie's
Gazette_, which afterwards was removed to Rochester: its term of
existence there was also brief. In the number for June, 1839, we have
the following intelligence contributed by a correspondent at Toronto: a
certain animus in relation to the military in Canada, and in relation to
the existing Banks of the country, is apparent. "Toronto, May 24th: The
93rd Regiment is still in quarters here. The men 660 strong, all
Scotchmen, enlisted in the range of country from Aberdeen to Ayrshire: a
highland regiment without highlanders: few or none of Englishmen or
Irishmen among them. They are a fine-looking body of men: I never saw a
finer. I wished to go into the garrison, but was not permitted to do so.
Few of the townspeople have that privilege. - - has made the fullest
enquiries, and tells me that a majority of the men would be glad to get
away if they could: they would willingly leave the service and the
country. He says they are well-informed, civil and well-behaved, and
that for such time as England may be compelled to retain possession of
the Canadas by military force, against the wishes of the settled
population he would like to have this regiment remain in Toronto. - -
tells me that a few _soups_ have been kept at Queenston during the
winter, because if they desert it is no matter: the regulars are all at
Drummondville, near the Falls, and a couple of hundred blacks at
Chippewa watching them. The Ferry below the Falls is guarded by old men
whose term of service is nearly out, and who look for a pension. It is
the same at Malden, and in Lower Canada. The regiments Lord Durham
brought were fine fellows, the flower of the English army.

"The Banks here tax the people heavily, but they are so stupid they
don't see it. All the specie goes into the Banks. I am told that the
Upper Canada Bank had at one time £300,000 in England in Commissariat
bills of Exchange: their notes in circulation are a million and a
quarter of paper dollars, for all of which they draw interest from the
people, although not obliged to keep six cents in their money-till to
redeem them. All the troops were paid in the depreciated paper of these
fraudulent bankrupt concerns, the directors of which deserve the
Penitentiary: the contracts of the Commissariat are paid in the same
paper as a 10 per cent. shave: and the troops up at Brantford were also
paid in Bank notes which the Bank did not pretend to redeem; and it
would have offended Sir George [Arthur], who has a share in such
speculations (as he had when in VanDieman's Land), had any one asked the
dollars. Sir Allan McNab, who has risen from poverty to be president _de
facto_, solicitor, directors and company of the Gore Bank, ever since
its creation, is said to be terribly embarrassed for want of money. He
is not the alpha and omega of the Bank now. He has quarrelled with his
brother villains. The money paid to Canada from England to uphold troops
to coerce the people helps the Banks."

In the same number of the _Gazette_ published at Rochester we have an
extract from a production by Robert Gourlay himself, who in his old age
paid a final visit of inspection to Canada. In allusion to a portion of
Gourlay's famous work published in 1822, the extract is headed in
_McKenzie's Gazette_ "Robert Gourlay's 'Last Sketch' of Upper Canada."
It is dated at Toronto, May 25th. Having just presented one gloomy view,
we will venture to lower the reader's spirits a particle more, by giving
another. Let allowance be made for the morbid mental condition of the
writer: the contrast offered by the Canada of to-day will afterwards
proportionably exhilarate.

"What did Upper Canada gain," Gourlay asks, "by my banishment; and what
good is now to be seen in it? Cast an eye over the length and breadth of
the land" he cries, "from Malden to Point Fortune, and from the Falls to
Lake Simcoe: then say if a single public work is creditable, or a single
institution as it should be. The Rideau Canal! - what is it but a
monument of England's folly and waste; which can never return a farthing
of interest; or for a single day stay the conquest of the province. The
Welland Canal! - Has it not been from beginning till now a mere struggle
of misery and mismanagement; and from now onward, promising to become a
putrid ditch. The only railway, of ten miles; with half completed; and
half which cannot be completed for want of funds! The macadamised roads,
all in mud; only causing an increase of wear and tear. The province
deeply in debt; confidence uprooted; and banks beleaguered!

"Schools and Colleges, what are they? - Few yet _painted_, though
lectures on natural philosophy are now abundant. The Cobourg seminary
outstaring all that is sanctimonious: so airy and lank that learning
cannot take root in it. A college at Sandwich built before the war, but
now a pig stye; and one at Toronto indicated only by an approach. The
edifices of the Church! - how few worthy of the Divine presence - how many
unfinished - how many fallen to decay. The Church itself, wholly
militant: Episcopalians maintaining what can never be established;
Presbyterians more sour than ever, contending for rights where they have
none whatever: Methodists so disunited that they cannot even join in a
respectable groan; and Catholic priests wandering about in poverty
because their scattered and starving flocks yield not sufficient wool
for the shears. One institution only have I seen praiseworthy and
progressing - The Penitentiary; but that is a concentrated essence,
seeing the whole province is one: and which of you, resident
land-holders, having sense or regard for your family would remain in it
a day, could you sell your property and be off?"

Some popular Almanacs of a remarkable character also emanated from
McKenzie's press. Whilst in the United States he put forth the _Caroline
Almanac_, a designation intended to keep alive the memory of the cutting
out of the _Caroline_ steamer from Fort Schlosser in 1837, and her
precipitation over the Falls of Niagara, an act sought to be held up as
a great outrage on the part of the Canadian authorities. In the Canadian
Almanacs, published by him, intended for circulation especially among
the country population, the object kept in view was the same as that so
industriously aimed at by the _Advocate_ itself, viz., the exposure of
the shortcomings and vices of the government of the day. At the same
time a large amount of practically useful matter and information was
supplied.

The earlier almanac was entitled "Poor Richard, or the Yorkshire
Almanac," and the compiler professed to be one "Patrick Swift, late of
Belfast, in the Kingdom of Ireland, Esq., F.R.I., Grand-nephew of the
celebrated Doctor Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, etc.,
etc., etc." This same personage was a contributor also of many pungent
and humorous things in prose and verse in the columns of the _Advocate_
itself. In 1834 the Almanac assumed the following title: "A new Almanac
for the Canadian True Blues; with which is incorporated The
Constitutional Reformer's Text Book, for the Millenial and Prophetic
Year of the Grand General Election for Upper Canada, and total and
everlasting Downfall of Toryism in the British Empire, 1834." It was
still supposed to be edited by Patrick Swift, Esq., who is now dubbed
M.P.P., and Professor of Astrology, York.

In the extract given above from what was styled Gourlay's "Last Sketch"
of Upper Canada, the query and rejoinder, "Schools and Colleges, where
are they? Few yet _painted_, though lectures on Natural Philosophy are
now abundant" - will not be understood, without remark. The allusion is
to an advertisement in the _Upper Canada Gazette_ of Feb. 5, 1818, which
Gourlay at the time of its appearance thought proper to animadvert upon
and satirize in the Niagara _Spectator_. It ran as follows: "Natural
Philosophy. - The subscriber intends to deliver a course of Popular
Lectures on Natural Philosophy, to commence on Tuesday, the 17th inst.,
at 7 o'clock p.m., should a number of auditors come forward to form a
class. Tickets of admission for the Course (price Two Guineas) may be
had of William Allan, Esq., Dr. Horne, or at the School House. The
surplus, if any, after defraying the current expenses, to be laid out in
painting the District School. John Strachan, York, 3rd Feb., 1818."

As was to be expected, Dr. Strachan was a standing subject of invective
in all the publications of Gourlay, as well as subsequently in all those
of McKenzie. Collins, Editor of the _Freeman_, became, as we have seen,
reticent in relation to him; but, more or less, a fusilade was
maintained upon him in McKenzie's periodicals, as long as they issued.

In McKenzie's opposition to Dr. Strachan there was possibly a certain
degree of national animus springing from the contemplation of a Scottish
compatriot who, after rising to position in the young colony, was
disposed, from temperament, to bear himself cavalierly towards all who
did not agree with him in opinion. In addition, we have been told that
at an early period in an interview between the two parties, Dr. Strachan
once chanced to express himself with considerable heat to McKenzie, and
proceeded to the length of showing him the door. The latter had called,
as our information runs, to deprecate prejudice in regard to a
brother-in-law of his, Mr. Baxter, who was a candidate for some post
under the Educational Board, of which Dr. S. was chairman; when great
offence was taken at the idea being for a moment entertained that a
personal motive would in the slightest degree bias him when in the
execution of public duty.

At a late period in the history of both the now memorable
Scoto-Canadians, we happened ourselves to be present at a scene in the
course of which the two were brought curiously face to face with each
other, once more, for a few moments. It will be remembered that after
the subsidence of the political troubles and the union of Upper and
Lower Canada, McKenzie came back and was returned member of Parliament
for Haldimand. While he was in the occupancy of this post, it came to
pass that Dr. Strachan, now Bishop of Toronto, had occasion to present a
petition to the united House on the subject of the Clergy Reserves. To
give greater weight and solemnity to the act he decided to attend in
person at the bar of the House, at the head of his clergy, all in
canonicals. McKenzie seeing the procession approaching, hurried into the
House and took his seat; and contrived at the moment the Bishop and his
retinue reached the bar to have possession of the floor. Affecting to
put a question to the Speaker, before the Order of the Day was proceeded
with, he launched out with great volubility and in excited strain on the
interruptions to which the House was exposed in its deliberations; he
then quickly came round to an attack in particular on prelates and
clergy for their meddling and turbulence, infesting, as he averred, the
lobbies of the Legislature when they should be employed on higher
matters, filling with tumultuous mobs the halls and passages of the
House, thronging (with an indignant glance in that direction) the very
space below the bar set apart for the accommodation of peaceably
disposed spectators.

The House had only just assembled, and had not had time to settle down
into perfect quiet: members were still dropping in, and it was a mystery
to many, for a time, what could, at such an early stage of the day's
proceedings, have excited the ire of the member for Haldimand. The
courteous speaker, Mr. Sicotte, was plainly taken aback at the sudden
outburst of patriotic fervour; and, not being as familiar with the Upper
Canadian past as many old Upper Canadians present were, he could not
enter into the pleasantry of the thing; for, after all, it was
humourously and not maliciously intended; the orator in possession of
the floor had his old antagonist at a momentary disadvantage, and he
chose to compel him while standing there conspicuously at the bar to
listen for a while to a stream of _Colonial Advocate_ in the purest
vein.

After speaking against time, with an immense show of heat for a
considerable while - a thing at which he was an adept - the scene was
brought to a close by a general hubbub of impatience at the outrageous
irrelevancy of the harangue, arising throughout the House, and obliging
the orator to take his seat. The petition of the Bishop was then in due
form received, and he, with his numerous retinue of robed clergy,
withdrew.

We now proceed with our memoranda of the early press. When Fothergill
was deprived of his office of King's Printer in 1825, he published for a
time a quarto paper of his own, entitled the _Palladium_, composed of
scientific, literary and general matter. Mr. Robert Stanton, King's
Printer after Fothergill, issued on his own account for a few years, a
newspaper called _The U. E. Loyalist_, the name, as we have seen, borne
by the portion of the _Gazette_ devoted to general intelligence while
Mr. Stanton was King's Printer. The _U. E. Loyalist_ was a quarto sheet,
well printed, with an engraved ornamental heading resembling that which
surmounted the New York _Albion_. The _Loyalist_ was conservative, as
also was a local contemporary after 1831, the _Courier_, edited and
printed by Mr. George Gurnett, subsequently Clerk of the Peace, and



Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 27 of 59)