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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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den, 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 ara so stupid
they don't see it. All the specie goes into the Banks. I am told



§ 1 9-] Queen Streei — The Early Press. 275

that the Upper Canada Bank had at one time ^300,000 in Eng-
land 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 con-
cerns, the directors of which deserve the Penitentiary : the con-
tracts 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 j 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 embar-
rassed 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 allu-
sion to a portion of Gourlay's famous work published in 1822, the
extract is headed in McKenzies 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 al-
lowance be made for the morbid mental condition of the writer :
the contrast offered by the Canada of to-day will afterwards pro-
portionably exhilarate.

"What did Upper Canada gain," Gourlay asks, " by my banish-
ment j and what good is now to be seen in it ? Cast an eye over
the length and breadth of the land" he cries, " from Maiden 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



276 Toronto of Old. [§ 19.

to become a putrid ditch. The only railway, often miles; with
half completed ; and half which cannot be completed for want of
funds ! The macadamised roads, all in mud ; only causing an in-
crease of wear and tear. The province deeply in debt ; confidence
uprooted j 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 respec-
table 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 Almafiac, 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 popu-
lation, the object kept in view was the same as that so industriously
aimed at by the Advocate itself, viz., the exposure of the shortcom-
ings 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 York-
shire 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



§ i9«] Queen Street — The Early (Press. 277

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 j with which is incorporated The Constitu-
tional 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 Up-
per 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 Phil-
osophy. — 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.
Home, or at the School House. The surplus, if any, after defray-
ing the current expenses, to be laid out in painting the District
School. John Strachan, York, 3rd Feb., 181 8." «

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, be-
came, as we have seen, reticent in relation to him ; but, more or
less, a fusilade was maintained upon him in McKenzie's periodi-
cals, as long as they issued.

In McKenzie's opposition to Dr. Strachan there was possibly
a certain degree of national animus springing from the contempla-
tion 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



278 Toronto of Old. [§ 19.

length of showing him the door. The latter had called, as our in-
formation 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 re-
membered that after the subsidence of the political troubles and
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 peti-
tion to the united House on the subject of the Clergy Reserves.
To give greater weight and solemnity to the act he decided to at-
tend 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 pos-
session 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 mat-
ters, 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



§ 19.] Queen Street — The Early (Press. 279

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 Colo?iial 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 Palla-
dium, 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 sur-
mounted 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 Police Magistrate for the City of Toronto. The
Christian Guardian, a local religious paper which still survives,
began in 1828. The Patriot appeared at York in 1833: it had
previously been issued at Kingston ; its whole title was " The
Patriot and Farmer's Monitor," with the motto, " Common Sense,"
below. It was of the folio form, and its Editor, Mr. Thos. Dalton,
was a writer of much force, liveliness and originality. The
Loyalist, Courier and Patriot were antagonists politically of the
Advocate while the latter flourished ; but all three laboured
under the disadvantage of fighting on the side whose star was
everywhere on the decline.

Notwithstanding its conservatism, however, it was in the Courier
that the memorable revolutionary sentiments appeared, so frequently
quoted afterwards in the Advocate publications : " the minds of the



280 Toronto of Old. [§ 19,

well-affected begin to be unhinged ; they already begin to cast about
in their mind's eye for some new state of political existence, which
shall effectually put the colony without the pale of British connec-
tion ; " words written under the irritation occasioned by the dis-
missal of the Attorney and Solicitor-General for Upper Canada
in 1833.

For a short time prior to 1837, McKenzie's paper assumed
the name of The Constitution. A faithful portrait of McKenzie
will be seen at the beginning of the first volume of his " Life and
Times," by Mr. Charles Lindsey, a work which will be carefully
and profitably studied by future investigators in the field of Upper
Canadian history. Excellent portraits of Mr. Gurnett and of Mr.
Dalton are likewise extant in Toronto.

Soon after 1838, the Examiner newspaper acquired great in-
fluence at York. It was established and edited by Mr. Hincks.
Mr. Hincks had emigrated to Canada with the intention of en-
gaging in commerce ; and in- Walton's York Directory, 1833-34,
we read for No. 21, west side of Yonge Street, " Hincks, Francis,
Wholesale Warehouse." But Mr. Hincks' attention was drawn
to the political condition of Canada, especially to its Finance.
The accident of living in immediate proximity to a family that
had already for a number of years been taking a warm and active
interest in public affairs., may have contributed to this. In the
Directory, just named, the Number after 21 on the west side of
Yonge Street, is 23, and the occupants are " Baldwin, Doctor W.
Warren; Baldwin, Robert, Esq., Attorney, &c, Baldwin and Sul-
livan's Attorney's Office, and Dr. Baldwin's Surrogate Office round
the corner, in King Street, 195^." It was not unnatural that
the next door neighbour of Dr. Baldwin's family, their" tenant,
moreover, and attached friend, should catch a degree of inspiration
from them. The subsequent remarkable career of Mr. Hincks,
afterwards so widely known as Sir Francis Hincks, has become
a part of the general history of the country.

About the period of the Union of Upper and Lower Canada, a
local tri-weekly named The Morning Star and Transcript was
printed and published by Mr. W. J. Coates, who also issued
occasionally, at a later date, the Canadian Punch, containing clever
political cartoons in the style of the London Punch.

We have spoken once, we believe, of the Catiadian Freeman } s
motto, " Est natura hominum novitatis avida ; and of the Patriot' s y



§ 1 9.] Queen Street — The Early (Press. 281

just above, " Common Sense." Fothergill's " Weekly Register ''
was headed by a brief cento from Shakespeare : " Our endeavour
will be to stamp the very body of the time — its form and pressure — :
we shall extenuate nothing, nor shall we set down aught in malice."

Other early Canadian newspaper mottoes which pleased the
boyish fancy years ago, and which may still be pleasantly read on
the face of the same long-lived and yet flourishing publications,
were the " Mores et studia et populos et pralia dicam" of the Quebec
Mercury, and the " Animos novitate tenebo " of the Montreal Herald.
The Mercury and Herald likewise retain to this day their respec-
tive early devices : the former, Hermes, all proper, as the Heralds
would say, descending from the sky, with the motto from Virgil,
Mores et studia et populos etprcelia dicam : the latter the Genius of
Fame, bearing in one hand the British crown, and sounding as she
speeds through the air her trump, from which issues the above-
cited motto. Over the editorial column the device is repeated,
with the difference that the floating Genius here adds the authority
for her quotation — Ovid, a la Dr. Pangloss. Underneath the float-
ing figure are many minute roses and shamrocks ; but towering up
to the right and left with a significant predominance, for the special
gratification of Montrealers of the olden time, the thistle of Scot-
land.

Besides these primitive mottoes and emblematic headings, the
Mercury and Herald likewise retain, each of them, to this day a
certain pleasant individuality of aspect in regard to type, form and
arrangement, by which they are each instantly to be recognized.
This adherence of periodicals to their original physiognomy is very
interesting, and in fact advantageous, inspiring in readers a certain
tenderness of regard. Does not the cover of Blackwood, for ex-
ample, even the poor United States copy of it, sometimes awaken
in the chaos of a public reading-room table, a sense of affection,
like a friend seen in the midst of a promiscuous crowd ? The Eng-
lish Reviews too, as circulated among us from the United States,
are conveniently recognized by their respective colours, although
the English form of each has been, for cheapness' sake, departed
from. The Montreal Gazette likewise survives, preserving its
ancient look in many respects, and its high character for dignity
of style and ability.

In glancing back at the supply of intelligence and literature pro-
vided at an early day for the Canadian community, it repeatedly



282 Toronto of Old. [§ 19.

occurs to us to name, as we have done, the Albion newspaper of
New York. From this journal it was that almost every one in our
Upper Canadian York who had the least taste for reading, derived
the principal portion of his or her acquaintance with the outside
world of letters, as well as the minuter details of prominent poli-
tical events. As its name implies, the Albion was intended to
meet the requirements of a large number of persons of English birth
and of English descent, whose lot is cast on this continent, but
who nevertheless cannot discharge from their hearts their natural
love for England, their natural pride in her unequalled civiliza-
tion. " Ccelum non a?iimiim mutant qui trans mare currunt" was
its gracefully-chosen and appropriate motto.

Half a century ago, the boon of a judicious literary journal like
the Albion was to dwellers in Canada a very precious one. The
Quarterlies were not then reprinted as now ; nor were periodicals
like the Philadelphia Eclectic or the Boston Living Age readily pro-
curable. Without the weekly visit of the Albion, months upon
months would have passed without any adequate knowledge being
enjoyed of the current products of the literary world. For the sake
of its extracted reviews, tales and poetry the New York Albion was
in some cases, as we well remember, loaned about to friends and
read like a much sought after book in a modern circulating library.
And happily its contents were always sterling, and worth the perusal.
It was a part of our own boyish experience to become acquainted
for the first time with a portion of Keble's Christian Year, in the
columns of that paper.

The Albion was founded in 1822 by Dr. John Charlton Fisher,
who afterwards became a distinguished Editor at Quebec. To him
Dr. Bartlett succeeded. The New York Albion still flourishes
under Mr. Cornwallis, retaining its high character for the superior
excellence of its matter, retaining also many traits of its ancient
outward aspect, in the style of its type, in the distribution of its
matter. It has also retained its old motto. Its familiar vignette
heading of oak branches round the English rose, the thistle of
Scotland, and the shamrock, has been thinned out, and otherwise
slightly modified ; but it remains a fine artistic composition, well
executed.

There was another journal from New York much esteemed at
York for the real respectability of its character, the New York Spec-
tator. It was read for the sake of its commercial and general in-



§ 1 9-] Queen Street — The Early (Press. 283

formation, rather than for its literary news. To the minds of the
young the Greek revolution had a singular fascination. We remem-
ber once entertaining the audacious idea of constructing a history
of the struggle in Greece, of which the authorities would, in great
measure, have been copious cuttings from the New York Spectator
columns. One advantage of the embryo design certainly was a
familiarity acquired with the map of Hellas within and without the
Peloponnesus. Navarino, Modon, Coron, Tripolitza, Mistra, Mis-
solonghi, with the incidents that had made each temporarily famous,
were rendered as familiar to the mind's eye as Sparta, Athens,
Thebes, Thermopylae, and the events connected with each respec-
tively, of an era two thousand years previously, afterwards from
other circumstances became. Colocotroni, Mavrocordato, Miaulis,
Bozzaris, were heroes to the imagination as fully as Miltiades, Alci-
biades, Pericles, and Nicias, afterwards became.

Partly in consequence of the eagerness with which the columns
of the New York Spectator used to be ransacked with a view to the
composition of the proposed historical work, we remember the
peculiar interest with which we regarded the editor of that periodi-
cal at a later period, on falling in with him, casually, at the Falls
of Niagara. Mr. Hall was then well advanced in years ; and from
a very brief interview, the impression received was, that he was the
beau ideal of a veteran editor of the highest type j for a man, al-
most omniscient ; unslumberingly observant ; sympathetic, in some
way, with every passing occurrence and every remark ; tenacious
of the past ; grasping the present on all sides, with readiness, genial
interest and completeness. In aspect, and even to some extent in
costume, Mr. Hall might have been taken for an English bishop
of the early part of the Victorian era.





XX.



QUEEN STREET, FROM GEORGE STREET TO YONGE STREET. MEMO-
RIES OF THE OLD COURT HOUSE.




HEN we pass George Street we are in front of the
park-lot originally selected by Mr. Secretary Jarvis.
It is now divided from south to north by Jarvis street,
a thoroughfare opened up through the property in the
time of Mr. Samuel Peters Jarvis, the Secretary's son.
Among the pleasant villas that now line this street on both
sides, there is one which still is the home of a Jarvis, the
Sheriff of the County.

Besides filling the conspicuous post indicated by his title, Mr.
Secretary Jarvis was also the first Grand Master of the Masons in
Upper Canada. The archives of the first Masonic Lodges of York
possess much interest. Through the permission of Mr. Alfio de
Grassi who has now the custody of them, we are enabled to give
the following extracts from a letter of Mr. Secretary Jarvis, bear-
ing the early date of March 28th, 1792 : — " I am in possession of
my sign manual from his Majesty/' Mr. Jarvis writes on the day
just named, from Pimlico, to his relative Munson Jarvis, at St.
John, New Brunswick, " constituting me Secretary and Registrar
of the Province of Upper Canada, with power of appointing my
Deputies, and in every other respect a very full warrant. I am also"
he continues, " very much flattered to be enabled to inform you
that the Grand Lodge of England have within these very few days
appointed Prince Edward, who is now in Canada, Grand Master
of Ancient Masons in Lower Canada j and William Jarvis, Secre-
tary and Registrar of Upper Canada, Grand Master of Ancient
Masons in that Province. However trivial it may appear to you



§ 20.] Queen Street, fr:m George to Yonge Street. 285

who are not a Mason, yet I assure you that it is one of the most
honourable appointments that they could have conferred. The
Duke of Athol is the Grand Master of Ancient Masons in England.
Lord Dorchester with his private Secretary, and the Secretary of
the Province, called on us yesterday," Mr. Jarvis proceeds to say,
" and found us in the utmost confusion, with half a dozen porters
in the house packing up. However his Lordship would come in,



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