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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will refuse to applaud an epigrammatic observation of his, when
responding to an appeal of charity. "Though dealing usually in iron
only, I keep," he said, "a little stock of silver and gold for such a
call as this." The factory on Shepard Street was afterwards worked by
Mr. J. Armstrong, and subsequently by Mr. Thomas Champion, formerly of
Sheffield, who, in 1838, advertised that he had "a large stock of
Champion's warranted cast steel axes, made at the factory originally
built by the late Harvey Shepard, and afterwards occupied by John
Armstrong. As Shepard's and Armstrong's axes have been decidedly
preferred before any others in the Province," the advertisement
continues, "it is only necessary to state that Champion's are made by
the same workmen, and from the very best material, to ensure for them
the same continued preference." - We now return from our digression
southward at Bay Street.

Chief Justice Elmsley was the first possessor of the hundred acres
westward of the Macaulay lot. He effected, however, a certain exchange
with Dr. Macaulay. Preferring land that lay higher, he gave the southern
half of his lot for the northern half of his neighbour's, the latter at
the same time discerning, as is probable, the prospective greater value
of a long frontage on one of the highways into the town. Of Mr. Elmsley,
we have had occasion to speak in our perambulation of King Street in
connection with Government House, which in its primitive state was his
family residence; and in our progress through Yonge Street hereafter we
shall again have to refer to him. In 1802 he was promoted from a Puisne
Judgeship in Upper Canada to the Chief Justiceship of Lower Canada.

The park-lot which follows was originally secured by one who has
singularly vanished out of the early traditions of York - the Rev. T.
Raddish. His name is inscribed on this property in the first plan, and
also on part of what is now the south-east portion of the
Government-house grounds. He emigrated to these parts under the express
auspices of the first Lieutenant-Governor, and was expected by him to
take a position of influence in the young colony of Upper Canada. But,
habituated to the amenities and conveniencies of an old community, he
speedily discovered either that an entirely new society was not suited
to him or that he himself did not dovetail well into it. He appears to
have remained in the country only just long enough to acquire for
himself and heirs the fee simple of a good many acres of its virgin
soil. In 1826 the southern portion of Mr. Raddish's park-lot became the
property of Sir John Robinson, at the time Attorney General. - The site
of Osgoode Hall, six acres, was, as we have been assured, the generous
gift of Sir John Robinson to the Law Society, and the name which the
building bears was his suggestion.

_Osgoode Hall_.

The east wing of the existing edifice was the original Osgoode Hall,
erected under the eye of Dr. W. W. Baldwin, at the time Treasurer of the
Society. It was a plain square matter-of-fact brick building two storeys
and a half in height. In 1844-46 a corresponding structure was erected
to the west, and the two were united by a building between, surmounted
by a low dome. In 1857-60 the whole edifice underwent a renovation; the
dome was removed; a very handsome façade of cut stone was put up; the
inner area, all constructed of Caen stone, reminding one of the interior
of a Genoese or Roman Palace, was added, with the Court Rooms, Library
and other appurtenances, on a scale of dignity and in a style of
architectural beauty surpassed only by the new Law Courts in London. The
pediment of each wing, sustained aloft on fluted Ionic columns, seen on
a fine day against the pure azure of a northern sky, is something

Great expense has been lavished by the Benchers on this Canadian _Palais
de Justice_; but the effect of such a pile, kept in its every nook and
corner and in all its surroundings in scrupulous order, is invaluable,
tending to refine and elevate each successive generation of our young
candidates for the legal profession, and helping to inspire amongst them
a salutary esprit de corps.

The Library, too, here to be seen, noble in its dimensions and aspect,
must, even independently of its contents, tend to create a love of legal
study and research.

The Law Society of Osgoode Hall was incorporated in 1822. The Seal bears
a Pillar on which is a beaver holding a Scroll inscribed Magna Charta.
To the right and left are figures of Justice and Strength (Hercules.)

An incident associated in modern times with Osgoode Hall is the
Entertainment given there to the Prince of Wales during his visit to
Canada in 1860, on which occasion, at night, all the architectural lines
of the exterior of the building were brilliantly marked out by rows of
minute gas-jets.

Here, too, were held the impressive funeral obsequies of Sir John
Robinson, the distinguished Chief Justice of Upper Canada, in 1862. In
the Library is a large painting of him in oil, in which his finely cut
Reginald Heber features are well delineated. Sayer Street, passing
northward on the east side of Osgoode Hall, was so named by Chief
Justice Robinson, in honour of his mother. In 1870 the name was changed,
probably without reflection and certainly without any sufficient cause.

The series of paintings begun in Osgoode Hall, conservative to future
ages of the outward presentment of our Chief Justices, Chancellors and
Judges, is very interesting. All of them, we believe, are by Berthon, of
Toronto. No portrait of Chief Justice Osgoode, however, is at present
here to be seen. The engraving contained in this volume is from an
original in the possession of Capt. J. K. Simcoe, R. N., of Wolford, in
the County of Devon.

After filling the office of Chief Justice in Upper Canada, Mr. Osgoode
was removed to the same high position in Lower Canada. He resigned in
1801 and returned to England. Among the deaths in the _Canadian Review_
of July, 1824, his is recorded in the following terms: - "At his Chambers
in the Albany, London, on the 17th of February last, Wm. Osgoode, Esq.,
formerly Chief Justice of Canada, aged 70. By the death of this
gentleman," it is added, "his pension of £800 sterling paid by this
Province now ceases." It is said of him, "no person admitted to his
intimacy ever failed to conceive for him that esteem which his conduct
and conversation always tended to augment." Garneau, in his History of
Canada, iii., 117, without giving his authority, says that he was an
illegitimate son of George III. Similar tattle has been rife from time
to time in relation to other personages in Canada.

A popular designation of Osgoode Hall long in vogue was "Lawyers' Hall:"

"Farewell, Toronto, of great glory,
Of valour, too, in modern story;
Farewell to Courts, to Lawyers' Hall,
The Justice seats, both great and small:
Farewell Attorneys, Special Pleaders,
Equity Draftsmen, and their Readers.
Canadian Laws, and Suits, to song
Of future Bard, henceforth belong."

Thus closed a curious production in rhyme entitled _Curiæ Canadenses_,
published anonymously in 1843, but written by Mr. John Rumsey, an
English barrister, sometime domiciled here. In one place is described
the migration of the Court of Chancery back from Kingston, whither it
was for a brief interval removed, when Upper and Lower Canada were
re-united. The minstrel says:

"Dreary and sad was Frontenac:
Thy duke ne'er made a clearer sack,
Than when the edict to be gone
Issued from the Vice-regal Throne.
_Exeunt omnes_ helter skelter
To Little York again for shelter:
Little no longer: York the New
Of imports such can boast but few:
A goodly freight, without all brag,
When comes 'mongst others, Master Spragge.
And skilful Turner, versed in pleading,
The Kingston exiles gently leading."

To the last three lines the following note is appended: -

"J. G. Spragge, Esq., the present very highly esteemed and
respected Master of the Court of Chancery; R. T. Turner, Esq., a
skilful Equity Draftsman and Solicitor in Chancery. See
_Journals of House of Assembly, 1841_."

The notes to _Curiæ Canadenses_ teem with interesting matter relating to
the laws, courts, terms, districts and early history, legal and general,
of Lower as well as Upper Canada. A copious table of contents renders
the volume quite valuable for reference. The author must have been an
experienced compiler, analyst and legal index maker. In the text of the
work, Christopher Anstey's poetical "Pleader's Guide" is taken as a
model. As a motto to the portion of his poem that treats of Upper Canada
he places the line of Virgil, "_Gensque virûm truncis et duro robore
nata_," which may be a compliment or not. The title in full of Mr.
Rumsey's brochure, which consists of only 127 octavo pages, is as
follows: - "Curiæ Canadenses; or, The Canadian Law Courts: being a Poem,
describing the several Courts of Law and Equity which have been erected
from time to time in the Canadas; with copious notes, explanatory and
historical, and an Appendix of much useful Matter. Itur in antiquam
sylvam, stabula alta ferarum; Procumbunt piceæ, sonat icta securibus
ilex, Fraxineæque trabes: cuneis et fissile robur Scinditur: advolvunt
ingentes montibus ornos. - _Virgil._ By Plinius Secundus. Toronto: H. and
W. Rowsell, King Street, 1843." The typography and paper are admirable.
The _Curiæ_, in a jacket of fair calf, should be given a place on the
shelves of our Canadian law libraries.

We pause for a moment at York Street, opposite the east wing of Osgoode

It rather puzzles one to conceive why York Street received its name. If
a commemoration of the Duke of York of sixty years since was designed,
the name of the whole town was that sufficiently already. Frederick
Street, besides, recorded his specific Christian name, and Duke Street
his rank and title. Although interesting now as a memento of a name
borne of old by Toronto, York Street, when Toronto was York, might well
have been otherwise designated, it seeming somewhat irrational for any
particular thoroughfare in a town to be distinguished by the name of
that town. - A certain poverty of invention in regard to street names has
in other instances been evinced amongst us. Victoria Street, for
example, was for a time called Upper George Street, to distinguish it
from George Street proper, so named from George, Prince of Wales, the
notable Prince Regent. It is curious that no other name but George
should have been suggested for the second street; especially, too, as
that street might have been so fittingly named Toronto Street, as being
situated within a few feet of the line of the original thoroughfare of
that name which figures so largely in the early descriptions of
York. - If in "York Street" a compliment had been intended to Charles
Yorke, Secretary at War in 1802, the orthography would have been "Yorke

After all, however, the name "York Street" may have arisen from the
circumstance that, at an early period, this was for teams on their way
to York, the beaten track, suddenly turning off here to the south out of
Dundas or Lot Street, the line of road which, if followed, would have
taken the traveller to Kingston.

The street on the west of the grounds of Osgoode Hall is now known as
University Street. By the donor to the public of the land occupied by
the street, it was designated Park Lane - not without due consideration,
as is likely. In London there is a famous and very distinguished Park
Lane. It leads from Oxford Street to Piccadilly, and skirts the whole of
the east side of Hyde Park. The position of what was our Park Lane is
somewhat analogous, it being open along its whole length on the left to
the plantations of an ornamental piece of ground. Unmeddled with, our
Park Lane would have suggested from time to time in the mind of the
ruminating wayfarer pleasant thoughts of a noble and interesting part of
the great home metropolis. The change to University Street was
altogether uncalled for. It ignored the adjoining "College Avenue," the
name of which showed that a generally-recognized "University Street"
existed already: it gave, moreover, a name which is pretentious, the
roadway indicated being comparatively narrow.

Of the street on the east side of the grounds of Osgoode Hall we have
already spoken. But in connection with the question of changes in street
names, we must here again refer to it. In this case the name "Sayer" has
been made to give place to "Chestnut." "Elm Street," which intersects
this street to the north, probably in some vague way suggested a tree
name. "Elm Street," however, had a reason for its existence. Many
persons still remember a solitary Elm, a relic of the forest, which was
long conspicuous just where Elm Street enters Yonge Street. And there is
a fitness likewise in the names of Pine Street and Sumach Street, in the
east; these streets, passing through a region where pines and sumachs
once abounded. But the modern Chestnut Street has nothing about it in
the past or present associated with chestnut trees of any kind. The
name "Sayer" should have been respected.

It is unfortunate when persons, apparently without serious retrospective
thought, have a momentary chance to make changes in local names.
Chancery might well be invoked to undo in some instances what has been
done, and to prohibit like inconsiderate proceedings in the future.
Equity would surely say that a citizen's private right should be
sustained, so long as it worked no harm to the community; and that
perplexity in the registration and description of property should not
needlessly be created.

Although we shall forestall ourselves a little, we may here notice one
more alteration in a street-name near Osgoode Hall. William Street,
immediately west of the Avenue leading to the University, has in recent
times been changed to Simcoe Street. It is true, William Street was
nearly in a line with the street previously known as Simcoe Street;
nevertheless, starting as it conspicuously did somewhat to the west of
that line, it was a street sufficiently distinct to be entitled to
retain an independent name. Here again, an item of local history has
been obliterated. William Street was a record on the soil of the first
name of an early Chief Justice of Upper Canada, who projected the street
and gave the land. Dummer Street, the next street westward, bears his
second name.

Of "Powell," his third name we have already spoken elsewhere, and shall
again almost immediately have to speak.

When it shall be proposed to alter the name of Dummer Street, with the
hope, perhaps, of improving the fame of the locality along with its
name, let the case of March Street be recalled. In the case of March
Street, the rose, notwithstanding a change of name, retained its
perfume: and the Colonial Minister of the day, Lord Stanley, received
but a sorry compliment when his name was made to displace that of the
Earl of March. (It was from this second title of the Duke of Richmond
that March Street had its name.) - It is probable that the Dummer Street
of to-day, like the March Street of yesterday, would, under another
name, continue much what it is. In all such quarters, it is not a change
of name that is of any avail: but the presence of the schoolmaster and
home-missionary, backed up by landlords and builders, studious of the
public health and morals, as well as of private interests.

_Digression Northward at the College Avenue._

The fine vista of the College Avenue, opposite to which we have now
arrived, always recalls to our recollection a certain bright spring
morning, when on reaching school a whole holiday was unexpectedly
announced; and when, as a mode of filling up a portion of the
unlooked-for vacant time, it was agreed between two or three young lads
to pay a visit to the place on Lot Street where, as the report had
spread amongst us, they were beginning to make visible preparations for
the commencement of the University of King's College. The minds of
growing lads in the neighbourhood of York at that period had very vague
ideas of what a University really was. It was a place where studies were
carried on, but how or under what conditions, there was of necessity
little conception. Curiosity, however, was naturally excited by the talk
on the lips of every one that a University was one day to be established
at York; and now suddenly we learned that actual beginnings were to be
seen of the much-talked-of institution. On the morning of the fine
spring day referred to, we accordingly undertook an exploration.

On arriving at the spot to which we had been directed, we found that a
long strip of land running in a straight line northwards had been marked
out, after the manner of a newly-opened side line or concession road in
the woods. We found a number of men actually at work with axes and
mattocks; yokes of oxen, too, were straining at strong ploughs, which
forced a way in amongst the roots and small stumps of the natural
brushwood, and, here and there, underneath a rough mat of tangled grass,
bringing to light, now black vegetable mould, now dry clay, now loose
red sand. Longitudinally, up the middle of the space marked off, several
bold furrows were cut, those on the right inclining to the left, and
those on the left inclining to the right, as is the wont in primitive

One novelty we discovered, viz., that on each side along a portion of
the newly-cleared ground, young saplings had been planted at regular
intervals; these, we were told, were horse-chestnuts, procured from the
United States expressly for the purpose of forming a double row of trees
here. In the neighbourhood of York the horse-chestnut was then a rarity.

Everywhere throughout the North American continent, as in the numerous
newly-opened areas of the British Empire elsewhere on the globe's
surface, instances, of course, abound of wonderful progress made in a
brief interval of time. For ourselves, we seem sometimes as if we were
moving among the unrealities of a dream when we deliberately review the
steps in the march of physical and social improvement, which, within a
fractional portion only of a retrospect not very extended, can be
recalled, in the region where our own lot has been cast, and, in
particular, in the neighbourhood where we are at this moment pausing.

The grand mediæval-looking structure of University College in the
grounds at the head of the Avenue, continues to this day to be a
surprise somewhat bewildering to the eye and mind, whenever it breaks
upon our view. It looks so completely a thing of the old world and of an
age long past away. To think that one has walked over its site before
one stone was laid upon another thereon, seems almost like a mental

A certain quietness of aspect and absence of overstrain after
architectural effect give the massive pile an air of great genuineness.
The irregular grouping of its many parts appears the undesigned result
of accretion growing out of the necessities of successive years. The
whole looks in its place, and as if it had long occupied it. The
material of its walls, left for the most part superficially in the
rough, has the appearance of being weather-worn. An impression of age,
too, is given by the smooth finish of the surrounding grounds and
spacious drives by which, on several sides, the building is approached,
as also by the goodly size of the well-grown oaks and other trees
through whose outstretched branches it is usually first caught sight of,
from across the picturesque ravine.

Of the still virgin condition of the surrounding soil, however, we have
some unmistakeable evidence in the ponderous granitic boulders every
here and there heaving up their grey backs above the natural greensward,
undisturbed since the day when they dropped suddenly down from the
dissolving ice-rafts that could no longer endure their weight.

Seen at a little distance, as from Yonge Street for example, the square
central tower of the University, with the cone-capped turret at its
north-east angle, rising above a pleasant horizon of trees, and outlined
against an afternoon sky, is something thoroughly English, recalling
Rugby or Warwick. On a nearer approach, this same tower, combined with
the portal below, bears a certain resemblance to the gateway of the
Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, as figured in Palgrave's "Anglo-Saxons;" and
the elaborate and exquisite work about the recessed circular-headed
entrance enables one to realize with some degree of certainty how the
enriched front of that and other noble mediæval structures, seen by us
now corroded and mutilated, looked when fresh from the hands that so
cunningly carved them.

In the two gigantic blind-worms, likewise, stretched in terrorem on the
sloping parapets of the steps leading to the door, benumbed, not dead;
giving in their extremities, still faint evidence of life, we have a
sermon in stone, which the brethren of a masonic guild of Wykeham's day
would readily have expounded. As we enter a house devoted to learning
and study, is it not fitting that the eye should be greeted with a
symbol of the paralyzing power of Science over Ignorance and

Moreover, sounds that come at stated intervals from that central tower,
make another link of sympathy with the old mother-land. Every night at
nine, "swinging slow with solemn roar," the great bell of the University
is agreeably suggestive of Christ Church, Oxford, St. Mary's, Cambridge,
and other places beyond the sea, which to the present hour give back an
echo of the ancient Curfew.

And if to this day the University building, in its exterior aspect and
accidents, is startling to those who knew its site when as yet in a
state of nature, its interior also, when traversed and explored, tends
in the same persons to produce a degree of confusion as between things
new and old; as between Canada and elsewhere. Within its walls are to be
seen appliances and conveniences and luxuries for the behoof and use of
teacher and student, unknown a few years since in many an ancient seat
of learning.

In a library of Old World aspect and arrangement, is a collection rich
in the Greek and Latin Classics, in Epigraphy and Archæology, beyond
anything of the kind in any other collection on this continent, and
beyond what is to be met with in those departments in many a separate
College within the precincts of the ancient Universities - a pre-eminence
due to the tastes and special studies of the first president and other
early professors of the Canadian Institution.

Strange, it is, yet true that hither, as to a recognized source of
certain aid in identification and decipherment, are duly transmitted, by
cast, rubbing and photograph, the "finds" that from time to time create
such excitement and delight among epigraphists, and ethnologists, and
other minute historical investigators in the British Islands and

There used to be preserved in the Old Hospital a model in cork and
card-board, of the great educational establishment to which, in the
first instance, the Avenue was expected to form an approach. It was very
curious. Had it been really followed, a large portion of the park
provided for the reception of the University would have been covered
with buildings. A multitude of edifices, isolated and varying in
magnitude, were scattered about, with gardens and ornamental grounds
interspersed. These were halls of science, lecture-rooms, laboratories,
residences for president, vice-president, professors, officials and
servants of every grade. On the widely extended premises occupied by the
proposed institution, a population was apparently expected to be found
that would, of itself, have almost sufficed to justify representation in
Parliament - a privilege the college was actually by its charter to
enjoy. We should have had in fact realized before our eyes, on a
considerable scale, a part of the dreams of Plato and More, a fragment
of Atlantis and Utopia.

When the moment arrived, however, for calling into visible being the
long contemplated seat of learning, it was found expedient to abandon
the elaborate model which had been constructed. Mr. Young, a local
architect, was directed to devise new plans. His ideas appear to have
been wholly modern. Notwithstanding the tenor of the Royal Charter,
which suggested the precedents of the old universities of "our United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," wherever it should be practicable
to follow them, the architecture and arrangements customary in those

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 31 of 59)