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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Georgium Sidus, suggested probably by the Julium Sidus of Horace. We
presume, also, that the large subdivision of Lake Huron, known as the
Georgian Bay, had for its name a like loyal origin. (The name Georgina,
is preserved in that of a now flourishing township on Lake Simcoe.)

An incident not recorded in Major Littlehales' Journal was the order of
a grand parade (of ten men), and a formal discharge of musketry, issued
in jocose mood by the Governor to Lieut. Givins; which was duly executed
as a ceremony of inauguration for the new capital.

The capture of a porcupine, however, somewhere near the site of the
proposed metropolis is noted by the Major. In the narrative the name of
Lieut. Givins comes up. "The young Indians who had chased a herd of deer
in company with Lieut. Givins," he says, "returned unsuccessful, but
brought with them a large porcupine: which was very seasonable," he
remarks, "as our provisions were nearly exhausted. This animal," he
observes, "afforded us a good repast, and tasted like a pig." The
Newfoundland dog, he adds, attempted to bite the porcupine, but soon got
his mouth filled with the barbed quills, which gave him exquisite pain.
An Indian undertook to extract them, he then says, and with much
perseverance plucked them out, one by one, and carefully applied a root
or decoction, which speedily healed the wound.

From Major Littlehales' Journal it appears that it was the practice of
the party to wind up each day's proceedings by singing "God save the
King." Thus on the 28th Feb., before arriving at the site of London, we
have it recorded: "At six we stopped at an old Mississagua hut, upon the
south side of the Thames. After taking some refreshment of salt pork and
venison, well-cooked by Lieutenant Smith, who superintended that
department, we, as usual, sang God save the King, and went to rest."

The Duke de Liancourt, in his _Travels in North America_, speaks of
Major Littlehales in the following pleasant terms: "Before I close the
article of Niagara," he says, "I must make particular mention of the
civility shewn us by Major Littlehales, adjutant and first secretary to
the Governor, a well-bred, mild and amiable man, who has the charge of
the whole correspondence of government, and acquits himself with
peculiar ability and application. Major Littlehales," the Duke says,
"appeared to possess the confidence of the country. This is not
unfrequently the case with men in place and power; but his worth,
politeness, prudence, and judgment, give this officer peculiar claims to
the confidence and respect which he universally enjoys."

In the _Oracle_ of Feb. 24, 1798, a report of the death of this officer
is contradicted. "We have the pleasure of declaring the account received
in December last of the death of Col. Littlehales premature. Letters
have been recently received from him dated in England." He had probably
returned home with Gen. Simcoe. In the same paper a flying rumour is
noticed, to the effect "that His Excellency Governor Simcoe is appointed
Governor General of the Canadas."

Major Littlehales afterwards attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel,
and was created a baronet in 1802. In 1801 he was appointed
under-Secretary for Ireland; and he held this office for nineteen years.

Major Littlehales' park-lot became subsequently the property of Capt.
John Denison, and from him descended to his heir Col. George Taylor
Denison, from whom the street now passing from south to north has its
name, Denison Avenue. This thoroughfare was, in the first instance, the
drive up to the homestead of the estate, Bellevue, a large white
cheery-looking abode, lying far back but pleasantly visible from Lot
Street through a long vista of overhanging trees. - From the old Bellevue
have spread populous colonies at Dovercourt, Rusholme and elsewhere,
marked, like their progenitor, with vigour of character, and evincing in
a succession of instances strong aptitude for military affairs. Col.
Denison's grandson, G. T. Denison _tertius_, is the author of a work on
"Modern Cavalry, its Organisation, Armament and Employment in War,"
which has taken a recognized place in English strategetical literature.

In accordance with an early Canadian practice, Capt. John Dennison set
apart on his property a plot of ground as a receptacle for the mortal
remains of himself and his descendants. He selected for this purpose a
picturesque spot on land possessed by him on the Humber river, entailing
at the same time the surrounding estate. In 1853, - although at that date
an Act of Parliament had cancelled entails, - his heir, Col. G. T.
Denison, _primus_, perpetually connected the land referred to, together
with the burial plot, with his family and descendants, by converting it
into an endowment for an ecclesiastical living, to be always in the gift
of the legal representative of his name. This is the projected rectory
of St. John's on the Humber. In 1857, a son of Col. Denison's, Robert
Britton Denison, erected at his own cost, in immediate proximity to the
old Bellevue homestead, the church of St. Stephen, and took steps to
make it in perpetuity a recognized ecclesiastical benefice.

The boundary of Major Littlehales' lot westward was near what is now
Bathurst Street. In front of this lot, on the south side of Lot street,
and stretching far to the west, was the Government Common, of which we
have previously spoken, on which was traced out, at first ideally, and
at length in reality, the arc of a circle of 1,000 yards radius, having
the Garrison as its centre. Southward of the concave side of this arc no
buildings were for a long time permitted to be erected. This gave rise
to a curiously-shaped enclosure, northward of St. Andrew's Market-house,
wide towards the east, but vanishing off to nothing on the west, at the
point where Lot Street formed a tangent with the military circle.

Of Portland Street and Bathurst Street we have already spoken in our
survey of Front Street. Immediately opposite Portland Street was the
abode, at the latter period of his life, of Dr. Lee, to whom we have
referred in our accounts of Front and George Streets. Glancing northward
as we pass Bathurst Street, which, by the way, north of Lot Street, was
long known as Crookshank's Lane, we are reminded again of Mr. Murchison,
whom we have likewise briefly commemorated elsewhere. The substantial
abode to which he retired after acquiring a good competency, and where
in 1870 he died, is to be seen on the east side of Bathurst Street.

The names which appear in the early plans of York and its suburbs, as
the first possessors of the park lots westward of Major Littlehales',
are, in order of succession, respectively, Col. David Shank, Capt.
Macdonell, Capt. S. Smith, Capt. Æ. Shaw, Capt. Bouchette. We then
arrive at the line of the present Dundas road, where it passes at right
angles north from the line of Queen Street. This thoroughfare is not
laid down in the plans. Then follow the names of David Burns, William
Chewitt and Alexander MacNab (conjointly), Thomas Ridout and William
Allan (conjointly), and Angus Macdonell. We then reach a road duly
marked, leading straight down to the French Fort, Fort Rouillé, commonly
known as Fort Toronto. Across this road westward, only one lot is laid
off, and on it is the name of Benjamin Hallowell.

Most of the names first enumerated are very familiar to those whose
recollections embrace the period to which our attention is now being
directed. Many of them have occurred again and again in these papers.

In regard to Col. David Shank, the first occupant of the park lot
westward of Major Littlehales', we must content ourselves with some
brief "Collections." In the Simcoe correspondence, preserved at Ottawa,
there is an interesting mention of him, associated, as it appropriately
happens, with his neighbour-locatees to the east and west here on Lot
Street. In a private letter to the "Secretary at War," Sir George Yonge,
from Governor Simcoe, dated Jan. 17th, 1792, announcing his arrival at
Montreal, _en route_ for his new Government, still far up "the most
august of rivers," Capt. Shank is spoken of as being on his way to the
same destination in command of a portion of the Queen's Rangers, in
company with Capt. Smith.

There is noted in the same document, it will be observed, a gallant
achievement of Capt. Shaw's, who, the Governor reports, had just
successfully marched with his division of the same regiment all the way
from New Brunswick to Montreal, in the depth of winter, on snow-shoes.
"It is with infinite pleasure," writes Governor Simcoe to Sir George
Yonge, "that I received your letter of the 1st of April by Capt.
Littlehales. On the 13th of June," he continues, "that officer overtook
me on the St. Lawrence, as I was on my passage in batteaux up the most
august of rivers. It has given me great satisfaction," the Governor
says, "that the Queen's Rangers have arrived so early. Capt. Shaw, who
crossed in the depth of winter on snow-shoes from New Brunswick, is now
at Kingston with the troops of the two first ships; and Captains Shank
and Smith, with the remainder, are, I trust, at no great distance from
this place, - as the wind has served for the last 36 hours, and I hope
with sufficient force to enable them to pass the Rapids of the
Richelieu, where they have been detained some days." Governor Simcoe
himself, as we learn from this correspondence, had landed at Quebec on
the 11th of November preceding (1791), in the "Triton," Capt. Murray,
"after a blustering passage."

In addition to the lot immediately after Major Littlehales', Col. Shank
also possessed another in this range, just beyond, viz., No. 21.

The Capt. Macdonell, whose name appears on the lot that follows Col.
Shank's first lot, was the aide-de-camp of Gen. Brock, who fell, with
that General, at Queenston Heights. Capt. Macdonell's lot was afterwards
the property of Mr. Crookshank, from whom what is now Bathurst Street
North had, as we have remarked, for a time the name of Crookshank's

Capt. S. Smith, whose name follows those of Capt. Macdonell and Col.
Shank, was afterwards President Smith, of whom already. The park lot
selected by him was subsequently the property of Mr. Duncan Cameron, a
member of the Legislative Council, freshly remembered. At an early
period, the whole was known by the graceful appellation of Gore Vale.
Gore was in honour of the Governor of that name. Vale denoted the ravine
which indented a portion of the lot through whose meadow-land meandered
a pleasant little stream. The southern half of this lot now forms the
site and grounds of the University of Trinity College. Its brooklet will
hereafter be famous in scholastic song. It will be regarded as the
Cephissus of a Canadian Academus, the Cherwell of an infant Christ
Church. The elmy dale which gives such agreeable variety to the park of
Trinity College, and which renders so charming the views from the
Provost's Lodge, is irrigated by it. (The cupola and tower of the
principal entrance to Trinity College will pleasantly, in however humble
a degree, recall to the minds of Oxford-men, the Tom Gate of Christ
Church.) - After the decease of Mr. Cameron, Gore Vale was long occupied
by his excellent and benevolent sister, Miss Janet Cameron.

On the steep mound which overhangs the Gore Vale brook, on its eastern
side, just where it is crossed by Queen Street, was, at an early period,
a Blockhouse commanding the western approach to York. On the old plans
this military work is shown, as also a path leading to it across the
Common from the Garrison, trodden often probably by the relief party of
the guard that would be stationed there in anxious times.

In the valley of this stream a little farther to the west, on the
opposite side of Queen Street, was a Brewery of local repute: it was a
long, low-lying dingy-looking building of hewn logs; on the side towards
the street a railed gangway led from the road to a door in its upper
storey. Conspicuous on the hill above the valley on the western side was
the house, also of hewn logs, but cased over with clap-boards, of Mr.
Farr, the proprietor of the brewery, a north-of-England man in aspect,
as well as in staidness and shrewdness of character. His spare form and
slightly crippled gait were everywhere familiarly recognized. Greatly
respected, he was still surviving in 1872. His chief assistant in the
old brewery bore the name of Bow-beer. (At Canterbury, we remember, many
years ago, when the abbey of St. Augustine there, now a famous
Missionary College, was a Brewery, on the beautiful turretted gateway,
wherein were the coolers, the inscription "Beer, Brewer," was
conspicuous; the name of the brewer in occupation of the grand monastic
ruin being Beer, a common name, sometimes given as Bere; but which in
reality is Bear.)

The stream which is here crossed by Queen Street is the same that
afterwards flows below the easternmost bastion of the Fort. A portion of
the broken ground between Farr's and the Garrison was once designated by
the local Government - so far as an order in Council has force - and
permanently set apart, as a site for a Museum and Institute of Natural
History and Philosophy, with Botanical and Zoological Gardens attached.
The project, originated by Dr. Dunlop, Dr. Rees and Mr. Fothergill, and
patronized by successive Lieutenant-Governors, was probably too bold in
its conception, and too advanced to be justly appreciated and earnestly
taken up by a sufficient number of the contemporary public forty years
ago. It consequently fell to the ground. It is to be regretted that, at
all events, the land, for which an order in Council stands recorded, was
not secured in perpetuity as a source of revenue for the promotion of
science. In the Canadian Institute we have the kind of Association which
was designed by Drs. Dunlop and Rees and Mr. Fothergill, but minus the
revenue which the ground-rent of two or three building lots in a
flourishing city would conveniently supply.

Capt. Æneas Shaw, the original locatee of the park-lot next westward of
Colonel Shank's second lot, was afterwards well known in Upper Canada as
Major General Shaw. Like so many of our early men of note he was a
Scotchman; a Shaw of Tordorach in Strathnairn. Possessed of great vigour
and decision, his adopted country availed itself of his services in a
civil as well as a military capacity, making him a member of the
legislative and executive councils. The name by which his house and
estate at this point were known, was Oakhill. The primitive domicile
still exists and in 1871 was still occupied by one of his many
descendants, Capt. Alex. Shaw. - It was at Oakhill that the Duke of Kent
was lodged during his visit to York in his second tour in Upper Canada.
The Duke arrived at Halifax on the 12th of September, 1799, after a
passage from England of forty-three days, "on board of the Arethusa."

Of Col. Joseph Bouchette, whose name is read on the following allotment,
we have had occasion already to speak. He was one of the many French
Canadians of eminence who, in the early days, were distinguished for
their chivalrous attachment to the cause and service of England. The
successor of Col. Bouchette in the proprietorship of the park lot at
which we have arrived, was Col. Givins. - He, as we have already seen,
was one of the companions of Gov. Simcoe in the first exploration of
Upper Canada. Before obtaining a commission in the army, he had been as
a youth employed in the North-West, and had acquired a familiar
acquaintance with the Otchibway and Huron dialects. This acquisition
rendered his services of especial value to the Government in its
dealings with the native tribes, among whom also the mettle and ardor
and energy of his own natural character gave him a powerful influence.
At the express desire of Governor Simcoe he studied and mastered the
dialects of the Six Nations, as well as those of the Otchibways and
their Mississaga allies. - We ourselves remember seeing a considerable
body of Indian chiefs kept in order and good humour mainly through the
tact exercised by Col. Givins. This was at a Council held in the garden
at Government House some forty years since, and presided over by the
then Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Colborne.

Col. Givins was Superintendent of Indian Affairs down to the year 1842.
In 1828 his name was connected with an incident that locally made a
noise for a time. A committee of the House of Assembly, desiring to have
his evidence and that of Col. Coffin, Adjutant General of Militia, in
relation to a trespass by one Forsyth on Government property at the
Falls of Niagara, commanded their presence at a certain day and hour. On
referring to Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor at the
time, and also Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, permission to obey the
mandate of the House was refused. Col. Givins and Col. Coffin were then
arrested by the Sergeant-at-arms, after forcible entry effected at their
respective domiciles, and were kept confined in the common gaol until
the close of the session.

The following is Col. Coffin's letter to Major Hillier, private
secretary to the Governor, on the occasion: "York, March 22nd, 1828.
Sir, - I beg leave to request that you will state to the Lieutenant
Governor that in obedience to the communication I received through you,
that His Excellency could not give me permission to attend a Committee
of the House of Assembly for the reason therein stated, that I did not
attend the said Committee, and that in consequence thereof, I have been
committed this evening to the common gaol of the Home District, by order
of the House of Assembly. I have therefore to pray that His Excellency
will be pleased to direct that I may have the advice and assistance of
the Crown Officers, to enable me take such steps as I may be instructed
on the occasion. I have the honour, &c., N. Coffin, Adjt. Gen. of

No redress was to be had. The Executive Council reported in regard to
this letter that upon mature consideration they could not advise that
the Government should interfere to give any direction to the Crown
Officers, as therein solicited. Sir Peregrine Maitland was removed from
the Government in the same year. Sir George Murray, who in that year
succeeded Mr. Huskisson as Colonial Secretary, severely censured him for
the line of action adopted in relation to the Forsyth grievance.

Colonels Givins and Coffin afterwards brought an action against the
Speaker of the House for false imprisonment, but they did not recover:
for the legality of the imprisonment, that is the right of the House to
convict for what they had adjudged a contempt, was confirmed by the
Court of King's Bench, by a solemn judgment rendered in another cause
then pending, which involved the same question.

Although its hundred-acre domain is being rapidly narrowed and
circumscribed by the encroachments of modern improvement, the old family
abode of Col. Givins still stands, wearing at this day a look of
peculiar calm and tranquillity, screened from the outer world by a dark
grove of second-growth pine, and overshadowed by a number of acacias of
unusual height and girth.

Governor Gore and his lady, Mrs. Arabella Gore, were constant visitors
at Pine Grove, as this house was named; and here to this day is
preserved a very fine portrait, in oil, of that Governor. It will
satisfy the ideal likely to be fashioned in the mind by the current
traditions of this particular ruler of Upper Canada. In contour of
countenance and in costume he is plainly of the type of the English
country squire of a former day. He looks good humoured and shrewd;
sturdy and self-willed; and fond of good cheer.

The cavalier style adopted by Gov. Gore towards the local parliament was
one of the seeds of trouble at a later date in the history of Upper
Canada. "He would dismiss the rascals at once." Such was his
determination on their coming to a vote adverse to his notions; and,
scarcely like a Cromwell, but rather like a Louis XIV., though still
not, as in the case of that monarch, with a riding-whip in his hand, but
nevertheless, in the undress of the moment, he proceeded to carry out
his hasty resolve.

The entry of the incident in the Journals of the House is as follows:
"On Monday, 7th April, at 11 o'clock a.m., before the minutes of the
former day were read, and without any previous notice, the Commons, to
the great surprise of all the members, were summoned to the bar of the
Legislative Council, when his Excellency having assented, in his
Majesty's name, to several bills, and reserved for his Majesty's
pleasure the Bank bill, and another, to enable creditors to sue joint
debtors separately, put an end to the session by the following
speech: - 'Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen
of the House of Assembly, - The session of the provincial legislature
having been protracted by an unusual interruption of business at its
commencement, your longer absence from your respective avocations must
be too great a sacrifice for the objects which remain to occupy your
attention. I have therefore come to close the session and permit you to
return to your homes. In accepting, in the name of his Majesty, the
supply for defraying the deficiency of the funds which have hitherto
served to meet the charges of the administration of justice and support
of the civil government of this province, I have great satisfaction in
acknowledging the readiness manifested to meet this exigence.'"

Upper Canadian society was, indeed, in an infant state; but the growing
intelligence of many of its constituents, especially in the non-official
ranks, rendered it unwise in rulers to push the feudal or paternal
theory of government too far. The names of the majority in the
particular division of the Lower House which brought on the sudden
prorogation just described are the following: - McDonell, McMartin,
Cameron, Jones, Howard, Casey, Robinson, Nellis, Secord, Nichol,
Burwell, McCormack, Cornwall. Of the minority: Van Koughnet, Crystler,
Fraser, Cotter, McNab, Swayze, and Clench.

Six weeks after, Governor Gore was on his way to England, not recalled,
as it would seem, but purposing to give an account of himself in his own
person. He never returned. He is understood to have had a powerful
friend at Court in the person of the Marquis of Camden.

One of the "districts" of Upper Canada was called after Governor Gore.
It was set off, during his regime, from the Home and Niagara districts.
But of late years county names have rendered the old district names
unfamiliar. In 1837, "the men of Gore" was a phrase invested with
stirring associations.

The town of Belleville received its name from Gov. Gore. In early
newspapers and other documents the word appears as Bellville, without
the central _e_, which gives it now such a fine French look. And this,
it is said, is the true orthography. "Bell," we are told, was the
Governor's familiar abbreviation of his wife's name, Arabella: and the
compound was suggested by the Governor jocosely, as a name for the new
village: but it was set down in earnest, and has continued, the sound at
least, to this day. This off-hand assignment of a local name may remind
some persons that Flos, Tay and Tiny, which are names of three now
populous townships in the Penetanguishene region, are a commemoration of
three of Lady Sarah Maitland's lap-dogs. Changes of names in such cases
as these are not unjustifiable.

In fact, the Executive Council itself, at the period of which we are
speaking, had occasionally found it proper to change local names which
had been frivolously given. In the _Upper Canada Gazette_ of March 11th,
1822, we have several such alterations. It would seem that some one
having access to the map or plan of a newly surveyed region, had
inscribed across the parallelograms betokening townships, a fragment of
a well-known Latin sentence, "_jus et norma_," placing each separate
word in a separate compartment. In this way Upper Canada had for a time
a township of "Jus," and more wonderful still, a township of "Et." In
the number of the _Gazette_ of the date given above these names are
formally changed to Barrie and Palmerston respectively. In the same
advertisement, "Norma," which might have passed, is made "Clarendon."

Other impertinent appellations are also at the same time changed. The
township of "Yea" is ordered to be hereafter the township of "Burleigh,"
with a humorous allusion to the famous nod, probably. The township of
"No" is to be the township of Grimsthorpe; and the township of "Aye,"

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 35 of 59)