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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the township of Anglesea. - The name "Et" may recall the street known as
"Of" alley, on the south side of the Strand, in London, which "Of" is a
portion of the name and title "George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham,"
distributed severally among a cluster of streets in that locality.

Gov. Gore was so fortunate as to be away from his Province during the
whole of the war in 1812-13-14. He obtained leave of absence to visit
England in 1811, and returned to his post in 1815, the Presidents, Isaac
Brock, Roger Hale Sheaffe, and Gordon Drummond, Esquires, reigning in
the interim.

Under date of York U. C., Sept., 30, 1815, we read the following
particulars in the _Gazette_ of the day: - "Arrived on Monday last the
25th instant, His Excellency Francis Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of
the Province of Upper Canada, to reassume the reins of government. His
Excellency was received with a cordial welcome and the honours due to
his rank; and was saluted by his M. S. Montreal, and Garrison."

We are also informed that "On Wednesday the 27th instant, he was waited
on by a deputation, and presented with the following address: To His
Excellency, Francis Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of
Upper Canada, &c., &c., &c. We, the Judges, Magistrates and principal
Inhabitants of the Town of York, in approaching your Excellency to
express our great satisfaction at beholding you once more among us, feel
that we have still greater reason to congratulate ourselves on this
happy event. Our experience of your past firm and liberal
administration, by which the prosperity of the Province has been so
essentially promoted, teaches us to anticipate the greater benefit from
its resumption; and this pleasing anticipation is confirmed by our
knowledge of that paternal solicitude which induced you while in England
to bring, upon all proper occasions, the interests of the Colony under
the favourable attention of His Majesty's Government; a solicitude which
calls forth in our hearts the most grateful emotions. We rejoice that
the blessings of peace are to be dispensed by one who is so well
acquainted with the wants and feelings of the Colony; and we flatter
ourselves that York, recovering from a state of war, (during which she
has been twice in the power of the enemy), will not only forget her
disasters, but rise to greater prosperity under your Excellency's
auspicious administration. York, September 27th, 1815. Thos. Scott,
C.J., W. Dummer Powell, John Strachan, D.D., John McGill, John Beikie,
M.P., Grant Powell J.P., W. Chewett, J.P., J. G. Chewett, W. Lee, Sam.
Smith, W. Claus, Benjamin Gale, D. Cameron, D. Boulton, jun., George
Ridout, And. Mercer, Thomas Ridout, J.P., W. Jarvis, Sec. and Reg., S.
Jarvis, J.P., John Small, J.P., W. Allan, J.P., J. Givins, E. MacMahon,
J. Scarlett, S. Heward, Thos. Hamilton, C. Baynes, John Dennis, P. K.
Hartney, Jno. Cameron, E. W. McBride, Jordan Post, jun., Levi Bigelow,
John Hays, T. R. Johnson, Lardner Bostwick, John Burke, John Jordan, W.
Smith, sen., W. Smith, jun., J. Cawthra, John Smith, Alex. Legge, Jordan
Post, sen., Andrew O'Keefe, S. A. Lumsden, John Murchison, Thomas Deary,
Ezek. Benson, A. NcNabb, Edward Wright, John Evans, W. Lawrence, Thos.
Duggan, George Duggan, Benjamin Cozens, Philip Klinger, and Sheriff
Ridout. To which His Excellency was pleased to make the following
answer: Gentlemen: After so long an absence from this place it is
particularly gratifying to find the same sentiments of cordiality to
me, and of approbation of my conduct, which I experienced during my
former residence in this Province. It is but doing me justice to say
that, while in Europe, I paid every attention in my power to promote
your prosperity; and such, you may be assured, shall be my future
endeavour when residing amongst you; earnestly hoping that, under the
fostering care of our Parent State, and under that security which Peace
alone can bestow, this Colony will speedily become a valuable, though
distant part of the British Empire. York, 27th September, 1815."

On the 7th of the following month, it is announced that "His Royal
Highness, the Prince Regent acting in the name and on the behalf of His
Majesty, has been pleased to appoint Thomas Fraser, Esquire, of
Prescott, Neil McLean, Esquire, of Cornwall, Thomas Clark, Esquire, of
Queenston, and William Dickson, Esquire, of Niagara, to be members of
the Legislative Council; Samuel Smith, Esquire, of Etobicoke, to be a
member of the Executive Council, and Doctor John Strachan, to be an
Honorary Member of the same Council."

By one of the acts passed during the administration of Gov. Gore, the
foundation was laid of a parliamentary library, to replace the one
destroyed or dispersed during the occupation of York in 1813. In the
session of 1816, the sum of £800 was voted for the purchase of books for
the use of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly.

The sum of £800 for such a purpose contrasts poorly, however, with the
£3,000 recommended in the same session, to be granted to Gov. Gore
himself, for the purchase of "Plate." The joint address of both Houses
to the Prince Regent, on this subject, was couched in the following
terms: "To his Royal Highness, George, Prince of Wales, Prince Regent of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c., &c., &c.: May it
please your Royal Highness: We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal
subjects, the Legislative Council and House of Assembly of the Province
of Upper Canada, in Provincial Parliament assembled, impressed with a
lively sense of the firm, upright, and liberal administration of Francis
Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of this Province, as well as of his
unceasing attention to the individual and general interests of the
Colony during his absence, have unanimously passed a bill to appropriate
the sum of three thousand pounds, to enable him to purchase a service
of plate, commemorative of our gratitude. Apprized that this spontaneous
gift cannot receive the sanction of our beloved Sovereign in the
ordinary mode, by the acceptance of the Lieutenant-Governor in his name
and behalf; we, the Legislative Council and Assembly of the Province of
Upper Canada, humbly beg leave to approach your Royal Highness with an
earnest prayer that you will approve this demonstration of our
gratitude, and graciously be pleased to sanction, in His Majesty's name,
the grant of the Legislature, in behalf of the inhabitants of Upper
Canada. Wm. Dummer Powell, Speaker, Legislative Council Chambers, 26th
March, 1816. Allan Maclean, Speaker, Commons House of Assembly, 25th
March, 1816."

To which, as we are next informed, his Excellency replied: "Gentlemen: I
shall transmit your address to His Majesty's Ministers, in order that
their expression of your approbation of my past administration may be
laid at the feet of His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent. Government
House, York, 26th March, 1816." The Bill which suggested this allowance
was popularly spoken of as the "Spoon-bill." The House that passed the
measure was the same that, a few weeks later, was so abruptly dismissed.

The name on the allotment following that occupied successively by Col.
Bouchette and Col. Givins, is "David Burns." Mr. Burns, who had been a
Navy surgeon, was the first Clerk of the Crown for Upper Canada, and one
of the "Masters in Chancery." He died in 1806. In the _Gazette and
Oracle_ of Saturday, Feb. 15th, in that year, we have verses to the
memory of the late David Burns, Esq. We make the following extract,
which is suggestive: -

"Say, power of Truth, so great, so unconfined,
And solve the doubt which so distracts my mind -
Why Strength to Weakness is so near allied?
Perhaps 'tis given to humble human pride.
At times perchance frail Nature held the sway,
Yet dimm'd not it the intellectual ray:
Reason and Truth triumphant held their course,
And list'ning hearers felt conviction's force:
No precept mangled, text misunderstood,
He thought and acted but for public good:
His reasoning pure, his mind all manly light,
Made day of that which else appear'd as night.
In him instruction aim'd at this great end -
Our fates to soften and our lives amend.
Yet he was man, and man's the child of woe:
Who seeks perfection, seeks not here below."

From the paper of September, 1806, it appears that numerous books were
missing out of the library of the deceased gentleman. His administrator,
Alexander Burns, advertises: "The following books, with many others,
being lent by the deceased, it is particularly entreated that they may
be immediately returned: - Plutarch's Lives, 1st volume; Voltaire's
Works, 11th do., in French, half-bound; Titi Livii, Latin, 1st do.;
Guthrie's History of Scotland, 1st and 2nd do.; Rollin's Ancient
History, 1st do.; Pope's Works, 5th do.; Swift's Works, 5th and 8th do.,
half-bound; Molière's, 6th do., French."

Of Col. W. Chewett, whose name appears next, we have made mention more
than once. His name, like that of his son, J. G. Chewett, is very
familiar to those who have to examine the plans and charts connected
with early Upper Canadian history. Both were long distinguished
_attachés_ of the Surveyor-General's department. In 1802, Col. W.
Chewett was Registrar of the Home District.

Alexander Macnab, whose name occurs next in succession, was afterwards
Capt. Macnab, who fell at Waterloo, the only instance, as is supposed,
of a Canadian slain on that occasion. In 1868, his nephew, the Rev. Dr.
Macnab, of Bowmanville, was presented by the Duke of Cambridge in person
with the Waterloo medal due to the family of Capt. Macnab.

Alexander Macnab was also the first patentee of the plot of ground
whereon stands the house on Bay Street noted, in our account of the
early press, as being the place of publication of the _Upper Canada
Gazette_ at the time of the taking of York, and subsequently owned and
occupied by Mr. Andrew Mercer up to the time of his decease in 1871.

Of Messrs. Ridout and Allan, whose names are inscribed conjointly on the
following park lot, we have already spoken; and Angus Macdonell, who
took up the next lot, was the barrister who perished, along with the
whole court, in the _Speedy_.

The name that appears on the westernmost lot of the range along which we
have been passing is that of Benjamin Hallowell. He was a near
connection of Chief Justice Elmsley's, and father of the Admiral, Sir
Benjamin Hallowell, K.C.B. We observe the notice of Mr. Hallowell's
death in the _Gazette and Oracle_ of the day, in the following
terms: - "Died, on Thursday last (March 28th, 1799), Benjamin Hallowell,
Esq., in the 75th year of his age. The funeral will be on Tuesday next,
and will proceed from the house of the Chief Justice to the Garrison
Burying Ground at one o'clock precisely. The attendance of his friends
is requested."

Associated at a later period with the memories of this locality is the
name of Col. Walter O'Hara. - In 1808 an immense enthusiasm sprang up in
England in behalf of the Spaniards, who were beginning to rise in
spirited style against the domination of Napoleon and his family. Walter
Savage Landor, for one, the distinguished scholar, philosopher and poet,
determined to assist them in person as a volunteer. In a letter to
Southey, in August, 1808, he says: "At Brighton, I preached a crusade to
two auditors: _i. e._, a crusade against the French in Spain:
Inclination," he continues, "was not wanting, and in a few minutes
everything was fixed." The two auditors, we are afterwards told, were
both Irishmen, an O'Hara and a Fitzgerald. Landor did not himself remain
long in Spain, although long enough to expend, out of his own resources,
a very large sum of money; but his companions continued to do good
service in the Peninsula, in a military capacity, to the close of the

In a subsequent communication to Southey, Landor speaks of a letter just
received from his friend O'Hara. "This morning," he says, "I had a
letter from Portugal, from a sensible man and excellent officer, Walter
O'Hara. The officers do not appear," he continues, "to entertain very
sanguine hopes of success. We have lost a vast number of brave men, and
the French have gained a vast number, and fight as well as under the

The Walter O'Hara whom we here have Landor speaking of as "a sensible
man and excellent officer" is the Col. O'Hara at whose homestead, on a
portion of the Hallowell park-lot, we have arrived, and whose name is
one of our household words. Colonel O'Hara built on this spot in 1831,
at which date the surrounding region was in a state of nature. The area
cleared for the reception of the still existing spacious residence, with
its lawn, garden and orchards, remained for a number of years an oasis
in the midst of a grand forest. A brief memorandum which we are enabled
to give from his own pen of the Peninsular portion of his military
career, will be here in place, and will be deemed of interest.

"I joined," he says, "the Peninsular army in the year 1811, having
obtained leave of absence from my British Regiment quartered at
Canterbury, for the purpose of volunteering into the Portuguese army,
then commanded by Lord Beresford. I remained in that force until the end
of the war, and witnessed all the varieties of service during that
interesting period, during which time I was twice wounded, and once fell
into the hands of a brave and generous enemy."

From 1831 Col. O'Hara held the post of Adjutant-General in Upper Canada.
His contemporaries will always think of him as a chivalrous,
high-spirited, warm-hearted gentleman; and in our annals hereafter he
will be named among the friends of Canadian progress, at a period when
enlightened ideas in regard to government and social life, derived from
a wide intercourse with man in large and ancient communities, were,
amongst us, considerably misunderstood.

After passing the long range of suburban properties on which we have
been annotating, the continuation, in a right line westward, of Lot
Street, used to be known as the Lake Shore Road. This Lake Shore Road,
after passing the dugway, or steep descent to the sands that form the
margin of the Lake, first skirted the graceful curve of Humber Bay, and
then followed the irregular line of the shore all the way to the head of
the Lake. It was a mere track, representing, doubtless, a trail trodden
by the aborigines from time immemorial.

So late as 1813 all that could be said of the region traversed by the
Lake Shore Road was the following, which we read in the "Topographical
Description of Upper Canada," issued in London in that year, under the
authority of Governor Gore: - "Further to the westward (_i. e._ of the
river Humber)," we are told, "the Etobicoke, the Credit, and two other
rivers, with a great many smaller streams, join the main waters of the
Lake; they all abound in fish, particularly salmon......the Credit is
the most noted; here is a small house of entertainment for passengers.
The tract between the Etobicoke and the head of the Lake," the
Topographical Description then goes on to say, "is frequented only by
wandering tribes of Mississaguas."

"At the head of Lake Ontario," we are then told, "there is a smaller
Lake, within a long beach, of about five miles, from whence there is an
outlet to Lake Ontario, over which there is a bridge. At the south end
of the beach," it is added, "is the King's Head, a good inn, erected for
the accommodation of travellers, by order of his Excellency
Major-General Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor. It is beautifully
situated at a small portage which leads from the head of a natural canal
connecting Burlington Bay with Lake Ontario, and is a good landmark.
Burlington Bay," it is then rather boldly asserted, "is perhaps as
beautiful and romantic a situation as any in interior America,
particularly if we include with it a marshy lake which falls into it,
and a noble promontory that divides them. This lake is called Coote's
Paradise, and abounds with game." (Coote's Paradise had its name from
Capt. Coote, of the 8th, a keen sportsman.)

As to "the wandering tribes of Mississaguas," who in 1813 were still the
only noticeable human beings west of the Etobicoke, they were in fact a
portion of the great Otchibway nation. From time to time, previous and
subsequent to 1813, and for pecuniary considerations of various amounts
they surrendered to the local Government their nominal right over the
regions which they still occupied in a scattered way. In 1792 they
surrendered 3,000,000 acres, commencing four miles west of Mississagua
point, at the mouth of the river Niagara for the sum of £1,180 7s. 4d.
On the 8th of August, 1797, they surrendered 3,450 acres in Burlington
Bay for the sum of £65 2s. 6d. On the 6th September, 1806, 85,000 acres,
commencing on the east bank of the Etobicoke river, brought them £1,000
5s. On the 28th of October, 1818, "the Mississagua tract Home District,"
consisting of 648,000 acres, went for the respectable sum of £8,500. On
the 8th of February, 1820, 2,000 acres, east of the Credit reserve,
brought in £50.

All circumstances at the respective dates considered, the values
received for the tracts surrendered as thus duly enumerated may, by
possibility, have been reasonable. Lord Carteret, it is stated, proposed
to sell all New Jersey for £5,000, 150 years ago. But there remains one
transfer from Mississaga to White ownership to be noticed, for which the
equivalent, sometimes alleged to have been accepted, excites surprise.
On the 1st of August, 1805, a Report of the Indian Department informs
us, the "Toronto Purchase" was made, comprising 250,880 acres, and
stretching eastward to the Scarboro' Heights; and the consideration
accepted therefor was the sum of ten shillings. Two dollars for the site
of Toronto and its suburbs, with an area extending eastward to Scarboro'
heights. The explanation, however, is this, which we gather from a
manuscript volume of certified copies of early Indian treaties,
furnished by William L. Baby, Esq., of Sandwich. The Toronto purchase
was really effected in 1787, by Sir John Johnson, at the Bay of Quinté
Carrying-place; and "divers good and valuable considerations," not
specified, were received by the Mississagas on the occasion. But the
document testifying to the transfer was imperfect. The deed of August 1,
1805, was simply confirmatory, and the sum named as the consideration
was merely nominal.

On the early map from which we have been taking the names of the first
locatees of the range of park-lots extending along Queen Street from
Parliament Street to Humber Bay, we observe the easternmost limit of the
"Toronto Purchase" conspicuously marked by a curved line drawn
northwards from the water's edge near the commencement of the spit of
land which used to fence off Ashbridge's Bay and Toronto Harbour from
the lake.

In 1804, the Lake Shore Road stood in need of repairs, and in some
places even of "opening" and "clearing out." In the _Gazette and Oracle_
of Aug. 4th, in that year, we have an advertisement for "Proposals from
any person or persons disposed to contract for the opening and repairing
the Road and building Bridges between the Town of York and the Head of
Burlington Bay." "Such proposals," the advertisement goes on to say,
"must state what prices the Party desirous of undertaking the aforesaid
work will engage to finish and complete the same, and must consist of
the following particulars: At what price per mile such person will open
and clear out such part of the road leading from Lot Street, adjoining
the Town of York (beginning at Peter Street) to the mouth of the Humber,
of the width of 33 feet, as shall not be found to stand in need of any
causeway. With the price also per rod at which such party will engage to
open, clear out, and causeway such other part of the same road as shall
require to be causewayed, and the last-mentioned price to include as
well the opening and clearing out, as the causewaying such Road. The
causewaying to be 18 feet wide; as also the price at which any person
will engage to build Bridges upon the said Road of the width of 18 feet.

"And the same Commissioners will also receive proposals from any person
or persons willing to engage to cut down three Hills at the following
places viz: - One at the Sixteen Mile Creek, another between Sixteen and
Twelve Mile Creek, and the third at the Twelve Mile Creek. And also for
repairing, in a good and substantial manner, the Bridge at the outlet of
Burlington Bay. All the before-mentioned work to be completed, in a good
and substantial manner, on or before the last day of October next, and,
when completed, the Money contracted to be given shall be paid by the
Receiver General." This advertisement is issued by William Allan and
Duncan Cameron, of York; James Ruggles and William Graham, of Yonge
Street; and William Applegarth, of Flamboro' East, Commissioners for
executing Statute passed in Session of present year.

We now return to that point on Queen Street where, instead of continuing
on westward by the Lake Shore Road, the traveller of a later era turned
abruptly towards the north in order to pass into Dundas Street proper,
the great highway projected, as we have observed, by the first organizer
of Upper Canada and marked on the earliest manuscript maps of the
Province, but not made practicable for human traffic until comparatively
recent times.

From an advertisement in the _Gazette and Oracle_ of August, 1806, we
learn that Dundas Street was not, in that year, yet hewn out through the
woods about the Credit. "Notice is hereby given," thus runs the
advertisement referred to, "that the Commissioners of the Highways of
the Home District will be ready on Saturday, the 23rd day of the present
month of August, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, at the Government
Buildings in the town of York, to receive proposals and to treat with
any person or persons who will contend to open and make the road called
Dundas Street, leading through the Indian Reserve on the River Credit;
and also to erect a Bridge over the said River at or near where the said
Road passes. Also to bridge and causeway (in aid to the Statute Labour)
such other parts of such Road passing through the Home District, when
such works are necessary, and for the performance of which the said
Statute Labour is not sufficient. Thomas Ridout, Clerk of the Peace,
Home District. York, 6th August, 1806."

The early line of communication with the Head of the Lake was by the
Lake Shore Road. The cross thoroughfare between the park lots of Mr.
Bouchette or Col. Givins and Mr. David Burns, was opened up by Col. G.
T. Denison, senior, with the assistance of some of the embodied militia.

The work of opening the road here, as well as further on through the
forest, was at first undertaken by a detachment of the regulars under
the direction of an officer of the Royal Engineers. The plan adopted, we
are told, was first to fell each tree by very laboriously severing it
from its base close to the ground, and then to smooth off the upper
surface of the root or stump with an adze. As this process was
necessarily slow, and after all not likely to result in a permanently
good road, the proposal of Colonel, then Lieutenant, Denison, to set his
militia-men to eradicate the trees bodily, was accepted - an operation
with which they were all more or less familiar on their farms and in
their new clearings. A fine broad open track, ready, when the day for
such further improvements should arrive, for the reception of plank or
macadam, was soon constructed.

Immediately at the turn northwards, out of the line of Lot Street, on
the east side, was Sandford's Inn, a watering place for teams on their
way into York, provided accordingly with a conspicuous pump and great
trough, a long section of a huge pine-tree dug out like a canoe. Near
by, a little to the east, was another notable inn, an early rival, as we
suppose, of Sandford's: this was the Blue Bell. A sign to that effect,
at the top of a strong and lofty pole in front of its door, swung to and
fro within a frame.

Just opposite, on the Garrison Common, there were for a long while low
log buildings belonging to the Indian department. One of them contained
a forge in charge of Mr. Higgins, armourer to the Department. Here the
Indians could get, when necessary, their fishing-spears, axes, knives
and tomahawks, and other implements of iron, sharpened and put in order.
One of these buildings was afterwards used as a school for the
surrounding neighbourhood.

Immediately across from Sandford's, on the park lot originally occupied

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 36 of 59)