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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spoke, have undergone the change which St. George's Fields and other
similar spaces have undergone in London:

St. George's Fields are fields no more;
The trowel supersedes the plough;
Huge inundated swamps of yore
Are changed to civic villas now.
The builder's plank, the mason's hod,
Wide and more wide extending still,
Usurp the violated sod.

The area which Dr. Macaulay's homestead immediately occupied now
constitutes Trinity Square - a little bay by the side of a great stream
of busy human traffic, ever ebbing and flowing, not without rumble and
other resonances; a quiet close, resembling, it is pleasant to think,
one of the Inns of Court in London, so tranquil despite the turmoil of
Fleet Street adjoining.

Trinity Square is now completely surrounded with buildings; nevertheless
an aspiring attic therein, in which many of these collections and
recollections have been reduced to shape, has the advantage of
commanding to this day a view still showing within its range some of the
primitive features of the site of York. To the north an extended portion
of the rising land above Yorkville is pleasantly visible, looking in the
distance as it anciently looked, albeit beheld now with spires
intervening, and ornamental turrets of public buildings, and lofty
factory flues: while to the south, seen also between chimney stacks and
steeples and long solid architectural ranges, a glimpse of Lake Ontario
itself is procurable - a glimpse especially precious so long as it is to
be had, for not only recalling, as it does, the olden time when "the
Lake" was an element in so much of the talk of the early settlers - its
sound, its aspect, its condition being matters of hourly observation to
them - but also suggesting the thought of the far-off outer ocean
stream - the silver moat that guards the fatherland, and that forms the
horizon in so many of its landscapes.

To the far-off Atlantic, and to the misty isles beyond - the true _Insulæ
Fortunatoe_ - we need not name them - the glittering slip which we are
still permitted to see yonder, is the highway - the route by which the
fathers came - the route by which their sons from time to time return to
make dutiful visits to hearthstones and shrines never to be thought of
or named without affection and reverence. - Of that other ideal
ocean-stream, too, and of that other ideal home, of which the poet
speaks, our peep of Ontario may likewise, to the thoughtful, be an
allegory, by the help of which

In a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither;
Can in a moment travel thither -
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore!

The Church with the twin turrets, now seen in the middle space of
Trinity Square, was a gift of benevolence to Western Canada in 1846 from
two ladies, sisters. The personal character of Bishop Strachan was the
attraction that drew the boon to Toronto. Through the hands of Bishop
Longley of Ripon, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, a sum of £5,000
sterling was transmitted by the donors to Bishop Strachan for the
purpose of founding a church, two stipulations being that it should be
forever, like the ancient churches of England, free to all for worship,
and that it should bear the name of The Holy Trinity. The sum sent built
the Church and created a small endowment. Soon after the completion of
the edifice, Scoresby, the celebrated Arctic navigator, author of "An
Account of the Arctic Regions, with a History and Description of the
Northern Whale Fishery," preached and otherwise officiated within its
walls. Therein, too, at a later period was heard the voice of Selwyn,
Bishop of Lichfield, but previously the eminent Missionary Bishop of New
Zealand. Here also, while the Cathedral of St. James was rebuilding,
after its second destruction by fire in 1849, Lord Elgin was a constant
devout participant in Christian rites, an historical association
connected with the building, made worthy of preservation by the very
remarkable public services of the Earl afterwards in China and
India. - We recall at this moment the _empressement_ with which an
obscure little chapel was pointed out to us in the small hamlet of
Tregear in Cornwall, on account of the fact that John Wesley had once
preached there. Well then: it may be that with some hereafter, it will
be a matter of curiosity and interest to know that several men of
world-wide note, did, in their day, while sojourning in this region,
"pay their vows" in the particular "Lord's House" to which we now have
occasion to refer.

In the grove which surrounded Sir James Macaulay's residence, Wykham
Lodge, we had down to recent years a fragment of the fine forest which
lined Yonge Street, almost continuously from Lot Street to Yorkville,
some forty years since. The ruthless uprooting of the eastern border of
this beautiful sylvan relic of the past, for building purposes, was
painful to witness, however quickly the presence of rows of useful
structures reconciled us to the change. The trees which cluster round
the great school building in the rear of these improvements will long,
as we hope, survive to give an idea of what was the primeval aspect of
the whole of the neighbourhood.

The land on the opposite side, a little to the north of the point at
which we have arrived, viz., Carleton Street - long remaining in an
uncultivated condition, was a portion of the estate of Alexander Wood,
of whom we have already spoken. His family and baptismal names are
preserved, as we have before noted, in "Wood" Street and "Alexander"
Street.

The streets which we passed southward of Wood Street, Carleton, Gerrard,
Shuter, with Gould Street in the immediate vicinity, had their names
from personal friends of Mr. McGill, the first owner, as we have seen,
of this tract. They are names mostly associated with the early annals of
Montreal, and seem rather inapposite here.

Northward, a little beyond where Grosvenor Street leads into what was
Elmsley Villa, and is now Knox College, was a solitary green field with
a screen of lofty trees on three of its sides. In its midst was a Dutch
barn, or hay-barrack, with movable top. The sward on the northern side
of the building was ever eyed by the passer-by with a degree of awe. It
was the exact spot where a fatal duel had been fought.

We have seen in repeated instances that the so-called code of honour was
in force at York from the era of its foundation. "Without it,"
Mandeville had said, "there would be no living in a populous nation. It
is the tie of society; and although we are beholden to our frailties for
the chief ingredient of it, there has been no virtue, at least that I am
acquainted with, which has proved half so instrumental to the civilizing
of mankind, who, in great societies, would soon degenerate into cruel
villains and treacherous slaves, were honour to be removed from among
them." Mandeville's sophistical dictum was blindly accepted, and trifles
light as air gave rise to the conventional hostile meeting. The merest
accident at a dance, a look, a jest, a few words of unconsidered talk,
of youthful chaff, were every now and then sufficient to force persons
who previously, perhaps, had been bosom friends, companions from
childhood, along with others sometimes, in no wise concerned in the
quarrel at first, to put on an unnatural show of thirst for each other's
blood. The victim of the social usage of the day, in the case now
referred to, was a youthful son of Surveyor-General Ridout.

Some years after the event, the public attention was drawn afresh to it.
The surviving principal in the affair, Mr. Samuel Jarvis, underwent a
trial at the time and was acquitted. But the seconds were not arraigned.
It happened in 1828, eleven years after the incident (the duel took
place July 12, 1817), that Francis Collins, editor of the _Canadian
Freeman_, a paper of which we have before spoken, was imprisoned and
fined for libel. As an act of retaliation on at least some of those who
had promoted the prosecution, which ended in his being thus sentenced,
he set himself to work to bring the seconds into court. He succeeded.
One of them, Mr. Henry John Boulton, was now Solicitor-General, and the
other, Mr. James E. Small, an eminent member of the Bar. All the
particulars of the fatal encounter, were once more gone over in the
evidence. But the jury did not convict.

Modern society, here and elsewhere, is to be congratulated on the change
which has come over its ideas in regard to duelling. Apart from the
considerations dictated by morals and religion, common sense, as we
suppose, has had its effect in checking the practice. York, in its
infancy, was no better and no worse in this respect than other places.
It took its cue in this as in some other matters, from very high
quarters. The Duke of York, from whom York derived its name, had himself
narrowly escaped a bullet from the pistol of Colonel Lennox: "it passed
so near to the ear as to discommode the side-curl," the report said; but
our Duke's action, or rather inaction, on the occasion helped perhaps to
impress on the public mind the irrationality of duelling: he did not
return the fire. "He came out," he said, "to give Colonel Lennox
satisfaction, and did not mean to fire at him; if Colonel Lennox was not
satisfied, he might fire again."

Just to the north of the scene of the fatal duel, which has led to this
digression, was the portion of Yonge Street where a wooden tramway was
once laid down for a short distance; an experiment interesting to be
remembered now, as an early foreshadowing of the existing convenient
street railway, if not of the great Northern Railway itself.
Subterranean springs and quicksands hereabout rendered the primitive
roadmaker's occupation no easy one; and previous to the application of
macadam, the tramway, while it lasted, was a boon to the farmers after
heavy rains.

Mr. Durand's modest cottage and bowery grounds, near here, recall at the
present day, an early praiseworthy effort of its owner to establish a
local periodical devoted to Literature and Natural History, in
conjunction with an advocacy of the cause of Temperance. A diligent
attention to his profession as a lawyer did not hinder the editor of the
_Literary Gem_ from giving some of his leisure time to the observation
and study of Nature. We accordingly have in the columns of that
periodical numerous notes of the fauna and flora of the surrounding
neighbourhood, which for their appreciativeness, simplicity, and
minuteness, remind us of the pleasant pages of White's "Natural History
of Selborne." The _Gem_ appeared in 1851-2, and had an extensive
circulation. It was illustrated with good wood-cuts, and its motto was
"Humanity, Temperance, Progress." The place of its publication was
indicated by a square label suspended on one side of the front entrance
of a small white office still to be seen adjoining the cottage which we
are now passing.

The father of Mr. Durand was an Englishman of Huguenot descent, who
emigrated hither from Abergavenny at a very early period. Having been
previously engaged in the East India mercantile service, he undertook
the importation of East India produce. After reaching Quebec and
Montreal in safety, his first consignments, embarked in batteaux, were
swallowed up bodily in the rapids of the St. Lawrence. He nevertheless
afterwards prospered in his enterprise, and acquired property. Nearly
the whole of the eastern moiety of the present city of Hamilton was
originally his. He represented the united counties of Wentworth and
Halton in several parliaments up to 1822. A political journal, entitled
_The Bee_, moderate and reasonable in tone, was, up to 1812, edited and
published by him in the Niagara District. Mr. Durand, senior, died in
1833, at Hamilton, where he filled the post of County Registrar. His
eldest son, Mr. James Durand, when, in 1817, member for Halton, enjoyed
the distinction of being expelled from the House of Assembly. A
Parliament had just expired. He offered some strictures on its
proceedings, in an address to his late constituents. The new House,
which embraced many persons who had been members of the previous
Parliament, was persuaded to vote the Address to the electors of Halton
a libel, to exclude its author from the House, and to commit him to
prison. His instant re-election by the county of Halton was of course
secured. We observe from the evidence of Mr. James Durand before the
celebrated Grievance Committee of 1835, that he was an early advocate of
a number of the changes which have since been carried into effect. This
Mr. Durand died in 1872 at Kingston, where he was Registrar for the
County of Frontenac.

We have been enabled to present these facts, through the kindness of Mr.
Charles Durand, who, in a valuable communication, further informs us
that besides being among the earliest to engage in mercantile
enterprises in Upper Canada, his father had also in 1805, a large
interest in the extensive flour mills in Chippawa, known as the
Bridgewater Mills: mills burnt by the retreating American army in 1812,
at which period Mr. Durand, senior, was in the command of one of the
flank companies of Militia, composed of the first settlers in the
neighbourhood of the modern Hamilton: moreover he was the first who ever
imported foxhounds into Upper Canada, a pack of which animals he caused
to be sent out to him from England, being fond of the hunter's sport.
With these he hunted near Long Point, on Lake Erie, in 1805, over a
region teeming at the time with deer, bears, wolves and wild turkeys.
Mr. Peter Des Jardins, from whom the Dundas Canal has its name, was, in
1805, a clerk in the employment of Mr. Durand. (Omitted elsewhere, we
insert here a passing notice of Mr. J. M. Cawdell, another
well-remembered local pioneer of literature. He published for a short
time a magazine of light reading, entitled the _Rose harp_, the bulk of
which consisted of graceful compositions in verse and prose by himself.
Mr. Cawdell had been an officer in the army. Through the friendship of
Mr. Justice Macaulay (afterwards Sir James), he was appointed librarian
and secretary to the Law Society of Osgoode Hall. He died in 1842.)

Proceeding now onward a few yards, we arrived, in former times, at what
was popularly called the Sandhill - a moderate rise, showing where, in
by-gone ages, the lake began to shoal. An object of interest in the
woods here, at the top of the rise, on the west side, was the "Indian's
Grave," made noticeable to the traveller by a little civilized railing
surrounding it.

The story connected therewith was this: When the United States forces
were landing in 1813, near the Humber Bay, with the intention of
attacking the Fort and taking York, one of Major Givins' Indians,
concealed himself in a tree, and from that position fired into the boats
with fatal effect repeatedly. He was soon discovered, and speedily shot.
The body was afterwards found, and deposited with respect in a little
grave here on the crest of the Sandhill, where an ancient Indian burying
ground had existed, though long abandoned. It would seem that by some
means, the scalp of this poor Indian was packed up with the trophies of
the capture of York, conveyed by Lieut. Dudley to Washington. From being
found in company with the Speaker's Mace on that occasion, the foolish
story arose of its having been discovered over the Speaker's chair in
the Parliament building that was destroyed.

"With the exception," says Ingersoll, in his History of the War of
1812-14, "of the English general's musical snuff-box, which was an
object of much interest to some of our officers, and a scalp which Major
Forsyth found suspended over the Speaker's chair, we gained but barren
honour by the capture of York, of which no permanent possession was
taken."

Auchinleck, in his History of the same war, very reasonably observes,
that "from the expertness of the backwoodsmen in scalping (of which he
gives two or three instances), it is not at all unlikely that the scalp
in question was that of an unfortunate Indian who was shot while in a
tree by the Americans, in their advance on the town." It was rejected
with disgust by the authorities at Washington, Ingersoll informs us, and
was not allowed to decorate the walls of the War Office there. Colonel
W. F. Coffin, in his "1812: The War and its Moral," asserts that a
peruke or scratch-wig, found in the Parliament House, was mistaken for a
scalp.

Building requirements have at the present day occasioned the almost
complete obliteration of the Sandhill. Innumerable loads of the loose
silex of which it was composed have been removed. The bones of the
Indian brave, and of his forefathers, have been carried away. In a
triturated condition, they mingle now, perhaps, in the mortar of many a
wall in the vicinity.

A noble race! but they are gone,
With their old forests wide and deep,
And we have built our houses on
Fields where their generations sleep.
Their fountains slake our thirst at noon,
Upon their fields our harvest waves,
Our lovers woo beneath their moon -
Then let us spare at least their graves!

Vain, however, was the poet's appeal. Even the prosaic proclamations of
the civil power had but temporary effect. We quote one of them of the
date of Dec. 14th, 1797, having for its object the protection of the
fishing places and burying grounds of the Mississaga Indians:

"Proclamation. Upper Canada. Whereas, many heavy and grievous complaints
have of late been made by the Mississaga Indians, of depredations
committed by some of his Majesty's subjects and others upon their
fisheries and burial places, and of other annoyances suffered by them by
uncivil treatment, in violation of the friendship existing between his
Majesty and the Mississaga Indians, as well as in violation of decency
and good order: Be it known, therefore, that if any complaint shall
hereafter be made of injuries done to the fisheries and to the burial
places of the said Indians, or either of them, and the persons can be
ascertained who misbehaved himself or themselves in manner aforesaid,
such person or persons shall be proceeded against with the utmost
severity, and a proper example made of any herein offending. Given under
my hand and seal of arms, at York, this fourteenth day of December, in
the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, and in
the thirty-eighth year of his Majesty's reign. Peter Russell, President,
administering the government. By his Honour's command, Alex. Burns,
Secretary."

As to the particular ancient burial-plot on the Sandhill north of York,
however, it may perhaps be conjectured that prior to 1813 the
Mississagas had transferred to other resting places the bulk of the
relics which had been deposited there.

Off to the eastward of the sandy rise which we are ascending, was one of
the early public nursery gardens of York, Mr. Frank's. Further to the
North on the same side was another, Mr. Adams'. Mr. Adams was a tall,
oval-faced, fair-complexioned Scotchman. An establishment of the same
kind at York more primitive still, was that of Mr. Bond, of whom we
shall have occasion to speak by and by.

Kearsny House, Mr. Proudfoot's, the grounds of which occupy the site of
Frank's nursery garden, is a comparatively modern erection, dating from
about 1845; an architectural object regarded with no kindly glance by
the final holders of shares in the Bank of Upper Canada - an institution
which in the infancy of the country had a mission and fulfilled it, but
which grievously betrayed those of the second generation who, relying on
its traditionary sterling repute, continued to trust it. With Kearsny
House, too, is associated the recollection, not only of the president,
so long identified with the Bank of Upper Canada, but of the financier,
Mr. Cassells, who, as a kind of _deus ex machinâ_, engaged at an annual
salary of ten thousand dollars, was expected to retrieve the fortunes of
the institution, but in vain, although for a series of years after being
pronounced moribund it continued to yield a handsome addition to the
income of a number of persons.

Mr. Alexander Murray, subsequently of Yorkville, and a merchant of the
olden time at York, occupied the residence which preceded Kearsny House,
on the Frank property. One desires, in passing, to offer a tribute to
the memory of a man of such genuine worth as was Mr. Murray, although
the singular unobtrusiveness which characterized him when living seems
almost to forbid the act.

The residue of the Sandhill rise that is still to be discerned westward
of Yonge Street has its winsome name, Clover Hill, from the designation
borne by the home of Captain Elmsley, son of the Chief Justice, situate
here. The house still stands, overshadowed by some fine oaks, relics of
the natural wood. The rustic cottage lodge, with diamond lattice
windows, at the gate leading in to the original Clover Hill, was on the
street a little further on. At the time of his decease, Captain Elmsley
had taken up his abode in a building apart from the principal residence
of the Clover Hill estate; a building to which he had pleasantly given
the name of Barnstable, as being in fact a portion of the outbuildings
of the homestead turned into a modest dwelling.

Barnstable was subsequently occupied by Mr. Maurice Scollard, a veteran
attaché of the Bank of Upper Canada, of Irish birth, remembered by all
frequenters of that institution, and by others for numerous estimable
traits of character, but especially for a gift of genuine quiet humour
and wit, which at a touch was ever unfailingly ready to manifest itself
in word or act, in some unexpected, amusing, genial way. Persons
transacting business at the India House in London, when Charles Lamb was
a book-keeper there, must have had the solemn routine of the place now
and then curiously varied by a dry "aside" from the direction of his
desk. Just so the habitués of the old Bank, when absorbed in a knotty
question of finance, affecting themselves individually, or the
institution, would oftentimes find themselves startled from their
propriety by a droll view of the case, gravely suggested by a venerable
personage sure to be somewhere near at hand busily engaged over a huge
ledger.

They who in the mere fraction of a lifetime have seen in so many places
the desert blossom as the rose, can with a degree of certainty, realize
in their imagination what the whole country will one day be, even
portions of it which to the new comer seem at the first glance very
unpromising. Our Sandhill here, which but as yesterday we beheld in its
primeval condition, with no trace of human labour upon it except a few
square yards cleared round a solitary Indian grave, to-day we see
crowned along its crest for many a rood eastward and westward with
comfortable villas and graceful pleasure-grounds. The history of this
spot may serve to encourage all who at any time or anywhere are called
in the way of duty to be the first to attack and rough-hew a forest-wild
for the benefit of another generation.

If need were to stay the mind of a newly-arrived immigrant friend
wavering as to whether or not he should venture permanently to cast in
his lot with us, we should be inclined to direct his regards, for one
thing, to the gardens of an amateur, on the southern slope of the rise,
at which we are pausing, where choice fruits and flowers are year after
year produced equal to those grown in Kent or Devon; we should be
inclined to direct his regards, likewise, to the amateur cultivator
himself of those fruits and flowers, Mr. Phipps - a typical Englishman
after a residentership in York and Toronto of half a century.

But we must push on. - To the north of our Sandhill, a short distance, on
the east side, was a sylvan halting place for weary teams, known as the
Gardeners' Arms. It was an unpretending rural wayside inn, furnished
with troughs and pump. The house lay a little way back from the road.
Its sign exhibited an heraldic arrangement of horticultural implements.
Another rural inn, with homely name, might have been noted, while we
were nearer Lot Street: the Green Bush Tavern. But this was a name
transferred from another spot, far to the north on Yonge Street, when
the landlord, Mr. Abrahams, moved into town. In the original locality,
the sign was a painted pine-tree or spruce of formal shape - not the
ivy-bush, the sign referred to by the ancient proverb when it said,
"Wine needeth it not" - "Vino vendibili non opus est suspensa hedera."



Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 39 of 59)