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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machinery. The mills and factories at Burwick in Vaughan originated with
him, and from him that place takes its name.

The early tramway on Yonge Street of which we have already spoken was
suggested by Mr. Burr; and when the cutting down of the Blue Hill was
decided on, he undertook and effected the work.

It is now some forty years since the peculiar clay of the Blue Hill
began to be turned to useful account. In or near the brick-fields, which
at the present time are still to be seen on the left, Messrs. James and
William Townsley burnt kilns of white brick, a manufacture afterwards
carried on here by Mr. Nightingale, a family connection of the Messrs.
Townsley. Mr. Worthington also for a time engaged on the same spot in
the manufacture of pressed brick and drain tiles. The Rossin House
Hotel, in Toronto, and the Yorkville Town Hall were built of pressed
brick made here.

Chestnut Park, which we pass on the right, the residence now of Mr.
McPherson, is a comparatively modern erection, put up by Mr. Mathers, an
early merchant of York, who, before building here, lived on Queen
Street, near the Meadows, the residence of Mr. J. Hillyard Cameron.
Oaklands, Mr. John McDonald's residence, of which a short distance back
we obtained a passing glimpse far to the west, and Rathnally, Mr.
McMaster's palatial abode, beyond, are both modern structures, put up by
their respective occupants. Woodlawn, still on the left, the present
residence of Mr. Justice Morrison, was previously the home of Mr.
Chancellor Blake, and was built by him.

Summer Hill, seen on the high land far to the right, and commanding a
noble view of the wide plain below, including Toronto with its spires
and the lake view along the horizon, was originally built by Mr. Charles
Thomson, whose name is associated with the former travel and postal
service of the whole length of Yonge Street and the Upper Lakes. In Mr.
Thompson's time, however, Summer Hill was by no means the extensive and
handsome place into which it has developed since becoming the property
and the abode of Mr. Larratt Smith.

The primitive waggon track of Yonge Street ascended the hill at which we
now arrive, a little to the west of the present line of road. It passed
up through a narrow excavated notch. Across this depression or trench a
forest tree fell without being broken, and there long remained. Teams,
in their way to and from town, had to pass underneath it like captured
armies of old under the yoke. To some among the country folk it
suggested the beam of the gallows-tree. Hence sprang an ill-omened name
long attached to this particular spot.

Near here, at the top of the hill, were formerly to be seen, as we have
understood, the remains of a rude windlass or capstan, used in the
hauling up of the North-West Company's boats at this point of the long
portage from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.

So early as 1799 we have it announced that the North-West Company
intended to make use of this route. In the Niagara _Constellation_, of
August, 3, 1799, we read: "We are informed on good authority that the
North-West Company have it seriously in contemplation to establish a
communication with the Upper Lakes by way of York, through Yonge Street
to Lake Simcoe, a distance of about 33 miles only." The _Constellation_
embraces the occasion to say also, "That the government has actually
begun to open that street for several miles, which example will
undoubtedly be no small inducement to persons who possess property on
that street and its vicinity to exert themselves in opening and
completing what may be justly considered one of the primary objects of
attention in a new country, a good road."

The _Gazette_ of March 9, in this year (1799) had contained an
announcement that "The North-West Company has given twelve thousand
pounds towards making Yonge Street a good road, and that the North-West
commerce will be communicated through this place (York): an event which
must inevitably benefit this country materially, as it will not only
tend to augment the population, but will also enhance the present value
of landed property."

Bouchette, writing in 1815, speaks of improvements on Yonge Street, "of
late effected by the North-West Company." "This route," he says in his
Topographical description, "being of much more importance, has of late
been greatly improved by the North-West Company for the double purpose
of shortening the distance to the Upper Lakes, and avoiding any contact
with the American frontiers."

As stated already in another connection, we have conversed with those
who had seen the cavalcade of the North-West Company's boats, mounted on
wheels, on their way up Yonge Street. It used to be supposed by some
that the tree across the notch through which the road passed had been
purposely felled in that position as a part of the apparatus for helping
the boats up the hill.

The table-land now attained was long known as the Poplar Plains.
Stegmann uses the expression in his Report. A pretty rural by-road that
ascends this same rise near Rathnally, Mr. McMaster's house, is still
known as the Poplar Plains road.

A house, rather noticeable, to the left but lying slightly back, and
somewhat obscured by fine ornamental trees that overshadow it, was the
home for many years of Mr. J. S. Howard, sometime Postmaster of York,
and afterwards Treasurer of the counties of York and Peel: an estimable
man, and an active promoter of all local works of benevolence. He died
in Toronto in 1866, aged 68.

This house used to be known as Olive Grove; and was originally built by
Mr. Campbell, proprietor and manager of the Ontario House Hotel, in
York, once before referred to; eminent in the Masonic body, and father
of Mr. Stedman Campbell, a local barrister of note, who died early.

Mashquoteh to the left, situated a short distance in, on the north side
of the road which enters Yonge Street here, is a colony transplanted
from the neighbouring Spadina, being the home of Mr. W. Warren Baldwin,
son of Dr. W. W. Baldwin, the builder of Spadina. "Mashquoteh" is the
Ochipway for "meadow." We hear the same sounds in Longfellow's
"Mushkoda-sa," which is, by interpretation, "prairie-fowl."

Deer Park, to the north of the road that enters here, but skirting Yonge
Street as well, had that name given it when the property of Mrs. Heath,
widow of Col. Heath of the H. E. I. Company's Service. On a part of this
property was the house built by Colonel Carthew, once before referred
to, and now the abode of Mr. Fisken. Colonel Carthew, a half-pay officer
of Cornish origin, also made large improvements on property in the
vicinity of Newmarket.

Just after Deer Park, to avoid a long ravine which lay in the line of
the direct route northward, the road swerved to the left and then
descended, passing over an embankment, which was the dam of an adjacent
sawmill, a fine view of the interior of which, with the saw usually in
active motion, was obtained by the traveller as he fared on. This was
Michael Whitmore's sawmill.

Of late years the apex of the long triangle of Noman's land that for a
great while lay desolate between the original and subsequent lines of
Yonge Street, has been happily utilized by the erection thereon of a
Church, Christ Church, an object well seen in the ascent and descent of
the street. Anciently, very near the site of Christ Church, a solitary
longish wooden building, fronting southward, was conspicuous; the abode
of Mr. Hudson, a provincial land surveyor of mark. Looking back
southward from near the front of this house, a fine distant glimpse of
the waters of Lake Ontario used to be obtained, closing the vista made
in the forest by Yonge Street.

Before reaching Whitmore's sawmill, while passing along the brow of the
hill overlooking the ravine, which was avoided by the street as it ran
in the first instance, there was to be seen at a little distance to the
right, on some rough undulating ground, a house which always attracted
the eye by its affectation of "Gothic" in the outline of its windows. On
the side towards the public road it showed several obtuse-headed lancet
lights. This peculiarity gave the building, otherwise ordinary enough, a
slightly romantic air; it had the effect, in fact, at a later period, of
creating for this habitation, when standing for a considerable while
tenantless, the reputation of being haunted.

This house and the surrounding grounds constituted Springfield Park, the
original Upper Canadian home of Mr. John Mills Jackson, an English
gentleman, formerly of Downton in Wiltshire, who emigrated hither prior
to 1806; but finding public affairs managed in a way which he deemed not
satisfactory, he returned to England, where he published a pamphlet
addressed to the King, Lords and Commons of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland, entitled, "A View of the Political Situation of the
Province," a brochure that made a stir in Upper Canada, if not in
England, the local House of Assembly voting it a libel.

Our Upper Canadian Parliament partially acquired the habit of decreeing
reflections on the local government to be libels. Society in its infancy
is apt to resent criticism, even when legitimate. Witness the United
States and Mrs. Trollope. At the same time critics of infant society
should be themselves sufficiently large-minded not to expect in infant
society the perfection of society well developed, and to word their
strictures accordingly.

In the preface to his pamphlet, which is a well-written production, Mr.
Jackson gives the following account of his first connection with Canada
and his early experience there: - "Having by right of inheritance," he
says, "a claim to a large and very valuable tract of land in the
Province of Quebec, I was induced to visit Lower Canada for the purpose
of investigating my title; and being desirous to view the immense lakes
and falls in Upper Canada, where I had purchased some lands previous to
my leaving England, I extended my travels to that country, with which I
was so much pleased, that I resolved to settle on one of my estates, and
expended a considerable sum on its improvement (the allusion is probably
to Springfield Park); but considering neither my person nor property
secure under the system pursued there, I have been obliged to relinquish
the hope of its enjoyment."

The concluding sentences of his appeal will give an idea of the burden
of his complaint. To his mind the colony was being governed exactly in
the way that leads finally to revolt in colonies. The principles of the
constitution guaranteed by the mother country were violated. One of his
grievances was - not that a seventh of the public land had been set apart
for an established Church, but - that "in seventeen years not one acre
had been turned to any beneficial account; not a clergyman, except such
as England pays or the Missionary Society sends (only five in number),
without glebe, perquisite or parsonage house; and still fewer churches
than ministers of the established religion."

He concludes thus: "I call upon you to examine the Journals of the House
of Assembly and Legislative Council; to look at the distribution and use
made of the Crown Lands; the despatches from the Lieutenant-Governor
[Gore]; the memorials from the Provincial Secretary, Receiver-General
and Surveyor-General; the remonstrances of the Six Nations of Indians;
and the letters from Mr. Thorpe [Judge Thorpe], myself and others, on
the state of the Colony, either to the Lords of the Treasury or to the
Secretary of State. Summon and examine all the evidence that can be
procured here (England), and, if more should appear necessary, send a
commission to ascertain the real state of the Province. Then you will be
confirmed in the truth of every representation I have made, and much
more which, for the safety of individuals, I am constrained to
withhold. Then you will be enabled to relieve England from a great
burden, render the Colony truly valuable to the mother country, and save
one of the most luxuriant ramifications of the Empire. You will perform
the promise of the crown; you will establish the law and liberty
directed by the (British) Parliament; and diffuse the Gospel of Christ
to the utmost extremity of the West. You will do that which is
honourable to the nation, beneficial to the most deserving subjects, and
lovely in the sight of God."

This pamphlet is of interest as an early link (its date is 1809) in the
catena of protests on the subject of Canadian affairs, from Whiggish and
other quarters, culminating at last in Lord Durham's Report.
Nevertheless, what the old French trader said of Africa - "Toujours en
maudissant ce vilain pays, on y reviens toujours" - proved true in
respect to Canada in the case of Mr. Jackson, as in the case likewise of
several other severe critics of Canadian public affairs in later times.
He returned and dwelt in the land after all, settling with his family on
Lake Simcoe, where Jackson's Point and Jackson's Landing retain his
name, and where descendants of his still remain.

Mr. Jackson had possessions likewise in the West Indies, and made
frequent visits thither, as also to England, where at length he died in
1836. Up to about that date, we observe his name in the Commission of
the Peace.

In the _Loyalist_ of May 24, 1828, a Biblical work by Mr. Jackson is
advertised for sale at York. Thus runs the notice: - "Just received from
England, and for sale at the book stores of Messrs. Meighan and Lesslie
& Sons, York, a few volumes of 'The History from the Creation of the
World to the death of Joshua, authenticated from the best authorities,
with Notes, Critical, Philosophical, Moral and Explanatory: by John
Mills Jackson, Esq., formerly Gentleman Commoner of Ball. Coll. in the
University of Oxford.'" (Then follow laudatory notices of the work from
private sources.)

Fifty years ago, in Canada, English families, whose habits and ideas
were more in harmony with Bond Street than with the backwoods, had, in
becoming morally acclimatised to the country, a tremendous ordeal to
pass through: how they contrived to endure the pains and perils of the
process is now matter of wonder.

One of Mr. Jackson's sons, Clifton, is locally remembered as an early
example in these parts of the exquisite of the period - the era of the
Prince Regent and Lord Byron. By extra-sacrificing to the Graces, at a
time when _articles de cosmetique et de luxe_ generally were scarce and
costly in Canada, he got himself into trouble. - In 1822 he had occasion
to make his escape from "durance vile" in York, by opening a passage,
one quiet Sunday morning, through the roof of the old jail. He was
speedily pursued by Mr. Parker, the warden, and an associate, Mr.
Garsides; overtaken at Albany, in the State of New York; apprehended
under a feigned charge; and brought back to York. Among the inhabitants
of some of the villages between Albany and Youngstown, a suspicion arose
that a case of kidnapping was in progress, and Messrs. Parker and
Garsides were exposed to risk of personal violence before they could
reach the western bank of the Niagara river, with their prey. By a happy
turn of affairs, a few years later, Mr. Clifton Jackson obtained a
situation in the Home Colonial Office, with a good salary.

To distinguish Mr. Mills Jackson from another proprietor on Yonge
Street, also called Jackson, the alliterative epithet, "Jacobin," was
sometimes applied to him, in jocose allusion to his political
principles, held by the official party to be revolutionary. In regard to
the other Jackson, some such epithet as "Jacobin" would not have been
inapplicable. On the invasion of Canada in 1812 by the United States, he
openly avowed his sympathy with the invaders, and was obliged to fly the
country. He was known and distinguished as "Hatter Jackson," from the
business which he once followed. After the war he returned, and
endeavoured, but in vain, to recover possession of the land on Yonge
Street which he had temporarily occupied.

In the _Gazette_ of Nov. 11, 1807, we have Mr. Jackson's advertisement.
Almost anticipating the modern "Hats that are Hats," it is headed
"Warranted Hats," and then proceeds: "The subscriber, having established
a hat manufactory in the vicinity of York on a respectable scale,
solicits the patronage and support of the public. All orders will be
punctually attended to, and a general assortment of warranted hats be
continually kept at the store of Mr. Thomas Hamilton, in York. Samuel
Jackson. Yonge Street, Nov. 10, 1807."

An earlier owner of the lot, at which we are now pausing, was Stillwell
Wilson. In 1799, at the annual York Township meeting, held on the 4th
March in that year at York, we find Stillwell Wilson elected one of the
Overseers of Highways and Fence-viewers for the portion of Yonge Street
from lot 26 to lot 40, in Markham and Vaughan. At the same meeting, Paul
Wilcot is elected to the same office, "from Big Creek to No. 25,
inclusive, and half Big Creek Bridge; and Daniel Dehart, from Big Creek
to No. 1, inclusive, and half Big Creek Bridge." "The Big Creek"
referred to was, as we suppose, the Don at Hogg's Hollow.

In 1821, Stillwell Wilson is landlord of the Waterloo House, in York,
and is offering to let that stand; also to let or sell other valuable
properties. In the _Gazette_ of March 25, 1820, we have his
advertisement: - "For sale or to let, four improved farms on Yonge
Street, composed of lots Nos. 20 and 30 on the west side, and 15 and 20
on the east side of the street, in the townships of York and Vaughan.
These lands are so well known that they require no further encomiums
than the virtues they possess. For title of which please apply to the
subscriber at Waterloo House, York, the proprietor of said lands. P.
S. - The noted stand known by the name of the Waterloo House, which the
subscriber at present possesses, is also offered to be let on easy
terms; as also an excellent Sawmill, in the third concession of the
township of York, east of Yonge Street, only ten miles from town, on the
west branch of the river Don. Stillwell Wilson."

In 1828, for moneys due apparently to Jairus Ashley, some of Stillwell's
property has been seized. Under the editorial head of the _Loyalist_ of
December 27th of that year, we find the following item: - "Sheriff's
Sale. - At the Court House, in the Town of York, on Saturday, 31st
January next, will be sold, Lot No. 30, in the first Concession of the
Township of Vaughan, taken in execution as belonging to Stillwell
Wilson, at the suit of Jairus Ashley. Sale to commence at 12 o'clock

In our chapter on the Early Marine of York, we shall meet with Stillwell
Wilson again. We shall then find him in command of a slip-keel schooner
plying on the Lake between York and Niagara. The present owner of his
lot, which, as we have seen, was also once Mr. Jackson's - Mr. Jacobin
Jackson's, is Mr. Cawthra. (Note the tendency to distinguish between
individuals bearing the name of Jackson by an epithet prefixed. A
professional pugilist patronized by Lord Byron was commonly spoken of as
"Gentleman Jackson.")

As we reach again the higher land, after crossing the dam of Whitmore's
mill, and returning into the more direct line of the street, some rude
pottery works met the eye. Here in the midst of woods, the passer-by
usually saw on one side of the road, a one horse clay-grinding machine,
laboriously in operation; and on the other, displayed in the open air on
boards supported by wooden pins driven into the great logs composing the
wall of the low windowless building, numerous articles of coarse brown
ware, partially glazed, pans, crocks, jars, jugs, demijohns, and so
forth; all which primitive products of the plastic art were ever
pleasant to contemplate. These works were carried on by Mr. John

A tract of rough country was now reached, difficult to clear and
difficult to traverse with a vehicle. Here a genuine corduroy causeway
was encountered, a long series of small saw-logs laid side by side, over
which wheels jolted deliberately. In the wet season, portions of it,
being afloat, would undulate under the weight of a passing load; and
occasionally a horse's leg would be entrapped, and possibly snapped
short by the sudden yielding or revolution of one of the cylinders

We happen to have a very vivid recollection of the scene presented along
this particular section of Yonge Street, when the woods, heavy pine
chiefly, after having been felled in a most confused manner, were being
consumed by fire, or rather while the effort was being made to consume
them. The whole space from near Mr. Walmsley's potteries to the rise
beyond which Eglinton is situated, was, and continued long, a chaos of
blackened timber, most dismaying to behold.

To the right of this tract was one of the Church glebes so curiously
reserved in every township in the original laying out of Upper
Canada - one lot of two hundred acres in every seven of the same area - in
accordance with a public policy which at the present time seems
sufficiently Utopian. Of the arrangement alluded to, now broken up, but
expected when the Quebec Act passed in 1780 to be permanent, a relic
remained down to a late date in the shape of a wayside inn, on the right
near here, styled on its sign the "Glebe Inn" - a title and sign
reminding one of the "Church Stiles" and "Church Gates" not uncommon as
village ale-house designations in some parts of England.

Hitherto the general direction of Yonge Street has been north, sixteen
degrees west. At the point where it passes the road marking the northern
limit of the third concession from the bay, it swerves seven degrees to
the eastward. In the first survey of this region there occurred here a
jog or fault in the lines. The portion of the street proposed to be
opened north failed, by a few rods, to connect in a continuous right
line with the portion of it that led southward into York. The
irregularity was afterwards corrected by slicing off a long narrow
angular piece from three lots on the east side, and adding the like
quantity of land to the opposite lot - it happening just here that the
lots on the east side lie east and west, while those on the west side
lie north and south. After the third concession, the lots along the
street lie uniformly east and west.

With young persons in general perhaps, at York in the olden time, who
ever gave the cardinal points a thought, the notion prevailed that Yonge
Street was "north." We well remember our own slight perplexity when we
first distinctly took notice that the polar star, the dipper, and the
focus usually of the northern lights, all seemed to be east of Yonge
Street. That an impression existed in the popular mind at a late period
to the effect that Yonge Street was north, was shown when the pointers
indicating east, west, north and south came to be affixed to the apex of
a spire on Gould Street. On that occasion several compasses had to be
successively taken up and tried before the workmen could be convinced
that "north" was so far "east" as the needle of each instrument would
persist in asserting.

The first possessor of the lot on the west side, slightly augmented in
the manner just spoken of, was the Baron de Hoen, an officer in one of
the German regiments disbanded after the United States Revolutionary
War. His name is also inscribed in the early maps on the adjacent lot to
the north, known as No. 1 in the township of York, west side.

At the time of the capture of York in 1813, Baron de Hoen's house, on
lot No. 1, proved a temporary refuge to some ladies and others, as we
learn from a manuscript narrative taken down from the lips of the late
venerable Mrs. Breakenridge by her daughter, Mrs. Murney. That record
well recalls the period and the scene. "The ladies settled to go out to
Baron de Hoen's farm," the narrative says. "He was a great friend," it
then explains, "of the Baldwin family, whose real name was Von Hoen; and
he had come out about the same time as Mr. St. George, and had been in
the British army. He had at this time a farm about four miles up Yonge
Street, and on a lot called No. 1. Yonge Street was then a corduroy road
immediately after leaving King Street, and passing through a dense
forest. Miss Russell, (sister of the late President Russell) loaded her
phaeton with all sorts of necessaries, so that the whole party had to
walk. My poor old grandfather (Mr. Baldwin, the father of Mrs.
Breakenridge) by long persuasion at length consented to give up
fighting, and accompany the ladies. Aunt Baldwin (Mrs. Dr. Baldwin) and
her four sons, Major Fuller, who was an invalid under Dr. Baldwin's

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 42 of 59)