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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care, Miss Russell, Miss Willcox, and the whole cavalcade sallied forth:
the youngest boy St. George, a mere baby, my mother (Mrs. Breakenridge)
carried on her back nearly the whole way.

"When they had reached about half way out," the narrative proceeds,
"they heard a most frightful concussion, and all sat down on logs and
stumps, frightened terribly. They learned afterwards that this terrific
sound was occasioned by the blowing up of the magazine of York garrison,
when five hundred Americans were killed, and at which time my uncle, Dr.
Baldwin, was dressing a soldier's wounds; he was conscious of a strange
sensation: it was too great to be called a sound, and he found a shower
of stones falling all around him, but he was quite unhurt. The family at
length reached Baron de Hoen's log house, consisting of two rooms, one
above and one below. After three days Miss Russell and my mother walked
into town, just in time to prevent Miss Russell's house from being
ransacked by the soldiers.

"All now returned to their homes and occupations," the narrative goes on
to say, "except Dr. Baldwin, who continued dressing wounds and acting as
surgeon, until the arrival of Dr. Hackett, the surgeon of the 8th
Regiment. Dr. Baldwin said it was most touching to see the joy of the
poor wounded fellows when told that their own doctor was coming back to
them." It is then added: "My mother (Mrs. Breakenridge) saw the poor 8th
Grenadiers come into town on the Saturday, and in church on Sunday, with
the handsome Captain McNeil at their head, and the next day they were
cut to pieces to a man. My father (Mr. Breakenridge) was a student at
law with Dr. Baldwin, who had been practising law after giving up
medicine as a profession, and had been in his office about three months,
when he went off like all the rest to the battle of York."

The narrative then gives the further particulars: "The Baldwin family
all lived with Miss Russell after this, as she did not like being left
alone. When the Americans made their second attack about a month after
the first, the gentlemen all concealed themselves, fearing to be taken
prisoners like those at Niagara. The ladies received the American
officers: some of these were very agreeable men, and were entertained
hospitably; two of them were at Miss Russell's; one of them was a Mr.
Brookes, brother-in-law of Archdeacon Stuart, then of York, afterwards
of Kingston. General Sheaffe had gone off some time before, taking every
surgeon with him. On this account Dr. Baldwin was forced, out of
humanity, to work at his old profession again, and take care of the
wounded."

Lot No. 1 was afterwards the property of an English gentleman, Mr.
Harvey Price, a member of our Provincial Government, as Commissioner of
Crown Lands, whose conspicuous residence, castellated in character, and
approached by a broad avenue of trees, was a little further on. In 1820,
No. 1 was being offered for sale in the following terms, in the
_Gazette_ of March 25th: "That well known farm No. 1, west side of Yonge
Street, belonging to Captain de Hoen, about four or five miles from
York, 210 acres. The land is of excellent quality, well-wooded, with
about forty acres cleared, a never failing spring of excellent water,
barn and farm house. Application to be made to the subscriber at
York. - W. W. Baldwin."

Baron de Hoen was second to Mr. Attorney-General White, killed in the
duel with Mr. Small in 1800 (January 3rd). In the contemporary account
of that incident in the Niagara _Constellation_, the name is
phonetically spelt _De Hayne_. In the above quoted MS. the name appears
as de Haine.

In our progress northward we now traverse ground which, as having been
the scene of a skirmish and some bloodshed during the troubles of 1837,
has become locally historic. The events alluded to have been described
from different points of view at sufficient length in books within reach
of every one. We throw over them here the mantle of charity, simply
glancing at them and passing on.

Upper Canada, in miniature and in the space of half a century, curiously
passed through conditions and processes, physical and social, which old
countries on a large scale, and in the course of long ages, passed
through. Upper Canada had, in little, its primæval and barbaric but
heroic era, its mediæval and high-prerogative era, and then, after a
revolutionary period of a few weeks, its modern, defeudalized,
democratic era. Without doubt the introduction here in 1792 of an "exact
transcript" of the contemporary constitution of the mother country, as
was the boast at the time, involved the introduction here also of some
of the spirit which animated the official administrators of that
constitution in the mother country itself at the period - the time of the
Third George.

We certainly find from an early date, as we have already seen, a
succession of intelligent, observant men, either casual visitors to the
country, or else intending settlers, and actual settlers, openly
expressing dissatisfaction at some of the things which they noted,
experienced or learned, in respect of the management of Canadian public
affairs. These persons for the most part were themselves perhaps only
recently become alive to the changes which were inevitable in the
governmental principles of the mother country; and so were peculiarly
sensitive, and even, it may be, petulant in regard to such matters. But,
however well-meaning and advanced in political wisdom they may have
been, they nevertheless, as we have before intimated, exhibited
narrowness of view themselves, and some ignorance of mankind, in
expecting to find in a remote colonial out-station of the empire a state
of things better than that which at the moment existed at the heart of
the empire; and in imagining that strictures on their part, especially
when acrimonious, would, under the circumstances, be amiably and
submissively received by the local authorities.

The early rulers of Canada, Upper and Lower, along with the members of
their little courts, were not to be lightly censured. - They were but
copying the example of their royal Chief and his circle at Kew, Windsor,
or St. James'. Of the Third George Thackeray says: "He did his best; he
worked according to his lights; what virtue he knew he tried to
practice; what knowledge he could master he strove to acquire." And so
did they. The same fixity of idea in regard to the inherent dignity and
power of the Crown that characterized him characterized them, together
with a like sterling uprightness which commanded respect even when a
line of action was adopted that seemed to tend, and did in reality tend,
to a popular outbreak.

All men, however, now acquiesce in the final issue. The social turmoil
which for a series of years agitated Canada, from whatever cause
arising; the explosion which at length took place, by whatever
instrumentality brought on, cleared the political atmosphere of the
country, and hastened the good time of general contentment and
prosperity which Canadians of the present day are enjoying. - After all,
the explosion was not a very tremendous one. Both sides, after the
event, have been tempted to exaggerate the circumstances of it a little,
for effect.

The recollections which come back to us as we proceed on our way, are
for the most part of a date anterior to those associated with 1837;
although some of the latter date will of course occasionally recur.

The great conspicuous way-side inn, usually called Montgomery's was, at
the time of its destruction by the Government forces in 1837, in the
occupation of a landlord named Lingfoot. The house of Montgomery, from
whom the inn took its name, he having been a former occupant, was on a
farm owned by himself, beautifully situated on rising ground to the
left, subsequently the property and place of abode of Mr. James Lesslie,
of whom already.

Mr. Montgomery had once had a hotel in York, named "The Bird in Hand,"
on Yonge Street, a little to the north of Elliott's. We have this inn
named in an advertisement to be seen in the _Canadian Freeman_ of April
17, 1828, having reference to the "Farmer's Store Company." "A general
meeting of the Farmer's Storehouse Company," says the advertisement,
"will be held on the 22nd of March next, at 10 o'clock, a.m., at John
Montgomery's tavern, on Yonge Street, 'The Bird in Hand.' - The farmers
are hereby also informed that the storehouse is properly repaired for
the accommodation of storage, and that every possible attention shall be
paid to those who shall store produce therein. John Goessmann, clerk."

The Farmer's Store was at the foot of Nelson Street. Mr. Goessmann was a
well-known Deputy Provincial Surveyor, of Hanoverian origin. In an
address published in the _Weekly Register_ of July 15, 1824, on the
occasion of his retiring from a contest for a seat in the House as
representative for the counties of York and Simcoe, Mr. Goessmann
alluded as follows to his nationality: "I may properly say," he
observed, "that I was a born British subject before a great number of
you did even draw breath; and have certainly borne more oppressions
during the late French war than any child of this country, that never
peeped beyond the boundary even of this continent, where only a small
twig of that all-crushing war struck. Our sovereign has not always been
powerful enough to defend all his dominions. We, the Hanoverians, have
been left the greater part during that contest, to our own fate; we have
been crushed to yield our privileges to the subjection of Bonaparte, his
greatest antagonist," &c.

Eglinton, through which, at the present day, Yonge Street passes
hereabout, is a curious stray memorial of the Tournament in Ayrshire,
which made a noise in 1839. The passages of arms on the farther side of
the Atlantic that occasionally suggest names for Canadian villages, are
not always of so peaceful a character as that in the Earl of Eglinton's
grounds in 1839; although it is a matter of some interest now to
remember that even in that a Louis Napoleon figured, who at a later
period was engaged in jousts of a rather serious kind, promoted by
himself.

About Eglinton the name of Snider is notable as that of a United Empire
Loyalist family seated here, of German descent. Mr. Martin Snider,
father of Jacob and Elias Snider and other brothers and sisters,
emigrated hither at an early period from Nova Scotia, where he first
took up his abode for a time after the revolution. - Among the names of
those who volunteered to accompany General Brock to Detroit in 1813, we
observe that of Mr. Jacob Snider. In later years, a member of the same
family is sheriff for the County of Grey, and repeatedly a
representative in Parliament of the same county.

The Anglicised form of the German name Schneider, like the Anglicised
form of a number of other non-English names occurring among us,
illustrates and represents the working of our Canadian social system;
the practical effect of our institutions, educational and municipal. Our
mingled population, when permitted to develop itself fairly; when not
crushed, or sought to be crushed into narrow alien moulds invented by
non-Teutonic men in the pre-printing-press, feudal era, becomes
gradually - if not English - at all events Anglo-Canadian, a people of a
distinct type on this continent, acknowledged by the grand old mother of
nations, - Alma Britannia herself, as eminently of kin.

We have specially in mind a group from the neighbourhood of Eglinton,
genuine sons of our composite Canadian people, Sniders, Mitchells,
Jackeses, who, now some years ago, were to be seen twice every day at
all seasons, traversing the distance between Eglinton and Toronto,
rising early and late taking rest, in order to be punctually present
at, and carefully ready for, class-room or lecture room in town; and
this process persevered in for the lengthened period required for a
succession of curriculums; with results finally, in a conspicuous degree
illustrative of the blending, Anglicising power of our institutions when
cordially and loyally used. Similar happy effects springing from similar
causes have we seen, in numerous other instances and batches of
instances, among the youth of our Western Canada, drawn from widely
severed portions of the country.

Beyond Eglinton, in the descent to a rough irregular ravine, the home of
Mr. Jonathan Hale was passed on the east side of the street; one of the
Hales, who, as we have seen, were forward to undertake works of public
utility at a time when appliances for the execution of such works were
few. Mr. Hale's lot became afterwards a part of the estate of Jesse
Ketchum of whom we have spoken.

In 1808, the _Gazette_ (October 22) informs us, the sheriff, Miles
Macdonell, is about to sell "at Barrett's Inn, in the Town of York," the
goods and chattels of Henry Hale, at the suit of Elijah Ketchum.
Likewise, at the same time, the goods and chattels of Stillwell Wilson,
at the suit of James McCormack and others.

On the west side, opposite Mr. Ketchum's land, was a farm that had been
modernized and beautified by two families in succession, who migrated
hither from the West Indies, the Murrays and the Nantons. In particular,
a long avenue of evergreen trees, planted by them and leading up to the
house, was noticeable. While these families were the owners and
occupants of this property, it was named by them Pilgrims' Farm.
Subsequently Pilgrims' Farm passed into the hands of Mr. James Beaty,
one of the representatives of Toronto in the House of Commons in Canada,
who made it an occasional summer retreat, and called it Glen Grove.

It had been at one period known as the MacDougall farm, Mr. John
MacDougall, of York, having been its owner from 1801 to 1820. Mr.
MacDougall was the proprietor of the principal hotel of York. Among the
names of those elected to various local offices at the annual
Town-meeting held in 1799 at "the city of York," as the report in the
_Gazette and Oracle_ ambitiously speaks, that of Mr. MacDougall appears
under the head of "Overseers of Highways and Roads and Fence-viewers."
He and Mr. Clark were elected to act in this capacity for "the district
of the city of York." That they did good service we learn from the
applause which attended their labours. The leading editorial of the
_Gazette and Oracle_ of June 29, 1799, thus opens: "The public are much
indebted to Mr. John MacDougall, who was appointed one of the
pathmasters at the last Town-meeting, for his great assiduity and care
in getting the streets cleared of the many and dangerous (especially at
night) obstructions thereon; and we hope," the writer says, "by the same
good conduct in his successors in the like office, to see the streets of
this infant town vie with those of a maturer age, in cleanliness and
safety."

In the number of the same paper for July 20 (1799), Mr. MacDougall's
colleague is eulogized, and thanked in the following terms: "The
inhabitants of the west end of this Town return their most cordial
thanks to Mr. Clark, pathmaster, for his uncommon exertions and
assiduity in removing out of their street its many obstacles, so highly
dangerous to the weary traveller." Mr. MacDougall was the first grantee
of the farm immediately to the south of Glen Grove (lot number three).

On high land to the right, some way off the road, an English-looking
mansion of brick with circular ends, was another early innovation. A
young plantation of trees so placed as to shelter it from the north-east
winds, added to its English aspect. This was Kingsland, the home of Mr.
Huson, likewise an immigrant from the West Indies. It was afterwards the
abode of Mr. Vance, an Alderman of Toronto.

One or two old farm houses of an antique New Jersey style, of two
storeys, with steepish roofs and small windows, were then passed on the
left. Some way further on, but still in the low land of the irregular
ravine, another primitive rustic manufactory of that article of prime
necessity, leather, was reached. This was "Lawrence's Tannery." A bridge
over the stream here, which is a feeder to the Don, was sometimes spoken
of as Hawke's bridge, from the name of its builder. In the hollow on the
left, close to the Tannery, and overlooked from the road, was a
cream-coloured respectable frame-house, the domicile of Mr. Lawrence
himself. In his yard or garden, some hives of bees, when such things
were rarities, used always to be looked at with curiosity in passing.

The original patentees of lots six, seven, eight and nine, on the west
side of the street just here, were four brothers, Joseph, Duke, Hiram
and John, Kendrick, respectively. They all had nautical proclivities;
or, as one who knew them said, they were, all or them, "water-dogs;" and
we shall hear of them again in our chapter on the Early Marine of York
harbour.

In 1799, Duke Kendrick was about to establish a pot-ashery on number
seven. His advertisement appears in the _Gazette_, of December, 21,
1799. It is headed "Ashes! Ashes! Ashes!" The announcement then follows:
"The subscriber begs leave to inform the public that he is about to
erect a Pot-ashery upon lot No. 7, west side of Yonge Street, where he
will give a generous price for ashes; for house-ashes, ninepence per
bushel; for field-ashes, sixpence, delivered at the Pot-ash." It is then
added: "He conceives it his duty to inform those who may have ashes to
dispose of, that it will not be in his power to pay cash, but
merchandize at cash price. Duke W. Kendrick. York, Dec. 7, 1799." In the
year following, Mr. Allan advertises for ashes to be delivered at
pot-ash works in York. In the _Gazette_ for November 29, 1800, we have:
"Ashes wanted. Sevenpence Halifax currency per bushel for house-ashes
will be given, delivered at the Pot-ash works, opposite the Gaol; and
fivepence same currency, if taken from the houses; also, eightpence, New
York currency for field-ashes delivered at the works. W. Allan. York,
21st November, [1800]."

We now speedily arrived at the commencement of the difficult descent
into the valley of the great west branch of the Don. Yonge Street here
made a grand detour to the east, and failed to regain the direct
northerly course for some time. As usual, wherever long inclined planes
were cut in the steep sides of lofty clay banks, the condition of the
roadway hereabout was, after rain, indescribably bad. After reaching the
stream and crossing it on a rough timber bridge, known anciently
sometimes as Big Creek bridge and sometimes as Heron's bridge, the track
ascended the further bank, at first by means of a narrow hogsback, which
conveniently sloped down to the vale; afterwards it made a sweep to the
northward along the brow of some broken hills, and then finally turned
westward until the direct northern route of the street was again
touched.

The banks of the Don are here on every side very bold, divided in some
places into two stages by an intervening plateau. On a secondary flat
thus formed, in the midst of a grass-grown clearing, to the left, as the
traveller journeyed from York, there was erected at an early date the
shell of a place of worship appertaining to the old Scottish Kirk, put
up here through the zeal of Mr. James Hogg, a member of that communion,
and the owner, for a time at least, of the flour mills in the valley,
near the bridge. From him this locality was popularly known as Hogg's
Hollow, despite the postal name of the place, York Mills.

Mr. Hogg was of Scottish descent and a man of spirit. He sent a cartel
in due form in 1832 to Mr. Gurnett, editor of the _Courier_. An article
in that paper had spoken in offensive terms of supposed attempts on the
part of a committee in York to swell the bulk of a local public meeting,
by inviting into town persons from the rural parts. "Every wheel of
their well-organized political machine was set in motion," the _Courier_
asserted, "to transmute country farmers into citizens of York.
Accordingly about nine in the morning, groups of tall, broad-shouldered,
hulking fellows were seen arriving from Whitby, Pickering and
Scarborough, some crowded in waggons, and others on horseback; and Hogg,
the miller, headed a herd of the swine of Yonge Street, who made just as
good votes at the meeting as the best shopkeepers in York." No hostile
encounter, however, took place, although a burlesque account of an
"affair of honour" was published, in which it was pretended that Mr.
Hogg was saved from a mortal wound by a fortunate accumulation, under
the lappel of his coat, of flour, in which his antagonist's bullet
buried itself.

Mr. Hogg died in 1839. Here is an extract from the sermon preached by
the Rev. Mr. Leach on the occasion of his funeral: "He was faithful to
his word and promise," the preacher said, - "and when surrounded with
danger and strongly instigated, and tempted to a departure from public
faith by the enemies of his country his determination expressed in his
own words, was 'I will die a Briton.' Few men had all the veins of
nature more clearly and strongly developed; and few men had a better
sense of what is due to God."

The circuit of the hills overhanging the mills below was always tedious;
but several good bits of scenery were caught sight of. On the upland,
after escaping the chief difficulties, on the left hand a long low
wooden building was seen, with gable and door towards the road. This was
an early place of worship of the Church of England, an out-post of the
mission at York. The long line of its roof was slightly curved downwards
by the weight of a short chimney built at its middle point for the
accommodation of an iron stove within. Just before arriving at the gate
of the burying-ground attached to this building, there were interesting
glimpses to the left down into deep woody glens, all of them converging
southward on the Don. In some of them were little patches of pleasant
grass land. But along here, for the most part, the forest long remained
undisturbed.

The church or chapel referred to was often served by divinity students
sent out from town; and frequently, no doubt, had its walls echoed with
prentice-attempts at pulpit oratory. Gourlay says that this chapel and
the Friends' Meeting House near Newmarket were the only two places of
public worship on Yonge Street in 1817, "a distance of nearly forty
miles." A notice of it is inserted in "A visit to the Province of Upper
Canada in 1819, by James Strachan," (the Bishop's brother) - a work
published at Aberdeen in 1820.

"My brother," Mr. Strachan says, p. 141, "had, by his exertions and
encouragement among the people, caused a chapel to be built about eight
miles from York, where he officiates once a month, one of the young
students under his care reading the service and a sermon on the
intermediate Sundays. On his day of doing duty," Mr. S. continues, "I
went with him and was highly gratified. The chapel is built in a thick
wood. . . . . . . . . . . The dimensions are 60 by 30 feet; the pews are
very decent, and what was much better, they were filled with an
attentive congregation. As you see very few inhabitants on your way out,
I could not conceive where all the people came from." A public baptism
of five adults is then described.

Some six and twenty years later (in 1843), the foundation stone of a
durable brick church was laid near the site of the old frame chapel. On
that occasion Dr. Strachan, now Bishop Strachan, named as especial
promoters of the original place of worship, Mr. Seneca Ketchum and Mr.
Joseph Sheppard, "the former devoting much time and money in the
furtherance of the work, and the latter giving three acres of land as a
site, together with a handsome donation in cash." A silver medal which
had been deposited under the old building was now transferred to a
cavity in the foundation stone of its proposed successor. It bore on the
obverse, "Francis Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor, 1816," and on the
reverse - "Fifty-sixth of George Third." To it were now added a couple
of other medals of silver: one bore on the obverse, "John Strachan,
D.D., Bishop of Toronto; Alexander Sanson, Minister, 1843;" and on the
reverse, "Sixth of Victoria." The other had inscribed on it the name of
the architect, Mr. J. G. Howard, with a list of other churches erected
in Upper Canada under his direction.

Among the persons present during the ceremony were Chief-Justice
Robinson, Vice-Chancellor Jameson, the Hon. and Rev. A. Cavendish, and
the Rev. G. Mortimer, of Thornhill. Prior to the out-door proceedings a
remarkable scene had been witnessed within the walls of the old
building. Four gentlemen received the rite of confirmation at the hands



Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 43 of 59)