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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speedily to be made on Yonge Street are therein referred to. In a
_Gazette_ of 1834 we have: "A delightful situation on Yonge Street,
commonly called Bond's Farm, containing 190 acres, beautifully situated
on Bond's Lake upon Yonge Street, distant about 16 miles from the city
of Toronto: price £350. The picturesque beauty of this lot," the
advertisement says, "and its proximity to the flourishing capital of
Upper Canada, make it a most desirable situation for a gentleman of
taste. The stage-coaches between Toronto and Holland Landing and
Newmarket pass the place daily; and there appears every prospect of
Yonge Street either having a railroad or being macadamized very
shortly. Apply (if by letter, free of postage) to Robert Ferrie, at
Hamilton, the proprietor."

In the advertisement of 1805, given above, Bond's Lake is styled a pond.
The small lakes in these hills seemed, of course, to those who had
become familiarized with the great lakes, simply ponds. The term "lake"
applied to Ontario, Huron, and the rest, has given a very inadequate
idea of the magnitude and appearance of those vast expanses, to externs
who imagine them to be picturesque sheets of water somewhat exceeding in
size, but resembling, Windermere, Loch Lomond, or possibly Lake Leman.
"Sea" would have conveyed a juster notion: not however to the German,
who styles the lakes of Switzerland and the Tyrol, "seas."

Bond's Lake inn, the way-side stopping place in the vale where Yonge
Street skirts the lake, used to be, in an especial degree, of the old
country cast, in its appliances, its fare, its parlours and other
rooms.

[Illustration]




[Illustration]

XXVII.

YONGE STREET: FROM BOND'S LAKE TO THE HOLLAND LANDING, WITH DIGRESSIONS
TO NEWMARKET AND SHARON.


We now speedily passed Drynoch, lying off to the left, on elevated land,
the abode of Capt. Martin McLeod, formerly of the Isle of Skye. The
family and domestic group systematized on a large scale at Drynoch here,
was a Canadian reproduction of a chieftain's household.

Capt. McLeod was a Scot of the Norse vikinger type, of robust manly
frame, of noble, frank, and tender spirit; an Ossianist too, and, in the
Scandinavian direction, a philologist. Sir Walter Scott would have made
a study of Capt. McLeod, and may have done so. He was one of eight
brothers who all held commissions in the army. His own military life
extended from 1808 to 1832. As an officer successively of the 27th, the
79th, and the 25th regiments, he saw much active service. He accompanied
the force sent over to this continent in the War of 1812-13. It was then
that he for the first time saw the land which was to be his final home.
He was present, likewise, at the affair of Plattsburg; and also, we
believe, at the attack on New Orleans. He afterwards took part in the
so-called Peninsular war, and received a medal with four clasps for
Toulouse, Orthes, Nive, and Nivelle. He missed Waterloo,
"unfortunately," as he used to say; but he was present with the allied
troops in Paris during the occupation of that city in 1815. Of the 25th
regiment he was for many years adjutant, and then paymaster. Three of
his uncles were general officers.

It is not inappropriate to add that the Major McLeod who received the
honour of a Companionship in the Order of St. Michael and St. George for
distinguished service in the Red River Expedition of 1870, was a son of
Captain McLeod of Drynoch.

That in and about the Canadian Drynoch Gaelic should be familiarly heard
was in keeping with the general character of the place. The ancient
Celtic tongue was in fact a necessity, as among the dependents of the
house there were always some who had never learned the English language.
Drynoch was the name of the old home in Skye. The Skye Drynoch was an
unfenced, hilly pasture farm, of about ten miles in extent, yielding
nutriment to herds of wild cattle and some 8,000 sheep. Within its
limits a lake, Loch Brockadale, is still the haunt of the otter, which
is hunted by the aid of the famous terriers of the island; a mountain
stream abounds with salmon and trout; while the heather and bracken of
the slopes shelter grouse and other game.

Whittaker, in his _History of Whalley_, quoted by Hallam in his _Middle
Ages_, describes the aspect which, as he supposes, a certain portion of
England presented to the eye, as seen from the top of Pendle Hill, in
Yorkshire, in the Saxon times. The picture which he draws we in Canada
can realize with great perfectness. "Could a curious observer of the
present day," he says, "carry himself nine or ten centuries back, and
ranging the summit of Pendle, survey the forked vale of Calder on one
side and the bolder margins of Ribble and Hodder on the other, instead
of populous towns and villages, the castles, the old tower-built house,
the elegant modern mansion, the artificial plantation, the enclosed park
and pleasure-ground, instead of uninterrupted enclosures which have
driven sterility almost to the summit of the fells, how great then must
have been the contrast when, ranging either at a distance or immediately
beneath, his eye must have caught vast tracts of forest-ground,
stagnating with bog or darkened by native woods, where the wild ox, the
roe, the stag and the wolf, had scarcely learned the supremacy of man,
when, directing his view to the intermediate spaces, to the widening of
the valleys, or expanse of plains beneath, he could only have
distinguished a few insulated patches of culture, each encircling a
village of wretched cabins, among which would still be remarked one rude
mansion of wood, scarcely equal in comfort to a modern cottage, yet
there rising proudly eminent above the rest, where the Saxon lord,
surrounded by his faithful cotarii, enjoyed a rude and solitary
independence, having no superior but his sovereign."

This writer asks us to carry ourselves nine or ten centuries back, to
realize the picture which he has conceived. From the upland here in the
vicinity of Drynoch, less than half a century ago, gazing southwards
over the expanse thence to be commanded, we should have beheld a scene
closely resembling that which, as he supposed, was seen from the summit
of Pendle in the Saxon days; while at the present day we see everywhere,
throughout the same expanse, an approximation to the old mother-lands,
England, Ireland, and Scotland, in condition and appearance: in its
style of agriculture, and the character of its towns, villages, hamlets,
farm-houses, and country villas.

We now entered a region once occupied by a number of French military
refugees. During the revolution in France, at the close of the last
century, many of the devotees of the royalist cause passed over into
England, where, as elsewhere, they were known and spoken of as
_émigrés_. Amongst them were numerous officers of the regular army, all
of them, of course, of the noblesse order, or else, as the inherited
rule was, no commission in the King's service could have been theirs.
When now the royal cause became desperate, and they had suffered the
loss of all their worldly goods, the British Government of the day, in
its sympathy for the monarchical cause in France, offered them grants of
land in the newly organized province of Upper Canada.

Some of them availed themselves of the generosity of the British Crown.
Having been comrades in arms they desired to occupy a block of
contiguous lots. Whilst there was yet almost all western Canada to
choose from, by some chance these Oak Ridges, especially difficult to
bring under cultivation and somewhat sterile when subdued, were
preferred, partly perhaps through the influence of sentiment; they may
have discovered some resemblance to regions familiar to themselves in
their native land. Or in a mood inspired and made fashionable by
Rousseau they may have longed for a lodge in some vast wilderness, where
the "mortal coil" which had descended upon the old society of Europe
should no longer harass them. When twitted by the passing wayfarer who
had selected land in a more propitious situation, they would point to
the gigantic boles of the surrounding pines in proof of the intrinsic
excellence of the soil below, which must be good, they said, to nourish
such a vegetation.

After all, however, this particular locality may have been selected
rather for them than by them. On the early map of 1798 a range of nine
lots on each side of Yonge Street, just here in the Ridges, is bracketed
and marked, "French Royalists: by order of his Honor," _i.e._, the
President, Peter Russell. A postscript to the _Gazetteer_ of 1799 gives
the reader the information that "lands have been appropriated in the
year of York as a refuge for some French Royalists, and their settlement
has commenced."

On the Vaughan side, No. 56 was occupied conjointly by Michel Saigeon
and Francis Reneoux; No. 57 by Julien le Bugle; No. 58 by René Aug.
Comte de Chalûs, Amboise de Farcy and Quetton St. George conjointly; No.
59 by Quetton St. George; No. 60 by Jean Louis Vicomte de Chalûs. In
King, No. 61 by René Aug. Comte de Chalûs and Augustin Boiton
conjointly. On the Markham side: No. 52 is occupied by the Comte de
Puisaye; No. 53 by René Aug. Comte de Chalûs; No. 54 by Jean Louis
Vicomte de Chalûs and René Aug. Comte de Chalûs conjointly; - No. 55 by
Jean Louis Vicomte de Chalûs; No. 66 by le Chevalier de Marseuil and
Michael Fauchard conjointly; No. 57 by the Chev. de Marseuil; No. 58 by
René Letourneaux, Augustin Boiton and J. L. Vicomte de Chalûs
conjointly; No. 59 by Quetton St. George and Jean Furon conjointly; No.
60 by Amboise de Farcy. In Whitchurch, No. 61 by Michel Saigeon.

After felling the trees in a few acres of their respective allotments,
some of these emigrés withdrew from the country. Hence in the Ridges was
to be seen here and there the rather unusual sight of abandoned
clearings returning to a state of nature.

The officers styled Comte and Vicomte de Chalûs derived their title from
the veritable domain and castle of Chalûs in Normandy, associated in the
minds of young readers of English History with the death of Richard
Coeur de Lion. Jean Louis de Chalûs, whose name appears on numbers 54
and in 55 Markham and on other lots, was a Major-General in the Royal
Army of Brittany. At the balls given by the Governor and others at York,
the jewels of Madame la Comtesse created a great sensation, wholly
surpassing everything of the kind that had hitherto been seen by the
ladies of Upper Canada. Amboise de Farcy, of No. 58 in Vaughan and No.
60 in Markham, had also the rank of General. Augustin Boiton, of No. 48
in Markham and No. 61 in Vaughan, was a Lieutenant-Colonel.

The Comte de Puisaye, of No. 52 in Markham, figures conspicuously in the
contemporary accounts of the royalist struggle against the Convention.
He himself published in London in 1803 five octavo volumes of Memoirs,
justificatory of his proceedings in that contest. Carlyle in his "French
Revolution" speaks of de Puisaye's work, and, referring to the so-called
Calvados war, says that those who are curious in such matters may read
therein "how our Girondin National forces, _i.e._, the Moderates,
marching off with plenty of wind music, were drawn out about the old
château of Brécourt, in the wood-country near Vernon (in Brittany), to
meet the Mountain National forces (the Communist) advancing from Paris.
How on the fifteenth afternoon of July, 1793, they did meet: - and, as it
were, shrieked mutually, and took mutually to flight, without loss. How
Puisaye thereafter, - for the Mountain Nationals fled first, and we
thought ourselves the victors, - was roused from his warm bed in the
Castle of Brécourt and had to gallop without boots; our Nationals in the
night watches having fallen unexpectedly into _sauve qui peut_."

Carlyle alludes again to this misadventure, when approaching the subject
of the Quiberon expedition, two years later, towards the close of La
Vendée war. Affecting for the moment a prophetic tone, in his peculiar
way Carlyle proceeds thus, introducing at the close of his sketch de
Puisaye once more, who was in command of the invading force spoken of,
although not undividedly so. "In the month of July, 1795, English
ships," he says, "will ride in Quiberon roads. There will be debarkation
of chivalrous _ci-devants_, (_i.e._ ex-noblesse), of volunteer prisoners
of war - eager to desert; of fire-arms, proclamations, clothes chests,
royalists, and specie. Whereupon also, on the Republican side, there
will be rapid stand-to arms; with ambuscade-marchings by Quiberon beach
at midnight; storming of Fort Penthièvre; war-thunder mingling with the
roar of the mighty main; and such a morning light as has seldom dawned;
debarkation hurled back into its boats, or into the devouring billows,
with wreck and wail; - in one word, a _ci-devant_ Puisaye as totally
ineffectual here as he was at Calvados, when he rode from Vernon Castle
without boots."

The impression which Carlyle gives of M. de Puisaye is not greatly
bettered by what M. de Lamartine says of him in the _History of the
Girondists_, when speaking of him in connexion with the affair near the
Château of Brécourt. He is there ranked with adventurers rather than
heroes. "This man," de Lamartine says, "was at once an orator, a
diplomatist, and a soldier, - a character eminently adapted for civil
war, which produces more adventurers than heroes." De Lamartine
describes how, prior to the repulse at Château Brécourt, "M. de Puisaye
had passed a whole year concealed in a cavern in the midst of the
forests of Brittany, where, by his manoeuvres and correspondence he
kindled the fire of revolt against the republic." He professed to act in
the interest of the moderates, believing that, through his influence,
they would at last be induced to espouse heartily the cause of
constitutional royalty.

Thiers, in his "History of the French Revolution," vii. 146, speaks in
respectful terms of Puisaye. He says that "with great intelligence and
extraordinary skill in uniting the elements of a party, he combined
extreme activity of body and mind, and vast ambition:" and even after
Quiberon, Thiers says "it was certain that Puisaye had done all that lay
in his power." De Puisaye ended his days in England, in the
neighbourhood of London, in 1827. - In one of the letters of Mr. Surveyor
Jones we observe some of the improvements of the Oak Ridges spoken of as
"Puisaye's Town."

It is possibly to the settlement, then only in contemplation, of emigrés
here in the Oak Ridges of Yonge Street, that Burke alludes, when in his
Reflections on the French Revolution he says: "I hear that there are
considerable emigrations from France, and that many, quitting that
voluptuous climate and that seductive Circean liberty, have taken refuge
in the frozen regions, and under the British despotism, of Canada."

"The frozen regions of Canada," the great rhetorician's expression in
this place, has become a stereotyped phrase with declaimers. The reports
of the first settlers at Tadousac and Quebec made an indelible
impression on the European mind. To this day in transatlantic
communities, it is realized only to a limited extent that Canada has a
spring, summer and autumn as well as a winter, and that her skies wear
an aspect not always gloomy and inhospitable. "British despotism" is, of
course, ironically said, and means, in reality, British constitutional
freedom. (In some instances these Royalist officers appear to have
accepted commissions from the British Crown, and so to have become
nominally entitled to grants of land.)

There are some representatives of the original émigrés still to be met
with in the neighbourhood of the Oak Ridges; but they have not in every
instance continued to be seised of the lands granted in 1798. The Comte
de Chalûs, son of René Augustin, retains property here; but he resides
in Montreal.

An estate, however, at the distance of one lot eastward from Yonge
Street, in Whitchurch, is yet in the actual occupation of a direct
descendant of one of the first settlers in this region. Mr. Henry
Quetton St. George here engages with energy in the various operations of
a practical farmer, on land inherited immediately from his father, the
Chevalier de St. George, at the same time dispensing to his many friends
a refined hospitality. If at Glenlonely the circular turrets and pointed
roofs of the old French château are not to be seen, - what is of greater
importance, the amenities and gentle life of the old French château are
to be found. Moreover, by another successful enterprise added to
agriculture, the present proprietor of Glenlonely has brought it to pass
that the name of St. George is no longer suggestive, as in the first
instance it was, of wars in La Vendée and fightings on the Garonne and
Dordogne, but redolent in Canada, far and wide, only of vineyards in
Languedoc and of pleasant wines from across the Pyrenees.

A large group of superior farm buildings, formerly seen on the right
just after the turn which leads to Glenlonely, bore the graceful name of
Larchmere, - an appellation glancing at the mere or little lake within
view of the windows of the house: a sheet of water more generally known
as Lake Willcocks - so called from an early owner of the spot, Col.
Willcocks, of whom we have spoken in another section. Larchmere was for
some time the home of his great grandson, William Willcocks Baldwin. The
house has since been destroyed by fire.

Just beneath the surface of the soil on the borders of the lakelets of
the Ridges, was early noticed a plentiful deposit of white shell-marl,
resembling the substance brought up from the oozy floor of the Atlantic
in the soundings preparatory to laying the telegraph-cable. It was, in
fact, incipient chalk. It used to be employed in the composition of a
whitewash for walls and fences. It may since have been found of value as
a manure. In these quarters, as elsewhere in Canada, fine specimens of
the antlers of the Wapiti, or great American stag, were occasionally dug
up.

The summit level of the Ridges was now reached, the most elevated land
in this part of the basin of the St. Lawrence; a height, however, after
all, of only about eight hundred feet above the level of the sea. The
attention of the wayfarer was hereabout always directed to a small
stream, which the road crossed, flowing out of Lake Willcocks: and then
a short distance further on, he was desired to notice a slight swale or
shallow morass on the left. The stream in question, he was told, was the
infant Humber, just starting south for Lake Ontario; while the swale or
morass, he was assured, was a feeder of the east branch of the Holland
River, flowing north into Lake Simcoe.

Notwithstanding the comparative nearness to each other of the waters of
the Holland and the Humber, thus made visible to the eye, the earliest
project of a canal in these parts was, as has once before been observed,
for the connection, not of the Holland river and the Humber, but of the
Holland river and the Rouge or Nen. The Mississaga Indians attached
great importance to the Rouge and its valley as a link in one of their
ancient trails between Huron and Ontario; and they seem to have imparted
to the first white men their own notions on the subject. "It apparently
rises," says the _Gazetteer_ of 1799, speaking of the Rouge or Nen, "in
the vicinity of one of the branches of Holland's river, with which it
will probably, at some future period, be connected by a canal." A
"proposed canal" is accordingly here marked on one of the first
manuscript maps of Upper Canada.

Father St. Lawrence and Father Mississippi pour their streams - so
travellers assure us - from urns situated at no great distance apart.
Lake Itaska and its vicinity, just west of Lake Superior, possess a
charm for this reason. In like manner, to compare small things with
great, the particular quarter of the Ridges where the waters of the
Humber and the Holland used to be seen in near proximity to each other,
had always with ourselves a special interest. Two small lakes, called
respectively Lake Sproxton and Lake Simon, important feeders of the
Rouge, a little to the east of the Glenlonely property, are situated
very close to the streams that pass into the east branch of the Holland
river; so that the conjecture of the author of the _Gazetteer_ was a
good one. He says, "apparently the sources of the Rouge and Holland lie
near each other."

After passing the notable locality of the Ridges just spoken of, the
land began perceptibly to decline; and soon emerging from the confused
glens and hillocks and woods that had long on every side been hedging in
the view, we suddenly came out upon a brow where a wide prospect was
obtained, stretching far to the north, and far to the east and west.
From such an elevation the acres here and there denuded of their woods
by the solitary axemen could not be distinguished; accordingly, the
panorama presented here for many a year continued to be exactly that
which met the eyes of the first exploring party from York in 1793.

As we used to see it, it seemed in effect to be an unbroken forest; in
the foreground bold and billowy and of every variety of green; in the
middle distance assuming neutral, indistinct tints, as it dipped down
into what looked like a wide vale; then apparently rising by successive
gentle stages, coloured now deep violet, now a tender blue, up to the
line of the sky. In a depression in the far horizon, immediately in
front, was seen the silvery sheen of water. This, of course, was the
lake known since 1793 as Lake Simcoe; but previously spoken of by the
French sometimes as Lake Sinion or Sheniong; sometimes as Lake
Ouentironk, Ouentaron, and Toronto - the very name which is so familiar
to us now, as appertaining to a locality thirty miles southward of this
lake.

The French also in their own tongue sometimes designated it, perhaps for
some reason connected with fishing operations, _Lac aux Claies_, Hurdle
Lake. Thus in the _Gazetteer_ of 1799 we have "Simcoe Lake: formerly
Lake aux Claies, Ouentironk, Sheniong, situated between York and
Gloucester upon Lake Huron: it has a few small islands and several good
harbours." And again on another page of the same _Gazetteer_, we have
the article: "Toronto Lake (or Toronto): lake le Clie [_i. e._ Lac aux
Claies] was formerly so called by some: (others," the same article
proceeds to say, "called the chain of lakes from the vicinity of
Matchedash towards the head of the Bay of Quinté, the Toronto lakes and
the communication from the one to the other was called the Toronto
river:" whilst in another place in the _Gazetteer_ we have the
information given us that the Humber was also styled the Toronto river,
thus: "Toronto river, called by some St. John's; now called the
Humber.")

The region of which we here obtained a kind of Pisgah view, where

"The bursting prospect spreads immense around"

on the northern brow of the Ridges, is a classic one, renowned in the
history of the Wyandots or Hurons, and in the early French missionary
annals.

It did not chance to enter into the poet Longfellow's plan to lay the
scene of any portion of his song of Hiawatha so far to the eastward; and
the legends gathered by him

From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the mountains, moors and fenlands,
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes -

tell of an era just anterior to the period when this district becomes
invested with interest for us. Francis Parkman, however, in an agreeably
written work, entitled "The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth
Century," has dwelt somewhat at length on the history of this locality,
which is the well-peopled Toronto region, _lieu où il y a beaucoup de
gens_, of which we have formerly spoken. (p. 74.)

In the early Reports of the Jesuit fathers themselves, too, this area
figures largely. They, in fact, constructed a map, which must have led
the central mission-board of their association, at Rome, to believe that
this portion of Western Canada was as thickly strewn with villages and
towns as a district of equal area in old France. In the "Chorographia
Regionis Huronum," attached to Father du Creux's Map of New France, of
the date 1660, given in Bressani's Abridgment of "the Relations," we
have the following places conspicuously marked as stations or
sub-missions in the peninsula bounded by Notawasaga bay, Matchedash or
Sturgeon bay, the river Severn, Lake Couchichin, and Lake Simcoe,
implying population in and round each of them: - St. Xavier, St. Charles,



Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 46 of 59)