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Toronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario online

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St. Louis, St. Ignatius, St. Denis, St. Joachim, St. Athanasius, St.
Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Michael, La
Conception, St. Mary Magdalene, and others.

(In Schoolcraft's American Indians, p. 130, ed. 1851, the scene of the
story of Aingodon and Naywadaha is laid at Toronto, by which a spot
near Lake Simcoe seems to be meant, and not the trading-post of Toronto
on Lake Ontario.)

But we must push on. The end of our journey is in sight. The impediments
to our advance have been innumerable, but unavoidable. In spite of
appearances, "Semper ad eventum festina," has all along been secretly
goading us forward.

The farmhouses and their surroundings in the Quaker settlement through
which, after descending from the Ridges on the northern side, we passed,
came to be notable at an early date for a characteristic neatness,
completeness, and visible judiciousness; and for an air of enviable
general comfort and prosperity. The farmers here were emigrants chiefly
from Pennsylvania. Coming from a quarter where large tracts had been
rapidly transformed by human toil from a state of nature to a condition
of high cultivation, they brought with them an inherited experience in
regard to such matters; and on planting themselves down in the midst of
an unbroken wild, they regarded the situation with more intelligence
perhaps than the ordinary emigrant from the British Islands and interior
of Germany, and so, unretarded by blunders and by doubts as to the
issue, were enabled very speedily to turn their industry to profitable

The old _Gazetteer_ of 1799 speaks in an exalted sentimental strain of
an emigration then going on from the United States into Canada. "The
loyal peasant," it says, "sighing after the government he lost by the
late revolution, travels from Pennsylvania in search of his former laws
and protection; and having his expectations fulfilled by new marks of
favour from the Crown in a grant of lands, he turns his plough at once
into these fertile plains [the immediate reference is to the
neighbourhood of Woodhouse on Lake Erie], and an abundant crop reminds
him of his gratitude to his God and to his king."

We do not know for certain whether the Quaker settlers of the region
north of the Ridges came into Canada under the influence of feelings
exactly such as those described by the _Gazetteer_ of 1799. In 1806,
however, we find them coming forward in a body to congratulate a new
Lieutenant-Governor on his arrival in Upper Canada. In the _Gazette_ of
Oct. 4, 1806, we read: "On Tuesday, the 30th September (1806), the
following address from the Quakers residing on Yonge Street was
presented to his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor: "The Society of the
people called Quakers, to Francis Gore, Governor of Upper Canada,
sendeth greeting. Notwithstanding we are a people who hold forth to the
world a principle which in many respects differs from the greater part
of mankind, yet we believe it our reasonable duty, as saith the Apostle,
'Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake,
whether it be the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that
are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of
them that do well:' in this we hope to be his humble and peaceful
subjects. Although we cannot for conscience sake join with many of our
fellow-mortals in complimentary customs of man, neither in taking up the
sword in order to shed human blood - for the Scripture saith that 'it is
righteousness that exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any
people' - we feel concerned for thy welfare and the prosperity of the
province, hoping thy administration may be such as to be a terror to the
evil-minded and a pleasure to them that do well: then will the province
flourish and prosper under thy direction; which is the earnest desire
and prayer of thy sincere friends. - Read and approved in Yonge Street
monthly meeting, held the 18th day of the ninth month, 1806. Timothy
Rogers and Amos Armitage are appointed to attend on the Governor
therewith." Signed by order of the said meeting, Nathaniel Pearson,

To this address, characteristic alike in the peculiar syntax of its
sentences and in the well-meant platitudes to which it gives expression,
his Excellency was pleased to return the following answer: "I return you
my thanks for your dutiful address and for your good wishes for my
welfare and prosperity of this province. I have no doubt of your proving
peaceful and good subjects to his Majesty, as well as industrious and
respectable members of society. I shall at all times be happy to afford
to such persons my countenance and support. Francis Gore,
Lieut.-Governor. Government House, York, Upper Canada, 30th Sept.,

The Timothy Rogers here named bore a leading part in the first
establishment of the Quaker settlement. He and Jacob Lundy were the two
original managers of its affairs. On the arrival of Governor Peter
Hunter, predecessor to Gov. Gore, Timothy Rogers and Jacob Lundy with a
deputation from the settlement, came into town to complain to him of the
delay which they and their co-religionists had experienced in obtaining
the patents for their lands.

Governor Hunter, who was also Commander-in-Chief and a Lieut.-General in
the army, received them in the garrison, and after hearing how on coming
to York on former occasions they had been sent about from one office to
another for a reply to their inquiries about the patents, he requested
them to come to him again the next day at noon. Orders were at the same
instant despatched to Mr. D. W. Smith, the Surveyor-General, to Mr.
Small, Clerk of the Executive Council, to Mr. Burns, Clerk of the Crown,
and to Mr. Jarvis, Secretary and Registrar of the Province (all of whom
it appeared at one time or another had failed to reply satisfactorily to
the Quakers), to wait at the same hour on the Lieut.-Governor, bringing
with them, each respectively, such papers and memoranda as might be in
their possession, having relation to patents for lands in Whitchurch and

Governor Hunter had a reputation for considerable severity of character;
and all functionaries, from the judge on the bench to the humblest
employé, held office in those days very literally during pleasure.

"These gentlemen complain," - the personages above enumerated having duly
appeared, together with the deputation from Yonge Street - "These
gentlemen complain," the Governor said, pointing to the Quakers, "that
they cannot get their patents."

Each of the official personages present offered in succession some
indistinct observations; expressive it would seem of a degree of regret,
and hinting exculpatory reasons, so far as he individually was

On closer interrogation, one thing however came out very clear, that the
order for the patents was more than twelve months old.

At length the onus of blame seemed to settle down on the head of the
Secretary and Registrar, Mr. Jarvis, who could only say that really the
pressure of business in his office was so great that he had been
absolutely unable, up to the present moment, to get ready the particular
patents referred to.

"Sir!" was the Governor's immediate rejoinder, "if they are not
forthcoming, every one of them, and placed in the hands of these
gentlemen here in my presence at noon on Thursday next (it was now
Tuesday), by George! I'll un-Jarvis you!" - implying, as we suppose, a
summary congé as Secretary and Registrar.

It is needless to say that Mr. Rogers and his colleagues of the
deputation carried back with them to Whitchurch lively accounts of the
vigour and rigour of the new Governor - as well as their patents.

General Hunter was very peremptory in his dismissals occasionally. In a
_Gazette_ of July 16, 1803, is to be seen an ominous announcement that
the Governor is going to be very strict with the Government clerks in
regard to hours: "Lieut.-Governor's office, 21st June, 1803. Notice is
hereby given that regular attendance for the transaction of the public
business of the Province will in future be given at the office of the
Secretary of the Province, the Executive Council office, and the
Surveyor-General's office, every day in the year (Sundays, Good Friday,
and Christmas day only excepted) from ten o'clock in the morning until
three in the afternoon, and from five o'clock in the afternoon until
seven in the evening. By order of the Lieutenant-Governor, Jas. Green,

Soon after the appearance of this notice, it happened one forenoon that
young Alexander Macnab, a clerk in one of the public offices, was
innocently watching the Governor's debarkation from a boat, preparatory
to his being conveyed up to the Council-chamber in a sedan-chair which
was in waiting for him. The youth suddenly caught his Excellency's eye,
and was asked - "What business he had to be there? Did he not belong to
the Surveyor-General's office? Sir! your services are no longer

For this same young Macnab, thus summarily dismissed, Governor Hunter,
we have been told, procured subsequently a commission. He attained the
rank of captain and met a soldier's fate on the field of Waterloo, the
only Upper Canadian known to have been engaged or to have fallen in that
famous battle. (We have before mentioned that so late as 1868, Captain
Macnab's Waterloo medal was presented, by the Duke of Cambridge
personally, to the Rev. Dr. Macnab, of Bowmanville, nephew of the
deceased officer.)

Two stray characteristic items relating to Governor Hunter may here be
subjoined. The following was his brief reply to the Address of the
Inhabitants of York on his arrival there in 1799: - "Gentlemen, nothing
that is in my power shall be wanting to contribute to the happiness and
welfare of this colony." (_Gazette_, Aug. 24, 1799) - At Niagara, an
Address from "the mechanics and husbandmen" was refused by him, on the
ground that an address professedly from the inhabitants generally had
been presented already. On this, the _Constellation_ of Sep. 10 (1799),
prints the following "anecdote," which is a hit at Gov. Hunter.
"Anecdote. - When Governor Simcoe arrived at Kingston on his way here to
take upon him the government of the Province, the magistrates and
gentlemen of that town presented him with a very polite address. It was
politely and verbally answered. The inhabitants of the country and town,
who move not in the upper circles, presented theirs. And this also his
Excellency very politely answered, and the answer being in writing, is
carefully preserved to this day."

Among the patents carried home by Mr. Timothy Rogers, above named, were
at least seven in which he was more or less personally interested. His
own lot was 95 on the west or King side of Yonge Street. Immediately in
front of him on the Whitchurch or east side, on lots 91, 92, 93, 94, 95,
and 96, all in a row, were enjoyed by sons or near relatives of his,
bearing the names respectively of Rufus Rogers, Asa Rogers, Isaac
Rogers, Wing Rogers, James Rogers, and Obadiah Rogers.

Mr. Lundy's name does not appear among those of the original patentees;
but lots or portions of lot in the "Quaker Settlement" are marked at an
earlier period with the names of Shadrach Lundy, Oliver Lundy, Jacob
Lundy, Reuben Lundy, and perhaps more.

In the region just beyond the Ridges there were farmers also of the
community known as Mennonists or Tunkers. Long beards, when such
appendages were rarities, dangling hair, antique-shaped, buttonless,
home-spun coats, and wide-brimmed low-crowned hats, made these persons
conspicuous in the street. On the seat of a loaded country-waggon, or on
the back of a solitary rustic nag, would now and then be seen a man of
this community, who might pass for John Huss or John á Lasco, as
represented in the pictures. It was always curious to gaze upon these
waifs and strays from old Holland, perpetuating, or at least trying to
perpetuate, on a new continent, customs and notions originating in the
peculiar circumstances of obscure localities in another hemisphere three
hundred years ago.

Simon Menno, the founder and prophet of the Mennonists, was a native of
Friesland in 1496. He advocated the utmost rigour of life. Although
there are, as we are informed, modernized Mennonists now in Holland, at
Amsterdam, for example, who are distinguished for luxury in their
tables, their equipages and their country seats, yet a sub-section of
the community known as Uke-Wallists, from one Uke Walles, adhere to the
primitive strictness enjoined by Menno. Their apparel, we are told, is
mean beyond expression, and they avoid everything that has the most
distant appearance of elegance or ornament. They let their beards grow
to an enormous length; their hair, uncombed, lies in a disorderly manner
on their shoulders; their countenances are marked with the strongest
lines of dejection and melancholy; and their habitations and household
furniture are such as are only fitted to answer the demands of mere
necessity. "We shall not enlarge," Mosheim adds, "upon the circumstances
of their ritual, but only observe that they prevent all attempts to
alter or modify their religious discipline, by preserving their people
from everything that bears the remotest aspect of learning and science;
from whatever, in a word, that may have a tendency to enlighten their
devout ignorance."

The sympathies of our primitive Tunkers beyond the Ridges, were, as we
may suppose, with this section of the fatherland Mennonists.

Thus, to get the clue to social phenomena which we see around us here in
Canada, we have to concern ourselves occasionally with uninviting pages,
not only of Irish, Scottish and English religious history, but of German
and Netherlandish religious history likewise. Pity 'tis, in some
respects, that on a new continent our immigrants could not have made a
_tabula rasa_ of the past, and taken a start _de novo_ on another
level - a higher one; on a new gauge - a widened one.

Though only a minute fraction of our population, an exception was early
made by the local parliament in favour of the Mennonists or Tunkers,
allowing them to make affirmations in the Courts, like the Quakers, and
to compound for military service. - Like Lollard, Quaker and some other
similar terms, Tunker, _i. e._ Dipper, was probably at first used in a
spirit of ridicule.

_Digression to Newmarket and Sharon._

When Newmarket came in view off to the right, a large portion of the
traffic of the street turned aside for a certain distance out of the
straight route to the north, in that direction.

About this point the ancient dwellers at York used to take note of signs
that they had passed into a higher latitude. Half a degree to the south
of their homes - at Niagara, for example - they were in the land, if not
of the citron and myrtle, certainly of the tulip-tree and pawpaw - where
the edible chestnut grew plentifully in the natural woods, and the peach
luxuriantly flourished.

Now, half a degree the other way, in the tramontane region north of the
Ridges, they found themselves in the presence of a vegetation that spoke
of an advance, however minute, towards the pole. Here, all along the
wayside, beautiful specimens of the spruce-pine and balsam-fir,
strangers in the forest about York, were encountered. Sweeping the sward
with their drooping branches and sending up their dark green spires high
in the air, these trees were always regarded with interest, and desired
as graceful objects worthy to be transferred to the lawn or ornamental

A little way off the road, on the left, just before the turn leading to
Newmarket, was the great Quaker meeting-house of this region - the
"Friends' Meeting-house" - a building of the usual plain cast, generally
seen with its solid shutters closed up. This was the successor of the
first Quaker meeting-house in Upper Canada. Here Mr. Joseph John Gurney,
the eminent English Quaker, who travelled on this continent in 1837-40,
delivered several addresses, with a view especially to the re-uniting,
if possible, of the Orthodox and the Hicksites.

Gourlay, in his "Statistical Account of Upper Canada," took note that
this Quaker meeting-house and a wooden chapel at Hogg's Hollow,
belonging to the Church of England, were the only two places of public
worship to be seen on Yonge Street between York and the Holland
Landing - a distance, he says, of nearly forty miles. This was in 1817.

Following now the wheel-marks of clearly the majority of vehicles
travelling on the street, we turn aside to Newmarket.

Newmarket had for its germ or nucleus the mills and stores of Mr. Elisha
Beaman, who emigrated hither from the State of New York in 1806. Here
also, on the branch of the Holland river, mills at an early date were
established by Mr. Mordecai Millard, and tanneries by Mr. Joseph Hill.
Mr. Beaman's mills became subsequently the property of Mr. Peter
Robinson, who was Commissioner of Crown Lands in 1827, and one of the
representatives of the united counties of York and Simcoe; and
afterwards, the property of his brother, Mr. W. B. Robinson, who for a
time resided here, and for a number of years represented the County of
Simcoe in the provincial parliament. Most gentlemen travelling north or
to the north-west brought with them, from friends in York, a note of
commendation to Mr. Robinson, whose friendly and hospitable disposition
were well known:

"Fast by the road his ever-open door
Oblig'd the wealthy and reliev'd the poor."

Governors, Commodores, and Commanders-in-chief, on their tours of
pleasure or duty, were glad to find a momentary resting-place at a
refined domestic fireside. Here Sir John Franklin was entertained for
some days in 1835: and at other periods, Sir John Ross and Capt. Back,
when on their way to the Arctic regions.

In 1847, Mr. W. B. Robinson was Commissioner of Public Works; and, at a
later period, one of the Chief Commissioners of the Canada Company. Mr.
Peter Robinson was instrumental in settling the region in which our
Canadian Peterborough is situated, and from him that town has its name.

At Newmarket was long engaged in prosperous business Mr. John Cawthra, a
member of the millionaire family of that name. Mr. John Cawthra was the
first representative in the Provincial Parliament of the County of
Simcoe, after the separation from the County of York. In 1812, Mr. John
Cawthra and his brother Jonathan were among the volunteers who offered
themselves for the defence of the country. Though by nature inclined to
peace, they were impelled to this by a sincere sense of duty. At
Detroit, John assisted in conveying across the river in scows the heavy
guns which were expected to be wanted in the attack on the Fort. On the
slopes at Queenston, Jonathan had a hair-breadth escape. At the
direction of his officer, he moved from the rear to the front of his
company, giving place to a comrade, who the following instant had a
portion of his leg carried away by a shot from Fort Gray, on the
opposite side of the river. Also at Queenston, John, after personally
cautioning Col. Macdonell against rashly exposing himself, as he seemed
to be doing, was called on a few minutes afterwards, to aid in carrying
that officer to the rear, mortally wounded.

With Newmarket too is associated the name of Mr. William Roe, a merchant
there since 1814, engaged at one time largely in the fur-trade. It was
Mr. Roe who saved from capture a considerable portion of the public
funds, when York fell into the hands of General Dearborn and Commodore
Chauncey in 1813. Mr. Roe was at the time an employé in the office of
the Receiver General, Prideaux Selby; and by the order of General
Sheaffe and the Executive Council he conveyed three bags of gold and a
large sum in army-bills to the farm of Chief Justice Robinson, on the
Kingston road east of the Don bridge, and there buried them.

The army-bills were afterwards delivered up to the enemy; but the gold
remained secreted until the departure of the invaders, and was handed
over to the authorities in Dr. Strachan's parlour by Mr. Roe. The
Receiver General's iron chest was also removed by Mr. Roe and deposited
in the premises of Mr. Donald McLean, Clerk of the House of Assembly.
Mr. McLean was killed while bravely opposing the landing of the
Americans, and his house was plundered; the strong chest was broken open
and about one thousand silver dollars were taken therefrom.

The name of Mr. Roe's partner at Newmarket, Mr. Andrew Borland, is
likewise associated with the taking of York in 1813. He was made
prisoner in the fight, and in the actual struggle against capture he
received six severe rifle wounds, from the effects of which he never
wholly recovered. He had also been engaged at Queenston and Detroit.

In the Report of the Loyal and Patriotic Society of Upper Canada, we
have an entry made of a donation of sixty dollars to Mr. Andrew Borland
on the 11th June, 1813, with the note appended: "The committee of the
Loyal and Patriotic Society voted this sum to Mr. Borland for his
patriotic and eminent services at Detroit, Queenston and York, at which
latter place he was severely wounded."

We also learn from the Report that Mr. D'Arcy Boulton had presented a
petition to the Society in favour of Mr. Borland. The members of
committee present at the meeting held June 11th, 1813, were Rev. Dr.
Strachan, chairman, Wm. Chewett, Esq., Wm. Allan, Esq., John Small,
Esq., and Alex. Wood, Esq., secretary: and the minutes state that "The
petition of D'Arcy Boulton, Esq., a member of the Society, in favour of
Andrew Borland, was taken into consideration, and the sum of Sixty
Dollars was voted to him, on account of his patriotic and eminent
services at Detroit, Queenston and York, at which latter place he was
most severely wounded." Mr. Borland had been a clerk in Mr. Boulton's
store. In the order to pay the money, signed by Alexander Wood, Mr.
Borland is styled "a volunteer in the York Militia." He afterwards had a
pension of Twenty Pounds a year.

In 1838 his patriotic ardour was not quenched. During the troubles of
that period he undertook the command of 200 Indians who had volunteered
to fight in defence of the rights of the Crown of England, if there
should be need. They were stationed for a time at the Holland Landing,
but their services were happily not required.

From being endowed with great energy of character, and having also a
familiar knowledge of the native dialects, Mr. Borland had great
influence with the Indian tribes frequenting the coasts of Lakes Huron
and Simcoe. Mr. Roe likewise, in his dealings with the aborigines, had
acquired a considerable facility in speaking the Otchibway dialect, and
had much influence among the natives.

Let us not omit to record, too, that at Newmarket, not very many years
since, was successfully practising a grandson of Sir William Blackstone,
the commentator on the Laws of England - Mr. Henry Blackstone, whose
conspicuous talents gave promise of an eminence in his profession not
unworthy of the name he bore. But his career was cut short by death.

The varied character of colonial society, especially in its early crude
state, the living elements mixed up in it, and the curious changes and
interchanges that take place in the course of its development and
consolidation, receive illustrations from ecclesiastical as well as
civil annals.

We ourselves remember the church-edifice of the Anglican communion at
Newmarket when it was an unplastered, unlathed clap-board shell, having
repeatedly officiated in it while in that stage of its existence. Since
then the congregation represented by this clap-board shell have had as
pastors men like the following: a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin,
not undistinguished in his University, a protégé of the famous
Archbishop Magee, a co-worker for a time of the distinguished Dr. Walter
Farquhar Hook, of Leeds, and minister of one of the modern churches
there - the Rev. Robert Taylor, afterwards of Peterborough here in
Canada. And since his incumbency, they have been ministered to by a
former vicar of a prominent church in London, St. Michael's, Burleigh
Street, a dependency of St. Martin's in Trafalgar Square - the Rev.
Septimus Ramsay, who was also long the chief secretary and manager of a
well-known Colonial Missionary Society which had its headquarters in

While, on the other hand, an intervening pastor of the same
congregation, educated for the ministry here in Canada and admitted to
Holy Orders here, was transferred from Newmarket first to the vicarage
of Somerton in Somersetshire, England, and, secondly, to the rectory of

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 47 of 59)