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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Clenchwarden in the county of Norfolk in England - the Rev. R. Athill.
And another intervening incumbent was, after having been also trained
for the ministry and admitted to orders here in Canada, called
subsequently to clerical work in the United States, being finally
appointed one of the canons of the cathedral church at Chicago, by
Bishop Whitehouse of Illinois: this was the Rev. G. C. Street, a near
relative of the distinguished English architect of that name, designer
and builder of the New Law Courts in London.

As to the name "Newmarket" - in its adoption there was no desire to set
up in Canada a memorial of the famous English Cambridgeshire racing
town. The title chosen for the place was an announcement to this effect:
"Here is an additional mart for the convenience of an increased
population: a place where farmers and others may purchase and exchange
commodities without being at the trouble of a journey to York or
elsewhere." The name of the Canadian Newmarket, in fact, arose as
probably that of the English Newmarket itself arose, when first
established as a newly-opened place of trade for the primitive farmers
and others of East Anglia and Mercia in the Anglo-Saxon period.

It deserves to be added that the English church at Newmarket was, a few
years back, to some extent endowed by a generous gift of valuable land
made by Dr. Beswick, a bachelor medical man, whose large white house on
a knoll by the wayside was always noted by the traveller from York as he
turned aside from Yonge Street for Newmarket.

Proceeding onwards now from Newmarket, we speedily come to the village
of Sharon (or Hope as it was once named), situated also off the direct
northern route of Yonge Street.

David Willson, the great notability and founder of the place, had been
in his younger days a sailor, and, as such, had visited the Chinese
ports. After joining the Quakers, he taught for a time amongst them as a
schoolmaster. For some proceeding of his, or for some peculiarity of
religious opinion, difficult to define, he was cut off from the Hicksite
sub-division of the Quaker body. He then began the formation of a
denomination of his own. In the bold policy of giving to his personal
ideas an outward embodiment in the form of a conspicuous Temple, he
anticipated the shrewd prophets of the Mormons, Joseph and Hiram Smith.
Willson's building was erected about 1825. Nauvoo was not commenced
until the spring of 1840.

In a little pamphlet published at Philadelphia in 1815, Willson gives
the following account of himself: "I, the writer," he says, "was born of
Presbyterian parents in the county of Dutchess, state of New York, in
North America. In 1801 I removed with my family into this province
(Upper Canada), and after a few years became a member of the Society of
the Quakers at my own request, as I chose a spiritual people for my
brethren and sisters in religion. But after I had been a member thereof
about seven years, I began to speak something of my knowledge of God or
a Divine Being in the heart, soul or mind of man, all which signifies
the same to my understanding, - but my language was offensive, my spirit
was abhorred, my person was disdained, my company was forsaken by my
brethren and sisters. After which I retired from the society and was
disowned by them for so doing; but several retired with me and were
disowned also, because they would not unite in the disowning and
condemning the fruits of my spirit; for, as I had been accounted a
faithful member of the society for many years, they did not like to be
hasty in condemnation. Therefore we became a separate people, and
assembled ourselves together under a separate order which I immediately
formed. After I retired from my former meetings - as our discipline led
to peace with all people more than any one in my knowledge - we called
ourselves Children of Peace, because we were but young therein."

The following account of the Temple erected by Willson at Sharon is by a
visitor to the village in 1835. "The building," says Mr. Patrick
Shirreff in his "Tour through North America," published in Edinburgh in
1835, "is of wood painted white externally, seventy feet high; and
consists of three storeys. The first is sixty feet square, with a door
in the centre of each side and three large windows on each side of the
door. On two sides there is a representation of the setting sun and the
word 'Armageddon' inscribed below. The second storey is twenty-seven
feet square with three windows on each side; and the third storey nine
feet square with one window on each side.

"The corners of each of the storeys are terminated by square lanterns,
with gilded mountings; and the termination of the building is a gilded
ball of considerable size. The interior was filled with wooden chairs
placed round sixteen pillars, in the centre of which is a square cabinet
of black walnut with a door and windows on each side. There was a table
in the centre of the cabinet covered with black velvet, hung with
crimson merino and fringe, in which was deposited a Bible. On the four
central pillars were painted the words Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love;
and on the twelve others, the names of the Apostles. The central pillars
seemed to support the second storey; and at the foot of each was a table
covered with green cloth. The house was without ornament, being painted
fawn, green and white; and had not a pulpit or place for addressing an
audience. It is occupied once a month for collecting charity; and
contains 2,952 panes of glass, and is lighted once a year with 116

The materials of the frame-work of the Temple were, as we have been
told, prepared at a distance from the site, and run rapidly up as far as
possible without noise, in imitation of the building of Solomon's
Temple. By the side of the principal edifice stood a structure 100 feet
by 50 feet, used for ordinary meetings on Sundays. On the first Friday
in September used to be an annual feast, when the Temple was
illuminated. In this was an organ built by Mr. Coates of York.

David was an illiterate mystic, as his writings shew, in which, when the
drift of his maundering is made out, there is nothing new or remarkable
to be discerned.

At the close of the war of 1812-13-14, he appears to have been under the
impression that the Government designed to banish him as a seditious
person, under c. 1. 44 Geo. III. He accordingly published a document
deprecating such action. It was thus headed: "Address to thy Crown, O
England, and thy great name. I write as follows to all the inhabitants
thereof." In the course of it he says: "After I have written, I will
leave God to judge between you and me; and also to make judges of you,
whether you will receive my ministry in your land in peace, yea or nay.
. . . Ye are great indeed. I cannot help that, neither do I want to; but
am willing ye should remain great in the sight of God, although I am but
small therein, in the things thereof. Now choose whether I should or
might be your servant in these things, yea or nay. As I think, it would
be a shame for a minister to be banished from your nation for preaching
the gospel of peace therein. I am a man," he continues, "under the
visitation of God's power in your land; and many scandalous reports are
in circulation against me. The intent of the spirit of the thing is to
put me to flight from your dominions, or that I should be imprisoned
therein. For which cause I, as a dutiful subject, make myself known
hereby unto you of great estate in the world, lest your minds should be
affected and stirred up against me without a cause by your inferiors,
who seek to do evil to the works of God, whenever the Almighty is trying
to do you good."

In some verses of the same date as this address to the home authorities,
viz., 1815, he refers to the peril he supposed himself to be in. A
stanza or two will suffice as a specimen of his poetical productions,
which are all of the same Sternhold and Hopkins type, with the
disadvantage of great grammatical irregularity. Thus he sings: (The tone
of the _ci-devant_ Jack-tar is perhaps to be slightly detected.)

The powers of hell are now combin'd -
With war against me rage:
But in my God my soul's resigned -
The rock of every age, &c.

Some thou doth set in king's estate,
And some on earth must serve;
And some hath gold and silver plate,
When others almost starve, &c.

The earth doth hunger for my blood,
And Satan for my soul;
And men my flesh for daily food,
That they may me control, &c.

If God doth give what I receive
The same is due to thee;
And thou in spirit must believe
In gospel liberty, &c.

It's also mine, by George our king,
The ruler of my day;
And yet if I dishonour bring,
Cut short my feeble stay, &c.

For this is in your hearts to do,
Ye inferiors of the earth;
And it's in mine to do so too,
And stop that cursed birth, &c.

The style of a volume entitled "Impressions" - a kind of Alcoran, which
used formerly to be sold to visitors in the Temple - does not rise much
above the foregoing, either in its verse or prose.

What Mosheim says of Menno's books, may be said with at least equal
truth of Willson's: "An extensively diffuse and rambling style, frequent
and unnecessary repetitions, an irregular and confused method, with
other defects of equal moment, render the perusal of the productions
highly disagreeable." Nevertheless, the reduction of his solitary
meditations to writing had, we may conceive, a pious operation and
effect on Willson's own spirit; and the perusal of them may, in the
simple-minded few who still profess to be his followers, have a like
operation and effect, even when in the reading constrained, with poor
monk Felix, to confess that, though believing, they do not understand.

The worthy man neither won martyrdom nor suffered exile; but lived on in
great worldly prosperity here in Sharon, reverenced by his adherents as
a sort of oracle, and flattered by attentions from successive political
leaders on account of the influence which he might be supposed locally
to possess - down to the year 1866, when he died in peace, aged
eighty-nine years and seven months.

Of Willson's periodical missionary expeditions into town, we have spoken
in another connection.

We return now to the great northern route, from which we have been
deviating, and hasten on with all speed to the Landing. We place
ourselves at the point on Yonge Street where we turned off to Newmarket.

Proceeding onward, we saw almost immediately, on the left, the
conspicuous dwelling of Mr. Irving - the Hon. Jacob Æmilius Irving, a
name historical in Canada, a Paulus Æmilius Irving having been
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in British America in 1765, and also
President for a time of the Province of Quebec. (This Paulus Æmilius
Irving had previously taken part under General Wolfe in the capture of

The house of his descendant, Jacob Æmilius Irving, here on Yonge Street,
was known as Bonshaw, from some ancient family property in
Dumfriesshire. He had been an officer in the 13th Light Dragoons, and
was wounded at Waterloo. In addition to many strongly-marked English
traits of character and physique, he possessed fine literary tastes, and
histrionic skill of a high order, favoured by the possession of a grand
barytone voice. He retained a professional liking for horses. A
four-in-hand, guided by himself, issuing from the gates at Bonshaw and
whirling along Yonge Street into town, was a common phenomenon. - He died
at the Falls of Niagara in 1856. Since 1843 Mr. Irving had been a member
of the Upper House of United Canada.

A little way back, ere we descended the northern slope of the Ridges we
caught sight, as we have narrated, of the Holland River, or at least of
some portion of the branch of it with which we are immediately
concerned - issuing, "a new-born rill," from one of its fountains.

As we traversed the Quaker settlement it was again seen, a brook
meandering through meadows. This was the eastern branch of the river.
The main stream lies off to the west, flowing past the modern Bradford
and Lloydtown. It is at the head of the main stream that the most
striking approximation of the waters of the Humber and Holland rivers is
to be seen.

We arrive now at the Upper Landing, the ancient canoe-landing, and we
pause for a moment. Here it was that the war-parties and hunting-parties
embarked and disembarked, while yet these waters were unploughed by the
heavy boats of the white man.

The Iroquois from the south-side of Lake Ontario penetrated the
well-peopled region of the Hurons by several routes, as we have already
intimated: by the great Bay of Quinté highway; by the trails whose
termini on Lake Ontario were near respectively the modern Bowmanville
and Port Hope: and thirdly by a track which we have virtually been
following in this our long ramble from York; virtually, we say, for it
was to the west of Yonge Street that the trail ran, following first the
valley of the Humber and then that of the main stream of the Holland
river. The route which Mr. Holland took when he penetrated from Toronto
Bay to the head waters of the river which now bears his name, is marked
in the great MS. map which he constructed in 1791. He passed up
evidently along the great water-course of the Humber.

"You can pass from Lake Frontenac, _i. e._, Ontario," Lahontan says (ii.
23), "into Lake Huron by the River Tan-a-hou-até (the Humber), by a
portage of about twenty-four miles to Lake Toronto, which by a river of
the same name empties into Lake Huron," _i.e._ by the River Severn, as
we should now speak.

Hunting-parties or war-parties taking to the water here at the Upper
Landing, in the pre-historic period, would probably be just about to
penetrate the almost insular district, of which we have spoken, westward
of Lake Simcoe, - the Toronto region, the place of concourse, the
well-peopled region. But some of them might perhaps be making for the
Lake Huron country and North-west generally, by the established trail
having its terminus at or near Orillia (to use the modern name).

In the days of the white man, the old Indian place of embarkation and
debarkation on the Holland river, acquired the name of the Upper
Canoe-landing; and hither the smaller craft continued to proceed.

Vessels of deeper draught lay at the Lower Landing, to which we now move
on, about a mile and a half further down the stream. Here the river was
about twenty-five yards wide, the banks low and bordered by a woody
marsh, in which the tamarac or larch was a conspicuous tree.

In a cleared space on the right, at the point where Yonge Street struck
the stream, there were some long low buildings of log with strong
shutters on the windows, usually closed. These were the Government
depositories of naval and military stores, and Indian presents, on their
way to Penetanguishene. The cluster of buildings here was once known as
Fort Gwillimbury. Thus we have it written in the old _Gazetteer_ of
1799: "It is thirty miles from York to Holland river, at the Pine Fort
called Gwillimbury, where the road ends."

Galt, in his Autobiography, speaks of this spot. He travelled from York
to Newmarket in one day. This was in 1827. "Then next morning," he says,
"we went forward to a place on the Holland river, called Holland's
Landing, an open space which the Indians and fur-traders were in the
habit of frequenting. It presented to me," he adds, "something of a
Scottish aspect in the style of the cottages; but instead of mountains
the environs were covered with trees. We embarked at this place." He was
on his way to Goderich at the time, via Penetanguishene.

The river Holland, at which we have so long been labouring to arrive,
had its name from a former surveyor-general of the Province of Quebec,
prior to the setting-off of the Province of Upper Canada - Major S.

In the _Upper Canada Gazette_ of Feb. 13, 1802, we have an obituary
notice of this official personage. His history also, it will be
observed, was mixed up with that of General Wolfe. "Died," the obituary
says, "on the 28th instant (that is, on the 28th of December, 1801, the
article being copied from the _Quebec Gazette_ of the 31st of the
preceding December), of a lingering illness, which he bore for many
years with Christian patience and resignation, Major S. Holland.

"He had been in his time," the brief memoir proceeds to say, "an
intrepid, active, and intelligent officer, never making difficulties,
however arduous the duty he was employed in. He was an excellent
field-engineer, in which capacity he was employed in the year 1758 at
the siege of Louisbourg in the detachment of the army under General
Wolfe, who after silencing the batteries that opposed our entrance into
the harbour, and from his own setting fire to three ships of the line,
and obliging the remainder in a disabled state to haul out of cannon
shot, that great officer by a rapid and unexpected movement took post
within four hundred yards of the town, from whence Major Holland, under
his directions, carried on the approaches, destroyed the defences of the
town, and making a practicable breach, obliged the enemy to capitulate.
He distinguished himself also at the conquest of Quebec in 1759, and was
made honourable mention of in Gen. Wolfe's will as a legatee. He also
distinguished himself in the defence of Quebec in 1760, after General
Murray's unsuccessful attack on the enemy. - After the peace he was
appointed Surveyor-General of this Province, and was usefully employed
in surveying the American coasts, from which survey those draughts
published some years since by Major Debarres have been principally

Major Holland was succeeded in the Surveyor-generalship of Lower Canada
by a nephew - the distinguished Colonel Joseph Bouchette. In 1791 Major
Holland constructed a map of the British Province of Quebec, on the
scale of six inches to the square mile. It exists in MS. in the Crown
Land Office of Ontario. It is a magnificent map. On it, Lake Simcoe is
left undefined on one side, not having been explored in 1791.

It was in 1832 that the project of a steamer for the Holland river and
Lake Simcoe was mooted. We give a document relating to this undertaking
which we find in the _Courier_ of Feb. 29, in that year, published at
York. The names of those who were willing to embark, however moderately,
in the enterprise are of interest. It will be observed that the
expenditure contemplated was not enormous. To modern speculators in any
direction, what a bagatelle seems the sum of £2,000!

"Steamboat on Lake Simcoe:" thus runs an advertisement in the _Courier_
of Feb. 29, 1832. "Persons who feel interested in the success of this
undertaking, are respectfully informed that Capt. McKenzie, late of the
_Alciope_, who has himself offered to subscribe one-fourth of the sum
required to build the proposed steamboat, is now at Buffalo for the
purpose of purchasing an Engine, to be delivered at Holland Landing
during the present winter. Capt. McKenzie, who visited Lake Simcoe last
summer, is of opinion that a boat of sufficient size and power for the
business of the Lake can be built for £1,250. In order, however, to
ensure success, it is proposed that stock to the amount of £2,000 should
be subscribed; and it is hoped that this sum will be raised without
delay, in order that the necessary steps may be taken, on the return of
Capt. McKenzie, to commence building the boat with the view to its
completion by the opening of the navigation. - The shares are Twelve
Pounds ten shillings each, payable to persons chosen by the
Stockholders. The following shares have been already taken up, viz.: The
Hon. Peter Robinson, 8 shares; F. Hewson, 1; Edw. O'Brien, 2; W. B.
Robinson, 4; W. R. Raines, 4; J. O. Bouchier, 2; Wm. Johnson, 2; John
Cummer, 1; T. Mossington, 2; A. M. Raines, 1; Robert Clark, 1; Robert
Johnston, 1; M. Mossington, 1; B. Jefferson, 1; J. M. Jackson, 1; R.
Oliver, 1; Wm. Turner, 2; L. Cameron, 1; F. Osborne, 2; J. Graham, 1; J.
White, 1; S. H. Farnsworth, 1; Andrew Mitchell, 5; Murray, Newbigging
and Co., 2; Capt. Creighton, 2; Captain McKenzie, 40; Canada Company, 8;
J. F. Smith, 2; John Powell, 1; Grant Powell, 2; A. Smalley, 1; Samuel
P. Jarvis, 1; James E. Small, 1; R. W. Parker, 1; D. Cameron, 1; Capt.
Castle, 79th Regt., 8; James Doyle, 2; Francis Phelps, East Gwillimbury,
1; G. Lount, West Gwillimbury, 1; Samuel Lount, West Gwillimbury, 1;
George Playter, Whitchurch, 1; Joseph Hewett, 1; Thomas A. Jebb, 2;
Charles S. Monck, Haytesbury, 1; G. Ridout, 2; T. G. Ridout, 1; Thomas
Radenhurst, 1; Major Barwick, 2; Capt. W. Campbell, 2; C. C. Small, 1;
J. Ketchum, 1; Capt. Davies, 2; Lieut. Carthew, 2; Capt. Ross, 1; C.
McVittie, 1; Lieut. Adams, 1; S. Washburn, 2; J. C. Godwin, 1; F. T.
Billings, 2; Thorne and Parsons, 2; James Pearson, 1; R. Mason, 2; Wm.
Laughton, 2; Wm. Ware, 1; A. H. Tonge, 1; Sheldon, Dutcher & Co., 1;
Jabez Barber, 1; R. W. Prentice, 1; T. Bell, 1; Lucius O'Brien,
1; - Total, 162 shares. Persons who are desirous of taking shares in this
boat are respectfully informed that the subscription paper is lying at
the Store of Messrs. Murray, Newbigging and Co., where they can have an
opportunity of entering their names. York, 21st Dec., 1831."

The movement here initiated resulted in the steamer _Simcoe_, which
plied for some years between the Landing and the ports of Lake Simcoe.
The _Simcoe_ was built at the Upper Landing, and after being launched,
it was necessary to drag the boat by main force down to deep water,
through the thick sediment at the bottom of the stream. During the
process, while the capstan and tackle or other arrangement was being
vigorously worked, - instead of the boat advancing - the land in
considerable mass moved bodily towards the boat, like a cake of ice set
free from the main floe. Much of the ground and marsh in the great
estuary of the Holland river is said to be simply an accumulation of
earthy and vegetable matter, resting on water.

The _Simcoe_ was succeeded by the _Peter Robinson_, Capt. Bell; the
_Beaver_, Capt. Laughton, and other steamers.

Standing on the deck of the _Beaver_, we have ourselves more than once
threaded the windings of the Holland river; and we well remember how,
like sentient things in a kind of agony, the broad floating leaves of
the lilies along its eastern margin writhed and flapped as the waters
were drawn away from under them by the powerful action of the wheels in
the middle of the stream.

"The navigation of the Holland river," Capt. Bonnycastle observes in his
"Canada in 1841," "is very well worth seeing, as it is a natural canal
flowing through a vast marsh, and very narrow, with most serpentine
convolutions, often doubling on itself. Conceive the difficulty of
steering a large steamboat in such a course; yet it is done every day,
in summer and autumn, by means of long poles, slackening the steam,
backing, &c.; though very rarely without running a little way into the
soft ground of the swamp. The motion of the paddles has, however, in the
course of years, widened the channel, and prevented the growth of flags
and weeds." We have been told that in the bed of the Holland river, near
its mouth, solid bottom was not reached with a sounding-line of ninety





To render our narrative complete, we give in a few parting words some of
the early accounts of the route from the Landing, northward as far as
Penetanguishene, which, after the breaking up of the establishment on
Drummond's island, was for some years the most remote station in Upper
Canada where the naval and military power of England was visibly

"After leaving Gwillimbury [_i. e._, the Landing]," says the _Gazetteer_
of 1799, "you enter the Holland river and pass into Lake Simcoe, by the
head of Cook's bay, to the westward of which are oak-plains, where the
Indians cultivate corn; and on the east is a tract of good land. A few
small islands shew themselves as the lake opens, of which Darling's
island in the eastern part, is the most considerable. To the westward is
a large deep bay, called Kempenfelt's bay, from the head of which is a
short carrying-place to the river Nottawasaga, which empties itself into
the Iroquois bay, in Lake Huron. In the north end of the lake, near the
Narrows leading to a small lake is Francis island, between which and the
north shore vessels may lie in safety."

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 48 of 59)