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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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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 embodi-

§ 27.] Yonge St. {Bond's Lake to Holland Landing. 487

ment 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 181 5, 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 condemna-
tion. 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 disci-
pline 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 Templejerected by Willson at Sha-
ron is by a visitor to the village in 1835. "The building," says
Mr. Patrick Shirreff in his "Tour through North America," pub-
lished in Edinburgh in 1835, "* s 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 repre-
sentation 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

488 Toronto of Old. [§ 2 7-

lanterns, with gilded mountings j and the termination of the build-
ing 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 j 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 orna-
ment, 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 candles."

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 Sun-
days. 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 1
" 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 - r
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

§ 2 7.] Yonge St. .(Bond's Lake to Holland Landing. 489

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

The powers of hell are now combin'd — If God doth give what I receive

With war against me rage : The same is due to thee ;

But in my God my soul's resigned — And thou in spirit must believe

The rock of every age, &c. In gospel liberty, &c.

Some thou doth set in king's estate, It's also mine, by George our king,

And some on earth must serve ; The ruler of my day ;

And some hath gold and silver plate, And yet if I dishonour bring,

When others almost starve, &c. Cut short my feeble stay, &c.

The earth doth hunger for my blood, For this is in your hearts to do,
And Satan for my soul ; Ye inferiors of the earth ;

And men my flesh for daily food, And it's in mine to do so too,
That they may me control, &c. And stop that cursed birth, &c.

The style of a volume entitled " Impressions" — a kind of Alco-
ran, 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 con-
fused method, with other defects of equal moment, render the peru-
sal of the productions highly disagreable." Nevertheless, the
reduction of his solitary meditations to writing had, we may con-
ceive, a pious operation and effect on Willson's own spirit ; and the

490 Toronto of Old. [§ 2 7.

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 ^Emilius
Irving, a name historical in Canada, a Paulus ^Emilius Irving hav-
ing 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 ^Emilius Irving had previously taken part under
General Wolfe in the capture of Quebec.)

The house of his descendant, Jacob ^Emilius 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 him-
self, 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, "anew-born rill," from one of its

§ 27.] Yonge St. /Bond's Lake to Holland Landing. 49 1

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 Quint6 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 j 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-ate (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 embarka-
tion and debarkation on the Holland river, acquired the name of
of the Upper Canoe-landing ; and hither the smaller craft continued
to proceed.

492 Toronto of Old. [§ 27.

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."

Gait, 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 Hol-
land 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. Holland.

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 3 1st 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 excel-
lent field-engineer, in which capacity he was employed in the year
1758 at the siege of Louisbourg in the detachment of the army

§ 27.] Yonge St. pond's Lake to Holland Landing, 493

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 taken."

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 enor-
mous. 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

494 Toronto of Old. [§ 27.

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 Mc-
Kenzie, to commence building the boat with the view to its com-
pletion by the opening of the navigation. — The shares are Twelve
Pounds ten shillings each, payable to persons chosen by the Stock-
holders. The following shares have been already taken up, viz. :
The Hon. Peter Robinson, 8 shares ; F. Hewson, 1 j 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 j Robert Clark, 1 ; Robert Johnston, 1 ; M. Mossington, 1 : B.
Jefferson, 1 j J. M. Jackson, 1 ; R. Oliver, 1 ; Wm. Turner, 2 ;
L. Cameron, 1 j F. Osborne, 2 ; j. Graham, 1 \ J. White, 1 ; S.
H. Farnsworth, 1 ; Andrew Mitchell, 5 ; Murray, Newbigging and
Co., 2 ; Capt. Creighton, 2 j Captain McKenzie, 40 ; Canada Com-
pany, 8 ; J. F. Smith, 2 j John Powell, 1 ; Grant Powell, 2 j A.
Smalley, 1 j Samuel P. Jarvis, 1 ; James E. Small, 1 ; R. W. Parker,
1 j D. Cameron, 1 ; Capt. Castle, 79th Regt., 8 ; James Doyle, 2 ;
Francis Phelps, East Gwillimbury, 1 j G. Lount, West Gwillimbury,
1 j Samuel Lount, West Gwillimbury, 1 ; George Playter, Whit-
church, 1 ; Joseph Hewett, 1 ; Thomas A. Jebb, 2 j Charles S.
Monck, Haytesbury, 1 ; G. Ridout, 2 ; T. G. Ridout, 1 j Thomas
Radenhurst, 1 j Major Barwick, 2 ; Capt. W. Campbell, 2 ;
C. C. Small, 1 ; J. Ketchum, i j Capt. Davies, 2 j Lieut. Car-
thew, 2 j Capt. Ross, 1 ; C. McVittie, 1 j Lieut. Adams, 1 j S.
Washburn, 2 ; J. C. Godwin, 1 ; F. T. Billings, 2 j Thorne and
Parsons, 2 j James Pearson, 1 ; R. Mason, 2 ; Wm. Laughton, 2 ;
Wm. Ware, 1 ; A. H. Tonge, 1 j Sheldon, Dutcher & Co., 1 ;
Jabez Barber, 1 ; R. W. Prentice, 1 j T. Bell, 1 j 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, 183 1."

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

§27.] Yonge St., (Bond's Lake to Holland Landing. 495

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. Con-
ceive 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



O 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 Penetangui-
shene, which, after the breaking up of the establish-
ment 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 represented.
"After leaving Gwillimbury [/. 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

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