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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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well : he then became Principal Pilot of the Royal Fleet, and by
his modesty and uncommon good conduct gained the esteem of
all of the officers of the Navy. He lost his arm at the taking of
Oswego, and as he was not a commissioned offcer, there was no
allowance for his wounds. The Society, informed of this and in
consideration of his services, requested his acceptance of ;£ioo."

By a curious transition, instances of which are now and then
afforded in the history of individuals in every profession, Mr.
Richardson became in after years an eminent minister in the
Methodist Society j and at the age of 82 was known and honoured
far and wide throughout Upper Canada as the indefatigable bishop
or chief superintendent of that section of the Methodist body which
is distinguished by the prefix Episcopal.

In 18 14 it would appear that Commodore Chauncey and his
fleet were no longer dominating the north shore. The JVet/ey, for-
merly the Prince Regent, is mentioned as being again in the har-
bour of York. On the 24th of July she took over Lieut. -General
and President Drummond, when on his way to support General
Rial at Lundy's Lane. " I embarked," General Drummond says
in his despatch to Sir George Prevost describing the engagement
at Lundy's Lane ; " I embarked on board His Majesty's schooner
Netley, at York, on Sunday evening, the 24th instant (July), and
reached Niagara at daybreak the following morning." He then
pushed on from Niagara to Lundy's Lane with 800 rank and file,
and was the undoubted means of preventing a hard-contested fight
from ending in a defeat.

On the 24th of December in this year the Treaty of Ghent was
signed, by which, to adopt its own language, " a firm and univer-
sal peace was re-established between His Britannic Majesty and
the United States, and between their respective countries, territo-
ries, cities, towns and people of every degree, without exception
of persons or places."


the harbour: its marine, 1815 — 1827.

OON after the close of the war with the United States

in 18 14, the era of steam navigation on Lake Ontario

opens. The first steamer, the Frontenac, was launched

at Ernesttown, on the Bay of Quinte, in 1816. Her

trips began in 181 7. The length of her deck was 170

j .the breadth, 32 feet ; her burden, 700 tons ; her cost,

,£15,000; her commander, Capt. James McKenzie, a

retired officer of the Royal Navy.

In 1818 we observe an enactment of the Provincial Legislature,
having reference to steam navigation. It is decreed that the usual
space occupied by the engine and machinery in a steam vessel,
with the requisite stowage of wood, should be taken to occupy one-
third of such vessel, and that such vessel should only pay Light-
house or Tonnage Duty on two-thirds of her admeasurement.

In successive numbers of the Kingston Chronicle, the advertise-
ment of the Frontenac, occupying the width of two columns, conspi-
cuously appears, with a large rude woodcut of a steamer with two
smoke-pipes at the top. For the sake of the fares and other parti-
culars, we copy this document (from the Chronicle of April 30 1819).
" The Steamboat Frontenac, Tames McKenzie, Master, will in future
leave the different ports on the following days : viz., Kingston for
York, on the 1st, nth and 21st days of each month. York for
Queenston, 3rd, 13th and 23rd days of each] month. Niagara for
Kingston, 5 th, 15 th and 25 th days of each month. Rates of Pas-
sages : From Kingston to York and Niagara, £$. From York to

§ 3i.] The Harbour : its Marine, 1815=27. 539

Niagara, £1. Children under three years of age, half-price ; above
three, and under ten, two-thirds. A Book will be kept for entering
the names of passengers, and the berths which they may choose at
which time the passage money must be paid. Passengers are
allowed sixty pounds weight of baggage j surplus baggage to be
paid for at the usual rate. Gentlemen's servants cannot sleep or
eat in the Cabin. Deck passengers will pay fifteen shillings, and
may either bring their own provisions, or be furnished by the
Steward. For each dog brought on board, five shillings. All
applications for passage to be made to Capt. McKenzie, on board.
Freight will be transported to and from the above places at the
rate of four shillings per barrel bulk, and Flour at the customary
rate delivered to the different consignees. A list of their names
will be put in a conspicuous place on board, which must be deemed
a sufficient notice ; and the Goods, when taken from the Steam-
boat will be considered at the risk of the owners. For each small
parcel, 2s. 6d., which must be paid on delivery. Kingston, April
28th, 1819." Capt. McKenzie has acquired confidence in himself
and his vessel in 181 9. An earlier notice in the Chronicle, relating
to the Frontenac, was the following. Its terms show the great
caution and very salutary fear which governed the action of sea
captains, hitherto without experience in such matters, when about
to encounter by the aid of steam the perils of a boisterous Lake.
" Steamboat Frontenac will sail from Kingston for Niagara, calling
at York, on the 1st and 15th days of each month, with as much
punctuality as the nature of the Lake navigation will admit of."

The ordinary sailing craft of the Lake of course still continued
to ply. We hear of a passenger-boat between York and Niagara
in 181 5, called the Dove; also of the Reindeer, commanded for a
time by Captain Myers. In 1819-20 Stillwell Wilson, with whom
we are already acquainted, is in command of a slip-keel schooner,
carrying passengers and freight between York and Niagara. The
Wood Duck was another vessel on this route. (In 1828 the
Wood Duck is offered for sale, with her rigging and sails complete,
for Four Hundred Dollars cash. "Apply to William Gibbons,
owner, York." She is afterwards the property of Mr. William
Arthurs.) The Red Rover, Captain Thew, and the Comet, Captain
Ives, were others. The Britannia, Captain Miller, was a visitant
of York harbour about the same period ; a top-sail schooner of
about 1 20 tons, remarkable for her specially fine model. She was

54-0 Toronto of Old. [§ 31.

built by Roberts, near the site of what is now Wellington Square,
and was the property of Mr. Matthew Crooks, of Niagara.

Captain Thew, above named, afterwards commanded the John
Watkins, a schooner plying to York. Captain Thew encountered a
little difficulty once at Kingston, through a violation, unconsciously
on his part, of naval etiquette. A set of colours had been presented
to the John Watkins, by Mr. Harris of York, in honour of his
old friend and a co-partner whose name she perpetuated. It
happened, however, through inadvertency, that these colours were
made of the particular pattern which vessels in the Royal Service
are alone entitled to carry ; and while the John Watkins was lying
moored in the harbour at Kingston, gaily decorated with her new
colours, Captain Thew was amazed to find his vessel suddenly
boarded by a strong body of men-of-war's men, from a neighbouring
royal ship, who insisted on hauling down and taking possession of
the flags flying from her masts, as being the exclusive insignia of
the Royal Navy. It was necessary to comply with the demand,
but the bunting was afterwards restored to Captain Thew on
making the proper representations.

In 1820, Capt. Sinclair was in command of the Lady Sarah
Maitland. We gather from an Observer of December in that year,
that Lake Ontario, according to its wont, had been occasioning
alarms to travellers. An address of the passengers on board of
Capt. Sinclair's vessel, after a perilous passage from Prescott to
York, is recorded in the columns of the paper just named. It
reads as follows : " The subscribers, passengers in the Lady Mait-
land schooner, beg to tender their best thanks to Capt. Sinclair
for the kind attention paid to them during the passage from Pres-
cott to this port ; and at the same time with much pleasure to
bear testimony to his propriety of conduct in using every exertion
to promote the interest of those concerned in the vessel and cargo,
in the severe gale of the morning of the 4th instant (Dec. 1820).
The manly fortitude and unceasing exertions of Capt. Sinclair,
when the situation of the vessel, in consequence of loss of sails,
had become extremely dangerous, were so highly conspicuous as
to induce the subscribers to make it known to the public, that he
may meet with that support which he so richly deserves. The
exertions of the crew were likewise observed, and are deserving
of praise. — D. McDougal, James Alason, . G. N. Ridley, Peter

§3i.] The Harbour : its Marine, 1815=27. 541

This was probably the occasion of a doleful rejoinder of Mr.
Peter McDougal's, which became locally a kind of proverbial
expression : " No more breakfast in this world for Pete McDoug."
The story was that Mr. McDougal, when suffering' severely from
the effects of a storm on the Lake, replied in these terms to the
cook, who came to announce breakfast. The phrase seemed to
take the popular fancy, and was employed now and then to express
a mild despair of surrounding circumstances.

In 1820 a Traveller, whose journal is quoted by Willis, in Bart-
lett's Canadian Scenery (ii. 48), was six days in accomplishing the
journey from Prescott to York by water. " On the 3rd of Septem-
ber," he says, "we embarked for York at Prescott, on board a
small schooner called the Caledonia. We performed this voyage,
which is a distance of 250 miles, in six days." In 181 8, Mr. M.
F. Whitehead, of Port Hope, was two days and a-half in crossing
from Niagara to York. " My first visit to York," Mr. Whitehead
says in a communication to the writer, "was in September, 1818,
crossing the Lake from Niagara with Dr. Baldwin — a two and
a-half days' passage. The Doctor had thoughtfully provided a leg
of lamb, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of porter: all our fare,"
adds Mr. Whitehead, " for two days and a-half." We have our-
selves more than once, in former days, experienced the horrors of
the middle passage between Niagara and York, having crossed
and re-crossed, in very rough weather, in the Kingston Packet, or
Brothers, and having been detained on the Lake for a whole night
and a good portion of a day in the process. The schooners for
Niagara and elsewhere used to announce the time of their depar-
ture from the wharf at York in primitive style, by repeated blasts
from a long tin horn, so called, sounded at intervals previous to
their casting loose, and at the moment of the start. Fast and
large steamers have, of course, now reduced to a minimum the
miseries of a voyage between the North and South shores ; but
these miseries are still not slight at the stormy seasons, when Lake
Ontario often displays a mood by no means amiable —

' ' Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turned by furious winds
And surging waves."

It is some consolation to reflect, that with all the skill and
appliances at the command of English engineers and shipbuilders,

542 Toronto of Old. [§ 31.

it has been found hitherto impossible to render the passage from
Dover to Calais a luxury ; nor possibly will that result be secured
even by the enormous ferry-steamers which are projected. In
1 791, twenty-four hours were occasionally occupied in the passage
from Dover to Calais. "I am half-dead," writes the learned
traveller Dr. E. D. Clarke, at Calais, to his mother j "lam half-
dead with sea-sickness : twenty-four hours' passage from Dover."

Again, the mode in which the first Lake steamers were made to
near the landing-place in the olden time, was something which would
fill a modern steamboat captain with amazement. Accustomed as
we are every day to see huge steamers guided without any ado
straight up to the margin of a quay or pier, the process of putting
in seems a simple affair. Not so was it, however, in practice
to the first managers of steamboats. When the Frontenac or
William IV. was about to approach the wharf at York, the vessel
was brought to a standstill some way out in the harbour. From
near the fore and after gangways boats were then lowered, bearing
hawsers ; and by means of these, when duly landed, the vessel
was solemnly drawn to shore. An agitated multitude usually
witnessed the operation.

In the Gazette of July 20, 1820, we have the information that
" on Saturday evening, a schooner of about sixty tons, built for
Mr. Oates and others, was launched in this port (York). She
went off," the Gazette says," in very fine style, until she reached
the water, where, from some defect in her ways, her progress was
checked ; and from the lateness of the hour, she could not be
freed from the impediment before the next morning, when she
glided into the Bay in safety. Those who are judges say that it
is a very fine vessel of the class. It is now several years," con-
tinues the Gazette, " since any launch has been here ; it therefore r
though so small a vessel, attracted a good deal of curiosity." This
was the Duke of Richmond packet, afterwards a favourite on the
route between York and Niagara. The Gazette describes the
Richmond somewhat incorrectly as a schooner, and likewise under-
states the tonnage. She was a sloop of the Revenue cutter build,
and her burthen was about one hundred tons. Of Mr. Oates
we have had occasion to speak in our perambulation of King

In an Observer of 1820, we have the first advertisement of the
Richmond. It reads thus : " The Richmond Packet, Edward Oates,

§31.] The Harbour : its Marine, 1815=27. 543

commander, will commence running between the Ports of York
and Niagara on Monday, the 24th instant (July), as a regular
Packet. She will leave York on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays, at 9 o'clock a.m., precisely; and Niagara on Tuesdays,
Thursdays and Saturdays, at 10 a.m., to the 24th of September,
when the hour of departure will be made known to the Public.
The Richmond has excellent accommodations for Ladies, Gentle-
men and other Passengers, and nothing will be omitted to make
her one of the completest and safest passage vessels of the class
in America, being manned with experienced mariners. Rates of
passage : After Cabin, 10s. ; Fore Cabin, 6s. 3d. Children under
twelve years, half-price. Sixty pounds baggage allowed to each
passenger; above that weight, od. per cwt., or 2s. per barrel bulk.
For freight or passage apply to John Crooks, Esq., Niagara j the
Captain on board ; or at the Subscriber's store. Ed. Oates, York,
July 17, 1820."

Captain Vavassour, commandant at Fort George, presented
Capt. Oates with a gun and a set of colours. The former used to
announce to the people of York the arrival and departure of the
Richmond; and a striped signal-flag found among the latter, was
hoisted at the Lighthouse on Gibraltar Point whenever the Rich-
mond Packet hove in sight. (For a considerable period, all vessels
were signalized by a flag flying from the Lighthouse.)

Two years later, the Richmond is prospering on the route between
York and Niagara. In the Gazette of June 7th, 1822, we have an
advertisement of tenor similar to the one given above. " Rich-
mond Packet, Edward Oates, master, will regularly leave York for
Niagara on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays ; and Niagara for
York on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from the 1st of
June until the 1st of September." The advertisement then goes
on to say : " Edward Oates respectfully informs his friends and
the Public, that his Packet shall leave York and Niagara on the
above days, either in the morning or evening, as the wind and
passengers may suit ; and that passengers may depend on a pas-
sage on the above days. The superiority of sailing and accom-
modation for ladies and gentlemen are too well known to the
public to make any comment upon. York, June 1st, 1822. "By
the following year, however, the Richmond's occupation was coming
to an end. Steam on the route between York and Niagara had
its effect. From the Gazette of Jan. 16, 1823, we learn that Mr.

544 Toronto of Old. [§ 3 1 -

Oates is about to dispose of his interest in the Richmond; is
virtually about to sell the vessel. In the paper just named we
read the following advertisement : " Auction. Fifty Shares, or
three-quarters and two sixty-fourths of that superior vessel the
Richmond Packet, will positively be sold by auction, at the Town
of York, on Saturday, the 25th instant, together with all her tackle,
apparel, stores and furniture ; an inventory of which may be seen
on application to R. Coleman, Esq., York j Mr. Edward Oates,
Niagara. N.B. — Terms of sale: one-third down J the remainder
in two equal payments at three and six months, with approved
endorsers. York, Jan. 6, 1823."

In a Gazette of this year we have a pleasure boat offered for sale
at York, apparently a bargain. In the number for May 15, 1823,
is the following advertisement : " Pleasure-boat to be sold : built
of oak, an extremely fast sailer, and in every respect a complete
vessel of the kind. It is rigged with jib, foresail, mainsail, and
driver. Original cost, upwards of forty guineas (and not more than
four years old). It will now be sold, with everything belonging to
it, at the low price of fifteen pounds currency. Enquire at the
Gazette Office, York. 7th May, 1823."

As the Richmond Packet filled an important place in the early
marine of the harbour, it will be of interest to mention her ultimate
fate. While engaged, in 1826, in conveying a cargo of salt from
Oswego, she was wrecked near Brighton, on the bay of Presqu'isle,
towards the eastern part of Lake Ontario. The Captain, no longer
Mr. Oates, losing his presence of mind in a gale of wind, cut the
cable of his vessel and ran her ashore. The remains of the wreck,
after being purchased by Messrs. Willman, Bailey and Co., were
taken to Wellington, on the south side of the peninsula of Prince
Edward county, where the cannon which had ornamented the deck
of the defunct packet, and had for so many years daily made the
harbour of York resound with its detonations, did duty in firing
salutes on royal birthdays and other public occasions up to 1866,
when, being overcharged, it burst, the fragments scattering them-
selves far and wide in the waters round the wharf at Wellington.

Just as the Richmond disappears, another favourite vessel, for
some years distinguished in the annals of York harbour, and com-
manded by a man of note, comes into the field of view. " The
new steamer Canada" says the Loyalist of June 3, 1826, "was
towed into port this week by the Toronto^ from the mouth of the

§31.] The Harbour : its Marine, 1815*27. 545

river Rouge, where she was built during the last winter. She will
be shortly fitted up for her intended route, which, we understand,
will be from York and Niagara round the head of the Lake, and
will add another to the increasing facilities of conveyance in Upper
Canada." The Loyalist then adds : " Six steamboats now navigate
the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, in this Province, besides the
Canada, and a boat nearly ready for launching at Brockville." We
shall presently hear much of the career of the Canada and her

The Toronto (Capt. Shaw), named above as towing the Canada
into the harbour, was a steam-packet of peculiar make, built af
York. She was constructed without any difference of shape at the
bow and stern, and without ribs. She was a shell of successive
layers of rather thin boards placed alternately lengthwise and
athwart, with coatings, between, of stout brown paper pitched.
She proved a failure as a vessel for the Lake traffic, and was
speedily taken down the river, where she was also unfortunate.
We hear of her in the Loyalist of June 17, 1826. " By a letter,"
the Editor says, " received from Kingston we are sorry to hear
that the steamboat Toronto, on her first trip from that place to
Prescott, had unfortunately got aground several times, and that in
consequence it had been found necessary to haul her out of the
water at Brockville, to be repaired. The damage is stated not to
be very great, but the delay, besides occasioning inconvenience,
must be attended with some loss to the proprietors/' The Editor
then adds : " The navigation of the St. Lawrence, for steamboats,
between Kingston and Prescott, is in many places extremely diffi-
cult, and requires that the most skilful and experienced pilots
should be employed." In the same number of the Loyalist is an
advertisement of the Martha Ogden, a United States boat. " Notice.
The steamboat Martha Ogden, Andrew Estes, master, will ply
between York and Youngstown during the remainder of the season,
making a daily trip from each place, Saturdays excepted, when she
will cross but once. Hours of sailing, 6 o'clock in the morning
and 3 o'clock in the afternoon. To accommodate the public, her
hours of departure from each place will be changed alternately
every week, of which notice will be regularly given. This arrange-
ment will continue in effect, weather permitting, until further notice
is given. Passengers wishing to cross the river Niagara will be sent
over in the ferry-boat free of charge. Cabin passage, two dollars.

546 Toronto of Old. [§ 31.

Deck passage, one dollar. Agents at York, Messrs. M. and R.
Meighan. June 13, 1826."

The Frontenac is still plying to York. In 1826 she brings up
the Lieut-Governor, Sir Peregrine Maitland, from Kingston. The
Loyalist of Saturday, June 3, 1826, duly makes the announcement.
" His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor arrived here (York) on
Wednesday afternoon, on board the Frontenac, Capt. McKenzie,
from Kingston. His Excellency landed at the King's Wharf under
a salute from the Garrison. Major Hillier and Captain Maitland
accompanied his Excellency. On Thursday morning, his Excel-
lency embarked on board the Frontenac for Niagara."

The following week she brings over from Niagara Col. McGregor
and the 70th Regiment. The Loyalist of June 10, 1826, thus
speaks. " We have much pleasure in announcing the arrival in
this place of the Head Quarter Division of the 70th Regiment,
under the command of Lieut. -Col. McGregor. They landed from
the steamboat Frontenac yesterday morning, and marched into the
York Garrison." The Loyalist then proceeds to eulogize the 70th,
and to express satisfaction at the removal of that regiment to York.
" The distinguished character of this fine regiment, and the honour-
able testimony which has been given of their uniformly correct and
praiseworthy conduct, wherever they have been stationed, affords
the most perfect assurance that from the esteem in which they have
so deservedly been held, during a period of more than thirteen
years' service in Canada, their stay at this Garrison will be rendered
highly satisfactory to the inhabitants, and, we should hope, pleasant
to themselves." It was on this occasion that many of the inhabi-
tants of York beheld for the first time the impressive sight of a
Highland regiment, wearing the kilt and the lofty plumed cap. A
full military band, too, which accompanies only Head Quarter
Divisions, was a novelty at York ; as previous to this year Niagara,
and not York, was regarded as Military head quarters. The Pipers
increased the excitement. The band of the 70th displayed, more-
over, at this period further accessories of pomp and circumstance
in the shape of negro cymbal players, and a magnificent oriental-
looking standard of swaying tails surmounted by a huge glittering
crescent bearing small bells.

In the down-trip from York, the same week, the Frontenac took
away a detachment of the 76th Regiment. "The detachment of
the 76th Regiment," the Loyalist of June 10 reports, "under com-

§ 3i.] The Harbour : its Marine, 1815=27. 547

mand of Lieut. Grubbe, embarked on board the Frontenac yesterday,
on its destination to join the regiment at Montreal. Lieut. Grubbe
takes with him," the Editor of the Loyalist says, " the cordial re-
gard of the inhabitants of York j and the exemplary conduct of the
detachment under his command has been such as to merit from
them their best wishes for their future prosperity." — During the
same week the steamer Queenstofi had arrived at York, as we learn
from the following item in the same Loyalist of June 10 : "The
Rev. Mr. Hudson, Military Chaplain, who accompanied the Lord
Bishop from England, arrived here in the Queenston on Tuesday
last. Mr. Hudson is appointed Chaplain to the Garrison at York."
(In August, 1828, Mr. Hudson must have been in England. We
read the following in the Loyalist of Oct. 11, in that year: —
"Married, on the 12th of August last, at Crosby-on-Elden, Cum-

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