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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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times in immediate succession, and frequently elsewhere, is charged
with " glass sour punch, 2s." Jacob Cozens takes " one bottle Ma-
deira wine, 10s. ;" Samuel Cozens, " one bottle Madeira wine, 10s.,
and bread and cheese, is. ;" and Shivers Cozens, "bottle of wine,
ios., and bread and cheese, is. Conets Cozens has "dinner, 2s., a
gill of brandy, is., and half a bushel of seed corn, 7s." On the 5th of
July, Josiah Phelps has placed opposite his name, " one glass
punch, 3s. ; three bowls sour punch, 9s. ; gill rum, is. ; two gin
slings, 2s. 6d. ; bowl punch, 3s. ; gill rum, is. ; two gills syrup
punch, 4s. ; supper, 2s." About the same time Corporal Wilson

46 Toronto of Old. [§ i.

had " two mugs beer, 4s." On the 6th of July Commodore Grant
had "half-pint rum, formedson, 2s. ; and immediately after another
half-pint rum, for do., 2 s." One " Billy Whitney" figures often;
his purchases one day were : "gill rum sling, is. 6d. ; do., is. 6d. ;
half-pound butter, is. 3d." Capt. Hall takes " one gill punch, 2 s. ;
glass rum, 6d., and half-gallon punch, 7s." He at the same time
has two dollars in cash advanced to him by the obliging landlord,.
1 6s.

Mr. Abner Miles supplied customers with general provisions as
well as liquors. On one occasion he sells, " White, Attorney-Gene-
ral," three pounds of butter for 7s. 6d., and six eggs for is. 6d»
He also sells " President Russell" forty-nine pounds and three-
fourths, of beef at is. per pound; Mr. Attorney-General White
took twenty-three pounds and a half at the same price. That sold
to " Robert Gray, Esq.," is described as "a choice piece," and is
charged two pence extra per pound. The piece, however, weighed
only seven pounds, and the cost was just Eight shillings and two
pence. Other things are supplied by Mr. Miles. Gideon Badger
buys of him " one yard red spotted cassimere, 20s. ; one and a-half
dozen buttons, 3s j and a pair shears, 3s." At the same time Mr.
Badger is credited with " one dollar, 8s." Joseph Kendrick gets
" sole leather for pair of shoes for self, by old Mr. Ketchum, 6s."
Mr. Miles moreover furnishes Mr. Allan with "237 feet of inch-and-
half plank at 12s., 33s. ; two rod of garden fence at ios.; 20s." We
suppose the moneys received were recorded elsewhere generally ;
but on the pages before us we have such entries as the following :
" Messrs. Hamilton, Baby and Grant settled up to 4th of July,
after breakfast." " Dr. Gamble, at Garrison," obtained ten bushels
of oats and is to pay therefor £4. A mem. is entered of "Angus
McDonell, dr., Dinner sent to his tent." and " Capt. Demont, cr.
By note of hand for £2 6 5s. Halifax currency, ^£42 York." On the
same day the Captain indulges in "a five dollar cap, 40s.," and "one
gill rum, is." That some of Mr. Miles' customers required to be re-
minded of their indebtedness to him, we learn from an advertisement
in the Gazette and Oracle of August 31, 1799. It says: "The Sub-
scriber informs all those indebted to him by note or book, to make
payment by the 20th September next, or he will be under the dis-
agreeable necessity of putting them into the hands of an attorney.
Abner Miles, York, August 28th, 1799." Mr. Miles' house was a
rendezvous for various purposes. In a Gazette and Oracle of

§ i.] (Palace Street to the Market (Place. 47

Dec. 8, 1798, we read — "The gentlemen of the Town and Garri-
son are requested to meet at one o'clock, on Monday next, the
10th instant, at Miles' Hotel, in order to arrange the place of the
York Assemblies for the season. York, Dec. 8, 1798." In another
number of the same paper an auction is advertised to take place
at Miles' Tavern.

In the Gazette and Oracle of July 13th, 1799, we read the follow-
ing advertisement : "O. Pierce and Co. have for sale : Best spirits
by the puncheon, barrel, or ten gallons, 20s. per gal. Do. by the
single gallon, 22s. Rum by the puncheon, barrel, or ten gallons,
] 8s. per gal. Brandy by the barrel, 20s. per gal. Port wine by the
barrel, 18s. per gal. Do. by single gallon, 20s. per gal. Gin, by
the barrel, 18s. per gal. Teas — Hyson, 19s. per lb.; Souchong,
14s. do. ; Bohea, 8s. do. Sugar, best loaf, 3s. 9d. per lb. Lump,
3s. 6d. Raisins, 3s. Figs, 3s. Salt six dollars per barrel or 12s.
per bushel. Also, a few dry goods, shoes, leather, hats, tobacco,
snuff, &c, &c. York, July 6, 1799. These prices appear to be in
Halifax currency.



HE corner we approach after passing the Market
Square, was occupied by an inn with a sign-board
sustained on a high post inserted at the outer edge
of the foot-path, in country roadside fashion. This
Hamilton's, or the White Swan. It was here, we
believe, or in an adjoining house, that a travelling citizen
of the United States, in possession of a collection of stuffed
birds and similar objects, endeavoured at an early period to
establish a kind of Natural History Museum. To the collec-
tion here was once rashly added figures, in wax, of General Jackson
and some other United States notabilities, all in grand costume.
Several of these were one night abstracted from the Museum by
some over-patriotic youths, and suspended by the neck from the
limbs of one of the large trees that over-looked the harbour.

Just beyond was the Steamboat Hotel, long known as Ulick
Howard's, remarkable for the spirited delineation of a steam-packet
of vast dimensions, extending the whole length of the building,
just over the upper verandah of the hotel. In 1828, Mr. Howard
is offering to let his hotel, in the following terms: — "Steamboat
Hotel, York, U. C. — The proprietor of this elegant establishment,
now unrivalled in this part of the country, being desirous of retir-
ing from Public Business, on account of ill-health in his family,
will let the same for a term of years to be agreed on, either with
or without the furniture. The Establishment is now too well-
known to require comment. N. B. Security will be required for
the payment c f the Rent, and the fulfilment of the contract in
every respect. Apply to the subscriber on the premises. U.
Howard, York, Oct. 8th, 1828."

§2.] From the Market (Place to (Brock Street. 49

A little further on was the Ontario House, a hotel built in a style
common then at the Falls of Niagara and in the United States.
A row of lofty pillars, well-grown pines in fact, stripped and
smoothly planed, reached from the ground to the eaves, and sup-
ported two tiers of galleries, which, running behind the columns,
did not interrupt their vertical lines.

Close by the Ontario House, Market Street from the west
entered Front Street at an acute angle. In the gore between the
two streets, a building sprang up, which, in conforming to its site,
assumed the shape of a coffin. The foot of this ominous structure
was the office where travellers booked themselves for various parts
in the stages that from time to time started from York. It took
four days to reach Niagara in 18 16. We are informed by a con-
temporary advertisement now before us, that "on the 20th of Sep-
tember next [1816], a stage will commence running between York
and Niagara : it will leave York every Monday, and arrive at Nia-
gara on Thursday ; and leave Queenston every Friday. The bag-
gage is to be considered at the risk of the owner, and the fare to
be paid in advance. " In 1824, the mails were conveyed the same
distance, via Ancaster, in three days. In a post-office advertise-
ment for tenders, signed " William Allan, P. M.," we have the
statement : " The mails are made up here [York] on the afternoon
of Monday and Thursday, and must be delivered at Niagara on
the Wednesday and Saturday following ; and within the same period
in returning." In 1835, Mr. William Weller was the proprietor of
a line of stages between Toronto and Hamilton, known as the
" Telegraph Line." In an advertisement before us, he engages to
take passengers " through by daylight, on the Lake Road, during
the winter season."

Communication with England was at this period a tedious pro-
cess. So late as 1836, Mrs. Jameson thus writes in her Journal
at Toronto (i. 182) : "It is now seven weeks since the date of the
last letters from my dear far-distant home. The Archdeacon," she
adds, " told me, by way of comfort, that when he came to settle in
this country, there was only one mail-post from England in the
course of a whole year, and it was called, as if in mockery, the
Express." To this " Express'' we have a reference in a post-office
advertisement to be seen in a Quebec Gazette of 1792 : "A mail
for the Upper Countries, comprehending Niagara and Detroit,
will be closed," it says, " at this office, on Monday, the 30th inst.,

50 Toronto of Old. [§ 2,

at 4 o'clock in the evening, to be forwarded from Montreal by the
annual winter Express, on Thursday, the 3rd of Feb. next." From
the same paper we learn that on the 10th of November, the latest
date from Philadelphia and New York was Oct. 8th : also, that a
weekly conveyance had lately been established between Montreal
and Burlington, Vermont. In the Gazette of Jan. 13, 1808, we have
the following: " For the information of the Public. — York, 12th
Jan., 1808. — The first mail from Lower Canada is arrived, and
letters are ready to be delivered by W. Allan, Acting-Deputy-
Postmaster. "

Compare all this with advertisements in Toronto daily papers
now, from agencies in the town, of " Through Lines" weekly, to
California, Vancouver's, China and Japan, connecting with Lines to
Australia and New Zealand.

On the beach below the Steamboat Hotel was, at a late period,,
a market for the sale of fish. It was from this spot that Bartlett,
in his " Canadian Scenery," made one of the sketches intended to
convey to the English eye an impression of the town. In the fore-
ground are groups of conventional, and altogether too picturesque,
fishwives and squaws : in the distance is the junction of Hospital
Street and Front Street, with the tapering building between. On
the right are the galleries of what had been the Steamboat Hotel ;
it here bears another name.

Bartlett's second sketch is from the end of a long wharf or jetty
to the west. The large building in front, with a covered passage
through it for vehicles, is the warehouse or freight depot of Mr.
William Cooper, long the owner of this favourite landing place.
Westwards, the pillared front of the Ontario house is to be seen.
Both of these views already look quaint, and possess a value as
preserving a shadow of much that no longer exists.

Where Mr. Cooper's Wharf joined the shore there was a ship-
building yard. We have a recollection of a launch that strangely
took place here on a Sunday. An attempt to get the ship into the
water on the preceding day had failed, Delay would have occa-
sioned an awkward settling of the ponderous mass. We shall have
occasion hereafter to speak of the early shipping of the harbour.

The lot extending northward from the Ontario House corner to
King street was the property of Attorney-General Macdonell, who,
while in attendance on General Brock as Provincial aide-de-camp,
was slain in the engagement on Queenston Heights. His death

§ 2.] From the Market (Place to (Brock Street. 5 1

created the vacancy to which, at an unusually early age, succeeded
Mr. John Beverley Robinson, afterwards the distinguished Chief
Justice of Upper Canada. Mr. Macdonell's remains are deposited
with those of his military chief under the column on Queenston
Heights. He bequeathed the property to which our attention has
been directed, to a youthful nephew, Mr. James Macdonell, on
certain conditions, one of which was that he should be educated
in the tenets of the Anglican Church, notwithstanding the Roman
Catholic persuasion of the rest of the family.

The track for wheels that here descended to the water's edge
from the north, Church Street subsequently, was long considered
a road remote from the business part of the town, like the road
leading southward from Charing-cross, as shewn in Ralph Aggas'
early map of London. A row of frame buildings on its eastern
side, in the direction of King Street, perched high on cedar posts
over excavations generally filled with water, remained in an un-
finished state until the whole began to be out of the perpendicular
and to become gray with the action of the weather. It was evi-
dently a premature undertaking ; the folly of an over-sanguine spe-
culator. Yonge street beyond, where it approached the shore of
the harbour, was unfrequented. In spring and autumn it was a
notorious slough. In 1830, a small sum would have purchased
any of the building lots on either side of Yonge Street, between
Front Street and Market Street.

Between Church Street and Yonge Street, now, we pass a short
street uniting Front Street with Wellington Street. Like Salisbury,
Cecil, Craven and other short but famous streets off the Strand, it
retains the name of the distinguished person whose property it tra-
versed in the first instance. It is called Scott Street, from Chief
Justice Thomas Scott, whose residence and grounds were here.

Mr. Scott was one of the venerable group of early personages
of whom we shall have occasion to speak. He was a man of fine
culture, and is spoken of affectionately by those who knew him.
His stature was below the average. A heavy, overhanging fore-
head intensified the thoughtful expression of his countenance,
which belonged to the class suggested by the current portraits
of the United States jurist, Kent. We sometimes, to this day,
fall in with books from his library, bearing his familiar auto-

Mr. Scott was the first chairman and president of the " Loyal

52 Toronto of Old. [§ 2.

and Patriotic Society of Upper Canada," organized at York in
1812. His name consequently appears often in the Report of
that Association, printed by William Gray in Montreal in 181 7.
The objects of the Society were " to afford relief and aid to disa-
bled militiamen and their families : to reward merit, excite emula-
tion, and commemorate glorious exploits, by bestowing medals
and other honorary marks of public approbation and distinction
for extraordinary instances of personal courage and fidelity in
defence of the Province." The preface to the Report mentions
that " the sister-colony of Nova Scotia, excited by the barbarous
conflagration of the town of Newark and the devastation on that
frontier, had, by a legislative act, contributed largely to the relief
of this Province."

In an appeal to the British public, signed by Chief Justice Scott,
it is stated that "the subscription of the town of York amounted
in a few days to eight hundred and seventy-five pounds five shil-
lings, Provincial currency, dollars at five shillings each, to be paid
annually during the war ; and that at Kingston to upwards of four
hundred pounds."

Medals were struck in London by order of the Loyal and Pat-
riotic Society of Upper Canada j but they were never distributed.
The difficulty of deciding who were to receive them was found to
be too great. They were defaced and broken up in York, with
such rigour that not a solitary specimen is known to exist. Rum-
ours of one lurking somewhere, continue to this day, to tantalize
local numismatists. What became of the bullion of which they
were composed used to be one of the favourite vexed questions
among the old people of York. Its value doubtless was added to
the surplus that remained of the funds of the Society, which, after
the year 181 7, were devoted to benevolent objects. To the
building fund of the York General Hospital, we believe, a consi-
derable donation was made. The medal, we are told, was two and
one-half inches in diameter. On the obverse, within a wreath of
laurel, were the words "for merit." On this side was also the
legend : " presented by a grateful country. On the reverse
was the following elaborate device : A strait between two lakes :
on the North side a beaver (emblem of peaceful industry), the
ancient cognizance of Canada : in the background an English Lion
slumbering. On the South side of the Strait, the American eagle
planing in the air, as if checked from seizing the Beaver by the

§ 2.] From the Market (Place to (Brock Street. 53
presence of the Lion. Legend on this side : " upper Canada


Scott Street conducts to the site, on the north side of Hospital
Street, westward of the home of Mr. James Baby, and, eastward,
to that of Mr. Peter Macdougall, two notable citizens of York.

A notice of Mr. Baby occurs in Sibbald's Canadian Magazine
for March, 1833. The following is an extract : " James Baby was
born at Detroit in 1762. His family was one of the most ancient
in the colony ; and it was noble. His father had removed from
Lower Canada to the neighbourhood of Detroit before the con-
quest of Quebec, where, in addition to the cultivation of lands, he
was connected with the fur-trade, at that time, and for many years
after, the great staple of the country. James was educated at the
Roman Catholic Seminary of Quebec, and returned to the paternal
roof soon after the peace of 1783. The family had ever been dis-
tinguished (and indeed all the higher French families) for their ad-
herence to the British crown ; and to this, more than to any other
cause, are we to attribute the conduct of the Province of Quebec
during the American War. Being a great favourite with his father,
James was permitted to make an excursion to Europe, before en-
gaging steadily In business ; and after spending some time, espe-
cially in England, rejoined his family. * * * There was a
primitive simplicity in Mr. Baby's character, which, added to his
polished manners and benignity of disposition, threw a moral
beauty around him which is very seldom beheld."

In the history of the Indian chief Pontiac, who, in 1763, aimed
at extirpating the English, the name of Mr. Baby's father repeat-
edly occurs. The Canadian habitans of the neighbourhood of
Detroit, being of French origin, were unmolested by the Indians ;
but a rumour had reached the great Ottawa chief, while the memo-
rable siege of Detroit was in progress, that the Canadians had
accepted a bribe from the English to induce them to attack the
Indians. " Pontiac/' we read in Parkman's History, p. 227, " had
been an old friend of Baby ; and one evening, at an early period
of the siege, he entered his house, and, seating himself by the fire,
looked for some time steadily at the embers. At length, raising
his head, he said he had heard that the English had offered the
Canadian a bushel of silver for the scalp of his friend. Baby de-
clared that the story was false, and protested that he never would
betray him. Pontiac for a moment keenly studied his features.

54 Toronto of Old. [§ 2.

1 My brother has spoken the truth/ he said, ' and I will show that

1 believe him.' He remained in the house through the evening, and,
at its close, wrapped himself in his blanket and lay down upon a
bench, where he slept in full confidence till morning." Note that
the name Baby is to be pronounced Baw-bee.

Mr. Macdougall was a gentleman of Scottish descent, but, like
his compatriots in the neighbourhood of Murray Bay, so thoroughly
Lower-Canadianized as to be imperfectly acquainted with the
English language to the last. He was a successful merchant of
the town of York, and filled a place in the old local conversational
talk, in which he was sometimes spoken of as "Wholesale, Retail,
Pete McDoug,"— an expression adopted by himself on some occa-
sion. He is said once to have been much perplexed by the item
" ditto" occurring in a bill of lading furnished of goods under way ;
he could not remember having given orders for any such article.
He was a shrewd business man. An impression prevailed in cer-
tain quarters that his profits were now and then extravagant.
While he was living at Niagara, some burglars from Youngstown
broke into his warehouse ; and after helping themselves to what-
ever they pleased, they left a written memorandum accounting for
their not having taken with them certain other articles : it was
" because they were marked too high."

That he was accustomed to affix a somewhat arbitrary value to
his merchandise, seems to be shown by another story that was told
of him. He was said, one day, when trade in general was very
dull, to have boasted that he had that very morning made ^400
by a single operation. On being questioned, it appeared that it
had been simply a sudden enlargement of the figure marked on all
his stock to the extent of ^"400.

One other story of him is this : On hearing a brother dealer
lament that by a certain speculation he should, after all, make only
5 per cent., he expressed his surprise, adding that he himself would
be satisfied with 3, or even 2, (taking the figures 2, 3, &c, to mean

2 hundred, 3 hundred, &c.) — We shall hear of Mr. Macdougall
again in connection with the marine of the harbour.

Of Yonge Steeet itself, at which we now arrive, we propose to
speak at large hereafter. Just westward from Yonge Street was
the abode, surrounded by pleasant grounds and trees, of Mr.
Macaulay, at a later period Sir James Macaulay, Chief Justice o^
the Common Pleas, a man beloved and honoured for his sterling

§ 2.] From the Market (Place to (Brock Street. 55

excellence in every relation. A full-length portrait of him is pre-
served in Osgoode Hall. His peculiar profile, not discernable in
that painting, is recalled by the engraving of Capt. Starky, which
some readers will remember in Hone's Every-Day Book.

Advancing a little further, we came in front of of one of the
earliest examples, in these parts, of an English- looking rustic cot-
tage, with verandah and sloping lawn. This was occupied for a
time by Major Hillier, of the 74th regiment, aide-de-camp and mili-
tary secretary to Sir Peregrine Maitland. The well-developed
native thorn-tree, to the north of the site of this cottage, on the
property of Mr. Andrew Mercer, is a relic of the woods that once
ornamented this locality.

Next came the residence of Mr. Justice Boulton, a spacious
family domicile of wood, painted white, situated in an extensive
area, and placed far back from the road. The Judge was an Eng-
lish gentleman of spare Wellington physique ; like many of his de-
scendants, a lover of horses and a spirited rider ; a man of wit, too,
and humour, fond of listening to and narrating anecdotes of the
ben trovato class. The successor to this family home was Holland
House, a structure of a baronial cast, round which one might ex-
pect to find the remains of a moat ; a reproduction, in some points,
as in name, of the building in the suburbs of London, in which
was born the Judge's immediate heir, Mr. H. J. Boulton, succes-
sively Solicitor-General for Upper Canada, and Chief Justice of

When Holland House passed out of the hands of its original
possessor, it became the property of Mr. Alexander Manning, an
Alderman of Toronto.

It was at Holland House that the Earl and Countess of DurTerin
kept high festival during a brief sojourn in the capital of Ontario,
in 1872. Suggested by public addresses received in infinite variety,
within Holland House was written or thought out that remarkable
cycle of rescripts and replies which rendered the vice-regal visit to
Toronto so memorable, — a cycle of rescripts and replies exceed-
ingly wide in its scope, but in which each requisite topic was
touched with consummate skill, and in such a way as to show in
each direction genuine human sympathy and heartiness of feeling,
and a sincere desire to cheer and strengthen the endeavour after
the Good, the Beautiful and the True, in every quarter.

Whilst making his visit to Quebec, before coming to Toronto,

56 Toronto of Old. [§ 2.

Lord Dufferin, acting doubtless on a chivalrous and poetical im-
pulse, took up his abode in the Citadel, notwithstanding the
absence of worthy arrangements for his accommodation there.

Will not this bold and original step on the part of Lord Dufferin
lead hereafter to the conversion of the Fortress that crowns Cape
Diamond into a Rheinstein for the St. Lawrence— into an appro-
priately designed castellated habitation, to be reserved as an occa-
sional retreat, nobly-seated and grandly historic, for the Viceroys
of Canada ?

We now passed the grounds and house of Chief-Justice PowelL
In this place we shall only record our recollection of the profound
sensation created . far and wide by the loss of the Chief-Justice's
daughter in the packet ship Albion, wrecked off the Head of Kin-

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