History of Toronto Queen Street From George Street To Yonge Street
--MEMORIES OF THE OLD COURT HOUSE.
When we pass George S...
Yonge Street From Yorkville To Hogg's Hollow
Of long standing is the group of buildings on the right aft...
From Brock Street To The Old French Fort
Returning again to the front. The portion of the Common tha...
Queen Street From The Don Bridge To Caroline Street
We return once more to the Don Bridge; and from that point ...
Yonge Street From The Bay To Yorkville
The tourist of the present day, who, on one of our great la...
King Street From John Street To Yonge Street
After our long stroll westward, we had purposed returning t...
King Street: St James' Church
The first Church of St. James, at York, was a plain structu...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
At the southern end of the Church, in which we are supposin...
King Street Digression Into Duke Street
On passing George Street, as we intimated a moment ago, we ...
The Valley Of The Don
I.--From the Bridge on the Kingston Road to Tyler's.
King Street From George Street To Caroline Street
We now retrace our steps to King Street, at its intersectio...
Yonge Street: Onward From Holland Landing To Penetanguishene
To render our narrative complete, we give in a few parting ...
Queen Street From The College Avenue To Brock Street And Spadina Avenue
Pursuing our way now westward from the Avenue leading to th...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
It is beginning, perhaps, to be thought preposterous that w...
Queen Street Digression At Caroline Street History Of The Early Press
A little to the south of Britain Street, between it and Duc...
From The Garrison Back To The Place Of Beginning
We now enter again the modern Fort; passing back through th...
King Street From Yonge Street To Church Street
Where Yonge Street crosses King Street, forming at the pres...
Palace Street To The Market Place
In Rome, at the present day, the parts that are the most at...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1793-99
The first formal survey of the harbour of Toronto was made ...
King Street: Digression Northward At Church Street: The Old District Grammar School
Immediately north of the church plot, and separated from it...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
At the southern end of the Church, in which we are supposing ourselves
to be, opposite the Lieutenant-Governor's pew, but aloft in the gallery,
immediately over the central entrance underneath, was the pew of Chief
Justice Powell, a long narrow enclosure, with a high screen at its back
to keep off the draughts from the door into the gallery, just behind.
The whole of the inside of the pew, together with the screen by which it
was backed, was lined with dark green baize or cloth. The Chief's own
particular place in the pew was its central point. There, as in a focus,
surrounded by the members of his family, he calmly sat, with his face to
the north, his white head and intelligent features well brought out by
the dark back-ground of the screen behind.
The spectator, on looking up and recognizing the presence of the Chief
Justice thus seated, involuntarily imagined himself, for the moment, to
be in court. In truth, in an absent moment, the Judge himself might
experience some confusion as to his whereabouts. For below him, on his
right and left, he would see many of the barristers, attorneys, jurors
and witnesses (to go no farther), who on week days were to be seen or
heard before him in different compartments of the Court-room.
Chief Justice Powell was of Welsh descent. The name is, of course, Ap
Howell; of which "Caer Howell," "Howell's Place," the title given by the
Chief Justice to his Park-lot at York, is a relic. His portrait exists
in Toronto, in possession of members of his family. He was a man of
rather less than the ordinary stature. His features were round in
outline, unmarked by the painful lines which usually furrow the modern
judicial visage, but wakefully intelligent. His hair was milky white.
The head was inclined to be bald.
We have before us a contemporary brochure of the Chief's, from which we
learn his view of the ecclesiastical land question, which for so long a
period agitated Canada. After a full historical discussion, he
recommends the re-investment of the property in the Crown, "which," he
says, "in its bounty, will apply the proceeds equally for the support of
Christianity, without other distinction:" but he comes to this
determination reluctantly, and considers the plan to be one of
expediency only. We give the concluding paragraph of his pamphlet, for
the sake of its ring--so characteristically that of a by-gone day and
generation: "If the wise provision of Mr. Pitt," the writer says, "to
preserve the Law of the Union [between England and Scotland], by
preserving the Church of England predominant in the Colony, and touching
upon her rights to tythes only for her own advantage, and by the same
course as the Church itself desiderates in England (the exchange of
tythes for the fee simple), must be abandoned to the sudden thought of a
youthful speculator [i. e., Mr. Wilmot, Secretary for the Colonies,
who had introduced a bill into the Imperial Parliament for the sale of
the Lands to the Canada Company], let the provision of his bill cease,
and the tythes to which the Church of England was at that time lawfully
entitled be restored; she will enjoy these exclusively even of the Kirk
of Scotland: but if all veneration for the wisdom of our Ancestors has
ceased, and the time is come to prostrate the Church of England, bind
her not up in the same wythe with her bitterest enemy; force her not to
an exclusive association with any one of her rivals; leave the tythes
abolished; abolish all the legal exchange for them; and restore the
Reserves to the Crown, which, in its bounty, will apply the proceeds
equally for the support of Christianity, without other distinction."
In the body of the Church, below, sat another Chief Justice, retired
from public life, and infirm--Mr. Scott--the immediate predecessor of
Chief Justice Powell; a white-haired, venerable form, assisted to his
place, a little to the south of the Governor's pew, every Sunday. We
have already once before referred to Mr. Scott.
And again: another judicial personage was here every week long to be
seen, also crowned with the snowy honours of advanced age--Mr. Justice
Campbell--afterwards, in succession to Chief Justice Powell, Chief
Justice Sir William Campbell. His place was on the west side of the
central aisle. Sir William Campbell was born so far back as 1758. He
came out from Scotland as a soldier in a Highland regiment, and was
taken prisoner at Yorktown when that place was surrendered by Cornwallis
in 1781. In 1783 he settled in Nova Scotia and studied law. After
practising as a barrister for nineteen years he was appointed
Attorney-General for the Island of Cape Breton, from which post, after
twelve years, he was promoted to a Judgeship in Upper Canada. This was
in 1811. Fourteen years afterwards (in 1825), he became Chief Justice.
The funeral of Sir William Campbell, in 1834, was one of unusual
impressiveness. The Legislature was in session at the time, and attended
in a body, with the Bar and the Judges. At the same hour, within the
walls of the same Church, St. James', the obsequies of a member of the
Lower House took place, namely, of Mr. Roswell Mount, representative of
the County of Middlesex, who had chanced to die at York during the
A funeral oration on the two-fold occasion was pronounced by Archdeacon
Strachan.--Dr. Henry, author of "Trifles from my Portfolio," attended
Sir William Campbell in his last illness. In the work just named, his
case is thus described: "My worthy patient became very weak towards the
end of the year," the doctor says, "his nights were restless--his
appetite began to fail, and he could only relish tit bits. Medicine was
tried fruitlessly, so his doctor prescribed snipes. At the point of the
sandy peninsula opposite the barracks," Dr. Henry continues, "are a
number of little pools and marshes, frequented by these delectable
little birds; and here I used to cross over in my skiff and pick up the
Chief Justice's panacea. On this delicate food the poor old gentleman
was supported for a couple of months; but the frost set in--the snipes
flew away, and Sir William died." (ii. 112.)
Appended to the account of the funeral ceremonies, in the York Courier
of the day, we notice one of those familiar paragraphs which sensational
itemists like to construct, and which stimulate the self-complacency of
small communities. It is headed Longevity, and then thus proceeds: "At
the funeral of the late Sir W. Campbell, on Monday, there were twenty
inhabitants of York, whose united ages exceed fourteen hundred and fifty
It is certain that there were to be seen moving up the aisles of the old
wooden St. James', at York, every Sunday, a striking number of venerable
and dignified forms. For one thing their costume helped to render them
picturesque and interesting. The person of our immediate ancestors was
well set off by their dress. Recall their easy, partially cut-away black
coats and upright collars; their so-called small-clothes and buckled
shoes; the frilled shirt-bosoms and the white cravats, not apologies for
cravats, but real envelopes for the neck. (The comfortable, well-to-do
Quaker of the old school still exhibits in use some of their homely
peculiarities of garb.) And then remember the cut and arrangement of
their hair, generally milky white, either from age or by the aid of
powder; their smoothly-shaven cheek and chin; and the peculiar
expression superinduced in the eye and the whole countenance, by the
governing ideas of the period, ideas which we are wont to style
old-fashioned, but which furnished, nevertheless, for the time being,
very useful and definite rules of conduct.
Two pictures, one, Trumbull's Signing of the Declaration of
Independence; the other, Huntingdon's Republican Court of Washington
(shewn in Paris in 1867), exhibit to the eye the outward and visible
presentment of the prominent actors in the affairs of the central
portion of the Northern Continent, a century ago. These paintings may
help to do the same, in some degree, for us here in the north, also; any
one of the more conspicuous figures in the congregation of the old St.
James's, at York, might have stepped out from the canvas of one or other
of the historic works of art just named. On occasions of state, even the
silken bag (in the case of officials at least) was attached to the nape
of the neck, as though, in accordance with a fashion of an earlier day
still, the hair were yet worn long, and required gathering up in a
receptacle provided for the purpose.
It seems to-day almost like a dream that we have seen in the flesh the
honoured patriarchs and founders of our now great community--
"Zorah, Nahor, Haran, Abram, Lot,
The youthful world's gray fathers in one knot;"--
that our eyes really once beheld the traces on their countenances of
their long and varied experiences, of their cares, and processes of
thought; the traces left by the lapse of years, by times, rough and
troublous, not merely heard of by the hearing of the ear, as existing
across the Lakes or across the Seas, but encountered in their own
persons, in their own land, at their own hearths; encountered and
bravely struggled through:--that we were eye-witnesses of their
cheerfulness and good courage after crisis upon crisis had thus passed
over them; eye-witnesses again, too, of their earnest devotedness to the
duties of calmer days, discharged ever honestly and well according to
the beliefs and knowledge of the period, and without the realization, in
many an instance, of the reach and vastness of the scheme of things
which was being wrought out:--that with our own eyes we saw them, again
and again, engaged within consecrated walls, in solemn acts which
expressed, in spite of the vicissitudes which their destiny had brought
with it, their unaffected faith in the unseen, and their living hope in
relation to futurity.
All this, we say, now seems like a dream of the night, or a mystic
revelation of the scenes of a very distant period and in a very distant
locality, rather than the recollections of a few short years spent on
the spot where these pages are indited. The names, however, which we
shall produce will have a sound of reality about them: they will be
recognized as familiar, household words still perpetuated, or, at all
events, still freshly remembered in the modern Toronto.
From amongst the venerable heads and ancestral forms which recur to us,
as we gaze down in imagination from the galleries of the old wooden St.
James', of York, we will single out, in addition to those already spoken
of, that of Mr. Ridout, sometimes Surveyor-General of the Province,
father of a numerous progeny, and tribal head, so to speak, of more than
one family of connections settled here, bearing the same name. He was a
fine typical representative of the group to which our attention is
directed. He was a perfect picture of a cheerful, benevolent-minded
Englishman; of portly form, well advanced in years, his hair snowy-white
naturally; his usual costume, of the antique style above described.
Then there was Mr. Small, Clerk of the Crown, an Englishman of similar
stamp. We might sketch the rest separately as they rise before the
mind's eye; but we should probably, after all, convey an idea of each
that would be too incomplete to be interesting or of much value. We
therefore simply name other members of the remarkable group of reverend
seniors that assembled habitually in the church at York. Mr. Justice
Boulton, Colonel Smith, sometime President of the Province; Mr. Allan,
Mr. M'Gill, Mr. Crookshank, Colonel Givins, Major Heward, Colonel Wells,
Colonel Fitzgibbon, Mr. Dunn, Dr. Macaulay, Dr. Baldwin, Dr. Lee, Mr.
Samuel Ridout, Mr. Chewett, Mr. McNab (Sir Allan's father); Mr. Stephen
Jarvis, who retained to the last the ancient fashion of tying the hair
in a queue.
We might go on with several others, also founders of families that still
largely people York and its vicinity; we might mention old Captain
Playter, Captain Denison, Mr. Scarlett, Captain Brooke, sen., and
others. Filial duty would urge us not to omit, in the enumeration, one
who, though at a very early period removed by a sudden casualty, is
vividly remembered, not only as a good and watchful father, but also as
a venerable form harmonizing perfectly in expression and costume with
the rest of the group which used to gather in the church at York.
Of course, mingled with the ancients of the congregation, there was a
due proportion of a younger generation. There was for example Mr. Simon
Washburn, a bulky and prosperous barrister, afterwards Clerk of the
Peace, who was the first, perhaps, in these parts, to carry a glass
adroitly in the eye. There was Dr. Grant Powell, a handsome
reproduction, on a larger scale, of his father the Chief, as his
portrait shews; there were the Messrs. Monro, George and John; the
Messrs. Stanton; Mr. Billings; the Messrs. Gamble, John and William; Mr.
J. S. Baldwin, Mr. Lyons, Mr. Beikie, and others, all men of note,
distinguishable from each other by individual traits and characteristics
that might readily be sketched.
And lastly in the interstices of the assemblage was to be seen a
plentiful representation of generation number three; young men and lads
of good looks, for the most part, well set-up limbs, and quick
faculties; in some instances, of course, of fractious temperament and
manners. As ecclesiastical associations are at the moment uppermost, we
note an ill habit that prevailed among some of these younglings of the
flock, of loitering long about the doors of the church for the purpose
of watching the arrivals, and then, when the service was well advanced,
the striplings would be seen sporadically coming in, each one imagining,
as he passed his fingers through his hair and marched with a shew of
manly spirit up the aisle, that he attracted a degree of attention;
attracted, perhaps, a glance of admiration from some of the many pairs
of eyes that rained influence from a large pew in the eastern portion of
the north gallery, where the numerous school of Miss Purcell and Miss
Rose held a commanding position.
It would have been a singular exception to a general law, had the
interior into which we are now gazing, and whose habitues we are now
recalling, not been largely frequented by the feminine portion of
society at York. Seated in their places in various directions along the
galleries and in the body of the old wooden church, were to be regularly
seen specimens of the venerable great-grandmammas of the old English and
Scottish type (in one or two instances to be thought of to this day with
a degree of awe by reason of the vigour, almost masculine, of their
character); specimens of kindly maiden aunts; specimens of matronly
wives and mothers, keeping watch and ward over bevies of comely
daughters and nieces.
Lady Sarah Maitland herself cannot be called a fixed member of society
here, but having been for so long a time a resident, it seems now, in
the retrospect, as if she had been really a development of the place.
Her distinguished style, native to herself, had its effect on her
contemporaries of the gentler sex in these parts. Mrs. Dunn, also, and
Mrs. Wells, may likewise be named as special models of grace and
elegance in person and manner. In this all-influential portion of the
community, a tone and air that were good prevailed widely from the
It soon became a practice with the military, and other temporary
sojourners attached to the Government, to select partners for life from
the families of York. Hence it has happened that, to this day, in
England, Ireland and Scotland, and in the Dependencies of the Empire on
the other side of the globe, many are the households that rise up and
call a daughter of Canada blessed as their maternal head.
Local aspirants to the holy estate were thus unhappily, now and then, to
their great disgust, baulked of their first choice. But a residue was
always left, sufficient for the supply of the ordinary demand, and
manifold were the interlacings of local connections; a fact in which
there is nothing surprising and nothing to be condemned: it was from
political considerations alone that such affinities came afterwards to
be referred to, in some quarters, with bitterness.
Occasionally, indeed, a fastidious young man, or a disappointed widower,
would make a selection in parts remote from the home circle, quite
unnecessarily. We recall especially to mind the sensible emotion in the
congregation on the first advent amongst them of a fair bride from
Montreal, the then Paris of Canada; and several lesser excitements of
the same class, on the appearance in their midst of aerial veils and
orange blossoms from Lobo, from New York, from distant England. Once the
selection of a "helpmeet" from a rival religious communion, in the town
of York itself, led to the defection from the flock of a prominent
member; an occurrence that led also to the publication of two polemical
pamphlets, which made a momentary stir; one of them a declamation by a
French bishop; the other, a review of the same, by the pastor of the
The strictures on the intelligence and moral feeling of the feminine, as
well as the masculine portion of society at York, delivered by such
world-experienced writers as Mrs. Jameson, and such enlightened critics
as were two or three of the later Governors' wives, may have been just
in the abstract, to a certain extent, as from the point of view of old
communities in England and Germany; but they were unfair as from the
point of view of persons calmly reviewing all the circumstances of the
case. Here again the maxim applies: Tout comprendre, c'est tout
We have said that the long pew on the west side of the Governor's seat
was allotted to the military. In this compartment we remember often
scanning with interest the countenance and form of a youthful and
delicate-looking ensign, simply because he bore, hereditarily, a name
and title all complete, distinguished in the annals of science two
centuries ago--the Hon. Robert Boyle: he was one of the aides-de-camp of
Sir Peregrine Maitland. Here, also, was to be seen, for a time, a Major
Browne, a brother of the formerly popular poetess, Mrs. Hemans. Here,
too, sat a Zachary Mudge, another hereditary name complete,
distinguished in the scientific annals of Devonshire. He was an officer
of Artillery, and one of Sir John Colborne's aides-de-camp; for some
unexplained reason he committed suicide at York, and his remains were
deposited in the old military burying-ground. In this pew familiar forms
were also--Major Powell, Capt. Grubbe, Major Hillier, Capt. Blois, Capt,
Phillpotts, brother of the Bishop.
The compartment on the east side of the Governor's pew, was as we have
said, appointed for the use of the members of the Legislature, when in
session. Here at certain periods, generally in mid-winter, were to be
observed all the political notabilities of the day; for at the period we
are glancing at, non-conformists as well as conformists were to be seen
assisting, now and again, at public worship in St. James' Church.
In their places here the outward presentments of Col. Nichol (killed by
driving over the precipice at Queenston), of Mr. Homer (a Benjamin
Franklin style of countenance), of Dr. Lefferty, of Hamnet Pinhey, of
Mahlon Burwell, of Absalom Shade, of other owners of old Canadian names,
are well remembered. The spare, slender figure of Mr. Speaker Sherwood,
afterwards a judge of the King's Bench, was noticeable. Mr. Chisholm, of
Oakville, used facetiously to object to the clause in the Litany where
"heresy and schism" are deprecated, it so happening that the last term
was usually, by a Scotticism, read "Chisholm." Up to the Parliamentary
pew we have seen Mr. William Lyon McKenzie himself hurriedly make his
way, with an air of great animation, and take his seat, to the visible,
but, of course, repressed disconcertment of several honourable members,
Altogether, it was a very complete little world, this assemblage within
the walls of the old wooden church at York. There were present, so to
speak, king, lords, and commons; gentle and simple in due proportion,
with their wives and little ones; judges, magistrates and gentry;
representatives of governmental departments, with their employes;
legislators, merchants, tradespeople, handicraftsmen; soldiers and
sailors; a great variety of class and character.
All seemed to be in harmony, real or conventional, here; whatever feuds,
family or political, actually subsisted, no very marked symptoms thereof
could be discerned in this place. But the history of all was known, or
supposed to be known, to each. The relationship of each to each was
known, and how it was brought about. It was known to all how every
little scar, every trivial mutilation or disfigurement, which chanced to
be visible on the visage or limb of any one, was acquired, in the
performance of what boyish freak, in the execution of what practical
jest, in the excitement of what convivial or other occasion.
Here and there sat one who, in obedience to the social code of the day,
had been "out," for the satisfaction, as the term was, of himself or
another, perhaps a quondam friend--satisfaction obtained (let the age be
responsible for the terms we use), in more than one instance, at the
cost of human life.
(Pewholders in St. James' Church from its commencement to about 1818,
were President Russell: Mr. Justice Cochrane: Mr. Justice Boulton:
Solicitor General Gray: Receiver General Selby: Christopher Robinson:
George Crookshank: William Chewett: J. B. Robinson: Alexander Wood:
William Willcocks: John Beikie: Alexander Macdonell: Chief Justice
Elmsley: Chief Justice Osgoode: Chief Justice Scott: Chief Justice
Powell: Attorney General Firth: Secretary Jarvis: General Shaw: Col.
Smith: D'Arcy Boulton: William Allan: Duncan Cameron: John Small: Thomas
Ridout: William Stanton: Stephen Heward: Donald McLean: Stephen Jarvis:
Capt. McGill: Col. Givins: Dr. Maccaulay: Dr. Gamble: Dr. Baldwin: Dr.
Lee: Mr. St. George: Mr. Denison: Mr. Playter: Mr. Brooke: Mr. Cawthra:
Mr. Scadding: Mr. Ketchum: Mr. Cooper: Mr. Ross: Mr. Jordan: Mr.
Kendrick: Mr. Hunt: Mr. Higgins: Mr. Anderson: Mr. Murchison: Mr.
Bright: Mr. O'Keefe: Mr. Caleb Humphrey.--The Churchwardens for 1807-8
were: D'Arcy Boulton and William Allan. For 1809: William Allan and
Thomas Ridout. For 1810: William Allan and Stephen Jarvis. For 1812:
Duncan Cameron and Alexander Legge.)
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