Queen Street From Brock Street And Spadina Avenue To The Humber
Immediately after the grounds and property of Mr. Dunn, on the same
side, and across the very broad Brock Street, which is an opening of
modern date, was to be seen until recently, a modest dwelling-place of
wood, somewhat peculiar in expression, square, and rather tall for its
depth and width, of dingy hue; its roof four-sided; below, a number of
lean-to's and irregular extensions clustering round; in front, low
shrubbery, a circular drive, and a wide, open-barred gate. This was the
home of one who has acquired a distinguished place in our local annals,
military and civil--Colonel James Fitzgibbon.
A memorable exploit of his, in the war with the United States in 1813,
was the capture of a force of 450 infantry, 50 cavalry and two guns,
when in command himself, at the moment, of only forty-eight men. He had
been put in charge of a depot of stores, at the Beaver Dams, between
Queenston and Thorold. Colonel Boerstler, of the invading army, was
despatched from Fort George, at Niagara, with orders to take this depot.
Fitzgibbon was apprized of his approach. Reconnoitring, and discovering
that Boerstler had been somewhat disconcerted, on his march, by a
straggling fire from the woods, kept up by a few militiamen and about
thirty Indians under Captain Kerr, he conceived the bold idea of dashing
out and demanding a surrender of the enemy! Accordingly, spreading his
little force judiciously, he suddenly presented himself, waving a white
pocket-handkerchief. He was an officer, he hurriedly announced, in
command of a detachment: his superior officer, with a large force, was
in the rear; and the Indians were unmanageable. (Some extemporized
war-whoops were to be heard at the moment in the distance.)
The suggestion of a capitulation was listened to by Colonel Boerstler as
a dictate of humanity. The truth was, Major DeHaren, of the Canadian
force, to whom, in the neighbourhood of what is now St. Catharines, a
message had been sent, was momentarily expected, with 200 men. To gain
time, Fitzgibbon made it a matter of importance that the terms of the
surrender should be reduced to writing. Scarcely was the document
completed when DeHaren arrived. Had there been the least further delay
on his part, how to dispose of the prisoners would have been a
Lieutenant Fitzgibbon was now soon Captain Fitzgibbon. He had previously
been a private in the 19th and 61st Regiments, having enlisted in
Ireland at the age of seventeen. On the day of his enrolment, he was
promoted to the rank of sergeant; and a very few years later he was a
sergeant-major. He saw active service in Holland and Denmark. His title
of Colonel was derived from his rank in our Canadian Militia.
His tall muscular figure, ever in buoyant motion; his grey,
good-humoured vivacious eye, beaming out from underneath a bushy,
light-coloured eyebrow; the cheery ring of his voice, and its animated
utterances, were familiar to everyone. In the midst of a gathering of
the young, whether in the school-room or on the play-ground, his
presence was always warmly hailed. They at once recognized in him a
genuine sympathizer with themselves in their ways and wants; and he had
ever ready for them words of hope and encouragement.
Our own last personal recollection of Colonel Fitzgibbon is connected
with a visit which we chanced to pay him at his quarters in Windsor
Castle, where, in his old age, through the interest of Lord Seaton, he
had been appointed one of the Military Knights. Though most romantically
ensconced and very comfortably lodged, within the walls of the noblest
of all the royal residences of Europe, his heart, we found, was far
away, ever recurring to the scenes of old activities. Where the light
streamed in through what seemed properly an embrasure for cannon,
pierced through a wall several yards in thickness, we saw a pile of
Canadian newspapers. To pore over these was his favourite occupation.
After chatting with him in his room, we went with him to attend Divine
Service in the magnificent Chapel of St. George, close by. We then
strolled together round the ramparts of the Castle, enjoying the
incomparable views. Since the time of William IV. the habit of the
Military Knights is that of an officer of high rank in full dress,
cocked hat and feather included. As our venerable friend passed the
several sentries placed at intervals about the Castle, arms were duly
presented; an attention which each time elicited from the Colonel the
words, rapidly interposed in the midst of a stream of earnest talk, and
accompanied by deprecatory gestures of the hand, "Never mind me, boy!
never mind me!"
Colonel Fitzgibbon took the fancy of Mrs. Jameson when in Canada. She
devotes several pages of her "Winter Studies" to the story of his life.
She gives some account of his marriage. The moment he received his
captaincy, she tells us, "he surprised General Sheaffe, his commanding
officer, by asking for a leave of absence, although the war was still at
its height. In explanation, he said he wished to have his nuptials
celebrated, so that if a fatal disaster happened to himself, his bride
might enjoy the pension of a captain's widow. The desired leave was
granted, and after riding some 150 miles and accomplishing his purpose,
he was back in an incredibly short space of time at head-quarters again.
No fatal disaster occurred, and he lived," Mrs. Jameson adds "to be the
father of four brave sons and one gentle daughter."
The name of Colonel Fitzgibbon recalls the recollection of his sister,
Mrs. Washburne, remarkable of old, in York, for dash and spirit on
horseback, spite of extra embonpoint; for a distinguished dignity of
bearing, combined with a marked Hibernian heartiness and gaiety of
manner. As to the "four brave sons and one gentle daughter," all have
now passed away: one of the former met with a painful death from the
giving way of a crowded gallery at a political meeting in the Market
Square, as previously narrated. All four lads were favourites with their
associates, and partook of their father's temperament.
Of Spadina Avenue, which we crossed in our approach to Col. Fitzgibbon's
old home, and of Spadina house, visible in the far distance at the head
of the Avenue, we have already spoken in our Collections and
Recollections, connected with Front Street.
In passing we make an addition to what was then narrated. The career of
Dr. Baldwin, the projector of the Avenue, and the builder of Spadina, is
now a part of Upper Canadian history. It presents a curious instance of
that versatility which we have had occasion to notice in so many of the
men who have been eminent in this country. A medical graduate of
Edinburgh, and in that capacity, commencing life in Ireland--on settling
in Canada, he began the study of Law and became a leading member of the
On his arrival at York, from the first Canadian home of his father on
Baldwin's Creek in the township of Clarke, Dr. Baldwin's purpose was to
turn to account for a time his own educational acquirements, by
undertaking the office of a teacher of youth. In several successive
numbers of the Gazette and Oracle of 1802-3 we read the following
advertisement: "Dr. Baldwin understanding that some of the gentlemen of
this Town have expressed some anxiety for the establishment of a
Classical School, begs leave to inform them and the public that he
intends on Monday the first day of January next, to open a School in
which he will instruct Twelve Boys in Writing, Reading, and Classics and
Arithmetic. The terms are, for each boy, eight guineas per annum, to be
paid quarterly or half-yearly; one guinea entrance and one cord of wood
to be supplied by each of the boys on opening the School. N.B.--Mr.
Baldwin will meet his pupils at Mr. Willcocks' house on Duke Street.
York, December 18th, 1802." Of the results of this enterprise we have
not at hand any record.
The Russell bequest augmented in no slight degree the previous
possessions of Dr. Baldwin. In the magnificent dimensions assigned to
the thoroughfare opened up by him in the neighbourhood of Petersfield,
we have probably a visible expression of the large-handed generosity
which a pleasant windfall is apt to inspire. Spadina Avenue is 160 feet
wide throughout its mile-and-a-half length; and the part of Queen Street
that bounds the front of the Petersfield park-lot, is made suddenly to
expand to the width of 90 feet. Maria Street also, a short street here,
is of extra width. The portion of York, now Toronto, laid out by Dr.
Baldwin on a fraction of the land opportunely inherited, will, when
solidly built over, rival Washington or St. Petersburg in grandeur of
ground-plan and design.
The career of Dr. Rolph, another of our early Upper Canadian
notabilities, resembles in some respects, that of Dr. Baldwin. Before
emigrating from Gloucestershire, he began life as a medical man. On
arriving in Canada he transferred himself to the Bar. In this case,
however, after the attainment of eminence in the newly adopted
profession, there was a return to the original pursuit, with the
acquisition in that also, of a splendid reputation. Both acquired the
local style of Honourable: Dr. Rolph by having been a member of the
Hincks-ministry from 1851 to 1854; Dr. Baldwin by being summoned, six
months before his decease, to the Legislative Council of United Canada,
while his son was Attorney-General.
Mr. William Willcocks, allied by marriage to Dr. Baldwin's family,
selected the park-lot at which we arrive after crossing Spadina Avenue.
A lake in the Oak Ridges (Lake Willcocks) has its name from the same
early inhabitant. In 1802 he was Judge of the Home District Court. He is
to be distinguished from the ultra-Reformer, Sheriff Willcocks, of Judge
Thorpe's day, whose name was Joseph; and from Charles Willcocks, who in
1818 was proposing, through the columns of the Upper Canada Gazette,
to publish, by subscription, a history of his own life. The
advertisement was as follows (what finally came of it, we are not able
to state):--"The subscriber proposes to publish, by subscription, a
History of his Life. The subscription to be One Dollar, to be paid by
each subscriber; one-half in advance; the other half on the delivery of
the Book. The money to be paid to his agent, Mr. Thomas Deary, who will
give receipts and deliver the Books. Charles Willcocks, late Lieutenant,
City of Cork Militia. York, March, 17th, 1818."
This Mr. Charles Willcocks once fancied he had grounds for challenging
his name-sake, Joseph, to mortal combat, according to the barbaric
notions of the time. But at the hour named for the meeting, Joseph did
not appear on the ground. Charles waited a reasonable time. He then
chipped off a square inch or so of the bark of a neighbouring tree, and,
stationing himself at duelling distance, discharged his pistol at the
mark which he had made. As the ball buried itself in the spot at which
aim had been taken, he loudly bewailed his old friend's reluctance to
face him. "Oh, Joe, Joe!" he passionately cried, "if you had only been
Although Joseph escaped this time, he was not so fortunate afterwards.
He fell, as we have already noted in connexion with the Early Press,
"foremost fighting" in the ranks of the invaders of Upper Canada in
1814. The incident is briefly mentioned in the Montreal Herald of the
15th of October, in that year, in the following terms: "It is officially
announced by General Ripley (on the American side, that is), that the
traitor Willcocks was killed in the sortie from Fort Erie on the 4th
ult., greatly lamented by his general and the army." Undertaking with
impetuosity a crusade against the governmental ideas which were locally
in the ascendant, and encountering the resistance customary in such
cases, he cut the knot of his discontent by joining the Republican force
when it made its appearance.
The Willcocks park-lot, or a portion of it, was afterwards possessed by
Mr. Billings, a well-remembered Commissariat officer, long stationed at
York. He built the house subsequently known as Englefield, which, later,
was the home of Colonel Loring, who, at the time of the taking of York,
in 1813, had his horse killed under him; and here he died. Mr. Billings
and Colonel Loring both had sons, of whom we make brief mention as
having been in the olden times among our own school-boy associates, but
who now, like so many more personal contemporaries, already noted, are,
after brief careers, deceased. An announcement in the Montreal Herald
of February 4th, 1815, admits us to a domestic scene in the household of
Colonel, at the time Captain, Loring. (The Treaty of Peace with the
United States was signed at Ghent, on the 24th of December, 1814. Its
effect was being pleasantly realized in Canada, in January, 1815). "At
Prescott," the Herald reports, "on Thursday, 26th January, the lady of
Capt. Loring, Aide-de-Camp and Private Secretary to His Honor
Lieut.-Gen. Drummond, was safely delivered of a daughter." The Herald
then adds: "The happy father had returned from a state of captivity with
the enemy, but a few hours previous to the joyful event." Capt. Loring
had been taken prisoner in the battle of Lundy's Lane, in the preceding
The first occupant of the next lot (No. 16) westward, was Mr. Baby, of
whom we have spoken in former sections. Opposite was the house of
Bernard Turquand, an Englishman of note, for many years first clerk in
the Receiver-General's department. He was an early promoter of amateur
boating among us, a recreation with which possibly he had become
familiar at Malta, where he was long a resident. Just beyond on the same
side, was the dwelling-place of Major Winniett,--a long, low, one-storey
bungalow, of a neutral tint in colour, its roof spreading out,
verandah-wise, on both sides.
After the name of Mr. Baby, on the early plan of the park-lots, comes
the name of Mr. Grant--"the Hon. Alexander Grant." During the
interregnum between the death of Governor Hunter and the arrival of
Governor Gore, Mr. Grant, as senior member of the Executive Council, was
President of Upper Canada. The Parliament that sat during his brief
administration, appropriated L800 to the purchase of instruments for
illustrating the principles of Natural Philosophy, "to be deposited in
the hands of a person employed in the Education of Youth;" from the
debris of which collection, preserved in a mutilated condition in one of
the rooms of the Home District School building, we ourselves, like
others probably of our contemporaries, obtained our very earliest
inkling of the existence and significance of scientific apparatus.
In his speech at the close of the session of 1806, President Grant
alluded to this action of Parliament in the following terms: "The
encouragement which you have given for procuring the means necessary for
communicating useful and ornamental knowledge to the rising generation,
meets with my approbation, and, I have no doubt, will produce the most
salutary effects." Mr. Grant was also known as Commodore Grant, having
had, at one time, command of the Naval Force on the Lakes.
After Mr. Grant's name appears that of "E. B. Littlehales." This is the
Major Littlehales with whom those who familiarize themselves with the
earliest records of Upper Canada become so well acquainted. He was the
writer, for example, of the interesting journal of an Exploring
Excursion from Niagara to Detroit in 1793, to be seen in print in the
Canadian Literary Magazine of May, 1834; an expedition undertaken, as
the document itself sets forth, by the Lieut.-Governor, accompanied by
Captain Fitzgerald, Lieutenant Smith of the 5th Regiment, and
Lieutenants Talbot, Grey and Givins, and Major Littlehales, starting
from Niagara on the 4th of February, arriving at Detroit on the 18th, by
a route which was 270 miles in length. The return began on the 23rd, and
was completed on the 10th of the following month.
It was in this expedition that the site of London, on the Thames, was
first examined, and judged to be "a situation eminently calculated for
the metropolis of all Canada." "Among other essentials," says Major
Littlehales, "it possesses the following advantages: command of
territory--internal situation--central position, facility of water
communication up and down the Thames into Lakes St. Clair, Erie, Huron,
and Superior,--navigable for boats to near its source, and for small
craft probably to the Moravian settlement,--to the southward by a
small portage to the waters flowing into Lake Huron--to the south-east
by a carrying-place into Lake Ontario and the River St. Lawrence; the
soil luxuriantly fertile,--the land rich and capable of being easily
cleared, and soon put into a state of agriculture,--a pinery upon an
adjacent high knoll, and other timber on the heights, well calculated
for the erection of public buildings,--a climate not inferior to any
part of Canada."
The intention of the Governor, at one time, was that the future capital
should be named Georgina, in compliment to George III. Had that
intention been adhered to, posterity would have been saved some
confusion. To this hour, the name of our Canadian London gives trouble
in the post-office and elsewhere. Georgina was a name not inaptly
conceived, suggested doubtless by the title "Augusta," borne by so many
places of old, as, for example, by London itself, the Veritable, in
honour of the Augustus, the Emperor of the day. We might perhaps have
rather expected Georgiana, on the analogy of Aureliana (Orleans), from
Aurelius, or Georgia, after Julia, a frequent local appellation from the
imperial Julius.--Already, had Georgius, temp. Geo. II., yielded Georgia
as the name of a province, and later, temp. Geo. III., the same royal
name had been associated with the style and title of a new planet, the
Georgium Sidus, suggested probably by the Julium Sidus of Horace. We
presume, also, that the large subdivision of Lake Huron, known as the
Georgian Bay, had for its name a like loyal origin. (The name Georgina,
is preserved in that of a now flourishing township on Lake Simcoe.)
An incident not recorded in Major Littlehales' Journal was the order of
a grand parade (of ten men), and a formal discharge of musketry, issued
in jocose mood by the Governor to Lieut. Givins; which was duly executed
as a ceremony of inauguration for the new capital.
The capture of a porcupine, however, somewhere near the site of the
proposed metropolis is noted by the Major. In the narrative the name of
Lieut. Givins comes up. "The young Indians who had chased a herd of deer
in company with Lieut. Givins," he says, "returned unsuccessful, but
brought with them a large porcupine: which was very seasonable," he
remarks, "as our provisions were nearly exhausted. This animal," he
observes, "afforded us a good repast, and tasted like a pig." The
Newfoundland dog, he adds, attempted to bite the porcupine, but soon got
his mouth filled with the barbed quills, which gave him exquisite pain.
An Indian undertook to extract them, he then says, and with much
perseverance plucked them out, one by one, and carefully applied a root
or decoction, which speedily healed the wound.
From Major Littlehales' Journal it appears that it was the practice of
the party to wind up each day's proceedings by singing "God save the
King." Thus on the 28th Feb., before arriving at the site of London, we
have it recorded: "At six we stopped at an old Mississagua hut, upon the
south side of the Thames. After taking some refreshment of salt pork and
venison, well-cooked by Lieutenant Smith, who superintended that
department, we, as usual, sang God save the King, and went to rest."
The Duke de Liancourt, in his Travels in North America, speaks of
Major Littlehales in the following pleasant terms: "Before I close the
article of Niagara," he says, "I must make particular mention of the
civility shewn us by Major Littlehales, adjutant and first secretary to
the Governor, a well-bred, mild and amiable man, who has the charge of
the whole correspondence of government, and acquits himself with
peculiar ability and application. Major Littlehales," the Duke says,
"appeared to possess the confidence of the country. This is not
unfrequently the case with men in place and power; but his worth,
politeness, prudence, and judgment, give this officer peculiar claims to
the confidence and respect which he universally enjoys."
In the Oracle of Feb. 24, 1798, a report of the death of this officer
is contradicted. "We have the pleasure of declaring the account received
in December last of the death of Col. Littlehales premature. Letters
have been recently received from him dated in England." He had probably
returned home with Gen. Simcoe. In the same paper a flying rumour is
noticed, to the effect "that His Excellency Governor Simcoe is appointed
Governor General of the Canadas."
Major Littlehales afterwards attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel,
and was created a baronet in 1802. In 1801 he was appointed
under-Secretary for Ireland; and he held this office for nineteen years.
Major Littlehales' park-lot became subsequently the property of Capt.
John Denison, and from him descended to his heir Col. George Taylor
Denison, from whom the street now passing from south to north has its
name, Denison Avenue. This thoroughfare was, in the first instance, the
drive up to the homestead of the estate, Bellevue, a large white
cheery-looking abode, lying far back but pleasantly visible from Lot
Street through a long vista of overhanging trees.--From the old Bellevue
have spread populous colonies at Dovercourt, Rusholme and elsewhere,
marked, like their progenitor, with vigour of character, and evincing in
a succession of instances strong aptitude for military affairs. Col.
Denison's grandson, G. T. Denison tertius, is the author of a work on
"Modern Cavalry, its Organisation, Armament and Employment in War,"
which has taken a recognized place in English strategetical literature.
In accordance with an early Canadian practice, Capt. John Dennison set
apart on his property a plot of ground as a receptacle for the mortal
remains of himself and his descendants. He selected for this purpose a
picturesque spot on land possessed by him on the Humber river, entailing
at the same time the surrounding estate. In 1853,--although at that date
an Act of Parliament had cancelled entails,--his heir, Col. G. T.
Denison, primus, perpetually connected the land referred to, together
with the burial plot, with his family and descendants, by converting it
into an endowment for an ecclesiastical living, to be always in the gift
of the legal representative of his name. This is the projected rectory
of St. John's on the Humber. In 1857, a son of Col. Denison's, Robert
Britton Denison, erected at his own cost, in immediate proximity to the
old Bellevue homestead, the church of St. Stephen, and took steps to
make it in perpetuity a recognized ecclesiastical benefice.
The boundary of Major Littlehales' lot westward was near what is now
Bathurst Street. In front of this lot, on the south side of Lot street,
and stretching far to the west, was the Government Common, of which we
have previously spoken, on which was traced out, at first ideally, and
at length in reality, the arc of a circle of 1,000 yards radius, having
the Garrison as its centre. Southward of the concave side of this arc no
buildings were for a long time permitted to be erected. This gave rise
to a curiously-shaped enclosure, northward of St. Andrew's Market-house,
wide towards the east, but vanishing off to nothing on the west, at the
point where Lot Street formed a tangent with the military circle.
Of Portland Street and Bathurst Street we have already spoken in our
survey of Front Street. Immediately opposite Portland Street was the
abode, at the latter period of his life, of Dr. Lee, to whom we have
referred in our accounts of Front and George Streets. Glancing northward
as we pass Bathurst Street, which, by the way, north of Lot Street, was
long known as Crookshank's Lane, we are reminded again of Mr. Murchison,
whom we have likewise briefly commemorated elsewhere. The substantial
abode to which he retired after acquiring a good competency, and where
in 1870 he died, is to be seen on the east side of Bathurst Street.
The names which appear in the early plans of York and its suburbs, as
the first possessors of the park lots westward of Major Littlehales',
are, in order of succession, respectively, Col. David Shank, Capt.
Macdonell, Capt. S. Smith, Capt. AE. Shaw, Capt. Bouchette. We then
arrive at the line of the present Dundas road, where it passes at right
angles north from the line of Queen Street. This thoroughfare is not
laid down in the plans. Then follow the names of David Burns, William
Chewitt and Alexander MacNab (conjointly), Thomas Ridout and William
Allan (conjointly), and Angus Macdonell. We then reach a road duly
marked, leading straight down to the French Fort, Fort Rouille, commonly
known as Fort Toronto. Across this road westward, only one lot is laid
off, and on it is the name of Benjamin Hallowell.
Most of the names first enumerated are very familiar to those whose
recollections embrace the period to which our attention is now being
directed. Many of them have occurred again and again in these papers.
In regard to Col. David Shank, the first occupant of the park lot
westward of Major Littlehales', we must content ourselves with some
brief "Collections." In the Simcoe correspondence, preserved at Ottawa,
there is an interesting mention of him, associated, as it appropriately
happens, with his neighbour-locatees to the east and west here on Lot
Street. In a private letter to the "Secretary at War," Sir George Yonge,
from Governor Simcoe, dated Jan. 17th, 1792, announcing his arrival at
Montreal, en route for his new Government, still far up "the most
august of rivers," Capt. Shank is spoken of as being on his way to the
same destination in command of a portion of the Queen's Rangers, in
company with Capt. Smith.
There is noted in the same document, it will be observed, a gallant
achievement of Capt. Shaw's, who, the Governor reports, had just
successfully marched with his division of the same regiment all the way
from New Brunswick to Montreal, in the depth of winter, on snow-shoes.
"It is with infinite pleasure," writes Governor Simcoe to Sir George
Yonge, "that I received your letter of the 1st of April by Capt.
Littlehales. On the 13th of June," he continues, "that officer overtook
me on the St. Lawrence, as I was on my passage in batteaux up the most
august of rivers. It has given me great satisfaction," the Governor
says, "that the Queen's Rangers have arrived so early. Capt. Shaw, who
crossed in the depth of winter on snow-shoes from New Brunswick, is now
at Kingston with the troops of the two first ships; and Captains Shank
and Smith, with the remainder, are, I trust, at no great distance from
this place,--as the wind has served for the last 36 hours, and I hope
with sufficient force to enable them to pass the Rapids of the
Richelieu, where they have been detained some days." Governor Simcoe
himself, as we learn from this correspondence, had landed at Quebec on
the 11th of November preceding (1791), in the "Triton," Capt. Murray,
"after a blustering passage."
In addition to the lot immediately after Major Littlehales', Col. Shank
also possessed another in this range, just beyond, viz., No. 21.
The Capt. Macdonell, whose name appears on the lot that follows Col.
Shank's first lot, was the aide-de-camp of Gen. Brock, who fell, with
that General, at Queenston Heights. Capt. Macdonell's lot was afterwards
the property of Mr. Crookshank, from whom what is now Bathurst Street
North had, as we have remarked, for a time the name of Crookshank's
Capt. S. Smith, whose name follows those of Capt. Macdonell and Col.
Shank, was afterwards President Smith, of whom already. The park lot
selected by him was subsequently the property of Mr. Duncan Cameron, a
member of the Legislative Council, freshly remembered. At an early
period, the whole was known by the graceful appellation of Gore Vale.
Gore was in honour of the Governor of that name. Vale denoted the ravine
which indented a portion of the lot through whose meadow-land meandered
a pleasant little stream. The southern half of this lot now forms the
site and grounds of the University of Trinity College. Its brooklet will
hereafter be famous in scholastic song. It will be regarded as the
Cephissus of a Canadian Academus, the Cherwell of an infant Christ
Church. The elmy dale which gives such agreeable variety to the park of
Trinity College, and which renders so charming the views from the
Provost's Lodge, is irrigated by it. (The cupola and tower of the
principal entrance to Trinity College will pleasantly, in however humble
a degree, recall to the minds of Oxford-men, the Tom Gate of Christ
Church.)--After the decease of Mr. Cameron, Gore Vale was long occupied
by his excellent and benevolent sister, Miss Janet Cameron.
On the steep mound which overhangs the Gore Vale brook, on its eastern
side, just where it is crossed by Queen Street, was, at an early period,
a Blockhouse commanding the western approach to York. On the old plans
this military work is shown, as also a path leading to it across the
Common from the Garrison, trodden often probably by the relief party of
the guard that would be stationed there in anxious times.
In the valley of this stream a little farther to the west, on the
opposite side of Queen Street, was a Brewery of local repute: it was a
long, low-lying dingy-looking building of hewn logs; on the side towards
the street a railed gangway led from the road to a door in its upper
storey. Conspicuous on the hill above the valley on the western side was
the house, also of hewn logs, but cased over with clap-boards, of Mr.
Farr, the proprietor of the brewery, a north-of-England man in aspect,
as well as in staidness and shrewdness of character. His spare form and
slightly crippled gait were everywhere familiarly recognized. Greatly
respected, he was still surviving in 1872. His chief assistant in the
old brewery bore the name of Bow-beer. (At Canterbury, we remember, many
years ago, when the abbey of St. Augustine there, now a famous
Missionary College, was a Brewery, on the beautiful turretted gateway,
wherein were the coolers, the inscription "Beer, Brewer," was
conspicuous; the name of the brewer in occupation of the grand monastic
ruin being Beer, a common name, sometimes given as Bere; but which in
reality is Bear.)
The stream which is here crossed by Queen Street is the same that
afterwards flows below the easternmost bastion of the Fort. A portion of
the broken ground between Farr's and the Garrison was once designated by
the local Government--so far as an order in Council has force--and
permanently set apart, as a site for a Museum and Institute of Natural
History and Philosophy, with Botanical and Zoological Gardens attached.
The project, originated by Dr. Dunlop, Dr. Rees and Mr. Fothergill, and
patronized by successive Lieutenant-Governors, was probably too bold in
its conception, and too advanced to be justly appreciated and earnestly
taken up by a sufficient number of the contemporary public forty years
ago. It consequently fell to the ground. It is to be regretted that, at
all events, the land, for which an order in Council stands recorded, was
not secured in perpetuity as a source of revenue for the promotion of
science. In the Canadian Institute we have the kind of Association which
was designed by Drs. Dunlop and Rees and Mr. Fothergill, but minus the
revenue which the ground-rent of two or three building lots in a
flourishing city would conveniently supply.
Capt. AEneas Shaw, the original locatee of the park-lot next westward of
Colonel Shank's second lot, was afterwards well known in Upper Canada as
Major General Shaw. Like so many of our early men of note he was a
Scotchman; a Shaw of Tordorach in Strathnairn. Possessed of great vigour
and decision, his adopted country availed itself of his services in a
civil as well as a military capacity, making him a member of the
legislative and executive councils. The name by which his house and
estate at this point were known, was Oakhill. The primitive domicile
still exists and in 1871 was still occupied by one of his many
descendants, Capt. Alex. Shaw.--It was at Oakhill that the Duke of Kent
was lodged during his visit to York in his second tour in Upper Canada.
The Duke arrived at Halifax on the 12th of September, 1799, after a
passage from England of forty-three days, "on board of the Arethusa."
Of Col. Joseph Bouchette, whose name is read on the following allotment,
we have had occasion already to speak. He was one of the many French
Canadians of eminence who, in the early days, were distinguished for
their chivalrous attachment to the cause and service of England. The
successor of Col. Bouchette in the proprietorship of the park lot at
which we have arrived, was Col. Givins.--He, as we have already seen,
was one of the companions of Gov. Simcoe in the first exploration of
Upper Canada. Before obtaining a commission in the army, he had been as
a youth employed in the North-West, and had acquired a familiar
acquaintance with the Otchibway and Huron dialects. This acquisition
rendered his services of especial value to the Government in its
dealings with the native tribes, among whom also the mettle and ardor
and energy of his own natural character gave him a powerful influence.
At the express desire of Governor Simcoe he studied and mastered the
dialects of the Six Nations, as well as those of the Otchibways and
their Mississaga allies.--We ourselves remember seeing a considerable
body of Indian chiefs kept in order and good humour mainly through the
tact exercised by Col. Givins. This was at a Council held in the garden
at Government House some forty years since, and presided over by the
then Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Colborne.
Col. Givins was Superintendent of Indian Affairs down to the year 1842.
In 1828 his name was connected with an incident that locally made a
noise for a time. A committee of the House of Assembly, desiring to have
his evidence and that of Col. Coffin, Adjutant General of Militia, in
relation to a trespass by one Forsyth on Government property at the
Falls of Niagara, commanded their presence at a certain day and hour. On
referring to Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor at the
time, and also Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, permission to obey the
mandate of the House was refused. Col. Givins and Col. Coffin were then
arrested by the Sergeant-at-arms, after forcible entry effected at their
respective domiciles, and were kept confined in the common gaol until
the close of the session.
The following is Col. Coffin's letter to Major Hillier, private
secretary to the Governor, on the occasion: "York, March 22nd, 1828.
Sir,--I beg leave to request that you will state to the Lieutenant
Governor that in obedience to the communication I received through you,
that His Excellency could not give me permission to attend a Committee
of the House of Assembly for the reason therein stated, that I did not
attend the said Committee, and that in consequence thereof, I have been
committed this evening to the common gaol of the Home District, by order
of the House of Assembly. I have therefore to pray that His Excellency
will be pleased to direct that I may have the advice and assistance of
the Crown Officers, to enable me take such steps as I may be instructed
on the occasion. I have the honour, &c., N. Coffin, Adjt. Gen. of
No redress was to be had. The Executive Council reported in regard to
this letter that upon mature consideration they could not advise that
the Government should interfere to give any direction to the Crown
Officers, as therein solicited. Sir Peregrine Maitland was removed from
the Government in the same year. Sir George Murray, who in that year
succeeded Mr. Huskisson as Colonial Secretary, severely censured him for
the line of action adopted in relation to the Forsyth grievance.
Colonels Givins and Coffin afterwards brought an action against the
Speaker of the House for false imprisonment, but they did not recover:
for the legality of the imprisonment, that is the right of the House to
convict for what they had adjudged a contempt, was confirmed by the
Court of King's Bench, by a solemn judgment rendered in another cause
then pending, which involved the same question.
Although its hundred-acre domain is being rapidly narrowed and
circumscribed by the encroachments of modern improvement, the old family
abode of Col. Givins still stands, wearing at this day a look of
peculiar calm and tranquillity, screened from the outer world by a dark
grove of second-growth pine, and overshadowed by a number of acacias of
unusual height and girth.
Governor Gore and his lady, Mrs. Arabella Gore, were constant visitors
at Pine Grove, as this house was named; and here to this day is
preserved a very fine portrait, in oil, of that Governor. It will
satisfy the ideal likely to be fashioned in the mind by the current
traditions of this particular ruler of Upper Canada. In contour of
countenance and in costume he is plainly of the type of the English
country squire of a former day. He looks good humoured and shrewd;
sturdy and self-willed; and fond of good cheer.
The cavalier style adopted by Gov. Gore towards the local parliament was
one of the seeds of trouble at a later date in the history of Upper
Canada. "He would dismiss the rascals at once." Such was his
determination on their coming to a vote adverse to his notions; and,
scarcely like a Cromwell, but rather like a Louis XIV., though still
not, as in the case of that monarch, with a riding-whip in his hand, but
nevertheless, in the undress of the moment, he proceeded to carry out
his hasty resolve.
The entry of the incident in the Journals of the House is as follows:
"On Monday, 7th April, at 11 o'clock a.m., before the minutes of the
former day were read, and without any previous notice, the Commons, to
the great surprise of all the members, were summoned to the bar of the
Legislative Council, when his Excellency having assented, in his
Majesty's name, to several bills, and reserved for his Majesty's
pleasure the Bank bill, and another, to enable creditors to sue joint
debtors separately, put an end to the session by the following
speech:--'Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen
of the House of Assembly,--The session of the provincial legislature
having been protracted by an unusual interruption of business at its
commencement, your longer absence from your respective avocations must
be too great a sacrifice for the objects which remain to occupy your
attention. I have therefore come to close the session and permit you to
return to your homes. In accepting, in the name of his Majesty, the
supply for defraying the deficiency of the funds which have hitherto
served to meet the charges of the administration of justice and support
of the civil government of this province, I have great satisfaction in
acknowledging the readiness manifested to meet this exigence.'"
Upper Canadian society was, indeed, in an infant state; but the growing
intelligence of many of its constituents, especially in the non-official
ranks, rendered it unwise in rulers to push the feudal or paternal
theory of government too far. The names of the majority in the
particular division of the Lower House which brought on the sudden
prorogation just described are the following:--McDonell, McMartin,
Cameron, Jones, Howard, Casey, Robinson, Nellis, Secord, Nichol,
Burwell, McCormack, Cornwall. Of the minority: Van Koughnet, Crystler,
Fraser, Cotter, McNab, Swayze, and Clench.
Six weeks after, Governor Gore was on his way to England, not recalled,
as it would seem, but purposing to give an account of himself in his own
person. He never returned. He is understood to have had a powerful
friend at Court in the person of the Marquis of Camden.
One of the "districts" of Upper Canada was called after Governor Gore.
It was set off, during his regime, from the Home and Niagara districts.
But of late years county names have rendered the old district names
unfamiliar. In 1837, "the men of Gore" was a phrase invested with
The town of Belleville received its name from Gov. Gore. In early
newspapers and other documents the word appears as Bellville, without
the central e, which gives it now such a fine French look. And this,
it is said, is the true orthography. "Bell," we are told, was the
Governor's familiar abbreviation of his wife's name, Arabella: and the
compound was suggested by the Governor jocosely, as a name for the new
village: but it was set down in earnest, and has continued, the sound at
least, to this day. This off-hand assignment of a local name may remind
some persons that Flos, Tay and Tiny, which are names of three now
populous townships in the Penetanguishene region, are a commemoration of
three of Lady Sarah Maitland's lap-dogs. Changes of names in such cases
as these are not unjustifiable.
In fact, the Executive Council itself, at the period of which we are
speaking, had occasionally found it proper to change local names which
had been frivolously given. In the Upper Canada Gazette of March 11th,
1822, we have several such alterations. It would seem that some one
having access to the map or plan of a newly surveyed region, had
inscribed across the parallelograms betokening townships, a fragment of
a well-known Latin sentence, "jus et norma," placing each separate
word in a separate compartment. In this way Upper Canada had for a time
a township of "Jus," and more wonderful still, a township of "Et." In
the number of the Gazette of the date given above these names are
formally changed to Barrie and Palmerston respectively. In the same
advertisement, "Norma," which might have passed, is made "Clarendon."
Other impertinent appellations are also at the same time changed. The
township of "Yea" is ordered to be hereafter the township of "Burleigh,"
with a humorous allusion to the famous nod, probably. The township of
"No" is to be the township of Grimsthorpe; and the township of "Aye,"
the township of Anglesea.--The name "Et" may recall the street known as
"Of" alley, on the south side of the Strand, in London, which "Of" is a
portion of the name and title "George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham,"
distributed severally among a cluster of streets in that locality.
Gov. Gore was so fortunate as to be away from his Province during the
whole of the war in 1812-13-14. He obtained leave of absence to visit
England in 1811, and returned to his post in 1815, the Presidents, Isaac
Brock, Roger Hale Sheaffe, and Gordon Drummond, Esquires, reigning in
Under date of York U. C., Sept., 30, 1815, we read the following
particulars in the Gazette of the day:--"Arrived on Monday last the
25th instant, His Excellency Francis Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of
the Province of Upper Canada, to reassume the reins of government. His
Excellency was received with a cordial welcome and the honours due to
his rank; and was saluted by his M. S. Montreal, and Garrison."
We are also informed that "On Wednesday the 27th instant, he was waited
on by a deputation, and presented with the following address: To His
Excellency, Francis Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of
Upper Canada, &c., &c., &c. We, the Judges, Magistrates and principal
Inhabitants of the Town of York, in approaching your Excellency to
express our great satisfaction at beholding you once more among us, feel
that we have still greater reason to congratulate ourselves on this
happy event. Our experience of your past firm and liberal
administration, by which the prosperity of the Province has been so
essentially promoted, teaches us to anticipate the greater benefit from
its resumption; and this pleasing anticipation is confirmed by our
knowledge of that paternal solicitude which induced you while in England
to bring, upon all proper occasions, the interests of the Colony under
the favourable attention of His Majesty's Government; a solicitude which
calls forth in our hearts the most grateful emotions. We rejoice that
the blessings of peace are to be dispensed by one who is so well
acquainted with the wants and feelings of the Colony; and we flatter
ourselves that York, recovering from a state of war, (during which she
has been twice in the power of the enemy), will not only forget her
disasters, but rise to greater prosperity under your Excellency's
auspicious administration. York, September 27th, 1815. Thos. Scott,
C.J., W. Dummer Powell, John Strachan, D.D., John McGill, John Beikie,
M.P., Grant Powell J.P., W. Chewett, J.P., J. G. Chewett, W. Lee, Sam.
Smith, W. Claus, Benjamin Gale, D. Cameron, D. Boulton, jun., George
Ridout, And. Mercer, Thomas Ridout, J.P., W. Jarvis, Sec. and Reg., S.
Jarvis, J.P., John Small, J.P., W. Allan, J.P., J. Givins, E. MacMahon,
J. Scarlett, S. Heward, Thos. Hamilton, C. Baynes, John Dennis, P. K.
Hartney, Jno. Cameron, E. W. McBride, Jordan Post, jun., Levi Bigelow,
John Hays, T. R. Johnson, Lardner Bostwick, John Burke, John Jordan, W.
Smith, sen., W. Smith, jun., J. Cawthra, John Smith, Alex. Legge, Jordan
Post, sen., Andrew O'Keefe, S. A. Lumsden, John Murchison, Thomas Deary,
Ezek. Benson, A. NcNabb, Edward Wright, John Evans, W. Lawrence, Thos.
Duggan, George Duggan, Benjamin Cozens, Philip Klinger, and Sheriff
Ridout. To which His Excellency was pleased to make the following
answer: Gentlemen: After so long an absence from this place it is
particularly gratifying to find the same sentiments of cordiality to
me, and of approbation of my conduct, which I experienced during my
former residence in this Province. It is but doing me justice to say
that, while in Europe, I paid every attention in my power to promote
your prosperity; and such, you may be assured, shall be my future
endeavour when residing amongst you; earnestly hoping that, under the
fostering care of our Parent State, and under that security which Peace
alone can bestow, this Colony will speedily become a valuable, though
distant part of the British Empire. York, 27th September, 1815."
On the 7th of the following month, it is announced that "His Royal
Highness, the Prince Regent acting in the name and on the behalf of His
Majesty, has been pleased to appoint Thomas Fraser, Esquire, of
Prescott, Neil McLean, Esquire, of Cornwall, Thomas Clark, Esquire, of
Queenston, and William Dickson, Esquire, of Niagara, to be members of
the Legislative Council; Samuel Smith, Esquire, of Etobicoke, to be a
member of the Executive Council, and Doctor John Strachan, to be an
Honorary Member of the same Council."
By one of the acts passed during the administration of Gov. Gore, the
foundation was laid of a parliamentary library, to replace the one
destroyed or dispersed during the occupation of York in 1813. In the
session of 1816, the sum of L800 was voted for the purchase of books for
the use of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly.
The sum of L800 for such a purpose contrasts poorly, however, with the
L3,000 recommended in the same session, to be granted to Gov. Gore
himself, for the purchase of "Plate." The joint address of both Houses
to the Prince Regent, on this subject, was couched in the following
terms: "To his Royal Highness, George, Prince of Wales, Prince Regent of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c., &c., &c.: May it
please your Royal Highness: We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal
subjects, the Legislative Council and House of Assembly of the Province
of Upper Canada, in Provincial Parliament assembled, impressed with a
lively sense of the firm, upright, and liberal administration of Francis
Gore, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of this Province, as well as of his
unceasing attention to the individual and general interests of the
Colony during his absence, have unanimously passed a bill to appropriate
the sum of three thousand pounds, to enable him to purchase a service
of plate, commemorative of our gratitude. Apprized that this spontaneous
gift cannot receive the sanction of our beloved Sovereign in the
ordinary mode, by the acceptance of the Lieutenant-Governor in his name
and behalf; we, the Legislative Council and Assembly of the Province of
Upper Canada, humbly beg leave to approach your Royal Highness with an
earnest prayer that you will approve this demonstration of our
gratitude, and graciously be pleased to sanction, in His Majesty's name,
the grant of the Legislature, in behalf of the inhabitants of Upper
Canada. Wm. Dummer Powell, Speaker, Legislative Council Chambers, 26th
March, 1816. Allan Maclean, Speaker, Commons House of Assembly, 25th
To which, as we are next informed, his Excellency replied: "Gentlemen: I
shall transmit your address to His Majesty's Ministers, in order that
their expression of your approbation of my past administration may be
laid at the feet of His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent. Government
House, York, 26th March, 1816." The Bill which suggested this allowance
was popularly spoken of as the "Spoon-bill." The House that passed the
measure was the same that, a few weeks later, was so abruptly dismissed.
The name on the allotment following that occupied successively by Col.
Bouchette and Col. Givins, is "David Burns." Mr. Burns, who had been a
Navy surgeon, was the first Clerk of the Crown for Upper Canada, and one
of the "Masters in Chancery." He died in 1806. In the Gazette and
Oracle of Saturday, Feb. 15th, in that year, we have verses to the
memory of the late David Burns, Esq. We make the following extract,
which is suggestive:--
"Say, power of Truth, so great, so unconfined,
And solve the doubt which so distracts my mind--
Why Strength to Weakness is so near allied?
Perhaps 'tis given to humble human pride.
At times perchance frail Nature held the sway,
Yet dimm'd not it the intellectual ray:
Reason and Truth triumphant held their course,
And list'ning hearers felt conviction's force:
No precept mangled, text misunderstood,
He thought and acted but for public good:
His reasoning pure, his mind all manly light,
Made day of that which else appear'd as night.
In him instruction aim'd at this great end--
Our fates to soften and our lives amend.
Yet he was man, and man's the child of woe:
Who seeks perfection, seeks not here below."
From the paper of September, 1806, it appears that numerous books were
missing out of the library of the deceased gentleman. His administrator,
Alexander Burns, advertises: "The following books, with many others,
being lent by the deceased, it is particularly entreated that they may
be immediately returned:--Plutarch's Lives, 1st volume; Voltaire's
Works, 11th do., in French, half-bound; Titi Livii, Latin, 1st do.;
Guthrie's History of Scotland, 1st and 2nd do.; Rollin's Ancient
History, 1st do.; Pope's Works, 5th do.; Swift's Works, 5th and 8th do.,
half-bound; Moliere's, 6th do., French."
Of Col. W. Chewett, whose name appears next, we have made mention more
than once. His name, like that of his son, J. G. Chewett, is very
familiar to those who have to examine the plans and charts connected
with early Upper Canadian history. Both were long distinguished
attaches of the Surveyor-General's department. In 1802, Col. W.
Chewett was Registrar of the Home District.
Alexander Macnab, whose name occurs next in succession, was afterwards
Capt. Macnab, who fell at Waterloo, the only instance, as is supposed,
of a Canadian slain on that occasion. In 1868, his nephew, the Rev. Dr.
Macnab, of Bowmanville, was presented by the Duke of Cambridge in person
with the Waterloo medal due to the family of Capt. Macnab.
Alexander Macnab was also the first patentee of the plot of ground
whereon stands the house on Bay Street noted, in our account of the
early press, as being the place of publication of the Upper Canada
Gazette at the time of the taking of York, and subsequently owned and
occupied by Mr. Andrew Mercer up to the time of his decease in 1871.
Of Messrs. Ridout and Allan, whose names are inscribed conjointly on the
following park lot, we have already spoken; and Angus Macdonell, who
took up the next lot, was the barrister who perished, along with the
whole court, in the Speedy.
The name that appears on the westernmost lot of the range along which we
have been passing is that of Benjamin Hallowell. He was a near
connection of Chief Justice Elmsley's, and father of the Admiral, Sir
Benjamin Hallowell, K.C.B. We observe the notice of Mr. Hallowell's
death in the Gazette and Oracle of the day, in the following
terms:--"Died, on Thursday last (March 28th, 1799), Benjamin Hallowell,
Esq., in the 75th year of his age. The funeral will be on Tuesday next,
and will proceed from the house of the Chief Justice to the Garrison
Burying Ground at one o'clock precisely. The attendance of his friends
Associated at a later period with the memories of this locality is the
name of Col. Walter O'Hara.--In 1808 an immense enthusiasm sprang up in
England in behalf of the Spaniards, who were beginning to rise in
spirited style against the domination of Napoleon and his family. Walter
Savage Landor, for one, the distinguished scholar, philosopher and poet,
determined to assist them in person as a volunteer. In a letter to
Southey, in August, 1808, he says: "At Brighton, I preached a crusade to
two auditors: i. e., a crusade against the French in Spain:
Inclination," he continues, "was not wanting, and in a few minutes
everything was fixed." The two auditors, we are afterwards told, were
both Irishmen, an O'Hara and a Fitzgerald. Landor did not himself remain
long in Spain, although long enough to expend, out of his own resources,
a very large sum of money; but his companions continued to do good
service in the Peninsula, in a military capacity, to the close of the
In a subsequent communication to Southey, Landor speaks of a letter just
received from his friend O'Hara. "This morning," he says, "I had a
letter from Portugal, from a sensible man and excellent officer, Walter
O'Hara. The officers do not appear," he continues, "to entertain very
sanguine hopes of success. We have lost a vast number of brave men, and
the French have gained a vast number, and fight as well as under the
The Walter O'Hara whom we here have Landor speaking of as "a sensible
man and excellent officer" is the Col. O'Hara at whose homestead, on a
portion of the Hallowell park-lot, we have arrived, and whose name is
one of our household words. Colonel O'Hara built on this spot in 1831,
at which date the surrounding region was in a state of nature. The area
cleared for the reception of the still existing spacious residence, with
its lawn, garden and orchards, remained for a number of years an oasis
in the midst of a grand forest. A brief memorandum which we are enabled
to give from his own pen of the Peninsular portion of his military
career, will be here in place, and will be deemed of interest.
"I joined," he says, "the Peninsular army in the year 1811, having
obtained leave of absence from my British Regiment quartered at
Canterbury, for the purpose of volunteering into the Portuguese army,
then commanded by Lord Beresford. I remained in that force until the end
of the war, and witnessed all the varieties of service during that
interesting period, during which time I was twice wounded, and once fell
into the hands of a brave and generous enemy."
From 1831 Col. O'Hara held the post of Adjutant-General in Upper Canada.
His contemporaries will always think of him as a chivalrous,
high-spirited, warm-hearted gentleman; and in our annals hereafter he
will be named among the friends of Canadian progress, at a period when
enlightened ideas in regard to government and social life, derived from
a wide intercourse with man in large and ancient communities, were,
amongst us, considerably misunderstood.
After passing the long range of suburban properties on which we have
been annotating, the continuation, in a right line westward, of Lot
Street, used to be known as the Lake Shore Road. This Lake Shore Road,
after passing the dugway, or steep descent to the sands that form the
margin of the Lake, first skirted the graceful curve of Humber Bay, and
then followed the irregular line of the shore all the way to the head of
the Lake. It was a mere track, representing, doubtless, a trail trodden
by the aborigines from time immemorial.
So late as 1813 all that could be said of the region traversed by the
Lake Shore Road was the following, which we read in the "Topographical
Description of Upper Canada," issued in London in that year, under the
authority of Governor Gore:--"Further to the westward (i. e. of the
river Humber)," we are told, "the Etobicoke, the Credit, and two other
rivers, with a great many smaller streams, join the main waters of the
Lake; they all abound in fish, particularly salmon......the Credit is
the most noted; here is a small house of entertainment for passengers.
The tract between the Etobicoke and the head of the Lake," the
Topographical Description then goes on to say, "is frequented only by
wandering tribes of Mississaguas."
"At the head of Lake Ontario," we are then told, "there is a smaller
Lake, within a long beach, of about five miles, from whence there is an
outlet to Lake Ontario, over which there is a bridge. At the south end
of the beach," it is added, "is the King's Head, a good inn, erected for
the accommodation of travellers, by order of his Excellency
Major-General Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor. It is beautifully
situated at a small portage which leads from the head of a natural canal
connecting Burlington Bay with Lake Ontario, and is a good landmark.
Burlington Bay," it is then rather boldly asserted, "is perhaps as
beautiful and romantic a situation as any in interior America,
particularly if we include with it a marshy lake which falls into it,
and a noble promontory that divides them. This lake is called Coote's
Paradise, and abounds with game." (Coote's Paradise had its name from
Capt. Coote, of the 8th, a keen sportsman.)
As to "the wandering tribes of Mississaguas," who in 1813 were still the
only noticeable human beings west of the Etobicoke, they were in fact a
portion of the great Otchibway nation. From time to time, previous and
subsequent to 1813, and for pecuniary considerations of various amounts
they surrendered to the local Government their nominal right over the
regions which they still occupied in a scattered way. In 1792 they
surrendered 3,000,000 acres, commencing four miles west of Mississagua
point, at the mouth of the river Niagara for the sum of L1,180 7s. 4d.
On the 8th of August, 1797, they surrendered 3,450 acres in Burlington
Bay for the sum of L65 2s. 6d. On the 6th September, 1806, 85,000 acres,
commencing on the east bank of the Etobicoke river, brought them L1,000
5s. On the 28th of October, 1818, "the Mississagua tract Home District,"
consisting of 648,000 acres, went for the respectable sum of L8,500. On
the 8th of February, 1820, 2,000 acres, east of the Credit reserve,
brought in L50.
All circumstances at the respective dates considered, the values
received for the tracts surrendered as thus duly enumerated may, by
possibility, have been reasonable. Lord Carteret, it is stated, proposed
to sell all New Jersey for L5,000, 150 years ago. But there remains one
transfer from Mississaga to White ownership to be noticed, for which the
equivalent, sometimes alleged to have been accepted, excites surprise.
On the 1st of August, 1805, a Report of the Indian Department informs
us, the "Toronto Purchase" was made, comprising 250,880 acres, and
stretching eastward to the Scarboro' Heights; and the consideration
accepted therefor was the sum of ten shillings. Two dollars for the site
of Toronto and its suburbs, with an area extending eastward to Scarboro'
heights. The explanation, however, is this, which we gather from a
manuscript volume of certified copies of early Indian treaties,
furnished by William L. Baby, Esq., of Sandwich. The Toronto purchase
was really effected in 1787, by Sir John Johnson, at the Bay of Quinte
Carrying-place; and "divers good and valuable considerations," not
specified, were received by the Mississagas on the occasion. But the
document testifying to the transfer was imperfect. The deed of August 1,
1805, was simply confirmatory, and the sum named as the consideration
was merely nominal.
On the early map from which we have been taking the names of the first
locatees of the range of park-lots extending along Queen Street from
Parliament Street to Humber Bay, we observe the easternmost limit of the
"Toronto Purchase" conspicuously marked by a curved line drawn
northwards from the water's edge near the commencement of the spit of
land which used to fence off Ashbridge's Bay and Toronto Harbour from
In 1804, the Lake Shore Road stood in need of repairs, and in some
places even of "opening" and "clearing out." In the Gazette and Oracle
of Aug. 4th, in that year, we have an advertisement for "Proposals from
any person or persons disposed to contract for the opening and repairing
the Road and building Bridges between the Town of York and the Head of
Burlington Bay." "Such proposals," the advertisement goes on to say,
"must state what prices the Party desirous of undertaking the aforesaid
work will engage to finish and complete the same, and must consist of
the following particulars: At what price per mile such person will open
and clear out such part of the road leading from Lot Street, adjoining
the Town of York (beginning at Peter Street) to the mouth of the Humber,
of the width of 33 feet, as shall not be found to stand in need of any
causeway. With the price also per rod at which such party will engage to
open, clear out, and causeway such other part of the same road as shall
require to be causewayed, and the last-mentioned price to include as
well the opening and clearing out, as the causewaying such Road. The
causewaying to be 18 feet wide; as also the price at which any person
will engage to build Bridges upon the said Road of the width of 18 feet.
"And the same Commissioners will also receive proposals from any person
or persons willing to engage to cut down three Hills at the following
places viz:--One at the Sixteen Mile Creek, another between Sixteen and
Twelve Mile Creek, and the third at the Twelve Mile Creek. And also for
repairing, in a good and substantial manner, the Bridge at the outlet of
Burlington Bay. All the before-mentioned work to be completed, in a good
and substantial manner, on or before the last day of October next, and,
when completed, the Money contracted to be given shall be paid by the
Receiver General." This advertisement is issued by William Allan and
Duncan Cameron, of York; James Ruggles and William Graham, of Yonge
Street; and William Applegarth, of Flamboro' East, Commissioners for
executing Statute passed in Session of present year.
We now return to that point on Queen Street where, instead of continuing
on westward by the Lake Shore Road, the traveller of a later era turned
abruptly towards the north in order to pass into Dundas Street proper,
the great highway projected, as we have observed, by the first organizer
of Upper Canada and marked on the earliest manuscript maps of the
Province, but not made practicable for human traffic until comparatively
From an advertisement in the Gazette and Oracle of August, 1806, we
learn that Dundas Street was not, in that year, yet hewn out through the
woods about the Credit. "Notice is hereby given," thus runs the
advertisement referred to, "that the Commissioners of the Highways of
the Home District will be ready on Saturday, the 23rd day of the present
month of August, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, at the Government
Buildings in the town of York, to receive proposals and to treat with
any person or persons who will contend to open and make the road called
Dundas Street, leading through the Indian Reserve on the River Credit;
and also to erect a Bridge
Next: Yonge Street From The Bay To Yorkville
Previous: Queen Street From The College Avenue To Brock Street And Spadina Avenue