History of Toronto The Harbour: Its Marine 1815-1827
Soon after the close of the war with the United States in 1...
Queen Street From The Don Bridge To Caroline Street
We return once more to the Don Bridge; and from that point ...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
At the southern end of the Church, in which we are supposin...
Queen Street Digression At Caroline Street History Of The Early Press
A little to the south of Britain Street, between it and Duc...
The Valley Of The Don
I.--From the Bridge on the Kingston Road to Tyler's.
From The Garrison Back To The Place Of Beginning
We now enter again the modern Fort; passing back through th...
Yonge Street From The Bay To Yorkville
The tourist of the present day, who, on one of our great la...
From Berkeley Street To The Bridge And Across It
We now propose to pass rapidly down "the road to Quebec" as...
King Street From Church Street To George Street
We were arrested in our progress on King Street by St. Jame...
King Street From Caroline Street To Berkeley Street
Returning again to King Street: At the corner of Caroline S...
Queen Street From George Street To Yonge Street
--MEMORIES OF THE OLD COURT HOUSE.
When we pass George S...
King Street From John Street To Yonge Street
After our long stroll westward, we had purposed returning t...
The Harbour Its Marine 1800-1814
On the 15th of May, 1800, Governor Hunter arrives again in ...
In 1869, the survivors of the early occupants of York, Uppe...
In French colonial documents of a very respectable antiquit...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1793-99
The first formal survey of the harbour of Toronto was made ...
King Street: St James' Church
The first Church of St. James, at York, was a plain structu...
Queen Street From Brock Street And Spadina Avenue To The Humber
Immediately after the grounds and property of Mr. Dunn, on ...
Palace Street To The Market Place
In Rome, at the present day, the parts that are the most at...
From Brock Street To The Old French Fort
Returning again to the front. The portion of the Common tha...
Queen Street From Yonge Street To College Avenue Digression Southward At Bay Street Osgoode Hall Digression Northward At The Av
Leaving now the site of our ancient Court House, the spot at which we
arrive in our tour is one of very peculiar interest. It is the
intersection at right angles of the two great military ways carved out
through the primitive forest of Western Canada by order of its first
Governor. Dundas Street and Yonge Street were laid down in the first MS.
maps of the country as highways destined to traverse the land in all
future time, as nearly as practicable in right lines, the one from east
to west, the other from south to north. They were denominated "streets,"
because their idea was taken from the famous ancient ways, still in
several instances called "streets," which the Romans, when masters of
primitive Britain, constructed for military purposes. To this day it is
no unpleasant occupation for the visitor who has leisure, to track out
the lines of these ancient roads across England. We ourselves once made
a pilgrimage expressly for the purpose of viewing the intersection of
Iknield Street and Watling Street, in the centre of Dunstable, and from
our actual knowledge of what Canada was when its Yonge Street and Dundas
Street were first hewn out, we realized all the more vividly the
condition of central England when the Roman road-makers first began
their work there.
Dundas Street has its name from the Right Hon. Henry Dundas, Secretary
of State for the Colonies in 1794. In that year Governor Simcoe wrote as
follows to Mr. Dundas:--"Dundas Street, the road proposed from
Burlington Bay to the River Thames, half of which is completed, will
connect by an internal communication the Detroit and settlements at
Niagara. It is intended," he says, "to be extended northerly to York by
the troops, and in process of time by the respective settlers to
Kingston and Montreal." In another despatch to the same statesman he
says:--"I have directed the surveyor, early in the next spring to
ascertain the precise distance of the several routes which I have done
myself the honour of detailing to you, and hope to complete the Military
Street or Road the ensuing autumn." In a MS. map of about the same date
Dundas Street is laid down from Detroit to the Pointe au Bodet, the
terminus on the St. Lawrence of the old boundary line between Upper and
Lower Canada. From the Rouge River it is sketched as running somewhat
further back than the line of the present Kingston Road; and after
leaving Kingston it is drawn as though it was expected to follow the
water-shed between the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence. A road is sketched,
running from the Pointe au Bodet to the Ottawa, and this Road is struck
at an acute angle by Dundas Street.
A manuscript note appears on the map, "The Dundas Street is laid out
from Oxford to the Bay of Quinte; it is nearly finished from Oxford to
In 1799 the Constellation, a paper published at Niagara, informs its
readers, under the date of Friday, August 2nd, in that year, that "the
wilderness from York to the Bay of Quinte is 120 miles; a road of this
distance through it," it then says, "is contracted out by Government to
Mr. Danforth, to be cut and completed by the first of July next; and
which, when completed, will open a communication round the Lake by land
from this town [Niagara] with the Bay, Kingston, &c. Hitherto," the
Constellation continues, "in the season of winter our intercourse with
that part of the province has been almost totally interrupted. Mr.
Danforth has already made forty miles of excellent road," the editor
encourages his patrons by observing, "and procured men to the number
sufficient for doing the whole extent by the setting in of winter. It
would be desirable also," Mr. Tiffany suggests, "were a little labour
expended in bridging the streams between Burlington Bay and York; indeed
the whole country," it is sweepingly declared, "affords room for
amendment in this respect."
It is plain from this extract that if the men of the present generation
would have a just conception of what was the condition of the region
round Lake Ontario seventy years ago, they must pay a visit to the head
of Lake Superior and perform the journey by the Dawson road and the rest
of the newly-opened route from Fort William to Winnipeg.
The Gazette of December 14, 1799, was able to speak approvingly of the
road to the eastward. "The road from this town (York) to the Midland
District is," it says, "completed as far as the Township of Hope, about
sixty miles, so that sleighs, waggons, &c., may travel it with safety.
The report which has been made to the Government by the gentlemen
appointed to inspect the work is," the Gazette then proceeds to say,
"highly favourable to Mr. Danforth, the undertaker; and less
imperfections could not be pointed out in so extensive a work. The
remaining part," it is added, "will be accomplished by the first of July
next." The road to which these various extracts refer, is still known as
the Danforth Road. It runs somewhat to the north of the present Kingston
Road, entering it by the town line at the "Four Mile Tree."
Yonge Street, which we purpose duly to perambulate hereafter, has its
name from Sir George Yonge, a member of the Imperial Government in the
reign of George III. He was of a distinguished Devonshire family, and a
personal friend of Governor Simcoe's.
The first grantee of the park-lot which we next pass in our progress
westward was Dr. Macaulay, an army surgeon attached successively to the
33rd Regiment and the famous Queen's Rangers. His sons, Sir James
Macaulay, first Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Colonel John
Simcoe Macaulay, a distinguished officer of Engineers, are well
remembered. Those who have personal recollections of Dr. Macaulay speak
of him in terms of great respect. The southern portion of this property
was at an early period laid out in streets and small lots. The
collection of houses that here began to spring up was known as Macaulay
Town, and was long considered as bearing the relation to York that
Yorkville does to Toronto now. So late as 1833 Walton, in his Street
Guide and Register, speaks of Macaulay Town as extending from Yonge
Street to Osgoode Hall.
James Street retains the Christian name of Dr. Macaulay. Teraulay Street
led up to the site of his residence, Teraulay Cottage, which after
having been moved from its original position in connection with the
laying out of Trinity Square off Yonge Street, was destroyed by fire in
1848. The northern portion of Macaulay Town was bounded by Macaulay
Lane, described by Walton as "fronting the fields." This is Louisa
Of the memorable possessor of the property on the south side of Queen
Street, opposite Macaulay Town, Mr. Jesse Ketchum, we shall have
occasion to speak hereafter, when we pass his place of abode in our
proposed journey through Yonge Street. The existing Free Kirk place of
worship, known as Knox Church, stands on land given by Mr. Ketchum, and
on a site previously occupied by a long oblong red brick chapel which
looked towards what is now Richmond Street, and in which a son-in-law of
his, Mr. Harris, officiated to a congregation of United Synod
Presbyterians. The donor was probably unconscious of the remarkable
excellence of this particular position as a site for a conspicuous
architectural object. The spire that towers up from this now central
spot is seen with peculiarly good effect as one approaches Toronto by
the thoroughfare of Queen Street whether from the east or from the west.
Digression Southward at Bay Street.
Old inhabitants say that Bay Street, where we are now arrived, was at
the first in fact "Bear Street," and that it was popularly so called
from a noted chase given to a bear out of the adjoining wood on the
north, which, to escape from its pursuers, made for the water along this
route. Mr. Justice Boulton's two horses, Bonaparte and Jefferson, were
once seen, we are told, to attack a monster of this species that
intruded on their pasture on the Grange property a little to the west.
They are described as plunging at the animal with their fore feet. In
1809, a straggler from the forest of the same species was killed in
George Street by Lieut. Fawcett, of the 100th regiment, who cleft the
creature's head open with his sword. This Lieut. Fawcett was afterwards
Lieut.-Col. of the 100th, and was severely wounded in the war of 1812.
Bay street, as we pass it, recalls one of the early breweries of York.
We have already in another place briefly spoken of Shaw's and Hugill's.
At the second north-west corner southward, beer of good repute in the
town and neighbourhood was manufactured by Mr. John Doel up to 1847,
when his brewery was accidentally burnt. Mr. Doel's name is associated
with the early post-office traditions of York. For a number of years he
undertook and faithfully accomplished the delivery with his own hands of
all the correspondence of the place that was in those days thus
distributed. His presence at a door in the olden time was often a matter
of considerable interest.
In the local commotions of 1837, Mr. Doel ventured in an humble way to
give aid and comfort to the promoters of what proved to be a small
revolution. We cannot at this hour affirm that there was anything to his
discredit in this. He acted, no doubt, in accordance with certain honest
instincts. Men of his class and stamp, shrewd in their ideas and sturdy
against encroachments, civil and religious, abound in old Somersetshire
where he first drew breath. His supposed presumption in having opinions
on public questions induced the satirists of the non-progressive side to
mention him occasionally in their philippics and pasquinades. His name
has thus become associated in the narrative of Upper Canadian affairs
with those of the actual chiefs of the party of reform. In 1827, Robert
Randal, M.P., was despatched to London as a delegate on the part of the
so-called "Aliens" or unnaturalized British subjects of United States
origin. A series of burlesque nominations, supposed to be suggested by
Randal to the Colonial Secretary, appeared at this time, emanating of
course from the friends of the officials of the day. We give the
document. It will be seen that Mr. Doel is set down in it for the
Postmaster-Generalship. The other persons mentioned will be all readily
"Nominations to be dictated by the Constitutional Meeting, on Saturday
next, in the petition for the redress of grievances to be forwarded to
London by Ambassador Randal. Barnabas Bidwell--President of Upper
Canada--with an extra annual allowance for a jaunt, for the benefit of
his health, to his native State of Massachusetts. W. W. Baldwin--Chief
Justice and Surgeon-General to the Militia Forces--with 1,000,000 acres
of land for past services, he and his family having been most shamefully
treated in having grants of land withheld from them heretofore. John
Rolph--Attorney-General, and Paymaster-General to the Militia--with
500,000 acres of land for his former accounts as District Paymaster,
faithfully rendered. Marshall S. Bidwell--Solicitor-General--with an
annual allowance of as much as he may be pleased to ask for, rendering
no account--for the purpose of 'encouraging emigration from the United
States,' and a contingent account if he shall find it convenient to
accompany the President to Massachusetts. The Puisne Judges--to be
chosen by ballot in the Market Square, on the 4th of July in each and
every year, subject to the approval of W. W. B., the Chief Justice.
Their salaries to be settled when going out of office. Jesse Ketchum,
Jos. Sheppard, Dr. Stoyell, and A. Burnside--Executive and Legislative
Councillors. Joint Secretaries--William Lyon McKenzie and Francis
Collins, with all the printing. John Carey--Assistant Secretary, with as
much of the printing as the Joint Secretaries may be pleased to allow
him. Moses Fish--Inspector of Public Buildings and Fortifications. J. S.
Baldwin--Contractor-General to the Province, with a monopoly of the
trade. T. D. Morrison--Surveyor-General and Inspector of Hospitals.
Little Doel--Postmaster-General. Peter Perry--Chancellor of the
Exchequer and Receiver-General. The above persons being thus amply
provided for, their friends, alias their stepping stones," the document
just quoted proceeds to state, "may shift for themselves; an
opportunity, however, will be offered them for 'doing a little business'
by disposing of all other public offices to the lowest bidder, from whom
neither talent nor security will be required for the performance of
their duties. Tenders received at Russell Square, Front Street, York.
The Magistracy, being of no consequence, is to be left for after
consideration. The Militia, at the particular request of Paul Peterson,
[M.P. for Prince Edward,] to be done away altogether; and the roads to
take care of themselves. The Welland Canal to be stopped immediately,
and Colonel By to be recalled from the Rideau Canal. N.B. Any
suggestions for further improvements will be thankfully received at
Russell Square, as above."--(The humour of all this can of course be
only locally understood.)
Mr. Doel arrived in York in 1818, occupying a month in the journey from
Philadelphia to Oswego, and a week in that from Oswego to Niagara, being
obliged from stress of weather to put in at Sodus Bay. At Niagara he
waited three days for a passage to York. He and his venerable helpmeet
were surviving in 1870, at the ages respectively, of 80 and 82.--Not
without reason, as the event proved, they lived for many years in a
state of apprehension in regard to the stability of the lofty spire of a
place of worship close to their residence. In 1862, that spire actually
fell, eastward as it happened, and not westward, doing considerable
damage. Mr. Doel died in 1871.
By the name of the short street passing from Adelaide Street to Richmond
Street, a few chains to the west of Mr. Doel's corner, we are reminded
of Harvey Shepard, a famous worker in iron of the former time, whose
imprint on axe, broad axe or adze, was a guarantee to the practical
backwoodsman of its temper and serviceable quality. Harvey Shepard's axe
factory was on the west side of this short street. Before his
establishment here he worked in a smithy of the customary village type,
on King Street, on the property of Jordan Post. Like Jordan Post
himself, Harvey Shepard was of the old fashioned New England mould,
elongated and wiry. After a brief suspension of business, a placard hung
up in the country inns characteristically announced to his friends and
the public that he had resumed his former occupation and that he would,
"by the aid of Divine Providence," undertake to turn out as good axes as
any that he had ever made; which acknowledgement of the source of his
skill is commendable surely, if unusual. So also, there is no one who
will refuse to applaud an epigrammatic observation of his, when
responding to an appeal of charity. "Though dealing usually in iron
only, I keep," he said, "a little stock of silver and gold for such a
call as this." The factory on Shepard Street was afterwards worked by
Mr. J. Armstrong, and subsequently by Mr. Thomas Champion, formerly of
Sheffield, who, in 1838, advertised that he had "a large stock of
Champion's warranted cast steel axes, made at the factory originally
built by the late Harvey Shepard, and afterwards occupied by John
Armstrong. As Shepard's and Armstrong's axes have been decidedly
preferred before any others in the Province," the advertisement
continues, "it is only necessary to state that Champion's are made by
the same workmen, and from the very best material, to ensure for them
the same continued preference."--We now return from our digression
southward at Bay Street.
Chief Justice Elmsley was the first possessor of the hundred acres
westward of the Macaulay lot. He effected, however, a certain exchange
with Dr. Macaulay. Preferring land that lay higher, he gave the southern
half of his lot for the northern half of his neighbour's, the latter at
the same time discerning, as is probable, the prospective greater value
of a long frontage on one of the highways into the town. Of Mr. Elmsley,
we have had occasion to speak in our perambulation of King Street in
connection with Government House, which in its primitive state was his
family residence; and in our progress through Yonge Street hereafter we
shall again have to refer to him. In 1802 he was promoted from a Puisne
Judgeship in Upper Canada to the Chief Justiceship of Lower Canada.
The park-lot which follows was originally secured by one who has
singularly vanished out of the early traditions of York--the Rev. T.
Raddish. His name is inscribed on this property in the first plan, and
also on part of what is now the south-east portion of the
Government-house grounds. He emigrated to these parts under the express
auspices of the first Lieutenant-Governor, and was expected by him to
take a position of influence in the young colony of Upper Canada. But,
habituated to the amenities and conveniencies of an old community, he
speedily discovered either that an entirely new society was not suited
to him or that he himself did not dovetail well into it. He appears to
have remained in the country only just long enough to acquire for
himself and heirs the fee simple of a good many acres of its virgin
soil. In 1826 the southern portion of Mr. Raddish's park-lot became the
property of Sir John Robinson, at the time Attorney General.--The site
of Osgoode Hall, six acres, was, as we have been assured, the generous
gift of Sir John Robinson to the Law Society, and the name which the
building bears was his suggestion.
The east wing of the existing edifice was the original Osgoode Hall,
erected under the eye of Dr. W. W. Baldwin, at the time Treasurer of the
Society. It was a plain square matter-of-fact brick building two storeys
and a half in height. In 1844-46 a corresponding structure was erected
to the west, and the two were united by a building between, surmounted
by a low dome. In 1857-60 the whole edifice underwent a renovation; the
dome was removed; a very handsome facade of cut stone was put up; the
inner area, all constructed of Caen stone, reminding one of the interior
of a Genoese or Roman Palace, was added, with the Court Rooms, Library
and other appurtenances, on a scale of dignity and in a style of
architectural beauty surpassed only by the new Law Courts in London. The
pediment of each wing, sustained aloft on fluted Ionic columns, seen on
a fine day against the pure azure of a northern sky, is something
Great expense has been lavished by the Benchers on this Canadian Palais
de Justice; but the effect of such a pile, kept in its every nook and
corner and in all its surroundings in scrupulous order, is invaluable,
tending to refine and elevate each successive generation of our young
candidates for the legal profession, and helping to inspire amongst them
a salutary esprit de corps.
The Library, too, here to be seen, noble in its dimensions and aspect,
must, even independently of its contents, tend to create a love of legal
study and research.
The Law Society of Osgoode Hall was incorporated in 1822. The Seal bears
a Pillar on which is a beaver holding a Scroll inscribed Magna Charta.
To the right and left are figures of Justice and Strength (Hercules.)
An incident associated in modern times with Osgoode Hall is the
Entertainment given there to the Prince of Wales during his visit to
Canada in 1860, on which occasion, at night, all the architectural lines
of the exterior of the building were brilliantly marked out by rows of
Here, too, were held the impressive funeral obsequies of Sir John
Robinson, the distinguished Chief Justice of Upper Canada, in 1862. In
the Library is a large painting of him in oil, in which his finely cut
Reginald Heber features are well delineated. Sayer Street, passing
northward on the east side of Osgoode Hall, was so named by Chief
Justice Robinson, in honour of his mother. In 1870 the name was changed,
probably without reflection and certainly without any sufficient cause.
The series of paintings begun in Osgoode Hall, conservative to future
ages of the outward presentment of our Chief Justices, Chancellors and
Judges, is very interesting. All of them, we believe, are by Berthon, of
Toronto. No portrait of Chief Justice Osgoode, however, is at present
here to be seen. The engraving contained in this volume is from an
original in the possession of Capt. J. K. Simcoe, R. N., of Wolford, in
the County of Devon.
After filling the office of Chief Justice in Upper Canada, Mr. Osgoode
was removed to the same high position in Lower Canada. He resigned in
1801 and returned to England. Among the deaths in the Canadian Review
of July, 1824, his is recorded in the following terms:--"At his Chambers
in the Albany, London, on the 17th of February last, Wm. Osgoode, Esq.,
formerly Chief Justice of Canada, aged 70. By the death of this
gentleman," it is added, "his pension of L800 sterling paid by this
Province now ceases." It is said of him, "no person admitted to his
intimacy ever failed to conceive for him that esteem which his conduct
and conversation always tended to augment." Garneau, in his History of
Canada, iii., 117, without giving his authority, says that he was an
illegitimate son of George III. Similar tattle has been rife from time
to time in relation to other personages in Canada.
A popular designation of Osgoode Hall long in vogue was "Lawyers' Hall:"
"Farewell, Toronto, of great glory,
Of valour, too, in modern story;
Farewell to Courts, to Lawyers' Hall,
The Justice seats, both great and small:
Farewell Attorneys, Special Pleaders,
Equity Draftsmen, and their Readers.
Canadian Laws, and Suits, to song
Of future Bard, henceforth belong."
Thus closed a curious production in rhyme entitled Curiae Canadenses,
published anonymously in 1843, but written by Mr. John Rumsey, an
English barrister, sometime domiciled here. In one place is described
the migration of the Court of Chancery back from Kingston, whither it
was for a brief interval removed, when Upper and Lower Canada were
re-united. The minstrel says:
"Dreary and sad was Frontenac:
Thy duke ne'er made a clearer sack,
Than when the edict to be gone
Issued from the Vice-regal Throne.
Exeunt omnes helter skelter
To Little York again for shelter:
Little no longer: York the New
Of imports such can boast but few:
A goodly freight, without all brag,
When comes 'mongst others, Master Spragge.
And skilful Turner, versed in pleading,
The Kingston exiles gently leading."
To the last three lines the following note is appended:--
"J. G. Spragge, Esq., the present very highly esteemed and
respected Master of the Court of Chancery; R. T. Turner, Esq., a
skilful Equity Draftsman and Solicitor in Chancery. See
Journals of House of Assembly, 1841."
The notes to Curiae Canadenses teem with interesting matter relating to
the laws, courts, terms, districts and early history, legal and general,
of Lower as well as Upper Canada. A copious table of contents renders
the volume quite valuable for reference. The author must have been an
experienced compiler, analyst and legal index maker. In the text of the
work, Christopher Anstey's poetical "Pleader's Guide" is taken as a
model. As a motto to the portion of his poem that treats of Upper Canada
he places the line of Virgil, "Gensque virum truncis et duro robore
nata," which may be a compliment or not. The title in full of Mr.
Rumsey's brochure, which consists of only 127 octavo pages, is as
follows:--"Curiae Canadenses; or, The Canadian Law Courts: being a Poem,
describing the several Courts of Law and Equity which have been erected
from time to time in the Canadas; with copious notes, explanatory and
historical, and an Appendix of much useful Matter. Itur in antiquam
sylvam, stabula alta ferarum; Procumbunt piceae, sonat icta securibus
ilex, Fraxineaeque trabes: cuneis et fissile robur Scinditur: advolvunt
ingentes montibus ornos.--Virgil. By Plinius Secundus. Toronto: H. and
W. Rowsell, King Street, 1843." The typography and paper are admirable.
The Curiae, in a jacket of fair calf, should be given a place on the
shelves of our Canadian law libraries.
We pause for a moment at York Street, opposite the east wing of Osgoode
It rather puzzles one to conceive why York Street received its name. If
a commemoration of the Duke of York of sixty years since was designed,
the name of the whole town was that sufficiently already. Frederick
Street, besides, recorded his specific Christian name, and Duke Street
his rank and title. Although interesting now as a memento of a name
borne of old by Toronto, York Street, when Toronto was York, might well
have been otherwise designated, it seeming somewhat irrational for any
particular thoroughfare in a town to be distinguished by the name of
that town.--A certain poverty of invention in regard to street names has
in other instances been evinced amongst us. Victoria Street, for
example, was for a time called Upper George Street, to distinguish it
from George Street proper, so named from George, Prince of Wales, the
notable Prince Regent. It is curious that no other name but George
should have been suggested for the second street; especially, too, as
that street might have been so fittingly named Toronto Street, as being
situated within a few feet of the line of the original thoroughfare of
that name which figures so largely in the early descriptions of
York.--If in "York Street" a compliment had been intended to Charles
Yorke, Secretary at War in 1802, the orthography would have been "Yorke
After all, however, the name "York Street" may have arisen from the
circumstance that, at an early period, this was for teams on their way
to York, the beaten track, suddenly turning off here to the south out of
Dundas or Lot Street, the line of road which, if followed, would have
taken the traveller to Kingston.
The street on the west of the grounds of Osgoode Hall is now known as
University Street. By the donor to the public of the land occupied by
the street, it was designated Park Lane--not without due consideration,
as is likely. In London there is a famous and very distinguished Park
Lane. It leads from Oxford Street to Piccadilly, and skirts the whole of
the east side of Hyde Park. The position of what was our Park Lane is
somewhat analogous, it being open along its whole length on the left to
the plantations of an ornamental piece of ground. Unmeddled with, our
Park Lane would have suggested from time to time in the mind of the
ruminating wayfarer pleasant thoughts of a noble and interesting part of
the great home metropolis. The change to University Street was
altogether uncalled for. It ignored the adjoining "College Avenue," the
name of which showed that a generally-recognized "University Street"
existed already: it gave, moreover, a name which is pretentious, the
roadway indicated being comparatively narrow.
Of the street on the east side of the grounds of Osgoode Hall we have
already spoken. But in connection with the question of changes in street
names, we must here again refer to it. In this case the name "Sayer" has
been made to give place to "Chestnut." "Elm Street," which intersects
this street to the north, probably in some vague way suggested a tree
name. "Elm Street," however, had a reason for its existence. Many
persons still remember a solitary Elm, a relic of the forest, which was
long conspicuous just where Elm Street enters Yonge Street. And there is
a fitness likewise in the names of Pine Street and Sumach Street, in the
east; these streets, passing through a region where pines and sumachs
once abounded. But the modern Chestnut Street has nothing about it in
the past or present associated with chestnut trees of any kind. The
name "Sayer" should have been respected.
It is unfortunate when persons, apparently without serious retrospective
thought, have a momentary chance to make changes in local names.
Chancery might well be invoked to undo in some instances what has been
done, and to prohibit like inconsiderate proceedings in the future.
Equity would surely say that a citizen's private right should be
sustained, so long as it worked no harm to the community; and that
perplexity in the registration and description of property should not
needlessly be created.
Although we shall forestall ourselves a little, we may here notice one
more alteration in a street-name near Osgoode Hall. William Street,
immediately west of the Avenue leading to the University, has in recent
times been changed to Simcoe Street. It is true, William Street was
nearly in a line with the street previously known as Simcoe Street;
nevertheless, starting as it conspicuously did somewhat to the west of
that line, it was a street sufficiently distinct to be entitled to
retain an independent name. Here again, an item of local history has
been obliterated. William Street was a record on the soil of the first
name of an early Chief Justice of Upper Canada, who projected the street
and gave the land. Dummer Street, the next street westward, bears his
Of "Powell," his third name we have already spoken elsewhere, and shall
again almost immediately have to speak.
When it shall be proposed to alter the name of Dummer Street, with the
hope, perhaps, of improving the fame of the locality along with its
name, let the case of March Street be recalled. In the case of March
Street, the rose, notwithstanding a change of name, retained its
perfume: and the Colonial Minister of the day, Lord Stanley, received
but a sorry compliment when his name was made to displace that of the
Earl of March. (It was from this second title of the Duke of Richmond
that March Street had its name.)--It is probable that the Dummer Street
of to-day, like the March Street of yesterday, would, under another
name, continue much what it is. In all such quarters, it is not a change
of name that is of any avail: but the presence of the schoolmaster and
home-missionary, backed up by landlords and builders, studious of the
public health and morals, as well as of private interests.
Digression Northward at the College Avenue.
The fine vista of the College Avenue, opposite to which we have now
arrived, always recalls to our recollection a certain bright spring
morning, when on reaching school a whole holiday was unexpectedly
announced; and when, as a mode of filling up a portion of the
unlooked-for vacant time, it was agreed between two or three young lads
to pay a visit to the place on Lot Street where, as the report had
spread amongst us, they were beginning to make visible preparations for
the commencement of the University of King's College. The minds of
growing lads in the neighbourhood of York at that period had very vague
ideas of what a University really was. It was a place where studies were
carried on, but how or under what conditions, there was of necessity
little conception. Curiosity, however, was naturally excited by the talk
on the lips of every one that a University was one day to be established
at York; and now suddenly we learned that actual beginnings were to be
seen of the much-talked-of institution. On the morning of the fine
spring day referred to, we accordingly undertook an exploration.
On arriving at the spot to which we had been directed, we found that a
long strip of land running in a straight line northwards had been marked
out, after the manner of a newly-opened side line or concession road in
the woods. We found a number of men actually at work with axes and
mattocks; yokes of oxen, too, were straining at strong ploughs, which
forced a way in amongst the roots and small stumps of the natural
brushwood, and, here and there, underneath a rough mat of tangled grass,
bringing to light, now black vegetable mould, now dry clay, now loose
red sand. Longitudinally, up the middle of the space marked off, several
bold furrows were cut, those on the right inclining to the left, and
those on the left inclining to the right, as is the wont in primitive
One novelty we discovered, viz., that on each side along a portion of
the newly-cleared ground, young saplings had been planted at regular
intervals; these, we were told, were horse-chestnuts, procured from the
United States expressly for the purpose of forming a double row of trees
here. In the neighbourhood of York the horse-chestnut was then a rarity.
Everywhere throughout the North American continent, as in the numerous
newly-opened areas of the British Empire elsewhere on the globe's
surface, instances, of course, abound of wonderful progress made in a
brief interval of time. For ourselves, we seem sometimes as if we were
moving among the unrealities of a dream when we deliberately review the
steps in the march of physical and social improvement, which, within a
fractional portion only of a retrospect not very extended, can be
recalled, in the region where our own lot has been cast, and, in
particular, in the neighbourhood where we are at this moment pausing.
The grand mediaeval-looking structure of University College in the
grounds at the head of the Avenue, continues to this day to be a
surprise somewhat bewildering to the eye and mind, whenever it breaks
upon our view. It looks so completely a thing of the old world and of an
age long past away. To think that one has walked over its site before
one stone was laid upon another thereon, seems almost like a mental
A certain quietness of aspect and absence of overstrain after
architectural effect give the massive pile an air of great genuineness.
The irregular grouping of its many parts appears the undesigned result
of accretion growing out of the necessities of successive years. The
whole looks in its place, and as if it had long occupied it. The
material of its walls, left for the most part superficially in the
rough, has the appearance of being weather-worn. An impression of age,
too, is given by the smooth finish of the surrounding grounds and
spacious drives by which, on several sides, the building is approached,
as also by the goodly size of the well-grown oaks and other trees
through whose outstretched branches it is usually first caught sight of,
from across the picturesque ravine.
Of the still virgin condition of the surrounding soil, however, we have
some unmistakeable evidence in the ponderous granitic boulders every
here and there heaving up their grey backs above the natural greensward,
undisturbed since the day when they dropped suddenly down from the
dissolving ice-rafts that could no longer endure their weight.
Seen at a little distance, as from Yonge Street for example, the square
central tower of the University, with the cone-capped turret at its
north-east angle, rising above a pleasant horizon of trees, and outlined
against an afternoon sky, is something thoroughly English, recalling
Rugby or Warwick. On a nearer approach, this same tower, combined with
the portal below, bears a certain resemblance to the gateway of the
Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, as figured in Palgrave's "Anglo-Saxons;" and
the elaborate and exquisite work about the recessed circular-headed
entrance enables one to realize with some degree of certainty how the
enriched front of that and other noble mediaeval structures, seen by us
now corroded and mutilated, looked when fresh from the hands that so
cunningly carved them.
In the two gigantic blind-worms, likewise, stretched in terrorem on the
sloping parapets of the steps leading to the door, benumbed, not dead;
giving in their extremities, still faint evidence of life, we have a
sermon in stone, which the brethren of a masonic guild of Wykeham's day
would readily have expounded. As we enter a house devoted to learning
and study, is it not fitting that the eye should be greeted with a
symbol of the paralyzing power of Science over Ignorance and
Moreover, sounds that come at stated intervals from that central tower,
make another link of sympathy with the old mother-land. Every night at
nine, "swinging slow with solemn roar," the great bell of the University
is agreeably suggestive of Christ Church, Oxford, St. Mary's, Cambridge,
and other places beyond the sea, which to the present hour give back an
echo of the ancient Curfew.
And if to this day the University building, in its exterior aspect and
accidents, is startling to those who knew its site when as yet in a
state of nature, its interior also, when traversed and explored, tends
in the same persons to produce a degree of confusion as between things
new and old; as between Canada and elsewhere. Within its walls are to be
seen appliances and conveniences and luxuries for the behoof and use of
teacher and student, unknown a few years since in many an ancient seat
In a library of Old World aspect and arrangement, is a collection rich
in the Greek and Latin Classics, in Epigraphy and Archaeology, beyond
anything of the kind in any other collection on this continent, and
beyond what is to be met with in those departments in many a separate
College within the precincts of the ancient Universities--a pre-eminence
due to the tastes and special studies of the first president and other
early professors of the Canadian Institution.
Strange, it is, yet true that hither, as to a recognized source of
certain aid in identification and decipherment, are duly transmitted, by
cast, rubbing and photograph, the "finds" that from time to time create
such excitement and delight among epigraphists, and ethnologists, and
other minute historical investigators in the British Islands and
There used to be preserved in the Old Hospital a model in cork and
card-board, of the great educational establishment to which, in the
first instance, the Avenue was expected to form an approach. It was very
curious. Had it been really followed, a large portion of the park
provided for the reception of the University would have been covered
with buildings. A multitude of edifices, isolated and varying in
magnitude, were scattered about, with gardens and ornamental grounds
interspersed. These were halls of science, lecture-rooms, laboratories,
residences for president, vice-president, professors, officials and
servants of every grade. On the widely extended premises occupied by the
proposed institution, a population was apparently expected to be found
that would, of itself, have almost sufficed to justify representation in
Parliament--a privilege the college was actually by its charter to
enjoy. We should have had in fact realized before our eyes, on a
considerable scale, a part of the dreams of Plato and More, a fragment
of Atlantis and Utopia.
When the moment arrived, however, for calling into visible being the
long contemplated seat of learning, it was found expedient to abandon
the elaborate model which had been constructed. Mr. Young, a local
architect, was directed to devise new plans. His ideas appear to have
been wholly modern. Notwithstanding the tenor of the Royal Charter,
which suggested the precedents of the old universities of "our United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," wherever it should be practicable
to follow them, the architecture and arrangements customary in those
places were ignored. Girard College, Philadelphia, seems to have
inspired the new designs. However, only a minute fragment of one of the
buildings of the new plan was destined ever to exist.
The formal commencement of the abortive work took place on the 23rd of
April, 1842--a day indelibly impressed on the memory of those who
participated in the proceedings. It was one of the sunniest and
brightest of days. In the year just named it happened that so early as
St. George's day the leaves of the horse-chestnut were bursting their
glossy sheaths, and vegetation generally was in a very advanced stage.
A procession, such as had never before been seen in these parts, slowly
defiled up the Avenue to the spot where the corner-stone of the proposed
University was to be laid.
A highly wrought contemporary description of the scene is given in a
note in Curiae Canadenses: "The vast procession opened its ranks, and
his Excellency the Chancellor, with the President, the Lord Bishop of
Toronto, on his right, and the Senior Visitor, the Chief Justice, on his
left, proceeded on foot through the College Avenue to the University
grounds. The countless array moved forward to the sound of military
music. The sun shone out with cloudless meridian splendour; one blaze of
banners flushed upon the admiring eye.--The Governor's rich
Lord-Lieutenant's dress, the Bishop's sacerdotal robes, the Judicial
Ermine of the Chief Justice, the splendid Convocation robes of Dr.
McCaul, the gorgeous uniforms of the suite, the accoutrements of the
numerous Firemen, the national badges worn by the Office-bearers of the
different Societies, and what on such a day (St. George's) must not be
omitted, the Red Crosses on the breasts of England's congregated sons,
the grave habiliments of the Clergy and Lawyers, and the glancing lances
and waving plumes of the First Incorporated Dragoons, all formed one
moving picture of civic pomp, one glorious spectacle which can never be
remembered but with satisfaction by those who had the good fortune to
witness it. The following stanza from a Latin Ode," the note goes on to
say, "recited by Master Draper, son of the late Attorney-General, after
the ceremony, expresses in beautifully classical language the proud
occasion of all this joy and splendid pageantry:--
"Io! triumphe! flos Canadensium!
Est alma nobis mater; aemula
Britanniae haec sit nostra terra,--
Terra diu domibus negata!"
Another contemporary account adds: "As the procession drew nearer to the
site where the stone was to be laid, the 43rd Regiment lined the way,
with soldiers bearing arms, and placed on either side, at equal
intervals. The 93rd Regiment was not on duty here, but in every
direction the gallant Highlanders were scattered through the crowd, and
added by their national garb and nodding plumes to the varied beauty of
the animated scene. When the site was reached," this account says, "a
new feature was added to the interest of the ceremony. Close to the
spot, the north-east corner, where the foundation was to be deposited, a
temporary building had been erected for the Chancellor, and there,
accompanied by the officers of the University and his suite, he took his
stand. Fronting this was a kind of amphitheatre of seats, constructed
for the occasion, tier rising above tier, densely filled with ladies,
who thus commanded a view of the whole ceremony. Between this
amphitheatre and the place where the Chancellor stood, the procession
The Chancellor above spoken of was the Governor General of the day, Sir
Charles Bagot, a man of noble bearing and genial, pleasant aspect. He
entered with all the more spirit into the ceremonies described, from
being himself a graduate of one of the old universities. Memories of
far-off Oxford and Christ Church would be sure to be roused amidst the
proceedings that rendered the 23rd of April, 1842, so memorable amongst
us. A brother of Sir Charles' was at the time Bishop of Oxford. In his
suite, as one of his Secretaries, was Captain Henry Bagot, of the Royal
Navy, his own son. Preceding him in the procession, bearing a large
gilded mace, was an "Esquire Bedell," like the Chancellor himself, a
Christ Church man, Mr. William Cayley, subsequently a member of the
Although breaking ground for the University building had been long
delayed, the commencement now made proved to be premature. The edifice
begun was never completed, as we have already intimated; and even in its
imperfect, fragmentary condition, it was not fated to be for any great
length of time a scene of learned labours. In 1856 its fortune was to be
converted into a Female Department for the over-crowded Provincial
The educational system inaugurated in the new building in 1843 was, as
the plate enclosed in the foundation-stone finely expressed it,
"praestantissimum ad exemplar Britannicarum Universitatum." But the
"exemplar" was not, in practice, found to be, as a whole, adapted to the
genius of the Western Canadian people.
The revision of the University scheme with a view to the necessities of
Western Canada, was signalized by the erection in 1857 of a new building
on an entirely different site, and a migration to it bodily, of
president, professors and students, without departing however from the
bounds of the spacious park originally provided for the institution; and
it is remarkable that, while deviating, educationally and otherwise, in
some points, from the pattern of the ancient universities, as they were
in 1842, a nearer approach, architecturally, was made to the mediaeval
English College than any that had been thought of before. Mr.
Cumberland, the designer of the really fine and most appropriate
building in which the University at length found a resting place, was,
as is evident, a man after the heart of Wykeham and Wayneflete.
The story of our University is a part of the history of Upper Canada.
From the first foundation of the colony the idea of some such seat of
learning entered into the scheme of its organization. In 1791, before he
had yet left England for the unbroken wilderness in which his Government
was to be set up, we have General Simcoe speaking to Sir Joseph Banks,
the President of the Royal Society, of "a college of a higher class," as
desirable in the community which he was about to create. "A college of a
higher class," he says, "would be eminently useful, and would give a
tone of principles and of manners that would be of infinite support to
Government." In the same letter he remarks to Sir Joseph, "My friend the
Marquis of Buckingham has suggested that Government might allow me a sum
of money to be laid out for a Public Library, to be composed of such
books as might be useful in the colony. He instanced the Encyclopaedia,
extracts from which might occasionally be published in the newspapers.
It is possible," he adds, "private donations might be obtained, and that
it would become an object of Royal munificence."
It was naturally long before the community of Upper Canada was ripe for
a college of the character contemplated; but provision for its ultimate
existence and sustenance was made, almost from the beginning, in the
assignment to that object of a fixed and liberal portion of the public
lands of the country.
In 1819-20, Gourlay spoke of the unpreparedness of Upper Canada as yet
for a seat of learning of a high grade. Meanwhile, as a temporary
expedient, he suggested a romantic scheme. "It has been proposed," he
says, "to have a college in Upper Canada; and no doubt in time colleges
will grow up there. At present, and for a considerable period to come,
any effort to found a college would prove abortive. There could neither
be got masters nor scholars to ensure a tolerable commencement for ten
years to come; and a feeble beginning might beget a feeble race of
teachers and pupils. In the United States," he continued, "academies
and colleges, though fast improving, are yet but raw; and greatly
inferior to those in Britain, generally speaking. Twenty-five lads sent
annually at public charge from Upper Canada to British Universities,
would draw after them many more. The youths themselves, generally, would
become desirous of making a voyage in quest of learning.--Crossing the
ocean on such an errand would elevate their ideas, and stir them up to
extraordinary exertions. They would become finished preachers, lawyers,
physicians, merchants; and, returning to their native country, would
repay in wisdom what was expended in goodness and liberality. What more
especially invites the adoption of such a scheme is the amiable and
affectionate connection which it would tend to establish between Canada
and Britain. But it will not do at present to follow out the idea."
Gourlay's prediction that "in time colleges will grow up there" has been
speedily verified. The town especially, of which in its infant state he
spoke in such terms of contempt, has been so prolific of colleges that
it is now become a kind of Salamanca for the country at large; a place
of resort for students from all parts. It is well probably for Canada
that the scheme of drafting a batch of young students periodically to
the old country, was not adopted. Canada would thereby possibly, on the
one hand, have lost the services of some of the cleverest of her sons,
who, on obtaining academic distinction would have preferred to remain in
the mother country, entering on one or other of the public careers to
which academic distinction there opens the ready path; and, on the other
hand, she should, in many an instance, it is to be feared, have received
back her sons just unfitted, in temper and habit, for life under
matter-of-fact colonial conditions.
In the original planting of the Avenue, up whose fine vista we have been
gazing, the mistake was committed of imitating nature too closely.
Numerous trees and shrubs of different kinds and habits were mingled
together as they are usually to be seen in a wild primitive wood; and
thus the growth and fair development of all were hindered. The
horse-chestnuts alone should have been relied on to give character to
the Avenue; and of these there should have been on each side a double
row, with a promenade for pedestrians underneath, after the manner of
the great walks in the public parks of the old towns of Europe.
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