History of Toronto Yonge Street From Hogg's Hollow To Bond's Lake
Beyond the hollow, Mr. Humberstone's was passed on the west...
Queen Street Digression At Caroline Street History Of The Early Press
A little to the south of Britain Street, between it and Duc...
Front Street From The Market Place To Brock Street
The corner we approach after passing the Market Square, was...
Queen Street From Brock Street And Spadina Avenue To The Humber
Immediately after the grounds and property of Mr. Dunn, on ...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
At the southern end of the Church, in which we are supposin...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
It is beginning, perhaps, to be thought preposterous that w...
Yonge Street From The Bay To Yorkville
The tourist of the present day, who, on one of our great la...
In 1869, the survivors of the early occupants of York, Uppe...
Palace Street To The Market Place
In Rome, at the present day, the parts that are the most at...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1815-1827
Soon after the close of the war with the United States in 1...
Yonge Street: From Bond's Lake To The Holland Landing With Digressions To Newmarket And Sharon
We now speedily passed Drynoch, lying off to the left, on e...
The Harbour Its Marine 1800-1814
On the 15th of May, 1800, Governor Hunter arrives again in ...
King Street From Yonge Street To Church Street
Where Yonge Street crosses King Street, forming at the pres...
King Street From George Street To Caroline Street
We now retrace our steps to King Street, at its intersectio...
King Street From John Street To Yonge Street
After our long stroll westward, we had purposed returning t...
Queen Street From The College Avenue To Brock Street And Spadina Avenue
Pursuing our way now westward from the Avenue leading to th...
King Street Digression Into Duke Street
On passing George Street, as we intimated a moment ago, we ...
King Street: Digression Southwards At Church Street: Market Lane
Across Church Street from Clinkunbroomer's were the wooden ...
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
The first Church of St. James, at York, was a plain structu...
Yonge Street: From Bond's Lake To The Holland Landing With Digressions To Newmarket And Sharon
We now speedily passed Drynoch, lying off to the left, on elevated land,
the abode of Capt. Martin McLeod, formerly of the Isle of Skye. The
family and domestic group systematized on a large scale at Drynoch here,
was a Canadian reproduction of a chieftain's household.
Capt. McLeod was a Scot of the Norse vikinger type, of robust manly
frame, of noble, frank, and tender spirit; an Ossianist too, and, in the
Scandinavian direction, a philologist. Sir Walter Scott would have made
a study of Capt. McLeod, and may have done so. He was one of eight
brothers who all held commissions in the army. His own military life
extended from 1808 to 1832. As an officer successively of the 27th, the
79th, and the 25th regiments, he saw much active service. He accompanied
the force sent over to this continent in the War of 1812-13. It was then
that he for the first time saw the land which was to be his final home.
He was present, likewise, at the affair of Plattsburg; and also, we
believe, at the attack on New Orleans. He afterwards took part in the
so-called Peninsular war, and received a medal with four clasps for
Toulouse, Orthes, Nive, and Nivelle. He missed Waterloo,
"unfortunately," as he used to say; but he was present with the allied
troops in Paris during the occupation of that city in 1815. Of the 25th
regiment he was for many years adjutant, and then paymaster. Three of
his uncles were general officers.
It is not inappropriate to add that the Major McLeod who received the
honour of a Companionship in the Order of St. Michael and St. George for
distinguished service in the Red River Expedition of 1870, was a son of
Captain McLeod of Drynoch.
That in and about the Canadian Drynoch Gaelic should be familiarly heard
was in keeping with the general character of the place. The ancient
Celtic tongue was in fact a necessity, as among the dependents of the
house there were always some who had never learned the English language.
Drynoch was the name of the old home in Skye. The Skye Drynoch was an
unfenced, hilly pasture farm, of about ten miles in extent, yielding
nutriment to herds of wild cattle and some 8,000 sheep. Within its
limits a lake, Loch Brockadale, is still the haunt of the otter, which
is hunted by the aid of the famous terriers of the island; a mountain
stream abounds with salmon and trout; while the heather and bracken of
the slopes shelter grouse and other game.
Whittaker, in his History of Whalley, quoted by Hallam in his Middle
Ages, describes the aspect which, as he supposes, a certain portion of
England presented to the eye, as seen from the top of Pendle Hill, in
Yorkshire, in the Saxon times. The picture which he draws we in Canada
can realize with great perfectness. "Could a curious observer of the
present day," he says, "carry himself nine or ten centuries back, and
ranging the summit of Pendle, survey the forked vale of Calder on one
side and the bolder margins of Ribble and Hodder on the other, instead
of populous towns and villages, the castles, the old tower-built house,
the elegant modern mansion, the artificial plantation, the enclosed park
and pleasure-ground, instead of uninterrupted enclosures which have
driven sterility almost to the summit of the fells, how great then must
have been the contrast when, ranging either at a distance or immediately
beneath, his eye must have caught vast tracts of forest-ground,
stagnating with bog or darkened by native woods, where the wild ox, the
roe, the stag and the wolf, had scarcely learned the supremacy of man,
when, directing his view to the intermediate spaces, to the widening of
the valleys, or expanse of plains beneath, he could only have
distinguished a few insulated patches of culture, each encircling a
village of wretched cabins, among which would still be remarked one rude
mansion of wood, scarcely equal in comfort to a modern cottage, yet
there rising proudly eminent above the rest, where the Saxon lord,
surrounded by his faithful cotarii, enjoyed a rude and solitary
independence, having no superior but his sovereign."
This writer asks us to carry ourselves nine or ten centuries back, to
realize the picture which he has conceived. From the upland here in the
vicinity of Drynoch, less than half a century ago, gazing southwards
over the expanse thence to be commanded, we should have beheld a scene
closely resembling that which, as he supposed, was seen from the summit
of Pendle in the Saxon days; while at the present day we see everywhere,
throughout the same expanse, an approximation to the old mother-lands,
England, Ireland, and Scotland, in condition and appearance: in its
style of agriculture, and the character of its towns, villages, hamlets,
farm-houses, and country villas.
We now entered a region once occupied by a number of French military
refugees. During the revolution in France, at the close of the last
century, many of the devotees of the royalist cause passed over into
England, where, as elsewhere, they were known and spoken of as
emigres. Amongst them were numerous officers of the regular army, all
of them, of course, of the noblesse order, or else, as the inherited
rule was, no commission in the King's service could have been theirs.
When now the royal cause became desperate, and they had suffered the
loss of all their worldly goods, the British Government of the day, in
its sympathy for the monarchical cause in France, offered them grants of
land in the newly organized province of Upper Canada.
Some of them availed themselves of the generosity of the British Crown.
Having been comrades in arms they desired to occupy a block of
contiguous lots. Whilst there was yet almost all western Canada to
choose from, by some chance these Oak Ridges, especially difficult to
bring under cultivation and somewhat sterile when subdued, were
preferred, partly perhaps through the influence of sentiment; they may
have discovered some resemblance to regions familiar to themselves in
their native land. Or in a mood inspired and made fashionable by
Rousseau they may have longed for a lodge in some vast wilderness, where
the "mortal coil" which had descended upon the old society of Europe
should no longer harass them. When twitted by the passing wayfarer who
had selected land in a more propitious situation, they would point to
the gigantic boles of the surrounding pines in proof of the intrinsic
excellence of the soil below, which must be good, they said, to nourish
such a vegetation.
After all, however, this particular locality may have been selected
rather for them than by them. On the early map of 1798 a range of nine
lots on each side of Yonge Street, just here in the Ridges, is bracketed
and marked, "French Royalists: by order of his Honor," i.e., the
President, Peter Russell. A postscript to the Gazetteer of 1799 gives
the reader the information that "lands have been appropriated in the
year of York as a refuge for some French Royalists, and their settlement
On the Vaughan side, No. 56 was occupied conjointly by Michel Saigeon
and Francis Reneoux; No. 57 by Julien le Bugle; No. 58 by Rene Aug.
Comte de Chalus, Amboise de Farcy and Quetton St. George conjointly; No.
59 by Quetton St. George; No. 60 by Jean Louis Vicomte de Chalus. In
King, No. 61 by Rene Aug. Comte de Chalus and Augustin Boiton
conjointly. On the Markham side: No. 52 is occupied by the Comte de
Puisaye; No. 53 by Rene Aug. Comte de Chalus; No. 54 by Jean Louis
Vicomte de Chalus and Rene Aug. Comte de Chalus conjointly;--No. 55 by
Jean Louis Vicomte de Chalus; No. 66 by le Chevalier de Marseuil and
Michael Fauchard conjointly; No. 57 by the Chev. de Marseuil; No. 58 by
Rene Letourneaux, Augustin Boiton and J. L. Vicomte de Chalus
conjointly; No. 59 by Quetton St. George and Jean Furon conjointly; No.
60 by Amboise de Farcy. In Whitchurch, No. 61 by Michel Saigeon.
After felling the trees in a few acres of their respective allotments,
some of these emigres withdrew from the country. Hence in the Ridges was
to be seen here and there the rather unusual sight of abandoned
clearings returning to a state of nature.
The officers styled Comte and Vicomte de Chalus derived their title from
the veritable domain and castle of Chalus in Normandy, associated in the
minds of young readers of English History with the death of Richard
Coeur de Lion. Jean Louis de Chalus, whose name appears on numbers 54
and in 55 Markham and on other lots, was a Major-General in the Royal
Army of Brittany. At the balls given by the Governor and others at York,
the jewels of Madame la Comtesse created a great sensation, wholly
surpassing everything of the kind that had hitherto been seen by the
ladies of Upper Canada. Amboise de Farcy, of No. 58 in Vaughan and No.
60 in Markham, had also the rank of General. Augustin Boiton, of No. 48
in Markham and No. 61 in Vaughan, was a Lieutenant-Colonel.
The Comte de Puisaye, of No. 52 in Markham, figures conspicuously in the
contemporary accounts of the royalist struggle against the Convention.
He himself published in London in 1803 five octavo volumes of Memoirs,
justificatory of his proceedings in that contest. Carlyle in his "French
Revolution" speaks of de Puisaye's work, and, referring to the so-called
Calvados war, says that those who are curious in such matters may read
therein "how our Girondin National forces, i.e., the Moderates,
marching off with plenty of wind music, were drawn out about the old
chateau of Brecourt, in the wood-country near Vernon (in Brittany), to
meet the Mountain National forces (the Communist) advancing from Paris.
How on the fifteenth afternoon of July, 1793, they did meet:--and, as it
were, shrieked mutually, and took mutually to flight, without loss. How
Puisaye thereafter,--for the Mountain Nationals fled first, and we
thought ourselves the victors,--was roused from his warm bed in the
Castle of Brecourt and had to gallop without boots; our Nationals in the
night watches having fallen unexpectedly into sauve qui peut."
Carlyle alludes again to this misadventure, when approaching the subject
of the Quiberon expedition, two years later, towards the close of La
Vendee war. Affecting for the moment a prophetic tone, in his peculiar
way Carlyle proceeds thus, introducing at the close of his sketch de
Puisaye once more, who was in command of the invading force spoken of,
although not undividedly so. "In the month of July, 1795, English
ships," he says, "will ride in Quiberon roads. There will be debarkation
of chivalrous ci-devants, (i.e. ex-noblesse), of volunteer prisoners
of war--eager to desert; of fire-arms, proclamations, clothes chests,
royalists, and specie. Whereupon also, on the Republican side, there
will be rapid stand-to arms; with ambuscade-marchings by Quiberon beach
at midnight; storming of Fort Penthievre; war-thunder mingling with the
roar of the mighty main; and such a morning light as has seldom dawned;
debarkation hurled back into its boats, or into the devouring billows,
with wreck and wail;--in one word, a ci-devant Puisaye as totally
ineffectual here as he was at Calvados, when he rode from Vernon Castle
The impression which Carlyle gives of M. de Puisaye is not greatly
bettered by what M. de Lamartine says of him in the History of the
Girondists, when speaking of him in connexion with the affair near the
Chateau of Brecourt. He is there ranked with adventurers rather than
heroes. "This man," de Lamartine says, "was at once an orator, a
diplomatist, and a soldier,--a character eminently adapted for civil
war, which produces more adventurers than heroes." De Lamartine
describes how, prior to the repulse at Chateau Brecourt, "M. de Puisaye
had passed a whole year concealed in a cavern in the midst of the
forests of Brittany, where, by his manoeuvres and correspondence he
kindled the fire of revolt against the republic." He professed to act in
the interest of the moderates, believing that, through his influence,
they would at last be induced to espouse heartily the cause of
Thiers, in his "History of the French Revolution," vii. 146, speaks in
respectful terms of Puisaye. He says that "with great intelligence and
extraordinary skill in uniting the elements of a party, he combined
extreme activity of body and mind, and vast ambition:" and even after
Quiberon, Thiers says "it was certain that Puisaye had done all that lay
in his power." De Puisaye ended his days in England, in the
neighbourhood of London, in 1827.--In one of the letters of Mr. Surveyor
Jones we observe some of the improvements of the Oak Ridges spoken of as
It is possibly to the settlement, then only in contemplation, of emigres
here in the Oak Ridges of Yonge Street, that Burke alludes, when in his
Reflections on the French Revolution he says: "I hear that there are
considerable emigrations from France, and that many, quitting that
voluptuous climate and that seductive Circean liberty, have taken refuge
in the frozen regions, and under the British despotism, of Canada."
"The frozen regions of Canada," the great rhetorician's expression in
this place, has become a stereotyped phrase with declaimers. The reports
of the first settlers at Tadousac and Quebec made an indelible
impression on the European mind. To this day in transatlantic
communities, it is realized only to a limited extent that Canada has a
spring, summer and autumn as well as a winter, and that her skies wear
an aspect not always gloomy and inhospitable. "British despotism" is, of
course, ironically said, and means, in reality, British constitutional
freedom. (In some instances these Royalist officers appear to have
accepted commissions from the British Crown, and so to have become
nominally entitled to grants of land.)
There are some representatives of the original emigres still to be met
with in the neighbourhood of the Oak Ridges; but they have not in every
instance continued to be seised of the lands granted in 1798. The Comte
de Chalus, son of Rene Augustin, retains property here; but he resides
An estate, however, at the distance of one lot eastward from Yonge
Street, in Whitchurch, is yet in the actual occupation of a direct
descendant of one of the first settlers in this region. Mr. Henry
Quetton St. George here engages with energy in the various operations of
a practical farmer, on land inherited immediately from his father, the
Chevalier de St. George, at the same time dispensing to his many friends
a refined hospitality. If at Glenlonely the circular turrets and pointed
roofs of the old French chateau are not to be seen,--what is of greater
importance, the amenities and gentle life of the old French chateau are
to be found. Moreover, by another successful enterprise added to
agriculture, the present proprietor of Glenlonely has brought it to pass
that the name of St. George is no longer suggestive, as in the first
instance it was, of wars in La Vendee and fightings on the Garonne and
Dordogne, but redolent in Canada, far and wide, only of vineyards in
Languedoc and of pleasant wines from across the Pyrenees.
A large group of superior farm buildings, formerly seen on the right
just after the turn which leads to Glenlonely, bore the graceful name of
Larchmere,--an appellation glancing at the mere or little lake within
view of the windows of the house: a sheet of water more generally known
as Lake Willcocks--so called from an early owner of the spot, Col.
Willcocks, of whom we have spoken in another section. Larchmere was for
some time the home of his great grandson, William Willcocks Baldwin. The
house has since been destroyed by fire.
Just beneath the surface of the soil on the borders of the lakelets of
the Ridges, was early noticed a plentiful deposit of white shell-marl,
resembling the substance brought up from the oozy floor of the Atlantic
in the soundings preparatory to laying the telegraph-cable. It was, in
fact, incipient chalk. It used to be employed in the composition of a
whitewash for walls and fences. It may since have been found of value as
a manure. In these quarters, as elsewhere in Canada, fine specimens of
the antlers of the Wapiti, or great American stag, were occasionally dug
The summit level of the Ridges was now reached, the most elevated land
in this part of the basin of the St. Lawrence; a height, however, after
all, of only about eight hundred feet above the level of the sea. The
attention of the wayfarer was hereabout always directed to a small
stream, which the road crossed, flowing out of Lake Willcocks: and then
a short distance further on, he was desired to notice a slight swale or
shallow morass on the left. The stream in question, he was told, was the
infant Humber, just starting south for Lake Ontario; while the swale or
morass, he was assured, was a feeder of the east branch of the Holland
River, flowing north into Lake Simcoe.
Notwithstanding the comparative nearness to each other of the waters of
the Holland and the Humber, thus made visible to the eye, the earliest
project of a canal in these parts was, as has once before been observed,
for the connection, not of the Holland river and the Humber, but of the
Holland river and the Rouge or Nen. The Mississaga Indians attached
great importance to the Rouge and its valley as a link in one of their
ancient trails between Huron and Ontario; and they seem to have imparted
to the first white men their own notions on the subject. "It apparently
rises," says the Gazetteer of 1799, speaking of the Rouge or Nen, "in
the vicinity of one of the branches of Holland's river, with which it
will probably, at some future period, be connected by a canal." A
"proposed canal" is accordingly here marked on one of the first
manuscript maps of Upper Canada.
Father St. Lawrence and Father Mississippi pour their streams--so
travellers assure us--from urns situated at no great distance apart.
Lake Itaska and its vicinity, just west of Lake Superior, possess a
charm for this reason. In like manner, to compare small things with
great, the particular quarter of the Ridges where the waters of the
Humber and the Holland used to be seen in near proximity to each other,
had always with ourselves a special interest. Two small lakes, called
respectively Lake Sproxton and Lake Simon, important feeders of the
Rouge, a little to the east of the Glenlonely property, are situated
very close to the streams that pass into the east branch of the Holland
river; so that the conjecture of the author of the Gazetteer was a
good one. He says, "apparently the sources of the Rouge and Holland lie
near each other."
After passing the notable locality of the Ridges just spoken of, the
land began perceptibly to decline; and soon emerging from the confused
glens and hillocks and woods that had long on every side been hedging in
the view, we suddenly came out upon a brow where a wide prospect was
obtained, stretching far to the north, and far to the east and west.
From such an elevation the acres here and there denuded of their woods
by the solitary axemen could not be distinguished; accordingly, the
panorama presented here for many a year continued to be exactly that
which met the eyes of the first exploring party from York in 1793.
As we used to see it, it seemed in effect to be an unbroken forest; in
the foreground bold and billowy and of every variety of green; in the
middle distance assuming neutral, indistinct tints, as it dipped down
into what looked like a wide vale; then apparently rising by successive
gentle stages, coloured now deep violet, now a tender blue, up to the
line of the sky. In a depression in the far horizon, immediately in
front, was seen the silvery sheen of water. This, of course, was the
lake known since 1793 as Lake Simcoe; but previously spoken of by the
French sometimes as Lake Sinion or Sheniong; sometimes as Lake
Ouentironk, Ouentaron, and Toronto--the very name which is so familiar
to us now, as appertaining to a locality thirty miles southward of this
The French also in their own tongue sometimes designated it, perhaps for
some reason connected with fishing operations, Lac aux Claies, Hurdle
Lake. Thus in the Gazetteer of 1799 we have "Simcoe Lake: formerly
Lake aux Claies, Ouentironk, Sheniong, situated between York and
Gloucester upon Lake Huron: it has a few small islands and several good
harbours." And again on another page of the same Gazetteer, we have
the article: "Toronto Lake (or Toronto): lake le Clie [i. e. Lac aux
Claies] was formerly so called by some: (others," the same article
proceeds to say, "called the chain of lakes from the vicinity of
Matchedash towards the head of the Bay of Quinte, the Toronto lakes and
the communication from the one to the other was called the Toronto
river:" whilst in another place in the Gazetteer we have the
information given us that the Humber was also styled the Toronto river,
thus: "Toronto river, called by some St. John's; now called the
The region of which we here obtained a kind of Pisgah view, where
"The bursting prospect spreads immense around"
on the northern brow of the Ridges, is a classic one, renowned in the
history of the Wyandots or Hurons, and in the early French missionary
It did not chance to enter into the poet Longfellow's plan to lay the
scene of any portion of his song of Hiawatha so far to the eastward; and
the legends gathered by him
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the mountains, moors and fenlands,
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes--
tell of an era just anterior to the period when this district becomes
invested with interest for us. Francis Parkman, however, in an agreeably
written work, entitled "The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth
Century," has dwelt somewhat at length on the history of this locality,
which is the well-peopled Toronto region, lieu ou il y a beaucoup de
gens, of which we have formerly spoken. (p. 74.)
In the early Reports of the Jesuit fathers themselves, too, this area
figures largely. They, in fact, constructed a map, which must have led
the central mission-board of their association, at Rome, to believe that
this portion of Western Canada was as thickly strewn with villages and
towns as a district of equal area in old France. In the "Chorographia
Regionis Huronum," attached to Father du Creux's Map of New France, of
the date 1660, given in Bressani's Abridgment of "the Relations," we
have the following places conspicuously marked as stations or
sub-missions in the peninsula bounded by Notawasaga bay, Matchedash or
Sturgeon bay, the river Severn, Lake Couchichin, and Lake Simcoe,
implying population in and round each of them:--St. Xavier, St. Charles,
St. Louis, St. Ignatius, St. Denis, St. Joachim, St. Athanasius, St.
Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Michael, La
Conception, St. Mary Magdalene, and others.
(In Schoolcraft's American Indians, p. 130, ed. 1851, the scene of the
story of Aingodon and Naywadaha is laid at Toronto, by which a spot
near Lake Simcoe seems to be meant, and not the trading-post of Toronto
on Lake Ontario.)
But we must push on. The end of our journey is in sight. The impediments
to our advance have been innumerable, but unavoidable. In spite of
appearances, "Semper ad eventum festina," has all along been secretly
goading us forward.
The farmhouses and their surroundings in the Quaker settlement through
which, after descending from the Ridges on the northern side, we passed,
came to be notable at an early date for a characteristic neatness,
completeness, and visible judiciousness; and for an air of enviable
general comfort and prosperity. The farmers here were emigrants chiefly
from Pennsylvania. Coming from a quarter where large tracts had been
rapidly transformed by human toil from a state of nature to a condition
of high cultivation, they brought with them an inherited experience in
regard to such matters; and on planting themselves down in the midst of
an unbroken wild, they regarded the situation with more intelligence
perhaps than the ordinary emigrant from the British Islands and interior
of Germany, and so, unretarded by blunders and by doubts as to the
issue, were enabled very speedily to turn their industry to profitable
The old Gazetteer of 1799 speaks in an exalted sentimental strain of
an emigration then going on from the United States into Canada. "The
loyal peasant," it says, "sighing after the government he lost by the
late revolution, travels from Pennsylvania in search of his former laws
and protection; and having his expectations fulfilled by new marks of
favour from the Crown in a grant of lands, he turns his plough at once
into these fertile plains [the immediate reference is to the
neighbourhood of Woodhouse on Lake Erie], and an abundant crop reminds
him of his gratitude to his God and to his king."
We do not know for certain whether the Quaker settlers of the region
north of the Ridges came into Canada under the influence of feelings
exactly such as those described by the Gazetteer of 1799. In 1806,
however, we find them coming forward in a body to congratulate a new
Lieutenant-Governor on his arrival in Upper Canada. In the Gazette of
Oct. 4, 1806, we read: "On Tuesday, the 30th September (1806), the
following address from the Quakers residing on Yonge Street was
presented to his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor: "The Society of the
people called Quakers, to Francis Gore, Governor of Upper Canada,
sendeth greeting. Notwithstanding we are a people who hold forth to the
world a principle which in many respects differs from the greater part
of mankind, yet we believe it our reasonable duty, as saith the Apostle,
'Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake,
whether it be the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that
are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of
them that do well:' in this we hope to be his humble and peaceful
subjects. Although we cannot for conscience sake join with many of our
fellow-mortals in complimentary customs of man, neither in taking up the
sword in order to shed human blood--for the Scripture saith that 'it is
righteousness that exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any
people'--we feel concerned for thy welfare and the prosperity of the
province, hoping thy administration may be such as to be a terror to the
evil-minded and a pleasure to them that do well: then will the province
flourish and prosper under thy direction; which is the earnest desire
and prayer of thy sincere friends.--Read and approved in Yonge Street
monthly meeting, held the 18th day of the ninth month, 1806. Timothy
Rogers and Amos Armitage are appointed to attend on the Governor
therewith." Signed by order of the said meeting, Nathaniel Pearson,
To this address, characteristic alike in the peculiar syntax of its
sentences and in the well-meant platitudes to which it gives expression,
his Excellency was pleased to return the following answer: "I return you
my thanks for your dutiful address and for your good wishes for my
welfare and prosperity of this province. I have no doubt of your proving
peaceful and good subjects to his Majesty, as well as industrious and
respectable members of society. I shall at all times be happy to afford
to such persons my countenance and support. Francis Gore,
Lieut.-Governor. Government House, York, Upper Canada, 30th Sept.,
The Timothy Rogers here named bore a leading part in the first
establishment of the Quaker settlement. He and Jacob Lundy were the two
original managers of its affairs. On the arrival of Governor Peter
Hunter, predecessor to Gov. Gore, Timothy Rogers and Jacob Lundy with a
deputation from the settlement, came into town to complain to him of the
delay which they and their co-religionists had experienced in obtaining
the patents for their lands.
Governor Hunter, who was also Commander-in-Chief and a Lieut.-General in
the army, received them in the garrison, and after hearing how on coming
to York on former occasions they had been sent about from one office to
another for a reply to their inquiries about the patents, he requested
them to come to him again the next day at noon. Orders were at the same
instant despatched to Mr. D. W. Smith, the Surveyor-General, to Mr.
Small, Clerk of the Executive Council, to Mr. Burns, Clerk of the Crown,
and to Mr. Jarvis, Secretary and Registrar of the Province (all of whom
it appeared at one time or another had failed to reply satisfactorily to
the Quakers), to wait at the same hour on the Lieut.-Governor, bringing
with them, each respectively, such papers and memoranda as might be in
their possession, having relation to patents for lands in Whitchurch and
Governor Hunter had a reputation for considerable severity of character;
and all functionaries, from the judge on the bench to the humblest
employe, held office in those days very literally during pleasure.
"These gentlemen complain,"--the personages above enumerated having duly
appeared, together with the deputation from Yonge Street--"These
gentlemen complain," the Governor said, pointing to the Quakers, "that
they cannot get their patents."
Each of the official personages present offered in succession some
indistinct observations; expressive it would seem of a degree of regret,
and hinting exculpatory reasons, so far as he individually was
On closer interrogation, one thing however came out very clear, that the
order for the patents was more than twelve months old.
At length the onus of blame seemed to settle down on the head of the
Secretary and Registrar, Mr. Jarvis, who could only say that really the
pressure of business in his office was so great that he had been
absolutely unable, up to the present moment, to get ready the particular
patents referred to.
"Sir!" was the Governor's immediate rejoinder, "if they are not
forthcoming, every one of them, and placed in the hands of these
gentlemen here in my presence at noon on Thursday next (it was now
Tuesday), by George! I'll un-Jarvis you!"--implying, as we suppose, a
summary conge as Secretary and Registrar.
It is needless to say that Mr. Rogers and his colleagues of the
deputation carried back with them to Whitchurch lively accounts of the
vigour and rigour of the new Governor--as well as their patents.
General Hunter was very peremptory in his dismissals occasionally. In a
Gazette of July 16, 1803, is to be seen an ominous announcement that
the Governor is going to be very strict with the Government clerks in
regard to hours: "Lieut.-Governor's office, 21st June, 1803. Notice is
hereby given that regular attendance for the transaction of the public
business of the Province will in future be given at the office of the
Secretary of the Province, the Executive Council office, and the
Surveyor-General's office, every day in the year (Sundays, Good Friday,
and Christmas day only excepted) from ten o'clock in the morning until
three in the afternoon, and from five o'clock in the afternoon until
seven in the evening. By order of the Lieutenant-Governor, Jas. Green,
Soon after the appearance of this notice, it happened one forenoon that
young Alexander Macnab, a clerk in one of the public offices, was
innocently watching the Governor's debarkation from a boat, preparatory
to his being conveyed up to the Council-chamber in a sedan-chair which
was in waiting for him. The youth suddenly caught his Excellency's eye,
and was asked--"What business he had to be there? Did he not belong to
the Surveyor-General's office? Sir! your services are no longer
For this same young Macnab, thus summarily dismissed, Governor Hunter,
we have been told, procured subsequently a commission. He attained the
rank of captain and met a soldier's fate on the field of Waterloo, the
only Upper Canadian known to have been engaged or to have fallen in that
famous battle. (We have before mentioned that so late as 1868, Captain
Macnab's Waterloo medal was presented, by the Duke of Cambridge
personally, to the Rev. Dr. Macnab, of Bowmanville, nephew of the
Two stray characteristic items relating to Governor Hunter may here be
subjoined. The following was his brief reply to the Address of the
Inhabitants of York on his arrival there in 1799:--"Gentlemen, nothing
that is in my power shall be wanting to contribute to the happiness and
welfare of this colony." (Gazette, Aug. 24, 1799)--At Niagara, an
Address from "the mechanics and husbandmen" was refused by him, on the
ground that an address professedly from the inhabitants generally had
been presented already. On this, the Constellation of Sep. 10 (1799),
prints the following "anecdote," which is a hit at Gov. Hunter.
"Anecdote.--When Governor Simcoe arrived at Kingston on his way here to
take upon him the government of the Province, the magistrates and
gentlemen of that town presented him with a very polite address. It was
politely and verbally answered. The inhabitants of the country and town,
who move not in the upper circles, presented theirs. And this also his
Excellency very politely answered, and the answer being in writing, is
carefully preserved to this day."
Among the patents carried home by Mr. Timothy Rogers, above named, were
at least seven in which he was more or less personally interested. His
own lot was 95 on the west or King side of Yonge Street. Immediately in
front of him on the Whitchurch or east side, on lots 91, 92, 93, 94, 95,
and 96, all in a row, were enjoyed by sons or near relatives of his,
bearing the names respectively of Rufus Rogers, Asa Rogers, Isaac
Rogers, Wing Rogers, James Rogers, and Obadiah Rogers.
Mr. Lundy's name does not appear among those of the original patentees;
but lots or portions of lot in the "Quaker Settlement" are marked at an
earlier period with the names of Shadrach Lundy, Oliver Lundy, Jacob
Lundy, Reuben Lundy, and perhaps more.
In the region just beyond the Ridges there were farmers also of the
community known as Mennonists or Tunkers. Long beards, when such
appendages were rarities, dangling hair, antique-shaped, buttonless,
home-spun coats, and wide-brimmed low-crowned hats, made these persons
conspicuous in the street. On the seat of a loaded country-waggon, or on
the back of a solitary rustic nag, would now and then be seen a man of
this community, who might pass for John Huss or John a Lasco, as
represented in the pictures. It was always curious to gaze upon these
waifs and strays from old Holland, perpetuating, or at least trying to
perpetuate, on a new continent, customs and notions originating in the
peculiar circumstances of obscure localities in another hemisphere three
hundred years ago.
Simon Menno, the founder and prophet of the Mennonists, was a native of
Friesland in 1496. He advocated the utmost rigour of life. Although
there are, as we are informed, modernized Mennonists now in Holland, at
Amsterdam, for example, who are distinguished for luxury in their
tables, their equipages and their country seats, yet a sub-section of
the community known as Uke-Wallists, from one Uke Walles, adhere to the
primitive strictness enjoined by Menno. Their apparel, we are told, is
mean beyond expression, and they avoid everything that has the most
distant appearance of elegance or ornament. They let their beards grow
to an enormous length; their hair, uncombed, lies in a disorderly manner
on their shoulders; their countenances are marked with the strongest
lines of dejection and melancholy; and their habitations and household
furniture are such as are only fitted to answer the demands of mere
necessity. "We shall not enlarge," Mosheim adds, "upon the circumstances
of their ritual, but only observe that they prevent all attempts to
alter or modify their religious discipline, by preserving their people
from everything that bears the remotest aspect of learning and science;
from whatever, in a word, that may have a tendency to enlighten their
The sympathies of our primitive Tunkers beyond the Ridges, were, as we
may suppose, with this section of the fatherland Mennonists.
Thus, to get the clue to social phenomena which we see around us here in
Canada, we have to concern ourselves occasionally with uninviting pages,
not only of Irish, Scottish and English religious history, but of German
and Netherlandish religious history likewise. Pity 'tis, in some
respects, that on a new continent our immigrants could not have made a
tabula rasa of the past, and taken a start de novo on another
level--a higher one; on a new gauge--a widened one.
Though only a minute fraction of our population, an exception was early
made by the local parliament in favour of the Mennonists or Tunkers,
allowing them to make affirmations in the Courts, like the Quakers, and
to compound for military service.--Like Lollard, Quaker and some other
similar terms, Tunker, i. e. Dipper, was probably at first used in a
spirit of ridicule.
Digression to Newmarket and Sharon.
When Newmarket came in view off to the right, a large portion of the
traffic of the street turned aside for a certain distance out of the
straight route to the north, in that direction.
About this point the ancient dwellers at York used to take note of signs
that they had passed into a higher latitude. Half a degree to the south
of their homes--at Niagara, for example--they were in the land, if not
of the citron and myrtle, certainly of the tulip-tree and pawpaw--where
the edible chestnut grew plentifully in the natural woods, and the peach
Now, half a degree the other way, in the tramontane region north of the
Ridges, they found themselves in the presence of a vegetation that spoke
of an advance, however minute, towards the pole. Here, all along the
wayside, beautiful specimens of the spruce-pine and balsam-fir,
strangers in the forest about York, were encountered. Sweeping the sward
with their drooping branches and sending up their dark green spires high
in the air, these trees were always regarded with interest, and desired
as graceful objects worthy to be transferred to the lawn or ornamental
A little way off the road, on the left, just before the turn leading to
Newmarket, was the great Quaker meeting-house of this region--the
"Friends' Meeting-house"--a building of the usual plain cast, generally
seen with its solid shutters closed up. This was the successor of the
first Quaker meeting-house in Upper Canada. Here Mr. Joseph John Gurney,
the eminent English Quaker, who travelled on this continent in 1837-40,
delivered several addresses, with a view especially to the re-uniting,
if possible, of the Orthodox and the Hicksites.
Gourlay, in his "Statistical Account of Upper Canada," took note that
this Quaker meeting-house and a wooden chapel at Hogg's Hollow,
belonging to the Church of England, were the only two places of public
worship to be seen on Yonge Street between York and the Holland
Landing--a distance, he says, of nearly forty miles. This was in 1817.
Following now the wheel-marks of clearly the majority of vehicles
travelling on the street, we turn aside to Newmarket.
Newmarket had for its germ or nucleus the mills and stores of Mr. Elisha
Beaman, who emigrated hither from the State of New York in 1806. Here
also, on the branch of the Holland river, mills at an early date were
established by Mr. Mordecai Millard, and tanneries by Mr. Joseph Hill.
Mr. Beaman's mills became subsequently the property of Mr. Peter
Robinson, who was Commissioner of Crown Lands in 1827, and one of the
representatives of the united counties of York and Simcoe; and
afterwards, the property of his brother, Mr. W. B. Robinson, who for a
time resided here, and for a number of years represented the County of
Simcoe in the provincial parliament. Most gentlemen travelling north or
to the north-west brought with them, from friends in York, a note of
commendation to Mr. Robinson, whose friendly and hospitable disposition
were well known:
"Fast by the road his ever-open door
Oblig'd the wealthy and reliev'd the poor."
Governors, Commodores, and Commanders-in-chief, on their tours of
pleasure or duty, were glad to find a momentary resting-place at a
refined domestic fireside. Here Sir John Franklin was entertained for
some days in 1835: and at other periods, Sir John Ross and Capt. Back,
when on their way to the Arctic regions.
In 1847, Mr. W. B. Robinson was Commissioner of Public Works; and, at a
later period, one of the Chief Commissioners of the Canada Company. Mr.
Peter Robinson was instrumental in settling the region in which our
Canadian Peterborough is situated, and from him that town has its name.
At Newmarket was long engaged in prosperous business Mr. John Cawthra, a
member of the millionaire family of that name. Mr. John Cawthra was the
first representative in the Provincial Parliament of the County of
Simcoe, after the separation from the County of York. In 1812, Mr. John
Cawthra and his brother Jonathan were among the volunteers who offered
themselves for the defence of the country. Though by nature inclined to
peace, they were impelled to this by a sincere sense of duty. At
Detroit, John assisted in conveying across the river in scows the heavy
guns which were expected to be wanted in the attack on the Fort. On the
slopes at Queenston, Jonathan had a hair-breadth escape. At the
direction of his officer, he moved from the rear to the front of his
company, giving place to a comrade, who the following instant had a
portion of his leg carried away by a shot from Fort Gray, on the
opposite side of the river. Also at Queenston, John, after personally
cautioning Col. Macdonell against rashly exposing himself, as he seemed
to be doing, was called on a few minutes afterwards, to aid in carrying
that officer to the rear, mortally wounded.
With Newmarket too is associated the name of Mr. William Roe, a merchant
there since 1814, engaged at one time largely in the fur-trade. It was
Mr. Roe who saved from capture a considerable portion of the public
funds, when York fell into the hands of General Dearborn and Commodore
Chauncey in 1813. Mr. Roe was at the time an employe in the office of
the Receiver General, Prideaux Selby; and by the order of General
Sheaffe and the Executive Council he conveyed three bags of gold and a
large sum in army-bills to the farm of Chief Justice Robinson, on the
Kingston road east of the Don bridge, and there buried them.
The army-bills were afterwards delivered up to the enemy; but the gold
remained secreted until the departure of the invaders, and was handed
over to the authorities in Dr. Strachan's parlour by Mr. Roe. The
Receiver General's iron chest was also removed by Mr. Roe and deposited
in the premises of Mr. Donald McLean, Clerk of the House of Assembly.
Mr. McLean was killed while bravely opposing the landing of the
Americans, and his house was plundered; the strong chest was broken open
and about one thousand silver dollars were taken therefrom.
The name of Mr. Roe's partner at Newmarket, Mr. Andrew Borland, is
likewise associated with the taking of York in 1813. He was made
prisoner in the fight, and in the actual struggle against capture he
received six severe rifle wounds, from the effects of which he never
wholly recovered. He had also been engaged at Queenston and Detroit.
In the Report of the Loyal and Patriotic Society of Upper Canada, we
have an entry made of a donation of sixty dollars to Mr. Andrew Borland
on the 11th June, 1813, with the note appended: "The committee of the
Loyal and Patriotic Society voted this sum to Mr. Borland for his
patriotic and eminent services at Detroit, Queenston and York, at which
latter place he was severely wounded."
We also learn from the Report that Mr. D'Arcy Boulton had presented a
petition to the Society in favour of Mr. Borland. The members of
committee present at the meeting held June 11th, 1813, were Rev. Dr.
Strachan, chairman, Wm. Chewett, Esq., Wm. Allan, Esq., John Small,
Esq., and Alex. Wood, Esq., secretary: and the minutes state that "The
petition of D'Arcy Boulton, Esq., a member of the Society, in favour of
Andrew Borland, was taken into consideration, and the sum of Sixty
Dollars was voted to him, on account of his patriotic and eminent
services at Detroit, Queenston and York, at which latter place he was
most severely wounded." Mr. Borland had been a clerk in Mr. Boulton's
store. In the order to pay the money, signed by Alexander Wood, Mr.
Borland is styled "a volunteer in the York Militia." He afterwards had a
pension of Twenty Pounds a year.
In 1838 his patriotic ardour was not quenched. During the troubles of
that period he undertook the command of 200 Indians who had volunteered
to fight in defence of the rights of the Crown of England, if there
should be need. They were stationed for a time at the Holland Landing,
but their services were happily not required.
From being endowed with great energy of character, and having also a
familiar knowledge of the native dialects, Mr. Borland had great
influence with the Indian tribes frequenting the coasts of Lakes Huron
and Simcoe. Mr. Roe likewise, in his dealings with the aborigines, had
acquired a considerable facility in speaking the Otchibway dialect, and
had much influence among the natives.
Let us not omit to record, too, that at Newmarket, not very many years
since, was successfully practising a grandson of Sir William Blackstone,
the commentator on the Laws of England--Mr. Henry Blackstone, whose
conspicuous talents gave promise of an eminence in his profession not
unworthy of the name he bore. But his career was cut short by death.
The varied character of colonial society, especially in its early crude
state, the living elements mixed up in it, and the curious changes and
interchanges that take place in the course of its development and
consolidation, receive illustrations from ecclesiastical as well as
We ourselves remember the church-edifice of the Anglican communion at
Newmarket when it was an unplastered, unlathed clap-board shell, having
repeatedly officiated in it while in that stage of its existence. Since
then the congregation represented by this clap-board shell have had as
pastors men like the following: a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin,
not undistinguished in his University, a protege of the famous
Archbishop Magee, a co-worker for a time of the distinguished Dr. Walter
Farquhar Hook, of Leeds, and minister of one of the modern churches
there--the Rev. Robert Taylor, afterwards of Peterborough here in
Canada. And since his incumbency, they have been ministered to by a
former vicar of a prominent church in London, St. Michael's, Burleigh
Street, a dependency of St. Martin's in Trafalgar Square--the Rev.
Septimus Ramsay, who was also long the chief secretary and manager of a
well-known Colonial Missionary Society which had its headquarters in
While, on the other hand, an intervening pastor of the same
congregation, educated for the ministry here in Canada and admitted to
Holy Orders here, was transferred from Newmarket first to the vicarage
of Somerton in Somersetshire, England, and, secondly, to the rectory of
Clenchwarden in the county of Norfolk in England--the Rev. R. Athill.
And another intervening incumbent was, after having been also trained
for the ministry and admitted to orders here in Canada, called
subsequently to clerical work in the United States, being finally
appointed one of the canons of the cathedral church at Chicago, by
Bishop Whitehouse of Illinois: this was the Rev. G. C. Street, a near
relative of the distinguished English architect of that name, designer
and builder of the New Law Courts in London.
As to the name "Newmarket"--in its adoption there was no desire to set
up in Canada a memorial of the famous English Cambridgeshire racing
town. The title chosen for the place was an announcement to this effect:
"Here is an additional mart for the convenience of an increased
population: a place where farmers and others may purchase and exchange
commodities without being at the trouble of a journey to York or
elsewhere." The name of the Canadian Newmarket, in fact, arose as
probably that of the English Newmarket itself arose, when first
established as a newly-opened place of trade for the primitive farmers
and others of East Anglia and Mercia in the Anglo-Saxon period.
It deserves to be added that the English church at Newmarket was, a few
years back, to some extent endowed by a generous gift of valuable land
made by Dr. Beswick, a bachelor medical man, whose large white house on
a knoll by the wayside was always noted by the traveller from York as he
turned aside from Yonge Street for Newmarket.
Proceeding onwards now from Newmarket, we speedily come to the village
of Sharon (or Hope as it was once named), situated also off the direct
northern route of Yonge Street.
David Willson, the great notability and founder of the place, had been
in his younger days a sailor, and, as such, had visited the Chinese
ports. After joining the Quakers, he taught for a time amongst them as a
schoolmaster. For some proceeding of his, or for some peculiarity of
religious opinion, difficult to define, he was cut off from the Hicksite
sub-division of the Quaker body. He then began the formation of a
denomination of his own. In the bold policy of giving to his personal
ideas an outward embodiment in the form of a conspicuous Temple, he
anticipated the shrewd prophets of the Mormons, Joseph and Hiram Smith.
Willson's building was erected about 1825. Nauvoo was not commenced
until the spring of 1840.
In a little pamphlet published at Philadelphia in 1815, Willson gives
the following account of himself: "I, the writer," he says, "was born of
Presbyterian parents in the county of Dutchess, state of New York, in
North America. In 1801 I removed with my family into this province
(Upper Canada), and after a few years became a member of the Society of
the Quakers at my own request, as I chose a spiritual people for my
brethren and sisters in religion. But after I had been a member thereof
about seven years, I began to speak something of my knowledge of God or
a Divine Being in the heart, soul or mind of man, all which signifies
the same to my understanding,--but my language was offensive, my spirit
was abhorred, my person was disdained, my company was forsaken by my
brethren and sisters. After which I retired from the society and was
disowned by them for so doing; but several retired with me and were
disowned also, because they would not unite in the disowning and
condemning the fruits of my spirit; for, as I had been accounted a
faithful member of the society for many years, they did not like to be
hasty in condemnation. Therefore we became a separate people, and
assembled ourselves together under a separate order which I immediately
formed. After I retired from my former meetings--as our discipline led
to peace with all people more than any one in my knowledge--we called
ourselves Children of Peace, because we were but young therein."
The following account of the Temple erected by Willson at Sharon is by a
visitor to the village in 1835. "The building," says Mr. Patrick
Shirreff in his "Tour through North America," published in Edinburgh in
1835, "is of wood painted white externally, seventy feet high; and
consists of three storeys. The first is sixty feet square, with a door
in the centre of each side and three large windows on each side of the
door. On two sides there is a representation of the setting sun and the
word 'Armageddon' inscribed below. The second storey is twenty-seven
feet square with three windows on each side; and the third storey nine
feet square with one window on each side.
"The corners of each of the storeys are terminated by square lanterns,
with gilded mountings; and the termination of the building is a gilded
ball of considerable size. The interior was filled with wooden chairs
placed round sixteen pillars, in the centre of which is a square cabinet
of black walnut with a door and windows on each side. There was a table
in the centre of the cabinet covered with black velvet, hung with
crimson merino and fringe, in which was deposited a Bible. On the four
central pillars were painted the words Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love;
and on the twelve others, the names of the Apostles. The central pillars
seemed to support the second storey; and at the foot of each was a table
covered with green cloth. The house was without ornament, being painted
fawn, green and white; and had not a pulpit or place for addressing an
audience. It is occupied once a month for collecting charity; and
contains 2,952 panes of glass, and is lighted once a year with 116
The materials of the frame-work of the Temple were, as we have been
told, prepared at a distance from the site, and run rapidly up as far as
possible without noise, in imitation of the building of Solomon's
Temple. By the side of the principal edifice stood a structure 100 feet
by 50 feet, used for ordinary meetings on Sundays. On the first Friday
in September used to be an annual feast, when the Temple was
illuminated. In this was an organ built by Mr. Coates of York.
David was an illiterate mystic, as his writings shew, in which, when the
drift of his maundering is made out, there is nothing new or remarkable
to be discerned.
At the close of the war of 1812-13-14, he appears to have been under the
impression that the Government designed to banish him as a seditious
person, under c. 1. 44 Geo. III. He accordingly published a document
deprecating such action. It was thus headed: "Address to thy Crown, O
England, and thy great name. I write as follows to all the inhabitants
thereof." In the course of it he says: "After I have written, I will
leave God to judge between you and me; and also to make judges of you,
whether you will receive my ministry in your land in peace, yea or nay.
. . . Ye are great indeed. I cannot help that, neither do I want to; but
am willing ye should remain great in the sight of God, although I am but
small therein, in the things thereof. Now choose whether I should or
might be your servant in these things, yea or nay. As I think, it would
be a shame for a minister to be banished from your nation for preaching
the gospel of peace therein. I am a man," he continues, "under the
visitation of God's power in your land; and many scandalous reports are
in circulation against me. The intent of the spirit of the thing is to
put me to flight from your dominions, or that I should be imprisoned
therein. For which cause I, as a dutiful subject, make myself known
hereby unto you of great estate in the world, lest your minds should be
affected and stirred up against me without a cause by your inferiors,
who seek to do evil to the works of God, whenever the Almighty is trying
to do you good."
In some verses of the same date as this address to the home authorities,
viz., 1815, he refers to the peril he supposed himself to be in. A
stanza or two will suffice as a specimen of his poetical productions,
which are all of the same Sternhold and Hopkins type, with the
disadvantage of great grammatical irregularity. Thus he sings: (The tone
of the ci-devant Jack-tar is perhaps to be slightly detected.)
The powers of hell are now combin'd--
With war against me rage:
But in my God my soul's resigned--
The rock of every age, &c.
Some thou doth set in king's estate,
And some on earth must serve;
And some hath gold and silver plate,
When others almost starve, &c.
The earth doth hunger for my blood,
And Satan for my soul;
And men my flesh for daily food,
That they may me control, &c.
If God doth give what I receive
The same is due to thee;
And thou in spirit must believe
In gospel liberty, &c.
It's also mine, by George our king,
The ruler of my day;
And yet if I dishonour bring,
Cut short my feeble stay, &c.
For this is in your hearts to do,
Ye inferiors of the earth;
And it's in mine to do so too,
And stop that cursed birth, &c.
The style of a volume entitled "Impressions"--a kind of Alcoran, which
used formerly to be sold to visitors in the Temple--does not rise much
above the foregoing, either in its verse or prose.
What Mosheim says of Menno's books, may be said with at least equal
truth of Willson's: "An extensively diffuse and rambling style, frequent
and unnecessary repetitions, an irregular and confused method, with
other defects of equal moment, render the perusal of the productions
highly disagreeable." Nevertheless, the reduction of his solitary
meditations to writing had, we may conceive, a pious operation and
effect on Willson's own spirit; and the perusal of them may, in the
simple-minded few who still profess to be his followers, have a like
operation and effect, even when in the reading constrained, with poor
monk Felix, to confess that, though believing, they do not understand.
The worthy man neither won martyrdom nor suffered exile; but lived on in
great worldly prosperity here in Sharon, reverenced by his adherents as
a sort of oracle, and flattered by attentions from successive political
leaders on account of the influence which he might be supposed locally
to possess--down to the year 1866, when he died in peace, aged
eighty-nine years and seven months.
Of Willson's periodical missionary expeditions into town, we have spoken
in another connection.
We return now to the great northern route, from which we have been
deviating, and hasten on with all speed to the Landing. We place
ourselves at the point on Yonge Street where we turned off to Newmarket.
Proceeding onward, we saw almost immediately, on the left, the
conspicuous dwelling of Mr. Irving--the Hon. Jacob AEmilius Irving, a
name historical in Canada, a Paulus AEmilius Irving having been
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in British America in 1765, and also
President for a time of the Province of Quebec. (This Paulus AEmilius
Irving had previously taken part under General Wolfe in the capture of
The house of his descendant, Jacob AEmilius Irving, here on Yonge Street,
was known as Bonshaw, from some ancient family property in
Dumfriesshire. He had been an officer in the 13th Light Dragoons, and
was wounded at Waterloo. In addition to many strongly-marked English
traits of character and physique, he possessed fine literary tastes, and
histrionic skill of a high order, favoured by the possession of a grand
barytone voice. He retained a professional liking for horses. A
four-in-hand, guided by himself, issuing from the gates at Bonshaw and
whirling along Yonge Street into town, was a common phenomenon.--He died
at the Falls of Niagara in 1856. Since 1843 Mr. Irving had been a member
of the Upper House of United Canada.
A little way back, ere we descended the northern slope of the Ridges we
caught sight, as we have narrated, of the Holland River, or at least of
some portion of the branch of it with which we are immediately
concerned--issuing, "a new-born rill," from one of its fountains.
As we traversed the Quaker settlement it was again seen, a brook
meandering through meadows. This was the eastern branch of the river.
The main stream lies off to the west, flowing past the modern Bradford
and Lloydtown. It is at the head of the main stream that the most
striking approximation of the waters of the Humber and Holland rivers is
to be seen.
We arrive now at the Upper Landing, the ancient canoe-landing, and we
pause for a moment. Here it was that the war-parties and hunting-parties
embarked and disembarked, while yet these waters were unploughed by the
heavy boats of the white man.
The Iroquois from the south-side of Lake Ontario penetrated the
well-peopled region of the Hurons by several routes, as we have already
intimated: by the great Bay of Quinte highway; by the trails whose
termini on Lake Ontario were near respectively the modern Bowmanville
and Port Hope: and thirdly by a track which we have virtually been
following in this our long ramble from York; virtually, we say, for it
was to the west of Yonge Street that the trail ran, following first the
valley of the Humber and then that of the main stream of the Holland
river. The route which Mr. Holland took when he penetrated from Toronto
Bay to the head waters of the river which now bears his name, is marked
in the great MS. map which he constructed in 1791. He passed up
evidently along the great water-course of the Humber.
"You can pass from Lake Frontenac, i. e., Ontario," Lahontan says (ii.
23), "into Lake Huron by the River Tan-a-hou-ate (the Humber), by a
portage of about twenty-four miles to Lake Toronto, which by a river of
the same name empties into Lake Huron," i.e. by the River Severn, as
we should now speak.
Hunting-parties or war-parties taking to the water here at the Upper
Landing, in the pre-historic period, would probably be just about to
penetrate the almost insular district, of which we have spoken, westward
of Lake Simcoe,--the Toronto region, the place of concourse, the
well-peopled region. But some of them might perhaps be making for the
Lake Huron country and North-west generally, by the established trail
having its terminus at or near Orillia (to use the modern name).
In the days of the white man, the old Indian place of embarkation and
debarkation on the Holland river, acquired the name of the Upper
Canoe-landing; and hither the smaller craft continued to proceed.
Vessels of deeper draught lay at the Lower Landing, to which we now move
on, about a mile and a half further down the stream. Here the river was
about twenty-five yards wide, the banks low and bordered by a woody
marsh, in which the tamarac or larch was a conspicuous tree.
In a cleared space on the right, at the point where Yonge Street struck
the stream, there were some long low buildings of log with strong
shutters on the windows, usually closed. These were the Government
depositories of naval and military stores, and Indian presents, on their
way to Penetanguishene. The cluster of buildings here was once known as
Fort Gwillimbury. Thus we have it written in the old Gazetteer of
1799: "It is thirty miles from York to Holland river, at the Pine Fort
called Gwillimbury, where the road ends."
Galt, in his Autobiography, speaks of this spot. He travelled from York
to Newmarket in one day. This was in 1827. "Then next morning," he says,
"we went forward to a place on the Holland river, called Holland's
Landing, an open space which the Indians and fur-traders were in the
habit of frequenting. It presented to me," he adds, "something of a
Scottish aspect in the style of the cottages; but instead of mountains
the environs were covered with trees. We embarked at this place." He was
on his way to Goderich at the time, via Penetanguishene.
The river Holland, at which we have so long been labouring to arrive,
had its name from a former surveyor-general of the Province of Quebec,
prior to the setting-off of the Province of Upper Canada--Major S.
In the Upper Canada Gazette of Feb. 13, 1802, we have an obituary
notice of this official personage. His history also, it will be
observed, was mixed up with that of General Wolfe. "Died," the obituary
says, "on the 28th instant (that is, on the 28th of December, 1801, the
article being copied from the Quebec Gazette of the 31st of the
preceding December), of a lingering illness, which he bore for many
years with Christian patience and resignation, Major S. Holland.
"He had been in his time," the brief memoir proceeds to say, "an
intrepid, active, and intelligent officer, never making difficulties,
however arduous the duty he was employed in. He was an excellent
field-engineer, in which capacity he was employed in the year 1758 at
the siege of Louisbourg in the detachment of the army under General
Wolfe, who after silencing the batteries that opposed our entrance into
the harbour, and from his own setting fire to three ships of the line,
and obliging the remainder in a disabled state to haul out of cannon
shot, that great officer by a rapid and unexpected movement took post
within four hundred yard
Next: Yonge Street: Onward From Holland Landing To Penetanguishene
Previous: Yonge Street From Hogg's Hollow To Bond's Lake