From Brock Street To The Old French Fort

Returning again to the front. The portion of the Common that lies

immediately west of the foot of Brock Street was enclosed for the first

time and ornamentally planted by Mr. Jameson. Before his removal to

Canada, Mr. Jameson had filled a judicial position in the West Indies.

In Canada, he was successively Attorney-General and Vice-Chancellor, the

Chancellorship itself being vested in the Crown. The conversational

s of Mr. Jameson were admirable: and no slight interest attached to

the pleasant talk of one who, in his younger days, had been the familiar

associate of Southey, Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In a

volume of poems by Hartley Coleridge, son of the philosopher, published

in 1833, the three sonnets addressed "To a Friend," were addressed to

Mr. Jameson, as we are informed in a note. We give the first of these

little poems at length:

"When we were idlers with the loitering rills,

The need of human love we little noted:

Our love was nature; and the peace that floated

On the white mist, and dwelt upon the hills,

To sweet accord subdued our wayward wills:

One soul was ours, one mind, one heart devoted,

That, wisely doating, asked not why it doated,

And ours the unknown joy, which knowing kills.

But now I find how dear thou wert to me;

That man is more than half of nature's treasure,

Of that fair Beauty which no eye can see,

Of that sweet music which no ear can measure;

And now the streams may sing for others' pleasure,

The hills sleep on in their eternity."

The note appended, which appears only in the first edition, is as

follows: "This sonnet, and the two following, my earliest attempts at

that form of versification, were addressed to R. S. Jameson, Esq., on

occasion of meeting him in London, after a separation of some years. He

was the favourite companion of my boyhood, the active friend and sincere

counsellor of my youth. 'Though seas between us broad ha' roll'd' since

we 'travelled side by side' last, I trust the sight of this little

volume will give rise to recollections that will make him ten years

younger. He is now Judge Advocate at Dominica, and husband of Mrs.

Jameson, authoress of the 'Diary of an Ennuyee,' 'Loves of the Poets,'

and other agreeable productions."

Mr. Jameson was a man of high culture and fine literary tastes. He was,

moreover, an amateur artist of no ordinary skill, as extant drawings of

his in water-colours attest. His countenance, especially in his old age,

was of the Jeremy Bentham stamp.

It was from the house on the west of Brock Street that Mrs. Jameson

dated the letters which constitute her well-known "Winter Studies and

Summer Rambles." That volume thus closes: "At three o'clock in the

morning, just as the moon was setting on Lake Ontario, I arrived at the

door of my own house in Toronto, having been absent on this wild

expedition [to the Sault] just two months." York had then been two years

Toronto. (For having ventured to pass down the rapids at the Sault, she

had been formally named by the Otchipways of the locality,

Was-sa-je-wun-e-qua, "Woman of the Bright Stream.")

The Preface to the American edition of Mrs. Jameson's "Characteristics

of Women" was also written here. In that Introduction we can detect a

touch due to the "wild expedition" just spoken of. "They say," she

observes, "that as a savage proves his heroism by displaying in grim

array the torn scalps of his enemies, so a woman thinks she proves her

virtue by exhibiting the mangled reputations of her friends:" a censure,

she adds, which is just, but the propensity, she explains, is wrongly

attributed to ill-nature and jealousy. "Ignorance," she proceeds, "is

the main cause; ignorance of ourselves and others; and when I have heard

any female acquaintance commenting with a spiteful or a sprightly levity

on the delinquencies and mistakes of their sex, I have only said to

myself, 'They know not what they do.'" "Here, then," the Preface

referred to concludes, "I present to women a little elementary manual or

introduction to that knowledge of woman, in which they may learn to

understand better their own nature; to judge more justly, more gently,

more truly of each other;

'And in the silent hour of inward thought

To still suspect, yet still revere themselves

In lowliness of heart.'"

Mrs. Jameson was unattractive in person at first sight, although, as

could scarcely fail to be the case in one so highly endowed, her

features, separately considered, were fine and boldly marked.

Intellectually, she was an enchantress. Besides an originality and

independence of judgment on most subjects, and a facility in

generalizing and reducing thought to the form of a neat aphorism, she

had a strong and capacious memory, richly furnished with choice things.

Her conversation was consequently of the most fascinating kind.

She sang, too, in sweet taste, with a quiet softness, without display.

She sketched from nature with great elegance, and designed cleverly. The

seven or eight illustrations which appear in the American edition of the

"Characteristics," dated at Toronto, are etched by herself, and bear her

autograph, "Anna." The same is to be observed of the illustrations in

the English edition of her "Commonplace Book of Thoughts, Memories, and

Fancies;" and in her larger volumes on various Art-subjects. She had

super-eminently beautiful hands, which she always scrupulously guarded

from contract with the outer air.

Mrs. Jameson was a connoisseur in "hands," as we gather from her

Commonplace Book, just mentioned. She there says: "There are hands of

various character; the hand to catch, and the hand to hold; the hand to

clasp, and the hand to grasp; the hand that has worked, or could work,

and the hand that has never done anything but hold itself out to be

kissed, like that of Joanna of Arragon, in Raphael's picture." Her own

appeared to belong to the last-named class.

Though the merest trifles, we may record here one or two further

personal recollections of Mrs. Jameson; of her appreciation, for

example, of a very obvious quotation from Horace, to be appended to a

little sketch of her own, representing a child asleep, but in danger

from a serpent near; and of her glad acceptance of an out-of-the-way

scrap from the "Vanity of Arts and Sciences" of Cornelius Agrippa, which

proved the antiquity of charivaries. "Do you not know that the

intervention of a lady's hand is requisite to the finish of a young

man's education?" was a suggestive question drawn forth by some youthful

maladroitness. Another characteristic dictum, "Society is one vast

masquerade of manners," is remembered, as having been probably at the

time a new idea to ourselves in particular. The irrational

conventionalities of society she persistently sought to counteract, by

her words on suitable occasions, and by her example, especially in point

of dress, which did not conform to the customs in vogue.

Among the local characters relished by Mrs. Jameson in Canada was Mr.

Justice Hagerman, who added some of the bluntness of Samuel Johnson to

the physique of Charles James Fox. She set a high value on his talents,

although we have heard her, at once playfully and graphically, speak of

him as "that great mastiff, Hagerman." From Mrs. Jameson we learned that

"Gaytay" was a sufficient approximation in English to the pronunciation

of "Goethe." She had been intimately acquainted with the poet at Weimar.

In the Kensington Museum there is a bust, exceedingly fine, of Mrs.

Jameson, by the celebrated sculptor Gibson, executed by him, as the

inscription speaks, "in her honour." The head and countenance are of

course somewhat idealized; but the likeness is well retained. In the

small Boston edition of the "Legends of the Madonna" there is an

interesting portrait of Mrs. Jameson, giving her appearance when far

advanced in years.

Westward from the house and grounds whose associations have detained us

so long, the space that was known as the Government Common is now

traversed from south to north by two streets. Their names possess some

interest, the first of them being that of the Duke of Portland, Viceroy

of Ireland, Colonial Secretary, and three times Prime Minister in the

reign of George the Third; the other that of Earl Bathurst, Secretary

for the Colonies in George the Fourth's time.

Eastward of Bathurst Street, in the direction of the military

burying-ground, there was long marked out by a furrow in the sward the

ground-plan of a church. In 1830, the military chaplain, Mr. Hudson,

addressed to the commander of the forces a complaint "of the very great

inconvenience to which the troops are exposed in having to march so far

to the place of worship, particularly when the weather and roads are so

unfavourable during a greater part of the year in this country, the

distance from the Barracks to the Church being two miles:" adding, "In

June last, the roads were in such a state as to prevent the Troops from

attending Church for four successive Sundays." He then suggested "the

propriety of erecting a chapel on the Government reserve for the

accommodation of the Troops." The Horse Guards refused to undertake the

erection of a chapel here, but made a donation of one thousand pounds

towards the re-edification of St. James' Church, "on condition that

accommodation should be permanently provided for His Majesty's Troops."

The outline in the turf was a relic of Mr. Hudson's suggestion.

The line that defined the limit of the Government Common to the north

and east, (and west, of course, likewise), prior to its division into

building lots, was a portion of the circumference of a great circle, "of

a radius of a 1,000 yards, more or less," whose centre was the Fort. On

the old plans of York, acres of this great circle are traced, with two

interior concentric arcs, of radii respectively of eight and five

hundred yards.

We now soon arrive at the ravine of the "Garrison Creek." In the rivulet

below, for some distance up the valley, before the clearing away of the

woods, salmon used to be taken at certain seasons of the year. Crossing

the stream, and ascending to the arched gateway of the fort, (we are

speaking of it as it used to be), we pass between the strong

iron-studded portals, which are thrown back: we pass a sentry just

within the gate, and the guard-house on the left. At present we do not

tarry within the enclosure of the Fort. We simply glance at the

loopholed block-house on the one side, and the quarters of the men, the

officers, and the commandant on the other; and we hurry across the

gravelled area, recalling rapidly a series of spirit-stirring ordinal

numbers--40th, 41st, 68th, 79th, 42nd, 15th, 32nd, 1st--each suggestive

of a gallant assemblage at some time here; of a vigorous, finely

disciplined, ready-aye-ready group, that, like the successive

generations on the stage of human life, came and went just once, as it

were--as the years rolled on, and the eye saw them again no more.

We pass on through the western gate to the large open green space which

lies on the farther side. This is the Garrison Reserve. It bears the

same relation to the modern Toronto and the ancient York as the Plains

of Abraham do to Quebec. It was here that the struggle took place, in

the olden time, that led to the capture of the town. In both cases the

leader of the aggressive expedition "fell victorious." But the analogy

holds no further; as, in the case of the inferior conquest, the

successful power did not retain permanent possession.

The Wolfe's Cove--the landing-place of the invader--on the occasion

referred to, was just within the curve of the Humber Bay, far to the

west, where Queen Street now skirts the beach for a short distance and

then emerges on it. The intention had been to land more to the eastward,

but the vessels containing the hostile force were driven westward by the


The debarkation was opposed by a handful of Indians, under Major Givins.

The Glengary Fencibles had been despatched to aid in this service, but,

attempting to approach the spot by a back road, they lost their way. A

tradition exists that the name of the Grenadier's Pond, a lagoon a

little to the west, one of the ancient outlets of the waters of the

Humber, is connected with the disastrous bewilderment of a party of the

regular troops at this critical period. It is at the same time asserted

that the name "Grenadier's Pond" was familiar previously. At length

companies of the Eighth Regiment, of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment,

and of Incorporated Militia, made their appearance on the ground, and

disputed the progress inland of the enemy. After suffering severely,

they retired towards the Fort. This was the existing Fort. The result is

now matter of history, and need not be detailed. As portions of the

cliff have fallen away from time to time along the shore here, numerous

skeletons have been exposed to view, relics of friend and foe slain on

the adjacent common, where, also, military ornaments and fragments of

fire-arms, used frequently to be dug up. Some of the bones referred to,

however, may have been remains of early French and Indian traders.

The Loyalist newspaper of May 9, 1829, published at York, speaks of

the re-interment on that day of the remains of an officer killed at the

battle of York. The article runs as follows:--"The late Capt.

McNeil.--It will be recollected by many of the inhabitants of York that

this officer fell while gallantly fighting at the head of his Company of

Grenadiers of the 8th Regiment, in defence of the place, on the morning

of the 27th of April, 1813. His remains which so eminently deserved

rites of honourable sepulture, were from unavoidable circumstances

consigned to earth by the hands of the enemy whom he was opposing, near

the spot where he fell, without any of those marks of distinction which

are paid to departed valour.

"The waters of the Lake," the Loyalist then proceeds to say, "having

lately made great inroads upon the bank, and the grave being in danger

of being washed away, it may be satisfactory to his friends to learn,

that on these circumstances being made known to Major Winniett,

commanding the 68th Regiment at this Post, he promptly authorized the

necessary measures to be taken for removing the remains of Capt. McNeil,

and placing them in the Garrison Burial Ground, which was done this day.

A firing-party and the band attended on the occasion, and the remains

were followed to the place of interment by the officers of the Garrison,

and a procession of the inhabitants of the town and vicinity."

The site of the original French stockade, established here in the middle

of the last century, was nearly at the middle point between the

landing-place of the United States force in 1813, and the existing Fort.

West of the white cut-stone Barracks, several earthworks and grass-grown

excavations still mark the spot. These ruins, which we often visited

when they were much more extensive and conspicuous than they are now,

were popularly designated "The Old French Fort."

It is interesting to observe the probable process by which the

appellation "Toronto" came to be attached to the Trading-post here. Its

real name, as imposed by the French authorities, was Fort Rouille, from

a French colonial minister of that name, in 1749-54. This we learn from

a despatch of M. de Longeuil, Governor-in-Chief of Canada in 1752. And

"Toronto," at that period, according to contemporaneous maps, denoted

Lake Simcoe and the surrounding region. Thus in Carver's Travels through

North America in 1766-8, in p. 172, we read, "On the north-west part of

this lake [Ontario], and to the south of Lake Huron, is a tribe of

Indians called the Mississagues, whose town is denominated Toronto, from

the lake [i. e. Lake Simcoe] on which it lies, but they are not very

numerous." This agrees with Lahontan's statements and map, in 1687.

What Carver says of the fewness of the native inhabitants is applicable

only to the state of things in his day. The fatal irruption of the

Iroquois from the south had then taken place, and the whole of the Lake

Simcoe or Toronto region had been made a desert. Before that irruption,

the peninsula included between Notawasaga Bay, Matchedash, or Sturgeon

Bay, the River Severn, Lake Couchichin and Lake Simcoe was a locality

largely frequented by native tribes. It was especially the head-quarters

of the Wyandots or Hurons. Villages, burial-grounds, and cultivated

lands abounded in it. Unusual numbers of the red men were congregated


It was in short the place of meeting, the place of concourse, the

populous region, indicated by the Huron term Toronto.

In the form Toronton, the word Toronto is given by Gabriel Sagard in his

"Dictionnaire de la Langue Huronne," published at Paris in 1636.

With Sagard it is a kind of exclamation, signifying "Il y en a

beaucoup," and it is used in relation to men. He cites as an

example--"He has killed a number of S. (the initial of some hostile

tribe)." "Toronton S. ahouyo."

In the Vocabulary of Huron words at the end of Lahontan's second volume,

the term likewise appears, but with a prefix,--A-toronton,--and is

translated "Beaucoup." Sagard gives it with the prefix O, in the phrase

"O-toronton dacheniquoy," "J'en mange beaucoup."

We are not indeed to suppose that the Hurons employed the term Toronto

as a proper name. We know that the aborigines used for the most part no

proper names of places, in our sense of the word, their local

appellations being simply brief descriptions or allusion to incidents.

But we are to suppose that the early white men took notice of the

vocable Toronto, frequently and emphatically uttered by their red

companions, when pointing towards the Lake Simcoe region, or when

pressing on in canoe or on foot, to reach it.

Accordingly, at length, the vocable Toronto is caught up by the white

voyageurs, and adopted as a local proper name in the European sense:

just as had been the case already with the word Canada. ("Kanata" was a

word continually heard on the lips of the red men in the Lower St.

Lawrence, as they pointed to the shore; they simply meant to

indicate--"Yonder are our wigwams;" but the French mariners and others

took the expression to be a geographical name for the new region which

they were penetrating. And such it has become.)

We can now also see how it came to pass that the term Toronto was

attached to a particular spot on the shore of Lake Ontario. The mouth of

the Humber, or rather a point on the eastern side of the indentation

known as Humber Bay, was the landing place of hunting parties, trading

parties, war-parties, on their way to the populous region in the

vicinity of Lake Simcoe. Here they disembarked for the tramp to Toronto.

This was a Toronto landing-place for wayfarers bound to the district in

the interior where there were crowds. And gradually the starting-place

took the name of the goal. The style and title of the terminus ad quem

were usurped by the terminus a quo.

Thus likewise it happened that the stockaded trading-post established

near the landing on the indentation of Humber Bay came to be popularly

known as Fort Toronto, although its actual, official name was Fort


In regard to the signification which by some writers has been assigned

to the word Toronto, of "trees rising out of the water"--we think the

interpretation has arisen from a misunderstanding of language used by

Indian canoe-men.

Indian canoe-men in coasting along the shore of Lake Ontario from the

east or west, would, we may conceive, naturally point to "the trees

rising out of the water," the pines and black poplars looming up from

the Toronto island or peninsula, as a familiar land-mark by which they

knew the spot where they were to disembark for the "populous region to

the north." The white men mixing together in their heads the description

of the landmark and the district where, as they were, emphatically told,

there were crowds, made out of the expressions "trees rising out of the

water," and "Toronto," convertible terms, which they were not.

As to the idea to which Capt. Bonnycastle gave currency, by recording it

in one of his books on Canada, that Toronto, or Tarento, was possibly

the name of an Italian engineer concerned in the construction of the

fort,--it is sufficient to reply that we know what the official name of

the Fort was: it was Fort Rouille. Sorel, and Chambly, and it may be,

other places in Canada, derived their names from officers in the French

service. But nothing to be found in the early annals of the country

gives any countenance to Capt. Bonnycastle's derivation. It was probably

a mere after-dinner conversational conjecture, and it ought never to

have been gravely propounded.

We meet with Toronto under several different forms, in the French and

English documents; but the variety has evidently arisen from the

attempts of men of different degrees of literary capacity and

qualification, to represent, each as he best could, a native vocable

which had not been long reduced to writing. The same variety, and from

the same cause, occurs in a multitude of other aboriginal terms.

The person who first chanced to write down Toronto as Tarento was

probably influenced by some previous mental familiarity with the name of

an old Italian town; just as he who first startled Europeans by the

announcement that one of the Iroquois nations was composed of Senecas,

was doubtless helped to the familiar-looking term which he adopted, by a

thought of the Roman stoic. (Pownall says Seneca is properly Sen-aga,

"the farther people," that is in relation to the New England Indians;

while Mohawk is Mo-aga, "the hither people." Neither of the terms was

the name borne by the tribe. According to the French rendering, the

Mo-agas were Agnies; the Sen-agas Tsonnontouans.)

The chivalrous and daring La Salle must have rested for a moment at the

Toronto Landing. In his second expedition to the West, in 1680, he made

his way from Fort Frontenac to Michilimackinac by the portage from the

mouth of what is now the Humber to Lake Huron, accompanied by a party of

twenty-four men.

In the preceding year he had penetrated to the Mississippi by the Lake

Erie route. But then also some of his company unexpectedly found

themselves in close proximity to Toronto. The Franciscan Friar,

Hennepin, sent forward by La Salle from Fort Frontenac with seventeen

men, was compelled by stress of weather, while coasting along the north

side of Lake Ontario, to take shelter in the Humber river. It was then

the 26th of Nov. (1678); and here he was delayed until the 5th of

December. Hennepin speaks of the place of his detention as Taiaiagon: a

word erroneously taken to be a local proper name. It means as we are

assured by one formerly familiar with the native Indians, simply a

Portage or Landing-place. So that there were numerous Taiaiagons. One is

noted in particular, situated, the Gazetteer of 1799 says, "half way

between York and the head of the Bay of Quinte:" probably where Port

Hope now stands. It is marked in the old French maps in that position.

(On one of them a track is drawn from it to "Lac Taronthe;" that is to

the chain of Lakes leading north-westerly to Lake Toronto, i. e. Lake

Simcoe.) The Taiaiagon of Hennepin is stated by him to be "at the

farther end of Lake Ontario," and "about seventy leagues from Fort

Frontenac:" too far, of course. Again: the distance from Taiaiagon to

the mouth of the Niagara river, is made by him to be fifteen or sixteen

leagues; also too far, if Toronto is the site of his Taiaiagon.