King Street Digression Into Duke Street

On passing George Street, as we intimated a moment ago, we enter the

parallelogram which constituted the original town-plot. Its boundaries

were George Street, Duchess Street, Ontario Street (with the lane south

of it), and Palace Street. From this, its old core, York spread westward

and northward, extending at length in those directions respectively

(under the name of Toronto) to the Asylum and Yorkville; while eastward

> its developments--though here less solid and less shapely--were finally

bounded by the windings of the Don. Were Toronto an old town on the

European Continent, George Street, Duchess Street, Ontario Street and

Palace Street, would probably now be boulevards, showing the space once

occupied by stout stone walls. The parallelogram just defined represents

"the City" in modern London, or "la Cite" in modern Paris--the original

nucleus round which gradually clustered the dwellings of later


Before, however, we enter upon what may be styled King Street proper, it

will be convenient to make a momentary digression northwards into Duke

Street, anciently a quiet, retired thoroughfare, skirted on the right

and left by the premises and grounds and houses of several most

respectable inhabitants. At the north-west angle of the intersection of

this street with George Street was the home of Mr. Washburn; but this

was comparatively a recent erection. Its site previously had been the

brickyard of Henry Hale, a builder and contractor, who put up the wooden

structure, possessing some architectural pretensions, on the south-east

angle of the same intersection, diagonally across; occupied in the

second instance by Mr. Moore, of the Commissariat; then by Dr. Lee, and

afterwards by Mr. J. Murchison.

(The last named was for a long time the Stultz of York, supplying all

those of its citizens, young and old, who desired to make an attractive

or intensely respectable appearance, with vestments in fine broadcloth.)

A little to the north, on the left side of George Street, was the famous

Ladies' School of Mrs. Goodman, presided over subsequently by Miss

Purcell and Miss Rose. This had been previously the homestead of Mr.

Stephen Jarvis, of whom again immediately.--Two or three of these

familiar names appear in an advertisement relating to land in this

neighbourhood, in the Gazette of March 23rd, 1826.--"For Sale: Three

lots or parcels of land in the town of York, the property of Mrs.

Goodman, being part of the premises on which Miss Purcell now resides,

and formerly owned by Col. Jarvis. The lots are each fifty feet in width

and one hundred and thirty in depth, and front on the street running

from King Street to Mr. Jarvis's Park lot. If not disposed of by private

sale, they will be put up at auction on the first day of May next.

Application to be made to Miss Purcell, or at the Office of the U. C.

Gazette. York, March 10, 1826."

Advancing on Duke Street eastward a little way, we came, on the left, to

the abode of Chief Justice Sir William Campbell, of whom before Sir

William erected here in 1822 a mansion of brick, in good style. It was

subsequently, for many years, the hospitable home of the Hon. James

Gordon, formerly of Amherstburgh.

Then on the right, one square beyond, at the south-easterly corner where

Caroline Street intersects, we reached the house of Mr. Secretary

Jarvis, a man of great note in his day, whose name is familiar to all

who have occasion to examine the archives of Upper Canada in the

administrations of Governors Simcoe, Hunter and Gore. A fine portrait of

him exists, but, as we have been informed, it has been transmitted to

relatives in England. Mr. Stephen Jarvis, above named, was long the

Registrar of Upper Canada. His hand-writing is well-known to all holders

of early deeds. He and the Secretary were first cousins; of the same

stock as the well-known Bishop Jarvis of Connecticut, and the Church

Historian, Dr. Samuel Farmer Jarvis. Both were officers in incorporated

Colonial regiments before the independence of the United States; and

both came to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Mr. Stephen Jarvis was

the founder of the leading Canadian family to which the first Sheriff

Jarvis belonged. Mr. Samuel Peters Jarvis, from whom "Jarvis Street" has

its name, was the son of Mr. Secretary Jarvis.

On the left, one square beyond the abode of Mr. Secretary Jarvis, came

the premises and home of Mr. Surveyor General Ridout, the latter a

structure still to be seen in its primitive outlines, a good specimen of

the old type of early Upper Canadian family residence of a superior

class; combining the qualities of solidity and durability with those of

snugness and comfort in the rigours of winter and the heats of summer.

In the rear of Mr. Ridout's house was for some time a family

burial-plot; but, like several similar private enclosures in the

neighbourhood of the town, it became disused after the establishment of

regular cemeteries.

Nearly opposite Mr. Ridout's, in one of the usual long, low Upper

Canadian one-storey dwellings, shaded by lofty Lombardy poplars, was the

home of the McIntoshes, who are to be commemorated hereafter in

connection with the Marine of York: and here, at a later period, lived

for a long time Mr. Andrew Warffe and his brother John. Mr. Andrew

Warffe was a well-known employe in the office of the Inspector General,

Mr. Baby, and a lieutenant in the Incorporated Militia.

By one of the vicissitudes common in the history of family residences

everywhere, Mr. Secretary Jarvis's house, which we just now passed,

became afterwards the place of business of a memorable cutler and

gunsmith, named Isaac Columbus. During the war of 1812, Mr. Columbus was

employed as armourer to the Militia, and had a forge near the garrison.

Many of the swords used by the Militia officers were actually

manufactured by him. He was a native of France; a liberal-hearted man,

ever ready to contribute to charitable objects; and a clever artizan.

Whether required to "jump" the worn and battered axe of a backwoodsman,

to manufacture the skate-irons and rudder of an ice-boat, to put in

order a surveyor's theodolite, or to replace for the young geometrician

or draughtsman an instrument lost out of his case, he was equally au

fait. On occasion he could even supply an elderly lady or gentleman

with a set of false teeth, and insert them.

In our boyhood we had occasion to get many little matters attended to at

Mr. Columbus's. Once on leaving word that a certain article must be

ready by a particular hour, we remember being informed that "must" was

only for the King of France. His political absolutism would have

satisfied Louis XIV. himself. He positively refused to have anything to

do with the "liberals" of York, expressly on the ground that, in his

opinion, the modern ideas of government "hindered the King from acting

as a good father to the people."

An expression of his, "first quality, blue!" used on a particular

occasion in reference to an extra finish to be given to some steel-work

for an extra price, passed into a proverb among us boys at school, and

was extensively applied by us to persons and things of which we desired

to predicate a high degree of excellence.

Over Columbus's workshop, at the corner of Caroline Street, we are

pretty sure his name appeared as here given; and so it was always

called. But we observe in some lists of early names in York, that it is

given as "Isaac Collumbes." It is curious to note that the great

discoverer's name is a latinization of Colon, Coulon, Colombe,

descendant each of columba, dove, of which columbus is the masculine