King Street From John Street To Yonge Street

After our long stroll westward, we had purposed returning to the place

of beginning by the route which constitutes the principal thoroughfare

of the modern Toronto; but the associations connected with the primitive

pathway on the cliff overlooking the harbour, led us insensibly back

along the track by which we came.

In order that we may execute our original design, we now transport

ourselves at once to th
point where we had intended to begin our

descent of King Street. That point was the site of a building now wholly

taken out of the way--the old General Hospital. Farther west on this

line of road there was no object possessing any archaeological interest.

The old Hospital was a spacious, unadorned, matter-of-fact, two-storey

structure, of red brick, one hundred and seven feet long, and sixty-six

feet wide. It had, by the direction of Dr. Grant Powell, as we have

heard, the peculiarity of standing with its sides precisely east and

west, north and south. At a subsequent period, it consequently had the

appearance of having being jerked round bodily, the streets in the

neighbourhood not being laid out with the same precise regard to the

cardinal points. The building exhibited recessed galleries on the north

and south sides, and a flattish hipped roof. The interior was

conveniently designed.

In the fever wards here, during the terrible season of 1847, frightful

scenes of suffering and death were witnessed among the newly-arrived

emigrants; here it was that, in ministering to them in their distress,

so many were struck down, some all but fatally, others wholly so;

amongst the latter several leading medical men, and the Roman Catholic

Bishop, Power.

When the Houses of Parliament, at the east end of the town, were

destroyed by fire in 1824, the Legislature assembled for several

sessions in the General Hospital.

The neighbourhood hereabout had an open, unoccupied look in 1822. In a

Weekly Register of the 25th of April of that year, we have an account

of the presentation of a set of colours to a militia battalion, mustered

for the purpose on the road near the Hospital. "Tuesday, the 23rd

instant," the Register reports, "being the anniversary of St. George,

on which it has been appointed to celebrate His Majesty's birthday,

George IV., [instead of the 4th of June, the fete of the late King,] the

East and West Regiments, with Capt. Button's Troop of Cavalry, which are

attached to the North York Regiment, on the right, were formed in line

at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, on the road in front of the

Government House, and a Guard of Honour, consisting of 100 rank and file

from each regiment, with officers and sergeants in proportion, under the

command of Lieut.-Col. FitzGibbon, were formed at a short distance in

front of the centre, as the representatives of the militia of the

Province, in order to receive the rich and beautiful Colours which His

Majesty has been graciously pleased to command should be prepared for

the late incorporated Battalion, as an honourable testimony of the high

sense which His Majesty has been pleased to entertain of the zeal and

gallantry of the militia of Upper Canada."

The Register then proceeds: "At 12 o'clock, a Royal Salute was fired

from the Garrison, and the Lieutenant-Governor with his staff having

arrived on the ground, proceeded to review the widely-extended line;

after which, taking his station in front of the whole, the band struck

up the nation anthem of 'God save the King.' His Excellency then

dismounted, and accompanied by his staff, on foot, approached the Guard

of Honour, so near as to be distinctly heard by the men; when,

uncovering himself, and taking one of the Colours in his hand, in the

most dignified and graceful manner, he presented them to the proper

officer, with the following address:--"Soldiers! I have great

satisfaction in presenting you, as the representatives of the late

incorporated Battalion, with these Colours--a distinguished mark of His

Majesty's approbation. They will be to you a proud memorial of the past,

and a rallying-point around which you will gather with alacrity and

confidence, should your active services be required hereafter by your

King and Country.'--His Excellency having remounted, the Guard of Honour

marched with band playing and Colours flying, from right to left, in

front of the whole line, and then proceeded to lodge their Colours at

the Government House."

"The day was raw and cold," it is added, "and the ground being very wet

and uneven, the men could neither form nor march with that precision

they would otherwise have exhibited. We were very much pleased, however,

with the soldier-like appearance of the Guard of Honour, and we were

particularly struck by the new uniform of the officers of the West York,

as being particularly well-adapted for the kind of warfare incident to a

thickly-wooded country. Even at a short distance it would be difficult

to distinguish the gray coat or jacket from the bole of a tree. There

was a very full attendance on the field; and it was peculiarly

gratifying to observe so much satisfaction on all sides. The Colours,

which are very elegant, are inscribed with the word Niagara, to

commemorate the services rendered by the Incorporated Battalion on that

frontier; and we doubt not that the proud distinction which attends

these banners will always serve to excite the most animating

recollections, whenever it shall be necessary for them to wave over the

heads of our Canadian Heroes, actually formed in battle-array against

the invaders of our Country. At 2 o'clock His Excellency held a Levee,

and in the evening a splendid Ball at the Government House concluded the

ceremonies and rejoicings of the day." The Lieut. Governor on this

occasion was Sir Peregrine Maitland, of whom fully hereafter.

The building on King Street known as "Government House" was originally

the private residence of Chief Justice Elmsley. For many years after its

purchase by the Government it was still styled "Elmsley House." As at

Quebec, the correspondence of the Governor-in-Chief was dated from the

"Chateau St. Louis," or the "Castle of St. Louis," so here, that of the

Lieutenant-Governor of the Western Province was long dated from "Elmsley

House." Mr. Elmsley was a brother of the celebrated classical critic and

editor, Peter Elmsley, of Oxford. We shall have occasion frequently to

speak of him.

On the left, opposite Government House, was a very broken piece of

ground, denominated "Russell Square;" afterwards, through the

instrumentality of Sir John Colborne, converted into a site for an

educational Institution. Sir John Colborne, on his arrival in Upper

Canada, was fresh from the Governorship of Guernsey, one of the Channel

Islands. During his administration there he had revived a decayed Public

School, at present known as Elizabeth College. Being of opinion that the

new country to which he had been transferred was not ripe for a

University on the scale contemplated in a royal Charter which had been

procured, he addressed himself to the establishment of an institution

which should meet the immediate educational wants of the community.

Inasmuch as in the School which resulted--or "Minor College" as it was

long popularly called--we have a transcript, more or less close, of the

institution which Sir John Colborne had been so recently engaged in

reviving, we add two or three particulars in regard to the latter, which

may have, with some, a certain degree of interest, by virtue of the

accidental but evident relation existing between the two institutions.

From a paper in Brayley's Graphic and Historical Illustrator (1834), we

gather that Elizabeth College, Guernsey, was originally called the

"School of Queen Elizabeth," as having been founded under Letters Patent

from that sovereign in 1563, to be a "Grammar-school in which the youth

of the Island (juventus) may be better instructed in good learning and

virtue." The temple or church of the suppressed Order of Gray Friars

(Friars minors or Cordeliers), with its immediate precincts, was

assigned for its "use," together with "eighty quarters of wheat rent,"

accruing from lands in different parts of the Island, which had been

given to the friars for dispensations, masses, obits, &c. By the

statutes of 1563 the school was divided into six classes; and books and

exercises were appointed respectively for each, the scholars to be

admitted being required "to read perfectly, and to recite an approved

catechism of the Christian religion by heart."

In all the six classes the Latin and Greek languages were the primary

objects of instruction; but the Statutes permitted the master, at his

discretion, "to add something of his own;" and even "to concede

something for writing, singing, arithmetic, and a little play." For more

than two centuries the school proved of little public utility. In 1799

there was one pupil on the establishment. In 1816 there were no

scholars. From that date to 1824 the number fluctuated from 15 to 29. In

1823, Sir John Colborne appointed a committee to investigate all the

circumstances connected with the school, and to ascertain the best mode

of assuring its future permanent efficiency and prosperity, without

perverting the intention of the foundress. The end of all this was a new

building (figured in Brayley) at a cost of L14,754 2s. 3d.; the

foundation-stone being laid by Sir John in 1826. On August the 20th,

1829, the revived institution was publicly opened, with one hundred and

twenty pupils. "On that day," we are told, "the Bailiff and Jurats of

the Island, with General Ross, the Lieutenant-Governor [Sir John

Colborne was now in Canada], his staff, and the public authorities,

headed by a procession consisting of the Principal, Vice-Principal, and

other masters and tutors of the school (together with the scholars),

repaired to St. Peter's Church, where prayers were read by the Dean, Dr.

Durand, and Te Deum and other anthems were sung. They then returned to

the College, where, in the spacious Examination Hall, a crowded assembly

were addressed respectively by the Bailiff and President-director

[Daniel de Lisle Brock, Esq.], Colonel de Havilland, the Vice-President,

and the Rev. G. Proctor, B.D., the new Principal, on the antiquity,

objects, apparent prospects, and future efficiency of the institution."

Under the new system the work of education was carried on by a

Principal, Vice-Principal, a First and Second Classical Master, a

Mathematical Master, a Master and Assistant of the Lower School, a

Commercial Master, two French Masters and an Assistant, a Master of

Drawing and Surveying, besides extra Masters for the German, Italian,

and Spanish languages, and for Music, Dancing, and Fencing. The course

of instruction for the day scholars, and those on the foundation,

included Divinity, History, Geography, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French,

English, Mathematics, Arithmetic, and Writing, at a charge in the Upper

School of L3 per quarter; and in the Lower or Preparatory School, of L1

per quarter; for Drawing and Surveying, 15s. per quarter. The terms

for private scholars (including all College dues and subscriptions for

exhibitions and prizes of medals, &c.) varied from L60 annually with the

Principal, to L46 annually with the First Classical Teacher.

The exhibitions in the revived institution were, first, one of L30 per

annum for four years, founded by the Governor of Guernsey in 1826, to

the best Classical scholar, a native of the Bailiwick, or son of a

native; secondly, four for four years, of, at least, L20 per annum,

founded by subscription in 1826, to the best scholars, severally, in

Divinity, Classics, Mathematics, and Modern Languages; thirdly, one for

four years, of L20 per annum, founded in 1827 by Admiral Sir James

Saumarez, to the best Theological and Classical scholar; fourthly, one

of L20 per annum, for four years, from 1830, to the best Classical

scholar, given by Sir John Colborne in 1828. There were also two, from

the Lower to the Upper School, of L6 per annum, for one year or more,

founded by the Directors in 1829.

The foregoing details will, as we have said, be of some interest,

especially to Canadians who have received from the institution founded

by Sir John Colborne in Russell Square an important part of their early

training. "Whatever makes the past, the distant and the future

predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking

beings." So moralized Dr. Johnson amidst the ruins of Iona. On this

principle, the points of agreement and difference between the

educational type and antitype is this instance, will be acknowledged to

be curious.

Another link of association between Guernsey and Upper Canada exists in

the now familiar name "Sarnia," which is the old classical name of

Guernsey, given by Sir John Colborne to a township on the St. Clair

river, in memory of his former government.

Those who desire to trace the career of Upper Canada College ab ovo,

will be thankful for the following advertisements. The first is from the

Loyalist of May 2, 1829. "Minor College. Sealed tenders for erecting a

School House and four dwelling-houses will be received on the first

Monday of June next. Plans, elevations and specifications may be seen

after the 12th instant, on application to the Hon. Geo. Markland, from

whom further information will be received. Editors throughout the

Province are requested to insert this notice until the first Monday in

June, and forward their accounts for the same to the office of the

Loyalist, York. York, 1st May, 1829."

The second advertisement is from the Upper Canada Gazette of Dec. 17,

1829. "Upper Canada College, established at York. Visitor, the

Lieutenant-Governor for the time being. This College will open after the

approaching Christmas Vacation, on Monday the 8th of January, 1830,

under the conduct of the Masters appointed at Oxford by the Vice

Chancellor and other electors, in July last. Principal, the Rev, J. H.

Harris, D.D., late Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Classical

Department: Vice Principal, The Rev. T. Phillips, D.D., of Queen's

College, Cambridge. First Classical Master: The Rev. Charles Mathews,

M.A., of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Second Classical Master: The Rev. W.

Boulton, B.A., of Queen's College, Oxford. Mathematical Department: The

Rev. Charles Dade, M.A., Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge, and late

Mathematical Master at Elizabeth College. French, Mr. J. P. De la Haye.

English, Writing and Arithmetic, Mr. G. A. Barber and Mr. J. Padfield.

Drawing Master, Mr. Drury. (Then follow terms, &c.) Signed: G. H.

Markland, Secretary to the Board of Education. York, Upper Canada, Dec.

2, 1829."

After Russell Square on the left, came an undulating green field; near

the middle of it was a barn of rural aspect, cased-in with upright,

unplaned boards. The field was at one time a kind of Campus Martius

for a troop of amateur cavalry, who were instructed in their evolutions

and in the use of the broadsword, by a veteran, Capt. Midford, the

Goodwin of the day, at York.

Nothing of note presented itself until after we arrived at the roadway

which is now known as Bay Street, with the exception, perhaps, of two

small rectangular edifices of red brick with bright tin roofs, dropped,

as it were, one at the south-west, the other at the north-west, angle of

the intersection of King and York Streets. The former was the office of

the Manager of the Clergy Reserve Lands; the latter, that of the

Provincial Secretary and Registrar. They are noticeable simply as being

specimens, in solid material, of a kind of minute cottage that for a

certain period was in fashion in York and its neighbourhood; little

square boxes, one storey in height, and without basement; looking as if,

by the aid of a ring at the apex of the four sided roof, they might,

with no great difficulty, be lifted up, like the hutch provided for

Gulliver by his nurse Glumdalclitch, and carried bodily away.

As we pass eastward of Bay Street, the memory comes back of Franco

Rossi, the earliest scientific confectioner of York, who had on the

south side, near here, a depot, ever fragrant and ambrosial. In his

specialities he was a superior workman. From him were procured the

fashionable bridecakes of the day; as also the noyeau, parfait-amour,

and other liqueurs, set out for visitors on New Year's Day. Rossi was

the first to import hither good objects of art: fine copies of the

Laocoon, the Apollo Belvidere, the Perseus of Canova, with other

classical groups and figures sculptured in Florentine alabaster, were

disseminated by him in the community.

Rossi is the Italian referred to by the author of "Cyril Thornton" in

his "Men and Manners in America," where speaking of York, visited by him

in 1832, he says: "In passing through the streets I was rather surprised

to observe an affiche intimating that ice-creams were to be had

within. The weather being hot, I entered, and found the master of the

establishment to be an Italian. I never ate better ice at

Grange's"--some fashionable resort in London, we suppose. The outward

signs of civilization at York must have been meagre when a chance

visitor recorded his surprise at finding ice-creams procurable in such a


Great enthusiasm, we remember, was created, far and near, by certain

panes of plate glass with brass divisions between them, which, at a

period a little later than Cyril Thornton's (Captain Hamilton's) visit,

suddenly ornamented the windows of Mr. Beckett's Chemical Laboratory,

close by Rossi's. Even Mrs. Jameson, in her book of "Winter Studies and

Summer Rambles," referring to the shop fronts of King Street,

pronounces, in a naive English watering-place kind of tone, "that of the

apothecary" to be "worthy of Regent Street in its appearance."

A little farther on, still on the southern side, was the first place of

public worship of the Wesleyan Methodists. It was a long, low, wooden

building, running north and south, and placed a little way back from the

street. Its dimensions in the first instance, as we have been informed

by Mr. Petch, who was engaged in its erection, were 40 by 40 feet. It

was then enlarged to 40 by 60 feet. In the gable end towards the street

were two doors, one for each sex. Within, the custom obtained of

dividing the men from the women; the former sitting on the right hand of

one entering the building; the latter on the left.

This separation of the sexes in places of public worship was an oriental

custom, still retained among Jews. It also existed, down to a recent

date, in some English Churches. Among articles of inquiry sent down from

a Diocesan to churchwardens, we have seen the query: "Do men and women

sit together indifferently and promiscuously? or, as the fashion was of

old, do men sit together on one side of the church, and women upon the

other?" In English Churches the usage was the opposite of that indicated

above: the north side, that is, the left on entering, was the place of

the women; and the south, that of the men.

In 1688, we have Sir George Wheler, in his "Account of the Churches of

the Primitive Christians," speaking of this custom, which he says

prevails also "in the Greek Church to this day:" he adds that it "seems

not only very decent, but nowadays, since wickedness so much abounds,

highly necessary; for the general mixture," he continues, "of men and

women in the Latin Church is notoriously scandalous; and little less,"

he says, "is their sitting together in the same pews in our London


The Wesleyan chapel in King Street ceased to be used in 1833. It was

converted afterwards for a time into a "Theatre Royal."

Jordan Street preserves one of the names of Mr. Jordan Post, owner of

the whole frontage extending from Bay Street to Yonge Street. The name

of his wife is preserved in "Melinda Street," which traverses his lot,

or rather block, from east to west, south of King Street. Two of his

daughters bore respectively the unusual names of Sophronia and

Desdemona. Mr. Post was a tall New-Englander of grave address. He was,

moreover, a clockmaker by trade, and always wore spectacles. From the

formal cut of his apparel and hair, he was, quite erroneously, sometimes

supposed to be of the Mennonist or Quaker persuasion.

So early as 1802, Mr. Post is advertising in the York paper. In the

Oracle of Sept. 18, 1802, he announces a temporary absence from the

town. "Jordan Post, watchmaker, requests all those who left watches with

him to be repaired, to call at Mr. Beman's and receive them by paying

for the repairs. He intends returning to York in a few months. Sept. 11,

1802." In the close of the same year, he puts forth the general notice:

"Jordan Post, Clock and Watchmaker, informs the public that he now

carries on the above business in all its branches, at the upper end of

Duke Street. He has a complete assortment of watch furniture. Clocks and

watches repaired on the shortest notice, and most reasonable terms,

together with every article in the gold and silver line. N. B.--He will

purchase old brass. Dec 11, 1802."

Besides the block described above, Mr. Post had acquired other valuable

properties in York, as will appear by an advertisement in the Weekly

Register of Jan. 19, 1826, from which also it will be seen that he at

one time contemplated a gift to the town of one hundred feet frontage

and two hundred feet of depth, for the purpose of a second Public

Market. "Town Lots for Sale. To be sold by Auction on the Premises, on

Wednesday the first day of February next, Four Town Lots on King Street,

west of George Street. Also, to be leased at the same time to the

highest bidder, for twenty-one years, subject to such conditions as will

then be produced. Six Lots on the west side of Yonge Street, and Twenty

on Market Street. The Subscriber has reserved a Lot of Ground of One

Hundred Feet front, by Two Hundred Feet in the rear, on George Street,

for a Market Place, to be given for that purpose. He will likewise lease

Ten Lots in front of said intended Market. A plan of the Lots may be

seen and further particulars known, by application to the Subscriber.

Jordan Post. York, Jan. 4, 1826."