Palace Street To The Market Place

In Rome, at the present day, the parts that are the most attractive to

the tourist of archaeological tastes, are those that are the most

desolate; quarters that, apart from their associations, are the most

uninviting. It is the same with many another venerable town of the world

beyond the Atlantic, of far less note than the old Imperial capital,

with Avignon, for example; with Nismes and Vienne in France; with Paris

elf, also, to some extent; with Chester, and York, and St. Albans,

the Verulam of the Roman period, in England.

It is the same with our American towns, wherever any relics of their

brief past are extant. Detroit, we remember, had once a quaint,

dilapidated, primaeval quarter. It is the same with our own Toronto. He

that would examine the vestiges of the original settlement, out of which

the actual town has grown, must betake himself, in the first instance,

to localities now deserted by fashion, and be content to contemplate

objects that, to the indifferent eye, will seem commonplace and


To invest such places and things with any degree of interest will appear

difficult. An attempt in that direction may even be pronounced

visionary. Nevertheless, it is a duty which we owe to our forefathers to

take what note we can of the labours of their hands; to forbid, so far

as we may, the utter oblivion of their early efforts, and deeds, and

sayings, the outcome of their ideas, of their humours and anxieties; to

forbid, even, so far as we may, the utter oblivion of the form and

fashion of their persons.

The excavations which the first inhabitants made in the construction of

their dwellings and in engineering operations, civil and military, were

neither deep nor extensive; the materials which they employed were, for

the most part, soft and perishable. In a few years all the original

edifices of York, the infant Toronto, together with all the primitive

delvings and cuttings, will, of necessity, have vanished. Natural decay

will have destroyed some. Winds, fires, and floods will have removed

others. The rest will have been deliberately taken out of the way, or

obliterated in the accomplishment of modern improvements, the rude and

fragile giving way before the commodious and enduring.

At St. Petersburg, we believe, the original log-hut of Peter the Great

is preserved to the present day, in a casing of stone, with a kind of

religious reverence. And in Rome of old, through the influence of a

similar sacred regard for the past, the lowly cottage of Romulus was

long protected in a similar manner. There are probably no material

relics of our founders and forefathers which we should care to invest

with a like forced and artificial permanence. But memorials of those

relics, and records of the associations that may here and there be found

to cluster round them,--these we may think it worth our while to collect

and cherish.

Overlooking the harbour of the modern Toronto, far down in the east,

there stands at the present day, a large structure of grey cut-stone.

Its radiating wings, the turret placed at a central point aloft,

evidently for the ready oversight of the subjacent premises; the

unornamented blank walls, pierced high up in each storey with a row of

circular-heading openings, suggestive of shadowy corridors and cells

within, all help to give to this pile an unmistakable prison-aspect.

It was very nearly on the site of this rather hard-featured building

that the first Houses of Parliament of Upper Canada were placed--humble

but commodious structures of wood, built before the close of the

eighteenth century, and destroyed by the incendiary hand of the invader

in 1813. "They consisted," as a contemporary document sets forth, "of

two elegant Halls, with convenient offices, for the accommodation of the

Legislature and the Courts of Justice."--"The Library, and all the

papers and records belonging to these institutions were consumed, and,

at the same time," the document adds, "the Church was robbed, and the

Town Library totally pillaged."--The injuries thus inflicted were a few

months afterwards avenged by the destruction of the Public Buildings at

Washington, by a British force. "We consider," said an Address of the

Legislative Council of Lower Canada to Sir George Prevost, "the

destruction of the Public Buildings at Washington as a just retribution

for the outrages committed by an American force at the seat of

Government of Upper Canada."

On the same site succeeded the more conspicuous and more capacious, but

still plain and simply cubical brick block erected for legislative

purposes in 1818, and accidentally burned in 1824. The conflagration on

this occasion entailed a loss which, the Canadian Review of the

period, published at Montreal, observes, "in the present state of the

finances and debt of the Province, cannot be considered a trifling

affair." That loss, we are informed by the same authority, amounted to

the sum of two thousand pounds.

Hereabout the Westminster of the new capital was expected to be. It is

not improbable that the position at the head, rather than the entrance,

of the harbour was preferred, as being at once commanding and secure.

The appearance of the spot in its primaeval condition, was doubtless more

prepossessing than we can now conceive it ever to have been. Fine groves

of forest trees may have given it a sheltered look, and, at the same

time, have screened off from view the adjoining swamps.

The language of the early Provincial Gazetteer, published by

authority, is as follows: "The Don empties itself into the harbour, a

little above the Town, running through a marsh, which when drained, will

afford most beautiful and fruitful meadows." In the early manuscript

Plans, the same sanguine opinion is recorded, in regard to the morasses

in this locality. On one, of 1810, now before us, we have the

inscription: "Natural Meadow which may be mown." On another, the legend

runs: "Large Marsh, and will in time make good Meadows." On a third it

is: "Large Marsh and Good Grass."

At all events, hereabout it was that York, capital of Upper Canada,

began to rise. To the west and north of the site of the Houses of

Parliament, the officials of the Government, with merchants and

tradesmen in the usual variety, began to select lots and put up

convenient dwellings; whilst close by, at Berkeley Street or Parliament

Street as the southern portion of the modern Berkeley Street was then

named, the chief thoroughfare of the town had its commencing-point.

Growing slowly westward from here, King Street developed in its course,

in the customary American way, its hotel, its tavern, its

boarding-house, its waggon-factory, its tinsmith shop, its bakery, its

general store, its lawyer's office, its printing office, its places of


Eastward of Berkeley Street, King Street became the Kingston road,

trending slightly to the north, and then proceeding in a straight line

to a bridge over the Don. This divergency in the highway caused a number

of the lots on its northern side to be awkwardly bounded on their

southern ends by lines that formed with their sides, alternately obtuse

and acute angles, productive of corresponding inconveniencies in the

shapes of the buildings afterwards erected thereon; and in the position

of some of them. At one particular point the houses looked as if they

had been separated from each other and partially twisted round, by the

jolt of an earthquake.

At the Bridge, the lower Kingston road, if produced westward in a right

line, would have been Queen Street, or Lot Street, had it been deemed

expedient to clear a passage in that direction through the forest. But

some way westward from the Bridge, in this line, a ravine was

encountered lengthwise, which was held to present great engineering

difficulties. A road cut diagonally from the Bridge to the opening of

King Street, at once avoided this natural impediment, and also led to a

point where an easy connection was made with the track for wheels, which

ran along the shore of the harbour to the Garrison. But for the ravine

alluded to, which now appears to the south of Moss Park, Lot Street, or,

which is the same thing, Queen Street, would at an early period, have

begun to dispute with King Street, its claim to be the chief

thoroughfare of York.

But to come back to our original unpromising stand-point.

Objectionable as the first site of the Legislative Buildings at York may

appear to ourselves, and alienated as it now is to lower uses, we cannot

but gaze upon it with a certain degree of emotion, when we remember that

here it was the first skirmishes took place in the great war of

principles which afterwards with such determination and effect was

fought out in Canada. Here it was that first loomed up before the minds

of our early law-makers the ecclesiastical question, the educational

question, the constitutional question. Here it was that first was heard

the open discussion, childlike, indeed, and vague, but pregnant with

very weighty consequences, of topics, social and national, which, at the

time, even in the parent state itself, were mastered but by few.

Here it was, during a period of twenty-seven years (1797-1824), at each

opening and closing of the annual session, amidst the firing of cannon

and the commotion of a crowd, the cavalcade drew up that is wont, from

the banks of the Thames to the remotest colony of England, to mark the

solemn progress of the sovereign or the sovereign's representative, to

and from the other Estates in Parliament assembled. Here, amidst such

fitting surroundings of state, as the circumstances of the times and the

place admitted, came and went personages of eminence, whose names are

now familiar in Canadian story: never, indeed, the founder and organiser

of Upper Canada, Governor Simcoe himself, in this formal and ceremonious

manner; although often must he have visited the spot otherwise, in his

personal examinations of every portion of his young capital and its

environs. But here, immediately after him, however, came and went

repeatedly, in due succession, President Russell, Governor Hunter,

Governor Gore, General Brock, General Sheaffe, Sir Gordon Drummond, Sir

Peregrine Maitland.

And, while contemplating the scene of our earliest political conflicts,

the scene of our earliest known state pageants in these parts, with

their modest means and appliances, our minds intuitively recur to a

period farther removed still, when under even yet more primitive

conditions the Parliament of Upper Canada assembled at Newark, just

across the Lake. We picture to ourselves the group of seven

crown-appointed Councillors and five representatives of the Commons,

assembled there, with the first Speaker, McDonell, of Glengary; all

plain, unassuming, prosaic men, listening, at their first session, to

the opening speech of their frank and honoured Governor. We see them

adjourning to the open air from their straightened chamber at Navy Hall,

and conducting the business of the young Province under the shade of a

spreading tree, introducing the English Code and Trial by Jury,

decreeing Roads, and prohibiting the spread of Slavery; while a boulder

of the drift, lifting itself up through the natural turf, serves as a

desk for the recording clerk. Below them, in the magnificent estuary of

the river Niagara, the waters of all the Upper Lakes are swirling by,

not yet recovered from the agonies of the long gorge above, and the leap

at Table Rock.--Even here, at the opening and close of this primaeval

Legislature, some of the decent ceremonial was observed with which, as

we have just said, the sadly inferior site at the embouchure of the Don

became afterwards familiar. We learn this from the narrative of the

French Duke de Liancourt, who affords us a glimpse of the scene at

Newark on the occasion of a Parliament there in 1795. "The whole retinue

of the Governor," he says, "consisted in a guard of fifty men of the

garrison of the fort. Draped in silk, he entered the Hall with his hat

on his head, attended by his adjutant and two secretaries. The two

members of the Legislative Council gave, by their speaker, notice of it

to the Assembly. Five members of the latter having appeared at the bar,

the Governor delivered a speech, modelled after that of the King, on the

political affairs of Europe, on the treaty concluded with the United

States (Jay's treaty of 1794), which he mentioned in expressions very

favourable to the Union; and on the peculiar concerns of Canada."

(Travels, i. 258.)

By the Quebec Act, passed in 1791, it was enacted that the Legislative

Council for Upper Canada should consist of not fewer than seven members,

and the Assembly of not less than sixteen members, who were to be called

together at least once in every year. To account for the smallness of

the attendance on the occasion just described, the Duke explains that

the Governor had deferred the session "on account of the expected

arrival of a Chief Justice, who was to come from England: and from a

hope that he should be able to acquaint the members with the particulars

of the Treaty with the United States. But the harvest had now begun,

which, in a higher degree than elsewhere, engages in Canada the public

attention, far beyond what state affairs can do. Two members of the

Legislative Council were present, instead of seven; no Chief Justice

appeared, who was to act as Speaker; instead of sixteen members of the

Assembly, five only attended; and this was the whole number that could

be collected at this time. The law required a greater number of members

for each house, to discuss and determine upon any business; but within

two days a year would have expired since the last session. The Governor,

therefore, thought it right to open the session, reserving, however, to

either house the right of proroguing the sitting, from one day to

another, in expectation that the ships from Detroit and Kingston would

either bring the members who were yet wanting, or certain intelligence

of their not being able to attend."

But again to return to the Houses of Parliament at York.--Extending from

the grounds which surrounded the buildings, in the east, all the way to

the fort at the entrance of the harbour, in the west, there was a

succession of fine forest trees, especially oak; underneath and by the

side of which the upper surface of the precipitous but nowhere very

elevated cliff was carpeted with thick green-sward, such as is still to

be seen between the old and new garrisons, or at Mississaga Point at

Niagara. A fragment, happily preserved, of the ancient bank, is to be

seen in the ornamental piece of ground known as the Fair-green; a strip

of land first protected by a fence, and planted with shrubbery at the

instance of Mr. George Monro, when Mayor, who also, in front of his

property some distance further on, long guarded from harm a solitary

survivor of the grove that once fringed the harbour.

On our first visit to Southampton, many years ago, we remember observing

a resemblance between the walk to the river Itchen, shaded by trees and

commanding a wide water-view on the south, and the margin of the harbour

of York.

In the interval between the points where now Princes Street and Caroline

Street descend to the water's edge, was a favourite landing-place for

the small craft of the bay--a wide and clean gravelly beach, with a

convenient ascent to the cliff above. Here, on fine mornings, at the

proper season, skiffs and canoes, log and birch-bark were to be seen

putting in, weighed heavily down with fish, speared or otherwise taken

during the preceding night, in the lake, bay, or neighbouring river.

Occasionally a huge sturgeon would be landed, one struggle of which

might suffice to upset a small boat. Here were to be purchased in

quantities, salmon, pickerel, masquelonge, whitefish and herrings; with

the smaller fry of perch, bass and sunfish. Here, too, would be

displayed unsightly catfish, suckers, lampreys, and other eels; and

sometimes lizards, young alligators for size. Specimens, also, of the

curious steel-clad, inflexible, vicious-looking pipe-fish were not

uncommon. About the submerged timbers of the wharves this creature was

often to be seen--at one moment stationary and still, like the

dragon-fly or humming-bird poised on the wing, then, like those nervous

denizens of the air, giving a sudden dart off to the right or left,

without curving its body.

Across the bay, from this landing-place, a little to the eastward, was

the narrowest part of the peninsula, a neck of sand, destitute of

trees, known as the portage or carrying-place, where, from time

immemorial, canoes and small boats were wont to be transferred to and

from the lake.

Along the bank, above the landing-place, Indian encampments were

occasionally set up. Here, in comfortless wigwams, we have seen Dr. Lee,

a medical man attached to the Indian department, administering from an

ordinary tin cup, nauseous but salutary draughts to sick and

convalescent squaws. It was the duty of Dr. Lee to visit Indian

settlements and prescribe for the sick. In the discharge of his duty he

performed long journeys, on horseback, to Penetanguishene and other

distant posts, carrying with him his drugs and apparatus in saddle-bags.

When advanced in years, and somewhat disabled in regard to activity of

movement, Dr. Lee was attached to the Parliamentary staff as Usher of

the Black Rod.--The locality at which we are glancing suggests the name

of another never-to-be-forgotten medical man, whose home and property

were close at hand. This is the eminent surgeon and physician,

Christopher Widmer.

It is to be regretted that Dr. Widmer left behind him no written

memorials of his long and varied experience. Before his settlement in

York, he had been a staff cavalry surgeon, on active service during the

campaigns in the Peninsula. A personal narrative of his public life

would have been full of interest. But his ambition was content with the

homage of his contemporaries, rich and poor, rendered with sincerity to

his pre-eminent abilities and inextinguishable zeal as a surgeon and

physician. Long after his retirement from general practice, he was every

day to be seen passing to and from the old Hospital on King Street,

conveyed in his well-known cabriolet, and guiding with his own hand the

reins conducted in through the front window of the vehicle. He had now

attained a great age; but his slender form continued erect; the hat was

worn jauntily, as in other days, and the dress was ever scrupulously

exact; the expression of the face in repose was somewhat abstracted and

sad, but a quick smile appeared at the recognition of friends. The

ordinary engravings of Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the

blood, recall in some degree the countenance of Dr. Widmer. Within the

General Hospital, a portrait of him is appropriately preserved. One of

the earliest, and at the same time one of the most graceful

lady-equestrians ever seen in York was this gentleman's accomplished

wife. At a later period a sister of Mr. Justice Willis was also

conspicuous as a skilful and fearless horse-woman. The description in

the Percy Anecdotes of the Princess Amelia, youngest daughter of George

II., is curiously applicable to the last-named lady, who united to the

amiable peculiarities indicated, talents and virtues of the highest

order. "She," the brothers Sholto and Reuben say, "was of a masculine

turn of mind, and evinced this strikingly enough in her dress and

manners: she generally wore a riding-habit in the German fashion with a

round hat; and delighted very much in attending her stables,

particularly when any of the horses were out of order." At a phenomenon

such as this, suddenly appearing in their midst, the staid and

simple-minded society of York stood for a while aghast.

In the Loyalist of Nov. 15, 1828, we have the announcement of a

Medical partnership entered into between Dr. Widmer and Dr. Diehl. It

reads thus: "Doctor Widmer, finding his professional engagements much

extended of late, and occasionally too arduous for one person, has been

induced to enter into partnership with Doctor Diehl, a respectable

practitioner, late of Montreal. It is expected that their united

exertions will prevent in future any disappointment to Dr. Widmer's

friends, both in Town and Country. Dr. Diehl's residence is at present

at Mr. Hayes' Boarding-house. York, Oct. 28, 1828." Dr. Diehl died at

Toronto, March 5, 1868.

At the south-west corner of Princes Street, near where we are now

supposing ourselves to be, was a building popularly known as Russell

Abbey. It was the house of the Hon. Peter Russell, and, after his

decease, of his maiden sister, Miss Elizabeth Russell, a lady of great

refinement, who survived her brother many years. The edifice, like most

of the early homes of York, was of one storey only; but it exhibited in

its design a degree of elegance and some peculiarities. To a central

building were attached wings with gables to the south: the windows had

each an architectural decoration or pediment over it. It was this

feature, we believe, that was supposed to give to the place something of

a monastic air; to entitle it even to the name of "Abbey." In front, a

dwarf stone wall with a light wooden paling surrounded a lawn, on which

grew tall acacias or locusts. Mr. Russell was a remote scion of the

Bedford Russells. He apparently desired to lay the foundation of a solid

landed estate in Upper Canada. His position as Administrator, on the

departure of the first Governor of the Province, gave him facilities

for the selection and acquisition of wild lands. The duality necessarily

assumed in the wording of the Patents by which the Administrator made

grants to himself, seems to have been regarded by some as having a touch

of the comic in it. Hence among the early people of these parts the name

of Peter Russell was occasionally to be heard quoted good-humouredly,

not malignantly, as an example of "the man who would do well unto

himself." On the death of Mr. Russell, his property passed into the

hands of his sister, who bequeathed the whole to Dr. William Warren

Baldwin, into whose possession also came the valuable family plate,

elaborately embossed with the armorial bearings of the Russells. Russell

Hill, long the residence of Admiral Augustus Baldwin, had its name from

Mr. Russell, and in one of the elder branches of the Baldwin family,

Russell is continued as a baptismal name. In the same family is also

preserved an interesting portrait of Mr. Peter Russell himself, from

which we can see that he was a gentleman of portly presence, of strongly

marked features, of the Thomas Jefferson type. We shall have occasion

hereafter to speak frequently of Mr. Russell.

Russell Abbey became afterwards the residence of Bishop Macdonell, a

universally-respected Scottish Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, whose

episcopal title was at first derived from Rhesina in partibus, but

afterwards from our Canadian Kingston, where his home usually was. His

civil duties, as a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada,

required his presence in York during the Parliamentary sessions. We have

in our possession a fine mezzotint of Sir M. A. Shee's portrait of

Bishop Macdonell. It used to be supposed by some that the occupancy of

Russell Abbey by the Bishop caused the portion of Front Street which

lies eastward of the Market-place, to be denominated Palace Street. But

the name appears in plans of York of a date many years anterior to that


In connection with this mention of Bishop Macdonell, it may be of some

interest to add that, in 1826, Thomas Weld, of Lulworth Castle,

Dorsetshire, was consecrated as his coadjutor, in England, under the

title of Bishop of Amylae. But it does not appear that he ever came out

to Canada. (This was afterwards the well-known English Cardinal.) He had

been a layman, and married, up to the year 1825; when, on the death of

his wife, he took orders; and in one year he was, as just stated, made a


Russell Abbey may indeed have been styled the "Palace"; but it was

probably from being the residence of one who for three years

administered the Government; or the name "Palace Street" itself may have

suggested the appellation. "Palace Street" was no doubt intended to

indicate the fact that it led directly to the Government reservation at

the end of the Town on which the Parliament houses were erected, and

where it was supposed the "Palais du Gouvernement," the official

residence of the representative of the Sovereign in the Province would

eventually be. On an Official Plan of this region, of the year 1810, the

Parliament Buildings themselves are styled "Government House."

At the laying out of York, however, we find, from the plans, that the

name given in the first instance to the Front street of the town was,

not Palace Street, but King Street. Modern King Street was then Duke

Street, and modern Duke Street, Duchess Street. These street names were

intended as loyal compliments to members of the reigning family; to

George the Third; to his son the popular Duke of York, from whom, as we

shall learn hereafter, the town itself was named; to the Duchess of

York, the eldest daughter of the King of Prussia. In the cross streets

the same chivalrous devotion to the Hanoverian dynasty was exhibited.

George street, the boundary westward of the first nucleus of York, bore

the name of the heir-apparent, George, Prince of Wales. The next street

eastward was honoured with the name of his next brother, Frederick, the

Duke of York himself. And the succeeding street eastward, Caroline

Street, had imposed upon it that of the Princess of Wales, afterwards so

unhappily famous as George the Fourth's Queen Caroline. Whilst in

Princes Street (for such is the correct orthography, as the old plans

show, and not Princess Street, as is generally seen now,) the rest of

the male members of the royal family were collectively commemorated,

namely, the Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Cumberland,

the Duke of Sussex, and the Duke of Cambridge.

When the Canadian town of York was first projected, the marriage of the

Duke of York with the daughter of the King of Prussia, Frederica

Charlotta Ulrica, had only recently been celebrated at Berlin. It was

considered at the time an event of importance, and the ceremonies on the

occasion are given with some minuteness in the Annual Register for 1791.

We are there informed that "the supper was served at six tables; that

the first was placed under a canopy of crimson velvet, and the victuals

(as the record terms them) served on gold dishes and plates; that

Lieutenant-General Bornstedt and Count Bruhl had the honour to carve,

without being seated, that the other five tables, at which sat the

generals, ministers, ambassadors, all the officers of the Court, and the

high nobility, were served in other apartments; that supper being over,

the assembly repaired to the White Hall, where the trumpet, timbrel, and

other music, were playing; that the flambeau dance was then began, at

which the ministers of state carried the torches; that the new couple

were attended to their apartment by the reigning Queen and the Queen

dowager; that the Duke of York wore on this day the English uniform, and

the Princess Frederica a suit of drap d'argent, ornamented with

diamonds." In Ashburton's "New and Complete History of England, from the

first settlement of Brutus, upwards of one thousand years before Julius

Caesar, to the year 1793," now lying before us, two full-length portraits

of the Duke and Duchess are given.--New York and Albany, in the

adjoining State, had their names from titles of a Duke of York in 1664,

afterwards James II. His brother, Charles II., made him a present, by

Letters Patent, of all the territory, from the western side of the

Connecticut river to the east side of Delaware Bay; that is, of the

present States of Connecticut, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey.

On the green sward of the bank between Princes street and George Street,

the annual military "Trainings" on the Fourth of June, "the old King's

birthday," were wont to take place. At a later period the day of meeting

was the 23rd of April, St. George's day, the fete of George IV. Military

displays on a grand scale in and about Toronto have not been uncommon in

modern times, exciting the enthusiasm of the multitude that usually

assembles on such occasions. But in no way inferior in point of interest

to the unsophisticated youthful eye, half a century ago, unaccustomed to

anything more elaborate, were those motley musterings of the militia

companies. The costume of the men may have been various, the fire-arms

only partially distributed, and those that were to be had not of the

brightest hue, nor of the most scientific make; the lines may not always

have been perfectly straight, nor their constituents well matched in

height; the obedience to the word of command may not have been rendered

with the mechanical precision which we admire at reviews now, nor with

that total suppression of dialogue in undertone in the ranks, nor with

that absence of remark interchanged between the men and their officers

that are customary now. Nevertheless, as a military spectacle, these

gatherings and manoeuvres on the grassy bank here, were effective; they

were always anticipated with pleasure and contemplated with

satisfaction. The officers on these occasions,--some of them

mounted--were arrayed in uniforms of antique cut; in red coats with wide

black breast lappets and broad tail flaps; high collars, tight sleeves

and large cuffs; on the head a black hat, the ordinary high-crowned

civilian hat, with a cylindrical feather some eighteen inches high

inserted at the top, not in front, but on the left side (whalebone

surrounded with feathers from the barnyard, scarlet at the base, white

above). Animation was added to the scene by a drum and a few fifes

executing with liveliness "The York Quickstep," "The Reconciliation,"

and "The British Grenadiers." And then, in addition to the local cavalry

corps, there were the clattering scabbards, the blue jackets, and

bear-skin helmets of Captain Button's dragoons from Markham and


Numerously, in the rank and file at these musterings--as well as among

the officers, commissioned and non-commissioned--were to be seen men who

had quite recently jeopardized their lives in the defence of the

country. At the period we are speaking of, only some six or seven years

had elapsed since an invasion of Canada from the south. "The late war,"

for a long while, very naturally, formed a fixed point in local

chronology, from which times and seasons were calculated; a fixed point,

however, which, to the indifferent new-comer, and even to the

indigenous, who, when "the late war" was in progress, were not in bodily

existence, seemed already to belong to a remote past. An impression of

the miseries of war, derived from the talk of those who had actually

felt them, was very strongly stamped in the minds of the rising

generation; an impression accompanied also at the same time with the

uncomfortable persuasion derived from the same source, that another

conflict was inevitable in due time. The musterings on "Training-day"

were thus invested with interest and importance in the minds of those

who were summoned to appear on these occasions, as also in the minds of

the boyish looker-on, who was aware that ere long he would himself be

required by law to turn out and take his part in the annual militia

evolutions, and perhaps afterwards, possibly at no distant hour, to

handle the musket or wield the sword in earnest.

A little further on, in a house at the north-west corner of Frederick

Street, a building afterwards utterly destroyed by fire, was born, in

1804, the Hon. Robert Baldwin, son of Dr. William Warren Baldwin,

already referred to, and Attorney-General in 1842 for Upper Canada. In

the same building, at a later period, (and previously in an humble

edifice, at the north-west corner of King Street and Caroline Street,

now likewise wholly destroyed,) the foundation was laid, by

well-directed and far-sighted ventures in commerce, of the great wealth

(locally proverbial) of the Cawthra family, the Astors of Upper Canada,

of whom more hereafter. It was also in the same house, prior to its

occupation by Mr. Cawthra, senior, that the printing operations of Mr.

William Lyon Mackenzie were carried on at the time of the destruction of

his press by a party of young men, who considered it proper to take some

spirited notice of the criticisms on the public acts of their fathers,

uncles and superiors generally, that appeared every week in the columns

of the Colonial Advocate; a violent act memorable in the annals of

Western Canada, not simply as having been the means of establishing the

fortunes of an indefatigable and powerful journalist, but more notably

as presenting an unconscious illustration of a general law, observable

in the early development of communities, whereby an element destined to

elevate and regenerate is, on its first introduction, resisted, and

sought to be crushed physically, not morally; somewhat as the white

man's watch was dashed to pieces by the Indian, as though it had been a

sentient thing, conspiring in some mysterious way with other things, to

promote the ascendancy of the stranger.

The youthful perpetrators of the violence referred to were not long in

learning practically the futility of such exploits. Good old Mr. James

Baby, on handing to his son Raymond the amount which that youth was

required to pay as his share of the heavy damages awarded, as a matter

of course, by the jury on the occasion, is said to have added:--"There!

go and make one great fool of yourself again!"--a sarcastic piece of

advice that might have been offered to each of the parties concerned.

A few steps northward, on the east side of Frederick Street, was the

first Post Office, on the premises of Mr. Allan, who was postmaster; and

southward, where this street touches the water, was the Merchants'

Wharf, also the property of Mr. Allan; and the Custom House, where Mr.

Allan was the Collector. We gather also from Calendars of the day that

Mr. Allan was likewise Inspector of Flour, Pot and Pearl Ash; and

Inspector of Shop, Still and Tavern Duties. In an early, limited

condition of society, a man of more than the ordinary aptitude for

affairs is required to act in many capacities.

The Merchants' Wharf was the earliest landing-place for the larger craft

of the lake. At a later period other wharves or long wooden jetties,

extending out into deep water, one of them named the Farmers' Wharf,

were built westward. In the shoal water between the several wharves, for

a long period, there was annually a dense crop of rushes or flags. The

town or county authorities incurred considerable expense, year after

year, in endeavouring to eradicate them--but, like the heads of the

hydra, they were always re-appearing. In July, 1821, a "Mr. Coles'

account for his assistants' labour in destroying rushes in front of the

Market Square," was laid before the County magistrates, and audited,

amounting to L13 6s. 3d. In August of the same year, the minutes of

the County Court record that "Capt. Macaulay, Royal Engineers, offered

to cut down the rushes in front of the town between the Merchants' Wharf

and Cooper's Wharf, for a sum not to exceed ninety dollars, which would

merely be the expense of the men and materials in executing the

undertaking: his own time he would give to the public on this occasion,

as encouragement to others to endeavour to destroy the rushes when they

become a nuisance;" it was accordingly ordered "that ninety dollars be

paid to Capt. Macaulay or his order, for the purpose of cutting down the

rushes, according to his verbal undertaking to cut down the same, to be

paid out of the Police or District funds in the hands of the Treasurer

of the District."

We have understood that Capt. Macaulay's measures for the extinction of

the rank vegetation in the shallow waters of the harbour, proved to be

very efficient. The instrument used was a kind of screw grapnel, which,

let down from the side of a large scow, laid hold of the rushes at their

root and forcibly wrenched them out of the bed of mud below. The entire

plant was thus lifted up, and drawn by a windlass into the scow. When a

full load of the aquatic weed was collected, it was taken out into the

open water of the Lake, and there disposed of.

Passing on our way, we soon came to the Market Square. This was a large

open space, with wooden shambles in the middle of it, thirty-six feet

long and twenty-four wide, running north and south.

By a Proclamation in the Gazette of Nov. 3, 1803, Governor Hunter

appointed a weekly market day for the Town of York, and also a place

where the market should be held.

"Peter Hunter, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor, &c. Whereas great prejudice

hath arisen to the inhabitants of the Town and Township of York, and of

other adjoining Townships, from no place or day having been set apart or

appointed for exposing publicly for sale, cattle, sheep, poultry, and

other provisions, goods, and merchandize, brought by merchants, farmers,

and others, for the necessary supply of the said Town of York; and,

whereas, great benefit and advantage might be derived to the said

inhabitants and others, by establishing a weekly market within that

Town, at a place and on a day certain for the purpose aforesaid;

"Know all men, That I, Peter Hunter, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor of the

said Province, taking the premises into consideration, and willing to

promote the interest, and advantage, and accommodation of the

inhabitants of the Town and Township aforesaid, and of others, His

Majesty's subjects, within the said Province, by and with the advice of

the Executive Council thereof, have ordained, erected, established and

appointed, and do hereby ordain, erect, establish and appoint, a Public

Open Market, to be held on Saturday in each and every week during the

year, within the said Town of York:--(The first market to be held

therein on Saturday, the 5th day of November next after the date of

these presents), on a certain piece or plot of land within that Town,

consisting of five acres and a half, commencing at the south-east angle

of the said plot, at the corner of Market Street and New Street, then

north sixteen degrees, west five chains seventeen links, more or less,

to King Street; then along King Street south seventy-four degrees west

nine chains fifty-one links, more or less, to Church Street; then south

sixteen degrees east six chains thirty-four links, more or less, to

Market Street; then along Market Street north seventy-four degrees east

two chains; then north sixty-four degrees, east along Market Street

seven chains sixty links, more or less, to the place of beginning, for

the purpose of exposing for sale cattle, sheep, poultry, and other

provisions, goods and merchandize, as aforesaid. Given under my hand and

seal at arms, at York, this twenty-sixth day of October, in the year of

our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three, and in the forty-fourth

year of His Majesty's reign. P. Hunter, Esquire, Lieutenant-Governor. By

His Excellency's command, Wm. Jarvis, Secretary."

In 1824, the Market Square was, by the direction of the County

magistrates, closed in on the east, west, and south sides, "with a

picketting and oak ribbon, the pickets at ten feet distance from each

other, with three openings or foot-paths on each side."

The digging of a public well here, in the direction of King Street, was

an event of considerable interest in the town. Groups of school-boys

every day scanned narrowly the progress of the undertaking; a cap of one

or the other of them, mischievously precipitated to the depths where the

labourers' mattocks were to be heard pecking at the shale below, may

have impressed the execution of this public work all the more indelibly

on the recollection of some of them. By referring to a volume of the

Upper Canada Gazette, we find that this was in 1823. An unofficial

advertisement in that periodical, dated June the 9th, 1823, calls for

proposals to be sent in to the office of the Clerk of the Peace, "for

the sinking a well, stoning and sinking a pump therein, in the most

approved manner, at the Market Square of the said town (of York), for

the convenience of the Public." It is added that persons desirous of

contracting for the same, must give in their proposals on or before

Tuesday, the first day of July next ensuing; and the signature, "by the

order of the Court," is that of "S. Heward, Clerk of the Peace, H. D."

(Home District).

The tender of John Hutchison and George Hetherington was accepted. They

offered to do the work "for the sum of L25 currency on coming to the

rock, with the addition of seven shillings and sixpence per foot for

boring into the rock until a sufficient supply of water can be got,

should it be required." The work was done and the account paid July

30th, 1823. The charge for boring eight feet two inches through the rock

was L3 1s. 3d. The whole well and pump thus cost the County the

modest sum of only L28 1s. 3d. The charge for flagging round the

pump, for "logs, stone and workmanship," was L5 2s. 41/2d., paid to

Mr. Hugh Carfrae, pathmaster.

Near the public pump, auctions in the open air occasionally took place.

A humourous chapman in that line, Mr. Patrick Handy, used often here to

be seen and heard, disposing of his miscellaneous wares. With Mr. Handy

was associated for a time, in this business, Mr. Patrick McGann. And

here we once witnessed the horrid exhibition of a public whipping, in

the case of two culprits whose offence is forgotten. A discharged

regimental drummer, a native African, administered the lash. The sheriff

stood by, keeping count of the stripes. The senior of the two

unfortunates bore his punishment with stoicism, encouraging the negro to

strike with more force. The other, a young man, endeavoured for a little

while to imitate his companion in this respect; but soon was obliged to

evince by fearful cries the torture endured. Similar scenes were

elsewhere to be witnessed in Canada. In the Montreal Herald of

September 16th, 1815, we have the following item of city news, given

without comment: "Yesterday, between the hours of 9 and 10, pursuant to

their sentences, Andre Latulippe, Henry Leopard, and John Quin, received

39 lashes each, in the New Market Place." The practice of whipping and

even branding of culprits in public had begun at York in 1798. In the

Gazette and Oracle of Dec. 1st, 1798, printed at York, we have the

note: "Last Monday William Hawkins was publicly whipped, and Joseph

McCarthy burned in the hand, at the Market Place, pursuant to their

sentence." The crimes are not named.

In the Market Square at York, the pillory and the stocks were also from

time to time set up. The latter were seen in use for the last time in

1834. In 1804, a certain Elizabeth Ellis was, for "being a nuisance,"

sentenced by Chief Justice Allcock to be imprisoned for six months, and

"to stand in the pillory twice during the said imprisonment, on two

different market days, opposite the Market House in the town of York,

for the space of two hours each time." In the same year, the same

sentence was passed on one Campbell, for using "seditious words."

In 1831 the wooden shambles were removed, and replaced in 1833 by a

collegiate-looking building of red brick, quadrangular in its

arrangement, with arched gateway entrances on King Street and Front

Street. This edifice filled the whole square, with the exception of

roadways on the east and west sides. The public well was now concealed

from view. It doubtless exists still, to be discovered and gloated over

by the antiquarian of another century.

Round the four sides of the new brick Market ran a wooden gallery, which

served to shade the Butchers' stalls below. It was here that a fearful

casualty occurred in 1834. A concourse of people were being addressed

after the adjournment of a meeting on an electional question, when a

portion of the overcrowded gallery fell, and several persons were caught

on the sharp iron hooks of the stalls underneath, and so received fatal

injuries. The killed and wounded on this memorable occasion were:--Son

of Col. Fitz Gibbon, killed; Mr. Hutton, killed; Col. Fitz Gibbon,

injured severely; Mr. Mountjoy, thigh broken; Mr. Cochrane, injured

severely; Mr. Charles Daly, thigh broken; Mr. George Gurnett, wound in

the head; Mr. Keating, injured internally; Mr. Fenton, injured; Master

Gooderham, thigh broken; Dr. Lithgow, contused severely; Mr. Morrison,

contused severely; Mr. Alderman Denison, cut on the head; Mr. Thornhill,

thigh broken; Mr. Street, arm broken; Mr. Deese, thigh broken; another

Mr. Deese, leg and arm broken; Mr. Sheppard, injured internally; Mr.

Clieve, Mr. Mingle, Mr. Preston, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Leslie (of the

Garrison), Master Billings, Mr. Duggan, Mr. Thomas Ridout, Mr. Brock,

Mr. Turner, Mr. Hood (since dead), severely injured, &c.

The damage done to the northern end of the quadrangle during the great

fire of 1849 led to the demolition of the whole building, and the

erection of the St. Lawrence Hall and Market. Over windows on the second

storey at the south east corner of the red brick structure now removed,

there appeared, for several years, two signs, united at the angle of the

building, each indicating by its inscription the place of "The Huron and

Ontario Railway" office.

This was while the Northern Railway of Canada was yet existing simply as

a project.

In connection with our notice of the Market, we give some collection

which may serve to illustrate--


During the war it was found expedient by the civil authorities to

interfere, in some degree, with the law of supply and demand. The

Magistrates, in Quarter Sessions assembled, agreed, in 1814, upon the

following prices, as in their opinion fair and equitable to be paid by

the military authorities for provisions:--Flour, per barrel, L3 10s.

Wheat, per bushel, 10s. Pease, per bushel, 7s. 6d. Barley and Rye,

the same. Oats, per bushel, 5s. Hay, per ton, L5. Straw, L3. Beef, on

foot, per cwt. L2 5s.; slaughtered, per lb., 71/2d. Pork, salted, per

barrel, L7 10s.; per carcass, 71/2d. Mutton, per lb., 9d. Veal,

8d. Butter, 1s. 3d. Bread, per loaf of 4 lbs., 1s. 6d. In

April, 1822, peace then reigning, York prices were:--Beef, per lb.,

2d. a 4d. Mutton, 4d. a 5d. Veal, 4d. a 5d. Pork, 2d.

a 21/2d. Fowls, per pair, 1s. 3d. Turkeys, each, 3s. 9d.

Geese, 2s. 6d. Ducks, per pair, 1s. 10d. Cheese, per lb., 5d.

Butter, 71/2d. Eggs, per doz., 5d. Wheat, per bushel, 2s. 6d.

Barley, 48 lbs., 2s. Oats, 1s. Pease, 1s. 11/2d. Potatoes, per

bushel, 1s. 3d. Turnips, 1s. Cabbages, per head, 2d. Flour, per

cwt., 6s. 3d. Flour, per barrel, 12s. 6d. Tallow, per lb., 5d.

Lard, per lb., 5d. Hay, per ton, L2 10s. Pork, per barrel, L2 10s.

Wood, per cord, 10s.

As allied to the subject of early prices at York, we add some excerpts

from the day-book of Mr. Abner Miles, conductor of the chief hotel of

the place, in 1798. It would appear that the resident gentry and others

occasionally gave and partook of little dinners at Mr. Miles', for which

the charges are roughly minuted on some long, narrow pages of folded

foolscap now lying before us. It will be seen from the record that the

local "table-traits," as Dr. Doran would speak, were, as nearly as

practicable those of the rest of the Empire at the period. At the new

capital, however, in 1798, hosts and guests must have laboured under

serious difficulties.

In July, 1798, the following items appear against the names, conjointly

of Messrs. Baby, Hamilton, and Commodore Grant:--Twenty-two dinners at

Eight shillings, L8 16s. Sixteen to Coffee, L1 12s. Eight Suppers, 16s.

Twenty-three quarts and one pint of wine, L10 11s. 6d. Eight bottles of

porter, L2 8s. Two bottles of syrup-punch, L1 4s. One bottle of brandy

and one bottle of rum, 18s. Altogether amounting to L26 5s. 6d. (The

currency throughout Mr. Miles' books is that of New York, in which the

shilling was seven pence half-penny. The total just given denoted

between L16 and L17 of modern Canadian money. It is observable that in

the entries of which we give specimens, whiskey, the deadly bane of

later years, in not named.) On the 17th June, Thomas Ridout, Jonathan

Scott, Col. Fortune, Surveyor Jones, Samuel Heron, Mr. Jarvis [the

Secretary], Adjutant McGill, and Mr. Crawford are each charged 16s. as

his quota of a "St. John's dinner." On the 4th of June, an entry against

"the Chief Justice" [Elmsley], runs thus: Eighteen dinners at Eight

shillings, L7 4s. Three bottles Madeira, L1 7s. One bottle brandy, 10s.

Five bottles of port wine, four bottles of porter and one pint of rum

are charged, but the value is not given. The defect is supplied in a

later entry against the Chief Justice, of seven dinners (42s.); where

two pints of port wine are charged 9s.; one pint of brandy, 5s.; two

bottles port wine, 18s.; one bottle white wine, 9s.; one bottle of

porter, 6s. On this occasion "four took coffee," at a cost of 8s.

Elsewhere, three dinners are charged to the Chief Justice, when three

bottles of wine were required; one pint of brandy, and two bottles of

porter, all at the rates already quoted. A "mess dinner" is mentioned,

for which the Chief Justice, Mr. Hallowell, and Mr. Cartwright pay 6s.

each. One bottle of port, one of Madeira, and one of brandy were

ordered, and the "three took coffee," as before at 2s. a head. Again, at

a "mess dinner," of four, the names not given, two bottles of port and

one bottle of porter were taken. A "club" appears to have met here. In

July, 1798, a charge against the names of "Esq. Weekes," "Esq. Rogers,"

and Col. Fortune, respectively, is "liquor in club the 11th at dinner,

1s. 6d." On July 6th "Judge Powell" is charged for supper, 2s.; for one

quart of wine, 9s. On the same day "Judge Powell's servant" had a "gill

brandy, 1s. 3d. and one glass do., 8d." A few days afterwards, a

reverend wayfarer calls at the inn; baits his beast, and modestly

refreshes himself. The entry runs:--"Priest from River La Tranche, 3

quarts corn and half-pint of wine. Breakfast, 2s 6d." On another day,

Capt. Herrick has a "gill gin sling, 1s. 3d.; also immediately

afterwards a "half-pint of gin sling, 3s." At the same time Capt. Demont

has "gill rum sling, 1s. 3d.," and "gill rum, 1s." Capt. Fortune has

"half-pint wine, 2s.," and "Esq. Weekes," "gill brandy, 1s. 3d." Col.

Fortune has "gill sour punch, 2s." This sour punch is approved of by

"Dunlap"--who at one place four times in immediate succession, and

frequently elsewhere, is charged with "glass sour punch, 2s." Jacob

Cozens takes "one bottle Madeira wine, 10s.;" Samuel Cozens, "one bottle

Madeira wine, 10s., and bread and cheese, 1s.;" and Shivers Cozens,

"bottle of wine, 10s., and bread and cheese, 1s. Conets Cozens has

"dinner, 2s., a gill of brandy, 1s., and half a bushel of seed corn,

7s." On the 5th of July, Josiah Phelps has placed opposite his name,

"one glass punch, 3s.; three bowls sour punch, 9s.; gill rum, 1s.; two

gin slings, 2s. 6d.; bowl punch, 3s.; gill rum, 1s.; two gills syrup

punch, 4s.; supper, 2s." About the same time Corporal Wilson had "two

mugs beer, 4s." On the 6th of July Commodore Grant had "half-pint rum,

for medson, 2s.; and immediately after another half-pint rum, for do.,

2s." One "Billy Whitney" figures often; his purchases one day were:

"gill rum sling, 1s. 6d.; do., 1s. 6d.; half-pound butter, 1s. 3d."

Capt. Hall takes "one gill punch, 2s.; glass rum, 6d., and half-gallon

punch, 7s." He at the same time has two dollars in cash advanced to him

by the obliging landlord, 16s.

Mr. Abner Miles supplied customers with general provisions as well as

liquors. On one occasion he sells, "White, Attorney-General," three

pounds of butter for 7s. 6d., and six eggs for 1s. 6d. He also sells

"President Russell" forty-nine pounds and three-fourths, of beef at 1s.

per pound; Mr. Attorney-General White took twenty-three pounds and a

half at the same price. That sold to "Robert Gray, Esq.," is described

as "a choice piece," and is charged two pence extra per pound. The

piece, however, weighed only seven pounds, and the cost was just eight

shillings and two pence. Other things are supplied by Mr. Miles. Gideon

Badger buys of him "one yard red spotted cassimere, 20s.; one and a-half

dozen buttons, 3s; and a pair shears, 3s." At the same time Mr. Badger

is credited with "one dollar, 8s." Joseph Kendrick gets "sole leather

for pair of shoes for self, by old Mr. Ketchum, 6s." Mr. Miles moreover

furnishes Mr. Allan with "237 feet of inch-and-half plank at 12s., 33s.;

two rod of garden fence at 10s., 20s." We suppose the moneys received

were recorded elsewhere generally; but on the pages before us we have

such entries as the following: "Messrs. Hamilton, Baby and Grant settled

up to 4th of July, after breakfast." "Dr. Gamble, at Garrison," obtained

ten bushels of oats and is to pay therefor L4. A mem. is entered of

"Angus McDonell, dr., Dinner sent to his tent." and "Capt. Demont, cr.

By note of hand for L26 5s. Halifax currency, L42 York." On the same day

the Captain indulges in "a five dollar cap, 40s.," and "one gill rum,

1s." That some of Mr. Miles' customers required to be reminded of their

indebtedness to him, we learn from an advertisement in the Gazette and

Oracle of August 31, 1799. It says: "The Subscriber informs all those

indebted to him by note or book, to make payment by the 20th September

next, or he will be under the disagreeable necessity of putting them

into the hands of an attorney. Abner Miles, York, August 28th, 1799."

Mr. Miles' house was a rendezvous for various purposes. In a Gazette

and Oracle of Dec 8, 1798, we read--"The gentlemen of the Town and

Garrison are requested to meet at one o'clock, on Monday next, the 10th

instant, at Miles' Hotel, in order to arrange the place of the York

Assemblies for the season. York, Dec 8, 1798." In another number of the

same paper an auction is advertised to take place at Miles' Tavern.

In the Gazette and Oracle of July 13th, 1799, we read the following

advertisement: "O. Pierce and Co. have for sale: Best spirits by the

puncheon, barrel, or ten gallons, 20s. per gal. Do. by the single

gallon, 22s. Rum by the puncheon, barrel, or ten gallons, 18s. per gal.

Brandy by the barrel, 20s. per gal. Port wine by the barrel, 18s. per

gal. Do. by single gallon, 20s. per gal. Gin, by the barrel, 18s. per

gal. Teas--Hyson, 19s. per lb.; Souchong, 14s. do.; Bohea, 8s. do.

Sugar, best loaf, 3s. 9d. per lb. Lump, 3s. 6d. Raisins, 3s. Figs, 3s.

Salt six dollars per barrel or 12s. per bushel. Also, a few dry goods,

shoes, leather, hats, tobacco, snuff, &c., &c. York, July 6, 1799." These

prices appear to be in Halifax currency.