Queen Street From The College Avenue To Brock Street And Spadina Avenue

Pursuing our way now westward from the Avenue leading to the University,

we pass the Powell park-lot, on which was, up to recent times, the

family vault of the Powells, descendants of the Chief Justice. The whole

property was named by the fancy of the first possessor, Caer-Howell,

Castle Howell, in allusion to the mythic Hoel, to whom all ap-Hoels

trace their origin. Dummer Street, which opens northward a little

on, retains, as we have said, the second baptismal name of Chief

Justice Powell.

Beverley House and its surroundings, on the side opposite Caer Howell

estate, recall one whose name and memory must repeatedly recur in every

narrative of our later Canadian history, Sir John Robinson.--This was

the residence temporarily of Poulett Thomson, afterwards Lord Sydenham,

while present in Toronto as Governor-General of the Canadas in 1839-40.

A kitchen on a large scale which he caused to be built on the premises

of Beverley House, is supposed to have been an auxiliary, indirectly, in

getting the Union measure through the Upper Canada Parliament. In a

letter to a friend, written at Montreal in 1840, he gives a sketch of

his every-day life: it describes equally well the daily distribution of

his time here in Toronto. "Work in my room," he says, "till three

o'clock; a ride with my aide-de-camp till five; work again till dinner;

at dinner till nine; and work again till early next morning. This is my

daily routine. My dinners last till ten, when I have company, which is

about three times a week; except one night in the week, when I receive

about 150 people."

His policy was, as we know, very successful. Of the state of things at

Toronto, and in Upper Canada generally, after the Union measure had been

pushed through, he writes to a friend thus: "I have prorogued my

Parliament," he says, "and I send you my Speech. Never was such

unanimity! When the Speaker read it in the Commons, after the

prorogation, they gave me three cheers, in which even the ultras united.

In fact, as the matter stands now, the Province is in a state of peace

and harmony which, three months ago, I thought was utterly hopeless."

In a private letter of the following year (1841), he alludes to his

influence in these terms: "I am in the midst," he says, "of the bustle

attending the opening of the Session, and have, besides, a ministerial

'crisis' on my hands. The latter I shall get through triumphantly,

unless my wand, as they call it here, has lost all power over the

members, which I do not believe to be the case." This was written at

Kingston, where, it will be remembered, the seat of Government was

established for a short time after the union of Upper and Lower Canada.

Through Poulett Thomson, Toronto for a few months and to the extent of

one-half, was the seat of a modern feudal barony. On being elevated to

the peerage, the Governor-General, who had carried the Union, was

created Baron Sydenham of Sydenham in Kent and Toronto in Canada.

At one time it was expected that Toronto would be the capital of the

United Province, but its liege lord pronounced it to be "too far and out

of the way;" though at the same time he gives it as his opinion that

"Kingston or Bytown would do." Thus in 1840, and in July, 1841, he

writes: "I have every reason to be satisfied with having selected this

place (Kingston) as the new Capital. There is no situation in the

Province so well adapted for the seat of Government from its central

position; and certainly we are as near England as we should be anywhere

else in the whole of Canada. My last letters reached me," he says, "in

fifteen days from London! So much for steam and railways." Being in very

delicate health, it had been Lord Sydenham's intention to return to

England in September, 1841. On the 5th of June he writes at Kingston to

a friend: "I long for September, beyond which I will not stay if they

were to make me Duke of Canada and Prince of Regiopolis, as this place

is called." But he was never more to see England. On the 4th of the

September in which he had hoped to leave Canada, he suffered a fracture

of the right leg and other injury by a fall from his horse. He never

rallied from the shock. His age was only 42.

The Park lot which follows that occupied by Chief Justice Powell was

selected by Solicitor-General Gray, of whom fully already. It afterwards

became the property of Mr. D'Arcy Boulton, eldest son of Mr. Justice

Boulton, and was known as the Grange estate. The house which bears the

name of the "Grange," was built at the beginning of the brick era of

York, and is a favourable specimen of the edifices of that period.

(Beverley House, just noted, was, it may be added, also built by Mr.

D'Arcy Boulton.)

The Grange-gate, now thrust far back by the progress of improvement, was

long a familiar landmark on the line of Lot-street. It was just within

this gate that the fight already recorded took place between Mr. Justice

Boulton's horses, Bonaparte and Jefferson, and the bears. A

memorandum of Mr. G. S. Jarvis, of Cornwall, in our possession, affirms

that Mr. Justice Boulton drove a phaeton of some pretensions, and that

his horses, Bonaparte and Jefferson, were the crack pair of the day

at York. As to some other equipages he says: "The Lieut. Governor's

carriage was considered a splendid affair, but some of the Toronto cabs

would now throw it into the shade. The carriage of Chief Justice Powell,

he adds, was a rough sort of omnibus, and would compare with the jail

van used now." (We remember Bishop Strachan's account of a carriage sent

up for his own use from Albany or New York; it was constructed on the

model of the ordinary oval stage coach, with a kind of hemispherical


To our former notes of Mr. Justice Boulton, we add, that he was the

author of a work in quarto published in London in 1806, entitled a

"Sketch of the Province of Upper Canada."

John Street, passing south just here, is, as was noted previously, a

memorial, so far as its name is concerned, of the first Lieutenant

Governor of Upper Canada. On the plan of the "new town," as the first

expansion westward, of York, was termed,--while this street is marked

"John," the next parallel thoroughfare eastward is named "Graves," and

the open square included between the two, southward on Front Street, is

"Simcoe-place." The three names of the founder of York were thus

commemorated. The expression "Simcoe-place" has fallen into disuse. It

indicated, of course, the site of the present Parliament Buildings of

the Province of Ontario. Graves Street has become Simcoe Street, a

name, as we have seen, recently extended to the thoroughfare northward,

with which it is nearly in a right line, viz., William Street, which

previously recorded, as we have said, the first Christian name of Chief

Justice Powell. The name "John Street" has escaped change. The name

sounds trivial enough; but it has an interest.

In the minds of the present generation, with John Street will be

specially associated the memorable landing of the Prince of Wales at

Toronto in 1860. At the foot of John Street, for that occasion, there

was built a vast semi-colosseum of wood, opening out upon the waters of

the Bay; a pile whose capacious concavity was densely filled again and

again, during the Prince's visit, with the inhabitants of the town and

the population of the surrounding country. And on the brow of the bank,

immediately above the so-called amphitheatre, and exactly in the line of

John Street, was erected a finely designed triumphal arch, recalling

those of Septimus Severus and Titus.

This architectural object, while it stood, gave a peculiarly fine finish

to the vista, looking southward along John Street. The usually

monotonous water-view presented by the bay and lake, and even the

common-place straight line of the Island, seen through the frame-work of

three lofty vaulted passages, acquired for the moment a genuine

picturesqueness. An ephemeral monument; but as long as it stood its

effect was delightfully classic and beautiful. The whole group--the arch

and the huge amphitheatre below, furnished around its upper rim at equal

intervals with tall masts, each bearing a graceful gonfalon, and each

helping to sustain on high a luxuriant festoon of evergreen which

alternately drooped and rose again round the whole structure and along

the two sides of the grand roadway up to the arch--all seen under a sky

of pure azure, and bathed in cheery sunlight, surrounded too and

thronged with a pleased multitude--constituted a spectacle not likely to

be forgotten.

Turning down John Street a few chains, the curious observer may see on

his left a particle of the old area of York retaining several of its

original natural features. In the portion of the Macdonell-block not yet

divided into building-slips we have a fragment of one of the many

shallow ravines which meandered capriciously, every here and there,

across the broad site of the intended town. To the passer-by it now

presents a refreshing bit of bowery meadow, out of which towers up one

of the grand elm-trees of the country, with stem of great height and

girth, and head of very graceful form, whose healthy and undecayed limbs

and long trailing branchlets, clearly show that the human regard which

has led to the preservation hitherto of this solitary survivor of the

forest has not been thrown away. This elm and the surrounding grove are

still favourite stations or resting-places for our migratory birds.

Here, for one place, in the spring, are sure to be heard the first notes

of the robin.

At the south-west angle of the Macdonell block still stands in a good

state of preservation the mansion put up by the Hon. Alexander

Macdonell. We have from time to time spoken of the brick era of York.

Mr. Macdonell's imposing old homestead may be described as belonging to

an immediately preceding era--the age of framed timber and

weather-board, which followed the primitive or hewn-log period. It is a

building of two full storeys, each of considerable elevation. A central

portico with columns of the whole height of the house, gives it an air

of dignity.

Mr. Macdonell was one more in that large group of military men who

served in the American Revolutionary war, under Col. Simcoe, and who

were attracted to Upper Canada by the prospects held out by that officer

when appointed Governor of the new colony. Mr. Macdonell was the first

Sheriff of the Home District. He represented in successive parliaments

the Highland constituency of Glengary, and was chosen Speaker of the

House. He was afterwards summoned to the Upper House. He was a friend

and correspondent of the Earl of Selkirk, and was desired by that

zealous emigrational theorist to undertake the superintendence of the

settlement at Kildonan on the Red River. Though he declined this task,

he undertook the management of one of the other Highland settlements

included in the Earl of Selkirk's scheme, namely, that of Baldoon, on

Lake St. Clair; Mr. Douglas undertaking the care of that established at

Moulton, at the mouth of the Grand River.

Mr. Macdonell, in person rather tall and thin, of thoughtful aspect, and

in manner quiet and reserved, is one of the company of our early

worthies whom we personally well remember. An interesting portrait of

him exists in the possession of his descendants: it presents him with

his hair in powder, and otherwise in the costume of "sixty years since."

He died in 1842, "amid the regrets of a community who," to adopt the

language of a contemporary obituary, "loved him for the mild excellence

of his domestic and private character, no less than they esteemed him as

a public man."

Mr. Miles Macdonell, the first Governor of Assiniboia, under the

auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company, and Alexander Macdonell, the chief

representative in 1816 of the rival and even hostile Company of the

North-West Traders of Montreal, were both near relations of Mr.

Macdonell of York, as also was the barrister, lost in the Speedy, and

the well-known R. C. Bishop Macdonell of Kingston. Col. Macdonell, slain

at Queenston, with General Brock, and whose remains are deposited

beneath the column there, was his brother. His son, Mr. Allan Macdonell,

has on several occasions stood forward as the friend and spirited

advocate of the Indian Tribes, especially of the Lake Superior region,

on occasions when their interests, as native lords of the soil, seemed

in danger of being overlooked by the Government of the day.

On Richmond Street a little to the west of the Macdonell block, was the

town residence of Col. Smith, some time President of the Province of

Upper Canada. He was also allied to the family of Mr. Macdonell. Col.

Smith's original homestead was on the Lake Shore to the west, in the

neighbourhood of the river Etobicoke. Gourlay in his "Statistical

Account of Upper Canada," has chanced to speak of it. "I shall describe

the residence and neighbourhood of the President of Upper Canada from

remembrance," he says, "journeying past it on my way to York from the

westward, by what is called the Lake Road through Etobicoke. For many

miles," he says, "not a house had appeared, when I came to that of

Colonel Smith, lonely and desolate. It had once been genteel and

comfortable; but was now going to decay. A vista had been opened through

the woods towards Lake Ontario; but the riotous and dangling undergrowth

seemed threatening to retake possession from the Colonel of all that had

once been cleared, which was of narrow compass. How could a solitary

half-pay officer help himself," candidly asks Gourlay, "settled down

upon a block of land, whose very extent barred out the assistance and

convenience of neighbours? Not a living thing was to be seen around. How

different might it be, thought I, were a hundred industrious families

compactly settled here out of the redundant population of England!"

"The road was miserable," he continues; "a little way beyond the

President's house it was lost on a bank of loose gravel flung up between

the contending waters of the lake and the Etobicoke stream." He here

went astray. "It was my anxious wish," he says, "to get through the

woods before dusk; but the light was nearly gone before the gravel bank

was cleared. There seemed but one path, which took to the left. It led

me astray: I was lost: and there was nothing for it but to let my little

horse take his own way. Abundant time was afforded for reflection on the

wretched state of property flung away on half-pay officers. Here was the

head man of the Province, 'born to blush unseen,' without even a

tolerable bridle-way between him and the capital city, after more than

twenty years' possession of his domain. The very gravel-bed which caused

me such turmoil might have made a turnpike, but what can be done by a

single hand? The President could do little with the axe or wheelbarrow

himself; and half-pay could employ but few labourers at 3s. 6d. per day

with victuals and drink." He recovers the road at length, and then

concludes: "after many a weary twist and turn I found myself," he says,

"on the banks of the Humber, where there was a house and a boat."

Col. Smith did something, in his day, to improve the breed of horses in

Upper Canada. He expended considerable sums of money in the importation

of choice animals of that species from the United States.

The house which led us to this notice of President Smith is, as we have

said, situated on Richmond Street. On Adelaide Street, immediately south

of this house, and also a little west of the Macdonell block, was a

residence of mark, erected at an early period by Mr. Hugh Heward, and

memorable as having been the abode for a time of the Naval Commissioner

or Commodore, Joseph Bouchette, who first took the soundings and

constructed a map of the harbour of York. His portrait is to be seen

prefixed to his well-known "British Dominions in North America." The

same house was also once occupied by Dr. Stuart, afterwards Archdeacon

of Kingston; and at a later period by Mrs. Caldwell, widow of Dr.

Caldwell, connected with the Naval establishment at Penetanguishene. Her

sons John and Leslie, two tall, sociable youths, now both deceased, were

our classmates at school. We observe in the Oracle of Saturday, May

28, 1803, a notice of Mr. Hugh Heward's death in the following terms:

"Died lately at Niagara, on his way to Detroit, after a lingering

illness, Mr. Hugh Heward, formerly clerk in the Lieutenant-Governor's

office, and a respectable inhabitant of this town (York)."

Just beyond was the abode of Lieut. Col. Foster, long Adjutant General

of Militia; an officer of the antique Wellington school, of a fine type,

portly in figure, authoritative in air and voice; in spirit and heart

warm and frank. His son Colley, also, we here name as a congenial and

attached schoolboy friend, likewise now deceased, after a brief but not

undistinguished career at the Bar.

A few yards further on was the home of Mr. John Ross, whose almost

prescriptive right it gradually became, whenever a death occurred in one

of the old families, to undertake the funeral obsequies. Few were there

of the ancient inhabitants who had not found themselves at one time or

another, wending their way, on a sad errand, to Mr. Ross's doorstep. On

his sombre and very unpretending premises were put together the

perishable shells in which the mortal remains of a large proportion of

the primitive householders of York and their families are now reverting

to their original dust. Almost up to the moment of his own summons to

depart hence, he continued to ply his customary business, being favoured

with an old age unusually green and vigorous, like "the ferryman austere

and stern," Charon; to whom also the "inculta canities" of a plentiful

supply of hair and beard, along with a certain staidness, taciturnity

and rural homeliness of manner and attire, further suggested a

resemblance. Many things thus combine to render Mr. John Ross not the

least notable of our local dramatis personae. He was led, as we have

understood, to the particular business which was his usual avocation, by

the accident of having been desired, whilst out on active service as a

militiaman in 1812, to take charge of the body of Gen. Brock, when that

officer was killed on Queenston Heights.

While in this quarter we should pause too for a moment before the former

abode of Mr. Robert Stanton, sometime King's Printer for Upper Canada,

as noted already; afterwards editor of the Loyalist; and subsequently

Collector of Customs at York:--a structure of the secondary brick

period, and situated on Peter Street, but commanding the view eastward

along the whole length of Richmond Street. Mr. Stanton's father was an

officer in the Navy, who between the years 1771 and 1786 saw much active

service in the East and West Indies, in the Mediterranean, at the siege

of Gibraltar under General Elliott, and on the American coast during

the Revolutionary war. From 1786 to 1828 he was in the public service in

several military and civil capacities in Lower and Upper Canada. In 1806

he was for one thing, we find, issuer of Marriage Licences at York. From

memoranda of his while acting in this capacity we make some extracts.

The unceremoniousness of the record in the majority of cases, is

refreshing. The names are all familiar ones in Toronto. The parties set

down as about to pledge their troth, either to other, had not in every

instance, in 1872, passed off the scene.

1806, Nov. 26, Stephen Heward to Mary Robinson. Same date, Ely Playter

to Sophia Beaman. Dec. 11, same year, Geo. T. Denison to C. B.

Lippincott. 1807, Feb. 3, Jordan Post to M. Woodruffe. July 13, Hiram

Kendrick to Hester Vanderburg. Dec. 28, Jarvis Ashley to Dorothy

McDougal. 1808, Jan. 13, D'Arcy Boulton, Jun., to Sally Ann Robinson.

March 17, James Finch to M. Reynolds. April 9, David Wilson to Susannah

Stone. May 2, John Langstaff to Lucy Miles. May 30, John Murchison to

Frances Hunt. August 8, John Powell, Esq., to Miss Isabella Shaw. Sept.

12, Hugh Heward to Eliza Muir. 1809, April 14, Nicholas Hagarman to

Polly Fletcher. May 18, William Cornwall to Rhoda Terry. June 19, John

Ashbridge to Sarah Mercer. June 21, Jonathan Ashbridge to Hannah Barton.

July 15, Orin Hale to Hannah Barrett. Aug. 5, Henry Drean to Jane

Brooke. Dec. 14, John Thompson to Ann Smith. 1810, March 8, Andrew

Thomson to Sarah Smith. March 30, Isaac Pilkington to Sarah McBride.

June 2, Thomas Bright to Jane Hunter. July 3, John Scarlett to Mary

Thomson. Sept. 10, William Smith to Eleanor Thomson. June 22, William B.

Sheldon to Jane Johnson. July 30, Robert Hamilton, gent., to Miss Maria

Lavinia Jarvis. 1811, Sept. 20, George Duggan to Mary Jackson.

In one or two instances we are enabled to give the formal announcement

in the Gazette and Oracle of the marriage for which the licence issued

by Mr. Stanton was so curtly recorded. In the paper of Jan. 27, 1808, we

have: "Married, on the 13th instant, by the Rev. G. O. Stuart, D'Arcy

Boulton, jun., Esq., barrister, to Miss Sarah Robinson, second daughter

of the late C. Robinson, Esq., of York."

And in the number for August 13, in the same year we read: "Married by

the Rev. G. O. Stuart, on Monday the 8th instant, John Powell, Esq., to

Miss Shaw, daughter of the Hon. AEneas Shaw, of this place (York)." To

this announcement the editor, as we suppose, volunteers the observation:

"This matrimonial connexion of the amiable parties we think replete

with, and we wish it productive of, the most perfect human happiness."

A complimentary epithet to the bride is not unusual in early Canadian

marriage notices. In the Gazette and Oracle of Dec. 29, 1798, we have

a wedding in the Playter family recorded thus: "Married last Monday, Mr.

James Playter to the agreeable Miss Hannah Miles, daughter of Mr. Abner

Miles of this town." In the same paper for Feb. 24, 1798, is the

announcement: "Married in this town (Niagara), by the Rev. Mr. Burke,

Captain Miles Macdonell of the Royal Canadian Volunteers, to the amiable

Miss Katey Macdonell." (This union was of brief duration. In the

Constellation of Sept 6, 1799, we observe: "Died lately at Kingston,

Mrs. Macdonell, of this town (Niagara), the amiable consort of Captain

Miles Macdonell of the Canadian Volunteers.")

Again: in the Gazette and Oracle for Saturday Oct, 26, 1799: "Married,

last Monday, by the Rev. Mr. Addison, Colonel Smith, of the Queen's

Rangers, to the most agreeable and accomplished Miss Mary Clarke." (This

was the Col. Smith who subsequently was for a time President of Upper


In the Constellation of Nov. 23, 1799, in addition to the

complimentary epithet, a poetical stanza is subjoined: thus: "Married at

the seat of the Hon. Mr. Hamilton, at Queenston, on Sunday last, Mr.

Thomas Dickson, merchant, to the amiable Mrs. Taylor, daughter of

Captain Wilkinson, commanding, Fort Erie.

For thee, best treasure of a husband's heart;

Whose bliss it is that thou for life art so;

That thy fond bosom bears a faithful part

In every casual change his breast may know."

But occasionally the announcement is almost as terse as one of Mr.

Stanton's entries. Thus in the Constellation of Dec. 28, 1799, Mr.

Hatt's marriage to Miss Cooly appears with great brevity: "Married at

Ancaster, Mr. Richard Hatt to Miss Polly Cooly."

A magistrate officiates sometimes, and his name is given accordingly. In

the Gazette and Oracle of March 2, 1799, we have: "Married on Tuesday

last, by William Willcocks, Esq., Sergeant Mealy, of the Queen's

Rangers, to Miss M. Wright, of this town."

(Somewhat in the strain of the complimentary marriage notices are the

following: "We announce with much pleasure an acquisition to society in

this place by the arrival of Prideaux Selby, Esq., and Miss

Selby.--Gazette, Dec. 9, 1807. The York Assembly which commenced on

Thursday the 17th instant, was honoured by the attendance of His

Excellency and Mrs. Gore. It was not numerous. We understand that Mrs.

Firth, the amiable Lady of the Attorney General, lately arrived, was a

distinguished figure."--Gazette, Dec. 23, 1807.)

The family of Mr. Stanton, senior, was large. It was augmented by twins

on five several occasions. Not far from Mr. Stanton's house, a lesser

edifice of brick of comparatively late date on the north side of

Richmond Street, immediately opposite the premises associated just now

with the memory of President Smith, may be noted as having been built

and occupied by the distinguished Admiral Vansittart, and the first

example in this region of a cottage furnished with light, tasteful

verandahs in the modern style.

We now return from our digression into Richmond and Adelaide Streets,

and again proceed on our way westward.

The grantee of the park-lot which followed Solicitor-General Gray's, was

the famous Hon. Peter Russell, of whom we have had occasion again and

again to speak. A portion of the property was brought under cultivation

at an early period, and a substantial farm-house put up thereon--a

building which in 1872 was still in existence. The name attached to this

house and clearing was Petersfield.

Human depredators prowled about a solitary place like this. At their

hands in 1803, Mr. Russell suffered a serious loss, as we learn from an

advertisement which about midsummer in that year appeared in several

successive numbers of the Oracle. It ran as follows: "Five Guineas

Reward. Stolen on the 12th or 13th instant from Mr. Russell's farm, near

this town, a Turkey Hen, with her brood of six half-grown young ones.

Whoever will give such information and evidence as may lead to the

discovery of the Thieves shall receive from the subscriber the above

reward upon conviction of any of the delinquents. Peter Russell, York,

Aug. 15th, 1803." Another advertisement has been mentioned to us,

issuing from the same sufferer, announcing the theft of a Plough from

the same farm.

Similar larcenies were elsewhere committed. In the Gazette of June 12,

1802, we read: "Forty dollars reward.--Mr. Justice Allcock offers a

reward of forty dollars to any one who will give information of the

person or persons who stole and carried away from his farm near the

Garrison a number of iron teeth from two harrows. The same reward will

also be given to any one who will give such information as will convict

any person or persons of having bought such iron teeth, or any part of

them, knowing the same to be stolen. If more than one was concerned, the

same reward will be given to any accomplice upon his giving such

information as will convict the other party or parties concerned with

him, and every endeavour used to obtain a pardon. Note. It has been

ascertained that two blacksmiths in the town did, about the time these

teeth were stolen, purchase harrow-teeth from a soldier, since deserted,

and that another soldier was in company when such teeth were offered for

sale. 28th May, 1802."

Again, in the same paper we have:--"Twenty dollars reward will be paid

by the subscriber to any person who will discover the man who is so

depraved and lost to every sense of social duty, as to cut with an axe

or knife, the withes which bound some of the fence round the late Chief

Justice's Farm on Yonge Street, and to throw down the said Fence.

Independent of the above inducement, it is the duty of every good member

of society to endeavour to find out who the character is that can be

guilty of such an infamous act, in order that he may be brought to

justice. Robert J. D. Gray, York, June 28th, 1803."

Occasionally notices of a reverse order appear. A homely article picked

up on the Common was judged to be of sufficient importance to its owner

to induce the finder to advertise as follows in the Oracle of

Saturday, Aug. 14th, 1802:--"Found lately near the Garrison, a Cow-bell.

Whoever has lost the same, may have it again by applying to the Printer

hereof, on paying the expense of this advertisement, and proving

property. York, Aug. 7, 1802."

Again, in the Oracle of Feb. 25, 1804:--"Found on Saturday last, the

11th instant, a Bar of Iron. The owner may have it again, by applying to

the Printer hereof. York, Feb. 8th." And again: "Found on Friday, the

5th instant, two silk handkerchiefs. The owner can have them again by

applying to the Printer, and paying the expense of this advertisement.

York, Oct. 12th, 1804." In October, 1806, an iron pot was picked up:

"Found, on Sunday last, the 12th instant, on the beach opposite Messrs.

Ashbridge's, an Iron Pot capable of containing about two pails full.

Whoever may own the above-mentioned Pot, may have it again by proving

property, and paying charges, on application to Samuel Lewis or to the

Printer hereof. York, Oct. 16th, 1806."

A barrel of flour was found on the beach near the Garrison in 1802, and

was thus advertised: "The Public are hereby informed that there has been

a barrel of flour left on the beach near the Garrison by persons

unknown. Whoever will produce a just claim to the same may have it, by

applying to the Garrison Sergeant-Major, and paying the expense of the

present advertisement. J. Petto, G. S. Major, York, March 22, 1802."

Once more: in the Gazette of Dec. 3, 1803: "On the 26th ult. the

subscriber found one-half of a fat Hog on the Humber Plains, which he

supposes to be fraudulently killed, and the other half taken away. The

part which he found he carried home and dressed, and requests the owner

to call, pay expenses, and take it away. John Clark, Humber Mills, Dec.

2, 1803."

Peter Russell's name became locally a household synonym for a helluo

agrorum, and not without some show of reason, as the following list in

successive numbers of the Gazette and Oracle of 1803 would seem to

indicate. Of the lands enumerated he styles himself, at the close of the

advertisement, the proprietor. We have no desire, however, to perpetuate

the popular impression, that all the said properties had been patented

by himself to himself. This, of course, could not have been done. He

simply chose, as he was at liberty to do, after acquiring what he and

his family were entitled to legally, in the shape of grants, to invest

his means in lands, which in every direction were to be had for a mere


The document spoken of reads thus: "To be sold.--The Front Town Lot,

with an excellent dwelling-house and a kitchen recently built thereon,

in which Mr. John Denison now lives, in the Town of York, with a very

commodious water-lot adjoining, and possession given to the purchaser

immediately. The Lots Nos. 5, 6, and 7 in the 2nd, and lots No. 6 and 7

in the 3d concession of West Flamboro' township, containing 1,000 acres,

on which there are some very good mill seats; the lots No. 4 and 5, in

the 1st concession of East Flamboro' with their broken fronts,

containing, according to the Patent, 600 acres more or less; the lots

No. 1, 3 and 4 in the 2nd, and lots No. 2 and 3 in the 3rd concession of

Beverley, containing 1,000 acres; the lots No. 16 in the 2nd and and 3rd

concession of the township of York containing 400 acres; the lots 32

and 33 with their broken fronts, in the 1st, and lots No. 31 and 32 in

the 2nd concession of Whitby, containing 800 acres; the lots 22 and 24

in the 11th, lot 23 in the 12th, and No. 24 in the 13th and 14th

concessions of Townsend, containing a 1,000 acres; the lots No. 12, 13

and 14 in the 1st and 2nd concession of Charlotteville, immediately

behind the Town plot, containing 1,200 acres; the lots Nos. 16 and 17 in

the 1st concession of Delaware township, on the river Thames (La

Tranche) containing 800 acres; the lots Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 in the

10th; No. 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 in the 11th, and Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 7 in the

12th concession of Dereham, containing 3,000 acres, with mill-seats

thereon; and also the lots Nos. 22, 24, 25, 26, and 28 in the 1st, Nos.

22, 23, 25, 27 and 28 in the 3rd, Nos. 22, 24, 25, 26 and 28 in the

11th, and Nos. 22, 24, 25, 26 and 28 in the 12th concession of Norwich,

containing 600 acres, with mill-seats thereon. The terms are either

cash, or good bills of exchange on London, Montreal and Quebec, for the

whole of such purchase, in which case a proportionably less price will

be expected, or the same for one moiety of each purchase, and bonds

properly secured for principal and interest, until paid, for the other.

The prices may be known by application to the proprietor at York. Peter


Clearly, an idea of the prospective value of property in Canada had

dawned upon the mind of Mr. Russell in the year 1803; and he aimed to

create for himself speedily a handsome fortune. His plans, however, in

the long run, came to little, as in another connexion, we have heard


Survivors of the primitive era in Upper Canada have been heard sometimes

to express, (like Lord Clive, after his dealings with the rajahs,) their

surprise that they did not provide for themselves more largely than they

did, when the broad acres of their adopted country were to be had to any

extent, almost for the asking. But this reflection should console them;

in few instances are the descendants of the early very large

land-holders much better off at the present hour than probably they

would have been, had their fathers continued landless.

Mr. Russell died at York on the 30th of September, 1808. His obituary

appears in the Gazette and Oracle of the following day. "Departed this

life on Friday, the 30th ultimo, the Hon. Peter Russell, Esquire,

formerly President of the Government of the Province, late Receiver

General, and Member of the Executive and Legislative Councils: a

gentleman who whilst living was honoured, and sincerely esteemed; and of

whose regular and amiable conduct, the Public will long retain a

favoured and grateful remembrance."

Of the funeral, which took place on the 4th of October, we have a brief

account in the paper of Oct. 8, 1808. It says: "The remains of the late

Hon. Peter Russell were interred on Wednesday the 4th instant with the

greatest decorum and respect. The obsequies of this accomplished

gentleman were followed to the grave by His Excellency the Lieut.

Governor (Gore) as Chief Mourner; with the principal gentlemen of the

town and neighbourhood; and they were feelingly accompanied by all

ranks, evincing a reverential awe for the Divine dispensation. An

appropriate funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Okill Stuart. The

Garrison, commanded by Major Fuller, performed with becoming dignity the

military honours of this respected veteran, who was a Captain in the

Army on half-pay." The editor then adds: "deeply impressed with an

ardent esteem for his manly character, and the irreparable loss

occasioned by his death, we were not among those who felt the least at

this last tribute of respect to his memory and remains." (The Major

Fuller, above named, was the father of the Rev. Thomas Brock Fuller, in

1873 Archdeacon of Niagara.)

As we have elsewhere said, Mr. Russell's estate passed to his unmarried

sister, Miss Elizabeth Russell, who, at her own decease, devised the

whole of it to Dr. W. W. Baldwin and his family. The Irish family to

which Mr. Russell belonged was originally a transplanted branch of the

Aston-Abbotts subdivision of the great English family of the same name;

and a connexion, through intermarriages, had long subsisted between

these Russells and the Baldwins of the County of Cork. Russell Hill in

the neighbourhood of Toronto, is so called from a Russell Hill in

Ireland, which has its name from the Russells of the County of

Cork.--During the Revolutionary war, Mr. Russell had been Secretary to

Sir Henry Clinton, Commander-in-chief of the Army in North America from

1778 to 1782.

At the beginning of Peter Russell's advertisement of properties, it will

have been observed that he offered for sale "an excellent dwelling-house

in the town of York," described as being in the occupation of Mr. John

Denison. The building referred to, situate, as it is further mentioned,

on a "front town lot, with a very convenient water-lot adjoining," was

the "ornamental cottage" noted in our journey along Front Street, as

having been once inhabited by Major Hillier, of the 74th. On its site

was afterwards built Dr. Baldwin's town residence, which subsequently

became first a Military Hospital, and then the head office of the

Toronto and Nipissing Railroad.

But Petersfield was also associated with the history of Mr. Denison, who

was the progenitor of the now numerous Canadian family of that name.

Through an intimacy with Mr. Russell, springing out of several years'

campaigning together in the American Revolutionary war, Mr. Denison was

induced by that gentleman, when about to leave England in an official

capacity in company with General Simcoe, to emigrate with his family to

Upper Canada in 1792. He first settled at Kingston, but, in 1796,

removed to York, where, by the authority of Mr. Russell, he temporarily

occupied Castle Frank on the Don. He then, as we have seen, occupied

"the excellent dwelling-house" put up "on a front lot" in the town of

York by Mr. Russell himself; and afterwards, he was again accommodated

by his friend with quarters in the newly-erected homestead of


We have evidence that in 1805 a portion of Petersfield was under

cultivation, and that under Mr. Denison's care it produced fine crops of

a valuable vegetable. Under date of York, 20th December, 1805, in a

contemporary Oracle, we have the following advertisement: "Potatoes:

To be sold at Mr. Russell's Farm at Petersfield, by Mr. John Denison, in

any quantities not less than ten bushels, at Four Shillings, York

Currency, the bushel, if delivered at the purchaser's house, or Three

Shillings the bushel, if taken by them from the Farm."

And again, in the Gazette of March 4, 1807: "Blue Nose Potatoes. To be

sold at Mr. Russell's Farm near York. The price three shillings, York

currency, the bushel, if taken away by the purchasers, or they will be

delivered anywhere within the precincts of the Town, at Four Shillings,

in any quantity not less than ten bushels. Application to be made to Mr.

John Denison, on the premises, to whom the above prices are to be paid

on delivery. Feb. 14, 1807."

Our own personal recollection of Mr. Denison is associated with

Petersfield, the homely cosiness of whose interior, often seen during

its occupancy by him, lighted up by a rousing hospitable fire of great

logs, piled high in one of the usual capacious and lofty fire-places of

the time, made an indelible impression on the boyish fancy. The

venerable Mrs. Sophia Denison, too, Mr. Denison's better half, was in

like manner associated in our memory with the cheery interior of the

ancient Petersfield farm-house--a fine old English matron and mother, of

the antique, strongly-marked, vigorous, sterling type. She was one of

the Taylors, of Essex; among whom, at home and abroad, ability and

talent, and traits of a higher and more sacred character, are curiously

hereditary. We shall have occasion, further on, to speak of the

immediate descendants of these early occupants of Petersfield.

On the south side of the expansion of Queen Street, in front of

Petersfield, and a little beyond Peter Street (which, as we have

previously noticed, had its name from Peter Russell) was the abode of

Mr. Dunn, long Receiver-General of Upper Canada. It was (and is) a

retired family house, almost hidden from the general view by a grove of

ornamental trees. A quiet-looking gate led into a straight drive up to

the house, out of Queen Street. Of Mr. Dunn we have already discoursed,

and of Mrs. Dunn, one of the graceful lady-chiefs in the high life of

York in the olden time. In the house at which we now pause was born

their famous son, Alexander Roberts Dunn, in 1833; who not only had the

honour of sharing in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in

1856, now so renowned in history and song, but who, of all the six

hundred there, won the highest meed of glory.

Six feet three inches in stature, a most powerful and most skilful

swordsman, and a stranger to fear, Lieut. Dunn, instead of consulting

his own safety in the midst of that frightful and untoward melee,

deliberately interposed for the protection of his comrades in arms. Old

troopers of the Eleventh Hussars long told with kindling eyes how the

young lieutenant seeing Sergeant Bentley of his own regiment attacked

from behind by two or three Russian lancers, rushed upon them

single-handed, and cut them down; how he saved the life of Sergeant

Bond; how Private Levett owed his safety to the same friendly arm, when

assailed by Russian Hussars. Kinglake, the historian of the Crimean war,

records that the Victoria Cross placed at the disposal of the Eleventh

Hussars was unanimously awarded by them to Lieut. Dunn; the only cavalry

officer who obtained the distinction.

To the enthusiasm inspired by his brilliant reputation was mainly due

the speedy formation in Canada of the Hundredth Regiment, the Prince of

Wales' Royal Canadian Regiment, in 1857. Of this regiment, chiefly

raised through his instrumentality, Mr. Dunn was gazetted the first

major; and on the retirement of the Baron de Rottenburg from its

command, he succeeded as its Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1864 he was gazetted full Colonel: at the time he had barely

completed his twenty-seventh year. Impatient of inactivity, he caused

himself to be transferred to a command in India, where he speedily

attracted the notice of General Napier, afterwards Lord Napier of

Magdala; and he accompanied that officer in the expedition against King

Theodore of Abyssinia. While halting at Senafe in that country, he was

accidently killed by the sudden explosion of his rifle while out

shooting deer. The sequel can best be given, as well as an impression of

the feelings of his immediate associates on the deplorable occasion, by

quoting the touching words of a letter addressed at the time to a near

relative of Colonel Dunn, by a brother officer:

"In no regiment," says this friend, "was ever a commanding officer so

missed as the one we have just so unhappily lost: such a courteous,

thorough gentleman in word and deed, so thoughtful for others, so

perfect a soldier, so confidence-inspiring a leader. Every soldier in

the regiment misses Colonel Dunn; he was a friend, and felt to be such,

to every one of them. The regiment will never have so universally

esteemed a commander again. We all feel that. For myself I feel that I

have lost a brother who can never be replaced. I can scarcely yet

realize that the dear fellow is really dead, and as I pass his tent

every morning I involuntarily turn my head, expecting to hear his usual

kind salutation, and to see the dear, handsome face that has never

looked at me but with kindness. I breakfasted with him on the morning of

the 25th, and he looked so well as he started off with our surgeon for a

day's shooting. Little did I think that I had looked on his dear old

face for the last time in life. . . . I cannot describe to you what a

shock the sad news was to every one, both in my regiment and indeed in

every one in the camp. Our dear Colonel was so well known, and so

universally liked and respected.

"Next day, Sunday, the 26th of January, he was buried about 4 o'clock

p.m.. I went to look at the dear old fellow, before his coffin was

closed, and his poor face, though looking so cold, was yet so handsome,

and the expression of it, so peaceful and happy. I cut off some of his

hair, which lately he wore very short, a lock of which I now send you,

keeping one for myself, as the most valuable souvenir I could have of

one I loved very dearly. And I knelt down to give his cold forehead a

long farewell kiss. He was buried in uniform, as he had often expressed

a wish to me to that effect. Every officer in the camp attended his

funeral, and, of course, the whole of his own regiment, in which there

was not a single dry eye, as all stood round the grave of their lost

commander. He has been buried in a piece of ground near where our camp

now stands, at the foot of a small hill covered with shrubbery and many

wild flowers. We have had railings put round the grave, and a stone is

to be placed there with the inscription: In memory of A. R. Dunn, V.C.,

Col. 33rd Regiment, who died at Senafe on 25th January, 1868, aged 34

years and 7 months."

Thus in remote Abyssinia rest the mortal remains of one who in the happy

unconsciousness of childhood, sported here in grounds and groves which

we are now passing on Queen Street. In numerous other regions of the

earth, once seemingly as unlikely to be their respective final

resting-places, repose the remains of Canadian youth, who have died in

the public service of England. We are sharing in the fortune and history

of the mother country, and like her, or rather like the ubiquitous Roman

citizen of old, we may even already ask "Quae caret ora cruore

nostro?"--sadly as individuals, perhaps, but proudly as a people.

The occupant of Mr. Dunn's house at a later period was Chief Justice

McLean, who died here in 1865. He was born at St. Andrews, near

Cornwall, in 1791. At the battle of Queenston, he served as Lieutenant

in Capt. Cameron's No. 1 Flank Company of York Militia, and received a

severe wound in the early part of the engagement. He was afterwards for

some time Speaker of the House. An admirable full-length painting of

Chief Justice McLean exists at Osgoode Hall.