The Harbour: Its Marine 1793-99

The first formal survey of the harbour of Toronto was made by Joseph

Bouchette in 1793. His description of the bay and its surroundings at

that date is, with the historians of Upper Canada, a classic passage.

For the completeness of our narrative it must be produced once more. "It

fell to my lot," says Bouchette, "to make the first survey of York

Harbour in 1793." And he explains how this happened.

the late Gen. Simcoe, who then resided at Navy

Hall, Niagara, having," he says, "formed extensive plans for the

improvement of the colony, had resolved upon laying the foundations of a

provincial capital. I was at that period in the naval service of the

Lakes, and the survey of Toronto (York) Harbour was entrusted by his

Excellency to my performance."

He then thus proceeds, writing, we may observe, in 1831: "I still

distinctly recollect the untamed aspect which the country exhibited when

first I entered the beautiful basin, which thus became the scene of my

early hydrographical operations. Dense and trackless forests lined the

margin of the lake and reflected their inverted images in its glassy

surface. The wandering savage had constructed his ephemeral habitation

beneath their luxuriant foliage--the group then consisting of two

families of Mississagas,--and the bay and neighbouring marshes were the

hitherto uninvaded haunts of immense coveys of wild fowl. Indeed, they

were so abundant," he adds, "as in some measure to annoy us during the

night." The passage is to be found in a note at p. 89 of volume one of

the quarto edition of "The British Dominions in North America,"

published in London in 1831.

The winter of 1792-3 was in Upper Canada a favourable one for explorers.

"We have had a remarkably mild winter," says the Gazette in its first

number, dated April 18, 1793; "the thermometer in the severest time has

not been lower than nine degrees above zero, by Fahrenheit's scale. Lake

Erie has not been frozen over, and there has been very little ice on

Lake Ontario." The same paper informs us that "his Majesty's sloop, the

Caldwell, sailed the 5th instant (April), from Niagara, for fort

Ontario (Oswego) and Kingston." Also that "on Monday evening (13th)

there arrived in the river (at Niagara) his Majesty's armed schooner,

the Onondago, in company with the Lady Dorchester, merchantman,

after an agreeable passage (from Kingston) of thirty-six hours." (The

following gentlemen, it is noted, came passengers:--J. Small, Esq.,

Clerk of the Executive Council; Lieut.-McCan, of the 60th regiment;

Capt. Thos. Fraser, Mr. J. Denison, Mr. Joseph Forsyth, merchant, Mr. L.

Crawford, Capt. Archibald Macdonald,--Hathaway.)

Again, on May 2nd, the information is given that "on Sunday morning

early, his Majesty's sloop Caldwell arrived here (Niagara) from

Kingston, which place she left on Thursday; but was obliged to anchor

off the bar of this river part of Saturday night. And on Monday also

arrived from Kingston the Onondago, in twenty-three hours."

Joseph Bouchette in 1793 must have been under twenty years of age. He

was born in 1774. He was the son of Commodore Bouchette, who in 1793 had

command of the Naval Force on Lake Ontario. When Joseph Bouchette first

entered the harbour of Toronto, as described above, he was not without

associates. He was probably one of an exploring party which set out from

Niagara in May, 1793. It would appear that the Governor himself paid his

first visit to the intended site of the capital of his young province on

the same occasion.

In the Gazette of Thursday, May 9th 1793, published at Newark or

Niagara, we have the following record:--"On Thursday last (this would be

May the 3rd) his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, accompanied by

several military gentlemen, set out in boats for Toronto, round the Head

of the Lake Ontario, by Burlington Bay; and in the evening his Majesty's

vessels the Caldwell and Buffalo, sailed for the same place."

Supposing the boats which proceeded round the Head of the Lake to have

arrived at the cleared spot where the French stockaded trading-post of

Toronto had stood, on Saturday, the 4th, the inspection of the harbour

and its surroundings by the Governor and "military gentlemen" occupied a

little less than a week; for we find that on Monday, the 13th, they are

back again in safety at Niagara. The Gazette of Thursday, the 16th of

May, thus announces their return: "On Monday (the 13th) about 2 o'clock,

his Excellency the Lieut.-Governor and suite arrived at Navy Hall from

Toronto; they returned in boats round the Lake."

It is probable that Bouchette was left behind, perhaps with the

Caldwell and Buffalo, to complete the survey of the harbour. (In the

work above named is a reduction of Bouchette's chart of the harbour with

the soundings and bottom; also with lines shewing "the breaking of the

ice in the spring." His minute delineation of the pinion-shaped

peninsula of sand which forms the outer boundary of Toronto bay, enables

the observer to see very clearly how, by long-continued drift from the

east, that barrier was gradually thrown up; as, also, how inevitable

were the marshes at the outlet of the Don.)

The excursion from Niagara, just described, was the Governor's first

visit to the harbour of Toronto, and we may suppose the Caldwell and

the Buffalo to have been the first sailing-craft of any considerable

magnitude that ever stirred its waters. In April, 1793, the Governor had

not yet visited Toronto. We learn this from a letter dated the 5th of

that month, addressed by him to Major-General Clarke, at Quebec. Gen.

Clarke was the Lieut.-Governor in Lower Canada. Lord Dorchester, the

Governor-General himself, was absent in England. "Many American

officers," Gen. Simcoe says to Gen. Clarke on the 5th of April, "give it

as their opinion that Niagara should be attacked, and that Detroit must

fall of course. I hope by this autumn," he continues, "to show the

fallacy of this reasoning, by opening a safe and expeditious

communication to La Tranche. But on this subject I reserve myself till I

have visited Toronto."

The safe and expeditious communication referred to was the great

military road, Dundas Street, projected by the Governor to connect the

port and arsenal at Toronto with the Thames and Detroit. It was in the

February and March of this very same year, 1793, that the Governor had

made, partly on foot, and partly in sleighs, his famous exploratory tour

through the woods from Niagara to Detroit and back, with a view to the

establishment of this communication.

On the 31st of May he is writing again to Gen. Clarke, at Quebec. He has

now, as we have seen, been at Toronto; and he speaks warmly of the

advantages which the site appeared to him to possess. "It is with great

pleasure that I offer to you," he says, "some observations upon the

Military strength and Naval convenience of Toronto (now York) [he adds],

which I propose immediately to occupy. I lately examined the harbour,"

he continues, "accompanied by such officers, naval and military, as I

thought most competent to give me assistance therein, and upon minute

investigation I found it to be, without comparison, the most proper

situation for an arsenal, in every extent of that word, that can be met

with in this Province."

The words, "now York," appended here and in later documents to

"Toronto," show that an official change of name had taken place. The

alteration was made between the 15th and 31st of May. No proclamation,

however, announcing its change, is to be found either in the local

Gazette or in the archives at Ottawa.

Nor is there any allusion to the contemplated works at York either in

the opening or closing speech delivered by the Governor to the houses of

parliament, which met at Niagara for their second session on the 28th of

May, and were dismissed to their homes again on the 9th of the following

July. We may suppose the minds of the members and other persons of

influence otherwise prepared for the coming changes, chiefly perhaps by

means of friendly conferences.

The Governor's scheme may, for example, have been one of the topics of

conversation at the levee, ball and supper on the King's birthday,

which, happening during the parliamentary session, was observed with

considerable ceremony.--"On Tuesday last, the fourth of June," says the

Gazette of the period, "being the anniversary of his Majesty's

birthday, his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor held a levee at Navy

Hall. At one the troops in garrison and at Queenston fired three

volleys. The field pieces above Navy Hall under the direction of the

Royal Artillery, and the guns at the garrison, fired a royal salute. In

the evening," the Gazette further reports, "his Excellency gave a Ball

and elegant supper in the Council Chamber, which was most numerously


Of this ball and supper another brief notice is extant. It chanced that

three distinguished Americans were among the guests--Gen. Lincoln, Col.

Pickering, and Mr. Randolph, United States commissioners on their way,

via Niagara, to a great Council of the Western Indians, about to be

held at the Miami river. In his private journal, since printed in the

Massachusetts Historical Collections, Gen. Lincoln made the following

note of the Governor's entertainment at Niagara:--"The ball," he says,

"was attended by about twenty well-dressed and handsome ladies, and

about three times that number of gentlemen. They danced," he records,

"from seven o'clock till eleven, when supper was announced, and served

in very pretty taste. The music and dancing," it is added, "was good,

and everything was conducted with propriety." This probably was the

first time the royal birthday was observed at Niagara in an official


Soon after the prorogation, July the 9th, steps preparatory to a removal

to York began to be taken. Troops, for example, were transported across

to the north side of the Lake. "A few days ago," says the Gazette of

Thursday, August the 1st, 1793, "the first Division of his Majesty's

Corps of Queen's Rangers left Queenston for Toronto--now York [it is

carefully added], and proceeded in batteaux round the head of the Lake

Ontario, by Burlington Bay. And shortly afterwards another division of

the same regiment sailed in the King's vessels, the Onondago and

Caldwell, for the same place."

It is evident the Governor, as he expressed himself to Gen. Clarke, in

the letter of May 31, is about "immediately to occupy" the site which

seemed to him so eligible for an arsenal and strong military post.

Accordingly, having thus sent forward two divisions of the regiment

whose name is so intimately associated with his own, to be a guard to

receive him on his own arrival, and to be otherwise usefully employed,

we find the Governor himself embarking for the same spot. "On Monday

evening [this would be Monday, the 29th of July]," the Gazette just

quoted informs us, "his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor left Navy

Hall and embarked on board his Majesty's schooner, the Mississaga,

which sailed immediately with a favourable gale for York, with the

remainder of the Queen's Rangers."--On the following morning, July 30,

1793, they would, with the aid of the "favourable gale," be at anchor in

the harbour of York.

Major Littlehales, the Governor's faithful secretary, remains behind

until the following Thursday, August the 1st, engaged probably in

arranging household matters for the Governor, an absence from Navy Hall

of some duration being contemplated. He then crosses the Lake in the

Caldwell, and joins his Chief. At the same time start Chief Justice

Osgoode and Mr. Attorney-General White for the East, to hold the

circuit. "On Thursday evening, the 1st instant," says the Gazette of

the 8th of August, "his Majesty's armed vessels the Onondago and the

Caldwell sailed from this place (Niagara). The former, for Kingston,

had on board the Hon. William Osgoode, Chief Justice of this Province,

and John White, Esq., Attorney General, who are going to hold the

circuits at Kingston and Johnstown. Major Littlehales sailed in the

latter, for York, to join his Excellency's suite."

We should have been glad of a minute account of each day's proceedings

on the landing of the troops at York, and the arrival there of the

Governor and his suite. But we can readily imagine the Rangers

establishing themselves under canvas on the grassy glade where formerly

stood the old French trading-post. We can imagine them landing stores--a

few cannon and some other munitions of war--from the ships; landing the

parts and appurtenances of the famous canvas-house which the Governor

had provided for the shelter of himself and his family, and which, as we

have before noted, was originally constructed for the use of Captain

Cook in one of the scientific expeditions commanded by that celebrated


The canvas-house must have been a pavilion of considerable capacity, and

was doubtless pitched and fixed with particular care by the soldiers and

others, wherever its precise situation was determined. It was, as it

were, the praetorium of the camp, but moveable. We can conceive of it as

being set down, in the first instance, on the site of the French fort,

and then at a later period, or on the occasion of a later visit to York,

shifted to one of the knolls overlooking the little stream known

subsequently as the Garrison creek; and shifted again, at another visit,

to a position still farther east, where a second small stream meandered

between steep banks into the Bay, at the point where a Government

ship-building yard was in after years established. (Tradition places

the canvas-house on several sites.)

We can conceive, too, all hands, sailors as well as soldiers, busy in

opening eastward through the woods along the shore, a path that should

be more respectable and more useful for military and civil purposes than

the Indian trail which they would already find there, leading directly

to the quarter where, at the farther end of the Bay, the town-plot was

designed to be laid out, and the Government buildings were intended to

be erected.

On the 8th of August we know the Governor was engaged at York in writing

to the Indian Chief Brant, from whom a runner has just arrived all the

way from the entrance to the Detroit river. Brant, finding the

conference between his compatriots and the United States authorities

likely to end unsatisfactorily, sent to solicit Governor Simcoe's

interposition, especially in regard to the boundary line which the

Indians of the West insisted on--the Ohio river. Thus runs the

Governor's reply, written at York on the 8th:--"Since the Government of

the United States," he says, "have shown a disinclination to concur with

the Indian nations in requesting of his Majesty permission for me to

attend at Sandusky as mediator, it would be highly improper and

unreasonable in me to give an opinion relative to the proposed

boundaries, with which I am not sufficiently acquainted, and which

question I have studiously avoided entering into, as I am well aware of

the jealousies entertained by some of the subjects of the United States

of the interference of the British Government, which has a natural and

decided interest in the welfare of the Indian nations, and in the

establishment of peace and permanent tranquillity. In this situation, I

am sure you will excuse me from giving to you any advice, which, from my

absence from the spot, cannot possibly arise from that perfect view and

knowledge which so important a subject necessarily demands."

The controversy in the West, in relation to which the Governor is thus

cautiously expressing himself to the Indian Chief on the 8th of August,

was a subject for cabinet consideration; a matter only for the few. But

towards the close of the month, news from a different quarter--from the

outer world of the far European East--reached the infant York, suitable

to be divulged to the many and turned to public account. It was known

that hostilities were going on between the allied forces of Europe and

the armies of Revolutionary France. And now came intelligence that the

English contingent on the continent had contributed materially to a

success over the French in Flanders on the 23rd of May last. Now this

contingent, 10,000 men, was under the command of the Duke of York, the

King's son, A happy thought strikes the Governor. What could be more

appropriate than to celebrate the good news in a demonstrative manner on

a spot which in honour of that Prince had been named York.

Accordingly, on the 26th of August, we find the following General Order

issued:--"York, Upper Canada, 26th of August, 1793. His Excellency the

Lieutenant-Governor having received information of the success of his

Majesty's arms, under His Royal Highness the Duke of York, by which

Holland has been saved from the invasion of the French armies,--and it

appearing that the combined forces have been successful in dislodging

their enemies from an entrenched camp supposed to be impregnable, from

which the most important consequences may be expected; and in which

arduous attempts His Royal Highness the Duke of York and His Majesty's

troops supported the national glory:--It is His Excellency's orders that

on the rising of the Union Flag at twelve o'clock to-morrow a Royal

Salute of twenty-one guns is to be fired, to be answered by the shipping

in the Harbour, in respect to His Royal Highness and in commemoration of

the naming this Harbour from his English title, York. E. B. Littlehales,

Major of Brigade."

These orders, we are to presume, were punctually obeyed; and we are

inclined to think that the running up of the Union Flag at noon on

Tuesday, the 27th day of August, and the salutes which immediately after

reverberated through the woods and rolled far down and across the

silvery surface of the Lake, were intended to be regarded as the true

inauguration of the Upper Canadian York.

The rejoicing, indeed, as it proved, was somewhat premature. The success

which distinguished the first operations of the royal duke did not

continue to attend his efforts. Nevertheless, the report of the honours

rendered in this remote portion of the globe, would be grateful to the

fatherly heart of the King.

On the Saturday after the Royal Salutes, the first meeting of the

Executive Council ever held in York, took place in the garrison; in the

canvas-house, as we may suppose. "The first Council," writes Mr. W. H.

Lee from Ottawa, "held at the garrison, York, late Toronto, at which

Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was present, was on Saturday, 31st August,

1793." It transacted business there, Mr. Lee says, until the following

fifth of September, when the Government returned to Navy Hall. Still,

the Governor and his family passed the ensuing winter at York. Bouchette

speaks of his inhabiting the canvas-house "through the winter;" and

under date of York, on the 23rd of the following February (1794), we

have him writing to Mr. Secretary Dundas.

In the despatch of the day just named, after a now prolonged experience

of the newly-established post, the Governor thus glowingly speaks of it:

"York," he says, "is the most important and defensible situation in

Upper Canada, or that I have seen," he even adds, "in North America. I

have, sir," he continues, "formerly entered into a detail of the

advantages of this arsenal of Lake Ontario. An interval of Indian land

of six and thirty miles divides this settlement from Burlington Bay,

where that of Niagara commences. Its communication with Lake Huron is

very easy in five or six days, and will in all respects be of the most

essential importance."

Before the channel at the entrance of the Harbour of York was visibly

marked or buoyed, the wide-spread shoal to the west and south must have

been very treacherous to craft seeking to approach the new settlement.

In 1794 we hear of the Commodore's vessel, "the Anondaga, of 14 guns,"

being stranded here and given up for lost. We hear likewise that the

Commodore's son, Joseph Bouchette, the first surveyor of the harbour,

distinguished himself by managing to get the same Anondaga off, after

she had been abandoned; and we are told of his assuming the command and

sailing with her to Niagara, where he is received amidst the cheers of

the garrison and others assembled on the shores to greet the rescued


This exploit, of which he was naturally proud, and for which he was

promoted on the 12th of May, 1794, to the rank of Second Lieutenant,

Bouchette duly commemorates on his chart of York Harbour by

conspicuously marking the spot where the stranded ship lay, and

appending the note--"H. M. Schooner Anondaga, 14 guns, wrecked, but

raised by Lieutenant Joseph Bouchette and brought to." (A small

two-masted vessel is seen lying on the north-west bend of the great

shoal at the entrance of the Harbour.)--A second point is likewise

marked on the map "where she again grounded but was afterwards brought

to." (Here again a small vessel is seen lying at the edge of the shoal,

but now towards its northern point.) The Chart, which was originally

engraved for Bouchette's octavo book, "A Topographical Description of

Canada, &c.," published in 1815, is repeated with the marks and

accompanying notes, from the same plate, in the quarto work of

1831--"The British Dominions in North America." The Anondaga of the

Bouchette narrative is, as we suppose, the Onondago of the Gazette,

which, as we have seen, helped to take over the Rangers in August, 1793.

The same uncertainty, which we have had occasion repeatedly to notice,

in regard to the orthography of aboriginal words in general, rendered it

doubtful with the public at large as to how the names of some of the

Royal vessels should be spelt.

It is to be observed in passing, that when in his account of the first

survey of the Harbour in 1793, Bouchette speaks of the

Lieutenant-Governor removing from Niagara with his regiment of Queen's

Rangers "in the following spring," he probably means in the later

portion of the spring of the same year 1793, because, as we have already

seen, the Gazettes of the day prove that the Lieutenant-Governor did

proceed to the site of the new capital with the Rangers in 1793.

Bouchette's words as they stand in his quarto book, imply, in some

degree, that 1794 was the year in which the Governor and his Rangers

first came over from Niagara. In the earlier octavo book his words were:

"In the year 1793 the spot on which York stands presented only one

solitary wigwam; in the ensuing spring the ground for the future

metropolis of Upper Canada was fixed upon, and the buildings commenced

under the immediate superintendence of the late General Simcoe, the

Lieut.-Governor: in the space of five or six years it became a

respectable place."

Bouchette was possibly recalling the commencement of the Public

Buildings in 1794, when in his second work, published in 1831, he

inserted the note which has given rise, in the minds of some, to a

slight doubt as to whether 1793 or 1794 was the year of the founding of

York. The Gazettes, as we have seen, shew that 1793 was the year. The

Gazettes also shew that the so-called Public Buildings, i. e., the

Parliamentary Buildings, were not begun until 1794. Thus, in the

Gazette of July 10, 1794, we read the advertisement: "Wanted:

Carpenters for the Public Buildings to be erected at York. Application

to be made to John McGill, Esq., at York, or to Mr. Allan Macnab at Navy


On the 23rd of February, 1794, Governor Simcoe was, as we noted above,

writing a despatch at York to Mr. Secretary Dundas. So early in the

season as the 17th of March, however, he is on the move for the rapids

of the Miami river, at the upper end of Lake Erie, to establish an

additional military post in that quarter, the threatened encroachments

on the Indian lands north of the Ohio by the United States rendering

such a demonstration expedient. He is, of course, acting under

instructions from superior authority. In the MS. map to which reference

has before been made, the Governor's route on this occasion is marked;

and the following note is appended:--"Lieut.-Governor Simcoe's route

from York to the Thames, down that river in canoes to Detroit; from

thence to the Miami to build the fort Lord Dorchester ordered to be

built; left York March 17th, 1794; returned by Erie and Niagara to York,

May 5th, 1794."

In the following August, Gov. Simcoe is at Newark or Niagara. On the

18th of that month he has just heard of an engagement between the United

States forces under General Wayne and the Indians, close to the new fort

on the Miami, and he writes to Brant that he is about to proceed in

person to the scene of action "by the first vessel." On the 30th of

September he is there; and on the 10th of October following, he is

attending a Council of Chiefs in company with Brant, at the southern

entrance of the Detroit river. A cessation of hostilities on the part of

the Indians is urged, until the spring; and, for himself, he says to the

assembly: "I will go down to Quebec and lay your grievances before the

Great Man [the Onnontio probably was the word]. From thence they will be

forwarded to the King your Father. Next spring you will know the result

of everything--what you and I will do."

On the 14th of November the Governor is at Newark embarking again for

York and the East. In the Gazette of Dec. 10, we have the

announcement: "His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor left this town

(Newark) on the 14th ultimo, on his way, via York, to the eastern part

of the Province, where it is expected he will spend the winter." He

appears to have left York on the 5th of December in in an open boat. The

MS. map gives the route, with the note: "Lieut.-Gov. Simcoe's track from

York to Kingston in an open boat, Dec. 5, 1794." On the 20th of the same

month he is writing a despatch at Kingston to the "Lords of the

Committee of His Majesty's Council for Trade and Plantations;" and we

learn from the document that the neighbourhood of York, if not York

itself, was becoming populous. The Governor says to their Lordships:

"Having stated to Mr. Secretary Dundas the great importance which I

attached to York (late Toronto), and received directions to give due

encouragement to the settlement, it is with great pleasure that I am to

observe that seventy families at least are settling in its vicinity, and

principally on the communication between York and Holland's River, which

falls into Lake Simcoe." (The German families these, principally, who

were brought over by Mr. Berczy from the Pulteney settlement in the

Genesee country, on the opposite side of the Lake.)

The proposed journey to and from Quebec may have been accomplished after

the 20th of December.

In June of the following year, 1795, the Governor is at Navy Hall,

Newark. He receives and entertains there for eighteen days the French

Royalist Duke de Liancourt, who is on his travels on the American

continent. The Duke does not visit York; but two of his travelling

companions, MM. du Pettithouars and Guillemard take a run over and

report to him that there "had been no more than twelve houses hitherto

built at York." The barracks, they say, stand on the roadstead two miles

from the town, and near the Lake. The duke adds: "Desertion, I am told,

is very frequent among the soldiers."

While staying at Navy Hall, the Duke de Liancourt was taken over the

Fort on the opposite side of the river; he also afterwards dined there

with the officers. "With very obliging politeness," the duke says, "the

Governor conducted us over the Fort, which he is very loth to visit,

since he is sure that he will be obliged to deliver it up to the

Americans."--In fact it was made over to them under Jay's Treaty in this

very year 1794, along with Oswego, Detroit, Miami, and Michilimackinac,

though not actually surrendered until 1796. And this was the somewhat

inglorious termination of the difficulties between the Indian allies of

England and the United States Government, which had compelled the

Governor again and again to undertake toilsome journeys to the

West.--"Thirty artillerymen," the duke notes, "and eight companies of

the Fifth Regiment form the garrison of the Fort. Two days after the

visit," he continues, "we dined in the Fort at Major Seward's, an

officer of elegant, polite and amiable manners, who seems to be much

respected by the gentlemen of his profession. He and Mr. Pilkington, an

officer of the corps of Engineers, are the military gentlemen we have

most frequently seen during our residence in this place, and whom the

Governor most distinguishes from the rest."

In 1796 Governor Simcoe was ordered to the West Indies. He met his

Parliament at Newark on the 16th of May, and prorogued it on the 3rd of

June, after assenting to seven Acts.

In the Gazette of Sept. 11, 1796, a proclamation from Peter Russell

announces that "His most gracious Majesty has been pleased to grant his

royal leave of absence to his Excellency Major General Simcoe," and that

consequently the government pro tem. had devolved upon himself.

In the November following, Mr. Russell, now entitled President, comes

over from Niagara in the Mohawk. The Gazette of Nov. 4, 1796 (still

published at Niagara), announces: "Yesterday (Nov. 3), his Honour the

President of the Province and family sailed in the Mohawk for York. On

his departure he was saluted with a discharge of cannon at Fort George,

which was answered by three cheers from on board." (Fort George,

afterwards famous in Canadian annals, and whose extensive remains are

still conspicuous, had now been constructed, on the west side of the

river, close by Newark or Niagara, as a kind of counterpoise to the

French Fort on the east side of the river, immediately opposite, which

had just been surrendered to the United States.)

It is briefly noted in the Gazette of the 26th of January in the

following year (1797), that the President's new house at York had been

destroyed by fire. This may account for his being at Niagara in May

(1797), and sailing over again in the Mohawk to York, apparently to

open Parliament. The Gazette of the 31st of May, 1797, says: "On

Saturday last, sailed in the Mohawk for York, his Honour the

Administrator, and several members of the Parliament of the Province."

(The Mohawk had come up from Kingston on the 27th of April. On the

28th of that month a vessel had arrived at Niagara, bearing the name of

the late Governor. The Gazette of May 3, 1797, thus speaks: "On Sunday

last, arrived from Kingston his Majesty's armed vessel the Mohawk; and

on Monday last, the Governor Simcoe, being their first voyage.")

The Gazette of the 31st, in addition to the departure of the Mohawk

for York, as above, gives us also the following piece of information

whence we learn that in the trade of the Lake, a competition from the

United States side was about to begin:--"On the same day (the day when

the Mohawk sailed for York), arrived here (Niagara) a Deck-boat, built

and owned by Col. John Van Rensselaer, of Lansingburg, on the North

River. This enterprising gentleman," the Gazette says, "built and

completed this and one other of the same bigness (fifty barrels burden),

and conveyed them by high waters to Oswego, and arrived there without

injury this spring. They are to ply continually between Oswego and this

place and Kingston."

On July the 3rd, 1797, the return of President Russell to Niagara in the

Mohawk is announced. (The exact situation of Mr. Russell's house at

Niagara may be deduced from a memorandum in the papers of Augustus

Jones, the surveyor, dated Aug., 1796. It runs as follows:--"S. 61 W.,

34 chains, 34 links from the north-west corner of the Block-house above

Navy Hall to the S. E. angle of the Hon. P. Russell's house: at 24

chains, a fence.")

During the stormy season at the close of the year 1797, a momentary

apprehension was felt at Niagara for the safety of the Mohawk. In a

Gazette of December in this year we read: "West Niagara, Dec. 2. Fears

for the fate of the Mohawk are entertained. It is said minute guns

were distinctly heard through most of Thursday before last; but we hope

she has suffered no further than being driven back to Kingston. The

Onondaga," it is added, "which was aground in Hungry Bay at our last

intelligence, was in a fair way of being gotten off." In the next

Gazette, the number for Dec. 9, it is announced that "since our last,

arrived here the Simcoe, from Kingston, by which we learn that the

Mohawk had returned there, after having her bowsprit and a

considerable part of her sails carried away in the storm." It is also

stated of the Onondaga, that "she had gained that Port without

material injury sustained in Hungry Bay."

In the Gazette of May 19, in the following year, 1798, the Simcoe

again appears. At the same time the name of the commander of the vessel

is given. "West Niagara: By the arrival of the schooner Simcoe, Capt.

Murney, from Kingston, we are informed that upwards of a hundred houses

in the Lower Province have been carried away by the ice this spring."

The Capt. Murney here mentioned, as being in command of the Simcoe,

was the father of the Hon. Edward Murney, of Belleville. He built and

owned in 1801 another vessel named the Prince Edward, capable of

carrying 700 barrels of flour in her hold. We are told of this vessel,

that she was built wholly of red cedar.

In the Gazette of May 26, 1798, we hear of a "good sloop" constructed

of black walnut. She is about to be sold. "To be sold," the Gazette

says, "on the stocks at the Bay of Long Point (near Kingston), at any

time before the 28th of June next, a good sloop ready for launching, in

good order, and warranted sound and masterly built. She is formed of the

best black walnut timber, 38 tons burden, and calculated for carrying

timber." We are told further in respect to this sloop, that "she will be

sold by consent of Mr. Troyer, and a good title with a warranty given on

the sale. The conditions are for cash only; one-half down, and the other

in three months, with approved security for payment. Wm. Dealy." J.

Troyer adds: "I approve of the above." Again, it is subjoined: "All

persons having demands on said Dealy are requested to exhibit them

before the 28th of June, that the same may be paid one month thereafter.

May 24, 1798."

On Monday, the 14th of October, in the year just named, a Mr. Cornwall

was drowned by falling out of a boat into the Lake, near the Garrison at

York. In the Gazette of the 27th it is noted that "on Monday last the

body of Mr. Cornwall, who was unfortunately drowned the 14th instant, by

falling out of a boat into the Lake, near the Garrison, was taken up at

the Etobicoke. The coroner's inquest sat on the body," it is added, "and

brought in a verdict 'accidental death.'" (In this Gazette Etobicoke

is curiously printed Toby Cove.)

Boisterous weather gave rise to the usual disasters and inconveniences

in the autumn of 1798. "During the heavy gales of wind," says the

Gazette of Nov. 24, "which we have had, a vessel loaded with sundry

goods was drove on shore at the Mississaga point at Newark (Niagara),

and another vessel belonging to this town (York) was drove on a place

called the Ducks, where she received considerable damage."

In August, 1799, Governor Hunter, lately appointed, arrived in York

Harbour in the Speedy. The Niagara Constellation of Aug. 23, 1799,

gives us the information. It says: "His Excellency, Governor Hunter,

arrived at York on Friday morning last in the Speedy. On landing," we

are told, "he was received by a party of the Queen's Rangers; and at one

o'clock p.m. was waited on at his Honour's the President's, by the

military officers, and congratulated on his safe arrival and

appointment to the government of the Province."

On the 5th of September he has gone over to Niagara. The Constellation

of the 6th thus notices his arrival there: "Yesterday morning, arrived

here from York his Excellency Governor Hunter. He was saluted by a

discharge of twenty-one guns from Fort George. His early arrival in the

morning prevented so great an attendance of inhabitants to demonstrate

their joy, as was wished by them." He probably crossed the Lake in the


The departure of Governor Hunter from Niagara is noted in the

Constellation of the following week. "On Saturday last," the

Constellation of Sept. 13 says, "His Excellency sailed for Kingston

and the Lower Province (probably again in the Speedy). On embarking,"

we are informed as usual, "he was saluted from the Garrison;" and it is

also added that on passing Fort Niagara "he was saluted by the American

flag, which had been hoisted for the purpose." On which act of courtesy

the Constellation remarks that "merit is respected by all countries."

It is then added: "We learn that his Excellency has committed the

administration of the Government, during his absence, to a committee

composed of the Honourable Peter Russell, J. Elmsley and AEneas Shaw,

Esquires; and the Hon. J. McGill, Esq., in the absence of either of


Under date of York, Saturday, Sept. 14th, 1799, we have mention made in

the Gazette of a new vessel. "The Toronto Yacht, Capt. Baker," the

Gazette announces, "will in the course of a few days be ready to make

her first trip. She is," the Gazette says, "one of the handsomest

vessels of her size that ever swam upon the Ontario; and if we are

permitted to judge from her appearance, and to do her justice, we must

say she bids fair to be one of the swiftest sailing vessels. She is

admirably calculated for the reception of passengers, and can with

propriety boast of the most experienced officers and men. Her

master-builder," it is subjoined, "was a Mr. Dennis, an American, on

whom she reflects great honour." This was Mr. Joseph Dennis; and the

place where the vessel was built was a little way up the Humber. (The

name Dennis is carelessly given in the Gazette as Dennison.)

The effects of rough weather on the Lake at the close of 1799, as

detailed by the Niagara Constellation of the 7th of December, will not

be out of place. "On Thursday last," the Constellation says, "a boat

arrived here from Schenectady, which place she left on the 22nd ult.

She passed the York sticking on a rock off the Devil's Nose: no

prospect of getting her off. A small deck-boat also, she reports, lately

sprung a leak twelve miles distant from Oswego. The people on board,

many of whom were passengers, were taken off by a vessel passing, when

she instantly sank: cargo is all lost." The narrative then proceeds to

say: "A vessel supposed to be the Genesee schooner, has been two days

endeavouring to come in. It is a singular misfortune," the

Constellation says, "that this vessel, which sailed more than a month

ago from Oswego, laden for this place, has been several times in sight,

and driven back by heavy gales."

In the same number of the Constellation (Dec. 7th, 1799), we have "the

well-known schooner Peggy" spoken of. A moiety of her is offered for

sale. Richard Beasley of Barton, executor, and Margaret Berry of York,

executrix, to the estate of Thomas Berry, merchant, late of York,

deceased, advertise for sale: "One moiety of the well-known schooner

Peggy: any recommendation of her sailing or accommodation," they say,

"will be unnecessary: with these particulars the public are well

acquainted, and the purchaser will, no doubt, satisfy himself with

personal inspection. For terms of sale apply to the executor and


In the Constellation of the following week is the mysterious

paragraph: "If Jonathan A. Pell will return and pay Captain Selleck for

the freight of the salt which he took from on board the Duchess of

York without leave, it will be thankfully received and no questions


The disastrous effects of the gales are referred to again in the

Gazette of Dec. 21st, 1799. "We hear from very good authority," the

Gazette says, "that the schooner York, Captain Murray, has

foundered, and is cast upon the American shore about fifty miles from

Niagara, where the captain and men are encamped. Mr. Forsyth, one of the

passengers, hired a boat to carry them to Kingston. Fears are

entertained for the fate of the Terrahoga." (A government vessel so