Yonge Street From Hogg's Hollow To Bond's Lake
Beyond the hollow, Mr. Humberstone's was passed on the west side,
another manufacturer of useful pottery ware. A curious incident used to
be narrated as having occurred in this house. The barrel of an old
Indian fowling-piece turned up by the plough in one of the fields, and
made to do duty in the management of unwieldy back logs in the great
fire-place, suddenly proved itself to have been charged all the while,
oding one day in the hands of Mr. Humberstone's daughter while
being put to its customary use, and killing her on the spot. Somewhat
similarly, at Fort Erie, we have been told, in the fire which destroyed
the wharf at the landing, a condemned cannon which had long been planted
in the pier as a post, went off, happily straight upwards, without doing
Mr. Humberstone saw active service as a lieutenant in the incorporated
militia in 1812. He was put in charge of some of the prisoners captured
by Colonel Fitzgibbon, at the Beaver Dams, and when now nearing his
destination, Kingston, with his prisoners in a large batteau, he, like
the famous Dragoon who caught the Tartar, was made a prisoner of himself
by the men whom he had in custody, and was adroitly rowed over by them
to the United States shore, where being landed he was swiftly locked up
in jail, and thence only delivered when peace was restored.
The next memorable object, also on the left, was Shephard's inn, a noted
resting-place for wayfarers and their animals, flanked on the north by
large driving sheds, on the south by stables and barns: over the porch,
at an early period, was the effigy of a lion gardant, attempted in wood
on the premises. Constructiveness was one of the predominant faculties
in the first landlord of the Golden Lion. He was noted also for skilful
execution on several instruments of music: on the bassoon for one. In
the rear of the hotel, a little to the south, on a fine eminence, he put
up for himself after the lapse of some years, a private residence,
remarkable for the originality of its design, the outline of its many
projecting roofs presenting a multitude of concave curves in the Chinese
In several buildings in this neighbourhood an effort was at one time
made, chiefly, we believe, through the influence of Mr. Shephard, to
reproduce what in the west of England are called cob-walls; but either
from an error in compounding the material, or from the peculiar
character of the local climate, they proved unsatisfactory.--The
Sheppards, early proprietors of land a little farther on, were a
different family, and spelt their name differently. It was some members
of this family that were momentarily concerned in the movement of 1837.
In Willowdale, a hamlet just beyond Shephard's, was the residence of Mr.
David Gibson, destroyed in 1837 by the Government forces. We observe in
the Gazette of January 6th, 1826, the announcement, "Government House,
York, 29th December, 1825. His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor has
been pleased to appoint David Gibson, gentleman, to be a surveyor of
land in the Province." In the practice of the profession indicated he
was prosperous, and also as a practical farmer. He likewise represented
North York in the Provincial Parliament. When the calm came after the
tumult of 1837, he was appointed one of the Superintendents of
Colonization Roads. He died at Quebec in 1864.
A road turning off at right angles to the eastward out of Willowdale led
to a celebrated camp-meeting ground, on the property of Mr. Jacob
Cummer, one of the early German settlers. It was in a grand maple
forest--a fine specimen of such trysting places. It was here that we
were for the first time present at one of the peculiar assemblies
referred to, which, over the whole of this northern continent, in a
primitive condition of society at its several points, have fulfilled,
and still fulfil, an important, and we doubt not, beneficent function.
This, as we suppose, was the scene of the camp-meeting described in
Peter Jones' Autobiography. "About noon," he writes on Tuesday, the
10th of June, 1828, "started for the camp ground. When we arrived we
found about three hundred Indians collected from Lake Simcoe and Scugog
Lake. Most of those from Lake Simcoe have just come in from the back
lakes to join with their converted brethren in the service of the
Almighty God. They came in company with brother Law, and all seemed very
glad to see us, giving us a hearty shake of the hand. The camp ground
enclosed about two acres, which was surrounded with board tents, having
one large gate for teams to go in and out, and three smaller ones.
"The Indians occupied one large tent, which was 220 feet long and 15
feet broad. It was covered overhead with boards, and the sides were made
tight with laths to make it secure from any encroachments. It had four
doors fronting the camp ground. In this long house the Indians arranged
themselves in families, as is their custom in their wigwams. Divine
service commenced towards evening. Elder Case first gave directions as
to the order to be observed on the camp ground during the meetings.
Brother James Richardson then preached from Acts ii. 21; after which I
gave the substance in Indian, when the brethren appeared much affected
and interested. Prayer-meeting in the evening. The watch kept the place
illuminated during the night." The meeting continued for four days.
Where the dividing line occurs between York and Markham, at the angle on
the right was the first site of the sign of the Green Bush, removed
afterwards, as we have noted, to the immediate outskirts of York; and to
the left, somewhere near by, was a sign that used to interest from its
peculiarity, the Durweston Gate: a small white five-barred gate, hung by
its topmost bar to a projection from a lofty post, and having painted on
its lower bars "Durweston Gate," and the landlord's name. It was
probably a reproduction by a Dorsetshire immigrant of a familiar object
in his native village.
Not excluding from our notes, as will be observed, those places where
Shenstone sighed to think a man often "found the warmest welcome" we
must not forget Finch's--a great hostelry on the right, which we soon
reached as we advanced northward, of high repute about 1836, and
subsequently among excursion parties from town, and among the half-pay
settlers of the Lake Simcoe region, for the contents of its larder and
the quality of its cooking. Another place of similar renown was Crew's,
six or eight miles further on.
When for long years, men, especially Englishmen, called by their
occasions away from their homes, had been almost everywhere doomed to
partake of fare too literally hard, and perilous to the health, it is
not to be wondered at, when, here and there, at last a house for the
accommodation of the public did spring up where, with cleanly quarters,
digestible viands were to be had, that its fame should speedily spread;
for is it not Dr. Samuel Johnson himself who has, perhaps rather
sweepingly said, "there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man
by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."
Where a long slope towards the north begins soon after Finch's a village
entitled Dundurn was once projected by Mr. Allan McNab, afterwards the
famous Sir Allan, acting, we believe at the time as agent for Mr. H. J.
Boulton; but Dundurn never advanced beyond incipience. The name was
afterwards familiar as that of Sir Allan's chateau close by Hamilton.
A well-travelled road now soon turned off to the right leading to
certain, almost historic mills in Markham, known as the German Mills. In
the Gazetteer of 1799 these mills are referred to. "Markham township
in the east riding of the County of York fronts Yonge Street," it is
stated in that early work, "and lies to the northward of York and
Scarborough. Here" it then adds "are good mills and a thriving
settlement of Germans."
The German Mills are situated on Lot No. 4 in the third concession, on a
portion of the Rouge or Nen--a river which the same Gazetteer informs
its readers was "the back communication from the German settlement in
Markham to Lake Ontario. The expectation in 1799 was, as the Gazetteer
further shows, that this river, and not either the Humber or the Don,
would one day be connected with the Holland river by a canal." It was not
certainly known in 1794, where the river which passed the German Mills
had its outlet. In Iredell's plan of Markham of that date, the stream is
marked "Kitcheseepe or Great River," with a memorandum attached--"waters
supposed to empty into Lake Ontario to the eastward of the Highlands of
York." Information, doubtless, noted down, by Iredell, from the lips of
some stray native. Kitche-seepe, "Big River" is of course simply a
descriptive expression, taken as in so many instances, by the early
people, to be a proper name. (It does not appear that among the
aborigines there were any proper local names, in our sense of the
The German Mills were founded by Mr. Berczy, either on his own account
or acting as agent for an association at New York for the promotion of
German emigration to Canada. When, after failing to induce the
Government to reconsider its decision in regard to the patents demanded
by him for his settlers, that gentleman retired to Montreal, the German
Mills with various parcels of land were advertised for sale in the
Gazette of April 27, 1805, in the following strain: "Mills and land in
Markham. To be sold by the subscriber for payment of debts due to the
creditors of William Berczy, Esq., the mills called the German Mills,
being a grist mill and a saw mill. The grist mill has a pair of French
burs, and complete machinery for making and bolting superfine flour.
These mills are situated on lot No. 4 in the third concession of
Markham; with them will be given in, lots No. 3 and 4 in the third
concession, at the option of the purchaser. Also, 300 acres being the
west half of lot No. 31, and the whole of lot 32 in the second
concession of Markham. Half the purchase money to be paid in hand, and
half in one year with legal interest. W. Allan. N.B.--Francis Smith, who
lives on lot No. 14 in the third concession, will show the premises.
York, 11th March, 1805."
It appears from the same Gazette that Mr. Berczy's vacant house in
York had been entered by burglars after his departure. A reward of
twenty dollars is offered for their discovery. "Whereas," the
advertisement runs, "the house of William Berczy, Esq., was broken open
sometime during the night of the 14th instant, and the same ransacked
from one end to the other; this is to give notice that whoever shall
lodge an information, so that the offender or offenders may be brought
to justice, shall upon conviction thereof receive Twenty Dollars. W.
Chewett. York, 18th April, 1805."
We have before referred to Mr. Berczy's embarrassments, from which he
never became disentangled; and to his death in New York, in 1813. His
decease was thus noticed in a Boston paper, quoted by Dr. Canniff, p.
364, "Died--In the early part of the year 1813, William Berczy, Esq.,
aged 68; a distinguished inhabitant of Upper Canada, and highly
respected for his literary acquirements. In the decease of this
gentleman society must sustain an irreparable loss, and the republic of
letters will have cause to mourn the death of a man eminent for genius
The German Mills were purchased and kept in operation by Capt. Nolan, of
the 70th Regiment, at the time on duty in Canada; but the speculation
was not a success. We have heard it stated that this Captain Nolan was
the father of the officer of the same name and rank who fell in the
charge of the Light Brigade at the very first outset, when, at
"Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."
The Gazette of March 19, 1818, contains the following curt
announcement: "Notice. The German Mills and Distillery are now in
operation. For the proprietors, Alexander Patterson, Clerk, 11th March,
1818." Ten years later they are offered for sale or to lease in the U.
C. Loyalist of April 5, 1828. (It will be observed that they once bore
the designation of Nolanville.) "For sale or to be leased," thus runs
the advertisement, "all or any part of the property known and described
as Nolanville or German Mills, in the third concession of the township
of Markham, consisting of four hundred acres of land, upwards of fifty
under good fences and improvements, with a good dwelling-house, barn,
stable, saw-mill, grist-mill, distillery, brew-house, malt-house, and
several other out-buildings. The above premises will be disposed of,
either the whole or in part, by application to the subscriber, William
Allan, York, January 26, 1828. The premises can be viewed at any time by
applying to Mr. John Duggan, residing there."
In the absence of striking architectural objects in the country at the
time, we remember, about the year 1828, thinking the extensive cluster
of buildings constituting the German Mills a rather impressive sight,
coming upon them suddenly, in the midst of the woods, in a deserted
condition, with all their windows boarded up.
One of our own associations with the German Mills is the memory of Mr.
Charles Stewart Murray, afterwards well-known in York as connected with
the Bank of Upper Canada. He had been thrown out of employment by Capt.
Nolan's relinquishment of the mills. He was then patronized by Mr.
Thorne of Thornhill.
In our boyish fancy, a romantic interest attached to Mr. Murray from his
being a personal friend of Sir Walter Scott's, and from his being
intimately associated with him in the excursion to the Orkneys, while
the Pirate and the Lord of the Isles were simmering in the Novelist's
brain. "Not a bad Re-past," playfully said Sir Walter after partaking
one day of homely meat-pie at the little inn of one Rae. Lo! from Mr.
Murray's talk, a minute grain to be added to Sir Walter's already huge
cairn of ana. Mr. M., too, was imagined by us, quite absurdly
doubtless, to be an hereditary devotee of the Pretender, if not closely
allied to him by blood. (His grandfather, or other near relative, had,
we believe, really been for a time secretary to Prince Charles Edward
A mile or two beyond where the track to the German Mills turned off,
Yonge Street once more encountered a branch of the Don, flowing, as
usual, through a wide and difficult ravine. At the point where the
stream was crossed, mills and manufactories made their appearance at an
early date. The ascent of the bank towards the north was accomplished,
in this instance, in no round-about way. The road went straight up.
Horse-power and the strength of leather were here often severely tested.
On the rise above, began the village of Thornhill, an attractive and
noticeable place from the first moment of its existence. Hereabout
several English families had settled, giving a special tone to the
neighbourhood. In the very heart of the village was the home,
unfailingly genial and hospitable, of Mr. Parsons, one of the chief
founders of the settlement; emigrating hither from Sherborne in
Dorsetshire in 1820. Nearer the brow of the hill overlooking the Don,
was the house of Mr. Thorne, from whom the place took its name: an
English gentleman also from Dorsetshire, and associated with Mr. Parsons
in the numerous business enterprises which made Thornhill for a long
period a centre of great activity and prosperity. Beyond, a little
further northward, lived the Gappers, another family initiating here the
amenities and ways of good old west-of-England households. Dr. Paget was
likewise an element of happy influence in the little world of this
region, a man of high culture; formerly a medical practitioner of great
repute in Torquay.
Another character of mark associated with Thornhill in its palmy days
was the Rev. George Mortimer, for a series of years the pastor of the
English congregation there. Had his lot been cast in the scenes of an
Oberlin's labours or a Lavater's, or a Felix Neff's, his name would
probably have been conspicuously classed with theirs in religious
annals. He was eminently of their type. Constitutionally of a spiritual
temperament, he still did not take theology to be a bar to a scientific
and accurate examination of things visible. He deemed it "sad, if not
actually censurable, to pass blind-folded through the works of God, to
live in a world of flowers, and stars, and sunsets, and a thousand
glorious objects of Nature, and never to have a passing interest
awakened by any one of them." Before his emigration to Canada he had
been curate of Madeley in Shropshire, the parish of the celebrated
Fletcher of Madeley, whose singularly beautiful character that of Mr.
Mortimer resembled. Though of feeble frame his ministerial labours were
without intermission; and his lot, as Fletcher's also, was to die almost
in the act of officiating in his profession.
An earlier incumbent of the English Church at Thornhill was the Rev.
Isaac Fidler. This gentleman rendered famous the scene of his Canadian
ministry, as well as his experiences in the United States, by a book
which in its day was a good deal read. It was entitled "Observations on
Professions, Literature, Manners, and Emigration in the United States
and Canada." Although he indulged in some sharp strictures on the
citizens of the United States, in relation to the matters indicated, and
followed speedily after by the never-to-be-forgotten Mrs. Trollope, his
work was reprinted by the Harpers. Mr. Fidler was a remarkable
person,--of a tall Westmoreland mould, resembling the common pictures of
Wordsworth. He was somewhat peculiar in his dress, wearing always an
extremely high shirt-collar, very conspicuous round the whole of his
neck, forming a kind of spreading white socket in which rested and
revolved a head, bald, egg-shaped and spectacled. Besides being
scholarly in the modern sense, Mr. Fidler possessed the more uncommon
accomplishment of a familiarity with the oriental languages.
The notices in his book, of early colonial life have now to us an
archaic sound. We give his narrative of the overturn of a family party
on their way home from church. "The difficulty of descending a steep
hill in wet weather may be imagined," he says, "The heavy rains had made
it (the descent south of Thornhill) a complete puddle which afforded no
sure footing to man or beast. In returning from church, the ladies and
gentlemen I speak of," he continues, "had this steep hill to descend.
The jaunting car being filled with people was too heavy to be kept back,
and pressed heavy upon the horses. The intended youthful bridegroom (of
one of the ladies) was, I was told, the charioteer. His utmost skill was
ineffectually tried to prevent a general overturn. The horses became
less manageable every moment. But yet the ladies and gentlemen in the
vehicle were inapprehensive of danger, and their mirth and jocularity
betrayed the inward pleasure they derived from his increasing straggles.
At last the horses, impatient of control, and finding themselves their
own masters, jerked the carriage against the parapet of the road and
disengaged themselves from it. The carriage instantly turned over on its
side; and as instantly all the ladies and gentlemen trundled out of it
like rolling pins. Nobody was hurt in the least, for the mire was so
deep that they fell very soft and were quite imbedded in it. What
apologies the gentleman made I am unable to tell, but the mirth was
perfectly suspended. I overtook the party at the bottom of the hill, the
ladies walking homewards from the church and making no very elegant
As an example of the previously undreamt of incidents that may happen to
a missionary in a backwoods settlement, we mention what occurred to
ourselves when taking the duty one fine bright summer morn, many years
ago, in the Thornhill Church, yet in its primitive unenlarged state. A
farmer's horse that had been mooning leisurely about an adjoining field,
suddenly took a fancy to the shady interior disclosed by the wide-open
doors of the sacred building. Before the churchwardens or any one else
could make out what the clatter meant, the creature was well up the
central passage of the nave. There becoming affrighted, its ejection was
an awkward affair, calling for tact and manoeuvring.
The English Church at Thornhill has had another incumbent not
undistinguished in literature, the Rev. E. H. Dewar, author of a work
published at Oxford in 1844, on the Theology of Modern Germany. It is in
the form of letters to a friend, written from the standpoint of the
Jeremy Taylor school. It is entitled "German Protestantism and the Right
of Private Judgment in the Interpretation of Holy Scripture." The
author's former position as chaplain to the British residents at Hamburg
gave him facilities for becoming acquainted with the state of German
theology. Mr. Dewar, to superior natural talents, added a refined
scholarship and a wide range of accurate knowledge. He died at Thornhill
The incumbent who preceded Mr. Dewar was the Rev. Dominic E. Blake,
brother of Mr. Chancellor Blake; a clergyman also of superior talents.
Previous to his emigration to Canada in 1832, he had been a curate in
the county of Mayo. He died suddenly in 1859. It is remarked of him in a
contemporary obituary that "his productions indicated that while
intellect was in exercise his heart felt the importance of the subjects
before him." These productions were numerous, in the form of valuable
papers and reports, read or presented to the local Diocesan Society.
It is curious to observe that in 1798, salmon ascended the waters of the
Don to this point on Yonge Street. Among the recommendations of a farm
about to be offered for sale, the existence thereon of "an excellent
salmon fishery" is named. Thus runs the advertisement (Gazette, May
16, 1798): "To be sold by public auction, on Monday, the 2nd of July
next, at John McDougall's hotel, in the town of York, a valuable Farm,
situated on Yonge Street, about twelve miles from York, on which are a
good log-house, and seven or eight acres well improved. The advantages
of the above farm, from the richness of its soil and its being well
watered, are not equalled by many farms in the Province; and above all,
it affords an excellent salmon fishery, large enough to support a number
of families, which must be conceived a great advantage in this infant
country. The terms will be made known on the day of sale."
As we move on from Thornhill with Vaughan on the left and Markham on the
right, the name of another rather memorable early missionary recurs,
whose memory is associated with both these townships--Vincent Philip
Notwithstanding its drawbacks, early Canadian life, like early American
life generally, became, in a little while, invested with a curious
interest and charm; by means, for one thing, of the variety of character
encountered. A man might vegetate long in an obscure village or country
town of the old mother country before he rubbed against a person of V.
P. Mayerhoffer's singular experience, and having his wits set in motion
by a sympathetic realization of such a career as his.
He was a Hungarian; born at Raab in 1784; and had been ordained a
presbyter in the National Church of Austria. On emigrating to the United
States, he, being himself a Franciscan, fell into some disputes with the
Jesuits at Philadelphia, and withdrew from the Latin communion and
attached himself, in company with a fellow presbyter named Huber, to the
Lutheran Reformed. As a recognized minister of that body he came on to
Buffalo, where he officiated for four years to three congregations,
visiting at the same time, occasionally, a congregation on the Canada
side of the river, at Limeridge. He here, for the first time, began the
study of the English language. Coming now into contact with the clergy
of the Anglican communion, he finally resolved to conform to the
Anglican Church, and was sent by Bishop Stewart, of Quebec, to the
German settlement in Markham and Vaughan. Here he officiated for twenty
years, building in that interval St. Stephen's Church in Vaughan, St.
Philip's in the 3rd concession of Markham, and the Church in Markham
village, and establishing a permanent congregation at each.
He was a vigorous, stirring preacher in his acquired English tongue, as
well as in his vernacular German. He possessed also a colloquial
knowledge of Latin, which is still a spoken language in part of Hungary.
He was a man of energy to the last: ever cheerful in spirit, and
abounding in anecdotes, personal or otherwise. It was from him, as we
remember, we first heard the afterwards more familiarized names of
Magyar and Sclave.
His brother clergy of the region where his duty lay were indebted to him
for many curious glimpses at men and things in the great outer world of
the continent of Europe. During the Napoleonic wars he was "Field
Chaplain of the Imperial Infantry Regiment, No. 60 of the Line," and
accompanied the Austrian contingent of 40,000 men furnished to Napoleon
by the Emperor of Austria.--He was afterwards, when the Austrian Emperor
broke away from Napoleon, taken prisoner with five regiments of the
line, and sent to Dresden and Mayence. He was at the latter place when
the battle of Leipsic was fought (Oct. 16, 17, 18, 19, 1813.) He now
left Mayence without leave, the plague breaking out there, and got to
Oppenheim, where a German presbyter named Muller concealed him, till the
departure of the French out of the town. After several adventures he
found his way back to the quarters of his regiment now acting in the
anti-French interest at Manheim, where he duly reported himself, and was
well received. After the war, from the year 1816, he had for three years
the pastoral charge of Klingenmunster in the diocese of Strasbourg. He
died in Whitby, in 1859.
A memoir of Mr. Meyerhoffer has been printed, and it bears the following
title: "Twelve years a Roman Catholic Priest; or, the Autobiography of
the Rev. V. P. Meyerhoffer, M.A., late Military Chaplain to the Austrian
Army and Grand Chaplain of the Orders of Free Masons and Orangemen of
Canada, B.N.A., containing an account of his career as Military
Chaplain, Monk of the Order of St. Francis, and Clergyman of the Church
of England in Vaughan, Markham and Whitby, C.W."
He had a musical voice which had been properly cultivated--This, he used
to say, was a source of revenue to him in the early part of his public
career, those clergy being in request and receiving a higher
remuneration, who were able to sing the service in a superior manner.
His features were strongly marked and peculiar, perhaps Mongolian in
type; they were not German, English, or Italian. Were the concavity of
the nose and the projection of the mouth a little more pronounced in
"Elias Howe," the medallions of that personage would give a general idea
of Mr. Mayerhoffer's profile and head.
In his younger days he had acquired some medical knowledge, which stood
him in good stead for a time at Philadelphia, when he and Huber first
renounced the Latin dogmas. His taste for the healing art was slightly
indulged even after the removal to Canada, as will be seen from an
advertisement which appears in the Courier of February 29, 1832. (From
its wording it will be observed that Mayerhoffer had not yet become
familiarized with the English language.) It is headed thus: "The use and
direction of the new-invented and never-failing Wonder Salve, by D. V.
P. Mayerhoffer, of Markham, U.C., H.D., 5th concession."
It then proceeds: "Amongst all in the medicine-invented unguents his
salve takes the first place for remedy, whereby it not in vain obtains
the name of Wonder Salve for experience taught in many cases to deserve
this name; and being urged to communicate it to the public, I endeavour
to satisfy to the common good of the public. It is acknowledged by all
who know the virtue of it, and experienced its worth, it ought to be
kept in every house, first for its inestimable goodness, and, second,
because the medicine the older it gets the better it is: money spent for
such will shew its effect from its beginning for twenty years, if kept
in a dry place, well covered. In all instances of burns, old wounds,
called running sores, for the tetter-worm or ring, &c., as the
discussions and use will declare, wrapped round the box or the medicine.
"It is unnecessary to recommend by words this inestimable medicine, as
its value has received the approbation of many inhabitants of this
country already, who sign their names below for the surety of its virtue
and the reality of its worth, declaring that they never wish to be
without it in their houses by their lifetimes. In Markham, Mr. Philip
Eckhardt, jun., do. do., sen., Godlieb Eckhardt, Abraham Eckhardt, John
Pingel, jun., Mr. Lang, Mr. Large, John Perkins, John Schall, Charles
Peterson, Luke Stantenkough, Peter March. In Vaughan, Jacob Fritcher,
Daniel Stang. Recommended by Dr. Baldwin, of York. The medicine is to be
had in the eighth concession of Markham, called Riarstown, by Sinclair
Holden; in the fifth concession by Christopher Hevelin and T. Amos; in
the town of York, in J. Baldwin's and S. Barnham's stores; on Yonge
Street, by Parsons and Thorne. Price of a box, two shillings and
sixpence, currency. January 11, 1832."
Military associations hang about the lands to the right and left of
Richmond Hill. The original possessor of Lot No. 22 on the west side,
was Captain Daniel Cozens, a gentleman who took a very active part in
opposition to the revolutionary movement which resulted in the
independence of the United States. He raised, at his own expense, a
company of native soldiers in the royalist interest, and suffered the
confiscation of a considerable estate in New Jersey. Three thousand
acres in Upper Canada were subsequently granted him by the British
Crown. His sons, Daniel and Shivers, also received grants. The name of
Shivers Cozens is to be seen in the early plans of Markham on lots 2, 4
and 5 in the 6th concession.
Samuel died of a fit at York in 1808; but Shivers returned to New Jersey
and died there, where family connexions of Captain Cozens still survive.
There runs amongst them a tradition that Captain Cozens built the first
house in our Canadian York. Of this we are informed by Mr. T. Cottrill
Clarke, of Philadelphia. We observe in an early plan of York the name of
Shivers Cozens on No. 23 in Block E, on the south side of King Street:
the name of Benjamin Cozens on No. 5 on Market Street: and the name of
Captain Daniel Cozens on No. 4 King Street, (new town), north side, with
the date of the grant, July 20, 1799. It is thus quite likely that
Captain Cozens, or a member of his family, put up buildings in York at a
very early period.
We read in the Niagara Herald, of October 31, 1801, the following:
"Died on the 6th ult., near Philadelphia, Captain Daniel Cozens." In the
Gazette & Oracle, of January 27, 1808, we have a memorandum of the
decease of Samuel Cozens: "Departed this life, on the 29th ult., Mr.
Samuel D. Cozens, one of the first inhabitants of this town [York]. His
remains were interred with Masonic honours on the 31st."
Another officer of the Revolutionary era was the first owner, and for
several years the actual occupant, of the lot immediately opposite
Captain Cozens'. This was Captain Richard Lippincott, a native of New
Jersey. A bold deed of his has found a record in all the histories of
the period. The narrative gives us a glimpse of some of the painful
scenes attendant on wars wherein near relatives and old friends come to
be set in array one against the other.
On the 12th of April, 1782, Captain Lippincott, acting under the
authority of the "Board of Associated Loyalists of New York," executed
by hanging, on the heights near Middleton, Joshua Huddy, an officer in
the revolutionary army, as an act of retaliation,--Huddy having
summarily treated, in the same way, a relative of Captain Lippincott's,
Philip White, surprised within the lines of the revolutionary force,
while on a stolen visit of natural affection to his mother on Christmas
On Huddy's breast was fastened a paper containing the following written
notice, to be read by his co-revolutionists and friends when they should
discover the body suspended in the air.--"We, the Refugees, having long
with grief beheld the cruel murders of our brethren, and finding nothing
but such measures carrying into execution, therefore determined not to
suffer without taking vengeance for the numerous cruelties; and thus
begin, having made use of Captain Huddy as the first object to present
to your view; and further determine to hang man for man while there is a
Refugee existing. Up goes Huddy for Philip White."
When the surrender of Capt. Lippincott was refused by the Royalist
authorities, Washington ordered the execution of one officer of equal
rank to be selected by lot out of the prisoners in his hands. The lot
fell on Capt. Charles Asgill of the Guards, aged only nineteen. He was
respited however until the issue of a court-martial, promised to be held
on Capt. Lippincott, should be known. The court acquitted; and Capt.
Asgill only narrowly escaped the fate of Andre, through prompt
intervention on the part of the French Government. The French minister
of State, the Count de Vergennes, to whom there had been time for Lady
Asgill, the Captain's mother, to appeal--received directions to ask his
release in the conjoint names of the King and Queen as "a tribute to
humanity." Washington thought proper to accede to this request; but it
was not until the following year, when the revolutionary struggle ended,
that Asgill and Lippincott were set at liberty.
The former lived to succeed to his father's baronetcy and to become a
General officer. Colonel O'Hara, of Toronto, remembered dining at a
table where a General Sir Charles Asgill was pointed out to him as
having been, during the American revolutionary war, for a year under
sentence of death, condemned by General Washington to be hanged in the
place of another person.
Capt. Lippincott received from the Crown three thousand acres in Upper
Canada. He survived until the year 1826, when, aged 81, and after
enjoying half-pay for a period of forty-three years, he expired at the
house of his son-in-law in York, Colonel George Taylor Denison, who gave
to his own eldest son, Richard Lippincott Denison, Captain Lippincott's
name. (A few miles further on, namely, in North and East Gwillimbury,
General Benedict Arnold, known among United States citizens as "the
traitor," received a grant of five thousand acres.)
In connexion with Richmond Hill, which now partially covers the fronts
of Captain Cozens' and Captain Lippincott's lots, we subjoin what
Captain Bonnycastle said of the condition of Yonge Street hereabout in
1846, in his "Canada and the Canadians."
"Behold us at Richmond Hill," he exclaims, "having safely passed the
Slough of Despond which the vaunted Yonge Street mud road presents
between the celebrated hamlet of St. Albans and the aforesaid hill."
And again: "We reached Richmond Hill, seventeen miles from the Landing,
at about 8 o'clock (he was moving southward) having made a better day's
journey than is usually accomplished on a road which will be macadamized
some fine day;--for the Board of Works," he proceeds to inform the
reader, "have a Polish engineer hard at work surveying it; of course, no
Canadian was to be found equal to this intricate piece of engineering;
and I saw a variety of sticks stuck up; but what they meant I cannot
guess at. I suppose they were going to grade it, which is the favourite
The prejudices of the Englishman and Royal Engineer routinier here crop
out. The Polish engineer, who was commencing operations on this
subdivision of Yonge Street, was Mr. Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski, whose
subsequent Canadian career renders it probable that in setting up "the
variety of sticks," the meaning of which Capt. Bonnycastle does after
all guess at, he understood his business. We are assured that this
portion of Yonge Street was in fact conspicuous for the superior
excellence of its finish.
Captain Bonnycastle indulges in a further little fling at civilians who
presume to undertake engineering duties, in a story which serves to fill
a page or two of his book, immediately after the above remarks on Yonge
Street, about Richmond Hill. He narrates an incident of his voyage
"A Character," he says, "set out from England to try his fortune in
Canada. He was conversing about prospects in that country, on board the
vessel, with a person who knew him, but whom he knew not. 'I have not
quite made up my mind,' said the character, 'as to what pursuit I shall
follow in Canada; but that which brings most grist to the mill will
answer best; and I hear a man may turn his hand to anything there,
without the folly of an apprenticeship being necessary; for if he have
only brains, bread will come; now what do you think would be the best
business for my market?' 'Why,' said the gentleman, after pondering a
little, 'I should advise you to try civil engineering; for they are
getting up a Board of Works there, and want that branch of industry very
much, for they won't take natives: nothing but foreigners and strangers
will go down.' 'What is a civil engineer?' said the Character. 'A man
always measuring and calculating,' responded his adviser, 'and that will
just suit you.' 'So it will,' rejoined Character, and a civil engineer
he became accordingly, and a very good one into the bargain, for he had
brains, and had used a yard measure all his lifetime."--Who "the
Character" was, we do not for certain know.
A short distance beyond Richmond Hill was the abode of Colonel Moodie,
on the right,--distinguished by a flag-staff in front of it, after the
custom of Lower Canada, where an officer's house used to be known in
this way. (In the neighbourhood of Sorel, as we remember, in the winter
of 1837, it was one of the symptoms of disaffection come to a head, when
in front of a substantial habitan's home a flag-staff was suddenly seen
bearing the inscription "----, Capitaine, elu par le peuple.")
Colonel Moodie's title came from his rank in the regular army. He had
been Lieut.-Colonel of the 104th regiment. Sad, that a distinguished
officer, after escaping the perils of the Peninsular war, and of the war
with the United States here in 1812-13, should have yet, nevertheless,
met with a violent death in a petty local civil tumult. He was shot, as
all remember, in the troubles of 1837, while attempting to ride past
Montgomery's, regardless of the insurgent challenge to stop.
"Thou might'st have dreamed of brighter hours to close thy chequered life
Beneath thy country's victor-flag, sure beacon in the strife;
Or in the shadow of thy home with those who mourn thee now,
To whisper comfort in thine ear, to calm thine aged brow.
Well! peaceful be thy changeless rest,--thine is a soldier's grave;
Hearts like thine own shall mourn thy doom--meet requiem for the brave--
And ne'er 'till Freedom's ray is pale and Valour's pulse grown cold
Shall be thy bright career forgot, thy gloomy fate untold."
So sang one in the columns of a local contemporary paper, in "Lines
suggested by the Lamented Death of the late Colonel Moodie."
At a certain period in the history of Yonge Street, as indeed of all the
leading thoroughfares of Upper Canada, about 1830-33, a frequent sign
that property had changed hands, and that a second wave of population
was rolling in, was the springing up, at intervals, of houses of an
improved style, with surroundings, lawns, sheltering plantations,
winding drives, well-constructed entrance-gates, and so on, indicating
an appreciation of the elegant and the comfortable.
We recall two instances of this, which we used to contemplate with
particular interest, a little way beyond Richmond Hill, on the left: the
cosy, English-looking residences, not far apart, with a cluster of
appurtenances round each--of Mr. Larratt Smith, and Mr. Francis Boyd.
Both gentlemen settled here with their families in 1836.
Mr. Smith had been previously in Canada in a military capacity during
the war of 1812-13, and for many years subsequently he had been Chief
Commissary of the Field Train Department and Paymaster of the Artillery.
He died at Southampton in 1860.
Mr. Boyd, who emigrated hither from the county of Kent, was one of the
first, in these parts, to import from England improved breeds of cattle.
In his house was to be seen a collection of really fine paintings,
amongst them a Holbein, a Teniers, a Dominichino, a Smirke, a Wilkie,
and two Horace Vernets. The families of Mr. Boyd and Mr. Smith were
related by marriage. Mr. Boyd died in Toronto in 1861.
Beyond Mr. Boyd's, a solitary house, on the same side of Yonge Street,
lying back near the woods, used to be eyed askance in passing:--its
occupant and proprietor, Mr. Kinnear, had in 1843 been murdered therein
by his man-servant, assisted by a female domestic. It was imagined by
them that a considerable sum of money had just been brought to the house
by Mr. Kinnear. Both criminals would probably have escaped justice had
not Mr. F. C. Capreol, of Toronto, on the spur of the moment, and purely
from a sense of duty to the public, undertaken their capture, which he
cleverly effected at Lewiston in the United States.
The land now began to be somewhat broken as we ascended the rough and
long-uncultivated region known as the Oak Ridges. The predominant tree
in the primitive forest here was the pine, which attained a gigantic
size; but specimens of the black oak were intermingled.
Down in one of the numerous clefts and chasms which were to be seen in
this locality, in a woody dell on the right, was Bond's Lake, a pretty
crescent-shaped sheet of water. We have the surrounding property offered
for sale in a Gazette of 1805, in the following terms; "For Sale, Lots
No. 62 and 63, in the first concession of the township of Whitchurch, on
the east side of Yonge Street, containing 380 acres of land: a deed in
fee simple will be given by the subscriber to any person inclined to
purchase. Johnson Butler. N.B. The above lots include the whole of the
Pond commonly called Bond's Lake, the house and clearing round the same.
For particulars enquire of Mr. R. Ferguson and Mr. T. B. Gough at York,
and the subscriber at Niagara. March 23, 1805."
Bond's farm and lake had their name from Mr. William Bond, who so early
as 1800 had established in York a Nursery Garden, and introduced there
most of the useful fruits. In 1801 Mr. Bond was devising to sell his
York property, as appears from a quaint advertisement in a Gazette of
that year. He therein professes to offer his lot in York as a free gift;
the recipient however being at the same time required to do certain
"To be given away," he says, "that beautifully situated lot No. one,
fronting on Ontario and Duchess Streets: the buildings thereon are--a
small two-and-a-half storey house, with a gallery in front, which
commands a view of the lake and the bay: in the cellar a never failing
spring of fine water; and a stream of fine water running through one
corner of the lot; there is a good kitchen in the rear of the house, and
a stable sufficient for two cows and two horses, and the lot is in good
"The conditions are, with the person or persons who accept of the above
present, that he, she or they purchase not less than two thousand
apple-trees at three shillings, New York currency, each; after which
will be added, as a further present, about one hundred apple, thirty
peach, and fourteen cherry trees, besides wild plums, wild cherries,
English gooseberries, white and red currants, &c. There are forty of the
above apple trees, as also the peach and cherry trees, planted regular,
as an orchard, much of which appeared in blossom last spring, and must
be considered very valuable: also as a kitchen garden, will sufficiently
recommend itself to those who may please to view it.--The above are well
calculated for a professional or independent gentleman; being somewhat
retired--about half-way from the Lake to the late Attorney General's and
opposite the town-farm of the Hon. D. W. Smith [afterwards Mr. Allan's
property.] Payment will be made easy; a good deed; and possession given
at any time from the first of November to the first of May next. For
further particulars enquire of the subscriber on the premises. William
Bond. York, Sep. 4, 1801."--The price expected was, as will be made out,
750 dollars. The property was evidently the northern portion of what
became afterwards the homestead-plot of Mr. Surveyor General Ridout.
It would appear that Mr. Bond's property did not find a purchaser on
this occasion. In 1804 he is advertising it again, but now to be sold by
auction, with his right and title to the lot on Yonge Street. In the
Gazette of August 4, 1804, we read as follows:--"To be sold by
auction, at Cooper's tavern, in York, on Monday, the twentieth day of
August next, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon (if not previously
disposed of by private contract), that highly cultivated lot opposite
the Printing Office [Bennett's] containing one acre, together with a
nursery thereon of about ten thousand apple, three hundred peach, and
twenty pear trees, and an orchard containing forty-one apple trees fit
for bearing, twenty-seven of which are full of fruit; thirty peach and
nine cherry trees full of fruit; besides black and red plums, red and
white currants, English gooseberries, lilacs, rose bushes, &c., &c.,
also a very rich kitchen garden.
"The buildings are a two-and-a-half storey house, a good cellar, stable
and smokehouse. On the lot is a never-failing spring of excellent water,
and fine creek running through one corner most part of the year. The
above premises might be made very commodious for a gentleman at a small
expense; or for a tanner, brewer, or distiller, must be allowed the most
convenient place in York. A view of the premises (by any person or
persons desirous of purchasing the same) will be sufficient
recommendation. The nursery is in such a state of forwardness that if
sold in from two to three years (at which time the apple trees will be
fit to transplant) at the moderate price of one shilling each, would
repay a sum double of that asked for the whole, and leave a further gain
to the purchasers of the lot, buildings, and flourishing orchard
thereon. A good title to the above, and possession given at any time
after the first of October next.
"Also at the same time and place the right as per Register, to one
hundred acres in front of lot 62, east side Yonge Street, for which a
deed can be procured at pleasure, and the remainder of the lot procured
for a small sum. It is an excellent soil for orchard, grain and pasture
land. There is a field of ten acres in fence besides other clearing. It
is a beautiful situation, having part of the Lake commonly called Bond's
Lake, within the said lot, which affords a great supply of Fish and
Fowl. Terms of payment will be made known on the day of sale. For
further particulars enquire of the subscriber on the former premises, or
the printer hereof. William Bond. York, 27th June, 1804."
Thirty years later we meet with an advertisement in which the price is
named at which Lot No. 63 could have been secured. Improvements expected
speedily to be made on Yonge Street are therein referred to. In a
Gazette of 1834 we have: "A delightful situation on Yonge Street,
commonly called Bond's Farm, containing 190 acres, beautifully situated
on Bond's Lake upon Yonge Street, distant about 16 miles from the city
of Toronto: price L350. The picturesque beauty of this lot," the
advertisement says, "and its proximity to the flourishing capital of
Upper Canada, make it a most desirable situation for a gentleman of
taste. The stage-coaches between Toronto and Holland Landing and
Newmarket pass the place daily; and there appears every prospect of
Yonge Street either having a railroad or being macadamized very
shortly. Apply (if by letter, free of postage) to Robert Ferrie, at
Hamilton, the proprietor."
In the advertisement of 1805, given above, Bond's Lake is styled a pond.
The small lakes in these hills seemed, of course, to those who had
become familiarized with the great lakes, simply ponds. The term "lake"
applied to Ontario, Huron, and the rest, has given a very inadequate
idea of the magnitude and appearance of those vast expanses, to externs
who imagine them to be picturesque sheets of water somewhat exceeding in
size, but resembling, Windermere, Loch Lomond, or possibly Lake Leman.
"Sea" would have conveyed a juster notion: not however to the German,
who styles the lakes of Switzerland and the Tyrol, "seas."
Bond's Lake inn, the way-side stopping place in the vale where Yonge
Street skirts the lake, used to be, in an especial degree, of the old
country cast, in its appliances, its fare, its parlours and other