Yonge Street From Yorkville To Hogg's Hollow
Of long standing is the group of buildings on the right after passing
the Davenport Road. It is the Brewery and malting-house of Mr. Severn,
settled here since 1835. The main building over-looks a ravine which, as
seen by the passer-by on Yonge Street, retains to this day in its
eastern recess a great deal of natural beauty, although the stream below
attracted manufacturers at an early period to its borders at numerous
points. There is a picturesque irregularity about the outlines of Mr.
Severn's brewery. The projecting galleries round the domestic portion of
the building pleasantly indicate that the adjacent scenery is not
unappreciated: nay, possibly enjoyed on many a tranquil autumn evening.
Further on, a block-house of two storeys, both of them rectangular, but
the upper turned half round on the lower, built in consequence of the
troubles of 1837, and supposed to command the great highway from the
north, overhung a high bank on the right. (Another of the like build was
placed at the eastern extremity of the First Concession Road. It was
curious to observe how rapidly these two relics acquired the character
and even the look, gray and dilapidated, of age. With many, they dated
at least from the war of 1812.)
A considerable stretch of striking landscape here skirts our route on
the right. Rosedale-house, the old extra-mural home, still existent and
conspicuous, of Mr. Stephen Jarvis, Registrar of the Province in the
olden time, afterwards of his son the Sheriff, of both of whom we have
had occasion to speak repeatedly, was always noticeable for the
romantic character of its situation; on the crest of a precipitous bank
overlooking deep winding ravines. Set down here while yet the forest was
but little encroached on, access to it was of course for a long time,
difficult and laborious.
The memorable fancy-ball given here at a comparatively late period, but
during the Sheriff's lifetime, recurs as we go by. On that occasion, in
the dusk of evening, and again probably in the gray dawn of morning, an
irregular procession thronged the highway of Yonge Street and toiled up
and down the steep approaches to Rosedale-house--a procession consisting
of the simulated shapes and forms that usually revisit the glimpses of
the moon at masquerades,--knights, crusaders, Plantagenet, Tudor and
Stuart princes, queens and heroines; all mixed up with an incongruous
ancient and modern canaille, a Tom of Bedlam, a Nicholas Bottom "with
amiable cheeks and fair large ears," an Ariel, a Paul Pry, a Pickwick,
&c., &c., not pacing on with some veri-similitude on foot or respectably
mounted on horse, ass, or mule, but borne along most prosaically on
wheels or in sleighs.
This pageant, though only a momentary social relaxation, a transient but
still not unutilitarian freak of fashion, accomplished well and cleverly
in the midst of a scene literally a savage wild only a few years
previously, may be noted as one of the many outcomes of precocity
characterizing society in the colonies of England.
In a burlesque drama to be seen in the columns of a contemporary paper
(the Colonist, of 1839) we have an allusion to this memorable
entertainment. The news is supposed to have just arrived of the union of
the Canadas, to the dismay, as it is pretended, of the official party,
among whom there will henceforth be no more cakes and ale. A messenger,
List, oh, list--the Queen hath sent
A message to her Lords and trusty Commons--
All--What message sent she?
Thomas.--Oh the dreadful news!
That both the Canadas in one be joined.--(faints.)
Sheriff William then speaks:
Farewell ye masquerades, ye sparkling routs:
Now routed out, no more shall routs be ours;
No gilded chariots now shall roll along;
No sleighs that sweep across our icy path,--
Sleighs! no: this news that slays our warmest hopes,
Ends pageantry, and pride and masquerades.
The characters in the dramatic jeu d'esprit, from which these lines
are taken, are the principal personages of the defeated party, under
thinly disguised names, Mr. Justice Clearhead, Mr. John Scott, William
Welland, Judge Brock, Christopher, Samuel, Sheriff William, as above,
and Thomas, &c. Rosedale is a name of pleasant sound. We are reminded
thereby of another of the same genus, but of more recent application in
these parts--Hazeldean--the pretty title given by Chief Justice Draper
to his rural cottage, which overhangs and looks down upon the same
ravine as Rosedale, but on the opposite side. (A residence of the Earl
of Shaftesbury in Kew-foot Lane near Richmond, on the Thames is called
Rosedale House, and is associated with the memory of the poet Thomson,
who is said to have written his Castle of Indolence there.)
The perils and horrors encountered every spring and autumn by travellers
and others in their ascent and descent of the precipitous sides of the
Rosedale ravine, at the point where the primitive Yonge Street crossed
it, were a local proverb and by-word: perils and horrors ranking for
enormity with those associated with the passage of the Rouge, the
Credit, the Sixteen, and a long list of other deeply ploughed
watercourses intersected of necessity by the two great highways of Upper
The ascent and descent of the gorge were here spoken of collectively as
the "Blue Hill." Certain strata of a bluish clay had been remarked at
the summit on both sides. The waggon-track passed down and up by two
long wearisome and difficult slopes cut in the soil of the steep sides
of the lofty banks. After the autumnal rains and during the thaws at the
close of winter, the condition of the route here was indescribably bad.
At the period referred to, however, the same thing, for many a year, was
to be said of every rood of Yonge Street throughout its thirty miles of
Nor was Yonge Street singular in this respect. All our roads were
equally bad at certain seasons every year. We fear we conveyed an
impression unfavourable to emigration many years ago, when walking with
two or three young English friends across some flat clayey fields
between Cambridge and the Gogmagogs. It chanced that the driftways for
the farmers' carts--the holls as they are locally called, if we remember
rightly--at the sides of the ploughed land were mire from end to end.
Under the impulse of the moment, pleased in fact with a reminder of home
far-distant, we exclaimed, "Here are Canadian roads!" The comparison
was altogether too graphic; and our companions could never afterwards
be got to entertain satisfactory notions of Canadian civilization.
But English roads were not much better a century ago. We made a note
once of John Moody's account of Lady Townley's journey with her
coach-and-four and large household to London, from the veritable
old-country York, in Sir John Vanbrugh's comedy of the Provoked Husband,
so perfect a parallel did it furnish to the traveller's experience here
on Yonge Street on his way from the Canadian York to the Landing in
stage-coach or farmer's waggon in the olden time.
"Some impish trick or other," said John Moody, "plagued us all the day
long. Crack goes one thing: bounce goes another: Woa, says Roger--then
sowse! we are all set fast in a slough. Whaw, cries Miss: scream go the
maids: and bawl just as tho' they were stuck: and so, mercy on us! this
was the trade from morning to night."
The mode of extricating a vehicle from a slough or mudhole when once in,
may be gathered from a passage in McTaggart's "Three Years in Canada,"
ii., 205. The time referred to is 1829: "There are few roads," McTaggart
says, "and these are generally excessively bad, and full of mudholes in
which if a carriage fall, there is great trouble to get it out again.
The mail coaches or waggons are often in this predicament, when the
passengers instantly jump off, and having stripped rails off the fence,
they lift it up by sheer force. Coming up brows they sometimes get in;
the horses are then taken out, and yoked to the stern instead of the
front; and it is drawn out backwards."
The country between York and Lake Huron was, as we have already seen,
first explored by Governor Simcoe in person, in 1793. It was also
immediately surveyed, and in some measure occupied; and so early as
1794, we read in a Gazette the following notice: "Surveyor-General's
Office, Upper Canada, 15th July, 1794. Notice is hereby given that all
persons who have obtained assignments for land on Dundas Street, leading
from the head of Burlington Bay to the upper forks of the River Thames,
and on Yonge Street leading from York to Lake Simcoe, that unless a
dwelling-house shall be built on every lot under certificate of
location, and the same occupied within one year from the date of their
respective assignments, such lots will be forfeited on the said Roads.
D. W. Smith, Acting Surveyor General."
All the conditions required to be fulfilled by the first settlers were
these: "They must within the term of two years, clear fit for
cultivation and fence, ten acres of the lot obtained; build a house 16
by 20 feet of logs or frame, with a shingle roof; also cut down all the
timber in front of and the whole width of the lot (which is 20 chains,
133 feet wide), 33 feet of which must be cleared smooth and left for
half of the public road." To issue injunctions for the performance of
such work was easy. To do such work, or to get such work effectually
done, was, under the circumstances of the times, difficult. Hence Yonge
Street continued for some years after 1794 to be little more than a
rambling forest wheel-track through the woods.
In 1794, as we have before heard, Mr. William Berczy, brought over from
the Pulteney Settlement, on the south side of Lake Ontario, sixty German
families, and conducted them to the township of Markham, north-east of
York, where lands had been assigned them. In effecting this first
lodgement of a considerable body of colonists in a region entirely new,
Mr. Berczy necessarily cut out by the aid of his party, and such other
help as he could obtain, some kind of track through the forest, along
the line of Yonge Street. He had already once before successfully
accomplished a similar work. He had, we are told, hewn out a waggon road
for emigrants through trackless woods all the way from Philadelphia to
the Genesee country, where the Pulteney Settlement was.
In 1795, Mr. Augustus Jones, a Deputy Provincial Surveyor, who figures
largely in the earliest annals of Upper Canada, was directed by the
Lieutenant Governor to survey and open in a more effective manner the
route which Mr. Berczy and his emigrants had travelled. A detachment of
the Queen's Rangers was at the same time ordered to assist.
On the 24th December, 1795, Mr. Jones writes to D. W. Smith, Acting
Surveyor General:--"His Excellency was pleased to direct me, previous to
my surveying the township of York, to proceed on Yonge Street, to survey
and open a cart-road from the harbour at York to Lake Simcoe, which I am
now busy at (i. e. I am busily engaged in the preparations for this
work.) Mr. Pearse is to be with me in a few days' time with a detachment
of about thirty of the Queen's Rangers, who are to assist in opening the
Then in his Note-book and Journal for the new year 1796, he records the
commencement of the survey, thus:--"Monday, 4th (January, 1796). Survey
of Yonge Street. Begun at a Post near the Lake, York Harbour, on Bank,
between Nos. 20 and 21, the course being Mile No. 1, N. 16 degrees W.,
eighty chains, from Black Oak Tree to Maple Tree on the right side,
along the said Yonge Street: at eighteen chains, fifty links, small
creek; at twenty-eight chains, small creek; course the same at
thirty-two eighty: here First Concession. At, N. 35 W. to 40-50, At
39-50 swamp and creek, 10 links across, runs to the right: then N. 2 E.,
to 43 chains in the line. At 60-25, small creek runs to right; swampy to
73; N. 29 W. to 77, swamp on right. Then N. to 80 on line. Timber
chiefly white and black oak to 60, and in many places windfalls thereon:
maple, elm, beech, and a few oaks, black ash; loose soil. Mile No. 2 do.
80 chains; rising Pine Ridge to 9 on top," &c., and so on day by day,
until Tuesday, February 16th, when the party reached the Landing.
For Mile No. 33 we have the entry. "Course do. (N. 9 W.) 80 chains;
descended; at 10 chains, small creek; cross aforesaid small creek; at
30, several cedars to 35-50; at 33, creek about 30 links across, runs to
left; at 80 chains, hemlock tree on the right bank small creek; hemlock,
pine, a few oak; broken soil. At Mile 34, do., 53 chains to Pine tree
marked at Landing; timber, yellow and white Pines; sandy soil; slight
winds from the north; cloudy, cold weather."
The survey and opening of the Street from York bay to the Landing thus
occupied forty-three days (January 4, to February 16). Three days
sufficed for the return of the party to the place of beginning. The
memoranda of these three days, and the following one, when Mr. Jones
presented himself before the Governor, in the Garrison at York, run
thus: "Wednesday, 17th, returned back to a small Lake at the
twenty-first mile tree; pleasant weather, light winds from the west.
Thursday, 18th, came down to five mile tree from York; pleasant weather.
Friday, 19th, came to the town of York; busy entering some of my field
notes; weather as before. Saturday, 20th, went to Garrison, York, and
waited on His Excellency the Governor, and informed him that Yonge
Street is opened from York to the Pine Fort Landing, Lake Simcoe. As
there is no provision to be had at the place," Mr. Jones proceeds, "His
Excellency was pleased to say that I must return to Newark, and report
to the Surveyor General, and return with him in April next, when the
Executive will sit, and that my attendance would be wanted. Pleasant
weather, light winds from the west."
The entry on the following Monday is this: "The hands busy at repairing
(caulking) the boat to return to Burlington Bay, and thence to Newark;
light winds from south, a few clouds. Tuesday, 23rd, high winds from the
south-west hinder going on the Lake. Wednesday, 24th, high winds from
the south drove a great quantity of ice into the harbour; obliged me to
leave the boat and set out by land; went to the Etobicoke. Thursday,
25th, came along the Lake to the 16 mile creek; winds left from south,
thaw. Friday, 26th, came down to my house, Long Beach; calm, thaw," &c.
Then on Tuesday, the 1st of March, 1796, the entry is: "Came down to
12-mile creek; lame in my feet; high winds from N. W., frosty night.
Wednesday, 2nd, came down to Newark; some snow, calm, frosty weather.
Thursday, 3rd, busy entering some field notes; some snow, calm weather.
Friday, 4th, busy protracting Yonge Street; cold weather, high winds
from N. W." Finally, on Monday, 7th March (1796), we have the entry:
"Busy copying of Yonge Street; high winds from the north, cold, snow
fell last night about six inches."
Some romance attaches to the history of Mr. Augustus Jones. We have his
marriage mentioned in a Gazette of 1798, in the following terms: "May
21, Married, at the Grand River, about three weeks since, A. Jones,
Esq., Deputy Surveyor, to a young lady of that place, daughter of the
noted Mohawk warrior, Terrihogah."--The famous Indian Wesleyan
missionary, Peter Jones, called in the Indian tongue
Kah-ke-wa-quo-na-by, Sacred Waving Feathers, was the issue of this
Peter Jones, in his published autobiography, thus speaks: "I was born at
the heights of Burlington Bay, Canada West, on the first day of January,
1802. My father, Augustus Jones," he continues, "was of Welsh
extraction. His grandfather emigrated to America previous to the
American Revolution, and settled on the Hudson River, State of New York.
My father, having finished his studies as a land surveyor in the City of
New York, came with a recommendation from Mr. Colden, son of the
Governor of that State, to General Simcoe, Governor of Upper Canada, and
was immediately employed by him as the King's Deputy Provincial
Surveyor, in laying out town plots, townships and roads in different
parts of the Province. This necessarily brought him in contact with the
Indian tribes, and he learned their language and employed many of them
in his service. He became much interested in the Indian character--so
much so that he resolved to take a wife from amongst them. Accordingly,
he married my mother, Tuh-ben-ah-nee-quay, daughter of Wahbanosay, a
chief of the Mississaga tribe of the Ojibway nation. I had one brother,
older than myself, whose name was Tyenteneget (given to him by the
famous Captain Joseph Brant), but better known by the name of John
Jones. I had also three younger brothers and five sisters. My father
being fully engaged in his work, my elder brother and myself were left
entirely to the care and management of our mother, who, preferring the
customs and habits of her nation, taught us the superstitions of her
fathers--how to gain the approbation of the Munedoos (or gods,) and how
to become successful hunters. I used to blacken my face with charcoal,
and fast, in order to obtain the aid of personal gods or familiar
spirits, and likewise attended their pagan feasts and dances. For more
than fourteen years I lived and wandered about with the Indians in the
woods, during which time I witnessed the woful effects of the firewater
which had been introduced amongst us by the white people."
There is a discrepancy, it will be observed, between the Gazette and
the autobiography, in regard to the name and tribe of the father of Mr.
Jones' Indian bride. The error, no doubt, is on the side of the
It is pleasant to find, in 1826, the now aged surveyor writing in the
following strain to his missionary son, in a letter accompanying the
gift of a horse, dated Coldsprings, Grand River: "Please to give our
true love to John and Christina," he says, "and all the rest of our
friends at the Credit. We expect to meet you and them at the camp
meeting. I think a good many of our Indians will come down at that time.
I send you Jack, and hope the Lord will preserve both you and your
beast. He is quiet and hardy: the only fault I know he stumbles
sometimes; and if you find he does not suit you as a riding horse, you
can change him for some other; but always tell your reasons. May the
Lord bless you! Pray for your unworthy father, Augustus Jones."
Augustus Jones was, as has been already seen, concerned in the very
earliest survey of York and the township attached. As we have at hand
the instructions issued for this survey, we give them. It will be
noticed that the Humber is therein spoken of as the Toronto River, and
that the early settler or trader St. John is named, from whom the Humber
was sometimes called St. John's River. The document likewise throws
light on the mode of laying out townships by concessions. On general
grounds, therefore, it will not be inappropriate in an account of the
early settlement of Yonge Street.
"Surveyor-General's Office, Province of Upper Canada, 26th January,
1793.--Description of the Township of York (formerly Toronto), to be
surveyed by Messrs. Aitken and Jones.--The front line of the front
concession commences adjoining the township of Scarborough, (on No. 10),
at a point known and marked by Mr. Jones, running S. 74 deg. W. from said
front one chain, for a road; then five lots of twenty chains each, and
one chain for a road; then five lots more of twenty chains each, and one
chain for a road; and so on till the said line strikes the River
Toronto, whereon St. John is settled. The concessions are one hundred
chains deep, and one chain between each concession, to the extent of
We subjoin a further early notice of Mr. Augustus Jones, which we
observe in a letter addressed to him by John Collins, Deputy
Surveyor-General, dated "Quebec, Surveyor-General's Office, January
23rd, 1792." Mr. Collins mentions that he has recommended Mr. Jones to
the notice of Governor Simcoe, who was at the time in Quebec, en route
for his new Province in the west.--"Colonel Simcoe, the Governor of your
Province," Mr. Collins says, "is now with us. I have taken the liberty
to recommend you to him in the manner I think you merit, and I cannot
doubt but that you will be continued in your salary."
Another early surveyor of note, connected with the primitive history of
Yonge Street, was John Stegmann, a German, who had been an officer in a
Hessian regiment. He was directed in 1801, by the Surveyor-General, D.
W. Smith, to examine and report upon the condition of Yonge Street. The
result was a document occupying many sheets. We will give some extracts
from it. They will furnish a view of the great thoroughfare which we are
beginning to perambulate, as it appeared a few years after Jones'
expedition. Though somewhat dryly imparted, the information will
probably not be without interest.
(The No. 1 referred to is the first lot after crossing the Third
Concession Road from the Lake Shore.) "Agreeable to your instructions,"
Mr. Stegmann says to Mr. Smith, "bearing date June the 10th, , for
the examination of Yonge Street, I have the honor to report thereon as
follows: That from the town of York to the three mile post on the Poplar
Plains the road is cut, and that as yet the greater part of the said
distance is not passable for any carriage whatever, on account of logs
which lie in the street. From thence to Lot No. 1 on Yonge Street the
road is very difficult to pass, at any time, agreeable to the present
situation in which the said part of the street is. The situation of the
street from No. 1 to Lot 95 on Yonge Street will appear as per margin."
We have then a detail of his notes as to the condition of the road
opposite every lot all the way to the northern limit of the townships of
King and Whitchurch. Of No. 1 in the township of York, on the west side
of Yonge Street, it is reported that the "requisition of Government" is
"complied with, except a few logs in the street not burnt." Of Lot 1 on
the east side also, that it is complied with, except a "few logs not
burnt."--No. 2, west side, complied with; the street cut but not burnt.
East side, complied with; some logs in the street not burnt; and in some
places narrow. No. 3, west side, complied with, except a few logs not
burnt; east side, complied with; the clearing not fenced; no house; some
logs in the street not burnt. No. 5, west side, complied with; east
side, non-compliance. No. 8, west side, complied with; the street cut,
but not burnt. East side, complied with; the street cut, but logs not
burnt; here the street, it is noted, goes to the eastward of the line on
account of the hilly ground. No. 3, west side, complied with in the
clearing; the street bad and narrow. East side, non-compliance; street
bad and narrow, and to the east of the road. No. 16, west side, nothing
done to the road; about 5 acres cut; not fenced and no house thereon.
East side, complied with. No. 17, west side, complied with; the
underbrush in the street cut but not burnt.--East side, complied with,
except logs in the street not burnt. No. 18, west side, well complied
with. East side, well complied with. No. 25, west side, complied with.
East side, complied with;--nothing done to the street, and a
school-house erected in the centre of the street. This is the end of the
township of York.
Then on No. 33, west side, Vaughan, clearing is complied with; no house,
and nothing done to the street. East side, Markham, clearing is
complied with; south part of the street cut but not burnt; and north
part of the street nothing done. No. 37, Vaughan, clearing complied
with, but some large trees and some logs left in the street. Markham,
some trees and logs left in the streets; some acres cut, but not burnt;
no fence, and a small log house. No. 55, Vaughan, clearing complied
with; the street cut and logs not burnt. Markham, clearing complied
with; the street cut and logs not burnt; a very bad place for the road
and may be laid out better. No. 63, west side, King, non-compliance.
East side, Whitchurch, non-compliance; and similarly on to No. 88, on
which, in King, the clearing is complied with; not fenced; the street
good; in Whitchurch clearing is complied with, and nothing done to the
street. No. 93, King, four acres cut, and nothing done to the street.
Whitchurch, six acres clear land, and nothing done to the street. Here
King and Whitchurch and the Report end.
Mr. Stegmann then perorates thus: "Sir,--This was the real situation of
Yonge Street when examined by me; and I am sorry to be under the
necessity to add at the conclusion of this report, that the most ancient
inhabitants of Yonge Street have been the most neglectful in clearing
the street; and I have reason to believe that some trifle with the
requisition of Government in respect of clearing the street."
Mr. Berczy brought over his sixty-four families in 1794. The most
ancient inhabitants were thus of about seven years' standing. If we men
of the second generation regarded Yonge Street as a route difficult to
travel, what must the first immigrants from the Genesee country and
Pennsylvania have found it to be? They brought with them vehicles and
horses and families and some household stuff. "The body of their
waggons," we are told in an account of such new-comers in the
Gazetteer of 1799, "is made of close boards, and the most clever have
the ingenuity to caulk the seams, and so by shifting off the body from
the carriage, it serves to transport the wheels and the family." Old
settlers round Newmarket used to narrate how in their first journey from
York to the Landing they lowered their waggons down the steeps by ropes
passed round the stems of saplings, and then hauled them up the ascent
on the opposite side in a similar way.
We meet with Mr. Stegmann, the author of the above quoted report, in
numerous documents relating to surveys and other professional business
done for the Surveyor-General. His clear, bold handwriting is always
recognizable. His mode of expressing himself is vigorous and to the
point, but slightly affected by his imperfect mastery of the English
language. He gives the following account of himself in his first
application to the Surveyor-General, asking for employment. "My name is
John Stegmann," he says, "late lieutenant in the Hessian Regiment of
Lossberg, commanded by Major-General de Loos, and served during the
whole war in America till the reduction took place in the month of
August, 1783, and by the favour and indulgence of His Excellency, Lord
Dorchester, I obtained land in this new settlement and township of
Osnabruck, and an appointment as Surveyor in the Province; I have a wife
and small family to provide for."--Descendants of his are still to be
found in the neighbourhood of Pine Grove in Vaughan. Their name is now
Anglicised by the omission of one of the final n's. The rivulet at the
Blue Hill was spoken of, in 1799, as "Castle Frank Creek." It is the
stream which runs through the Castle Frank lot. Mr. Stegmann was
concerned in the building of the first bridge at this point. We have a
letter of his to the Acting Surveyor-General, D. W. Smith, referring to
timber, which he has provided for the structure. In the same he also
takes occasion to mention that the fatigue party of soldiers who were
assisting Mr. Jones in the opening of Yonge Street, had as yet received
He says: "Sir,--You were pleased to order me to inform you what time I
should want a team for to get the timber for the bridge at Castle Frank
Creek, for which I am ready, whenever you please to send the same." He
then adds: "The party of Rangers now on this road begged of me to inform
you that they have not received any pay for the work since they have
been out with Mr. Jones." This note is dated, "Castle Frank Creek, Feb.
27, 1799." On the 4th of the following March, he dates a note to Mr. D.
W. Smith in the same way, "Castle Frank Creek," and asks to have a
"bush-sextant" supplied to him. He says: "Sir,--I beg you will have the
goodness to send me by the bearer a Bush-sextant, and am, sir, your most
obedient and very humble servant, John Stegmann, Deputy-Surveyor."
(According to some, the Blue Hill had its name from the circumstance
that the bridge at its foot was painted blue).
The names of other early surveyors may be learned from the following
notice, taken from a Gazette: "Surveyor-General's Office, York, 25th
April, 1805. That it may be known who are authorized to survey lands on
the part of the Crown within this Province, the following list is
communicated to the public of such persons as are duly licensed for that
purpose, to be surveyors therein, viz., William Chewett, York; Thomas
Smith, Sandwich; Abraham Iredell, Thomas Welch, Augustus Jones, William
Fortune, Lewis Grant, Richard Cockrell, Henry Smith, John Rider, Aaron
Greeley, Thomas Fraser, Reuben Sherwood, Joseph Fortune, Solomon
Stevens, Samuel S. Wilmot, Samuel Ryckman, Mahlon Burwell, Adrian
Marlet, Samuel Ridout, George Lawe. (Signed), C. B. Wyatt,
Of Mr. Berczy, above spoken of, we shall soon have to give further
particulars. We must now push on.
Just beyond the Blue Hill ravine, on the west side, stood for a long
while a lonely unfinished frame building, with gable towards the street,
and windows boarded up. The inquiring stage-passenger would be told,
good-humouredly, by the driver, that it was Rowland Burr's Folly. It
was, we believe, to have been a Carding or Fulling Mill, worked by
peculiar machinery driven by the stream in the valley below; but either
the impracticability of this from the position of the building, or the
as yet insignificant quantity of wool produced in the country made the
Mr. Burr was an emigrant to these parts from Pennsylvania in 1803, and
from early manhood was strongly marked by many of the traits which are
held to be characteristic of the speculative and energetic American.
Unfortunately in some respects for himself, he was in advance of his
neighbours in a clear perception of the capabilities of things as seen
in the rough, and in a strong desire to initiate works of public
utility, broaching schemes occasionally beyond the natural powers of a
community in its veriest infancy. A canal to connect Lake Ontario with
the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, via Lake Simcoe and the valley of the
Humber, was pressed by him as an immediate necessity, years ago; and at
his own expense he minutely examined the route and published thereon a
report which has furnished to later theorizers on the same subject much
Mr. Burr was a born engineer and mechanician, and at a more auspicious
time, with proper opportunities for training and culture, he would
probably have become famed as a local George Stephenson. He built on
his own account, or for others, a number of mills and factories,
providing and getting into working order the complicated mechanism
required for each; and this at a time when such undertakings were not
easy to accomplish, from the unimproved condition of the country and the
few facilities that existed for importing and transporting inland, heavy
machinery. The mills and factories at Burwick in Vaughan originated with
him, and from him that place takes its name.
The early tramway on Yonge Street of which we have already spoken was
suggested by Mr. Burr; and when the cutting down of the Blue Hill was
decided on, he undertook and effected the work.
It is now some forty years since the peculiar clay of the Blue Hill
began to be turned to useful account. In or near the brick-fields, which
at the present time are still to be seen on the left, Messrs. James and
William Townsley burnt kilns of white brick, a manufacture afterwards
carried on here by Mr. Nightingale, a family connection of the Messrs.
Townsley. Mr. Worthington also for a time engaged on the same spot in
the manufacture of pressed brick and drain tiles. The Rossin House
Hotel, in Toronto, and the Yorkville Town Hall were built of pressed
brick made here.
Chestnut Park, which we pass on the right, the residence now of Mr.
McPherson, is a comparatively modern erection, put up by Mr. Mathers, an
early merchant of York, who, before building here, lived on Queen
Street, near the Meadows, the residence of Mr. J. Hillyard Cameron.
Oaklands, Mr. John McDonald's residence, of which a short distance back
we obtained a passing glimpse far to the west, and Rathnally, Mr.
McMaster's palatial abode, beyond, are both modern structures, put up by
their respective occupants. Woodlawn, still on the left, the present
residence of Mr. Justice Morrison, was previously the home of Mr.
Chancellor Blake, and was built by him.
Summer Hill, seen on the high land far to the right, and commanding a
noble view of the wide plain below, including Toronto with its spires
and the lake view along the horizon, was originally built by Mr. Charles
Thomson, whose name is associated with the former travel and postal
service of the whole length of Yonge Street and the Upper Lakes. In Mr.
Thompson's time, however, Summer Hill was by no means the extensive and
handsome place into which it has developed since becoming the property
and the abode of Mr. Larratt Smith.
The primitive waggon track of Yonge Street ascended the hill at which we
now arrive, a little to the west of the present line of road. It passed
up through a narrow excavated notch. Across this depression or trench a
forest tree fell without being broken, and there long remained. Teams,
in their way to and from town, had to pass underneath it like captured
armies of old under the yoke. To some among the country folk it
suggested the beam of the gallows-tree. Hence sprang an ill-omened name
long attached to this particular spot.
Near here, at the top of the hill, were formerly to be seen, as we have
understood, the remains of a rude windlass or capstan, used in the
hauling up of the North-West Company's boats at this point of the long
portage from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.
So early as 1799 we have it announced that the North-West Company
intended to make use of this route. In the Niagara Constellation, of
August, 3, 1799, we read: "We are informed on good authority that the
North-West Company have it seriously in contemplation to establish a
communication with the Upper Lakes by way of York, through Yonge Street
to Lake Simcoe, a distance of about 33 miles only." The Constellation
embraces the occasion to say also, "That the government has actually
begun to open that street for several miles, which example will
undoubtedly be no small inducement to persons who possess property on
that street and its vicinity to exert themselves in opening and
completing what may be justly considered one of the primary objects of
attention in a new country, a good road."
The Gazette of March 9, in this year (1799) had contained an
announcement that "The North-West Company has given twelve thousand
pounds towards making Yonge Street a good road, and that the North-West
commerce will be communicated through this place (York): an event which
must inevitably benefit this country materially, as it will not only
tend to augment the population, but will also enhance the present value
of landed property."
Bouchette, writing in 1815, speaks of improvements on Yonge Street, "of
late effected by the North-West Company." "This route," he says in his
Topographical description, "being of much more importance, has of late
been greatly improved by the North-West Company for the double purpose
of shortening the distance to the Upper Lakes, and avoiding any contact
with the American frontiers."
As stated already in another connection, we have conversed with those
who had seen the cavalcade of the North-West Company's boats, mounted on
wheels, on their way up Yonge Street. It used to be supposed by some
that the tree across the notch through which the road passed had been
purposely felled in that position as a part of the apparatus for helping
the boats up the hill.
The table-land now attained was long known as the Poplar Plains.
Stegmann uses the expression in his Report. A pretty rural by-road that
ascends this same rise near Rathnally, Mr. McMaster's house, is still
known as the Poplar Plains road.
A house, rather noticeable, to the left but lying slightly back, and
somewhat obscured by fine ornamental trees that overshadow it, was the
home for many years of Mr. J. S. Howard, sometime Postmaster of York,
and afterwards Treasurer of the counties of York and Peel: an estimable
man, and an active promoter of all local works of benevolence. He died
in Toronto in 1866, aged 68.
This house used to be known as Olive Grove; and was originally built by
Mr. Campbell, proprietor and manager of the Ontario House Hotel, in
York, once before referred to; eminent in the Masonic body, and father
of Mr. Stedman Campbell, a local barrister of note, who died early.
Mashquoteh to the left, situated a short distance in, on the north side
of the road which enters Yonge Street here, is a colony transplanted
from the neighbouring Spadina, being the home of Mr. W. Warren Baldwin,
son of Dr. W. W. Baldwin, the builder of Spadina. "Mashquoteh" is the
Ochipway for "meadow." We hear the same sounds in Longfellow's
"Mushkoda-sa," which is, by interpretation, "prairie-fowl."
Deer Park, to the north of the road that enters here, but skirting Yonge
Street as well, had that name given it when the property of Mrs. Heath,
widow of Col. Heath of the H. E. I. Company's Service. On a part of this
property was the house built by Colonel Carthew, once before referred
to, and now the abode of Mr. Fisken. Colonel Carthew, a half-pay officer
of Cornish origin, also made large improvements on property in the
vicinity of Newmarket.
Just after Deer Park, to avoid a long ravine which lay in the line of
the direct route northward, the road swerved to the left and then
descended, passing over an embankment, which was the dam of an adjacent
sawmill, a fine view of the interior of which, with the saw usually in
active motion, was obtained by the traveller as he fared on. This was
Michael Whitmore's sawmill.
Of late years the apex of the long triangle of Noman's land that for a
great while lay desolate between the original and subsequent lines of
Yonge Street, has been happily utilized by the erection thereon of a
Church, Christ Church, an object well seen in the ascent and descent of
the street. Anciently, very near the site of Christ Church, a solitary
longish wooden building, fronting southward, was conspicuous; the abode
of Mr. Hudson, a provincial land surveyor of mark. Looking back
southward from near the front of this house, a fine distant glimpse of
the waters of Lake Ontario used to be obtained, closing the vista made
in the forest by Yonge Street.
Before reaching Whitmore's sawmill, while passing along the brow of the
hill overlooking the ravine, which was avoided by the street as it ran
in the first instance, there was to be seen at a little distance to the
right, on some rough undulating ground, a house which always attracted
the eye by its affectation of "Gothic" in the outline of its windows. On
the side towards the public road it showed several obtuse-headed lancet
lights. This peculiarity gave the building, otherwise ordinary enough, a
slightly romantic air; it had the effect, in fact, at a later period, of
creating for this habitation, when standing for a considerable while
tenantless, the reputation of being haunted.
This house and the surrounding grounds constituted Springfield Park, the
original Upper Canadian home of Mr. John Mills Jackson, an English
gentleman, formerly of Downton in Wiltshire, who emigrated hither prior
to 1806; but finding public affairs managed in a way which he deemed not
satisfactory, he returned to England, where he published a pamphlet
addressed to the King, Lords and Commons of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland, entitled, "A View of the Political Situation of the
Province," a brochure that made a stir in Upper Canada, if not in
England, the local House of Assembly voting it a libel.
Our Upper Canadian Parliament partially acquired the habit of decreeing
reflections on the local government to be libels. Society in its infancy
is apt to resent criticism, even when legitimate. Witness the United
States and Mrs. Trollope. At the same time critics of infant society
should be themselves sufficiently large-minded not to expect in infant
society the perfection of society well developed, and to word their
In the preface to his pamphlet, which is a well-written production, Mr.
Jackson gives the following account of his first connection with Canada
and his early experience there:--"Having by right of inheritance," he
says, "a claim to a large and very valuable tract of land in the
Province of Quebec, I was induced to visit Lower Canada for the purpose
of investigating my title; and being desirous to view the immense lakes
and falls in Upper Canada, where I had purchased some lands previous to
my leaving England, I extended my travels to that country, with which I
was so much pleased, that I resolved to settle on one of my estates, and
expended a considerable sum on its improvement (the allusion is probably
to Springfield Park); but considering neither my person nor property
secure under the system pursued there, I have been obliged to relinquish
the hope of its enjoyment."
The concluding sentences of his appeal will give an idea of the burden
of his complaint. To his mind the colony was being governed exactly in
the way that leads finally to revolt in colonies. The principles of the
constitution guaranteed by the mother country were violated. One of his
grievances was--not that a seventh of the public land had been set apart
for an established Church, but--that "in seventeen years not one acre
had been turned to any beneficial account; not a clergyman, except such
as England pays or the Missionary Society sends (only five in number),
without glebe, perquisite or parsonage house; and still fewer churches
than ministers of the established religion."
He concludes thus: "I call upon you to examine the Journals of the House
of Assembly and Legislative Council; to look at the distribution and use
made of the Crown Lands; the despatches from the Lieutenant-Governor
[Gore]; the memorials from the Provincial Secretary, Receiver-General
and Surveyor-General; the remonstrances of the Six Nations of Indians;
and the letters from Mr. Thorpe [Judge Thorpe], myself and others, on
the state of the Colony, either to the Lords of the Treasury or to the
Secretary of State. Summon and examine all the evidence that can be
procured here (England), and, if more should appear necessary, send a
commission to ascertain the real state of the Province. Then you will be
confirmed in the truth of every representation I have made, and much
more which, for the safety of individuals, I am constrained to
withhold. Then you will be enabled to relieve England from a great
burden, render the Colony truly valuable to the mother country, and save
one of the most luxuriant ramifications of the Empire. You will perform
the promise of the crown; you will establish the law and liberty
directed by the (British) Parliament; and diffuse the Gospel of Christ
to the utmost extremity of the West. You will do that which is
honourable to the nation, beneficial to the most deserving subjects, and
lovely in the sight of God."
This pamphlet is of interest as an early link (its date is 1809) in the
catena of protests on the subject of Canadian affairs, from Whiggish and
other quarters, culminating at last in Lord Durham's Report.
Nevertheless, what the old French trader said of Africa--"Toujours en
maudissant ce vilain pays, on y reviens toujours"--proved true in
respect to Canada in the case of Mr. Jackson, as in the case likewise of
several other severe critics of Canadian public affairs in later times.
He returned and dwelt in the land after all, settling with his family on
Lake Simcoe, where Jackson's Point and Jackson's Landing retain his
name, and where descendants of his still remain.
Mr. Jackson had possessions likewise in the West Indies, and made
frequent visits thither, as also to England, where at length he died in
1836. Up to about that date, we observe his name in the Commission of
In the Loyalist of May 24, 1828, a Biblical work by Mr. Jackson is
advertised for sale at York. Thus runs the notice:--"Just received from
England, and for sale at the book stores of Messrs. Meighan and Lesslie
& Sons, York, a few volumes of 'The History from the Creation of the
World to the death of Joshua, authenticated from the best authorities,
with Notes, Critical, Philosophical, Moral and Explanatory: by John
Mills Jackson, Esq., formerly Gentleman Commoner of Ball. Coll. in the
University of Oxford.'" (Then follow laudatory notices of the work from
Fifty years ago, in Canada, English families, whose habits and ideas
were more in harmony with Bond Street than with the backwoods, had, in
becoming morally acclimatised to the country, a tremendous ordeal to
pass through: how they contrived to endure the pains and perils of the
process is now matter of wonder.
One of Mr. Jackson's sons, Clifton, is locally remembered as an early
example in these parts of the exquisite of the period--the era of the
Prince Regent and Lord Byron. By extra-sacrificing to the Graces, at a
time when articles de cosmetique et de luxe generally were scarce and
costly in Canada, he got himself into trouble.--In 1822 he had occasion
to make his escape from "durance vile" in York, by opening a passage,
one quiet Sunday morning, through the roof of the old jail. He was
speedily pursued by Mr. Parker, the warden, and an associate, Mr.
Garsides; overtaken at Albany, in the State of New York; apprehended
under a feigned charge; and brought back to York. Among the inhabitants
of some of the villages between Albany and Youngstown, a suspicion arose
that a case of kidnapping was in progress, and Messrs. Parker and
Garsides were exposed to risk of personal violence before they could
reach the western bank of the Niagara river, with their prey. By a happy
turn of affairs, a few years later, Mr. Clifton Jackson obtained a
situation in the Home Colonial Office, with a good salary.
To distinguish Mr. Mills Jackson from another proprietor on Yonge
Street, also called Jackson, the alliterative epithet, "Jacobin," was
sometimes applied to him, in jocose allusion to his political
principles, held by the official party to be revolutionary. In regard to
the other Jackson, some such epithet as "Jacobin" would not have been
inapplicable. On the invasion of Canada in 1812 by the United States, he
openly avowed his sympathy with the invaders, and was obliged to fly the
country. He was known and distinguished as "Hatter Jackson," from the
business which he once followed. After the war he returned, and
endeavoured, but in vain, to recover possession of the land on Yonge
Street which he had temporarily occupied.
In the Gazette of Nov. 11, 1807, we have Mr. Jackson's advertisement.
Almost anticipating the modern "Hats that are Hats," it is headed
"Warranted Hats," and then proceeds: "The subscriber, having established
a hat manufactory in the vicinity of York on a respectable scale,
solicits the patronage and support of the public. All orders will be
punctually attended to, and a general assortment of warranted hats be
continually kept at the store of Mr. Thomas Hamilton, in York. Samuel
Jackson. Yonge Street, Nov. 10, 1807."
An earlier owner of the lot, at which we are now pausing, was Stillwell
Wilson. In 1799, at the annual York Township meeting, held on the 4th
March in that year at York, we find Stillwell Wilson elected one of the
Overseers of Highways and Fence-viewers for the portion of Yonge Street
from lot 26 to lot 40, in Markham and Vaughan. At the same meeting, Paul
Wilcot is elected to the same office, "from Big Creek to No. 25,
inclusive, and half Big Creek Bridge; and Daniel Dehart, from Big Creek
to No. 1, inclusive, and half Big Creek Bridge." "The Big Creek"
referred to was, as we suppose, the Don at Hogg's Hollow.
In 1821, Stillwell Wilson is landlord of the Waterloo House, in York,
and is offering to let that stand; also to let or sell other valuable
properties. In the Gazette of March 25, 1820, we have his
advertisement:--"For sale or to let, four improved farms on Yonge
Street, composed of lots Nos. 20 and 30 on the west side, and 15 and 20
on the east side of the street, in the townships of York and Vaughan.
These lands are so well known that they require no further encomiums
than the virtues they possess. For title of which please apply to the
subscriber at Waterloo House, York, the proprietor of said lands. P.
S.--The noted stand known by the name of the Waterloo House, which the
subscriber at present possesses, is also offered to be let on easy
terms; as also an excellent Sawmill, in the third concession of the
township of York, east of Yonge Street, only ten miles from town, on the
west branch of the river Don. Stillwell Wilson."
In 1828, for moneys due apparently to Jairus Ashley, some of Stillwell's
property has been seized. Under the editorial head of the Loyalist of
December 27th of that year, we find the following item:--"Sheriff's
Sale.--At the Court House, in the Town of York, on Saturday, 31st
January next, will be sold, Lot No. 30, in the first Concession of the
Township of Vaughan, taken in execution as belonging to Stillwell
Wilson, at the suit of Jairus Ashley. Sale to commence at 12 o'clock
In our chapter on the Early Marine of York, we shall meet with Stillwell
Wilson again. We shall then find him in command of a slip-keel schooner
plying on the Lake between York and Niagara. The present owner of his
lot, which, as we have seen, was also once Mr. Jackson's--Mr. Jacobin
Jackson's, is Mr. Cawthra. (Note the tendency to distinguish between
individuals bearing the name of Jackson by an epithet prefixed. A
professional pugilist patronized by Lord Byron was commonly spoken of as
As we reach again the higher land, after crossing the dam of Whitmore's
mill, and returning into the more direct line of the street, some rude
pottery works met the eye. Here in the midst of woods, the passer-by
usually saw on one side of the road, a one horse clay-grinding machine,
laboriously in operation; and on the other, displayed in the open air on
boards supported by wooden pins driven into the great logs composing the
wall of the low windowless building, numerous articles of coarse brown
ware, partially glazed, pans, crocks, jars, jugs, demijohns, and so
forth; all which primitive products of the plastic art were ever
pleasant to contemplate. These works were carried on by Mr. John
A tract of rough country was now reached, difficult to clear and
difficult to traverse with a vehicle. Here a genuine corduroy causeway
was encountered, a long series of small saw-logs laid side by side, over
which wheels jolted deliberately. In the wet season, portions of it,
being afloat, would undulate under the weight of a passing load; and
occasionally a horse's leg would be entrapped, and possibly snapped
short by the sudden yielding or revolution of one of the cylinders
We happen to have a very vivid recollection of the scene presented along
this particular section of Yonge Street, when the woods, heavy pine
chiefly, after having been felled in a most confused manner, were being
consumed by fire, or rather while the effort was being made to consume
them. The whole space from near Mr. Walmsley's potteries to the rise
beyond which Eglinton is situated, was, and continued long, a chaos of
blackened timber, most dismaying to behold.
To the right of this tract was one of the Church glebes so curiously
reserved in every township in the original laying out of Upper
Canada--one lot of two hundred acres in every seven of the same area--in
accordance with a public policy which at the present time seems
sufficiently Utopian. Of the arrangement alluded to, now broken up, but
expected when the Quebec Act passed in 1780 to be permanent, a relic
remained down to a late date in the shape of a wayside inn, on the right
near here, styled on its sign the "Glebe Inn"--a title and sign
reminding one of the "Church Stiles" and "Church Gates" not uncommon as
village ale-house designations in some parts of England.
Hitherto the general direction of Yonge Street has been north, sixteen
degrees west. At the point where it passes the road marking the northern
limit of the third concession from the bay, it swerves seven degrees to
the eastward. In the first survey of this region there occurred here a
jog or fault in the lines. The portion of the street proposed to be
opened north failed, by a few rods, to connect in a continuous right
line with the portion of it that led southward into York. The
irregularity was afterwards corrected by slicing off a long narrow
angular piece from three lots on the east side, and adding the like
quantity of land to the opposite lot--it happening just here that the
lots on the east side lie east and west, while those on the west side
lie north and south. After the third concession, the lots along the
street lie uniformly east and west.
With young persons in general perhaps, at York in the olden time, who
ever gave the cardinal points a thought, the notion prevailed that Yonge
Street was "north." We well remember our own slight perplexity when we
first distinctly took notice that the polar star, the dipper, and the
focus usually of the northern lights, all seemed to be east of Yonge
Street. That an impression existed in the popular mind at a late period
to the effect that Yonge Street was north, was shown when the pointers
indicating east, west, north and south came to be affixed to the apex of
a spire on Gould Street. On that occasion several compasses had to be
successively taken up and tried before the workmen could be convinced
that "north" was so far "east" as the needle of each instrument would
persist in asserting.
The first possessor of the lot on the west side, slightly augmented in
the manner just spoken of, was the Baron de Hoen, an officer in one of
the German regiments disbanded after the United States Revolutionary
War. His name is also inscribed in the early maps on the adjacent lot to
the north, known as No. 1 in the township of York, west side.
At the time of the capture of York in 1813, Baron de Hoen's house, on
lot No. 1, proved a temporary refuge to some ladies and others, as we
learn from a manuscript narrative taken down from the lips of the late
venerable Mrs. Breakenridge by her daughter, Mrs. Murney. That record
well recalls the period and the scene. "The ladies settled to go out to
Baron de Hoen's farm," the narrative says. "He was a great friend," it
then explains, "of the Baldwin family, whose real name was Von Hoen; and
he had come out about the same time as Mr. St. George, and had been in
the British army. He had at this time a farm about four miles up Yonge
Street, and on a lot called No. 1. Yonge Street was then a corduroy road
immediately after leaving King Street, and passing through a dense
forest. Miss Russell, (sister of the late President Russell) loaded her
phaeton with all sorts of necessaries, so that the whole party had to
walk. My poor old grandfather (Mr. Baldwin, the father of Mrs.
Breakenridge) by long persuasion at length consented to give up
fighting, and accompany the ladies. Aunt Baldwin (Mrs. Dr. Baldwin) and
her four sons, Major Fuller, who was an invalid under Dr. Baldwin's
care, Miss Russell, Miss Willcox, and the whole cavalcade sallied forth:
the youngest boy St. George, a mere baby, my mother (Mrs. Breakenridge)
carried on her back nearly the whole way.
"When they had reached about half way out," the narrative proceeds,
"they heard a most frightful concussion, and all sat down on logs and
stumps, frightened terribly. They learned afterwards that this terrific
sound was occasioned by the blowing up of the magazine of York garrison,
when five hundred Americans were killed, and at which time my uncle, Dr.
Baldwin, was dressing a soldier's wounds; he was conscious of a strange
sensation: it was too great to be called a sound, and he found a shower
of stones falling all around him, but he was quite unhurt. The family at
length reached Baron de Hoen's log house, consisting of two rooms, one
above and one below. After three days Miss Russell and my mother walked
into town, just in time to prevent Miss Russell's house from being
ransacked by the soldiers.
"All now returned to their homes and occupations," the narrative goes on
to say, "except Dr. Baldwin, who continued dressing wounds and acting as
surgeon, until the arrival of Dr. Hackett, the surgeon of the 8th
Regiment. Dr. Baldwin said it was most touching to see the joy of the
poor wounded fellows when told that their own doctor was coming back to
them." It is then added: "My mother (Mrs. Breakenridge) saw the poor 8th
Grenadiers come into town on the Saturday, and in church on Sunday, with
the handsome Captain McNeil at their head, and the next day they were
cut to pieces to a man. My father (Mr. Breakenridge) was a student at
law with Dr. Baldwin, who had been practising law after giving up
medicine as a profession, and had been in his office about three months,
when he went off like all the rest to the battle of York."
The narrative then gives the further particulars: "The Baldwin family
all lived with Miss Russell after this, as she did not like being left
alone. When the Americans made their second attack about a month after
the first, the gentlemen all concealed themselves, fearing to be taken
prisoners like those at Niagara. The ladies received the American
officers: some of these were very agreeable men, and were entertained
hospitably; two of them were at Miss Russell's; one of them was a Mr.
Brookes, brother-in-law of Archdeacon Stuart, then of York, afterwards
of Kingston. General Sheaffe had gone off some time before, taking every
surgeon with him. On this account Dr. Baldwin was forced, out of
humanity, to work at his old profession again, and take care of the
Lot No. 1 was afterwards the property of an English gentleman, Mr.
Harvey Price, a member of our Provincial Government, as Commissioner of
Crown Lands, whose conspicuous residence, castellated in character, and
approached by a broad avenue of trees, was a little further on. In 1820,
No. 1 was being offered for sale in the following terms, in the
Gazette of March 25th: "That well known farm No. 1, west side of Yonge
Street, belonging to Captain de Hoen, about four or five miles from
York, 210 acres. The land is of excellent quality, well-wooded, with
about forty acres cleared, a never failing spring of excellent water,
barn and farm house. Application to be made to the subscriber at
York.--W. W. Baldwin."
Baron de Hoen was second to Mr. Attorney-General White, killed in the
duel with Mr. Small in 1800 (January 3rd). In the contemporary account
of that incident in the Niagara Constellation, the name is
phonetically spelt De Hayne. In the above quoted MS. the name appears
as de Haine.
In our progress northward we now traverse ground which, as having been
the scene of a skirmish and some bloodshed during the troubles of 1837,
has become locally historic. The events alluded to have been described
from different points of view at sufficient length in books within reach
of every one. We throw over them here the mantle of charity, simply
glancing at them and passing on.
Upper Canada, in miniature and in the space of half a century, curiously
passed through conditions and processes, physical and social, which old
countries on a large scale, and in the course of long ages, passed
through. Upper Canada had, in little, its primaeval and barbaric but
heroic era, its mediaeval and high-prerogative era, and then, after a
revolutionary period of a few weeks, its modern, defeudalized,
democratic era. Without doubt the introduction here in 1792 of an "exact
transcript" of the contemporary constitution of the mother country, as
was the boast at the time, involved the introduction here also of some
of the spirit which animated the official administrators of that
constitution in the mother country itself at the period--the time of the
We certainly find from an early date, as we have already seen, a
succession of intelligent, observant men, either casual visitors to the
country, or else intending settlers, and actual settlers, openly
expressing dissatisfaction at some of the things which they noted,
experienced or learned, in respect of the management of Canadian public
affairs. These persons for the most part were themselves perhaps only
recently become alive to the changes which were inevitable in the
governmental principles of the mother country; and so were peculiarly
sensitive, and even, it may be, petulant in regard to such matters. But,
however well-meaning and advanced in political wisdom they may have
been, they nevertheless, as we have before intimated, exhibited
narrowness of view themselves, and some ignorance of mankind, in
expecting to find in a remote colonial out-station of the empire a state
of things better than that which at the moment existed at the heart of
the empire; and in imagining that strictures on their part, especially
when acrimonious, would, under the circumstances, be amiably and
submissively received by the local authorities.
The early rulers of Canada, Upper and Lower, along with the members of
their little courts, were not to be lightly censured.--They were but
copying the example of their royal Chief and his circle at Kew, Windsor,
or St. James'. Of the Third George Thackeray says: "He did his best; he
worked according to his lights; what virtue he knew he tried to
practice; what knowledge he could master he strove to acquire." And so
did they. The same fixity of idea in regard to the inherent dignity and
power of the Crown that characterized him characterized them, together
with a like sterling uprightness which commanded respect even when a
line of action was adopted that seemed to tend, and did in reality tend,
to a popular outbreak.
All men, however, now acquiesce in the final issue. The social turmoil
which for a series of years agitated Canada, from whatever cause
arising; the explosion which at length took place, by whatever
instrumentality brought on, cleared the political atmosphere of the
country, and hastened the good time of general contentment and
prosperity which Canadians of the present day are enjoying.--After all,
the explosion was not a very tremendous one. Both sides, after the
event, have been tempted to exaggerate the circumstances of it a little,
The recollections which come back to us as we proceed on our way, are
for the most part of a date anterior to those associated with 1837;
although some of the latter date will of course occasionally recur.
The great conspicuous way-side inn, usually called Montgomery's was, at
the time of its destruction by the Government forces in 1837, in the
occupation of a landlord named Lingfoot. The house of Montgomery, from
whom the inn took its name, he having been a former occupant, was on a
farm owned by himself, beautifully situated on rising ground to the
left, subsequently the property and place of abode of Mr. James Lesslie,
of whom already.
Mr. Montgomery had once had a hotel in York, named "The Bird in Hand,"
on Yonge Street, a little to the north of Elliott's. We have this inn
named in an advertisement to be seen in the Canadian Freeman of April
17, 1828, having reference to the "Farmer's Store Company." "A general
meeting of the Farmer's Storehouse Company," says the advertisement,
"will be held on the 22nd of March next, at 10 o'clock, a.m., at John
Montgomery's tavern, on Yonge Street, 'The Bird in Hand.'--The farmers
are hereby also informed that the storehouse is properly repaired for
the accommodation of storage, and that every possible attention shall be
paid to those who shall store produce therein. John Goessmann, cler