Toronto of Old - Henry Scadding (1813-1901)
Toronto of Old:
Collections and Recollections
ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE
EARLY SETTLEMENT AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CAPITAL OF ONTARIO.
By HENRY SCADDING, D.D.
ADAM, STEVENSON & CO.
Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy-three, by Adam, Stevenson & Co., in the office of the Minister of Agriculture.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
The Earl of Dufferin, K.C.B.
GOVERNOR GENERAL OF BRITISH NORTH AMERICA
A KEEN SYMPATHIZER WITH
THE MINUTE PAST, AS WELL AS THE MINUTE PRESENT,
OF THE PEOPLE COMMITTED TO HIS CHARGE,
TREATING OF THE INFANCY AND EARLY YOUTH
OF AN IMPORTANT CANADIAN CIVIC COMMUNITY
NOW FAST RISING TO MAN'S ESTATE,
(BY PERMISSION GRACIOUSLY GIVEN,)
THANKFULLY AND LOYALLY DEDICATED
YONGE STREET, FROM HOGG'S HOLLOW TO BOND'S LAKE.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 things.
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.