Here is my portrait of John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, now Ontario.
He fought for 5 years in the American revolutionary war, sailed back to England in 1781, married heiress Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim.
They lived in the wilderness of Upper Canada – now Ontario – from 1791-1796.
A documentary on the life of Simcoe would be a great creative project.
DISCOVERY: THE CANVAS HOUSE
CASTLE FRANK IN WINTER
ELIZABETH SIMCOE AT CASTLE FRANK
PRINCE EDWARD VISITS JOHN GRAVES SIMCOE,
NIGHT: THE CANVAS HOUSE
FROM THE TENT
A Glimpse into English Canadian Identity
© Charles Pachter 1998
Alternate Titles :
WASPS IN THE WILDERNESS
THE GENTRIFIED FOREST
YANKEE COME HOME
ENTRY OF THE GENTRY
A DIRECT RESULT of the American revolutionary war was Britain’s creation of English Canada as an alternative North American Society to the new United States.
During the loyalist decade of 1783-93, a critical mass of over 50000 refugees trekked north from the U.S. to begin new lives in what is now central Canada.
In the Treaty of Separation of 1783, Britain officially recognized its former Thirteen Colonies as the new United States of America. Just 8 years later in 1791, in a major salvage and rescue operation, Britain created English Canada out of the wilderness as a Second Empire, a Consolation Prize, of Cold Comfort for Anglo-American Loyalists after the loss of its First Empire in the former Thirteen Colonies.
What happened over two centuries ago to mark the beginning of Toronto, today Canada’s metropolis? On July 29, 1793, John Graves Simcoe, disembarked from the British schooner MISSISSAUGA , and landed somewhere near the foot of present day Bathurst Street, where he was greeted and piloted to shore by French Canadian trader St.Jean Rousseau.
In addition to the French Canadian population of over 60000 concentrated in the Montreal-Quebec corridor, there were a few thousand scattered settlers already living in the now British-ruled province of Quebec, when in 1791 the British parliament passed the Constitution Act dividing Quebec into the new provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Many of the recent settlers were loyalists who had earlier fled the Thirteen Colonies during the revolutionary war. Some had come from Europe, and some were slaves brought from the American colonies.
The British government attempted to compensate and re-settle a later group of war-weary Anglo-American refugees named United Empire Loyalists by Sir Guy Carleton, who through their loyalty to the British side before, during and after the war (1776-83), ended up losing their homes, lands, possessions, and citizenship. At war’s end, Britain ceded thirteen of its fifteen North American colonies to the new United States. (Quebec and Nova Scotia had remained British).
In North America, the first “ethnic cleansing” and forced resettlement of those deemed politically incorrect by Europeans was of the natives, or first nations. They were killed or died from communicable diseases, or were forcibly moved to reservations. Next were black slaves brought from Africa. With the revolutionary war, a new persecuted group arose from among the ranks of the colonists themselves, the Loyalists.
During the war, and for a decade following, (to be later referred to as The Loyalist Decade), over fifty thousand American-born loyalists trekked north from the new United States to two huge, mostly uncharted and uninhabited remaining British North American colonies, – Quebec and Nova Scotia. From these immense territories, four new provinces were created. Nova Scotia was divided in two to create New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The huge territory of British Quebec, formerly New France or French Canada was divided in two to create Lower and Upper Canada, lower predominantly French Catholic, Upper predominantly Anglo-Protestant Loyalist, to become Quebec and Ontario in 1867. The vast western territories were still in the possession of the Hudson’s Bay company, or undisputed Indian lands.
The new province of Upper Canada was carved out of the central Canadian wilderness by the British as a safe haven for these later loyalists, and to prevent further American expansion north and west. In this contest for territory between Britain and the new United States, the main losers were the native peoples or first nations. With the revolutionary war over, the British lost Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Toronto was founded exactly a decade later.
JOHN GRAVES SIMCOE had fought as a young British soldier for six years in the American Revolutionary War, (in the “southern provinces of British America” – Bordentown, New Jersey; Brandywine, Pa; Maryland, Burlington, Vermont; Philadelphia, Pa, White Plains, NY, Yorktown, Va). At war’s end, he returned to Britain, married heiress Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim , became a member of parliament, returned to kickstart the new province of Upper Canada as its first lieutenant-governor. The British needed a new inland capital. Kingston and Niagara were too close to the new American border. London, Ontario was Simcoe’s choice, but Sir Guy Carleton – Lord Dorchester – preferred Toronto for its defensible harbour and potential as a naval arsenal. So York (renamed Toronto in 1834) became the temporary, and later the permanent capital of the loyalist province of Upper Canada.
John Graves Simcoe to Peter Russell, December 9 1793:
“It appears fated that the arsenal of Lake Ontario (York) must become the capital of Upper Canada; I shall console myself – excellent Salmon; the possibility of throwing the water into the town by a dam and sawmill on the creek behind it, windmills on the Beach, a Palladian Bridge for the Wharf; Francis’ Doric temple (Castle Frank) & Shooting Pidgeons will afford various amusements.” Ontario Archives, Russell Papers
CHARLES PACHTER’S HISTORICAL TIMELINE:
The European Discoveries: 1492 –
The European Explorers, Invaders, Conquerors of North America –
Columbus, Cabot, Kelsey, Verrazano, Cartier, Champlain, La Salle, Cortez, deSoto, etc.
The First Nations in North and South America estimated to number 90 million: Aztecs, Incas, Iroquois, Algonquins, Beothuks,
Hurons, Haida, Inuit, Hopi, etc.
1608- 1759 French Colonial America, 150 years Quebec to New Orleans
EXPLORERS Cartier, Champlain, La Salle
COLONIAL ADMINISTRATORS, CLERGY Frontenac, Talon, Laval (Governor, Intendant, Bishop)
MILITARY Vaudreuil, Montcalm
1600 – British North America
EXPLORERS Henry Hudson, Kelsey, Frobisher, Mackenzie, Fraser
1759 – 1763 Seven Years War or French-Indian War between France & Britain: Wolfe-Montcalm
BRITISH: Burgoyne, Cornwallis, Simcoe, Sir William Johnson, Haldimand, Carleton
LOYALISTS : Butler, Sir John Johnson, Robert Rogers, Jessup, Jarvis, Denison
COLONIAL AMERICA: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Wayne
There were 17 British colonies in North America prior to the war of independence, 1776-81. The 13 Colonies which rebelled against Britain were: Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island,Virginia,NorthCarolina , South Carolina, Georgia.
The remaining British colonies were Canada (formerly New France, now British Quebec), Nova Scotia, east & west Florida, for a total of 17.
1763-1774 British Governors of the Old Province of British Quebec stretching east from Nova Scotia west into the Ohio valley:
Military commanders-in-chief include Amherst Gage Burton Hamilton Murray Haldimand Dorchester
The Quebec Act 1774:
After 11 years of military government, Britain gives conquered French Canada the right to use its own language, maintain its seigneurial land holding laws, the Roman Catholic religion. After the American Revolutionary War 1776-83, 13 British colonies break away, leaving Canada, (enlarged Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the vast Hudson’s Bay Company territory) the remainder of British North America.
Constitution Act 1791: Britain partitions the large older province of Canada (Quebec) into two new provinces, Upper & Lower Canada, one predominantly French, the other predominantly Anglo. John Graves Simcoe, outstanding career soldier and military leader of the Queen’s Rangers during the American Revolutionary war, is appointed first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, 1791 -1796, under Sir Guy Carleton/Lord Dorchester. Dorchester’s first choice for the position was American-born Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson of New York (Johnson Hall, Johnstown NY.) heir to his father’s vast 50000 estate in the MohawkValley, NY state at Johnstown NY near the present city of Schenectady.
FRENCH NORTH AMERICA:
1535 Cartier discovers the St. Lawrence
1608 -30 Explorers Samuel de Champlain & Etienne Brulé
1635 Jean de Brébeuf & Ste Marie among the Hurons
The Iroquois burn the Jesuit village and chase out the Hurons
1649 La Salle builds the Griffon on Lake Erie to sail the Great Lakes.
1663-83 Father Hennepin sees Niagara & explorer La Salle descends the Mississippi
1683-1701 Count Frontenac builds Cataraqui (later Kingston)
1701-1760 Canadian-born Marquis de Vaudreuil & the Douvilles
The Toronto Trail -The most important Short Cut to the upper lakes via the Holland River, Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching, and the Severn River, into Georgian Bay for the transport of furs, ran from the west branch of the Holland River south 28 miles along the banks of the Humber to its mouth at Lake Ontario. This trail or “Toronto Portage” was known and used by Dutch & Iroquois traders from the New York area. Furs were brought across Lake Ontario, sold to the Dutch and English at Oswego and Albany in exchange for cooking utensils, rum, brandy, and European tools, blankets, axes, rifles, gun powder, etc.
A seasonal Iroquois (Seneca) village called Teiaiagon, existed near Jane and Baby Point Rds, beside the Humber river, just north of the present ruins of the Old Mill. A later Mississauga village existed further south on the east side of the Humber closer to Lake Ontario.
An early settler in the Toronto region was Jacques Bâby, a French Canadian, born in Detroit, from an old fur trading family.
Another route less used was the Ganatsekwyagon trail at the mouth of Rouge river 23 miles east of the Humber which ran up through the lower Kawartha Lakes into Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay.
1673 The Carignan Salières regiment arrives from France.
New France claims the entire region fed by the St Lawrence from Labrador north of Lakes Ontario and Erie into what is now Ohio.
Count Frontenac, born in the chateau of St Germain en Laye outside Paris, builds a fort & trading post in two weeks at Cataraqui, (the later site of Kingston,) names it Fort Frontenac after himself.
His goal is to attract the Indians coming down from the north to sell their bales of pelts and furs to the French on the north side of lake Ontario rather than crossing the lake to sell to the English and Dutch on the south side at Oswego. But the Indians seemed to prefer the better deals they felt they would get trading for booze, clothing and “appliances”, on the other side of Lake Ontario, curiously similar to attitudes of Canadian cross-border shoppers 2 centuries later.
The famous French explorer, Cavalier Robert de la Salle, who built the legendary ship, the Griffon, on Lake Erie, was the first to descend the Mississippi, and passed through Teiaiagon, on his way up to the Great Lakes. (Katherine Hale P4)
1678 Father Hennepin describes Teiaiagon. (Katherine Hale P15)
Cartier Champlain La Salle , Frontenac Talon Laval
Denonville Brébeuf Hennepin Vaudreuil Montcalm
1688 The Marquis de Denonville arrives from France to “tame” the Iroquois, captures 50 of them from Fort Frontenac, sends them as galley slaves to France on a whim of Louis XIV. His troops also burn Iroquois villages
in what is now New York state, then the British colony (province) of NY. The Iroquois are furious, retaliate by burning Fort Frontenac, then massacre the French at Lachine. The Iroquois leave. (forebodes Akwesasne and Kanesatake)
1708 The Mississaugas come down from the north, settle around the north west shore of Lake Ontario from the Rouge to Niagara rivers, with a seasonal village on the east side of the Humber near its mouth localized as “Toronto”.
1710 3 Mohawk chiefs sail for London to be presented to Queen Anne.
1713 Treaty of Utrecht – peace is made between France and England.The fur trade gathers force.
1716 The French return to Lake Ontario.
1720 The Marquis de Vaudreuil, governor of New France under Louis XV, orders trading posts to be built at Niagara, Toronto, and Bay of Quinte.
Under Vaudreuil are Joncaire and Longueuil.
Joncaire marries an Indian woman, helps secure the land from the Senecas to build Fort Niagara, and becomes the superintendant of the first French-built Toronto post (Magasin Royal) in 1720.
The Sieur Douville (Alexandre Dageneau-Douville) is sent from Montreal to construct the wood building on the Humber near the present Baby Point Road. Douville had 6 sons. One son, Alexandre may have built the third post on the present CNE grounds, named Fort Rouilé, after the French Minister of the Navy.
1726 Governor Burnet of the province of New York builds a fort/trading post and stone house at Oswego. This is the first English post on the great lakes, which soon diverts the Indians from trading with the French posts.
1730 The first Douville fort at Toronto is abandoned, overshadowed by the better-supplied Fort Oswego.
1749 Ordered by the Comte de la Galissonnière, then governor of New France, a new second Fort Toronto is built further south on the east bank of the Humber by Pierre Robineau, the Chevalier de Portneuf, who had been serving at Fort Frontenac. This building was probably spared from being burned by the French 10 years later, and was perhaps occupied by the Montreal trader St.Jean Rousseau, father of Jean Baptiste Rousseau who piloted the Simcoes to shore on July 30, 1793. (P19 Hale – hunchback, brilliant mind.)
The Comte de la Galissonniere’s successor, the Marquis de la Jonquière, sponsors the building of a third, larger and last French post, named Fort Rouillé, after the French minister of the Navy. More commonly referred to as Fort Toronto, it is located a mile further east of the second fort overlooking Lake Ontario. The site is marked only by an outline in the grass and a stone monument on the grounds of the present Canadian National Exhibition Grounds at the foot of Dufferin Street beside the bandshell. This last French post in Toronto was completed in the spring of 1751 by Alexandre Douville, probably one of the sons of the Sieur Douville who had built the first Magasin Royal a few miles up the Humber 30 years earlier. Typical items in stock in Fort Rouilé or Toronto included ribbons, combs, shirts, looking glasses, flour, lard, pepper, prunes, raisins, olive oil, tobacco, powder, shot. Fort Rouill_ was ordered burned by the French in 1759, then abandoned.
Jonquière claims the Ohio Valley area for the French. The British Americans disagree. 1754 Young George Washington marches to Ohio fromVirginia, is rebuffed by the French.
1756-63 SEVEN YEARS WAR between France & Britain:
1756 The French take Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), defeating Braddock and Washington. Montcalm takes Fort Oswego, defeating the British
1758 The British take Fort Frontenac. Vaudreuil, the governor at Quebec instructs the French at Toronto to burn Fort Rouillé if the English try to take it, then to retreat to Fort Niagara.
1759 Sir William Johnson captures Fort Niagara from the French. Fort Niagara is ceded to the British. Vaudreuil orders Fort Rouillé burned.
Aug 2 1759 Sir William Johnson dines with Pouchot, the departing French commander at Niagara. Johnson meets the Mississauga chief Tequakareigh from Toronto, takes the French medal the chief is wearing and replaces it with an English medal.
Sept 30, 1760 Under orders from General Amherst in Montreal, the Massachusetts-born American frontier soldier Major Robert Rogers and 200 Rangers arrive at Toronto in 15 whaleboats which they have brought up the St Lawrence from Montreal to take formal possession of the Forts abandoned by the French. In his journal Rogers describes the Indians fishing in the Humber.
Nov 29 1760 Fort Pontchartain (Detroit) passes into British possession. With Jay’s Treaty, 36 years later, it becomes American.
1761 Johnson Hall in the Mohawk Valley, Johnstown NY, near Schenectady, is built by Sir William Johnson. It resembles a European château, surrounded by cultivated fields, livestock, native settlements, and a large native and black population of support staff and slaves. Head of a prosperous North American fiefdom, he dies in 1774.
1761 Fort Michilimackinac, gateway to Lake Michigan, now Sault Ste Marie, originally built by the French, is handed over to the British.
1762-3 The Bâbys, a family of French Canadian traders arrive in Toronto from Detroit to settle on the Humber, given a “grant to pass” by the military governor, General Gage in Montreal. There are complaints about the Bâbys selling rum and brandy to the Indians at Toronto, debauching them. Other traders with passes do the same. The Mississauga chief at Toronto is named Wabecommegat. Generals Gage and Amherst write to Sir William Johnson in Niagara about the liquor problem.
1763 Pontiac leads a siege of Indians against the British fort at Detroit.
1758-63 Jeffrey Amherst, commander in chief of British forces in North America is the ultimate conqueror of French Canada for the British in the Seven Years War.
The war ends with the Treaty of Paris, 1763. The deal includes:
French forts/trading posts at Michilimackinac, Pontchartrain (Detroit), Toronto, Niagara, Frontenac, Oswego are ceded to the British. Britain gets all of France’s North American possessions except the islands of St Pierre & Miquelon. The North American immigrant population by now is 2000000 English vs 60000 French.
1763 Alexander Henry, an English fur trader now posted at Fort Michilimackinac describes his trip with native guides down the “Indian path in the forest” from Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario. He watches the Indians build 2 canoes from elm bark, then sails on to Fort Niagara to confer with Sir William Johnson.
BRITISH GOVERNORS-GENERAL FOR NORTH AMERICA:
1760-1766 Ralph Burton, Thomas Gage, Jeffrey Amherst
1765 Britain issues Stamp Tax on American colonies.
1766-1767 James Murray
1767 Sir William Johnson writes to Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester re the North shore fur trade, which comes mostly from Quebec, versus the South shore fur trade, which is mostly English. He stresses the importance of eliminating trading at Toronto in favour of Niagara and Albany.
1767-1774 Sir Guy Carleton’s first term
1766 JOHN GRAVES SIMCOE studies at Eton, then in 1769 at Oxford
1770 Simcoe, age 18, enters the British army as an ensign.
1770 Jean Baptiste Rousseau, known as St Jean from Montreal gets a licence to trade with the Indians of the interior. He is a well known interpreter and coureur de bois, (forest ranger), a go-between among the French, the English, and the Indians (He later greets the Simcoes upon their arrival in the wilderness at Toronto).
1774 Sir William Johnson is attacked and pursued by rebel soldiers near his estate at Johnstown, NY. His son Sir John escapes, treks through the Adirondacks up to Montreal with 200 followers including loyalist John Butler, and Mohawk chief Joseph Brant.
1774 The Quebec Act is passed by Britain to preserve Quebec’s language rights, religion and civil law, and reserve lands in the western interior for the Indians. Spearheaded by military governor James Murray, the Quebec Act helps discourage Quebec from becoming a 14th rebel colony. Territories north and south of the lakes formerly part of the “old North-West” are annexed to Quebec. Land between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers is returned to the Indians as Indian Territory. This angers the lower 13 Colonies, who are bent on expanding their control westward but who now feel hemmed in by these new boundaries delineated in the Quebec Act. But the British are obliged to be fair to the Indians as they had promised. The soon-to-rebel 13 colonies are further angered by the liberties and “special treatment” the British have granted their conquered French Canadian neighbours to the north.
1775 Revolutionaries from the 13 colonies try to persuade the “CANADIENS” to come to their Continental Congress in Philadelphia and join the fight for independence.
Quebec rejects their offer, since it now has the protection of the Quebec Act from mother Britain, guaranteeing its rights. A colonial rebel army attempts to annex Canada, and fails.
1775 June 19 Young Simcoe (age 23) arrives in Boston 2 days after the battle of Bunker Hill. His godfather Samuel Graves is charged with closing down Boston Harbour.
1776 March, SIMCOE writes to his mother from Boston on the way to Halifax.
“Boston Mar 13 1776, My dear Madam:
Perhaps this is the last letter I shall write to you from Boston. The rebels have thrown several shells into the town. Only two shots have done any damage, one breaking the leg of a boy, the other taking off the legs of 6 men of the 22nd regiment, one of whom has died…”
Dec 1776 Simcoe is in NY, requests command of the Queens Rangers.
1776 General Guy Carleton (future lord Dorchester) repels the rebel invasion from the lower 13 colonies, is knighted, governs out of Montreal through June 1778.
1776 Sir William Howe encourages the Queens Rangers regiment (originally raised by Robert Rogers around Connecticut and NY in the 1760s). Howe is succeeded by Sir Henry Clinton 1778
1777 Sept 11 Simcoe is wounded at the Battle of the Brandywine, near Chadd’s Ford, Pa. (the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War, fought on September 11, 1777, between the Continental Army led by General George Washington and the British forces headed by General William Howe… Internet source)
Oct 15 Simcoe is given command of the Queens Rangers.
1778-1784 SIR FREDERICK HALDIMAND
1778 General Haldimand (a Swiss professional soldier in the British army) succeeds Guy Carleton as governor-general of British North America from 1778 to 1786.
1778 Philippe François de Rastel de Rocheblave occupies the former French fort Kaskaskia on the Mississippi near St Louis, now in English possession, wins over the inhabitants to the English side, renames it Fort Gage. Revolutionaries from the 13 colonies immediately overrun it, imprison Rocheblave in Virginia.
March 1778 WHAT HAPPENED AT THE HANCOCK HOUSE, 3 FRONT STREET , HANCOCKS BRIDGE, NEW JERSEY
Judge William Hancock permitted the Rebel forces to use his home as a barracks. Away days, he returned at night for his rest. As a Friend (Quaker) he was dedicated to peace, respected by both sides; a judge in the King’s Court. The British had no desire to harm him.
Guards were set at the Bridge. A warning shot would bring aid. Guards were set at the doors of the house full of soldiers. The Rebel troops needed sleep and felt safe in taking it. No one knew what the morrow might bring. The weary soldiers expected trouble, but not at night. Again they underestimated the craft of the trained British commanders who plotted a surprise attack!
A British force, led by JOHN GRAVES SIMCOE, including men both from overseas and recruits from South Jersey, proceeded by ship from Salem in the dark of night. They sailed up the river as far as the tide permitted, but had not estimated the tide correctly, so they were forced to disembark on the south side of the marsh, well west of their expected landing spot. They were probably carrying planks to stand on, pick up and replace as they went along the river edge. They finally reached a dry path bordering the stream. A detail was sent ahead. They stole up, silently and bayoneted the guards before they could pick up their rifles and fire. No sound was heard in the house.
Simcoe’s men quietly circled the house, half went to the front door, the others to the rear. Simultaneously, they forced their way in, bayoneting the guards and stabbing the Rebel soldiers, some of whom before the war had been their friends and neighbors. The only retreat was to the attic where the men were slain or sorely wounded. Blood stains remain on the floor. No gun was fired. No sound of ammunition exploding alarmed the little village. In all twenty were killed. Ten or twelve others sustained terrible wounds.
Old William Hancock was fatally wounded that sad night. He was carried to the nearly home of Joseph Ware who was also the son of a Fenwick colonist.
After the massacre, the British departed from South Jersey with the few cattle and other forage they had garnered. No cattle drive by foot for them! They sailed for Philadelphia on the ships on which they arrived.
This engagement marks the final invasion of the New Jersey area. The French, persuaded by Benjamin Franklin, had come to the aid of the Revolutionists. The British feared that a French warship might enter the Delaware River; perhaps even a fleet! Their situation in Philadelphia was no longer tenable. The spring of 1778 marked a new phase in the war.
1779 Mar 12 Walter Butler, son of John, on his way to Quebec from Fort Niagara to get officers’ pay, camps in Toronto harbour, observes the bay filled with all kinds of wild fowl, wigwams and canoes on shore.
1780 Dec 11 Simcoe and the Queens Rangers attack Richmond, Va.
1780 Rocheblave escapes back to Canada. Having lost all his property at Kaskaskia and having been imprisoned in irons, at the end of the war, 1783, he petitions British military lieutenant-governor Henry Hamilton in Montreal for a land grant at the future site of Toronto.
1780 St Jean Rousseau, trader from Montreal, sets up a post in what may have been the second French fort, a smaller trading post on the east bank of the Humber in Toronto.
1781 Oct 19 Cornwallis capitulates at Yorktown, Va. Simcoe, wounded several times, witnesses some of his men being executed, sails for NY. Dec. sails back to England.
1781 Frederick Haldimand (later knighted by Britain, 1785) “purchases”for Britain a strip of land on the west side of the Niagara river for food crops for loyalist settlers and soldiers in Fort Niagara from the Mississauga Indians.
1782-3 Sir Guy Carleton governing out of British- held New York City, questions the marauding activities of the Queens Rangers. They are later exonerated. Many eventually settle on lands in Nova Scotia. Beginning of friction between Dorchester and Simcoe.
HENRY HAMILTON Percy J Robinson p 163
1783 Peace Treaty of 1783 didn’t sufficiently provide for Loyalists.
Treaty of Paris, 1783, ends the American Revolutionary War. The British cede the Forts at Michilimackinac (Sault Ste Marie), Detroit, Niagara, Oswego to the Americans, but do not actually give them up until 1796, 13 years later, under Jay’s treaty, when long-departed loyalists are finally compensated for their property having been expropriated by the new United States government.
1783 The Frobisher brothers and other anglo-Montreal merchants form the NorthWest Company.
Simon Fraser and Alexander Mackenzie both have homes in Williamstown, Ont. near Cornwall, as does Sir John Johnson, formerly of Johnson Hall, of Johnstown NY.
SIR GUY CARLETON, soon to become LORD DORCHESTER, organizes large-scale loyalist immigration from New York City to Shelburne, Nova Scotia and what is now Saint John, New Brunswick. Over twelve thousand eventually emigrate there.
1784 Sir Frederick Haldimand sponsors more settlement of loyalists at forts of Carleton Island, Niagara, Oswego, Detroit.
He gives to Joseph Brant and the Six Nations of the Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Tuscarora) of New York state, a large land grant around the Grand River, in southern Ontario.
1785 Frobisher of the Northwest Fur Trading Company writes about the advantages of the Toronto Portage shortcut to the Upper Lakes versus portaging around Niagara Falls.
1786-1795 Guy Carleton, now Lord Dorchester, second term, leaves New York, returns to Quebec.
1786-7-8 “Suffering loyalist” Philippe Francois de Rastel de Rocheblave petitions Lord Dorchester for 1000 acres at the Toronto Carrying Place, and more for his wife and 4 children, and a lease to transport goods from the mouth of the Humber to Lake aux Claies – (une claie= fish trap) later named Lake Simcoe by John Graves Simcoe after his father.
1787. Sept British authorities under Dept Surveyor John Collins discuss the terms of purchase of the Toronto Carrying Place and surrounding lands from three Mississauga Indian chiefs, – Waubukanyne, Neace & Pacquan. Many subsequent petitions are made, (including La Force & Bouchette) with the growing realization of the importance of this tract, before the actual Mississauga Purchase by the government under Dorchester takes place in September 1788.
1788 Aug 1 HMS Seneca enters Toronto Bay with 1700 Lb worth of goods – rum, flannel, hats, gartering, flints, kettles, tobacco, carrots, looking glasses, etc. as payment for about 500 sq. miles of land. Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester, arrives a few days later with Sir John Johnson, son of the late Sir William, (d. 1774) now Superintendant of Indian affairs and Col. John Butler of Butler’s Rangers, to complete the Mississauga Purchase. It takes 17 years, until 1805 for a third meeting to be called to work out the final details between the Mississauga Indians and government officials at the mouth of the Credit. Chiefs Waubukanyne, Neace & Pacquan sign for the Mississaugas.
July 7, 1788 Alexander Aitkin’s survey of the land at Toronto purchased from the Indians is made 5 years before John Graves Simcoe founds the town of York.
March 15 1790, Dorchester recommends Sir John Johnson as first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, hoping that his “zeal and fidelity in the King’s service from the first beginning of the late war, the sacrifice of a very considerable property, and the advantage of a high degree of confidence among those loyalists will point him out to His Majesty as the Properest Person for the government of Upper Canada”.
1790 Oct-Nov, Simcoe is elected a member of the British House of Commons
Jun 10, 1791 Dorchester agrees in principle to grant Philippe de Rocheblave 1000 acres at Toronto. Deputy Surveyor General Collins writes from Quebec to Augustus Jones in Niagara, asking for 1000 acres for Rocheblave, and 700 acres each for La Force and Bouchette. Jones doesn’t reply until a year later, saying he had just received the letter, the jurisdiction had changed, and the previous Land Board’s powers were dissolved, so he must postpone doing anything until Simcoe and the new Upper Canada parliament would meet. Rocheblave never got his land grant at Toronto. The Constitution Act of late 1791 created a new Land Board for Upper Canada. The other influential French Canadians, ship captains Hypolite La Force and Joseph Bouchette had their requests for land grants at Toronto turned down too. Bouchette later received 700 acres nearby. Simcoe saw the Toronto area as a natural naval arsenal, and was not disposed to granting lands to Toronto’s French forbears. This was, in part, the beginning of an ongoing friction between Dorchester and Simcoe which would develop into mistrust and a fundamentally different vision for Upper Canada which would eventually dishearten Simcoe, and lead him to request a leave of absence to return to England. It was in fact Lord Dorchester, and not Simcoe, who chose Toronto for the site of the future capital. Simcoe had chosen the more protected inland site of London.
1791 There are several thousand loyalist refugees from the former 17 colonies of the 13 colonies of the new United States already living in the old province of Canada when the Constitution Act is passed in the British parliament dividing this enormous remaining territory of British North America into the new provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Many of the settlers fled the former British provinces of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, now renamed states by the American colonists. Other settlers arrived from Great Britain, France, and Germany. Some were slaves brought from the American colonies. Lands of the rank and file were grouped around the holdings of their former officers.
1792 Exactly 300 years after Columbus discovered America, Simcoe assembles the first parliament of upper Canada in Kingston, July 1.
Jul 30, 1793 The schooner Mississauga, 120 tons, 6 guns, with a crew of 14 under Captain Jean Baptiste Bouchette, and a band on board playing military airs, arrives in Toronto harbour. Also on board are Elizabeth Simcoe with her children Sophia, Francis, and infant Katherine, (who died 8 months later and was buried in York. The boat is piloted to shore by French Canadian trader St Jean Rousseau, who lives at the mouth of the Humber on the site where the second French fort used to be.
Simcoe had fought in the 13 colonies from 1776-1781, age 23 to age 29. He was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October, 1781, returned to Britain, married Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim a year later when she was 17 and he was 30. She was an orphan and an heiress of an estate called Wolford Lodge in Devon. In 1790 he became a member of parliament, and was recognized for his service during the Revolutionary war. With the support of his friends Colonel Henry Dundas of the Colonial office, and Sir George Yonge, Minister of War, and Sir Evan Nepean, he lobbied for and received a posting to the newly created province of Upper Canada as its new lieutenant-governor. He was chosen over Sir John Johnson, already residing near Montreal, the American-born son of Sir William Johnson, a wealthy and influential colonist, with experience and knowledge of Indian life and customs. As superintendant of Indian Affairs, he had ruled the Mohawk Valley of what is today upstate Western New York, an heir of the landed gentry who lived like a feudal lord in colonial British America in the former province of New York in a mansion (at Johnstown, NY) surrounded by cultivated fields and the friendly Indian allies of the 6 nations – Cayugas, Senecas. Onondagas, Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Iroquois. Their aristocratic chief Joseph Brant was well educated, and a friend and advisor to the Johnson family. His sister Molly was the common-law wife of Sir William Johnson. father to Sir John.
When war broke out, the Indians sided with the Johnson dynasty, eventually moving with them to wilderness areas of the province of Canada then stretching from Labrador in the east to the Ohio Valley southwest of Lake Erie in the west.
1791 ELIZABETH POSTHUMA GWILLIM SIMCOE, diminutive thirty year-old English heiress leaves home, Wolford Lodge in Devon, England with her husband Colonel John Graves Simcoe, age forty. Now accompanying the Simcoes to Canada are their one-year old son Francis, their 3 year old daughter Sophia, a few servants, and several soldiers of the Queen’s Rangers, a “guerilla” regiment Simcoe had created to fight American rebels fifteen years earlier in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The Simcoes brought with them “canvas houses”, tents bought from the estate of explorer Captain James Cook, for temporary shelter in the wilderness.
Through the vivid detailed descriptions in Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary, we read of their departure from Weymouth after a visit from the king, the five week tempestuous Atlantic crossing in the H.M.S. Triton, the ascent up the St Lawrence, the eventful winter festivities of 1791 and joyful welcome in Quebec City, travel by stage – horses and sleighs- through the snow-covered forests of the new province of Upper Canada, and the arrival in Kingston in July 1792 where the first legislature, consisting of a handful of white Wasp males, Simcoe’s friends and colleagues, some loyalists from New England, some British middle class friends, was appointed. Elizabeth Simcoe faithfully records the crossing of Lake Ontario to Niagara in July, 1792, the establishment of a government at Navy Hall in the Loyalist village of Newark, later renamed Niagara on the Lake, meetings with the townsfolk and local Indians, discovery of the natural wonders and abundance of wild game and fish there for the taking – sturgeon six feet long, twenty-pound lake trout, raccoon and venison cooked with wild mint, peaches, cherries and maple syrup brought to them by the Indians.
As they approach the Toronto shore, a military band on board the schooner Mississauga plays airs…(perhaps Handel or Mozart. )
With the arrival of the Simcoes this part of the remaining territories of British North America wrested from the French only thirty years earlier, are surveyed and parcelled out to influential families of disbanded soldiers, and other well-connected folk. In Upper Canada one seventh of the lands went to the Church of England, other choice bits were given to military accomplices and colleagues.
The schooner Mississauga was named after the first nations people whose lands stretched around the north shore of Lake Ontario from the Trent river to Niagara, and who signed their ownership rights away five years earlier in an agreement called the “Mississauga purchase”, with Deputy Surveyor General Collins and Lord Dorchester, Waubukanyne, Neace and Pacquan.
As the boat entered the harbour of Toronto on July 29, 1793, they were piloted to shore by a French Canadian named St Jean Rousseau, who lived for some years near the mouth of the Humber river. Another French Canadian, the captain of the Mississauga, Joseph Bouchette wrote in his memoirs forty years later:
“I still distinctly recollect the untamed aspect which the country exhibited
when first I entered the beautiful basin. Dense and trackless forests lined the margin
of the lake and reflected their inverted images in its glossy surface…
The wandering savage had constructed his ephemeral habitation beneath their luxuriant foliage,
and the bay and neighbouring marshes were the hitherto uninvaded haunts of immense coveys of wild fowl.”
-Extract from memoir of Joseph Bouchette, 1831 (son of a naval commander on Lake Ontario), remembering the Surveying of York Harbour, 1793
HMS Mississauga landed somewhere near the foot of Bathurst Street, where Simcoe was greeted and piloted to shore by a French Canadian trader named St.Jean Rousseau who had lived at the mouth of the Humber for many years on the site of a French Fort which had been built in the 1750s under the order of the Marquis de la Jonquière, Governor of New France, to prevent the Indians who came down from the Upper Great Lakes via Lac Aux Claies, (Une claie = fish trap) (renamed Lake Simcoe, after his father) and the Toronto portage, a distance of about 28 miles between the Holland River and the spot where the Humber enters lake Ontario, from continuing on to Fort Oswego which was run by the English and located on the south eastern side of Lake Ontario, where the prices were better and the rum and brandy more plentiful.
EXCERPTS FROM ELIZABETH SIMCOE’S DIARY, a definitive observant document on life in colonial Upper Canada
Mon Jul 29, 1793:
We were prepared to sail for Toronto this morning, but the wind changed suddenly. We dined with the Chief Justice, and were recalled from a walk at nine o’clock this evening, as the wind had become fair. We embarked on board the “Mississauga”, the band playing in the ship. It was dark, so I went to bed and slept until eight o’clock the next morning, when I found myself in the harbour of Toronto. We had gone under an easy sail all night, for as no person on board had ever been at Toronto, Mr. Bouchette was afraid to enter the harbour till daylight, when St. John Rousseau an Indian trader who lives near, came in a boat to pilot us.
Tues Jul 30, 1793
The Queen’s Rangers are encamped opposite to the ship. After dinner we went on shore to fix on a spot whereon to place the canvas houses, and we chose a rising ground divided by a creek from the camp, which is ordered to be cleared immediately. The soldiers have cut down a great deal of wood to enable them to pitch their tents. We went in a boat two miles to the bottom of the bay, and walked through a grove of oaks, where the town is intended to be built. A low spit of land, covered with wood, forms the bay and breaks the horizon of the lake, which greatly improves the view, which indeed is very pleasing. The water in the bay is beautifully clear and transparent.
Wed Aug 7 1793
I rode on the peninsula from one till four. I saw loons swimming on the lake; they make a noise like a man hollering in a tone of distress. One of these birds was sent to me dead at Niagara.; It was as large as a swan, black, with a few white marks on it. At a distance they appear like small fishing boats. The air on these sands is peculiarly clear and fine. The Indians esteem this place so healthy that they come and stay here when they are ill.
Fri Aug 9, 1793
Some Indians of the Ojibway tribe came from near Lake Huron.
They are extremely handsome and have a superior air to any I have seen; Some wore black silk handkerchiefs, covered with silver brooches, tied right round the head, others silver bands, silver arm bands, and their shirts ornamented with brooches; scarlet leggings or pantaloons, and black, blue or scarlet broadcloth blankets. These Indians brought the Governor “a beaver blanket to make his bed” as they expressed themselves, apologized for not having done it sooner, and invited him to visit their country.
Sun Aug 11, 1793
This evening we went to see a creek which is to be called the River Don.It falls into the bay near the peninsula.
After we entered we rowed some distance among low lands covered with rushes, abounding with wild ducks and swamp black birds with red wings.
About a mile beyond the bay the banks become high and wooded as the river contracts its width.
Tues Aug 13, 1793
An Indian named Wable Casigo supplies us with salmon, which the rivers and creeks on this shore abound with. It is supposed they go to the sea.
Sat Aug 24 1793
The Governor has received an official account of the Duke of York having distinguished himself in an action in Flanders by which the French were dislodged and driven out of Holland. The Governor ordered an official salute to be fired in commemoration of this event, and took the same opportunity of naming this station York. There are a few twelve or eighteen pounders, which were brought here from Oswegatchie or Carleton Island. The “Mississauga” and “Onondaga” fired also, and the regiment. There were a party of Ojibway Indians here who appeared much pleased with the firing. One of them named “Great Sail” took Francis in his arms, and was much pleased to find the child not afraid, but delighted with the sound.
Sun Aug 25 1793
Visit of French emigré royalists, L’abbe Philippe Jean-Louis Desjardins and Monsieur François-Josué St. Luc de la Corne. Received by Simcoe with great civility, marquee tent pitched for them.
Fri Aug 30 1793
The “Mississaga” came from Niagara in four hours. Mr. Russell came in her.
Fri Sept 6
I went today to ride to Gibraltar Point. (Toronto Island)
Wed Sept 11
We rode six miles up the Don to Coons’ who has a farm under a hill covered with pine. I saw very fine butternut trees. We found the river very shallow in many parts and obstructed by fallen trees. One of them lay so high above the water that the boat passed under, the rowers stooping their heads. It looked picturesque, and a bald eagle sat on a blasted pine on a very bold point just above the fallen tree. The Governor talks of placing a canvas house on this point for a summer residence. Vencal rowed, a very intelligent man born in Sweden.
Sat Sept 14
We walked to the spot intended for the site of the town. Mr. Aitkin’s (the surveyor) canoe was there; we went into it, and himself and his man paddled.
We went at the rate of 4 knots an hour. I liked it very much; being without the noise of oars is a great satisfaction. To see a birch canoe managed with that inexpressible care and composure, which is the characteristic of an Indian, is the prettiest sight imaginable. A man usually paddles at one end of it, and a woman at the other; but in smooth water little exertion is wanting, and they sit quietly, as if to take the air. The canoe appears to move as if by clockwork. I always wish
to conduct a canoe myself when I see them manage it with such dexterity and grace. A European usually looks awkward and in a bustle compared with the Indian’s quiet skill in a canoe.
Mon Sept 23
I rode on the peninsula. My horse has spirit enough to wish to get before others. I rode a race with Mr. Talbot to keep myself warm. I gathered wild grapes. They were plesant but not sweet. Captain Smith is gone to open a road, to be called Dundas Street, from the head of the lake to the river La Tranche. He has 100 men with him.
Tues Sept 24
Captain Smith sent 2 rattlesnakes in a barrel that I might see them. They were dark and ugly and made a whizzing sound in shaking their rattles when I touched them with a stick. We dined in a marquee today. It has become too cold in the arbour. The canvas house we use as a bedroom, but the other is going to be erected for a winter dining room.
Wed Sept 25
The Governor set out with 4 officers, 12 soldiers and some Indians to visit Lake Huron.
Sun Sept 29
I walked on the sand bank and gathered seeds of Toronto lilies.
Wed Oct 2
The governor’s horses returned from the Mississauga creek, now the Holland river, from whence he sent me some seeds. The ground mice are innumerable and most troublesome here.
Fri Oct 25
They rode 30 miles to Mississauga Creek then passed a terrible bog of liquid mud. The Indians with some difficulty pushed the canoe the Governor was in through it. The Governor went to the habitation of Canise, the Indian who held Francis in his arms during the firing when “York” was named. Canise and his eldest son were lately dead and their widows and children were lamenting them. Young Canise gave the Governor a beaver blanket, and made speeches of excuse for not sooner having made his bed.
The Governor went to see a very respectable Indian named “Old Sail” who lives on a branch of Holland’s river. He advised him to return by the eastern branch of it to avoid the swamp. They proceeded about thirty miles across Lac aux Claies now named Simcoe (after his father, Georgina and Thorah Islands were formerly named Graves and Canise) via the Severn river to Matchedash bay at Waubaushene. On returning Old Sail received them hospitably and shot ducks for them. (Five day walk from Holland landing to York, their Indian guide got lost, party almost starved, they ate last of provisions 3 miles from York.) Had they remained in the woods another day, it was feared that “Jack Snap” would have been sacrificed to their hunger. A very fine Newfoiundland dog who lived at Navy Hall since our coming there, he walked with Gov. Simcoe to Detroit. He was troublesome on this excursion as his size is very unsuitable to a canoe, but he is a great favourite.
Sun Oct 27
A road for walking is now opened up three miles on each side of the camp.
Tues Oct 29 1793
The Governor having determined to take a lot of 200 acres upon the River Don for Francis, and the law obliges persons having lots of land to build a house upon them within a year, we went today to fix upon the spot for building the house. We went six miles by water from the Fort, and east along the bay shore to the Don, and up that river, landed, climbed up an exceedingly steep hill, or rather an series of sugar-loafed hills, and approved of the highest spot, from whence we looked down on the tops of large trees and seeing eagles near, I suppose they build there. There are large pine plains around it, which being without underwood, I can ride and walk on, and we hope the height of the situation will secure us from mosquitoes. We dined by a large fire on wild ducks and chowder, on the side of a hill opposite to that spot.
Thurs Feb 25 1794
I went with a party of ladies to Castle Frank. The ice is still good, tho’ the weather is warm and hazy like an Indian summer.
Thurs Mar 31
Walked to Castle Frank and returned by Yonge Street, from whence we rode. The road is as yet very bad; there are pools of water among roots of trees and fallen logs in swampy spots, and these pools, being half frozen, render them still more disagreeable when the horses plunge into them.
Sun Apr 3
Some Indians brought MAPLE SUGAR to sell in birch bark baskets. I gave three dollars for 30 pounds.
Mon Apr 4
Some Indians brought some excellent wild geese from Lake Simcoe, and several kinds of ducks which were very pretty as well as very good. The large black duck is esteemed one of the best. The abundance of wild rice, off which they feed, makes them so much better than wild ducks in England.
Sat Jan 23 1796
We walked on the ice to the house which is building on Francis’ 200 acre lot of land. It is called Castle Frank, built on the plan of a Grecian temple, totally of wood, the logs squared and so grooved together that in case of decay any log may be taken out. The large pine trees make pillars for the porticoes, which are at each end 16 feet high. Some trees were cut, and a large fire made near the house, by which venison was toasted on forks made on the spot, and we dined. I returned home in the carriole. Several people were fishing on the River Don through holes cut in the ice; the small red trout they catch are excellent. I gathered black haws; the roots of the trees, boiled, are a cure for complaints in the stomach. Jan 28 1796 Drove again to Castle Frank, and dined again in the woods on toasted venison.
Mon Apr 18 1796
Francis has not been well. We therefore set off to Castle Frank today to change the air, intending to pass some days there. The house being yet in an unfinished state, we divided the large room by sail cloth, pitched the tent on the inner part, where we slept on wooden beds.
Wed Apr 20
The porticoes here (Castle Frank) are delightfully pleasant, and the room cool from its height and the thickness of the logs of which the house is built; the mountain tea berries (are) in great perfection. Francis is much better and busy planting currant bushes and peach trees.