Washington, in his farewell address, says: "Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened." Fifty years ago, education, even in the older and more enlightened countries, did not receive that attention which its importance to the well-being of society and the state demanded, and it is only during recent years, comparatively speaking, that the education of the masses has been systematically attempted. Indeed, it used to be thought by men of birth and culture that to educate the poor would lead to strife and confusion—that ignorance was their normal condition, and that any departure therefrom would increase their misery and discontent. Those notions have, happily, been exploded, and it is found that education is the best corrective to the evils that used to afflict society and disturb the general peace. It goes hand in hand with religion and good order, and so convinced have our rulers become of its importance to the general weal, that not only free but compulsory education has become the law of the land. It is not to be wondered at that half a century ago our school system—if we could be said to have one—was defective. Our situation and the circumstances in which we were placed were not favourable to the promotion of general education. The sparseness of the population and the extent of territory over which it was scattered increased the difficulty; but its importance was not overlooked, and in the early days of the Province grants of land were made for educational purposes. The first classical school—indeed the first school of any kind—was opened in Kingston, by Dr. Stuart, in 1785, and the first common school was taught by J. Clark, in Fredericksburg, 1786. In 1807 an Act was passed to establish grammar schools in the various districts, with a grant of L100 to each. But it was not until 1816 that the government took any steps towards establishing common schools. The Lieutenant-Governor, in his Speech from the Throne on opening the House, in January, 1830, said:—
"The necessity of reforming the Royal Grammar School was evident from your Report at the close of the session. By the establishing of a college at York, under the guidance of an able master, the object which we have in view will, I trust, be speedily attained. The delay that may take place in revising the charter of the university, or in framing one suitable to the Province and the intention of the endowment, must, in fact, under present circumstances, tend to the advancement of the institution; as its use depended on the actual state of education in the Province. Dispersed as the population is over an extensive territory, a general efficiency in the common schools cannot be expected, particularly whilst the salaries of the masters will not admit of their devoting their whole time to their profession."
As far as my recollection goes, the teachers were generally of a very inferior order, and rarely possessed more than a smattering of the rudiments of grammar and arithmetic. As the Governor points out, they were poorly paid, and "boarded around" the neighbourhood. But it is not improbable that they generally received all their services were worth. In those days most of the country youth who could manage to get to school in winter were content if they learned to read and write, and to wade through figures as far as the Rule of Three. Of course there were exceptions, as also with the teachers, but generally this was the extent of the aspiration of the rising generation, and it was not necessary for the teacher to be profoundly learned to lead them as far as they wished to go. I knew an old farmer of considerable wealth who would not allow his boys to go to school, because, he said, if they learned to read and write they might forge notes. He evidently considered "a little learning a dangerous thing," and must have had a very low estimate of the moral tone of his offspring, if he had any conception of morality at all. However, the safeguard of ignorance which the old man succeeded in throwing around his family did not save them, for they all turned out badly.
The books in use were Murray's Grammar, Murray's English Reader, Walker's Dictionary, Goldsmith's and Morse's Geography, Mayor's Spelling Book; Walkingame's and Adam's Arithmetic. The pupil who could master this course of study was prepared, so far as the education within reach could fit him, to undertake the responsibilities of life; and it was generally acquired at the expense of a daily walk of several miles through deep snow and intense cold, with books and dinner-basket in hand.
The school-houses where the youth were taught were in keeping with the extent of instruction received within them. They were invariably small, with low ceilings, badly lighted, and without ventilation. The floor was of rough pine boards laid loose, with cracks between them that were a standing menace to jackknives and slate pencils. [Footnote: Atlantic Monthly.] The seats and desks were of the same material, roughly planed and rudely put together. The seats were arranged around the room on three sides, without any support for the back, and all the scholars sat facing each other, the girls on one side and the boys on the other. The seats across the end were debatable ground between the two, but finally came to be monopolized by the larger boys and girls who, by some strange law of attraction, gravitated together. Between was an open space in which the stove stood, and when classes were drawn up to recite, the teacher's desk stood at the end facing the door, and so enabled the teacher to take in the school at a glance. But the order maintained was often very bad. In fact it would be safe to say the greatest disorder generally prevailed. The noise of recitations, and the buzz and drone of the scholars at their lessons, was sometimes intolerable, and one might as well try to study in the noisy caw-caw of a rookery. Occasionally strange performances were enacted in those country school-rooms. I remember a little boy between seven and eight years old getting a severe caning for misspelling a simple word of two syllables, and as I happened to be the little boy I have some reason to recollect the circumstance. The mistake certainly did not merit the castigation, the marks of which I carried on my back for many days, and it led to a revolt in the school which terminated disastrously to the teacher. Two strong young men attending the school remonstrated with the master, who was an irascible Englishman, during the progress of my punishment, and they were given to understand that if they did not hold their peace they would get a taste of the same, whereupon they immediately collared the teacher. After a brief tussle around the room, during which some of the benches were overturned, the pedagogue was thrown on the floor, and then one took him by the nape of the neck, and the other by the heels, and he was thrown out of doors in the snow. There were no more lessons heard that day. On the next an investigation followed, when the teacher was dismissed, and those guilty of the act of insubordination were admonished.
Dr. Thomas Rolph thus refers to the state of schools two years later: "It is really melancholy to traverse the Province and go into many of the common schools; you find a brood of children, instructed by some Anti-British adventurer, instilling into the young and tender mind sentiments hostile to the parent State; false accounts of the late war in which Great Britain was engaged with the United States; geography setting forth New York, Philadelphia, Boston, &c., as the largest and finest cities in the world; historical reading books describing the American population as the most free and enlightened under heaven, insisting on the superiority of their laws and institutions to those of all the world, in defiance of the agrarian outrages and mob supremacy daily witnessed and lamented; and American spelling books, dictionaries, and grammars, teaching them an Anti-British dialect and idiom, although living in a British Province and being subjects to the British Crown."
There was a Board of Education consisting of five members appointed to each district, who had the over-sight of the schools. Each school section met annually at what was called the School meeting, and appointed three trustees, who engaged teachers, and superintended the general management of the schools in their section. The law required that every teacher should be a British subject, or that he should take the oath of allegiance. He was paid a fee of fifteen shillings per quarter for each scholar, and received a further sum of $100 from the Government if there were not fewer than twenty scholars taught in the school.
Upper Canada College, the only one in the Province, began this year (1830), under the management of Dr. Harris. Grantham Academy, in the Niagara District, was incorporated, and the Methodist Conference appointed a Committee to take up subscriptions to build an academy and select a site. The last named, when built, was located at Cobourg, and the building which was begun in 1832 was completed in 1836, when the school was opened. There were 11 district and 132 common schools, with an attendance of 3,677, and an expenditure of L3,866 11s 61/2 d.
There was very little change in our school laws for several years. Grants were annually made in aid of common schools, but there was no system in the expenditure; consequently the good effected was not very apparent. The first really practical school law was passed in 1841, the next year when the union of the Provinces went into effect; and in 1844 Dr. Ryerson was appointed Chief Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada, which office he held for thirty-two years. During that time, through his indefatigable labours, our school laws have been moulded and perfected, until it is safe to say we have the most complete and efficient school system in the world. The influence it has exercised on the intellectual development of the people has been very great, and it is but reasonable to expect that it will continue to raise the standard of intelligence and high moral character throughout the land. Our Government has, from the very first, manifested an earliest desire to promote education in the Province. During Dr. Ryerson's long term of office, it liberally supplied him with the necessary means for maturing his plans and introducing such measures as would place our educational system on the best footing that could be devised. This has been accomplished in a way that does honour, not only to the head that conceived it, but to the enlightened liberality of the Government that seconded the untiring energy of the man who wrought it out.
The advantages which the youth of Ontario to-day possess in acquiring an education over the time when I was first sent to school with dinner basket in hand, trudging along through mud or snow, to the old school- house by the road side, where I was perched upon a high pine bench without a back, with a Mavor's spelling book in hand, to begin the foundation of my education, are so many and great that it is difficult to realize the state of things that existed, or that men of intelligence should have selected such a dry and unattractive method of imparting instruction to children of tender years. It is to be feared that there are many of our Canadian youth who do not appreciate the vantage ground they occupy, nor the inviting opportunities that lie within the reach of all to obtain a generous education. There is absolutely nothing to prevent any young person possessing the smallest spark of ambition from acquiring it, and making himself a useful member of society. "It is the only thing," says Milton, in his "Literary Musings," "which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices both private and public of peace and war."
There seems to be a growing disposition in the public mind to do away with the first important educational landmark established in the Province. Why this should be, or why its influence for good should at any time have been so much crippled as even to give occasion to call its usefulness in question seems strange. One would think that its intimate connection with our early history; the good work accomplished by it, and the number of men who have passed out of it to fill the highest public positions in the gift of the Province, would save it from violent hands, and furnish ample reasons for devising means to resuscitate it, if it needs resuscitation, and to place it in a position to hold its own with the various institutions that have come into existence since its doors were first thrown open to the young aspirants for a higher education half a century ago.
The opening of Upper Canada College in 1830 gave an impetus to education which soon began to be felt throughout the Province. It was impossible, in the nature of things, that with increasing population and wealth there should be no advance in our educational status. If the forty-six years that had passed had been almost exclusively devoted to clearing away the bush and tilling the land, a time had now arrived when matters of higher import to future success and enjoyment pressed themselves upon the attention of the people. The farm could not produce all the requirements of life, nor furnish congenial employment to many active minds. The surplus products of the field and forest, in order to become available as a purchasing power, had to be converted into money, and this set in motion the various appliances of commerce. Vessels were needed to carry their produce to market, and merchants to purchase it, who, in turn, supplied the multifarious wants of the household. Then came the mechanic and the professional man, and with the latter education was a necessity. It was not to be expected that the tastes of the rising generation would always run in the same groove with the preceding, and as wealth and population increased, so did the openings for advancement in other pursuits; and scores of active young men throughout the Province were only too anxious to seize upon every opportunity that offered to push their way up in life. Hence it happened that when Upper Canada College first threw open its doors, more than a hundred young men enrolled their names. In a comparatively short time the need for greater facilities urged the establishment of other educational institutions, and this led to still greater effort to meet the want. Again, as the question pressed itself more and more upon the public mind, laws were enacted and grants made to further in every way so desirable an object. Hence, what was a crude and inadequate school organization prior to 1830, at that time and afterwards began to assume a more concrete shape, and continued to improve until it has grown into a system of which the country may well be proud.
The contrast we are enabled to present is wonderful in every respect. Since the parent college opened its doors to the anxious youths of the Province, five universities and the same number of colleges have come into existence. The faculties of these several institutions are presided over by men of learning and ability. They are amply furnished with libraries, apparatus and all the modern requirements of first-class educational institutions. Their united rolls show an attendance of about 1,500 students last year. There are 10 Collegiate Institutes and 94 High Schools, with an attendance of 12,136 pupils; 5,147 Public Schools, with 494,424 enrolled scholars; and the total receipts for school purposes amounted to $3,226,730. Besides these, there are three Ladies' Colleges, and several other important educational establishments devoted entirely to the education of females, together with private and select schools in almost every city and town in the Province, many of which stand very high in public estimation. There are two Normal Schools for the training of teachers. The one in Toronto has been in existence for 29 years, and is so well known that it is unnecessary for me to attempt any description of it. The total number of admissions since its foundation have been 8,269. The Ottawa school, which has been in operation about two years, has admitted 433. Three other important educational institutions have been established by the Government in different parts of the Province. The Deaf and Dumb Institute at Belleville is pleasantly situated on the shore of the Bay of Quinte, a little west of the city. The number in attendance is 269, and the cost of maintenance for the past year $38,589. The Institute for the Blind at Brantford numbers 200 inmates, and the annual expenditure is about $30,000. These institutions, erected at a very large outlay, are admirably equipped, and under the best management, and prove a great boon to the unfortunate classes for whom they were established. The Agricultural College at Guelph, for the training of young men in scientific and practical husbandry, though in its infancy, is a step in the right direction, and must exercise a beneficial influence upon the agricultural interests of the country. Of medical corporations and schools, there are the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; the Faculty of the Toronto School of Medicine; Trinity Medical School; Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons; Canada Medical Association; Ontario College of Pharmacy; Royal College of Dental Surgeons; and Ontario Veterinary College. There is also a School of Practical Science, now in its fourth year. This, though not a complete list of the educational institutions and schools of the Province, will nevertheless give a pretty correct idea of the progress made during the fifty years that are gone.
The accommodation furnished by the school sections throughout the country has kept pace with the progress of the times. As a rule the school-houses are commodious, and are built with an eye to the health and comfort of the pupils. The old pine benches and desks have disappeared before the march of improvement—my recollection of them is anything but agreeable—and the school-rooms are furnished with comfortable seats and desks combined. The children are no longer crowded together in small, unventilated rooms. Blackboards, maps and apparatus are furnished to all schools. Trained teachers only are employed, and a uniform course of study is pursued, so that each Public School is a stepping-stone to the High School, and upward to the College or University. Great attention has been paid by the Education Department to the selection of a uniform series of text books throughout the course, adapted to the age and intelligence of the scholars; and if any fault can be found with it, I think it should be in the number. The variety required in a full course—even of English study—is a serious matter. The authorities, however, have laboured earnestly to remove every difficulty that lies in the student's path, and to make the way attractive and easy. That they have succeeded to a very great extent is evident from the highly satisfactory report recently presented by the Minister of Education. With the increasing desire for a better education there seems to be a growing tendency on the part of young men to avail themselves of such aids as shall push them towards the object in view with the smallest amount of work; and instead of applying themselves with energy and determination to overcome the difficulties that face them in various branches of study, they resort to the keys that may be had in any bookstore. It is needless to repeat what experience has proved, in thousands of instances, that the young man who goes through his mathematical course by the aid of these, or through his classical studies by the use of translations, will never make a scholar. Permanent success in any department of life depends on earnest work, and the more arduous the toil to secure an object, so much the more is it prized when won. Furthermore, it is certain to prove more lasting and beneficial.
The same causes that hindered the progress of education also retarded the advance of religion. The first years of a settler's life are years of unremitting toil; a struggle, in fact, for existence. Yet, though settlers had now in a measure overcome their greater difficulties, the one absorbing thought that had ground its way into the very marrow of their life still pressed its claims upon their attention. The paramount question with them had been how to get on in the world. They were cut off, too, from all the amenities of society, and were scattered over a new country, which, prior to their coming, had been the home of the Indian—where all the requirements of civilization had to be planted and cultivated anew. They had but barely reached a point when really much attention could be devoted to anything but the very practical aim of gaining their daily bread. It will readily be admitted that there is no condition in life that can afford to put away religious instruction, and there is no doubt that the people at first missed these privileges, and often thought of the time when they visited God's House with regularity. But the toil and moil of years had worn away these recollections, and weakened the desire for sacred things. There can be no doubt that prior to, and even up to 1830, the religious sentiment of the greater portion of the people was anything but strong. The Methodists were among the first, if not actually the first, to enter the field and call them back to the allegiance they owed to the God who had blessed and protected them. [Footnote: Dr. Stuart, of Kingston, Church of England, was the first minister in Upper Canada, Mr. Langworth, of the same denomination, in Bath; and Mr. Scamerhorn, Lutheran minister at Williamsburgh, next.] Colonels Neal and McCarty began to preach in 1788, but the latter was hunted out of the country. [Footnote: Playter.] Three years later, itinerant preachers began their work and gathered hearers, and made converts in every settlement. But these men, the most of whom came from the United States, were looked upon with suspicion [Footnote: I have in my possession an old manuscript book, written by my grandfather in 1796, in which this point is brought out. Being a Quaker, he naturally did not approve of the way those early preachers conducted services. Yet he would not be likely to exaggerate what came under his notice. This is what he says of one he heard: "I thought he exerted every nerve by the various positions in which he placed himself to cry, stamp and smite, often turning from exhortation to prayer. Entreating the Almighty to thunder, or rather to enable him to do it. Also, to smite with the sword, and to use many destroying weapons, at which my mind was led from the more proper business of worship or devotion to observe, what appeared to me inconsistent with that quietude that becometh a messenger sent from the meek Jesus to declare the glad tidings of the gospel. If I compared the season to a shower, as has heretofore been done, it had only the appearance of a tempest of thunder, wind and hail, destitute of the sweet refreshing drops of a gospel-shower."] by many who did not fall in with their religious views; and it is not surprising that some even went so far as to petition the Legislature to pass an Act which should prevent their coming into the country to preach. It was said, and truly, when the matter about this was placed before the Government, that the connection existing between the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States and Canada was altogether a spiritual and not a political connection; that the Methodists of Canada were as loyal to the British Crown as any of its subjects, and had proved it again and again in the time of trouble. Yet, looking back and remembering the circumstances under which the people came, it does not seem so very strange to us that they should have looked very doubtfully upon evangelists from a land which not only stripped them and drove them away, but a little later invaded their country. Neither do we wonder that some of them were roughly treated, nor that unpleasant epithets were thrown out against their followers. This was the outcome, not only of prejudice, but the recollection of injuries received. There were a good many angularities about Christian character in those days, and they frequently stood out very sharply. They were not friends or enemies by halves. Their prejudices were deeply seated, and if assailed were likely to be resisted, and if pressed too closely in a controversy, were more disposed to use the argumentum baculinum, as being more effectual than the argumentum ad judicicium. But time gradually wore away many of those asperities, and now few will deny that the position our Province holds to-day is to a considerable extent owing to this large and influential body of Christians. They built the first house devoted to public worship in the Province; through their zeal and energy, the people were stirred up to a sense of their religious obligation; their activity infused life and action into other denominations. The people generally throughout the country had the bread of life broken to them with regularity, so that in the year of Grace 1830 a new order of things was inaugurated. But with all this, a vastly different state of affairs existed then from that now prevailing. No one could accuse the preachers of those days of mercenary motives, for they were poorly paid, and carried their worldly possessions on their backs. Their labour was arduous and unremitting. They travelled great distances on foot and on horseback, at all seasons and in all weathers, to fill appointments through the bush—fording rivers, and enduring hardships and privations that seem hardly possible to be borne. A circuit often embraced two or three districts. The places of worship were small and far apart, and fitted up with rude pine benches, the men sitting on the one side and the women on the other. Often forty or fifty miles would have to be traversed from one appointment to another, and when it was reached, whether at a neighbour's house, a school-house, a barn or a meeting house, the people assembled to hear the word, and then the preacher took his way to the next place on his circuit.
Mr. Vanest says: "In summer we crossed ferries, and in winter we rode much on ice. Our appointment was thirty-four miles distant, without any stopping-place. Most of the way was through the Indian's land—otherwise called the Mohawk Woods. In summer I used to stop half-way in the woods and turn my horse out where the Indians had had their fires. In winter I would take some oats in my saddle-bags, and make a place in the snow to feed my horse. In many places there were trees fallen across the path, which made it difficult to get around in deep snow. I would ask the Indians why they did not cut out the trees. One said, 'Indian like deer; when he no cross under he jump over.' There was seldom any travelling that way, which made it bad in deep snow. At one time when the snow was deep, I went on the ice till I could see clear water, so I thought it time to go ashore. I got off my horse and led him, and the ice cracked at every step. If I had broken through, there would have been nothing but death for us both. I got to the woods in deep snow, and travelled up the shore till I found a small house, when I found the course of my path, keeping a good look-out for the marked trees. I at last found my appointment about seven o'clock. If I had missed my path I do not know what would have become of me. At my stopping-place the family had no bread or meal to make any of, till they borrowed some of a neighbour; so I got my dinner and supper about eleven o'clock on Saturday night. On Sabbath I preached. On Monday I rode about four miles, crossed the Bay (Quinte), and then rode seventeen miles through the woods without seeing a house, preached and met a class for a day's work."
Another writer says: "We had to go twenty miles without seeing a house, and were guided by marked trees, there being no roads. At one time my colleague was lost in getting through the woods, when the wolves began to howl around him, and the poor man felt much alarmed; but he got through unhurt." [Footnote: Dr. Carroll.]
These incidents occurred some years before the date of which I speak, but the same kind of adventures were happening still. It did not take long to get away from the three or four concessions that stretched along the bay and lakes, and outside of civilization. I remember going with my father and mother, about 1835, on a visit to an uncle who had settled in the bush [Footnote: This was in the oldest settled part of the Province—the Bay of Quinte.] just ten miles away, and in that distance, we travelled a wood road for more than five miles. The snow was deep and the day cold. We came out upon the clearing of a few acres, and drove up to the door of the small log house, the only one then to be seen. The tall trees which environed the few acres carved out of the heart of the bush waved their naked branches as if mocking at the attempt to put them away. The stumps thrust their heads up through the snow on every hand, and wore their winter caps with a jaunty look, as if they too did not intend to give up possession without a struggle. The horses were put in the log stable, and after warming ourselves we had supper, and then gathered round the cheerful fire. When bed-time came, we ascended to our sleeping room by a ladder, my father carrying me up in his arms. We had not been long in bed when a pack of wolves gathered round the place and began to howl, making through all the night a most dismal and frightful noise. Sleep was out of the question, and for many a night after that I was haunted by packs of howling wolves. On our return the next day I expected every moment to see them come dashing down upon us until we got clear of the woods. This neighbourhood is now one of the finest in the Province, and for miles fine houses and spacious well-kept barns and outhouses are to be seen on every farm.
I have been unable to get at any correct data respecting the number of adherents of the various denominations in the Province for the year 1830. The total number of ministers did not reach 150, while they now exceed 2,500. [Footnote: The number of ministers, as given in the Journals of the House of Assembly for 1831, are 57 Methodist, 40 Baptist, 14 Presbyterian, and 32 Church of England. For the last I am indebted to Dr. Scadding.] There were but three churches in Toronto, then called York. One of these was an Episcopalian Church, occupying the present site of St. James's Cathedral. It was a plain wooden structure, 50 by 40, with its gables facing east and west; the entrance being by a single door off Church Street. [Footnote: Toronto of Old.] The others were a Presbyterian and a Methodist church. The latter was built in 1818, and was a long, low building, 40 by 60. In the gable end, facing King Street, were two doors, one for each sex, the men occupying the right and the women the left side of the room. It was warmed in winter by a rudely constructed sheet-iron stove. The usual mode of lighting it for night services was by tallow candles placed in sconces along the walls, and in candlesticks in the pulpit. I am sure I shall be safe in saying that there were not 150 churches or chapels all told in the Province. All of them were small, and many of them were of the most humble character. There are probably as many clergymen and more than half as many churches in Toronto now, as there were in all Upper Canada fifty years ago. The difference does not consist in the number of the latter alone but in the size and character of the structures. The beautiful and commodious churches, with their lofty spires and richly arranged interiors, that meet the gaze on every hand in Toronto, have not inappropriately given it the proud title of "the city of churches," and there are several of them, any one of which would comfortably seat the entire population of York in the days of which I have spoken. There were no organs, and I am not sure that there were any in America. Indeed, if there had been the good people of those days would have objected to their use. Those who remember the three early churches I have mentioned—and those who do not can readily picture them with their fittings and seating capacity—will recall the dim, lurid light cast on the audience by the flickering candles. Turn, now, for example, to the Metropolitan Church on an evening's service. Notice the long carpeted aisles, the rich upholstery, the comfortable seats, the lofty ceilings, the spacious gallery and the vast congregation. An unseen hand touches an electric battery, and in a moment hundreds of gas jets are aflame, and the place is filled with a blaze of light. Now the great organ heaves its thrilling thunders, compressing air into music, and rolling it forth upon the soul. Surely the contrast is almost incredible, and what we have said on this point in regard to Toronto may be said of every city, town, village or country place in the Province.
It will be proper to notice here that from the settlement of the country up to 1831, marriage could only be legally solemnized by a minister of the Church of England, or of the established Church of Scotland. There was a provision which empowered a justice of the peace or a commanding officer to perform the rite in cases where there was no minister, or where the parties lived eighteen miles from a church. In 1831, an Act was passed making it lawful for ministers of other denominations to solemnize matrimony, and to confirm marriages previously contracted. This act of tardy justice gave great satisfaction to the people.
The day for cheap books, periodicals and newspapers had not then arrived. There were but few of any kind in the country, and those that were to be found possessed few attractions for either old or young. The arduous lives led by the people precluded the cultivation of a taste for reading. Persons who toil early and late, week in and week out, have very little inclination for anything in the way of literary recreation. When the night came, the weary body demanded rest, and people sought their beds early. Consequently the few old volumes piled away on a shelf remained there undisturbed. Bacon says: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested;" and he might have added—"others still to be left alone." At all events the last was the prevailing sentiment in those days. I do not know that the fault was altogether with the books. It is true that those generally to be seen were either doctrinal works, or what might be termed heavy reading, requiring a good appetite and strong digestive powers to get through with them. They were the relics of a past age, survivors of obsolete controversies that had found their way into the country in its infancy; and though the age that delighted in such mental pabulum had passed away, these literary pioneers held their ground because the time had not arrived for the people to feel the necessity of cultivating the mind as well as providing for the wants of the body. Seneca says: "Leisure without books is the sepulchre of the living soul;" but books without leisure are practically valueless, and hence it made but little difference with our grandfathers what the few they possessed contained. [Footnote: From an inventory of my grandfather's personal effects I am enabled to give what would have been considered a large collection of books in those days. As I have said before, he was a Quaker, which will account for the character of a number of the books; and by changing these to volumes in accord with the religious tenets of the owner, the reader will get a very good idea of the kind of literature to be found in the houses of intelligent and well-to-do people:—1 large Bible, 3 Clarkson's works, 1 Buchan's Domestic Medicine, 1 Elliot's Medical Pocket Book, 1 Lewis's Dispensatory, 1 Franklin's Sermons, 1 Stackhouse's History of the Bible, 2 Brown's Union Gazetteer, 1 16th Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1 History United States, 1 Elias Hicks's Sermons, 2 Newton's Letters, 1 Ricketson on Health, 1 Jessy Kerzey, 1 Memorials of a Deceased Friend, 1 Hervey's Meditations, 1 Reply to Hibard, 1 Job's Scot's Journal, 1 Barclay on Church Government, 1 M. Liver on Shakerism, 1 Works of Dr. Franklin, 1 Journal of Richard Davis, 1 Lessons from Scripture, 1 Picket's Lessons, 1 Pownal, 1 Sequel to English Reader, Maps of United States, State of New York, England, Ireland and Scotland, and Holland Purchase.] Some years had to pass away before the need of them began to be felt. In a country, as we have already said, where intelligence commanded respect but did not give priority; where the best accomplishment was to get on in the world; where the standard of education seldom rose higher than to be able to read, write, and solve a simple sum in arithmetic, the absence of entertaining and instructive books was not felt to be a serious loss. But with the rapidly increasing facilities for moving about, and the growth of trade and commerce, the people were brought more frequently into contact with the intelligence and the progress of the world outside. And with the increase of wealth came the desire to take a higher stand in the social scale. The development of men's minds under the political and social changes of the day, and the advance in culture and refinement which accompanies worldly prosperity, quickened the general intelligence of the people, and created a demand for books to read. This demand has gone on increasing from year to year, until we have reached a time when we may say with the Ecclesiast: "Of making of books there is no end." If there was an excuse for the absence of books in our Canadian homes half a century ago, and if the slight draughts that were obtainable at the only fountains of knowledge that then existed were not sufficient to create a thirst for more, there is none now. Even the wealth that was to a certain extent necessary to gratify any desire to cultivate the mind is no longer required, for the one can be obtained free, and a few cents will procure the works of some of the best authors who have ever lived.
But little had been done up to 1830 to establish libraries, either in town or village. Indeed the limited number of these, and the pursuits of the people, which were almost exclusively agricultural—and that too in a new country where during half of the year the toil of the field, and clearing away the bush the remaining half, occupied their constant attention—books were seldom thought of. Still, there was a mind here and there scattered through the settlements which, like the "little leaven," continued to work on silently, until a large portion of the "lump" had been leavened. The only public libraries whereof I have any trace were at Kingston, Ernesttown and Hallowell. The first two were in existence in 1811-13, and the last was established somewhere about 1821. In 1824, the Government voted a sum of L150 to be expended annually in the purchase of books and tracts, designed to afford moral and religious instruction to the people. These were to be equally distributed throughout all the Districts of the Province. It can readily be conceived that this small sum, however well intended, when invested in books at the prices which obtained at that time, and distributed over the Province, would be so limited as to be hardly worthy of notice. Eight years prior to this, a sum of L800 was granted to establish a Parliamentary Library. From these small beginnings we have gone on increasing until we have reached a point which warrants me, I think, in saying that no other country with the same population is better supplied with the best literature of the day than our own Province. Independent of the libraries in the various colleges and other educational institutions, Sunday schools and private libraries, there are in the Province 1,566 Free Public Libraries, with 298,743 volumes, valued at $178,282; and the grand total of books distributed by the Educational Department to Mechanics' Institutes, Sunday school libraries, and as prizes, is 1,398,140. [Footnote: The number of volumes in the principal libraries are, as nearly as I can ascertain, as follows:—Parliamentary Library, Ottawa, 100,000; Parliamentary Library, Ontario, 17,000; Toronto University, 23,000; Trinity College, 5,000; Knox College, 10,000; Osgoode Hall, 20,000; Normal School, 15,000; Canadian Institute, 3,800.] There are also upwards of one hundred incorporated Mechanics' Institutes, with 130,000 volumes, a net income of $59,928, and a membership of 10,785. These, according to the last Report, received legislative grants to the amount of $22,885 for the year 1879—an appropriation that in itself creditably attests the financial and intellectual progress of the Province. [Footnote: Report of the Minister of Education, 1879.]
It is a very great pity that a systematic effort had not been made years ago to collect interesting incidents connected with the early settlement of the Province. A vast amount of information that would be invaluable to the future compiler of the history of this part of the Dominion has been irretrievably lost. The actors who were present at the birth of the Province are gone, and many of the records have perished. But even now, if the Government would interest itself, much valuable material scattered through the country might be recovered. The Americans have been always alive to this subject, and are constantly gathering up all they can procure relating to the early days of their country. More than that, they are securing early records and rare books on Canada wherever they can find them. Any one who has had occasion to hunt up information respecting this Province, even fifty years ago, knows the difficulty, and even impossibility in some cases, of procuring what one wants. It is hardly credible that the important and enterprising capital city of Toronto, with its numerous educational and professional institutions, is without a free public library in keeping with its other advantages. [Footnote: This want has since been supplied by an excellent Free Public Library.] This is a serious want to the well-being of our intellectual and moral nature. The benefits conferred by free access to a large collection of standard books is incalculable, and certainly if there is such a thing as retributive justice, it is about time it showed its hand.
The first printing office in the Province was established by Louis Roy, in April, 1793, [Footnote: Mr. Bourinot, in his Intellectual Development of Canada, says this was in 1763, which is no doubt a typographical error.] at Newark (Niagara), and from it was issued the Upper Canada Gazette, or American Oracle [Footnote: Toronto of Old], a formidable name for a sheet 15 in. x 9. It was an official organ and newspaper combined, and when a weekly journal of this size could furnish the current news of the day, and the Government notices as well, one looking at it by the light of the present day cannot help thinking that publishing a paper was up-hill work. Other journals were started, and, after running a brief course, expired. When one remembers the tedious means of communication in a country almost without roads, and the difficulty of getting items of news, it does not seem strange that those early adventures were short-lived. But as time wore on, one after another succeeded in getting a foothold, and in finding its way into the home of the settler. They were invariably small, and printed on coarse paper. Sometimes even this gave out, and the printer had to resort to blue wrapping paper in order to enable him to present his readers with the weekly literary feast. In 1830, the number had increased from the humble beginning in the then capital of Upper Canada, to twenty papers, and of these the following still survive: The Chronicle and News, of Kingston, established 1810; Brockville Recorder, 1820; St. Catharines Journal, 1824; Christian Guardian, 1829. There are now in Ontario 37 daily papers, 4 semi-weeklies; 1 tri-weekly, 282 weeklies, 27 monthlies, and 2 semi-monthlies, making a total of 353. The honour of establishing the first daily paper belongs to the late Dr. Barker, of Kingston, founder of the British Whig, in 1834.
There is perhaps nothing that can give us a better idea the progress the Province has made than a comparison of the papers published now with those of 1830. The smallness of the sheets, and the meagreness of reading matter, the absence of advertisements, except in a very limited way, and the typographical work, makes us think that our fathers were a good-natured, easy-going kind of people, or they would never have put up with such apologies for newspapers. Dr. Scadding, in Toronto of Old, gives a number of interesting and amusing items respecting the "Early Press." He states that the whole of the editorial matter of the Gazette and Oracle, on the 2nd January, 1802, is the following: "The Printer presents his congratulatory compliments to his customers on the new year." If brevity is the soul of wit, this is a chef d'oeuvre. On another occasion the publisher apologises for the non- appearance of his paper by saying: "The Printer having been called to York last week upon business, is humbly tendered to his readers as an apology for the Gazette's not appearing." This was another entire editorial, and it certainly could not have taken the readers long to get at the pith of it. What would be said over such an announcement in these days?
We have every reason to feel proud of the advance the Press has made, both in number and influence, in Ontario. The leading papers are ably conducted and liberally supported, and they will compare favourably with those of any country. Various causes have led to this result. The prosperous condition of the people, the increase of immigration, the springing up of railway communication, the extension and perfecting of telegraphy, and, more than all, the completeness and efficiency of our school system throughout the Province, have worked changes not to be mistaken. These are the sure indices of our progress and enlightenment; the unerring registers that mark our advancement as a people.
BANKS—INSURANCE—MARINE-TELEGRAPH COMPANIES—ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE —MILLING AND MANUFACTURES—RAPID INCREASE OF POPULATION IN CITIES AND TOWNS—EXCERPTS FROM ANDREW PICKEN.
The only bank in the Province in 1830 was the Bank of Upper Canada, with a capital of L100,000. There are now nine chartered banks owned in Ontario, with a capital of $17,000,000, and there are seven banks owned, with one exception, in the Province of Quebec, having offices in all the principal towns. There are also numbers of private banks and loan companies, the latter representing a capital of over $20,000,000. This is a prolific growth in half a century, and a satisfactory evidence of material success.
Insurance has been the growth of the last fifty years. During the session of the House of Assembly in 1830, a bill was introduced to make some provision against accidents by fire. Since then the business has grown to immense proportions. According to the returns of the Dominion Government for the 31st December, 1879, the assets of Canadian Life, Fire, Marine, Accident, and Guarantee Companies were $10,346,587. British, doing business in Canada, $6,838,309. American, ditto, $1,685,599. Of Mutual Companies, there are 94 in Ontario, with a total income for 1879 of $485,579, and an expenditure of $455,861. [Footnote: Inspector of Insurance Report, 1880.]
Fifty years ago the revenue of Upper Canada was L112,166 13s 4d; the amount of duty collected L9,283 19s. The exports amounted to L1,555,404, and the imports to L1,555,404. There were twenty-seven ports of entry and thirty-one collectors of customs. From the last published official reports we learn that the revenue for Ontario in 1879 was $4,018,287, and that for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1880, the exports were $28,063,980, and imports $27,869,444; amount of duty collected, $5,086,579; also that there are fifty-six ports of entry and thirty- eight outposts, with seventy-three collectors.
One of the most interesting features in the progress of Canada is the rapid growth of its marine. It is correctly stated to rank fourth as to tonnage among the maritime powers of the world. The United States, with its fifty-four millions of people and its immense coast-line, exceeds us but by a very little, while in ocean steamers we are ahead. In fact, the Allan Line is one of the first in the world. This is something for a country with a population of only five-and-a-half millions to boast of, and it is not by any means the only thing. We have been spoken of as a people wanting enterprise—a good-natured, phlegmatic set—but it is libel disproved by half a century's progress. We have successfully carried out some of the grandest enterprises on this continent. At Montreal we have the finest docks in America. Our canals are unequalled; our country is intersected by railroads; every town and village in the land is linked to its neighbour by telegraph wires, and we have probably more miles of both, according to population, than any other people.
The inland position of the Province of Ontario, although having the chain of great lakes lying along its southern border, never fostered a love for a sea-faring life. This is easily accounted for by the pursuits of the people, who as has been said before, were nearly all agriculturists. But the produce had to be moved, and the means were forthcoming to meet the necessities of the case. The great water-course which led to the seaports of Montreal and Quebec, owing to the rapids of the St. Lawrence, could only be navigated by the batteaux and Durham boats; and the navigator, after overcoming these difficulties, and laying his course through the noble lake from which our Province takes its name, encountered the Falls of Niagara. This was a huge barrier across his path which he had no possible means of surmounting. When the town of Niagara was reached, vessels had to be discharged, and the freight carted round the falls to Chippawa. This was a tedious matter, and a great drawback to settlement in the western part of the Province. Early in the century, the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt conceived the plan of connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario by a canal, and succeeded in getting the Government to assume the project in 1824. It was a great work for a young country to undertake, but it was pushed on, and completed in 1830. From that time to the present vessels have been enabled to pass from one lake to the other. This, with the Sault Ste. Marie canal, and those of the St. Lawrence, enables a vessel to pass from the head of Lake Superior to the ocean. The Ridean Canal undertaken about the same time as the Welland Canal, was also completed in the same year. It was constructed principally for military purposes, though at one time a large amount of freight came up the Ottawa, and thence by this canal to Kingston. The St. Lawrence was the only channel for freight going east. All the rapids were navigable with the batteaux except the Lachine, and up to 1830 there was a line of these boats running from Belleville to Montreal. [Footnote: The reader may be interested in learning the amount of produce shipped from the Province in 1830, via the St. Lawrence, and the mode of its conveyance. It is certainly a marked contrast, not only to the present facilities for carrying freight, but to the amount of produce, etc., going east and coming west. Statement of produce imported into Lower Canada through the Port of Coteau du Lac, to December 30th, 1830, in 584 Durham boats and 731 batteaux; 183,141 Bls. flour; 26,084 Bls. ashes; 14,110 Bls pork; 1,637 Bls. beef; 4,881 bus. corn and rye; 280,322 bus. wheat; 1,875 Bls. corn meal; 245 Bls. and 955 kegs lard; 27 Bls. and 858 kegs butter; 263 Bls. and 29 hds. tallow; 625 Bls. apples; 216 Bls. Raw hides; 148 hds. and 361 kegs tobacco; 1,021 casks and 3 hds. whiskey and spirits; 2,636 hogs. Quantity of merchandise brought to Upper Canada in the same year, 8,244 tons.—Journal of the House of Assembly, 1831.] Our canal system was completed fifty years ago, and all that has been done since has consisted of enlarging and keeping them in repair. The total number of miles of canal in the Province is 136.
The number of vessels composing our marine in 1830 was 12 steamers and 110 sailing vessels, with a tonnage of 14,300; and it is worthy of remark that at that date the tonnage on the lakes was about equal to that of the United States. The number of steam vessels now owned by the Province is 385, with 657 [Footnote: Report Marine and Fisheries, 1880.] sailing vessels, having a total tonnage of 137,481, which at $30 per ton would make our shipping interest amount to $4,124,430.
A great deal has been done these last few years to protect the sailor from disaster and loss. Independent of marine charts that give the soundings of all navigable waters, buoys mark the shoals and obstructions to the entrance of harbours or the windings of intricate channels; and from dangerous rocks and bold headlands, jutting out in the course of vessels, flash out through the storm and darkness of the long dreary night the brilliant lights from the domes of the lighthouses, warning the sailor to keep away. By a system of revolving and parti-coloured lights the mariner is enabled to tell where he is, and to lay his course so as to avoid the disaster that might otherwise overtake him. There are now 149 [Footnote: Ib.] lighthouses in the Ontario division. In 1830 there were only four. Another great boon to the mariners of the present day is the meteorological service, by which he is warned of approaching storms. It is only by the aid of telegraphy that this discovery has been made practically available; and the system has been so perfected that weather changes can be told twenty-four hours in advance, with almost positive certainty. We have fourteen drum stations, eight of which are on Lake Ontario, four on Lake Huron, and two on the Georgian Bay.
The Montreal Telegraph Company, the first in Canada, was organized in 1847. It has 1,647 offices in the Dominion, 12,703 miles of poles, and 21,568 of wire. Number of messages for current year, 2,112,161; earnings, $550,840. The Dominion Company reports 608 offices, 5,112 miles of poles, and 11,501 of wire. Number of messages, 734,522; gross earnings, $229,994. This gives a total of 17,845 miles of telegraph, 2,282 offices, 2,846,623 messages, and gross earnings amounting to $780,834. [Footnote: Annual Report of Montreal and Dominion Telegraph Companies, 1881.]
The administration of justice cost the Province in 1830, $23,600, and according to the latest official returns $274,013—a very striking proof that our propensity to litigate has kept pace with the increase of wealth and numbers. There were four Superior Court Judges, of whom the Hon. John Beverley Robinson was made Chief Justice in 1829 at a salary of $6,000. The remaining judges received $3,600 each. Besides these there were eleven District Judges, and in consequence of the extent of country embraced in these sections, and the distance jurors and others had to travel, the Court of Sessions was held frequently in alternate places in the district. In the Midland District, this court was held in Kingston and Adolphustown. The latter place has been laid out for a town by some farseeing individual, but it never even attained to the dignity of a village. There was, besides the courthouse, a tavern, a foundry, a Church of England—one of the first in the Province—the old homestead of the Hagermans, near the wharf; a small building occupied for a time by the father of Sir John A. Macdonald as a store, and where the future statesman romped in his youth, and four private residences close at hand. When the court was held there, which often lasted a week or more, judge, jury, lawyers and litigants had to be billeted around the neighbourhood. As a rule they fared pretty well, for the people in that section were well off and there was rarely any charge for board. The courts comprised the Court of King's Bench, the Quarter Sessions, and Court of Requests. The latter was similar to our Division Court, and was presided over by a commissioner or resident magistrate. The Quarter Sessions had control of nearly all municipal affairs, but when the Municipal Law came into force these matters passed into the hands of the County Councils. The machinery in connection with the administration of justice has been largely augmented for, beside the additional courts, we have six Superior Court Judges, one Chancellor, two Vice-Chancellors, one Chief-Justice, three Queen's Bench, three Common Pleas, three Court of Appeal Judges, and thirty-eight County Court Judges.
The manufacturing interests of the Province in 1830 were very small indeed. I have been unable to put my hand on any trustworthy information respecting this matter at that time, but from my own recollection at a somewhat later period, I know that very little had been done to supply the people with even the most common articles in use. Everything was imported, save those things that were made at home.
From the first grist mill, built below Kingston by the Government for the settlers—to which my grandfather carried his first few bushels of wheat in a canoe down the Bay of Quinte, a distance of thirty-five miles—the mills in course of time increased to 303. They were small, and the greater proportion had but a single run of stones. The constant demand for lumber for building purposes in every settlement necessitated the building of saw-mills, and in each township, wherever there was a creek or stream upon which a sufficient head of water could be procured to give power, there was a rude mill, with its single upright saw. Getting out logs in the winter was a part of the regular programme of every farmer who had pine timber, and in spring, for a short time, the mill was kept going, and the lumber taken home. According to the returns made to the Government, there were 429 of these mills in the Province at that time. [Footnote: Journals, House of Assembly, 1831.] There were also foundries where ploughs and other implements were made, and a few fulling mills, where the home-made flannel was converted into the thick coarse cloth known as full cloth, a warm and serviceable article, as many no doubt remember. Carding machines, which had almost entirely relieved the housewife from using hand cards in making rolls, were also in existence. There were also breweries and distilleries, and a paper mill on the Don, at York. This was about the sum total of our manufacturing enterprises at that date.
There are now 508 grist and flour mills—not quite double the number, but owing to the great improvement in machinery the producing capacity has largely increased. Very few mills, at the present time, have fewer than two run of stones, and a great many have fewer, and even more, and the same may be said of the saw mills, of which there are 853. There are many in the Province capable of turning out nearly as much lumber in twelve months as all the mills did fifty years ago.
It is only within a few years that we have made much progress in manufactures of any kind. Whatever the hindrances were, judging from the numerous factories that are springing into existence all over the Dominion, they seem to have been removed, and capitalists are embarking their money in all kinds of manufacturing enterprises. There is no way, as far as I know, of getting at the value annually produced by our mills and factories, except from the Trade and Navigation Returns for 1880, and this only gives the exports, which are but a fraction of the grand total. Our woolen mills turned out last year upwards of $4,000,000, [Footnote: Monetary Times, December 17, 1881.] of which we exported $222,425. This does not include the produce of what are called custom mills. There are 224 foundries, 285 tanneries, 164 woollen mills, 74 carding and fulling mills, 137 cheese factories, 127 agricultural and implement factories, 92 breweries, 8 boot and shoe factories, 5 button factories, 1 barley mill, 2 carpet factories, 4 chemical works, 9 rope and twine factories, 9 cotton mills, 3 crockery kilns, 11 flax mills, 4 glass works, 11 glove factories, 7 glue factories, 9 hat factories, 12 knitting factories, 9 oatmeal mills, 9 organ factories, 10 piano factories, 25 paper mills, 4 rubber factories, 6 shoddy mills, 3 sugar refineries; making, with the flour and saw mills, 2,642. Besides these there are carriage, cabinet and other factories and shops, to the number of 3,848. The value of flour exported was $1,547,910; of sawn lumber, $4,137,062; of cheese, $1,199,973; of flax, $95,292; of oatmeal, $215,131; and of other manufactures, $1,100,605.
We may further illustrate the progress we have made by giving the estimated value of the trade in Toronto in 1880, taken from an interesting article on this subject which appeared in the Globe last January. The wholesale trade is placed at $30,650,000; produce, $23,000,000; a few leading factories, $1,770,000; live stock, local timber trade, coal, distilling and brewing, $8,910,000; in all, $64,330,000—a gross sum more than ten times greater than the value of the trade of the whole Province fifty years ago.
Another interesting feature in our growth is the rapid increase in the cities and towns. Some of these were not even laid out in 1830, and others hardly deserved the humble appellation of village. The difference will be more apparent by giving the population, as far as possible, then and in 1881, when the last census was taken, of a number of the principal places:—
1830. 1881. Toronto 2,860 86,445 Kingston 3,587 14,093 Hamilton, including township 2,013 35,965 London, including township 2,415 —— Brantford, laid out in 1830 —— 9,626 Guelph, including township 778 9,890 St. Catharines (Population in 1845, 3,000) —— —— Ottawa contained 150 houses —— —— Belleville, incorporated 1835 —— 9,516 Brockville 1,130 7,608 Napanee (Population in 1845, 500) —— 3,681 Cobourg —— 4,957 Port Hope —— 5,888 Peterboro', laid out in 1826 —— 6,815 Lindsay, " 1833 —— 5,081 Barrie, " 1832 —— —— Ingersoll, " 1831 —— 4,322 Woodstock (Population in 1845, 1,085) —— 5,373 Chatham, settled in 1830 —— 7,881 Stratford, laid out in 1833 —— 8,240 Sarnia, laid out in 1833 —— 3,874
I hope the humble effort I have made to show what we Upper Canadians have done during the fifty years that are gone will induce some one better qualified to go over the same ground, and put it in a more attractive and effective shape. It is a period in our history which must ever demand attention, and although our Province had been settled for nearly half a century prior to 1830, it was not until after that date that men of intelligence began to look around them, and take an active interest in shaping the future of their country. There were many failures, but the practical sense of the people surmounted them, and pushed on. All were awake to the value of their heritage, and contributed their share to extend its influence; and so we have gone on breasting manfully political, commercial and other difficulties, but always advancing; and whatever may be said about the growth of other parts of America, figures will show that Canada is to the front. At the Provincial Exhibition in Ottawa, in 1879, the Governor of Vermont, in his address, stated (what we already knew), that Canada had outstripped the United States in rapidity of growth and development during recent years, and the Governors of Ohio and Maine endorsed the statement. We have a grand country, and I believe a grand future.
"Fair land of peace! to Britain's rule and throne Adherent still, yet happier than alone, And free as happy, and as brave as free, Proud are thy children, justly proud of thee. Few are the years that have sufficed to change This whole broad land by transformation strange. Once far and wide the unbroken forests spread Their lonely waste, mysterious and dread— Forest, whose echoes never had been stirred By the sweet music of an English word; Where only rang the red-browed hunter's yell, And the wolf's howl through the dark sunless dell. Now fruitful fields and waving orchard trees Spread their rich treasures to the summer breeze. Yonder, in queenly pride, a city stands, Whence stately vessels speed to distant lands; Here smiles a hamlet through embow'ring green, And there the statelier village spires are seen; Here by the brook-side clacks the noisy mill, There the white homestead nestles on the hill; The modest school-house here flings wide its door To smiling crowds that seek its simple lore; There Learning's statelier fane of massive walls Wooes the young aspirant to classic halls, And bids him in her hoarded treasure find The gathered wealth of all earth's gifted minds." —PAMELA S. VINING.
Since writing the foregoing, I accidentally came across The Canadas, &c., by Andrew Picken, published in London in 1832, a work which I had never previously met with. It is written principally for the benefit of persons intending to emigrate to Canada, and contains notices of the most important places in both Provinces. I have made the following extracts, thinking that they would prove interesting to those of my readers who wish to get a correct idea of our towns and villages fifty years ago.
"The largest and most populous of the towns in Upper Canada, and called the key to the Province, is Kingston, advantageously situated at the head of the St. Lawrence, and at the entrance of the great Lake Ontario. Its population is now about 5,500 souls; it is a military post of importance, as well as a naval depot, and from local position and advantages is well susceptible of fortification. It contains noble dockyards and conveniences for ship-building. Its bay affords, says Howison, so fine a harbour, that a vessel of one hundred and twenty guns can lie close to the quay, and the mercantile importance it has now attained as a commercial entrepot between Montreal below and the western settlements on the lakes above, may be inferred, among other things from the wharfs on the river and the many spacious and well-filled warehouses behind them, as well as the numerous stores and mercantile employes within the town. The streets are regularly formed upon the right-angular plan which is the favourite in the new settlements, but they are not paved; and though the houses are mostly built of limestone, inexhaustible quarries of which lie in the immediate vicinity of the town, and are of the greatest importance to it and the surrounding neighbourhood, there is nothing in the least degree remarkable or interesting in the appearance of either the streets or the buildings. The opening of the Rideau Canal there, which, with the intermediate lakes, forms a junction between the Ontario and other lakes above, the St. Lawrence below, and the Ottawa, opposite Hull, in its rear, with all the intervening districts and townships, will immensely increase the importance of this place; and its convenient hotels already afford comfortable accommodation to the host of travellers that are continually passing between the Upper and Lower Provinces, as well as to and from the States on the opposite side of the river.
"York is well situated on the north side of an excellent harbour on the lake. It contains the public buildings of the Province, viz., the House of Assembly, where the Provincial Parliament generally holds its sittings; the Government House; the Provincial Bank; a College; a Court House; a hall for the Law Society; a gaol; an Episcopal Church; a Baptist Chapel (Methodist); a Scots' Kirk; a Garrison near the town, with barracks for the troops usually stationed here, and a battery which protects the entrance of the harbour. Regularly laid out under survey, as usual, the streets of the town are spacious, the houses mostly built of wood, but many of them of brick and stone. The population amounts now to between four and five thousand.
"By-Town, situated on the southern bank of the Ottawa, a little below the Chaudiere Falls, and opposite to the flourishing Village of Hull, in Lower Canada, stands upon a bold eminence, surrounding the bay of the grand river, and occupies both banks of the canal, which here meets it. Laid out in the usual manner with streets crossing at right angles, the number of houses is already about 150, most of which are wood, and many built with much taste. Three stone barracks and a large and commodious hospital, built also of stone, stand conspicuous on the elevated banks of the bay; and the elegant residence of Colonel By, the commanding Royal Engineer of that station.
"The town-plot of Peterborough is in the northeast angle of the Township of Monaghan. It is laid out in half acres, the streets nearly at right angles with the river; park lots of nine acres each are reserved near the town. The patent fee on each is L8, Provincial currency, and office fees and agency will increase it 15s or 20s more.
"The settlement commenced in 1825, at which time it formed a depot of the emigration under Hon. P. Robinson. The situation is most favourable, being an elevated sandy plain, watered by a creek, which discharges into the river below the turn. The country round is fertile, and there is great water-power in the town-plot, on which mills are now being built by Government. These mills are on an extensive scale, being calculated to pack forty barrels of flour, and the saw-mill to cut 3,000 feet of boards per diem.
"The situation of Cobourg is healthy and pleasant. It stands immediately on the shore of Lake Ontario. In 1812, it had only one house; it now contains upwards of forty houses, an Episcopal church, a Methodist chapel, two good inns, four stores, a distillery, an extensive grist mill; and the population may be estimated at about 350 souls.
"The two projected towns of most consideration in this district (London district), however, are London-on-the-Thames, further inland, and Goderich, recently founded by the Canada Company, on Lake Huron. London is yet but inconsiderable, but from its position, in the heart of a fertile country, is likely to become of some importance hereafter, when the extreme wilds become more settled. The town is quite new, not containing above forty or fifty houses, all of bright boards and shingles. The streets and gardens full of black stumps &c. They were building a church, and had finished a handsome Gothic court-house, which must have been a costly work.
"Guelph. Much of this tract belongs to the Canada Company, who have built, nearly in its centre, the town of Guelph, upon a small river, called the Speed, a remote branch of the Ouse, or Grand River. This important and rapidly rising town, which is likely to become the capital of the district, was founded by Mr. Galt, for the Company, on St. George's day, 1827, and already contains between 100 and 200 houses, several shops, a handsome market house near the centre, a schoolhouse, a printing office, and 700 or 800 inhabitants.
"The Bay of Quinte settlement is the oldest in Upper Canada, and was begun at the close of the Revolutionary War. We crossed over the mouth of the River Trent, which flows from the Rice Lake, and it is said can be made practicable for steamboats, though at much expense; thence to Belleville, a neat village of recent date, but evidently addicted too much to lumbering.
"Brockville is a most thriving new town, with several handsome stone houses, churches, court-house, &c., and about 1,500 souls."
SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY.
[Footnote: This paper was read before the Mechanics' Institute in Picton, twenty-six years ago. Soon afterwards, the then Superintendent of Education, Dr. Ryerson, requested me to send it to him, which I did, and a copy was taken of it. An extract will be found in his work, "The Loyalists of America," Vol. ii; page 219. Subsequently, in 1879, I made up two short papers from it which appeared in The Canadian Methodist Magazine. The paper is now given, with a few exceptions, as it was first written.]
EARLY SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLMASTERS—BIRTH OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC—LOVE OF COUNTRY—ADVENTURES OF A U. E. LOYALIST FAMILY NINETY YEARS AGO—THE WILDS OF UPPER CANADA—HAY BAY—HARDSHIPS OF PIONEER LIFE—GROWTH OF POPULATION—DIVISION OF THE CANADIAN PROVINCES—FORT FRONTENAC—THE "DARK DAYS"—CELESTIAL FIREWORKS—EARLY STEAM NAVIGATION IN CANADA—THE COUNTRY MERCHANT—PROGRESS—THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.
After having consented to read a paper on the subject which has already been announced, I do not think it would be quite proper for me to begin with apologies. That they are needed I confess at once, but then they should have been thought of before. How often have we heard the expression, "Circumstances alter cases," and this is just why I put in my plea. If I had not been preceded by gentlemen whose ability and attainments are far and away beyond mine, I should not have said a word. But when these persons, some of whom finished their education in British Universities, who have trodden the classic shores of Italy and mused over the magnificent monuments of her past greatness, or wandered through old German towns, where Christian liberty was born and cradled; who have ranged the spacious halls of Parisian Institutes, or sauntered in places where many historic scenes have been enacted in grand old England—when these persons, I repeat, must crave your indulgence, how much more earnestly should I plead, whose travels are bounded in the radius of a few hundred miles; and whose collegiate course began, and I may say ended, in the country school-house with which many of you are familiar. What wonderful scholars those early teachers were.
"Amazed we, gazing rustics, rang'd around; And still we gaz'd, and still our wonder grew That one small head could carry all he knew."
It is no wonder that we were often awed by their intellectual profundity, nor that they gave our youthful brains an impetus which sent them bounding through the severe curriculum we had to face.
The narrow-minded and unyielding policy of George III., as every one now admits it to have been, brought about the American Revolution, and gave birth to the American Republic. As always happens in every great movement, there were two sides to this question, not only between Great Britain and her colonists, but among the colonists themselves. One side clamoured boldly for their rights, and, if need were, separation. The other side shrank from a contest with the mother land, and preferred a more peaceful solution of their difficulties. A moderate degree of liberality on the part of the British Government would have appeased the demands of the malcontents, and another destiny whether for better or worse, might have been in store for the American people. But those were days when the policy of the nation was stern and uncompromising, when the views of trade were narrow and contracted, when justice was untempered with mercy, and when men were bigoted and pugnacious. Protracted wars consumed the revenues and made many draughts on the national purse, and when the trade of the colonies was laid under contribution, they refused the demand.
The Government, true to the spirit of the age, would not brook refusal on the part of its subjects, and must needs force them to comply. The contest began, and when, after a seven years' struggle, peace was declared, those who had sided with the old land found themselves homeless, and rather than swear allegiance to the new regime, abandoned their adopted country and emigrated to the wilds of Canada and the Eastern Provinces. Two results grew out of this contest: the establishment of a new and powerful nationality, and the settlement of a vast country subject to the British Crown, to the north, then an unbroken wilderness, now the Dominion of Canada, [Footnote: This has been changed. When the paper was written, the Confederation of the Provinces, if it had been thought of, had not assumed any definite shape. It followed eight years after, in 1867.] whose rapid strides in wealth and power bid fair to rival even those of the great Republic.
The history of our country—I am speaking of Upper Canada—remains to be written. It is true we have numerous works, and valuable ones too, on Canada; but I refer to that part of history which gives a picture of the people, their habits and customs, which takes you into their homes and unfolds their every-day life. This, it seems to me, is the very soul of history, and when the coming Canadian Macaulay shall write ours, he will look in vain for many an argosy, richly freighted with fact and story, which might have been saved if a helping hand had been given, but which now, alas! is lost forever.
It can hardly be expected that I should be as familiar with the early scenes enacted in this part of the Province as those who are very much older. Yet I have known many of the first settlers, and have heard from their lips, in the days of my boyhood, much about the hardships and severe privations they endured, as well as the story of many a rough and wild adventure. These old veterans have dropped, one by one, into the grave, until they have nearly all passed away, and we are left to enjoy many a luxury which their busy hands accumulated for us.
As a Canadian—and I am sure I am giving expression, not so much to a personal sentiment, as an abiding principle deeply rooted in the heart of every son of this grand country—I feel as much satisfaction and pride in tracing my origin to the pioneers of this Province—nay more— than if my veins throbbed with noble blood. The picture of the log cabins which my grandfathers erected in the wilderness on the bay shore, where my father and mother first saw the light, are far more inviting to me than hoary castle or rocky keep. I know that they were loyal, honest, industrious, and virtuous, and this is a record as much to be prized by their descendants as the mere distinction of noble birth.
It has been said that love of country is not a characteristic of Canadians; that in consequence of our youth there is but little for affection to cling to; that the traditions that cluster around age and foster these sentiments are wanting. This may be to a certain extent true. But I cannot believe but that Canadians are as loyal to their country as any other people under the sun. The life-long struggle of those men whom the old land was wont "to put a mark of honour upon," are too near to us not to warm our hearts with love and veneration; they were too sturdy a race to be lightly over-looked by their descendants. Their memory is too sacred a trust to be forgotten, and their lives too worthy of our imitation not to bind us together as a people, whose home and country shall ever be first in our thoughts and affection.
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself hath said 'This is my own, my native land?' Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned As home his footsteps he hath turned?"
Is there any place in the world where such marvellous changes have taken place as here? Where among the countries of the earth shall we find a more rapid and vigorous growth? Ninety years [Footnote: The reader will bear in mind the date when this was written.] ago this Province was a dense and unknown forest. We can hardly realize the fact that not a century has elapsed since these strong-handed and brave-hearted men pushed their way into the profound wilderness of Upper Canada. Were they not heroes? See that man whose strong arm first uplifts the threatening axe. Fix his image in your mind, and tell me if he is not a subject worthy the genius and chisel of a Chantrey. Mark him as he swings his axe and buries it deep into a giant tree. Hark! how that first blow rings through the wood, and echoes along the shores of the bay. The wild duck starts and flaps her wings; the timid deer bounds away. Yet stroke follows stroke in measured force. The huge tree, whose branches have been fanned and tossed by the breeze of centuries, begins to sway. Another blow, and it falls thundering to the ground. Far and wide does the crash reverberate. It is the first knell of destruction booming through the forest of Canada, and as it flies upon the wings of the wind, from hill-top to hill-top, it proclaims the first welcome sound of a new-born country. And did these men of whom we have been speaking make war alone upon the mighty forest? Did they find their way alone to the wilds of Canada? No: they were accompanied by women as true and brave as themselves; women who unmurmuringly shared their toils and hardships, who rejoiced in their success, and cheered them when weary and depressed. They left kindred and friends far behind, literally to bury themselves in the deep recesses of a boundless forest. They left comfortable homes to endure hunger and fatigue in log cabins which their own delicate hands helped to rear, far beyond the range of civilization. Let us follow a party of these adventurers to Canada.
In the summer of the year 1795 or thereabouts, a company of six persons, composed of two men and their wives, with two small children, pushed a rough-looking and unwieldy boat away from the shore in the neighbourhood of Poughkeepsie, and turned its prow up the Hudson. A rude sail was hoisted, but it flapped lazily against the slender mast. The two men took up the oars and pulled quietly out into the river. They did not note the morning's sun gradually lifting himself above the eastern level, and scattering his cheerful rays of light across the river, and along its shores. All nature seemed rejoicing over the coming day, but they appeared not to heed it. They pulled on in silence, looking now ahead, and then wistfully back to the place they had left. Their boat was crowded with sundry household necessaries carefully packed up and stowed away. At the stern are the two women; one, ruddy and strong, steers the boat; the other, small and delicate, minds her children. Both are plainly and neatly dressed; and they, too, are taking backward glances through silent tears. Why do they weep, and whither are they bound? Their oars are faithfully plied, and they glide slowly on. And thus; day after day, may we follow them on their voyage. Now and then a gentle breeze fills the sail and wafts them on. When the shades of evening begin to fall around them they pull to shore and rear a temporary tent, after which they partake of the plain fare provided for the evening meal, with a relish which toil alone can give, and then lay them down to rest, and renew their strength for the labours of the morrow.
They reach Albany, then a Dutch town on the verge of civilization. Beyond is a wilderness land but little known. Some necessaries are purchased here, and again our little company launch away. They reach the place where the city of Troy now stands, and turn away to the left into the Mohawk river, and proceed slowly, and often with great difficulty, up the rapids and windings of the stream. This rich and fertile valley of the Mohawk was then the home of the Indian. Here the celebrated Chief Brant had lived but a short time before, but had now withdrawn into the wilds of Western Canada. The voyageurs, after several days of hard labour and difficulty, emerge into the little lake Oneida, lying in the north-western part of the State of New York, through which they pass with ease and pleasure. The most difficult part of their journey has been overcome. In due time they reach the Onondaga River, and soon pass down it to Oswego, then an old fort which had been built by the French, when they were masters of the country, as a barrier against the encroachments of the wily Indian. Several bloody frays had occurred here, but our friends do not tarry to muse over its battle-ground, or to learn its history.
Their small craft now dances on the bosom of Ontario, but they do not push out into the lake and across it. Oh no: they are careful sailors, and they remember, perhaps, that small boats should not venture far from shore, and so they wind along it until they reach Gravelly Point, now known by the more dignified name of Cape Vincent. Here they strike across the channel, and thence around the lower end of Wolfe Island, and into Kingston Bay, where they come to shore. There were not many streets or fine stone houses in the Limestone City at this time; a few log houses composed the town. After resting and transacting necessary business they again push away, and turn their course up the lovely Bay of Quinte. What a wild and beautiful scene opens out before them! The far-reaching bay, with its serried ranks of primeval forest crowding the shores on either hand. The clear pure water rippling along its beach, and its bosom dotted with flocks of wild fowl, could not fail to arrest the attention of the weary voyageurs. Frequently do they pause and rest upon their oars, to enjoy the wild beauty that surrounds them. With lighter hearts they coast along the shore, and continue up the bay until they reach township number four. This township, now known as Adolphustown, is composed of five points, or arms, which run out into the bay. They sail round four of these points of land, and turn into Hay Bay, and, after proceeding about three miles, pull to shore. Their journey it would seem has come to an end, for they begin to unload their boat and erect a tent. The sun sinks down in the west, and, weary and worn, they lay themselves down upon the bed of leaves to rest. Six weeks have passed since we saw them launch away in quest of this wilderness home. Look at them, and tell me what you think of their prospects. Is it far enough away from the busy haunts of men to suit you? Would you not rather sing—
"O solitude, where are the charms Which sages have seen in thy face? Better dwell in the midst of alarms Than reign in this horrible place."
With the first glimmer of the morning's light all hands are up and at work. A small space is cleared away, trees are felled, and in due time a house is built—a house not large or commodious, with rooms not numerous or spacious, and with furniture neither elegant nor luxurious. A pot or two, perhaps a few plates, cups and saucers, with knives and forks and spoons, a box of linen, a small lot of bedding, etc., with
"A chest, contrived a double debt to pay— A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day."
These constitute pretty nearly the sum total. This is not a fancy sketch. I have heard the story many a time from the lips of the little old grandmother [Footnote: The writer is one of her grandsons. The incident will be found in Dr. Ryerson's book.] who was of the party. She lived to rear a family of nine children, and to see most of them married and well settled; to exchange the log house for a large and comfortable home, and to die peacefully at a good old age.
It is hardly possible for us to conceive the difficulties that beset the first settlers, nor the hardships and privations which they endured. They were not infrequently reduced to the very verge of starvation, yet they struggled on. Tree after tree fell before the axe, and the small clearing was turned to immediate account. A few necessaries of life were produced, and even these, limited and meagre as they were, were the beginnings of comfort. Comfort, indeed! but far removed not only from them, but from the idea we associate with the term. I have in my younger days taken grist to the mill, as the farmers say. But I can assure you I would prefer declining the task of carrying bags of wheat upon my back for three miles, and then paddling them in a canoe down to the Kingston Mills, [Footnote: This mill was built by the British Government in the first settlement of the Province for the benefit of the settlers.] and back again to Adolphustown—about seventy miles—after which resuming the pleasing exercise of backing them home. [Footnote: This was an early experience of my grandfather, which he liked to relate in his old age to young men.] Such things do not fatigue one much to talk about, but I fancy the reality would fit closer to the backs of some of our young exquisites than would be agreeable. Nor do we, when we stick up our noses at the plainer fare of some of our neighbours, remember often what a feast our fathers and mothers would have thought even a crust of bread. How often—alas, how often!—were they compelled to use anything they could put their hands upon, in order to keep soul and body together. Could we, the sons of these men, go through this? I am afraid, with one consent, we would say "No."
But time rolled on. The openings in the forest grew larger and wider. The log cabins began to multiply, and the curling smoke, rising here and there above the woods, told a silent but more cheerful tale. There dwelt a neighbour—miles away, perhaps—but a neighbour, nevertheless. If you would like an idea of the proximity of humanity, and the luxury of society in those days, just place a few miles of dense woods between yourself and your nearest neighbour, and you will have a faint conception of the delights of a home in the forest.
There are persons still living who have heard their parents or grandparents tell of the dreadful sufferings they endured the second year after the settlement of the Bay of Quinte country. The second year's Government supply, through some bad management, was frozen up in the lower part of the St. Lawrence, and, in consequence, the people were reduced to a state of famine. Men were glad, in some cases, to give all they possessed for that which would sustain life. Farms were given in exchange for small quantities of flour, but more frequently refused. A respectable old lady, long since gone to her rest, and whose grandchildren are somewhat aristocratic, was wont in those days to go away to the woods early in the morning to gather and eat the buds of the basswood, and then bring an apronfull home to her family. In one neighbourhood a beef bone passed from house to house, and was boiled again and again in order to extract some nutriment from it. This is no fiction, but a literal fact. Many other equally uninviting bills of fare might be given, but these no doubt will suffice. Sufficient has been said to show that our fathers and mothers did not repose upon rose-beds, nor did they fold their hands in despair, but with strong nerves and stout hearts, even when famine was in the pot, they pushed on and lived. The forest melted away before them, and we are now enjoying the happy results.
The life of the first settler was for a long time one of hardship and adventure. When this Utopia was reached he frequently had difficulty in finding his land. He was not always very particular as to this, for land then was not of very much account, and yet he wished, if possible, to strike somewhere near his location. This involved sometimes long trips into the forest, or along the shores. After a day's paddling he would land, pull up his canoe, and look around. The night coming on, he had to make some preparation for it. How was it to be done in this howling wilderness? Where was he to sleep, and how was he to protect himself against the perils that surrounded him? He takes his axe and goes to work. A few small trees are cut down. Then he gathers some limbs and heaps them up together. From his pocket he brings a large knife; then a flint and a bit of punk. The punk he places carefully under the flint, holding it in his left hand, and then picks up his knife and gives the flint a few sharp strokes with the back of the blade, which sends forth a shower of sparks, some of which fall on the punk and ignite, and soon his heap is in a blaze. Now, this labour is not only necessary for his comfort, but for his safety. The smoke drives the flies and mosquitoes away, and keeps the wolves and bears from encroaching on his place of rest. But the light which affords him protection subjects him to a new annoyance.
"Loud as the wolves in Oroa's stormy steep Howl to the roaring of the stormy deep,"
the wolves howled to the fire kindled to affright them away. Watching the whole night in the surrounding hills, they keep up a concert which truly "renders night hideous;" and bullfrogs in countless numbers from adjacent swamps, with an occasional "To-whit, to-whoo!" from the sombre owl, altogether make a native choir anything but conducive to calm repose. And yet, amid such a serenade, with a few boughs for a bed, and the gnarled root of a tree for a pillow, did many of our fathers spend their first nights in the wilderness of Canada.
The first settlers of Upper Canada were principally American colonists who adhered to the cause of England. After the capitulation of General Burgoyne, many of the royalists, with their families, moved into Canada, and took up land along the shores of the St. Lawrence, the Bay of Quinte, and the lakes. Upon the evacuation of New York at the close of the war a still greater number followed, many of whom were soldiers disbanded and left without employment. Many had lost their property, so that nearly all were destitute and depending upon the liberality of the Government whose battles they had fought, and for whose cause they had suffered. They were not forgotten. The British Government was not tardy in its movement, and at once decided to reward their loyalty. Immediate steps were taken to provide for their present wants, and also to provide means for their future subsistence.
These prompt measures on the part of the Government were not only acts of justice and humanity, but were sound in policy, and were crowned with universal success. Liberal grants of land were made free of expense on the following scale: A field officer received 5,000 acres; a captain, 3,000; a subaltern, 2,000, and a private, 200. Surveyors were sent on to lay out the land. They commenced their work near Lake St. Francis, then the highest French settlement, and extended along the shores of the St. Lawrence up to Lake Ontario, and thence along the lake, and round the Bay of Quinte. Townships were laid out, and then subdivided into concessions and lots of 200 acres. These townships were numbered, and remained without names for many years. Of these numbers there were two divisions: one, including the townships below Kingston in the line east to the St. Francis settlement; the other, west from Kingston to the head of the Bay of Quinte. They were known by the old people as first, second, third, fourth town, etc. No names were given to the townships by legal enactment for a long time, and hence the habit of designating them by numbers became fixed.
The settlement of the surveyed portion of the Midland District, which then included the present counties of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Hastings, and the county of Prince Edward, commenced in the summer of 1784. The new settlers were supplied with farming implements, building materials, provisions, and some clothing for the first two years, at the expense of the nation, "And in order," it was stated, "that the love of country may take deeper root in the hearts of those true men, the government determined to put a mark of honour," as the order of the Council expresses it, "upon the families who had adhered to the unity of the Empire, and joined the royal standard in America, before the treaty of separation in the year 1783." A list of such persons was directed in 1789 to be made out and returned, "to the end that their posterity might be discriminated from the future settlers." From these two emphatic words—The Unity of the Empire—it was styled the U.E. list, and they whose names were entered therein were distinguished as U.E. Loyalists. This, as is well known, was not a mere empty distinction, but was notably a title of some consequence, for it not only provided for the U.E. Loyalists themselves, but guaranteed to all their children, upon arriving at the age of twenty-one years, two hundred acres of land free from all expense. It is a pleasing task to recall these generous acts on the part of the British Government towards the fathers of our country, and the descendants of those true and noble-hearted men who loved the old Empire so well that they preferred to endure toil and privation in the wilderness of Canada to ease and comfort under the protection of the revolted colonies. We should venerate their memory, and foster a love of country as deep and abiding as theirs.
In order further to encourage the growth of population, and induce other settlers to come into the country, two hundred acres of land were allowed, upon condition of actual settlement, and the payment of surveying and office fees, which amounted in all to about thirty-eight dollars.
In 1791 the provinces were divided, and styled Upper Canada and Lower Canada—the one embracing all the French seigneuries; the other all the newly-settled townships. The first Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, arrived in 1792, and took up his residence at Newark (Niagara), then the capital of the Province. Here the first Parliament of Upper Canada met and held five successive sessions, after which it was moved to York. Governor Simcoe laboured hard and successfully to promote the settlement of the Province.