On July 17th, 1797, the inhabitants of the Township of York and adjoining Townships were assembled to elect Town and Parish officers.
The following individuals were elected.
Town Clark: Thomas Barry
Assessors: George Playter and Thomas Barry
Collector: Samuel Heron
Overseers of the High Ways:
John Dennis for the Humber
William Berzy for the German Settlement
Nicholas Miller for Yonge Street
John Ashbridge for the Bay
Isaiah Skinner for the Don
Abner Miles for the Town
Town Wardens: Thomas Barry and Samuel Heron
Constables for the Town: Duke William Kindrick and John Coon
Constable for the Humber: Isaac Devins
Dᵒ for German Settlement: John Stern
Dᵒ for Yonge Street: Joseph Johnson
In 1797, the official number of people living in York and the surrounding area was 437 - 260 males and 177 females.
In York, there were 115 males and 97 females who were part of Freehold estate-owning families, along with an additional 29 single males - 241 in total.
There were 59 inhabitants of the Don and Marsh - 32 males and 24 females who were part of Freehold estate-owning households, along with 3 single males.
There were 29 male and 22 female inhabitants of the Humber - 51 in total.
And there were 86 inhabitants of Yonge Street - 52 males and 34 females.
The Freehold inhabitants in York were:
ALLEN, William (2 males)
BADGER, Gideon, (2 males, 2 females)
BARRY, Thomas (3 males, 4 females)
BERZY, William (4 males, 2 females)
BURNS Esquire, Alexander (1 male)
BURNS Esquire, David (1 male)
CAMERON, Archibald (1 male, 1 female)
CARRY, Bernard (3 males, 2 females)
CHEWITT Esquire, William (3 males, 2 females)
CONN, John (1 male)
COON, John (2 males, 7 females)
COOPER, William (3 males, 1 female)
DUMONT, William (2 males)
GRAHAM, Captain William (4 males, 2 females)
HENDRICKS, Dayton (2 males, 1 female)
HERON, Samuel (3 males, 2 females)
HERSCHMER, Jacob (1 male)
HUNT, Joseph (2 males, 3 females)
KAHMAN, John Henry (1 male, 3 females)
KINDRICK, Duke William (4 males, 3 females)
KINDRICK, John (1 male, 5 females)
KINDRICK, Joseph (2 males, 3 females)
LODER, Job (2 males)
MACAULEY, Doctor James (4 males, 1 female)
McDOUGALL, John (3 males, 5 females)
MARTHER, Samuel (2 males, 1 female)
McBRIDE, Sergeant John (1 male, 1 female)
McBRIDE, John (2 males, 3 females)
MEALEY, Patrick (1 male, 2 females)
MILES, Abner (3 males, 5 females)
MILLS, Parker (2 males, 5 females)
PINING, Peter (2 males)
RIDOUT Esquire, Thomas (3 males, 6 females)
RUGGLES, James (2 males)
RUSSELL, The Honourable Peter (3 males, 1 female)
SMALL Esquire, John (4 males, 1 female)
SMITH, The Honourable David William (3 males, 4 females)
SMITH, William (4 males, 5 females)
THOMSON, Andrew (4 males, 2 females)
THOMSON, Archibald (6 males, 5 females)
THOMSON, David (6 males, 2 females)
WHITE Esquire, John (4 males, 2 females)
WILLCOCKS, William (1 male)
WRIGHT, Edward (5 males, 3 females)
The single men in York were:
COZENS Junior, Daniel
COZENS, Samuel D
LEACH, Joshua (Carpenter)
The Freehold inhabitants of the Don and Marsh were:
ASHBRIDGE, John (3 males, 1 female)
BROWN, Frederick (2 males, 2 females)
BURNS, Patrick (2 males, 1 female)
CORNWELL, William (7 males, 3 females)
MOSLEY, Benjamin (1 male, 1 female)
PHILLIPS, Jacob (2 males, 2 females)
PLAYTER, George (4 males, 3 females)
PLAYTER, John (1 male, 2 females)
PORTER, George (2 males, 2 females)
SKINNER, Isaiah (3 males, 2 females)
TERRY, Parshal (4 males, 4 females)
WINTERS, Jacob (1 male, 1 female)
The single men inhabiting the Don and Marsh were:
ST. CLAIR, Samuel
The inhabitants of the Humber were:
ANDERSON, Elias (5 males, 4 females)
COOK, Silas (7 males, 5 females)
DAVIS, Benjamin (1 male, 1 female)
DENNIS, John (2 males, 2 females)
DEVINS, Abraham (2 males, 2 females)
DEVINS, Isaac (1 males, 3 females)
DEVINS, Levy (2 males, 1 female)
LAWRENCE Esquire, John (2 males)
McLEANY, John (1 male)
SANDERS, Mathias (1 male, 1 female)
WILSON Esquire, John (2 males, 1 female)
WILSON Junior, John (3 males, 2 females)
The inhabitants of Yonge Street were:
CHAPMAN, Nathan (1 male)
COMER, Jacob (3 males, 3 females)
COVER, Nicholas (1 male, 2 females)
DEXTER, Asa (1 male)
DEXTER, John (2 males, 1 female)
DITTERLANE, George (1 male)
FISHER Junior, Jacob (1 male, 3 females)
FISHER Senior, Jacob (3 males, 3 females)
FISHER, John (2 males, 3 females)
HAMMONWAY, Josiah (1 male)
HARMON, Henry (2 males, 2 females)
HILL, Thomas (1 male)
HOLLINGSHEAD, Isaac (2 males, 1 female)
HOLLINGSHEAD, William (1 males, 2 females)
JOHNSON, Asa (2 males, 2 females)
JOHNSON, Lawrence (6 males, 1 female)
KETCHUM, Senaca (1 male)
KETCHUM, Jesse (1 male)
LAWRENCE, Richard (2 males, 4 females)
LIPPENCOTT, Richard (1 male)
LYONS, John (3 males, 1 female)
MILLER, Nicholas (3 males, 2 females)
MONSHEAN, Balser (4 males, 2 females)
PHELPS, Joseph (1 male, 2 females)
SMITH, Frederick (1 male)
STOCKS, John & Richard (2 males)
WEGLE, George (1 male)
YARNS, Thomas (1 male)
YARNS, William (1 male)
In June 1795, François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, met with Simcoe in Niagara during his travels in the United States and Upper Canada.
Frédéric learned a great deal about the country, "the attainment of which was greatly facilitated by the generous openness of Governor Simcoe."
The plan conceived by General Simcoe for peopling and improving Upper Canada seems, as far as he has communicated it to us, extremely wise and well arranged.
Frédéric then described Simcoe's plans for the establishing of a capital, London, to be located on a river he has renamed from De la Franche to the Thames. Later on, he wrote that:
Governor Simcoe intends to make York the centre of the naval force on Lake Ontario.
In 1795, François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, described York.
During our residence in Naryhall, Messrs. Dupetitthouars and Guillemard took the opportunity of the return of a gun-boat, and made an excursion to York. Indolence, politness to the Governor, and the conviction that I should meet with nothing remarkable in that place, united to dissuade me from this journey. My friends informed me on their return, that this town, which the Governor had fixed upon as the capital of Upper Canada, before he thought of building a capital on the Thames, has a fine extensive road, detached from the lake by a neck of land of unequal breadth, being in some places a mile, in others only six score yards broad; that the entrance of this road is about a mile in width; that in the middle of it is a shoal or sand-bank, the narrows on each side of which may be easily defended by works erected on the two points of land at the entrance, where two block-houses have already been constructed; that this is two miles and a half long, and a mile wide; and that the elevation of the shore greatly facilitates its defence by fortifications to be thrown up on the most convenient points.
Later, while discussing Lord Dorchester's plan to transfer the seat of government in Upper Canada to Kingston:
The friends of Kingston further allege... that York is an unhealthy place, and will long remain so, from the nature of the ground, which separates the bay from the lake.
Click here for the full-size image.
Description: Watercolour painting of Harbour, circa 1793, looking west from the mouth of the Don River.
Author: Elizabeth Simcoe
In her diary on Monday, July 29th, 1793, Elizabeth Simcoe described leaving Niagara and arriving at Toronto for the first time the next morning. In July of 1793, Toronto was just a bay covered in forest and no town had been established yet. Her husband, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, had a soldiers' camp set up at the site of present-day Fort York.
Mon. 29th - We were prepared to sail for Toronto this morning, but the wind changed suddenly. We dined with the Chief Justice, and were recalled from a walk at nine o'clock this evening, as the wind had become fair. We embarked on board the "Mississaga," the band playing in the ship. It was dark, so I went to bed and slept until eight o'clock the next morning, when I found myself in the harbour of Toronto. We had gone under an easy sail all night, for as no person on board had ever been at Toronto, Mr. Bouchette was afraid to enter the harbour till daylight, when St. John Rousseau, an Indian trader who lives near, came in a boat to pilot us.
Library and Archives Canada, no. 1972-118-2
Elizabeth Simcoe was born Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim in England. The exact date and place of birth are uncertain, as she was orphaned as a baby and lived with her uncle, Admiral Graves, and her aunt Margaret. She married her uncle's godson, John Graves Simcoe, when she was sixteen.
In 1791, her husband was appointed the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, and they made the trip from England. After spending some time in Quebec and then Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake), she arrived at York on July 30th, 1793. In 1796, her husband was given a leave of absence and the Simcoes left for England, never to return.
During her time in Canada, she kept a diary and produced many sketches and watercolour paintings of her surroundings.
François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, described her in 1795 as:
...timid, and speaks little; but she is a woman of sense, handsome and amiable, and fulfils all the duties of the mother and wife with the most scrupulous exactness. The performance of the latter she carries so far as to be of great assistance to her husband by her talents for drawing, the practice of which, confined to maps and plans, enables her to be extremely useful to the Governor.
Click here for the full-size image.
Description: Watercolour painting of Harbour in 1793, looking west to the Queen's Rangers camp. The camp would eventually develop into Fort York.
Date: 30 July, 1793
Author: Elizabeth Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe was born in Cotterstock, England, in 1752. His father, a captain in the Royal Navy who was involved in the Siege of Louisbourg in 1758, died in 1759. He had intended for his son to pursue a military career as well, and John eventually chose this path, entering the British Army in 1770. He was sent to the Thirteen Colonies, seeing action in the American Revolutionary War.
He was wounded during battle in 1782 and returned to England, marrying Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim that year.
In 1790, he was elected as a Member of Parliament, but resigned when he was appointed as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada on September 12, 1791.
He held this position from 1791 to 1796. In 1793, he established York.
François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, provided his opinion of Simcoe when they met in 1795.
In his private life, Governor Simcoe is simple, plain, and obliging. He inhabits a small miserable wooden house, which formerly was occupied by the commissaries, who resided here on account of the navigation of the lake. His guard consists of four soldiers, who every morning come from the fort, and return thither in the evening. He lives in a noble and hospitable manner, without pride; his mind is enlightened; his character mild and obliging; he discourses with much good sense on all subjects, but his favourite topics are his projects and war, which seem to be the objects of his leading passions.
According to Henry Scadding in Toronto of Old, on Thursday, May 9th, 1793, the Niagara-based Upper Canada Gazette reported the following:
On Thursday last his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, accompanied by several military gentlemen, set out in boats for Toronto, round the Head of the Lake Ontario, by Burlington Bay; and in the evening his Majesty's vessels the Caldwell, and Buffalo, sailed for the same place.
The Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, had left for Toronto on May 2nd, and would return to Niagara on the 13th, as reported in the May 16th Gazette. An earlier letter, dated April 5th, 1793, from Simcoe to the Lieutenant-Governor of Lower Quebec, Major-General Clarke, suggests that Simcoe's May visit to Toronto was his first.
Credit: Exclusive permission to reproduce this image was very kindly provided to the Toronto Project by the Map and Data Library, University of Toronto. This image may not be reproduced. Original link found at here.
Click here for the full-size image.
In 1788, Alexander Aitken (sometimes spelled Aitkin), a deputy surveyor, had prepared an initial survey of York Harbour on the instructions of the Governor-in-Chief, Lord Dorchester (Sir Guy Carleton, First Baron Dorchester). In 1793, he was asked by the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, to prepare a new survey, which included the proposed location of a blockhouse to command the entrance of the harbour, as well as a battery and barracks for the Queen's Rangers. The soundings for this survey were taken by Joseph Bouchette.