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.
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